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Oneok CEO Terry Spencer to retire on September 30, 2021

See the rest of the story here. Theflyonthewall.com provides the latest financial news as it breaks. Known as a leader in market intelligence, The Fl.....»»

Category: blogSource: theflyonthewallMay 25th, 2021

US Coal "Roars Back" Under Biden Unlike Trump 

US Coal "Roars Back" Under Biden Unlike Trump  One of the biggest ironies to start this decade is the transition from fossil fuel generation to green energy has created a global energy crisis that is forcing the U.S., among many other countries, to restart coal-fired power plants monumentally ahead of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere to prevent electricity shortages. The virtue-signaling assault by the green lobby spearheaded by hapless puppet Greta Thunberg must beside herself as U.S. power plants are on course to burn 23% more coal this year, the first increase since 2013, despite President Biden's ambitious plan for a national grid to run on 100% clean energy by 2035.  A global energy crunch is rippling through the world amid a huge rebound for power. Natural gas has soared to record highs as supplies remain tight, and countries are finding out that renewable energy sources aren't as reliable as previously thought. This has created a massive worldwide scramble by power companies for fossil fuels, especially coal.  U.S. utilities are transitioning to coal because soaring natural gas prices make it uneconomic to produce electricity. At the moment, 25% of all U.S. electricity produced is derived from coal-fired plants, up ten percentage points since the beginning of COVID.  "The markets have spoken," Rich Nolan, the National Mining Association chief executive officer, told Bloomberg. "We're seeing the essential nature of coal come roaring back." The Energy Information Administration forecasts U.S. utilities are estimated to burn 536.9 million short tons of thermal coal, up from 436.5 million in 2020.  Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources, the largest U.S. exporter of fuel, said demand for coal will remain robust well into 2022. Last week, he warned about domestic supply constraints and power companies already "discussing possible grid blackouts this winter."  He said, "They don't see where the fuel is coming from to meet demand," adding that 23% of utilities are switching away from gas this fall/winter to burn more coal. There are not enough coal miners to rapidly increase mining output.   Kevin Book, managing director of research firm ClearView Energy Partners, said the decarbonization communication from Western governments would undoubtedly be challenged due to the energy crisis it has sparked.  "The goal of policy, if you listen to what's being said in Western countries in the context of climate discussions, is not only to stop building new coal but to eliminate the existing capacity to burn coal," Book said. "This is a moment in time when that idea is going to be challenged." One thing Greta and the wealthy elite that likely fund her campaign to reeducate younger generations into believing the green energy transition will be seamless is that it won't and may take decades. A pure-play coal company that is already benefiting from the demand surge and rising prices is Peabody Energy Corporation. As cooler weather fast approaches, the company may see increased demand for its thermal coal that utility companies use to produce electricity. On a technical basis, a so-called bullish "golden cross" was just triggered.  "Make Coal Great Again," former President Trump used to tell crowds a few years back at rallies in West Virginia. We're sure it's boom times in the Appalachia hills.  Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 20:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge5 hr. 13 min. ago

Interior Secretary Haaland Says Wind Turbines May Soon Line US Coasts

Interior Secretary Haaland Says Wind Turbines May Soon Line US Coasts Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Speaking at a wind industry conference held by the American Clean Power Association, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced plans by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to arrange seven offshore lease sales along the U.S.’ coastlines by 2025, in line with the Biden administration’s executive order, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” which directed the Secretary of the Interior to “[double] offshore wind by 2030.” General view of the Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted off the coast of Blackpool, Britain, on Sept. 5, 2018. (Phil Noble/File Photo/Reuters) The proposed sites would include the coast of northern and central California, the coast of Oregon, the Gulf of Mexico, the Carolina Long Bay, the Central Atlantic, the New York Bight, and the Gulf of Maine. The American Clean Power Conference at which Secretary Haaland spoke also featured remarks from Sen. Ed Markey (D.-Mass.) and various wind industry insiders, and was sponsored by GE Renewable Energy, Siemens Gamesa, Shell, Vineyard Wind, and other firms with a financial stake in wind power. “The Interior Department is laying out an ambitious roadmap as we advance the Administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” Secretary Haaland said. “Together, we will meet our clean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities.” In their press release on the announcement, BOEM claimed it would use “the best available science as well as knowledge from ocean users and other stakeholders to minimize conflict with existing uses and marine life” while realizing the goal of adding another 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. Yet some people, including WindAction Group director Lisa Linowes, argue that BOEM and other government agencies have not done enough to address the potential environmental impacts of wind energy projects along the country’s coasts. In an email exchange with The Epoch Times, Linowes highlighted a lawsuit against Vineyard Wind’s 800-megawatt wind energy project along Martha’s Vineyard. The lawsuit alleges that BOEM and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Marine Fisheries (NOAA/Fisheries) have not done enough to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale from being harmed by the project. Offshore wind projects can also hinder commercial fishing, potentially violating the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953. While the Trump administration’s Interior Department released a memo in December 2020 asserting that the Act prevents offshore wind projects that unreasonably interfere with fishing, the Biden administration reversed that opinion in April 2021. “The Secretary’s obligations to provide for the ‘protection of the environment,’ the ‘prevention of waste,’ the ‘protection of national security interests of the United States,’ and the ‘fair return to the United States’ may weigh in favor of Secretarial actions to maximize low-emission and renewable electrical generation from offshore wind facilities, but, in some circumstances, the siting and operation of those facilities may not optimally provide for other ‘reasonable uses’ of the exclusive economic zone,” writes Robert Anderson, principal deputy solicitor of the Department of the Interior, whose publications as a law professor include research aimed at “protecting offshore areas from oil and gas leasing.” Linowes said, “The Biden [administration] is playing fast and loose with our laws in order to ram through an offshore wind industry. This is certain to produce more lawsuits and ultimately turn the public against these projects. The number of people living along the east coast that oppose these projects is growing rapidly.” “The risks to birds and bats are real. Fifteen miles off shore is not very far,” Linowes added. Asked what it will do to ensure its turbine capacity is not harmful to ocean life, bird populations, and fishermen, a DOI spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email that “BOEM continues to work with the fishing community, other federal agencies, Tribes, industry, conservation organizations, and other key ocean users and stakeholders to ensure that offshore energy development and the BOEM regulatory review process is informed by the data and information they provide, as well as the best available science and knowledge.” But Linowes voiced skepticism about the agency and industry’s commitment to working with fishermen and other stakeholders, stating that those groups “failed to achieve agreement with Vineyard Wind and other projects off the coasts of NJ and NY.” Asked about who would clean up old wind turbines and associated infrastructure, the DOI spokesperson responded that “lessees are responsible for the decommissioning of proposed projects at the end of their lease. This includes the removal or decommissioning of all facilities, projects, cables, and obstructions.” On Twitter, Haaland’s remarks were met with enthusiasm by some. “This has to be my favorite announcement to come out of #OffshoreWind21 so far! Many thanks to Secretary Deb Haaland for taking the trip. This has many implications for the #NewYork area, especially as regards #ports #infrastructure and electrical transmission,” said David Brezler, who describes himself on LinkedIn as a data analytics and project management professional currently working on offshore wind and other renewable energy projects. Others responded to the announcement by pointing out wind energy’s reliability and cost issues. While Biden’s Department of Energy has claimed that 30 gigawatts of additional wind power would “power 10 million homes,” intermittent power sources such as wind also require backup from natural gas or other reliable electricity sources when wind is not blowing, adding what are known as load balancing costs. In Germany, where wind power has rapidly expanded, energy prices for household consumers have risen to the highest in the European Union (EU), and are expected to spike this winter, in line with projections for the United States. Germany’s dependence on foreign energy sources, including Russia and other geopolitical rivals, is also high; in 2019, Germany relied on imports for 71 percent of its energy supply according to the Energy Information Administration, a slight decline from 2000, according to Deutsche Bank. “Wind farms can’t ‘combat’ climate change. Only fraudsters claim, and idiots believe such nonsense. All wind farms do is rip off ratepayers with pointlessly expensive and unreliable electricity,” said Steve Milloy, proprietor of JunkScience.com, who served on President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge5 hr. 57 min. ago

Ethereum"s Turn To Outshine Bitcoin Is Coming, UBS Says

Ethereum's Turn To Outshine Bitcoin Is Coming, UBS Says After a stellar start to the year, which saw its price soar to an all time high above $4,100, trouncing virtually all of its crypto peers, Ethereum has stagnated in recent weeks, with its place in the spotlight taken by bitcoin which whose impressive outperformance has been the result of now confirmed speculation that a bitcoin futures ETF is coming. It also meant that what has traditionally been a close correlation between the two larges cryptos has broken in favor of the larger peer; it would also suggest that ethereum is trading about $1000 cheap vs bitcoin. It wasn't just bitcoin's long-overdue ETF success: ETH was also put in the shade by DeFi- and NFT-driven demand for faster and cheaper blockchains since the late summer, according to UBS strategist James Malcolm. But in the bank's latest Crypto Compass publication, Malcolm writes that this could soon change thanks to the progress with one of Ethereum's prior Layer 2 solutions, Optimism. As UBS explains, "having been all but forgotten, it suddenly seems set to give leading competitor Arbitrum a run for its money. OVM 2.0 promises faster processing, cheaper gas prices and fewer code constraints, which should encourage smart contract deployment." Furthermore, it has just been implemented on Ethereum's testnet and is now scheduled to go mainnet-live in two weeks, on October 28. Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the ETH uplift that will take place once Ethereum 2.0 is ready for rollout. Some have speculated that the event will quickly trigger a quick doubling in the cryptocurrency which Goldman dubbed the "Amazon for information" (and is why Goldman also sees ETH eventually overtaking BTC). Data also show the recent rebound in active addresses on chain, offset by the small decline in total transfer volumes, which however can be attributed to the surge in whale trading in recent weeks (more below). A curious divergence also emerges when looking at exchange balances between BTC and ETH. But what appears most remarkable is the distribution of crypto strikes for bitcoin and ethereum, both of which are far above spot, suggesting that a major gamma squeeze may be on deck for both. Incidentally, speaking of ETH level 2, Bitcoin's Lightning Network for smaller transactions has also been growing in anticipation of next month's Taproot upgrade: year-to-date, the number of LN nodes and channels has doubled, and capacity nearly tripled. Incidentally, this does not mean that Bitcoin is set to drop, on the contrary. As UBS also writes, Bitcoin - which is now on the right side of $60k - is within striking distance of its April all time highs. Its latest rally came in two steps: October 1, which was put down to a Powell comment about having no intention to follow China in banning crypto, and October 6 when nearly $1.6bn of buy orders were reportedly executed within five minutes. Both occurred against a backdrop of big-name presenters at digital summits, rising speculation about imminent US ETF approval (which we now know has taken place), and pushback from the Senate Banking Committee's ranking Republican against the Biden administration and Fed's crystallizing plans to impose bank-like regulation on stablecoins. Pat Toomey's point was this is something for Congress to decide and enact clarifying legislation, which would take more time. They helped trigger liquidations of short futures positions but left no footprint on bid-ask spreads, which barely budged in contrast to what we saw a month earlier. Not surprisingly, with Bitcoin steamrolling above $60K, bullish sentiment has become even more pronounced, attracting growing spot-futures basis arbitrage on the CME and pushing perpetual futures funding rates uniformly higher On-chain activity has also seen a major revival as BTC entity-adjusted transaction volumes overshot their early-2021 highs. What is most remarkable is that this is not at all small-time and retail investors setting the price: as the next chart from UBS shows, whales are in the driving seat to an almost unprecedented degree with the mean-to-median transaction size ratio is at its highest level since 2013. And speaking of whales, the bitcoin supply held by whales is now at the highest it has ever been at around 8mm coins (out of a total 21mm), while both exchanges and OTC desks have seen their holdings decline. Also notable, the collapse in bitcoin supply that was last active less than 3 months ago as increasingly more are truly HODLing. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge6 hr. 29 min. ago

Texas Guardsmen Shot At By Heavily Armed Cartel Gunmen At Border 

Texas Guardsmen Shot At By Heavily Armed Cartel Gunmen At Border  Heavily armed drug cartels are becoming more aggressive along the Texas-Mexico border amid President Biden's immigration crisis. Last week, Fox News' Bill Melugin captured cartel members shooting over Texas Guardsmen stationed at an observation post. Now Melugin says cartel members are shooting "at Texas National Guard soldiers."  The latest incident occurred Thursday night in Roma, Texas, when suspected cartel members fired "two shots across the border at Texas National Guard soldiers," according to Melugin. He said this is "the same area where cartel gunmen have been seen taunting the soldiers in recent days."  BREAKING: Two shots were fired from across the border at Texas National Guard soldiers in Roma, TX yesterday by suspected cartel gunmen. It happened in the same area where cartel gunmen have been seen taunting the soldiers in recent days. Texas Rangers investigating. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/F3SNI6GiAE — Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) October 15, 2021 The Fox News reporter tweeted a video of suspected cartel members firing machine guns over a National Guard observation last week.  It is also in the same area where we witnessed tracers from a suspected cartel machine gun being fired into the U.S. over a National Guard observation post while we were embedded with them last week. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/uZxUfR6DcE — Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) October 15, 2021 The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said, "two shots were fired across the border from Mexico into Texas, "believed to be aimed at Texas National Guard personnel." They stated, "Texas Rangers responded to the scene" and confirmed "no injuries," adding that an "investigation into this incident" is underway.  Responding to DPS' statement published on Facebook, many users were disgusted how "sleepy Joe Biden's world" is falling apart. Some suggested Guardsmen and all law enforcement fired upon by cartel members should "shoot back." Others said this is an "act of war."  "Force should be met with force, you do not have to wait until the bullet hits you to protect yourself, it is called Self Defense!" someone said.  Another said, "they need a reaper drone out there."  While the Biden administration seemingly ignores the border crisis, Texas Governor Greg Abbot has continued increasing Guardsmen along the border as he warns of "increased caravans attempting to cross the border caused by Biden's open border policy." The latest leg down in Biden's polling data may be derived from all the bad press surrounding the border crisis.  Biden's choice to ignore the southern border crisis has been a godsend for Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterms, who can now use the immigration angle to highlight how the president was ill-prepared.  Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 16:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 13 min. ago

Investors Rush To Buy Nearly 1 In 4 Homes

Investors Rush To Buy Nearly 1 In 4 Homes Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com, Investors are buying huge percentages of existing home sales... Corelogic reports Single-Family Investor Activity Surges in the Second Quarter. Large investors (those who retain 100 or more properties) are largely responsible for this rise. Of all investor purchases made in June 2021, 20% were made by large investors. This is much higher than 11% in 2020 or 14% in 2019. Small investors (those who retain between 3 and 10 properties), have declined slightly and now account for less than half of investor purchases at 46% in June. Mid-sized investors (those who retain 11-99 properties) have stayed constant, oscillating around 35% percent in the past 30 months. The pandemic seemed to drive away large investors, but they are now making up their largest share of investor purchases seen in the past decade. If you have been outbid on a home there's nearly a 1 in 4 chance it was to an investor or group of investors. *  *  * Like these reports? If so, please Subscribe to MishTalk Email Alerts.   Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 16:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 13 min. ago

Trump Favored To Win 2024 Among Top UK Betting Houses

Trump Favored To Win 2024 Among Top UK Betting Houses Former President Donald Trump is favored to win the 2024 US election, according to UK-based betting exchange Ladbrokes sportsbook, as well as London-based Smarkets. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, Trump surpassed Joe Biden last week - with Smarkets giving the former US president a 20% chance (4-1 odds) of winning in 2024 vs. Biden's odds of winning at 19% and VP Kamala Harris' odds at 13%. "It’s a pretty staggering development to find a defeated one-term president taking over as favorite from the incumbent who beat him, but we know by now that Donald Trump is no ordinary politician," said Smarkets head of political markets, Matthew Shaddick. "It’s early days, but the latest market signals suggest there is every chance we could be heading for a Biden vs. Trump rematch in 2024 with Trump currently having a very slight edge, according to the betting." At Ladbrokes, Trump is a +350 favorite over Biden (also 4-1 odds), and Harris 5-1. Trump's odds of becoming the 2024 GOP nominee stand at 45%, according to Smarkets. "Trump’s odds have been improving all year and in particular since Biden’s poll ratings began declining this summer," said Shaddick, adding "There is absolutely no sign of Republican voters deserting him, and he leads every primary poll by a distance. "Many forecasters had predicted that health or legal issues might stop Trump from re-election, but the latest Smarkets prices imply that there is a two-in-three chance he’ll run for the White House again in three years’ time." At London's Betfair, however, Biden is favored over Trump (4-1) while Harris stands at 5-1. As the Review-Journal notes, wagering on the election isn't permitted at US sportsbooks - however "At offshore books that operate illegally in the U.S., Trump is the +275 favorite over Biden (+325) and Harris (5-1) at BetOnline and the 3-1 favorite over Biden (+325) and Harris (5-1) at SportsBetting.ag." Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 17:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 13 min. ago

North American Crane Count Decrease Signals Growing Uncertainty

North American Crane Count Decrease Signals Growing Uncertainty By Zachary Phillips of ConstructionDive Summary: Rider Levett Bucknall's Crane Count decreased by 4.5% from Q1 to Q3 2021. The index measures the number of fixed cranes across cities in the U.S. and Canada, as a representation of the active construction workload in those cities. Of the 14 cities measured, only three — Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto — saw an increase in the number of cranes in that period. Five of the cities — Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Portland — saw what RLB called a "significant decrease" in the number of cranes; dropping by 30% or more. The dip in Q3 comes after a spike in Q1 of 2021, which also followed a decrease in the crane count. Toronto has continued to tower over U.S. cities when it comes to the total number of cranes. One thing connects all the cities, RLB's report said: uncertainty, which remains significant to construction everywhere. Commercial cranes are down collectively 36% — or 20 cranes — across North American cities. "We anticipate better times ahead with previously delayed projects being brought back online," the report said. "However, this is conditional upon market conditions as the AEC industry continues to experience the effects of COVID-19." The most popular sectors for crane usage were mixed-use and residential. In Los Angeles, RLB counted 25 cranes for mixed-use and 12 for residential projects. In Toronto, those numbers were 47 and 133, respectively. Other findings from the report include: A 40% increase of cranes used in the education construction sector. Los Angeles saw the highest percentage increase from Q1 to Q3, by 19%. The number of cranes in Toronto increased by 81% when compared to Q3 2020. Here are some of the highlights for U.S. cities: Los Angeles: The second most populous city in the U.S. saw its second straight report with an increase in the number of cranes, jumping from 43 to 51. The growth can likely be attributed to an increase in major transportation projects in the city, RLB said. The number of cranes on commercial projects have declined, in addition to a dip in the hospitality sector, but there has been a spike in demand for residential construction. San Francisco: The number of cranes in San Francisco grew by two from Q1 to Q3, but 10 new cranes have been erected within the last six months, RLB said, as some projects leave and others arrive. Most of the new cranes are for residential projects, which has seen an increase in demand, though others are for mixed-use and industrial projects.  Chicago: In January of 2017, RLB counted 56 cranes in Chicago. A steady, though not constant, decline in those numbers led to only seven counted cranes in Q3 of 2021. This, however, is due to a large number of projects downtown topping off and now leasing to new renters. The number of cranes is not anticipated to increase in the near future, RLB reported. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 17:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 13 min. ago

Just How Big Is China"s Property Sector, And Two Key Questions On Policy And Tail Risks

Just How Big Is China's Property Sector, And Two Key Questions On Policy And Tail Risks While the broader US stock market was giddily melting up in the past week, things in China were going from bad to worse with Evergrande set to officially be in default on Oct 23 when the grace period on its first nonpayment ends, and with contagion rocking the local property market - which as we explained last week just saw the most "catastrophic" property sales numbers since the global financial crisis - sending dollar-denominated Chinese junk bonds to all time high yields. So even though it is now conventional wisdom that China's property crisis is contained (just as its concurrent energy crisis is also somehow contained), we beg to differ, and suggest that the crisis hitting the world's largest asset class is only just starting and is about to drag China into a "hard landing", with the world set to follow. And yes, with a total asset value of $62 trillion representing 62% of household wealth, the Chinese real estate sector is not only 30 times bigger than the market cap of all cryptos and also bigger than both the US bond and stock market, but is the key "asset" that backstops China's entire financial system whose deposits at last check were more than double those of the US. In other words, if China's property sector wobbles, the world is facing a guaranteed depression. So given the escalating weakness in China’s property sector, which has been in focus given intense regulatory pressure on developers’ leverage and banks’ mortgage exposure, and consequent contraction in sales and construction activity, it is natural to ask how significant a hit this could pose to both China's and the global economy. To help people get a sense of scale, below we excerpts some of the key findings from a recent note from Goldman showing just how big China's property sector is. A wide range of estimates for the scale of China’s property sector — up to about 30% of GDP — have been reported in the media and by other analysts. Different definitions of the scope of the sector largely account for the disparity. The most important distinctions are what types of building are included (residential, nonresidential, or all construction including infrastructure), what economic activity is included (only the construction itself, or all the value-added embedded in the finished residence e.g. domestically produced materials), and whether related real estate services are also included. A narrow definition of “residential construction activity as a share of GDP” could be as low as 3.6% of GDP. Expanding this to include all related domestic activities - e.g. materials like metals, wood, and stone produced domestically and used in housing construction, as well as services like financial activities and business services used directly or indirectly by the housing sector - would account for 12.4% of GDP. Adding nonresidential building construction and its associated activity would take it to 17.7%. Finally, including real estate services—which show a high correlation with broader property trends—would take the number to 23.3%. (All these numbers are based on detailed 2018 data, and exclude infrastructure spending not directly related to residential and nonresidential buildings.) The property sector’s share of the Chinese economy has grown fairly steadily over the past decade, after surging in the stimulus-fueled recovery just after the 2008 financial crisis. Digging into the definition of the “property sector”, there are three main questions that need to be kept in mind: 1. What types of construction? One important difference is in what types of construction activities are included. Construction broadly consists of three categories: residential housing, nonresidential buildings, and infrastructure-related construction. In China, residential construction appears to be about half of total construction—the rest is either non-residential building construction or civil engineering works, plus a small amount of installation/decoration activity. Specifically, residential and nonresidential buildings represent around 70% of total construction, and residential floor space under construction is typically about 70% of total floor space under construction. Note that this ~50% share for residential share of total construction is not unusual in international perspective. For example, the residential share is similar in the United States—though it reached into the 60-70% range during the peak years of the housing bubble—and has been about 40-50% in South Korea for some time. 2. What types of economic activity (only construction, or everything necessary to complete the finished building)? An even more important distinction is what types of activities one counts. Strictly speaking, the construction industry itself represents about 7% of China’s GDP. This represents wages, profits, and taxes from the construction sector (regardless of what type of construction or what end users). This is the value added of the construction sector itself, or the narrowly defined activity of building things. However, the construction industry uses a lot of output from other sectors – both materials (cement, wood, steel, etc.) and services (transportation of materials, financial services) to create finished buildings. Put another way, there are a lot of “backward linkages” from the construction sector: a home purchase requires not just the value added from construction industry, but also the value added from the “upstream” industries that provided the materials and were otherwise involved in the completion of the finished product. To gain some intuition for this, in the chart below, Goldman shows how much of each industry’s domestic value added ultimately goes into “final demand” of the construction industry (purchases of property by consumers or investment in property by businesses). For example, about one-third of value added in “wood products” goes into construction, about one-half of basic metals value added goes into construction, and essentially all of construction’s value added goes into construction final demand. (Note that this includes direct and indirect requirements—for example, basic metal output that is sold to firms in the metal fabrication industry that then sell to the construction sector would be counted as part of final demand for construction.) The next chart shows what fraction of the final demand for construction is provided by each sector. Roughly speaking, if we think about this as “the total domestic value added embedded in an apartment”, almost 30% of this is provided by construction activity, 8% from nonmetallic mineral products, etc. From the perspective of total domestic value added from all industries embedded in the final demand of the construction industry, the overall construction industry’s final demand accounts for roughly one-quarter of China’s GDP. This estimate is based on China’s most recent (2018) “input-output” table—which indicates the final output of each industry, as well as how much input is used from every other. 3. Should real estate services be included. Some analysts focus on property construction only, while others add the “real estate services” sector e.g. the leasing and maintenance of buildings when estimating the impact of the housing sector of the economy. These activities contribute roughly 6-7% of GDP in China. In many countries, real estate services are somewhat less volatile than housing construction. The likely reason is that real estate services relate in part to the stock of existing buildings than the flow of new building construction. Even if there were a housing crash and building construction stopped, most real estate services could theoretically continue.  As evidence of this, in the US housing crash, construction sector GDP fell by ~30% peak to trough but real estate services never declined. That said, in China the “real estate services” sector has been significantly more volatile, almost as volatile as the construction sector itself. Contributions by type of demand and activity Taking these three factors into consideration, Goldman next shows estimated shares of China’s activity in the next chart, and breaks down construction into its main components while showing the share attributable to real estate services. The “sector activity” column shows the share of GDP accounted for directly by activities of that sector. In other words, companies and workers engaged in all types of construction activity accounted for 7.1% of China’s GDP in 2018. The “final demand” column shows the share of GDP accounted for by all the domestic economic activities embodied in final demand for that sector. In other words, the demand for buildings and other construction also generates demand for materials and other types of services — and adding the value added in construction and all of these “upstream” sectors together gives the numbers in the right column Putting the above together, the size of China’s property sector therefore depends on the question we want to answer: What share of Chinese economic activity do workers/companies involved in residential construction represent? Here, one should look at domestic value-added (the left column). This is 7.1% for overall construction and just 3.6% for residential construction only. How much economic activity is driven by demand for residential property construction? Residential property demand drives 12.4% of GDP (right column, second row in table), because in addition to the construction activity it creates demand for all the materials and other services involved in building construction. What about the impact of total demand for property construction? Including non-residental buildings as well as residential, and the total upstream requirements of both, we want to look at the “domestic value added in final demand” of construction of residential + nonresidential buildings. This is 17.7% of GDP (12.4%+5.3%). How much of the economy is at risk from a property downturn? Here, we could potentially add end demand for real estate services to the above calculation. This would be another 5.6% of GDP, suggesting 23.3% of the economy—nearly a quarter—would be affected. Finally, if one adds all construction and all real estate and all their associated activities, we get just over 30% of the economy (24.5%+5.6%), although it is worth caveating that this may be an overly broad definition for the property sector, as it includes infrastructure-related activity, which if anything is likely to be ramped up by policymakers in the event of severe property sector weakness. * * * Yet even a nice big, round 30% estimate for how much China's property sector contributes to GDP, does not encompass all the potential spillovers from a construction sector downturn. There are at least three others: Second-round effects. A shock to construction (or any other sector) implies a drop in wages and company profits in that sector. This in turn implies lower income for the household and business sectors — and incrementally lower consumption and investment respectively. Such “second-round” or “multiplier” effects aren’t included in the estimates above. Fiscal spillovers. Land sales represent an important part of local government revenues in China (roughly 1/3 in gross revenue terms). Governments acquire land usage rights from rural occupants and sell them at a premium via auctions to developers. If land sales revenues fall because of a housing downturn (through some combination of fewer successful auctions and/or lower land prices), budgets will be squeezed, which could limit local governments’ spending and investment. Spillovers abroad via imports. As the world’s largest trading nation, China does not get all of its construction materials and other intermediate inputs domestically. In addition to the estimates above, which focus on domestic value-added, about 11% of the total value added embedded in China’s construction final demand is from foreign sources. (This is about 3% of China’s GDP, although it makes more sense to look at each trading partner’s exposure relative to the size of its own economy.) So, if we wanted to look at the total size of China’s construction sector in terms of driving economic activity, regardless of where that economic activity occurs (perhaps to compare China’s construction sector to other countries with different levels of import intensity) the figure in the top right cell in Exhibit 3 would be 3% larger. Putting it all together, and China's property sector emerges as the mother of all ticking financial time bombs. * * * Which brings us to what is Beijing's latest policy action (if any) to prevent this potential financial nuke from going off, and what are any additional tail risks to be considered. Well, as noted above, China's property sector began the week with sharp price falls across the board, with China's junk bonds cratering to near all time lows and with signs that the concerns are spilling over to the broader China credit market with spreads widening across the board. Some key updates: Recent news suggest China property stresses are building up. A number of China property HY developers have made announcements over recent weeks regarding their upcoming bond maturities. On 11 Oct, Modern Land launched a consent solicitation to extend the maturity on its USD 250mn bond due on 25 Oct by 3 months Xinyuan Real Estate announced on 14 Oct that the majority of holders of its USD 229mn bond due on 15 Oct have agreed to an exchange offer. Note that Fitch considers both transactions to be distressed exchanges. Furthermore, Sinic announced on 11 Oct that they are not expecting to make the principal and interest payments on its USD 250mn bond due on 18 Oct. These indicate that stresses amongst developers are building. Meanwhile, the grace period on Evergrande's missed coupon payments is ending soon. Evergrande missed coupon payments of USD 148MM on 11 Oct. This came after missing an earlier coupon payment on 23 Sep. The earlier missed coupon has a 30-day grace period, which ends on 23 Oct, and should that not be remedied in the coming week, the company will be in default on this bond. With Evergrande USD bonds priced at around 20, a potential default is unlikely to have large market impact, though if the company is able to remedy the earlier default, this could provide a positive surprise for the market. Despite these mounting risks, the market staged a sharp rebound at the end of the week, with news emerging that policymakers are seeking to speed up mortgage approvals (if not followed by much more aggressive easing, this step will do nothing but delay the inevitable by a few days). And while Goldman's China credit strateigst Kenneth Ho writes overnight that valuation is cheap across the lower rated segments within China property HY, market direction hinges on whether they will be able to refinance and avoid defaults. In particular, he notes that with $6.2bn of China property HY bonds maturing in Jan 2022, policy direction in the coming two months will be key. And since Goldman remains in the dark as to what Beijing will do next, as it remains "difficult to foresee how policy developments will play out in the coming weeks", Goldman prefers to wait for clearer signs of policy turn before shifting lower down the credit spectrum. * * * This brings us to what Goldman calls two key questions on China property - policy and tail risks, which will dictate the direction of the China property HY market. As discussed in depth in recent days, Beijing's tight regulatory stance is increasingly affecting a broader set of developers, as slowing activity levels are adding to worries across China property HY. For the period from early August to the first week of October, the volume of land transactions cratered by 42.5% compared with the same period last year, and for property transaction volume, this fell by 27.0%. Difficult credit conditions and weak presales add pressure to developers’ cash flows, and these factors are what led to the pick up in defaults and stresses in China property HY. Therefore, unless there are clear signs of an easing in policy direction, Goldman warns that tail risks concerns are unlikely to subside, and these will dictate the direction of China property HY market. As noted by Goldman's China economics team, credit supply holds the key to China’s housing outlook in the near term, emphasizing the need for policy adjustments in order to stabilize the housing market. Incidentally, the latest monthly Chinese credit creation numbers showed a modest miss to expectations, as total TSF flows came in at 2.928TN, just below the 3.050TN consensus, and up 10.1% Y/Y, lower than the 10.3% in August (the silver lining is that M2 rose 8.3%, up from 8.2% in August and above the 8.2% consensus). That said, given the sharp slowdown in residential property activity levels over the past two months, policy stance appears to have relaxed over the past two weeks if somewhat more slowly than most had expected. The table below summarizes a number of policy announcements and news reports that suggest some easing of policies are taking place. That said, the announcements and policymakers’ statements do not signal a large shift in overall policy direction yet. For example, the more concrete measures such as home buyer subsidies and the reduction in home loan interest rates are conducted at a city, and not national, level. And whilst Bloomberg reported that the financial regulators have informed a number of major banks to accelerate mortgage approvals, the precise details are lacking. The recent actions are therefore mostly in line with the overall policy stance. On one hand, policymakers remain focused on the medium term goal of deleveraging, and will want to avoid over-stimulating and reflating the property sector; on the other hand, policymakers have stated that they want a stable property market and to avoid systemic risks from emerging, suggesting that they would seek to avoid over-tightening. The problem is that they can't have both, and one will eventually have to crack. Goldman is somewhat more optimistic and writes that finding a balance will take time, adding that "given the need to balance the competing policy objectives, further measures could continue to emerge piecemeal, and visibility on the timing and the type of policy actions are limited." Furthermore, there may need to be further downside risk towards the property sector before we see a more decisive change in direction in the policy stance. This means that tail risks concerns are unlikely to subside, despite signs that policy direction is gradually shifting. * * * Assuming help does not come on time, the next key question is how fat is the tail as large amounts of bonds trading at stressed levels. Currently, the China property market is pricing in elevated levels of stress. Their price distribution is shown below indicating that 38% of bonds (by notional outstanding and excluding defaulted bonds) are trading at a price below 70, and 49% of bonds are below a price of 80. Are market prices overly bearish on tail risk, or are they accurately reflecting the stresses amongst property developers? With policymakers likely to maintain their medium term goal to delever the property sector, it is unlikely that tail risk concerns for higher levered developers will not subside. However, how “fat” the tail is will depend on the policy stance over the next two months. A big challenge going forward is that there are sizeable bond maturities in the next year, which will heavily influence tail risk. As noted above, a number of developers have conducted or are seeking to complete distressed buybacks, and defaults rates amongst China property HY companies are soaring. As such, the policy stance in the next two months will be critical. As shown in Exhibit 2, China property HY bond maturities are relatively light for the remainder of 2021, but pick up substantially in 2022, with USD 6.3bn of bonds maturing in January alone! A full list of bond maturities from now to February 2022, is shown below. It goes without saying, that should policy easing over the next two months be insufficient to ease the financial conditions amongst developers, there could potentially be a meaningful pick up in credit stresses at the start of 2022 just as the Fed launches its taper and just as a cold winter sends energy costs to unprecedented levels. Finally, for any investors seeking some exposure to China's HY market assuming that the worst is now over, Goldman agrees that while valuation is cheap across the lower rated segments within China property HY, the key determinant on market direction won't be valuation, but rather hinges on whether developers will be able to refinance and avoid defaults - i.e., can the Ponzi scheme continue. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 18:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 13 min. ago

Morgan Freeman Spurns "Defunding Police"; Says "Most Of Them Are Guys That Are Doing Their Job"

Morgan Freeman Spurns "Defunding Police"; Says "Most Of Them Are Guys That Are Doing Their Job" Authored by Louise Bevan via The Epoch Times, Legendary American actor Morgan Freeman, while talking about his upcoming movie “The Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain,” took the opportunity to express that he rejects the notion of “defunding the police.” While talking to Black Enterprise magazine’s Selena Hill in early October, the 84-year-old actor clarified, “I’m not the least bit for defunding the police. Police work is, aside from all the negativity around it, it is very necessary for us to have them, and most of them are guys that are doing their job. “They’re going about their day-to-day jobs,” he said. “I know some policemen who would never even pull their guns, except on a range.” Morgan Freeman speaks at the 26th Annual Critics Choice Awards on March 07, 2021. (Getty Images) Freeman’s latest film, “The Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain,” is about the real fatal police shooting of an elderly black Marine vet with bipolar disorder in his home in White Plains, New York. Co-star Frankie Faison, playing Chamberlain, aligned with Freeman’s stance on police defunding while pointing out a discrepancy. “We as entertainment, people in the arts, we’re treated a little differently by law enforcement than people who are just ordinary walks of life,” he told Hill. “I would like for that to stop; I want us all to be treated equally.” In an Instagram post, Hill stated her contrary position as an “avid supporter of defunding the police,” but concurred with the actors that violence against African-Americans at the hand of police should end. While rejecting defunding, Freeman put his money where his mouth is to promote police reform, a movement he supports. In June, alongside University of Mississippi criminal justice professor Linda Keena, the actor donated $1 million to the university’s School of Applied Sciences for a research and specialized training center: the Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform. Freeman and Linda Keena attend the 2017 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, on Dec. 4, 2016. (Kimberly White/Getty Images) “Look at the past year in our country, that sums it up,” Freeman said. “It’s time we are equipping police officers with training, and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. “I often talk to police officers when I see them out and ask how they would do their work if they didn’t have guns,” he added. “Support of this center is about finding ways to help officers, and arrive at solutions.” Keena agreed, “The goal should be to give officers as many tools as possible to do their jobs more effectively.” Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 18:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge7 hr. 13 min. ago

Desperate Afghan parents are selling their kids to pay off debt as poverty levels deepen following Taliban takeover: report

A house cleaner in western Afghanistan named Saleha sold her 3-year-old daughter to a man to whom she owed a $550 debt. People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021. Stringer/REUTERS Some Afghan families are being forced to trade their kids to settle debts, the Wall Street Journal reported. Saleha, for example, is a house cleaner who gave up her 3-year-old girl instead of paying a $550 debt. Poverty is rising in Afghanistan following the Taliban's swift takeover in August. Some desperate Afghan parents are forced to sell their children to deal with poverty, the Wall Street Journal reported. A house cleaner in western Afghanistan named Saleha, for example, sold her 3-year-old daughter to a man to whom she owed a $550 debt. Saleha, 40, receives 70 cents a day from her job, and her husband doesn't work, the Journal said."If life continues to be this awful, I will kill my children and myself," Saleha told the Journal. "I don't even know what we will eat tonight.""I will try to find money to save my daughter's life," husband Abdul Wahab said.Khalid Ahmad, the lender, told the Journal he had to accept the 3-year-old girl to settle the debt."I also don't have money. They haven't paid me back," he said. "So there is no option but taking the daughter."Last month, the United Nations' development agency said Afghanistan is heading toward "universal poverty" following the Taliban's swift takeover of the country. Within a year, the poverty rate in Afghanistan will hover at a whopping 97% or 98%, said Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP's Asia-Pacific Director."Afghanistan pretty much faces universal poverty by the middle of next year," Wignaraja said. "That's where we're heading - it's 97-98% no matter how you work these projections."The Taliban took over Afghanistan following President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw US troops from the region after two decades spent trying to rid the country of extremists. In its takeover, the Taliban renamed the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reverting back to the same name used during the last time the regime held power, in 1996. The regime remained in power until 2001, after the US invaded Afghanistan. After the US ousted the Taliban from power in 2001, Afghanistan made several developmental gains including the doubling of per capita income and an increase in the average number of years of education, Wignaraja said.Over the past two decades, Afghanistan made significant economic gains that are now in danger of collapsing because of political instability. Afghanistan faces "a crush on local banking" because of the Taliban takeover, Wignaraja said. That instability is only worsened by the pandemic. The Biden administration, in an effort to limit the Taliban's resources, froze nearly $10 billion in reserves in the country's central bank - most of which is reportedly held by the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The move has been criticized as misdirected and will ultimately hurt Afghans more than the Taliban, Shah Mehrabi, a senior board member of Da Afghanistan Bank, told Bloomberg. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt9 hr. 13 min. ago

Biden said being a cop is "one hell of a lot harder than it"s ever been" in speech honoring fallen officers

"It always amazes me how the public doesn't fully understand what we expect of our law enforcement officers," Biden said. President Joe Biden stands during the US National Anthem at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the West Front of the US Capitol Building on October 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty Images President Joe Biden on Saturday said being a police officer is "harder than it has ever been." Biden spoke at an event to honor police officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020. He said the public "doesn't fully understand what we expect of our law enforcement officers." President Joe Biden on Saturday said being a police officer is "harder than it's ever been" in a speech honoring officers who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020.Biden made the remarks Saturday when he attended and spoke at the 40th annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service. As Reuters reported, the event took place Saturday on the steps of the US Capitol. Other attendees included FBI Director Christopher Wray, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and first lady Jill Biden, according to the report."I've spoken to too many police memorials around the country," Biden said Saturday. "And it always amazes me how the public doesn't fully understand what we expect of our law enforcement officers." "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said during his remarks, which lasted 22 minutes, per Reuters.Biden ordered flags flown at half staff ahead of the memorial Saturday. The event was held to honor the 491 law enforcement officers who died while working in 2019 and 2020, according to Reuters. During his speech, Biden said law enforcement worked to uphold the US political system during the January 6 riot at the US capitol when a pro-Trump mob breached the building while lawmakers were meeting to certify the results of the 2020 election.He also called attention to the one police officer who was killed and the two others who were wounded in a shooting early Saturday outside a bar in Houston. "We expect you to be people ready to stand in the way and take a bullet for us. We expect you to be able to track down the bad guys," Biden said.He added: "We expect you to be able to be the psychologist who talks the couple that are having a violent confrontation together to step back. We expect you to be everything. We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the tall expectations."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt9 hr. 13 min. ago

International Space Station Briefly Destabilized After Accidental Russian Rocket Firing 

International Space Station Briefly Destabilized After Accidental Russian Rocket Firing  A Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS) accidentally rotated the station 57 degrees during engine testing, causing the crew of NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts to initiate emergency protocols.  According to The Moscow Times, Russian cosmonauts were test-firing engines of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft on Friday ahead of Sunday's journey back to Earth.  "As a result, the International Space Station temporarily changed its position," Roscosmos said in a statement.  NASA spokesperson Leah Cheshier told NYT that the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft's engine testing was scheduled to end, but "the thruster firing unexpectedly continued." Shortly after, the ISS lost control of its orbital positioning as it was turned 57 degrees. This prompted NASA's mission control in Houston to prepare the crew for emergency procedures.  After the ISS deorbited around 0513 Friday, the station's crew regained control 30 minutes later.  "The station's orientation was swiftly recovered due to the actions of the ISS Russian Segment Chief Operating Control Group specialists. The station and the crew are in no danger," Roscosmos continued.  This is the second emergency on the station in the last several months. In July, Russia's Nauka module unexpectedly and mysteriously started firing its thrusters, moving the entire station out of orbit.  Thruster firings of multiple spacecraft deorbiting the station may have already place unwanted structural stress on the aging station. Several issues have developed this year, including smoke alarms that were triggered after the smell of burnt plastic came from the Russian segment of the space station and numerous cracks have been found, which prompted Moscow to depart from the ISS by 2025, citing the aging station is too dangerous for their cosmonauts.   Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 14:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge10 hr. 45 min. ago

Win For Virginia Parents After Loudon County School Board Member Announces Resignation

Win For Virginia Parents After Loudon County School Board Member Announces Resignation Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Embattled Loudoun County, Virginia, School Board member Beth Barts, who was the subject of a recall petition, announced Friday that she will resign from her position in November. “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family,” Barts said in a statement on Facebook. “Please accept this letter as my formal resignation from the Loudoun County School Board effective November 2, 2021.” Children hold up signs during a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va., on June 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images) The Epoch Times has contacted the Loudoun County School Board for comment. The Loudon County Public School system also confirmed her resignation on Friday, saying it will start the process of filling the Leesburg District seat. “I want to thank Board Member Barts for her service to the Leesburg District,” School Board Chair Brenda L. Sheridan said in a statement. “The School Board will announce its process for filling the Leesburg seat at its October 26 meeting and anticipates filling this position at its December 14 meeting.” Last week, a Virginia judge denied Barts’ motion to dismiss a Loudon County parents’ organization’s petition to recall her before also removing Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from the case. The decision represented a victory for opponents of critical race theory, a quasi-Marxist ideology that is the center of a culture war that’s going on across the United States. The group Fight For Schools and other organizations alleged that Barts was involved in a private Facebook group that violated the School Board’s Code of Conduct and local laws after the page’s members allegedly tried to attempt to reveal private information about—or doxx—parents as well as opponents of critical race theory and similar ideologies. Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigation for Parents Defending Education and a key opponent against critical race theory being taught in schools, hailed the announcement that Barts will be resigning. “The first domino falls,” Nomani wrote to her 66,000 Twitter followers. “This will not save her from investigations into her corruption,” she added. School Board Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser said in March that Barts repeatedly violated the school board’s code of conduct. Responding to allegations that she was part of a Facebook group that tried to doxx parents, Barts said earlier this year that “it’s not my job to be liked. It’s my job to ask hard questions, work to provide the best education for our kids, make sure our teachers are paid what they really deserve, and represent the people of Leesburg.” Barts’ resignation comes just days after the Department of Justice announced it was tasking FBI agents and U.S. attorneys to discuss strategies to address alleged threats against school administrators, teachers, and board members. The move has drawn significant condemnation from Republican lawmakers and officials, who alleged the agency is now treating concerned parents as political enemies. Barts’ resignation announcement also came after the father of a 15-year-old girl who attends a Loudon County high school told news outlets that his daughter was sexually assaulted by an unnamed boy in the bathroom. Scott Smith, the father, suggested that the boy allegedly exploited left-wing school bathroom policies around gender. Smith announced plans to sue the school district this week. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 14:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge10 hr. 45 min. ago

Working-Poor Still Use Food Banks As Millions Had Their Savings Wiped Out During COVID  

Working-Poor Still Use Food Banks As Millions Had Their Savings Wiped Out During COVID   Eighteen months since the virus pandemic began, hunger and food insecurity continue to plague millions of households across the country. Some of these folks have had their life savings drained with no financial safety net for the next crisis.  Compound food insecurity and deterioration of financial conditions of households, and it appears the working-poor have barely recovered from the pandemic downturn. What's likely to happen is the Biden administration will continue handing out free money to these folks to prevent social upheaval. An example of this was when Biden increased SNAP allowances by a quarter a few months ago.  First, let's talk about food banks and their current state. Katie Fitzgerald, COO of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that oversees a nationwide network of 200 food banks feeding more than 46 million people, told AP News that despite the decreasing numbers of households reliant on food banks. Today's numbers remain 55% above pre-pandemic levels "We're worried (food insecurity) could increase all over again if too many shoes drop," she said. The next is a new NPR poll that finds almost 20% of U.S. households had their savings wiped out during the pandemic. The share of respondents who made $50k or less was about 30%.  Avenel Joseph, a vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said many used their savings to cover basic expenses and survive as tens of millions were laid off during the pandemic. "When crisis hits, or anything goes out of the norm—your child is sick, for example—you are sacrificing wages," she said. About 66% of households earning $50k or less had difficulty pay rent, feeding their family, and covering medical bills.  Countless times we have described the disparity between the people who hold assets and those who don't. The gap in wealth inequality surged even wider, already at emergency levels before the pandemic, after the Federal Reserve pumped trillions of dollars in liquidity into financial markets to boost asset prices higher, such as stocks, bonds, homes, art, classic cars, wine, and crypto. Those who owned nothing were the worst off.  The age-old question for the Biden administration: How will they elevate those stuck in poverty? Keep handing out free money and disincentivizing people not to work? Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 15:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge10 hr. 45 min. ago

Ransomware gangs targeted 3 different US water treatment plants this year in previously unreported attacks, according to federal agencies

Ransomware is on the rise globally, and attacks on public infrastructure could put lives at risk. Workers look over wastewater from coal ash as it is aerated in a treatment facility outside Dominion Powers Bremo Bluff power plant in Bremo Bluff, Va., Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Steve Helber/AP Three US water treatment plants were hit with ransomware attacks this year, according to a new report. The previously unreported incidents came after a widely publicized attack on a Florida plant. Ransomware is on the rise globally, and attacks on public infrastructure could put lives at risk. Ransomware gangs attacked even more water treatment plants across the US than previously known, according to a new report.Water plants in Nevada, Maine, and California were all hit with ransomware in 2021 - and all three incidents went unreported until Thursday, when the attacks were disclosed in a joint advisory published by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the FBI, the NSA, and the Environmental Protection Agency.The cyberattacks on water treatment plants come amid a broader rise in ransomware shaking public and private organizations across the US. Ransomware attacks, in which cybercriminals deploy malicious code that locks up an organizations' computer systems until they agree to pay a ransom, could cost victims $20 billion this year.In all three attacks, cybercriminals took over the water treatment plants' supervisory control and data acquisition systems, also known as SCADA, which lets administrators remotely monitor the facilities. In addition to the three attacks in 2021, a similar ransomware attack hit a New Jersey facility in 2020.The previously undisclosed attacks came after a highly publicized hack of an Oldsmar, Florida, water treatment plant. In that incident, the hacker tried to raise the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water by 11,000%, which authorities said could have put residents in danger - but a different employee who noticed the change immediately reversed it before drinking water was affected.Ransomware is being treated with growing urgency by law enforcement and the cybersecurity community as criminals bring in record profits from ransom victims. Ransomware attacks grew 435% last year, according to the security startup Deep Instinct. Cybercriminals gangs took down the networks of 560 healthcare facilities, 1,681 schools and colleges, and more than 1,300 companies, according to the security firm Emsisoft.The White House convened a meeting earlier this week with leaders from 31 countries to discuss a coordinated approach to stopping ransomware across the globe.Experts say beating ransomware groups will depend on stopping the flow of cash from victims to criminals, either by enforcing bans on ransom payments or by more heavily regulating cryptocurrency used in most ransomware transactions.The federal advisory published Thursday warned water treatment plant administrators to be on the lookout for suspicious activity on their networks and to take steps to prevent fraudulent logins, including activing multifactor authentication on all devices that remotely access facilities.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt10 hr. 57 min. ago

Psaki Hit With Ethics Complaint Over Hatch Act Violation

Psaki Hit With Ethics Complaint Over Hatch Act Violation Authored by Jonathan Turley, During the Trump Administration, we discussed a series of Hatch Act violations by officials and the response of the White House Chief of Staff that “nobody really cares.” It is certainly true that the Hatch Act represents little more than a speed bump in governmental ethics as was evident this week when White House press secretary Jen Psaki was hit by a complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). To the credit of CREW, the group is showing the same vigor in defending ethics in this Administration. However, these cases highlight the toothless quality of the Act. Psaki responded to a question about the Virginia gubernatorial race by acknowledging she had “to be a little careful about how much political analysis I do” from the podium. However, she then tossed caution to the winds and declared: “Look, I think the president, of course, wants former Governor McAuliffe to be the future governor of Virginia. There is alignment on a lot of their agenda, whether it is the need to invest in rebuilding our roads, rails, and bridges, or making it easier for women to rejoin the workforce.” The key prohibition is that executive branch employees from “us[ing their] official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” CREW further notes in the complaint: “Activities covered by this prohibition include a federal employee’s use of their official authority or position while participating in political activity. “Political activity” is defined as “an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.” The Hatch Act further prohibits most federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty, but it does not prohibit certain employees appointed by the President from doing so. However, if these officials do engage in political activity, they must do so in their personal capacities and the costs associated with their political activity must not be paid with money derived from the United States Treasury.” For her part, Psaki seemed to shrug off the complaint and said that she should probably “choose my words more carefully.” The Hatch Act remains a largely aspirational law given the lack of real enforcement elements. These complaints serve a purpose in flagging inappropriate commentary. The line between politics and government can be easily blurred in the White House where officials are asked for the political position of the President on a host of different issues, including close races like the one in Virginia.  That does not take away from the important work that CREW does but the law often seems more honored in the breach. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 12:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge12 hr. 13 min. ago

UN Climate Change Conference Reportedly Using Diesel Generators To Charge Teslas Being Used As Shuttles

UN Climate Change Conference Reportedly Using Diesel Generators To Charge Teslas Being Used As Shuttles We're not sure we can think of a better analogue for the lunacy behind the climate change hysteria that what is reportedly going on in Glasgow.  As many people know, the Conference of the Parties (COP) Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, is taking place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.  One blogger from Brighton wrote this week that attendees from the conference will be staying at Gleneagles Hotel. He wrote that there's 20 Teslas at the hotel to shuttle people back and forth to and from the convention, which is about 75km.  Then, the kicker. Since the hotel only has one Tesla charging station, diesel generators were contracted to help recharge the Teslas overnight.  COP coming to Glasgow. Leaders staying at Gleneagles Hotel & 20Tesla cars (£100K each) bought to ferry them 75km back & forth. Gleneagles has 1 Tesla charging station, so Malcolm Plant Hire contracted to supply Diesel Generators to recharge Tesla’s overnight. Couldn't make it up. — Donald Clark (no flags, no hashtags) (@DonaldClark) October 13, 2021 The stated purpose of the conference is, among other things, "to review the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement." The climate change conferences now count themselves, according to the UNFCCC's website, as "among the largest international meetings in the world." "The intergovernmental negotiations have likewise become increasingly complex and involve an ever-increasing number of officials from governments all over the world, at all levels, as well as huge numbers of representatives from civil society and the global news media," the conference's website says. Maybe since we're gathered to talk about the negative effect on the climate, we could at least start by finding a carbon neutral way to shuttle yourself back and forth to the event. It's almost like these meetings aren't really about climate change after all... Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 13:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge12 hr. 13 min. ago

We"re Living In A Chaos Economy... Here"s How To End It

We're Living In A Chaos Economy... Here's How To End It Authored by Mark Thornton via The Mises Institute, The Federal Reserve has been increasing the money supply at an explosive rate. The federal budget, deficits, and the trade deficit are record levels. Governments, both foreign and domestic, have locked down people, restricting production and consumption. How should this be viewed by an economist? There is clearly chaos in the economy, and hardly a day goes by when I don’t find unusual if not unprecedented situations in day-to-day economic life. However, many people and economists are either oblivious to the problems or in denial. Things are normal for them. Politicians are mostly in this camp. For economists and investment promotors, inflation is “transitory.” They don’t know how the economy works and they expect near perfection from the economy and entrepreneurs. This view is wrong. The chaos is all too real for most others. Homemakers who spend household income are seeing their purchasing power shrink, their choices disappearing, and more of their time consumed stretching the family budgets. Christmas shopping will be worse than normal. Chaos deniers are further entrenched in their experience by the mainstream media (MSM). The problems are either not reported by the MSM or are masked by aggregate statistics like price inflation, i.e., the Consumer Price Index, low unemployment, wage increases, and extremely high stock markets and real estate, especially housing prices. These stats make people feel good, or at least less nervous. Below the government economists’ radar there is real economic suffering. Small businesses are hurting and going out of business. Based on Help Wanted signs I drive by every day, it is extremely difficult to hire employees or purchase inputs. One local BBQ restaurant recently had a sign that said, “Out of Chicken, Pork and Beef.” Big business is likewise finding roadblocks throughout their supply chains, primarily because of lockdowns and covid restrictions. This government roadblock to economic life is epitomized by the five hundred thousand shipping containers stuck off the port of Long Beach, California. Meanwhile, domestic inventories are dwindling for everything from houses to mayonnaise.  Austrian economics provides an understanding of the causes of this chaos and the way to solve it. The Fed’s actions have been a tidal wave force against the economy. Printing money has given some signs of prosperity, but its main known effect tangible effects are higher prices, malinvestment, and more wealth redistributed from the middle class to the very wealthy. The solution is straightforward. The central bank needs to stop its policy of propping up the markets for government bonds and home mortgages and the perverse effects it is creating on the general loan market in the form of ultralow interest rates. Promises of the Fed “tapering,” where they do fewer asset purchases, is really too little too late. Completely ending assets purchases by the Fed would stop their mischief, limit the damage, and would make stocks, bonds, and homes more affordable for Americans. Lockdowns and restrictions are a great harm to the US and world economies. Why are so many cargo ships sitting waiting for unloading? Why are others going unfilled in the first place? Why aren’t truckers driving product to market? Why isn’t product being placed on shelves? There are millions of details here, but in many cases, workers are not available or are unwilling to comply with covid restrictions and requirements. Production is stuck in a quagmire of government intervention. A big piece of the problem are the restrictions and subsidies in the US labor markets. Special unemployment benefits and stimulus checks from the government mean that not working pays more than working, plus more leisure time for those that accept being on the public dole. In one recent week I engaged with three small businesses. They could not have continued to operate if they had not been able to hire a few new workers who were unwilling to be on the dole or, more likely, had not realized how easy it is to collect unemployment. Locally, McDonalds is offering 50 percent higher than minimum wage for fourteen-year-old kids, and they are still having trouble attracting workers! The bottlenecks, empty shelves, business closures, reduced hours, and “worker wanted” signs are not the direct result of price controls nor are they the fault of the market economy. Rather prices in some areas of the economy need to rise so high and so fast to harmonize supply and demand that entrepreneurs can hardly keep pace in this environment dominated by government interventions and heightened uncertainty. I truly sympathize with entrepreneurs who are trying to save jobs, keep food on our tables, plus pay a huge chunk of taxes. Locally, an ice cream stand that has been successfully in business for almost seven decades had to shut down. It wasn’t the complexity of the business, the lack of product or even the higher prices it charged. They could not find and maintain a workforce through the maze of restrictions of unemployment subsidies. The current owner of this beloved multigeneration family-owned business explained, “We don’t really know what’s going to happen. It just depends on COVID and when people want to start working.” It is unclear what aspect(s) of covid is their primary concern, but the main complaint is that “[n]obody wants to work anymore.” The federal government, in a variety of ways, is what killed this business. It is evident and increasingly clear that unemployment insurance bonuses and government stimulus checks must be stopped for the economy to recover. It’s not just retail products that are not readily available even at higher prices. People who repair and replace things that wear out or break in normal circumstances are also much scarcer. Repair-and-replace service dealers are having a hard time finding parts, replacement models, and workers to make parts and products and to service and replace them in a timely manner. I have had several such companies not answer their phone and not be able to offer appointments or show up on time because of a lack of parts and employees. All of these companies were reliable and showed up on time for repair appointments before the government-caused chaos. Buying a new car or large flat-screen smart TV is a joyous occasion in a family’s material life. We know that we will get years of enjoyment for a good price. How does this compare to going without a refrigerator, hot-water heater, or air conditioner because the product was not available? It should be clear that the cause of our new economic problems is massive across-the-board government intervention here and abroad. Among the negative consequences are these harms and dislocations we face. The solution is to remove those government interventions. Not only have they caused a great deal of interference in economic transactions, but they have destroyed businesses and people’s lives. Many have also even died as a result, from the despair and chaos, not the disease. Meanwhile, social media and internet giants, and pharmaceutical companies, among others, have received an enormous unearned windfall. This is an economic crisis, and it is one of the government’s making. Economic statistics and stock markets (led by a small number of superwinners from the lockdowns) have masked the calamity. The sure remedy is to end the interventions, especially the Fed’s inflationary policy and the restrictions and subsidies on production and consumption. This would help restore the market economy to a functioning state. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 13:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge12 hr. 13 min. ago

A maskless United Airlines passenger was kicked off his flight after threatening to break someone"s neck

A United Airlines passenger was removed from a flight after making threats to customers and staff when asked to turn off his cell phone. A United Airlines Boeing 737 airplane. Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock A TikTok showing an unruly United Airlines passenger on a flight to Los Angeles went viral this week. The video shows a man threatening staff and other passengers after refusing to get off the phone and put on his mask. The video is one incident in a larger trend of uncontrollable customers on flights. A TikTok video showing an outburst from an unruly and maskless United Airlines passenger after he was asked to turn off his phone has become the latest viral post in a growing trend of disorderly travelers.The video shows an unidentified man ripping off his mask and screaming at other passengers while threatening to find the personal information of the flight crew. The incident took place on a flight to Los Angeles when the man reportedly refused to turn his cell phone off before the flight, according to Travel Noire. When another passenger attempted to intervene to help calm the man down, the video shows the maskless man saying "mind your business, because I'll break your neck." Police later arrived on the scene to escort the man off the flight.The original video, posted by user @starcadearcade, has over 6.4 million views on the platform and is one of a smattering of recent viral videos. Two other videos of the incident were also posted, collectively garnering nearly 4 million views on TikTok. Federal law currently requires that all passengers wear a face mask that fully covers their mouth and nose during the entirety of the flight to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Passengers that do not follow these protocols "may be refused transport, be subject to fines, and could also lose their travel privileges on future United flights," according to the United website. United Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment. @starcadearcade It does not end well… I just wanted to play Pokémon ##travel ##starcade ##la ##plane ♬ original sound - Starcade Arcade In recent months, airline crew members have reported a rising number of disruptive incidents, including travelers who have hit, yelled at, and shoved staff members. Several of these moments have been captured on video and circulated online, sparking larger conversations about travel safety and COVID-19 precautions. Last month, Hawaiian Airlines had to divert two flights within a 12-hour span after one customer assaulted a flight attendant and another refused to wear a mask, Insider reported. On a JetBlue flight in September, a passenger choked a female flight attendant with his necktie and begged to be shot.According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been nearly 4,000 reports of unruly behavior and more than 2,800 cases of passengers refusing to wear masks in 2021. In a statement in August, the organization said it has proposed more than $1 million in fines against passengers this year.Transportation Security Administration workers previously told Insider that the increase in disorderly airline passengers has made them want to quit their jobs."Me and many of my coworkers really have always felt like we were the bastard children of the federal government," a Baltimore screener, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardizing his job, told Insider's Nicole Guadiano. "For many, many of us, it's really just like, okay, one day closer to retirement." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt12 hr. 57 min. ago

Assistant To US House Sergeant-At-Arms Charged With 10 Child Pornography Felonies

Assistant To US House Sergeant-At-Arms Charged With 10 Child Pornography Felonies Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly via The Epoch Times, An assistant to the U.S. House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, announced Thursday that Stefan Bieret, of Burke, faces 10 felony charges related to the possession of child porn. The 41-year-old was arrested on Wednesday. According to a release from Fairfax County Police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was alerted to a “potentially illicit image being uploaded to a Dropbox account,” after which it notified the Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C., Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Dropbox is an online file-hosting service. The owner of the Dropbox account was determined to be living in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Police Department said that its detectives started investigating in August and found more images of child sexual abuse material on the Dropbox account. Further search warrants helped the detectives identify Bieret. Bieret was arrested at his home after detectives executed a search warrant there on Wednesday and “recovered multiple electronics,” according to the release. Following the arrest and charges, Bieret was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and is being held without bond. “Detectives will continue to examine the digital evidence that was recovered from the scene and consult with the Office of the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney for any additional charges,” the Fairfax County police announced. It is unclear whether Bieret has an attorney. Legistorm, a platform that identifies congressional staff, showed that as of April, Bieret was employed by the House Sergeant at Arms, who is responsible for maintaining order on the House side of the U.S. Capitol complex. Bieret’s current employment status is unclear. “Capitol insiders will know Stefan very well,” journalist and political analyst Jake Sherman wrote on Twitter. “A longtime employee of the House Sergeant at Arms. If you’re in the Capitol on a regular basis, you will have seen this face.” Police are urging anyone with information on cases related to the exploitation of children to contact the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 6. They can also submit anonymous tips through Fairfax County Crime Solvers online or at 1-866-411-8477. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 11:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge13 hr. 45 min. ago