Predicting the future is a mug’s game, and in financial markets we simply cannot know tomorrow’s prices. All we can do is make assessments of the factors that can be expected to influence them.
Economists’ forecasts today, with very few exceptions, are a waste of time and downright misleading. In 2016, we saw this spectacularly illustrated with Brexit, when the IMF, OECD, the Bank of England and the UK Treasury all forecast a slump in the British economy in the event the referendum voted to leave the EU. While there are reasonable suspicions there was an element of disinformation in the forecasts, the fact they were so wrong is the important point. Yet, we still persist in paying economists to fail us.
Federal employees cost tax payers $1 million every minute…
The U.S. government pays employees a total of about $1 million per minute, according to a watchdog group’s report on the sprawling federal bureaucracy.
An image from the report. (Photo: OpenTheBooks.com)
Looking at 78 large agencies, the nonprofit organization OpenTheBooks.com found that the average salary of a federal employee exceeds $100,000 and that roughly 1 in 5 of those on the government payroll has a six-figure salary.
We would not be doing our jobs correctly if we only forecast the year ahead. Quite simply, we must be rigorous in examining the past, and that means taking a hard look at how well we did in determining the major trends of the year gone by. In every respect, 2017 was particularly unique because of the questions — and alarmism — surrounding the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. Would the world see a dramatic warming of U.S. relations with Russia that would leave many Western allies in the lurch? Would a massive trade war break out between the United States and China? Would the Iran nuclear deal be torn up? These were all questions we sought to address as we pondered the changing dynamics of the global system. What follows are some of our key deductions, alongside honest appraisals of what we got right and wrong.
At last, tax reform is happening! Last week, President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the most important legislation so far of his presidency.
The final bill falls far short of the “file on a postcard” promise of Trump’s campaign. It even falls short of the bill trotted out by Congressional Republicans just a few weeks ago. It is, nevertheless, the most significant tax overhaul in more than a decade.
Corporations and most individual taxpayers will see lower overall rates. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, there is also some not so good news investors need to be aware of.
Summary: After decades of promises about its potential, the window of opportunity is closing for nuclear power. Hated by the Left despite its carbon-free generation of electricity, their opposition plus decades of utilities’ screw-ups have weakened it. New energy tech — renewables and fracking — appears to be finishing it off.
For example, Rancho Seco Nuclear generating station:
The plant operated from April 1975 to June 1989 but had a lifetime capacity average of only 39%; it was closed by public vote on 7 June 1989 after multiple referenda that resulted from a long record of multiple annual shut-downs, cost over-runs, mismanagement, multiple accidents that included radioactive steam releases, re-starts after unresolved automatic shut-downs, and regular rate increases that included a 92% increase over one 3 year span.
Blockchain is the technology that powers Bitcoin and a host of other cryptocurrencies. The blockchain contains a ledger which holds all previous transactions. The computers that process these transactions are called “miners,” and exist as a decentralized network throughout the world. With the blockchain, internet users can send money across the world without the need for a bank. The funds can settle in an hour or less, while international bank wires can take days to complete.
(Daily Caller News Foundation) Three Democratic-leaning states hemorrhaged hundreds of thousands of people in 2016 and 2017 as crime, high taxes and, in some cases, crummy weather had residents seeking greener pastures elsewhere.
The exodus of residents was most pronounced in New York, which saw about 190,000 people leave the state between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released last week.
New York’s domestic out-migration during that time period was about the same as it was in the same time 2015 and 2016.
Since 2010, the state’s outflow of just over 1 million residents has exceeded that of every other state, both in absolute terms and as a share of population, according to the free-market think tank Empire Center.
In light of the Christmas holiday celebrated in several parts of the world on Dec. 25, Stratfor is running this analysis originally published in 2015.
The joy of children, the sharing of gifts with loved ones on a sacred day, the renewal of faith. These elements of a holy day are not the normal fare of Stratfor — we normally devote ourselves to the study of geopolitical power and not to the intangibles of human experience. One day a year, however, we can set aside our professional detachment to tell a Christmas story. And there are many Christmas stories. It is a holiday with deep and diverse roots and one that has, by the 21st century, become truly global — and for that matter, geopolitical. And so I will share my own, with a bit of context. I hope that readers will indulge me in this small departure, one that I think comports with the way Stratfor views the world and its complexities.
Many American households have their wealth tied up in their houses. For many Americans across all different income levels, the value of their houses exceeds the value of all their other financial assets. There is also a history in the United States of home ownership being recommended as a sure way of becoming wealthy, or at least financially comfortable. But in this day and age, should you really rely on a house as a retirement asset?
This is #6 of 7 posts on the hazards of global warming. If you can’t read the sign, it says “Global Warming, Absolute Truth that can not be questioned.” The other two are discussing a global warming research vessel that was trapped in the ice. One wonders why the article doesn’t mention the ship was on a global warming mission. The other responds “For the same reason they didn’t publish those Muhammad cartoons.”
The Great Disruption. The end of one year and start of the next is the perfect time to reflect and resolve to change for the better.
At the start of this year, the most popular resolutions involved the typical fare: the desire to get healthy, get organized, live life to the fullest, learn a new hobby, spend less or save more, travel and read more.
Philosophers like to wax poetic about change. Nuggets of wisdom include: “The only thing that is constant is change.” There’s also: “The more things change the more they stay the same.” And for the deep thinkers in the crowd: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Thank you, Heraclitus.
“The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling.”
Today, we have news of something that modulates cloud cover in a new paper by Henrik Svensmark in Nature Communications.
– Christmas film serves as reminder that savings are not guaranteed protection by banks
– Savers are today more exposed to banking risks than ever before
– Gold and silver investment reduce exposure to counterparty risks seen in financial system
– Basket of Christmas goods has climbed since 2016 thanks to 11% climb in gold price
Quote of the Week. “Nullius in verba” – “Nobody’s word is final.” Motto of the Royal Society, Freeman Dyson
Number of the Week: 54 Hoover Dams
Warming and Cooling? S. Fred Singer, our founder and newly elected Chairman Emeritus, is busily working on an interesting question: can carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, cause a cooling as well as a warming? The answer is YES, depending on subsidiary conditions.
[I was thinking that it should be possible to create a reservoir off shore, let rain fill it, and use the fresh water on shore. To the (tiny) extent that it would lower sea levels, Greens should support it. Sure enough, it’s being done (to some extent) already. -Bob]
BENGALURU: Could a reservoir in the Arabian Sea be the one-stop solution to harness flood waters of the Nethravathi river and end the drinking water scarcity in Bengaluru and Mangaluru? Following a report from researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru development minister K J George has instructed the city water board to look into the possibility of implementing the proposal.
T G Sitharam, senior professor at the department of civil engineering at IISc said the proposal to bring water from the west-flowing river was a sustainable water resource development strategy for Mangaluru and Bengaluru. He made a presentation of the feasibility study before George. The meeting was also attended by officials of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is having the week of her career, and inspiring many patriotic Americans while she’s at it.
Haley has an undoubtedly difficult job. Her role as a liaison between the increasingly populist Trump administration and the evermore globalism-based United Nations puts the ambassador between a rock and a hard place. Filled with glass. And bees. Barefoot.
In this post we will discuss the assertion that there will be more climate-related deaths due to man-made global warming. This is the fifth post in a series of seven.
There will be more heat-related deaths
The IPCC AR5 report does not have much to say regarding climate-related mortality, they do mention that heat-related deaths will increase in several places, the following is from page 49 of the WG2 technical summary:
“At present the worldwide burden of human ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified.However, there has been increased heat-related mortality and decreased cold-related mortality in some regions as a result of warming (medium confidence).”
Author, advisor and former US Senate aide and Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Greg Walcher has written an important article on how sue-and-settle lawsuits ignored and abused our fundamental rights to legal due process from their very beginning – while enriching the environmentalist groups that brought the legal actions. He also explains why EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was absolutely right to terminate the practice.
Walcher’s analysis should be read by every legislator, regulator, judge … and actual or potential victim of this infamous practice.
The gold miners’ stocks largely ground sideways in 2017, lagging gold’s solid rally. Being trapped in this vexing consolidation has decimated sentiment, leaving a bearish wasteland bereft of hope. But contrary to perceptions, this deeply-out-of-favor sector is actually a coiled spring today. Gold stocks are ready to surge dramatically higher as psychology inevitably shifts, pointing to much higher prices coming in 2018.
The main appeal of gold-mining stocks is their underlying profits’ leverage to gold. The gold miners are much riskier than gold itself, facing many operational, geological, and geopolitical challenges that the metal doesn’t share. Thus investors and speculators alike must be compensated for these large added risks with superior returns to gold. That didn’t happen in 2017, which is why gold stocks are so widely despised.
According to Politico author Emily Holden, President Trump may be on the verge of erecting trade barriers against cheap imports of Chinese solar panels, to support strategic development of domestic US solar manufacturing.
U.S. setting stage for solar trade war with China
The White House is preparing to argue that trade barriers are needed to foster solar manufacturing inside the United States.
By EMILY HOLDEN 12/15/2017
An unreleased White House document offers the strongest hint yet that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for punitive tariffs on Chinese-made solar power equipment — a step that would promote the president’s “America First” trade agenda while sharply increasing the costs of solar power in the U.S.
Reflecting upon my previous post, Where The Temperature Rules The Sun, I realized that while it was valid, it was just about temperature controlling downwelling solar energy via cloud variations. However, it didn’t cover total energy input to the surface. The total energy absorbed by the surface is the sum of the net solar energy (surface downwelling solar minus surface reflections) plus the downwelling longwave infrared, or DWIR. This is the total energy that is absorbed by and actually heats the surface.
According to the CERES satellite data, globally, the solar energy absorbed by the surface averages 162 W/m2. The downwelling longwave averages 345 W/m2. Conveniently, this means that on average the earth’s surface absorbs about a half a kilowatt per square meter on an ongoing basis. (And no, I have no interest in debating whether downwelling longwave radiation actually exists. It’s been measured by scientists around the world for decades, so get over it, Sky Dragons. Debate it somewhere else, please, this is not the thread for that.)
Russia’s growing prominence in the Middle East was on full display Dec. 11 when Vladimir Putin visited three key Middle Eastern countries in one day. The Russian president followed a surprise trip to Syria with a quick stop in Egypt before ending his day’s travels in Turkey. He met with his presidential counterparts in all three countries, and the economic deals, military agreements and political settlements he discussed highlighted Russia’s role in the region. While Russia has its own reasons for bolstering its relationships with Syria, Egypt and Turkey, it also benefits from being visible where its regional rival, the United States, is not.
This is part four of our series on climate change costs and hazards. The first three parts were on humans and the environment, population and the food supply, and the cost of global warming. In this part we examine the assertion that man-made climate change, the growth of the human population, and other human activities are causing an increase in species extinctions. We also examine the polar bear controversy.
While this isn’t our normal fare here, the Internet is abuzz today over the admission from Apple Inc. that they purposely slowed down older iPhones, and I have something VERY interesting to add. Business insider has this headline:
Warnings tells a well-written and exciting story about natural disasters, the progress of science, and the workings of America’s bureaucracy. It is a story about the advances in meteorology (one of the many technologies which makes our world run) and a government service (the National Weather Service). Many Americans are oblivious or contemptuous of one — or both.
The end of the Cold War brought about a different view of free trade in the United States. Through almost 50 years of negotiations, the United States spearheaded the establishment of the World Trade Organization as Washington sought to shape the global trading regime — and the trading order in the West — as a bulwark against communism. But times have changed, and amid a frontal assault by the United States this week, the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference came to an undignified end Dec. 13 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Private-equity firms that plunged headlong into subprime auto lending are discovering just how hard it might be to get out.
A Perella Weinberg Partners fund has been sitting on an IPO of Flagship Credit Acceptance for two years as bad loan write-offs push it into the red. Blackstone Group LP has struggled to make Exeter Finance profitable, despite sinking almost a half-billion dollars into the lender since 2011 and shaking up the C-suite multiple times.
And Wall Street bankers in private say others would love to cash out too, but there’s currently no market for such exits.
In the years after the financial crisis, buyout firms poured billions into auto finance, angling for the big profits that come with offering high-interest loans to buyers with the weakest credit. At rates of 11 percent or more, there was plenty to be made as sales boomed. But now, with new car demand waning, they’ve found the intense competition — and the lax underwriting standards it fostered — are taking a toll on profits.
I see that there’s another neo-Malthusian trying to convince us that global starvation and food riots are just around the corner. This time it’s David Archibald right here on WUWT. Anthony had posted a graph showing gains in various human indicators, viz:
But David disagrees, showing various looks at wheat production.
There have been so many very good essays on Global Sea Level Rise by persons all of whom have a great deal more expertise than I. Jo Nova hosts a dozen or so excellent essays, which point at another score of papers and publications, for the most part clearly demonstrating that there are two contrarian positions on sea level rise in the scientific community: 1) Sea level has risen, is rising and will continue to rise at a rate approximately 8-12 inches (20-30 centimeters) per century — due to geological and long-term climatic forces well beyond our control; and 2a) Other than explicit cases of Local Relative SLR, the sea does not appear to be rising much over the last 50-70 years, if at all. 2b) If it is rising due to general warming of the climate it will not add much to position 1.
A newly released longitudinal study on the effects of the rising minimum wage in California reveals it negatively affects low-income workers.
“[A]pproximately 400,000 jobs would be lost” by 2022 “as a consequence” of California gradually imposing the first statewide $15 minimum wage, according to a study from the Employment Policies Institute, a conservative nonprofit research organization. “This estimate is conservative, as it measures the impact of California’s state minimum wage but does not account for job loss in counties that had insufficient data.”
South Australians, the world’s renewable crash test dummies, have just overwhelmingly rated affordability and reliability of supply as more important than tackling climate change in an online survey – but they still want their green energy revolution.
Your Say survey finds South Australians rank power bills, supply over tackling climate change
SOUTH Australians are abandoning support for tackling climate change by cutting carbon emissions in favour of demanding affordable and reliable electricity supply and developing a renewable energy industry.
Quote of the Week.“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain [H/t WUWT]
Number of the Week: $56.60
Warming and Cooling? S. Fred Singer, our founder and newly elected Chairman Emeritus, is busily working on an interesting question: can carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, cause a cooling as well as a warming? The answer is YES, depending on subsidiary conditions.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) recently voted to approve the state’s segment of the 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline. While that would appear to allow construction to move forward, more obstacles loom before KXL can finally bring North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to Texas refineries.
Advancements in spine repair could be propelling us into a future where a severed spinal cord is a treatable condition. A team of researchers from Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University have reportedly enabled previously paralyzed rats to walk again. The group used a pioneering surgical procedure to repair the animals’ spinal cords.
This medical feat, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, was accomplished by placing stem cells taken from the mouth of an adult human onto a biodegradable, sponge-like scaffold. This was inserted at the site of the spinal injury in rats, bridging the gap and allowing instructions to be passed from the brain to the rest of the body.
After two or three weeks, five of the 12 rats (42 percent) that received this treatment were able to start walking and were apparently moving around almost as a non-injured animal would. In addition to improved mobility, there were signs that these rats also regained sensory perception. The spinal cord regenerated to some extent in the other seven, but not enough to qualify as full recovery.
In comparison, none of the animals that did not receive this treatment regained their movement and sensory perception.
Part of the reason why this procedure was successful is because it was performed shortly after the injury took place. If there was a longer wait before the surgery took place, it might not have the same results, as the damaged part of the spinal cord would have time to atrophy.
From Rat to Human
This study was commissioned by Israel’s Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury with the hopes that it could lead scientists to an effective treatment for humans. Spinal injuries affect thousands of people, with around 17,000 cases being recorded in the U.S. annually.
These people could one day be helped by this procedure, the researchers believe. Daniel Offen, who led the team from Tel Aviv University, suggested to Business Insider that, at some point in the future, hospitals could keep a stock of frozen stem cells in order to give immediate treatment to patients who arrive with a spinal lesion. However, there’s a long way to go before that becomes a reality.
To date, no one has been able perform a successful spine repair in a human. However, there have been varying amounts of success in attempts to address spinal cord injuries in other animals.
Another team managed to allow paralyzed monkeys to walk again. This project used a system of electrodes, transmitters, and receivers to restore leg function. But, again, it’s thought that it will be decades before such a treatment could be feasible for humans.
There are still plenty more questions to be answered when it comes to repairing a human spinal cord. However, the multitude of avenues being explored, and their fruitful results, should offer some hope for the future.
Things have improved over the last 25 years according to this recent WUWT post. The future doesn’t look so rosy if you look at a larger data set. The world’s population growth will at some stage hit a resource constraint with dire consequences. How that will play out in detail can be determined from grain production and import statistics. As Chairman Mao said,“Take grain as the key link.” Mao should know with the biggest score of deaths caused by any communist leader. His personal tally was 45 million, mostly from the 1959 famine caused by taking grain from the provinces to pay for imported machinery.
Gold has been battered lower in recent months as gold-futures speculators fled in dread of the Fed-rate-hike boogeyman. As universally expected, the Fed’s 5th rate hike of this cycle indeed came to pass this week. When gold didn’t collapse as irrationally feared, the cowering futures traders were quick to start returning. Past Fed rate hikes have actually proven very bullish for gold, and this latest one will be no exception.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a self-governing agency of the United States government. The vision of NASA is to “Reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the advantage of humankind.” The following are some of the current and future missions of NASA.
NASA is trying to add to the existing robotic fleet with the Insight Mars lander, aimed at the red planet to learn about the interior of the planet. In2020, Insight will be seeking signs of microbial life and collecting samples for return to earth, to see whether Mars’ resources could support astronauts.
The next premier observatory in space, the James Webb Space Telescope, will study the history of the universe in the infrared, while the Parker Solar Probe will touch the sun, traveling nearer to the surface than any spacecraft before.
By June 2018, NASA will launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, which will research planets outside of our solar system, examining 200,000 bright objects close by other stars.
NASA ‘s first asteroid sample return mission, the OSIRIS-Rex, will appear at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in August, 2018 and will return a sample for study in 2023.
And an assignment to Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon Europa is intended to launch in 2020.
Sending Humans Out into our Solar System and Beyond
Building on rising scientific knowledge of the solar system, NASA is developing more advanced spacecraft and rockets, leading to the next steps of human exploration into space than we ever have traveled before. Launching from a re-invigorated NASA Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, a powerful Space Launch System (SLS) will carry the astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft to the Moon, where astronauts will begin testing the systems which are needed for the demanding operations to other destinations, such as Mars and deeper into space.
NASA will test the exploration systems for deep space starting with an un-crewed flight of Orion and SLS, called the Exploration Mission-1. During subsequent flights, NASA will create new techniques and technologies and will apply inventive approaches for solving the issues in preparing for the longer duration operations far from the earth. NASA will develop its deep space capacities before finally sending humans to Mars.
International Space Station
Humans already are working and living off Earth in one research laboratory in micro-gravity. The International Space Station provides a blueprint for scientific advancements and global cooperation, a way for raising the commercial marketplace into low earth orbit, and as a test bed for representing the latest technologies and sending humans into deep space.
A latest generation of commercial US spacecraft and rockets, which are supplying cargo to the space station, later will launch astronauts again from American soil.
By having space explorers living in space for a half year or more – including two who were there for about a year – NASA is figuring out how future teams can flourish with longer missions more remotely into our solar system. The space station likewise is a proving ground for investigation of advances, like self-governing refueling of rockets, emotionally supportive networks, and human/automated interfaces.
A bit of the space on board the space station has been assigned for national laboratory investigations that may give ways to enhance life on Earth, and NASA is focused on utilizing this interesting asset for far reaching logical research.
NASA is assisting the transformation of aviation by creating advanced technologies for propulsion, innovative aircraft shapes, and for the airspace in which they can fly, that radically increase the efficiency, decrease the noise, and maintain the safety in more of the crowded skies.
NASA is designing and flying the new experiment aircraft known as the X-planes, which should provide dramatically advanced technologies for piloted flights, such as the Low (Sonic) Boom Flight demonstrator, which could give information to open the door to the supersonic flights over land.
On Space and in Earth, NASA is making, testing and flying cutting edge technologies for the coming future of the human robotic examination. Technology development of NASA gives an on ramp for new space technologies, making a pipeline which matures them from the beginning stage via flight.
They will continue to develop technologies such as advanced solar electric propulsion, new green propellants, deep space navigation, and in-space assembly and manufacturing. These kinds of new space technologies will advance the capabilities of NASA for helping people to reach deep space destinations in the future.
Current and future earth missions of NASA provide the vantage point for understanding and exploring our home planet, increasing the safeguards and lives of our future.
NASA will bring together the technologies, unique global observations, and science to societal advantage, aiming to strengthen nature. Critical to the understanding of how climate and natural resources are changing on our planet, the observations make the base work for significant environmental planning and the decisions taken by people all over the world.
In 2018, NASA will ready to launch the next generation of two missions: ICESat-2 and GRACE Follow On – for continuing to record the long term record of ice sheets, underground water reserves, and how sea levels are changing.
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They say that truth is stranger than fiction and this true tale from a doctor’s office reveals how important it is to treat sleep apnea before it’s too late.
A 54-year-old man walked into Dr. Jordan Josephson’s New York office and told the internationally known nasal and endoscopic sinus surgeon that he suffered from sleep apnea and his marriage was suffering as a result.
“I am a very wealthy man, I have no health problems and a lovely second wife,” he said. “The snoring and sleep apnea are ruining my life. I can’t sleep, I have a foggy brain and my wife is at her wit’s end.”
Josephson sent his patient for a CT scan and gave him a follow-up appointment. The man never showed up and only months later, did the doctor learn he died four days after their initial meeting. Continue reading →
Europe’s financial and systemic troubles have retreated from the headlines. This is partly due to the financial media’s attention switching to President Trump and the US budget negotiations, partly due to Brexit and the preoccupation with Britain’s problems, and partly due to evidence of economic recovery in the Eurozone, at long last. And finally, anyone who can put digit to computer key has been absorbed by the cryptocurrency phenomenon.
Just because commentary is focused elsewhere does not mean Europe’s troubles are receding. Far from it, new challenges lie ahead. This article provides an overview of the current state of play from the European point of view, and seeks to identify the investment and currency risks. We start with Brexit.