by ilene - August 4th, 2015 3:46 am
Courtesy of Mish.
Every month, 3D printing possibilities get increasingly elaborate.
For example (with thanks to reader Tim Wallace for the links): The Goal of MX3D is to 3D print a steel bridge. Really.
With our robots that can “draw” steel structures in 3D, we will print a bridge over water in the center of Amsterdam. We research and develop groundbreaking, cost-effective robotic technology with which we can 3D print beautiful, functional objects in almost any form. The ultimate test? Printing an intricate, ornate metal bridge for a special location to show what our robots and software, engineers, craftsmen and designers can do.
The bridge will be designed by Joris Laarman. That process using new Autodesk software will be a research project in itself. It will sync with the technical development and take into account the location. The project is a collaboration between MX3D, design software company Autodesk, construction company Heijmans and many others.
From September 2015 the progress of the project can be followed in our visitor center. MX3D and the City of Amsterdam will announce the exact location of the bridge soon.
MX3D’s engineers, craftsmen and software experts bring together digital technology, robotics and traditional industrial production in the MX3D Bridge project; they research the construction site of the future, test and share their knowledge within an AMS-3D Building FieldLab.
Tim Geurtjens, CTO MX3D:
“What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘Printing Outside the box’ principle. By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.”
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
by Market Shadows - August 4th, 2015 3:44 am
Financial Markets and Economy
Oil has fallen to a six-month low, and hopes of a quick rebound are fading as demand heads into an autumn swoon.
It is getting ugly in Canada (Business Insider)
“It’s an election about who will protect our economy in a period of ongoing global instability,” Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, announced on Sunday as he officially kicked off the campaign for the federal elections on October 19. He’d just asked Governor General David Johnston to dissolve Parliament.
“Now is not the time for the kind of risky economic schemes that are doing so much damage elsewhere in the world,” he said. “It is time to stay the course and stick to our plan.”
The Chinese stock market ballooned over the past year on the back of borrowed money, with margin debt climbing to a high of 9.6% of market cap as equities peaked in June, according to Guggenheim Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd.
It's a terrible time to be in the coal business.
Companies have struggled for five years in an environment of strict regulation and low prices, along with a host of poorly-timed mergers. Alpha Natural Resources (ANRZ) filed for bankruptcy on Monday, becoming the latest coal company to succumb to the difficult environment.
U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating billions of dollars of trades Deutsche Bank AG made on behalf of Russian clients as recently as this year, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
The Justice Department’s criminal probe, which hasn’t been previously reported, focuses on so-called mirror trades, these people said. Such trades may have allowed Russian clients to move funds out of the country without properly alerting authorities,
by ilene - August 4th, 2015 12:05 am
Courtesy of Joshua M. Brown
The Wall Street Journal documents some very dire facts about the utter capitulation and panic among gold “investors” we’re witnessing.
The last time gold hit a record, after controlling for inflation, was 1980. It has never been back in inflation-adjusted terms and, at Friday’s close, was 57% below its 1980 peak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, also adjusted for inflation, last hit a record on May 19. At Friday’s close it was 3.7% off that level.
Gold-mining companies have suffered more. The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index, which contains big gold producers, finished Friday down 82% from its 2011 high, near a 13-year low.
A 35-year bear market in real terms and a 1929-esque 80% crash for the sector. And to think – gold was supposed to be the thing that you were buying to protect your portfolio! With friends like this, who needs enemies.
It’s quite a turn of events from four years ago, when the mania for precious metals was nearing its peak. Back then, the New Gold Rush was on and the commentary you’d hear and read mostly revolved around how much more you could get of the stuff and what the best way to “play it” was. Commentary like this was everywhere and it was hard to ignore it.
Fast-forward a few years and it’s the exact opposite.
Now you can’t find anyone who wants to say anything positive about their gold exposure. Except the true believers or the product salesmen whose job it is to “remain constructive.”
I’m reminded of the Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ song lyrics, “Rise and fall, turn the wheel ’cause all life is – is really just a circle.”
Turns out the “safe asset” was every bit as prone to the greed n’ fear cycle as the stock market. Especially after it became the plaything of regular stock market investors.
It doesn’t matter what you own, you’re not special and you’re never exempt from the circle.
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 9:58 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
It was already difficult to imagine Congress mustering up enough support to override a presidential veto of a bill to kill the Iran deal, but it will be impossible now that Kerry Secures Gulf Support.
Gulf Arab countries gave cautious backing on Monday to the nuclear deal with Iran, giving the White House an important diplomatic card as it seeks to gain congressional support for the agreement.
Speaking alongside US secretary of state John Kerry after a meeting in Doha, Qatari foreign minister Khalid al-Attiyah said that the agreement which the Obama administration helped negotiate with Iran would make the “region safer and more stable”.
“This was the best option amongst other options in order to try to come up with a solution for the nuclear weapons of Iran though dialogue,” Mr al-Attiyah said, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Co-operation Council. “We are sure that all the efforts that have been exerted make this region very secure, very stable.”
With that, some Democrats on the fence will likely be convinced. Republicans should too, but most won’t.
Republicans in No-Win Situation
Pat Buchanan is one of few republicans thinking clearly about Iran. Buchanan explains The GOP’s Iran Dilemma.
It appears that Hill Republicans will be near unanimous in voting a resolution of rejection of the Iran nuclear deal.
They will then vote to override President Obama’s veto of their resolution. And if the GOP fails there, Gov. Scott Walker says his first act as president would be to kill the deal.
But before the party commits to abrogating the Iran deal in 2017, the GOP should consider whether it would be committing suicide in 2016.
For even if Congress votes to deny Obama authority to lift U.S. sanctions on Iran, the U.S. will vote to lift sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. And Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, all parties to the deal, will also lift sanctions.
A Congressional vote to kill the Iran deal would thus leave the U.S. isolated, its government humiliated, unable to comply with the pledges its own secretary of state negotiated. Would Americans cheer the GOP for leaving the United States with egg all over its face?
And if Congress refuses to honor the agreement, but Iran complies with all its terms, who among our friends and allies would stand with an obdurate America then?
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 6:35 pm
Courtesy of James Kunstler
That the snarkier circles of political commentary thrill to the elephantine bellowings of Donald J. Trump only shows the pathetic limitations of the snarkists. They enjoy Trump’s filterless mouth, his harsh goadings of the other presidential wannabes, and his supposed telepathic empathy for the suffering public outside the magic kingdom of DC.
Trump has one legitimate issue, immigration, plus a brief against the general incompetence of professional politicians, and a pocketful of grandiose claims about his majestic skills in business and deal-making. As business goes in this huckster’s paradise, being a real estate developer is perhaps one click above being a car-dealer, and the fact that some of Trump’s artful deals end up in bankruptcy court might argue against his self-proclaimed mastery. Hence, his relegation to the clown category.
What Trump represents most vividly in this moment of history is the astounding lack of seriousness among people who pretend to be political heavyweights. No one so far, including the lovable Bernie Sanders, has nailed a proper bill of grievances to the White House gate. A broad roster of dire issues facing this society ought to be self-evident. But since they are absent so far in the public discussion, here is my list of matters that serious candidates should dare to talk about (all things that a sitting president could take action on):
The security state. America has developed the most horrifying state security apparatus that the world has ever seen in its NSA and associated agencies. It has become the sugar tit for some of the most malevolent enterprises of the corporatocracy — the black ops companies and the weapons dealers. The growth of this monster was not mandated by heaven. A president could lead the move to deconstruct it. A candidate with a decent respect for our heritage would make this a major campaign issue.
Related to this is the disgusting militarization of the police. Police forces in small towns have no business owning MRAP vehicles, tanks, and heavy weaponry. The federal government gave a lot of this stuff to them. Guess what? It can take the stuff back. Serious candidates should propose this.
There is a more general militarization of
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 5:58 pm
Back in May 2014, in one of its patented utterly worthless "analyses" (that cost taxpayers several tens of thousands of dollars) the San Francisco Fed, home of such titans of central planning thought as Janet Yellen, asked "is it still worth going to college." Not surprisingly, its answer was yes after some contrived mathematics that completely forgot to include just one thing: debt.
At the time, we had the following comment:
Oddly enough, having perused the paper several times, and having done
a word search for both "loan" and "debt" (both of which return no
hits), we find zero mention of one particular hockeystick. This one:
Perhaps for the San Fran Fed to be taken seriously one of these
years, it will actually do an analysis that covers all sides of a given
problem, instead of just the one it was goalseeked to "conclude" before
any "research" was even attempted.
An analysis, even a painfully simple one, such as the one we put together less than a month later:
It is common knowledge that in the hierarchy of bubbles, not even the stock market comes close to the student loan bubble. If it isn't, one glance at the chart below which shows the exponential surge in Federal student debt starting just after the great financial crisis, should put the problem in its context.
And while we have previously reported that a shocking amount of the loan proceeds are used to fund anything but tuition payments, a major portion of the funding does manage to find itself to its intended recipient: paying the college tuition bill.
Which means that with student debt being so easily accessible anyone can use (and abuse), it gives colleges ample room to hike tuition as much as they see fit: after all students are merely a pass-through vehicle (even if one which for the most part represents non-dischargeable "collateral") designed to get funding from point A, the Federal Government to point B, the college treasury account.
It should thus come as no surprise that in
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 5:02 pm
Courtesy of Wade of Investing Caffeine
This article is an excerpt from a previously released Sidoxia Capital Management complementary newsletter (August 3, 2015).
It’s summertime and the stock market has taken a vacation, and it’s unclear when prices will return from a seven month break. It may seem like a calm sunset walk along the beach now that Greek worries have temporarily subsided, but concerns have shifted to an impending Federal Reserve interest rate hike, declining commodity prices, and a Chinese stock market crash, which could lead to a painful sunburn.
If you think about it, stock investors have basically been on unpaid vacation since the beginning of the year, with the Dow Jones Industrial Index (17,690) down -0.7% for 2015 and the S&P 500 (2,104) up + 2.2% over the same time period (see chart below). Despite mixed results for the year, all three main stock indexes rebounded in July (including the tech-heavy NASDAQ +2.8% for the month) after posting negative returns in June. Overall for 2015, sector performance has been muddled. There has been plenty of sunshine on the Healthcare sector (+11.7%), but Energy stocks have been stuck in the doldrums (-13.4%), over the same timeframe.
Source: Yahoo! Finance
Chinese Investors Suffer Heat Stroke
Despite gains for U.S. stocks in July, the overheated Chinese stock market caused some heat stroke for global investors with the Shanghai Composite index posting its worst one month loss (-15%) in six years, wiping out about $4 trillion in market value. Before coming back down to earth, the Chinese stock market inflated by more than +150% from 2014.
Driving the speculative fervor were an unprecedented opening of 12 million monthly accounts during spring, according to Steven Rattner, a seasoned financier, investor, and a New York Times journalist. Margin accounts operate much like a credit card for individuals, which allowed these investors to aggressively gamble on the China market upswing, but during the downdraft investors were forced to sell stocks to generate proceeds for outstanding loan repayments. It’s estimated that 25% of these investors only…
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 4:49 pm
Courtesy of Andy Tully of OilPrice.com
Lately the leaders of some of the world’s biggest energy companies have been saying oil prices will remain depressed for some time – perhaps for the next five years – and now they’ve decided to cut their costs in the most painful way possible: massive job cuts.
Royal Dutch Shell announced July 30 that it expects to eliminate 6,500 positions. The announcement came the same day it reported that earnings in the second quarter were $3.4 billion, 33 percent lower than the $5.1 billion it made during the same period of 2014.
The same day, the British utility Centrica said it plans to cut fully 6,000 jobs and reduce the size of its division for producing oil and gas. The day before, Chevron Corp. of the United States expected to eliminate 1,500 positions.
And as oil producers struggle to rein in spending elsewhere in their operations, the pain is being shared by the oil service companies they rely on. The Italian energy contractor Saipem, for example, says it plans to cut 8,800 jobs in two years.
“We have to be resilient in a world where oil prices remain low for some time,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in the statement. “These are challenging times for the industry, and we are responding with urgency and determination.”
It may be too early to determine whether the price of oil, which began falling a year ago, was now forcing the energy industry to go beyond cutting fat and is now gouging into the very sinew of its operations, but it’s clear that they’re convinced that other economies simply weren’t enough to keep themselves afloat.
And all because of the steep decline in the price of oil. In June 2014, its average global price was more than $110 per barrel. Now it’s around $50 per barrel, despite a brief, small spike recently that brought it up to around $60 per barrel.
The price fall began because drillers in the United States had increased oil production, mostly from shale deposits, which are more expensive to exploit. Instead of reducing its own production to help boost prices, OPEC, under Saudi leadership, decided at its semiannual meeting in November to keep…
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 4:30 pm
Courtesy of David Stockman of Contra Corner
If you want a cogent metaphor for the central bank enabled crack-up boom now underway on a global basis, look no further than today’s scheduled chapter 11 filling of met coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources (ANRZ). After becoming a public company in 2005, its market cap soared from practically nothing to $11 billion exactly four years ago. Now it’s back at the zero bound.
Yes, bankruptcies happen, and this is most surely a case of horrendous mismanagement. But the mismanagement at issue is that of the world’s central bank cartel.
The latter have insured that there will be thousands of such filings in the years ahead because since the mid-1990s the central banks has engulfed the global economy in an unsustainable credit based spending boom, while utterly disabling and falsifying the financial system that is supposed to price assets honestly, allocate capital efficiently and keep risk and greed in check.
Accordingly, the ANRZ stock bubble depicted above does not merely show that the boys, girls and robo-traders in the casino got way too rambunctious chasing the “BRICs will grow to the sky” tommyrot fed to them by Goldman Sachs. What was actually happening is that the central banks were feeding the world economy with so much phony liquidity and dirt cheap capital that for a time the physical economy seemed to be doing a veritable jack-and-the-beanstalk number.
In fact, the central banks generated a double-pumped boom——first in the form of a credit-fueled consumption spree in the DM economies that energized the great export machine of China and its satellite suppliers; and then after the DM consumption boom crashed in 2008-2009 and threatened to bring the export-mercantilism of China’s red capitalism crashing down on Beijing’s rulers, the PBOC unleashed an even more fantastic investment and infrastructure boom in China and the rest of the EM.
During the interval between 1992 and 1994 the world’s monetary system—–which had grown increasingly unstable since the destruction of Bretton Woods in 1971——took a decided turn for the worst. This was fueled by the bailout of the Wall Street banks during the Mexican peso crisis; Mr. Deng’s ignition of export mercantilism in China and his discovery that communist party power could better by maintained from the end of the central bank’s printing presses, rather than Mao’s proverbial gun; and Alan Greenspan’s 1994 panic when the bond vigilante’s dumped over-valued government bonds after the Fed finally let money market…
by ilene - August 3rd, 2015 3:59 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Dissatisfied with alleged concessions to Russia, the leader of the Right Sector battalion, Dmytro Yarosh, seeks a nationwide no-confidence referendum in President Petro Poroshenko.
The Right Sector is an illegal battalion that Kiev tolerates because its fighters are well-trained, well-equipped, and willing to take on the separatists.
There is growing unease in Kiev over the Right Sector, because of Yarosh's call for a vote of no-confidence along with some in the group openly threatening a military coup.
Russia claims (likely accurately), Right Sector neo-Nazis were responsible for the violence in the 2104 Ukrainian Revolution that ousted then-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.
Please consider Fears Grow as Ukraine Rightwing Militia Puts Kiev in its Sights.
Fears are growing that Right Sector — the only major volunteer battalion Kiev has not yet managed to bring under regular army control — could turn its fire on the new government itself.
Dmytro Yarosh, Right Sector’s leader, called late last month for a nationwide no-confidence referendum in President Petro Poroshenko. He was addressing a rally in Kiev of up to 5,000 Right Sector activists, angry over what they say is the government’s slow progress in fighting corruption and excessive concessions to Moscow as it attempts to reach a settlement over eastern Ukraine.
“We are an organised revolutionary force that is opening the new phase of the Ukrainian revolution,” Mr Yarosh told the rally.
Right Sector fighters regularly drive outside the base in camouflaged jeeps, passing freely through security checkpoints despite having their own — illegal — licence plates identifying them as Right Sector.
“We could send up to 10,000 fighters to the frontline,” said Artem Skoropadsky, a spokesperson for Right Sector.
Though the group’s fighters admit they constitute an illegal armed force, they blame Ukraine’s parliament for dragging its feet in legislating to legalise them as a single elite unit under Ukrainian army command.
“It may come to a military coup,” said one Right Sector fighter — although many in the group say they would not go that far. He admitted, however, that public support for such a scenario was low. “That’s why we haven’t done it yet.”
Mike "Mish" Shedlock