A Beer Shortage Is Brewing. A Volcano Is Partly to Blame

Food and beverage companies have been scrambling to find suppliers of carbon dioxide Beer and meat lovers might have a difficult time getting their favorite products this fall. That’s because there’s a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the U.S., leading to complications at a number of breweries and food suppliers across the country. Food and beverage companies, such as Tyson and Kraft Heinz, have been scrambling to find suppliers of the gas, which is used for putting fizz into drinks and freezing frozen meats and pizzas. Some local breweries have even had to suspend operations at their facilities because of the shortage—that could mean fewer jobs and higher beer prices. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] What’s causing the carbon dioxide shortage A number of factors have led to the current situation, but maintenance shutdowns of CO2 plants and general summer demand for drinks are the most likely culprit, according to the Brewers Association, a U.S. trade group. “While many of the specific issues in the market are new, CO2 has experienced various supply chain challenges since the beginning of the pandemic,” the Brewers Association said in a statement. “This is one of many areas where small brewers are facing cost increases and availability issues.” Some analysts have also attributed the current tightness in part to contamination at the Jackson Dome carbon dioxide well, an extinct volcano in Mississippi, earlier this summer. Denbury Energy, the owner of the site, attempted to drill new CO2 wells to fill its industrial contracts, but the CO2 reportedly contained contaminants, according to Gasworld. Denbury said the contamination was a “minor issue” in a statement to TIME. “The CO2 produced at Jackson Dome has been and is being produced within all regulatory requirements, and the composition of the delivered CO2 continues to meet contractual specifications,” it said. “We have been working with certain of our customers, such as food and beverage grade requirements, to address processing issues that existed in their distribution chains. Our customers are receiving all of the CO2 they are requesting.” Driver shortages are further jamming up the supply of the gas, the Brewers Association says, particularly with local delivery. Many of the sourcing challenges, it says, are worse in the southeast, but reports of CO2 shortages and quality issues have been reported all across the U.S. since the middle of the summer. The Compressed Gas Association, another industry trade group in the U.S., does not expect to see any relief until at least October, when scheduled maintenance at CO2 industrial facilities are expected to be completed. Beer producers are being squeezed The beer industry has been hit particularly hard by the shortage, forcing some smaller breweries to consider raising their prices to offset rising costs and remain in business. Some are even experimenting with CO2 alternatives, such as nitrogen. “We’re using CO2 constantly,” Bryan Van Den Oever, owner of the Red Bear Brewing Company in Washington, D.C., tells TIME. “Our supplier let us know that they weren’t taking on any new clients…but at some point they may come to us to say they can’t meet our needs, which is worrying because beer is our main product.” “There was a surcharge for all CO2 that our supplier just sent to us recently,” he added. When Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Mass. learned that its CO2 supply had been cut for the foreseeable future, twelve employees were told their jobs may be cut as the brewery moved its production to a different source. “Our plan had been to continue problem solving, but this latest CO2 issue has basically thrown a huge wrench into any of those plans—threatening even immediate production,” Night Shift Brewing wrote in a statement posted on Facebook in July. For craft breweries, extra CO2 is often added to beer during the fermentation process, in the tap room for pushing beer through the lines to glasses, and when putting beer into cans. Van Den Oever says that if the shortage worsens, his brewing company might have to use nitrogen in the fermentation tank instead of CO2, though that’s a worst-case scenario. Nitro beer often has less carbonation, giving it a more smooth and creamy texture, meaning IPAs and pilsners might have different flavors. Some larger breweries are able to capture the CO2 from their beer production and reuse it, but that’s not an option for smaller brewing companies since the equipment is expensive and can take up lots of space. Other food and beverage industries also rely on CO2 The CO2 shortage isn’t just impacting the beer industry: The gas is commonly used in almost everything we consume. Beyond creating the fizz in drinks, it helps rapidly chill food that will be frozen. Carbon dioxide is even used to make dry ice and can be used for humanely slaughtering animals. Fresh meat could also be in shorter supply at local grocery stores. The Wall Street Journal reported that Tyson and Butterball were among the companies affected by CO2 shortages. Cold cuts, which are preserved with CO2 and other gasses, could also take a hit. Modified atmospheric packaging takes out the oxygen and pumps in CO2 to give products a longer shelf life, but companies like Kraft Heinz have warned retailers of a potential shortage of turkey and bologna due to the shortage. Kraft Heinz did not respond to a request for comment. Frozen foods, such as vegetables and pizzas, also use CO2 for enhanced freezing and preservation to prevent bacteria growth. For producers unable to find alternative sources, the next few months could be difficult. “We’re hoping the shortage is going to resolve but it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen at least through the fall,” Van Den Oever says. “So this is just an ongoing thing that we’re going to deal with.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 22nd, 2022

Brown-Forman (BF.B) Earnings & Sales Top Estimates in Q1

Brown-Forman's (BF.B) Q1 results reflect gains from the continued demand for its brands and growth across markets. The company's sales also gain from the revival of tourism and recovery in Travel Retail. Brown-Forman Corporation (BF.B) has reported robust first-quarter fiscal 2023 results, wherein the top and bottom lines beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Sales and earnings rose year over year, backed by increased demand for its brands, mainly the resurgence of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, and growth across all geographic clusters.For the fiscal first quarter, earnings per share of 52 cents advanced 30% year over year and surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 48 cents. The rise can be attributed to the top-line improvement and robust operating margin growth, which offset the higher costs, and gains from a lower effective tax rate.Net sales of $1,007 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $983.9 million. The top line increased 11% year over year on a reported basis. On an organic basis, net sales were up 17% from the prior-year level. Sales benefited from an increase in distributor inventories. All of the company’s geographic clusters and Travel Retail have reported robust sales growth, driven by a robust volumeBrownForman Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise  BrownForman Corporation price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | BrownForman Corporation QuoteFor first-quarter fiscal 2023, Brown-Forman’s gross profit amounted to $626 million, improving 13% year over year. On an organic basis, gross profit rose 21%. The gross margin expanded 80 basis points (bps) to 61.8%. The increase was mainly attributed to a favorable price/mix, and the removal of the EU and the U.K. tariffs on American whiskey. This was partly offset by higher costs due to the ongoing supply-chain headwinds and input cost inflation, as well as adverse currency impacts.Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses rose 4% year over year and 7% on an organic basis, mainly on higher compensation-related expenses. Advertising expenses increased 23% for the fiscal first quarter. On an organic basis, advertising expenses advanced 28%, driven by elevated marketing spends in the United States to back growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Herradura, the launch of the Jack Daniel’s Bonded series and Woodford Reserve.Operating income improved 19% year over year to $343 million on a reported basis. Organic operating income increased 32%. The operating margin expanded 210 bps to 34% in the fiscal first quarter.Driven by the strong results, the company’s shares rose 1.5% in the pre-market trading session on Aug 31, 2022. The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s shares have gained 12.2% in the past three months compared with the industry’s growth of 1.5%. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Category-Wise and Channel-Wise PerformanceNet sales for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands were up 11% on a reported basis and 19% on an organic basis. The brand’s sales were driven by solid demand, and increased prices in emerging markets, developed international markets, and the Travel Retail channel. The upside was also driven by the resurgence of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, which has reported sales growth of 10% and organic growth of 21%. The estimated increase in distributor inventories also aided sales. Sales also benefited from the continued consumer interest in flavor, which boosted the performance of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s RTDs, and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. Innovation contributed to sales growth through the launch of Jack Daniel’s Bonded series.Premium bourbon brands have reported sales growth of 38% and organic sales growth of 39% in the fiscal first quarter, driven by growth in Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, supported by higher volume in the United States. An estimated rise in distributor inventories also boosted sales for Woodford Reserve and Old Forester.The company’s Ready-to-Drink (RTD) category has reported sales growth of 11% and organic sales growth of 19%. This growth was mainly driven by Jack Daniel’s RTDs and New Mix. Jack Daniel’s RTDs/Ready-to-Pours benefited from increased consumer preference for convenience, resulting in year-over-year sales growth of 12% and 17% on an organic basis, led by gains in Australia and Germany. New Mix has reported sales growth of 44% and organic sales growth of 41%, driven by market share gains in the RTD category in Mexico.Herradura witnessed a sales decline of 4% and an organic sales decline of 5%, owing to the cycling of significant growth in the prior-year period in the United States, as well as the impacts of supply-chain headwinds in the current fiscal quarter.The company’s overall sales in the United States advanced 7% both on a reported and organic basis. The rise was driven by volume gains in Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. This was partly negated by lower volumes for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Korbel California Champagne.Meanwhile, the developed international market has reported sales growth of 9%, with organic sales rising 19%. The improvement was driven by the continued recovery in the on-trade channel, and the revival of travel and tourism. Volume gains from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s RTDs mainly aided the results. The emerging markets registered 17% net sales growth, whereas organic sales improved 34%. This was backed by growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey in Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, and Chile, as well as New Mix in Mexico.Net sales in the Travel Retail channel advanced 77% on a reported basis and 85% on an organic basis on the back of higher volumes for the majority of the portfolio, as travel trends continued to rebound.Balance Sheet & Cash FlowThe company ended first-quarter fiscal 2023 with cash and cash equivalents of $899 million, and long-term debt of $1,998 million. Its total shareholders’ equity was $2,807 million. As of Jul 31, 2022, BF.B generated $173 million in cash from operating activities.OutlookDespite the ongoing macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges, management anticipates continued growth for fiscal 2023. The company expects the strength in its brands and strong consumer demand to continue aiding the top line. It anticipates organic sales growth in the mid-single digits for fiscal 2023. The company expects a slight gross margin expansion for fiscal 2023, owing to the effects of inflation, and the removal of EU and UK tariffs on American whiskey.Based on the aforementioned assumptions, the company expects the organic operating margin to increase in the mid-single digits. The effective tax rate is expected to be 22-23% for fiscal 2023. Capital expenditure is anticipated to be $190-$210 million.Stocks to ConsiderWe have highlighted three better-ranked stocks in the Consumer Staples sector, namely Fomento Economico Mexicano FMX, Diageo DEO and Carlsberg CABGY.Fomento Economico Mexicano, alias FEMSA, has exposure in various industries, including beverage, beer and retail, which gives it an edge over its competitors. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). FMX has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 18.9%, on average. Shares of FMX have lost 13.1% in the past three months.You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for FEMSA’s current financial-year sales suggests growth of 11.3% from the year-ago period's reported figures. FMX has an expected EPS growth rate of 11.4% for three-five years.Diageo is involved in producing, distilling, brewing, bottling, packaging, and distributing spirits, wine and beer. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2. The company has an expected EPS growth rate of 8.8% for three-five years. Shares of DEO have declined 2.6% in the past three months.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Diageo's current financial-year sales and earnings per share suggests growth of 15.7% and 8.8%, respectively, from the year-ago period’s reported figures.Carlsberg produces and sells beer and other beverage products in Denmark. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2. Shares of CABGY have gained 6.6% in the past three months.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Carlsberg’s current financial-year sales suggests growth of 8.8%, while the same for earnings per share indicates a decline of 9.8% from the year-ago period’s reported figures. CABGY has an expected EPS growth rate of 9.1% for three-five years. Special Report: The Top 5 IPOs for Your Portfolio Today, you have a chance to get in on the ground floor of one of the best investment opportunities of the year. As the world continues to benefit from an ever-evolving internet, a handful of innovative tech companies are on the brink of reaping immense rewards - and you can put yourself in a position to cash in. One is set to disrupt the online communication industry. Brilliantly designed for creating online communities, this stock is poised to explode when made public. With the strength of our economy and record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs, you don’t want to miss this opportunity.>>See Zacks’ Hottest IPOs NowWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BrownForman Corporation (BF.B): Free Stock Analysis Report Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. (FMX): Free Stock Analysis Report Diageo plc (DEO): Free Stock Analysis Report Carlsberg AS (CABGY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 1st, 2022

"Doomsday Scenario:" 70% Of British Pubs May Not Survive Winter As Power Costs Skyrocket

"Doomsday Scenario:" 70% Of British Pubs May Not Survive Winter As Power Costs Skyrocket A troubling survey commissioned by trade publication the Morning Advisor revealed the entire British pub industry could be on the brink of a tsunami of closures this winter if the government fails to intervene in power markets to ease cost pressures. According to the survey, 70% of respondents say if electricity prices continue to soar, they will be unable to operate and forced to close up shop -- this would dramatically alter the landscape of pubs by next spring.  More than 65% of the pubs surveyed said power costs rose more than 100%, 30% said utility costs jumped 200%, and 8% experienced 500% increases. Most pubs warned they couldn't afford the exponential rise in energy costs.  One pub told The Guardian the utility company had quoted them a 600% increase in power costs versus their current contract.  Heath Ball, managing director of the Frisco Group, which operates three pubs across the southeast of England, offered an apocalyptic warning that pubs were facing a "doomsday scenario" in just a few months when the cold season begins.  "This energy bill crisis comes on the back of the most testing of times as businesses try to recover from the Covid crisis and I think it poses an even greater threat to the survival of pubs," Ball told the Morning Advertiser. He even said some pubs were being rejected new power contacts because utilities deemed them "high risk." Ball said lawmakers need to resolve the energy crisis soon or "find a solution to this now or face mass pub and restaurant closures."  There are more than 46,000 pubs across the UK in 2021, according to British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), with about half of them being independents. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "Rising energy bills are putting pubs in real jeopardy. Sudden, extreme price hikes are already forcing publicans to make tough choices, from reducing opening hours to cutting options on their menus.  "We are experiencing a perfect storm that is not only shrinking but eradicating profitability margins. We urgently need an energy price cap for small businesses before extortionate bills cripple pubs and we lose them forever in communities across the country." Then there's the supply of British pubs' life and soul: beer. A shortage in fertilizer production due to soaring natural gas costs has slashed the availability of carbon dioxide, an essential ingredient in producing carbonated drinks, including beer. This will undoubtedly make the situation worse for pubs: McClarkin told Fortune: "A guaranteed supply of CO2 is essential for operations across pub and brewing businesses and this announcement comes at a time when they are already facing extreme rising costs, threatening to close businesses and damage people's livelihoods." Without government support, a large swath of the UK pub industry could be wiped out this winter. When will Europeans wake up that Western sanctions are completely backfiring and crushing their way of life at the expense of NATO's proxy war against Russia in Ukraine?  Tyler Durden Fri, 08/26/2022 - 04:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 26th, 2022

Germany takes center stage in Europe"s worsening energy crisis.

In a worsening energy crisis in Europe, Germany is right at the center of a perfect storm as Russia cuts off supplies, nations scramble to ration natural gas, and plans for a new pipeline project loom. Happy hump day, crew. I'm Phil Rosen, reporting from New York. Caffeine is powering me through the morning and all I did was turn on a kettle. But Germany is going to great lengths to secure extra energy and is still playing catch-up.Amid an intensifying supply crunch, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and uncertain politics of Russia, Europeans are feeling the squeeze. Below, I'm breaking down what Germany, specifically, has had to do to navigate all this. Let's get started. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Download Insider's app here.Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks to the media on the third day of the three-day G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 28, 2022 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images1. A perfect storm is brewing in Europe's energy market — and Germany is right in its path.German baseload year-ahead power prices, the European benchmark, are up almost 500% from a year ago, Bloomberg data shows, as costs have climbed for nearly a week straight. At the crux of the price jump is the surge in natural gas prices, which have spiraled higher as Russia has kept exports to Europe extremely minimal. The country's top regulator already warned that Germany must dramatically pull back its gas usage to avoid a shortage this winter. Over the past week, the continent's biggest economy has made a flurry of moves in response to Russia's energy "blackmail" against Europe, including pushing off the closure of its remaining three nuclear power plants. Each was slated to shutter by 2023, but Russia's energy cut-offs have opened the door to an extension.  At the same time, Germany inked a deal with natural gas hubs to keep two terminals stocked through the winter ahead of any more potential cuts, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, a German refinery partly owned by Moscow has started mixing US oil with Russian crude. About 20% of the Schwedt refinery's output is US crude, according to Bloomberg, which marks a pivot from before when it was solely reliant on supplies from Russia. It's possible some relief may come from a new gas pipeline project that would connect the Iberian Peninsula to France.Officials say it could be ready in nine months, and that it would boost Spain's gas export capacity by 30% — but Deutsche Bank doesn't seem to be betting on it.In other news:A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange NYSE in New York, the United States, on March 9, 2022.Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty2. US stock futures fall early Wednesday, as investors brace for the minutes from the Fed's July meeting, due to be published at 1 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, UK inflation flew past 10%, a new 40-year high. Here are this morning's market moves. 3. On the docket: Target and Lowe's, both reporting. 4. Bank of America recommended this batch of cheap stocks. According to the firm's analysts, these names will profit as manufacturers reshore production back to the US. See the list of 18 companies here. 5. How much should you be paid? Insider created a database of 250,000 salaries for more than 250 top firms around the country. Try it out here and search by company or job title.6. Investors should look to small cap and cyclical stocks to carry the next leg of the market rally, Jefferies said Tuesday. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks has climbed 22% since June, and the firm sees momentum carrying forward as the surge in growth shares levels off. 7. Saudi Arabia funneled its huge oil profits into big-cap US stocks like Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft. The Kingdom's sovereign wealth fund went on a $7.5 billion buying spree that touched upon finance heavyweights like JPMorgan and BlackRock. Here's what you want to know. 8. The director of wealth strategy at a $26 billion bank shared how to maximize returns for the future. Despite recent rallies, stocks remain down roughly 10% on the year. But Huntington Private Bank's Dan Griffith broke down two strategies investors can use to leverage their money for smart long-term investments. 9. One of the youngest certified financial planners in the country said traditional retirement plans won't meet the needs of Gen Z workers. Nate Hoskin, who earned his certification at 22, suggests younger clients should work on side hustles and passive income streams — and explained why they can be more valuable than traditional IRA plans.Bank of America Global Fund Manager SurveyBofA Global Research10. Bank of America's closely-watched Global Fund Manager survey showed investors are expecting a recession. According to the Tuesday report, 58% of respondents said a downturn will hit in the next 12 months. That's up from 47% last month, and marks the highest percentage since May 2020. Keep up with the latest markets news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here.Curated by Phil Rosen in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email or tweet @philrosenn).Edited by Max Adams (@maxradams) in New York and Hallam Bullock (@hallam_bullock) in London. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 17th, 2022

Global Markets Slump With Terrified Traders Tracking Pelosi"s Next Move

Global Markets Slump With Terrified Traders Tracking Pelosi's Next Move Forget inflation, stagflation, recession, depression, earnings, Biden locked up in the basement with covid, and everything else: today's it all about whether Nancy Pelosi will start World War 3 when she lands in Taiwan in 3 hours. US stocks were set for a second day of declines as investors hunkered down over the imminent (military) response by China to Pelosi's Taiwan planned visit to Taiwan, along with the risks from weakening economic growth amid hawkish central bank policy. Nasdaq 100 contracts were down 0.7% by 7:30a.m. in New York, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.6% having fallen as much as 1% earlier. 10Y yields are down to 2.55% after hitting 2.51% earlier, while both the dollar and gold are higher. Elsewhere around the world, Europe's Stoxx 600 fell 0.6%, with energy among the few industries bucking the trend after BP hiked its dividend and accelerated share buybacks to the fastest pace yet after profits surged. Asian stocks slid the most in three weeks, with some of the steepest falls in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. Among notable movers in premarket trading, Pinterest shares jumped 19% after the social-media company reported second-quarter sales and user figures that beat analysts’ estimates, and activist investor Elliott Investment Management confirmed a major stake in the company. US-listed Chinese stocks were on track to fall for a fourth day, which would mark the group’s longest streak of losses since late-June, amid the rising geopolitical tensions. In premarket trading, bank stocks are lower amid rising tensions between the US and China. S&P 500 futures are also lower, falling as much as 0.9%, while the 10-year Treasury yield falls to 2.56%. Cowen Inc. shares gained as much as 7.5% after Toronto-Dominion Bank agreed to buy the US brokerage for $1.3 billion in cash. Meanwhile, KKR’s distributable earnings fell 9% during the second quarter as the alternative-asset manager saw fewer deal exits amid tough market conditions. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Activision Blizzard (ATVI US Equity) falls 0.6% though analysts are positive on the company’s plans to roll out new video game titles after it reported adjusted second-quarter revenue that beat expectations. While the $68.7 billion Microsoft takeover deal remains a focus point, the company is building out a “robust” pipeline, Jefferies said. Arista Networks (ANET US) analysts said that the cloud networking company’s results were “impressive,” especially given supply-chain constraints, with a couple of brokers nudging their targets higher. Arista’s shares rose more than 5% in US after-hours trading on Monday after the company’s revenue guidance for the third quarter beat the average analyst estimate. Avis Budget (CAR US) saw a “big beat” on low Americas fleet costs and strong performance for its international segment, Morgan Stanley says. The rental-car firm’s shares rose 5.5% in US after-hours trading on Monday, after second-quarter profit and revenue beat the average analyst estimate. Snowflake (SNOW US) falls 5.3% after being cut at BTIG to neutral from buy, citing field checks that show a potential slowdown in product revenue growth in the coming quarters. Clarus Corp. (CLAR US) should continue to see “outsized demand” from the “mega-trend” of people seeking the great outdoors, Jefferies says, after the sports gear manufacturer reported second-quarter sales that beat estimates. Clarus’s shares climbed 9% in US postmarket trading on Monday. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks are lower in US premarket trading as Bitcoin falls for the third consecutive session as global markets and cryptocurrencies remain pressured over deepening US-China tension. Coinbase (COIN US) falls 2.3% while Marathon Digital (MARA US) drops 3.3%. Transocean (RIG US) rises 18% in US premarket trading after 2Q Ebitda beat estimates, with other positives including a new contract and a 2-year extension of a revolver. US-listed Chinese stocks are on track to fall for a fourth day, which would mark the group’s longest streak of losses since end-of-June, amid geopolitical tensions related to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan. Alibaba (BABA) falls 2.5% and Baidu (BIDU US) dips 2.7% ZoomInfo Technologies analysts were positive on the software firm’s raised guidance and improved margins, with Piper Sandler saying the firm is “in a class of its own.” The shares rose more than 11% in US after-hours trading, after closing at $37.73. Pelosi is expected to land in Taiwan on Tuesday, the highest-ranking American politician to visit the island in 25 years, a little after 10pm local time evening in defiance of Chinese threats. China, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory, has vowed an unspecified military response to a visit that risks sparking a crisis between the world’s biggest economies. “There is no way people will want to put on risk right now with this potential boiling point,” said Neil Campling, head of tech, media and telecom research at Mirabaud Securities. The potential ramifications of Pelosi’s planned visit “are huge.” The growing tensions are the latest addition to a myriad of challenges facing equity investors going into the second half of the year. Fears of a US recession as the Federal Reserve tightens policy to tame soaring inflation have weighed on risk assets. US manufacturing activity continued to cool in July, with the data highlighting softer demand for merchandise as the economy struggles for momentum. In the off chance we avoid world war, there will be a shallow recession that could start by the end of the year, according to Rupert Thompson, chief investment officer at Kingswood Holdings. Meanwhile, the market is too optimistic about the path of monetary policy and “the risk is the Fed goes further than the markets are building in in terms of hiking,” Thompson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Goldman Sachs strategists also said it was too soon for stock markets to fade the risks of a recession on expectations of a pivot in the Fed’s hawkish policy. On the other hand, JPMorgan strategists said the outlook for US equities is improving for the second half of the year on attractive valuations and as the peak in investor hawkishness has likely passed. “Although the activity outlook remains challenging, we believe that the risk-reward for equities is looking more attractive as we move through the second half,” JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic wrote in a note dated Aug. 1. “The phase of bad data being interpreted as good is gaining traction, while the call of peak Federal Reserve hawkishness, peak yields and peak inflation is playing out.” Markets are also bracing for commentary on the US interest-rate outlook from Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. In Europe, tech, financial services and travel are the worst-performing sectors. Euro Stoxx 50 falls 0.8%. FTSE 100 is flat but outperforms peers. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: BP shares rise as much as 4.8% on earnings. The oil major’s quarterly results look strong with an earnings beat, dividend hike and increased buyback all positives, analysts say. OCI rises as much as 8.6%, the most since March, on its latest earnings. Analysts say the results are ahead of expectations and the fertilizer firm’s short-term outlook remains robust. Maersk shares rise as much as 3.7% after the Danish shipping giant boosted its underlying Ebit forecast for the full year. Analysts note the boosted guidance is significantly above consensus estimates. Greggs shares rise as much as 4% after the UK bakery chain reported an increase in 1H sales. The 1H results are “solid,” while the start to 2H is “robust,” according to Goodbody. Delivery Hero shares gain as much as 3.8%. The stock is upgraded to overweight from neutral at JPMorgan, which said many of the negatives that have weighed on the firm are starting to turn. Rotork gains as much as 4%, the most since June 24, after beating analyst expectations for 1H 2022. Shore Capital says the company shows “good momentum” in the report. Credit Suisse shares decline as much as 6.4% after its senior debt was downgraded by Moody’s, and its credit outlook cut by S&P, while Vontobel lowered the PT following “disappointing” 2Q earnings. Travis Perkins shares drop as much as 11%, the most since March 2020. Citi says the builders’ merchant’s results are “slightly weaker than expected,” with RBC noting shortfalls in sales and Ebita. DSM shares drop by as much as 4.9% as Citi notes weak free cash flow after company reported adjusted Ebitda for the second quarter up 5.3% with FY22 guidance unchanged. UK homebuilders fall after house prices in the country posted their smallest increase in at least a year, indicating that the property market is starting to cool, with Crest Nichols dropping as much as 5.2%. Wind-turbine stocks fall in Europe after Spain’s Siemens Gamesa cut sales and margin guidance, with Siemens Energy dropping as much as 6.1%, with Vestas Wind Systems down as much as 4.7%. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell as traders braced for a potential escalation of US-China tensions given a possible visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 1.4%, poised for its worst day in five weeks. All sectors, barring real estate, were lower with chipmaker TSMC and China’s tech stocks among the biggest drags on the regional measure. Pelosi is expected to arrive in Taipei late on Tuesday. Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has promised “grave consequences” for her trip. Benchmarks in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan were among the laggards in Asia, slipping at least 1.4% each. Japan’s Topix declined as the yen received a boost from safe-haven demand.  还没打就见血了。4400个股票受伤。 Chinese stocks collapsed in the shadow of a looming conflict. 4400 of 4800 stocks hurt. — Hao HONG 洪灝, CFA (@HAOHONG_CFA) August 2, 2022 “I do expect a negative feedback loop into China-related equities especially those related to the semiconductor and technology sectors as Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan is likely to harden the current frosty US-China tech war,” said Kelvin Wong, analyst at CMC Markets (Singapore). Pelosi’s controversial trip is souring a nascent revival in risk appetite in the region that saw the MSCI Asia gauge rise in July to cap its best month this year. China’s economic slowdown continues to weigh on sentiment, as authorities said this year’s economic growth target of “around 5.5%” should serve as a guidance rather than a hard target.  Japanese equities fell as the yen soared to a two month high over concerns of US-China tensions escalating with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expected to visit Taiwan on Tuesday.  The Topix fell 1.8% to 1,925.49 as of the market close, while the Nikkei declined 1.4% to 27,594.73. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix Index decline, decreasing 2.6%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 227 rose and 1,903 fell, while 40 were unchanged. Pelosi would become the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years. China views the island as its territory and has warned of consequences if the trip takes place. “The relationship between the US and China was just about to enter into a period of review, with a move from the US to reduce China tariffs,” said Ikuo Mitsui a fund manager at Aizawa Securities. That could change now as a result of Pelosi’s visit, he added Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index erased an earlier loss of as much as 0.7% to close 0.1% higher after the Reserve Bank’s widely-expected half-percentage point lift of the cash rate to 1.85%. The index wiped out a loss of as much as 0.7% in early trade. The RBA’s statement was “not as hawkish as anticipated and the lower growth forecast suggests the RBA is aware of both the domestic and international drags on the economy,” said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan.  “We expect the RBA will continue to push interest rates back to a neutral level this year given the successive upgrades to the inflation outlook, but 2023 looks to be a much less eventful year for the RBA,” Craig said.  Banks and consumer discretionary advanced to boost the index, while miners and energy shares declined.   In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose less than 0.1% to 11,532.46. Indian stock indexes are on course to claw back this year’s losses on steady buying by foreigners. The S&P BSE Sensex closed little changed at 58,136.36 in Mumbai, after falling as much as 0.6% earlier in the day. The measure is now just 0.2% away from turning positive for the year. The NSE Nifty Index too is a few ticks away from moving into the green. Nine of the BSE Ltd.’s 19 sector sub-indexes advanced on Tuesday, led by power and utilities companies.  Foreigners bought local shares worth $836.2 million in July, after pulling out a record $33 billion from the Indian equity market since October. July was the first month of net equity purchases by foreign institutional investors, after nine months of outflows. Still, “choppiness would remain high due to the upcoming RBI policy meet outcome and prevailing earnings season,” Ajit Mishra, vice-president for research at Religare Broking Ltd. wrote in a note. “Participants should continue with the buy-on-dips approach.” The Reserve Bank of India is widely expected to raise interest rates for a third straight time on Friday. Of the 33 Nifty companies that have reported results so far, 18 have beaten the consensus view while 15 have trailed. Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 16 rose, while 14 fell. IndusInd Bank and Asian Paints were among the key gainers on the Sensex, while Tech Mahindra Ltd. and mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp were prominent decliners.  In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index rises 0.1%. JPY and CAD are the strongest performers in G-10 FX, NOK and AUD underperforms, after Australia’s central bank hiked rates by 50 basis-points for a third straight month and signaled policy flexibility. USD/JPY dropped as much as 0.9% to 130.41, the lowest since June 3, in the longest streak of daily losses since April 2021. Leveraged accounts are adding to short positions on the pair ahead of Pelosi’s visit, Asia-based FX traders said. In rates, treasuries extended Monday’s rally in early Asia session as 10-year yields dropped as low as 2.514% amid escalating US-China tension over Taiwan. Treasury yields were richer by up to 5bp across long-end of the curve, where 20-year sector continues to outperform ahead of Wednesday’s quarterly refunding announcement, expected to make extra cutbacks to the tenor. US 10-year yields off lows of the day around 2.55%, lagging bunds by 4bp and gilts by 4.5bp. US stock futures slumped given risk adverse backdrop, adding support into Treasuries while bunds outperform as traders scale back ECB rate hike expectations. The yield on the two-year German note, among the most sensitive to rate hikes, fell as low as 0.17%, its lowest since May 16. Gilts also gained across the curve. Bund curve bull-steepens with 2s10s widening ~2 bps. Gilt and Treasury curves mostly bull-flatten. Australian bonds soared after RBA delivered a third- straight 50bp rate hike as expected, but gave itself wriggle room to slow the pace of tightening in the coming months. In commodities, WTI trades within Monday’s range, falling 0.6% to trade around $93, while Brent falls below $100. Spot gold is little changed at $1,779/oz. Base metals are mixed; LME nickel falls 2% while LME zinc gains 0.6%. Bitcoin remains under modest pressure and has incrementally lost the USD 23k mark, but remains comfortably above last-week's USD 20.6k trough. Looking to the day ahead now and there is a relatively short list of economic indicators to watch, including June JOLTS report and total vehicle sales (July) for the US, UK’s July Nationwide house price index and July PMI for Canada. Given the apparent uncertainty about the direction of the Fed in markets, many will be awaiting Fed’s Bullard, Mester and Evans, who will speak throughout the day. And in corporate earnings, it will be a busy day featuring results from BP, Caterpillar, Ferrari, Marriott, KKR, Uber, S&P Global, Occidental Petroleum, Electronic Arts, Gilead Sciences, Advanced Micro Devices, Starbucks, Airbnb, PayPal, Marathon Petroleum. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.6% to 4,096.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.5% to 435.13 MXAP down 1.3% to 159.73 MXAPJ down 1.3% to 516.82 Nikkei down 1.4% to 27,594.73 Topix down 1.8% to 1,925.49 Hang Seng Index down 2.4% to 19,689.21 Shanghai Composite down 2.3% to 3,186.27 Sensex little changed at 58,120.97 Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 6,998.05 Kospi down 0.5% to 2,439.62 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.74% Euro down 0.3% to $1.0231 Brent Futures down 0.6% to $99.44/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,770.93 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.15% to 105.61 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Oil Steadies Before OPEC+ as Traders Weigh Up Market Tightness China Slaps Export Ban on 100 Taiwan Brands Before Pelosi Visit Pozsar Says L-Shaped Recession Is Needed to Conquer Inflation Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Raises Angst in Global Financial Markets Taiwan Risk Joins Long List of Reasons to Shun China Stocks Biden Says Strike in Kabul Killed a Planner of 9/11 Attacks Biden Team Tries to Blunt China Rage as Pelosi Heads for Taiwan The Best and Worst Airlines for Flight Cancellations GOP Plans to Deploy Obscure Rule as Weapon Against Spending Bill US to Stop TSMC, Intel From Adding Advanced Chip Fabs in China US Anti-Terrorism Operation in Afghanistan Kills Al-Qaeda Leader They Quit Goldman’s Star Trading Team, Then It Raised Alarms Sinema’s Silence on Manchin’s Deal Keeps Everyone Guessing Manchin Side-Deal Seeks to Advance Mountain Valley Pipeline A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks followed suit to the weak performance across global counterparts as tensions simmered amid Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan. ASX 200 was initially pressured ahead of the RBA rate decision where the central bank hiked by 50bp, as expected, although most of the losses in the index were pared amid a lack of any hawkish surprises in the statement and after the central bank noted it was not on a pre-set path. Nikkei 225 declined amid a slew of earnings and continued unwinding of the JPY depreciation. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp underperformed due to the ongoing US-China tensions after reports that House Speaker Pelosi will arrive in Taiwan late on Tuesday despite the military threats by China, while losses in Hong Kong were exacerbated by weakness in tech and it was also reported that Chinese leaders said the GDP goal is guidance and not a hard target which doesn't provide much confidence in China's economy. Top Asian News Tourism Jump to Power Thai GDP Growth to Five-Year High in 2023 China in Longest Streak of Liquidity Withdrawals Since February Singapore Says Can Tame Wild Power Market Without State Control India’s Zomato Appoints Four CEOs, to Change Name to Eternal Taiwan Tensions Raise Risks in One of Busiest Shipping Lanes Japan Trading Giants Book $1.7 Billion Russian LNG Impairment     Japan Proposes Record Minimum Wage Hike as Inflation Hits European bourses are pressured as the general tone remains tentative ahead of Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.9%; note, FTSE 100 -0.1% notably outperforms following earnings from BP +3.0%. As such, the Energy sector bucks the trend which has the majority in the red and a defensive bias in-play. Stateside, futures are similarly downbeat and have been drifting lower amid the incremental updates to Pelosi and her possible Taiwan arrival time of circa. 14:30BST/09:30ET; ES -1.0%. Apple (AAPL) files final pricing term sheet for four-part notes offering of up to USD 5.5bln, according to a filing. Top European News Ukraine Sees Slow Return of Grain Exports as World Watches Ruble Boosts Raiffeisen’s Russian Unit Despite Credit Halt DSM 2Q Adj. Ebitda Up; Jefferies Sees ‘Muted’ Reaction Credit Suisse Hit by More Rating Downgrades After CEO Reboot Man Group Sees Assets Decline for First Time in Two Years Exodus of Young Germans From Family Nest Is Getting Ever Bigger FX Yen extends winning streak through yet more key levels vs Buck and irrespective of general Greenback recovery on heightened US-China tensions over Taiwan USD/JPY breaches support around 131.35 and probes 130.50 before stalling, but remains sub-131.00 even though the DXY hovers above 105.500 within a 105.030-710 range. Aussie undermined by risk aversion and no hawkish shift by RBA after latest 50bp hike; AUD/USD nearer 0.6900 having climbed to within a few pips of 0.7050 on Monday. Kiwi holds up better with AUD/NZD tailwind awaiting NZ jobs data, NZD/USD hovering just under 0.6300 and cross closer to 1.1000 than 1.1100. Euro and Pound wane after falling fractionally short of round number levels vs Dollar, EUR/USD back under 1.0250 vs 1.0294 at best, Cable pivoting 1.2200 from 1.2293 yesterday. Loonie and Franc rangy after return from Canadian and Swiss market holidays, USD/CAD straddling 1.2850 and USD/CHF rotating around 0.9500. Yuan off lows after slightly firmer PBoC midpoint fix, but awaiting repercussions of Pelosi trip given Chinese warnings about strong reprisals, USD/CNH circa 6.7700 and USD/CNY just below 6.7600 vs 6.7950+ and 6.7800+ respectively. South Africa's Eskom says due to a shortage of generation capacity, Stage Two loadshedding could be implemented at short notice between 16:00-00:00 over the next three days. Fixed Income Taiwan-related risk aversion keeps bonds afloat ahead of relatively light pm agenda before a trio of Fed speakers. Bunds hold above 159.00 within 159.70-158.57 range, Gilts around 119.50 between 119.70-20 parameters and T-note nearer 122-02 peak than 121-17+ trough. UK 2032 supply comfortably twice oversubscribed irrespective of little concession. Commodities WTI Sept and Brent Oct futures trade with both contracts under the USD 100/bbl mark as the participants juggle a myriad of major factors, incl. the JTC commencing shortly. Spot gold is stable and just below the 50-DMA at USD 1793/oz while base metals succumb to the broader tone. A source with knowledge of last month's meeting between President Biden and Saudi King Salman said the Saudis will push OPEC+ to increase oil production at their meeting on Wednesday and that the Saudi King made the assurance to President Biden during their face-to-face meeting July 16th, according to Fox Business's Lawrence. US Senator Manchin "secured a commitment" from President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi for completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, according to 13NEWS. US Event Calendar July Wards Total Vehicle Sales, est. 13.4m, prior 13m 10:00: June JOLTs Job Openings, est. 11m, prior 11.3m 10:00: Fed’s Evans Hosts Media Breakfast 11:00: NY Fed Releases 2Q Household Debt and Credit Report 13:00: Fed’s Mester Takes Part in Washington Post Live Event 18:45: Fed’s Bullard Speaks to the Money Marketeers DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap In thin markets, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan today for meetings tomorrow (as part of her tour of Asia) could be the main event. She's scheduled to land tonight local time which will be mid-morning US time. She'll be the highest ranking US politician to visit in 25 years. Expect some reaction from the Chinese and markets to be nervous. Meanwhile to dial back rising tensions, the White House has urged China to refrain from an aggressive response as speaker Pelosi’s visit does not change the US position toward the island. As the headline confirming her visit was going ahead broke, 10 year US Treasuries immediately fell a handful of basis point from 2.69% (opened at 2.665%) and continued falling to around 2.58% as Europe retired for the day, roughly where it closed (-6.8bps). Breakevens led most of the move. 2 year notes actually held in which inverted the curve a further -6.12bps and to the lowest this cycle at -30.84bps. Remember that August is the best month of the year for fixed income (see my CoTD last week here for more on this) so the month has started off in line with the textbook. This morning 10yr USTs yields have dipped another -3bps to 2.55%, some 14bps lower than when Pelosi stopover was first confirmed 18 hours ago. 2yr yields have slightly out-performed with the curve just back below -30bps again. Lower yields initially helped to lift equities yesterday, with the Nasdaq being up more than a percent at one point before falling with the rest of the market and closing -0.18%. The S&P 500 was -0.28% and dragged lower by energy (-2.17%). The latter came as crude prices moved substantially lower, with WTI losing -4.91% and Brent (-3.97%) dipping below $100 per barrel as well. Growth concerns, partly due to the weekend and yesterday’s data from China, and partly due to the US risk off yesterday, were mainly to blame. These worries filtered through other commodities as well, including industrial metals and agriculture. For the latter, Ukraine’s first grain shipment since the war began was a contributing factor. European gas was a standout, notching a +5.2% gain as the relentless march continues. In an overall risk-off market, staples (+1.21%) were the only sector meaningfully advancing on the day, followed by discretionary (+0.51%) stocks. Meanwhile, real estate (-0.90%), financials (-0.89%) and materials (-0.82%) dragged the index lower. Although yesterday’s earnings stack was light, today’s line up includes BP, Starbucks, Airbnb and PayPal. Asian equity markets opened sharply lower this morning on the fresh geopolitical tensions between the US and China over Taiwan. Across the region, the Hang Seng (-2.96%) is leading losses after yesterday’s data showed that Hong Kong slipped into a technical recession as Q2 GDP shrank by -1.4%, contracting for the second consecutive quarter as global headwinds mount. Mainland China stocks are also sliding with the Shanghai Composite (-2.90%) and CSI (-2.33%) trading deep in the red whilst the Nikkei (-1.59%) is also in negative territory. Elsewhere, the Kospi (-0.77%) is also weak in early trade. Outside of Asia, DMs stock futures point to a lower restart with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.38%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.40%) and DAX (-0.50%) all turning lower. As we go to print, the RBA board has raised rates by another 50 basis points to 1.85%. Their economic forecasts seem to have been lowered and they have now said monetary policy is "not on a pre-set path" which some are already interpreting as possibly meaning 25bps instead of 50bps at the next meeting. Aussie 10yr yields dropped 7-8bps on the announcement and 10bps on the day. Back to yesterday, and the important US ISM index, on balance, painted a slightly more comforting picture than it could have been – although the index slowed to the lowest since June 2020. The headline came in above the median estimate on Bloomberg (52.8 vs 52.0). We did see a second month in a row of below-50 score for new orders, but a fall in prices paid from 78.5 to 60.0, the lowest since August 2020, offered some respite to fears about price pressures. Similarly, a rise in the employment gauge from 47.3 to 49.9, beating estimates, was also a positive. The manufacturing PMI was revised down a tenth from the preliminary reading which didn't move the needle. JOLTS today will be on my radar given it's been the best measure of US labour market tightness over the past year or so. Also Fed hawks Mester (lunchtime US) and Bullard (after the closing bell) will be speaking today. Turning to Europe, price action across sovereign bond markets was driven by dovish repricing of ECB’s monetary policy, in contrast to the US where the front end held up. A cloudier growth outlook from yesterday’s European data releases helped drive yields lower – retail sales in Germany unexpectedly contracted in June (-1.6% vs estimates of +0.3%) and Italy’s manufacturing PMI slipped below 50 (48.5 vs 49.0 expected). So Bund yields fell -3.8bps, similar to OATs (-3.1bps). The decline was more pronounced in peripheral yields and spreads, with BTPs (-12.9bps) in particular dropping below 3% for the first time since May of this year, perhaps on further follow through from last week's story that the far right party leading the polls aren't planning to break EU budget rules. Spreads have recovered the lost ground from Draghi's resignation announcement now. Weaker economic data overpowered the effect of lower yields and sent European stocks faded into the close after being higher most of the day with the STOXX 600 eventually declining -0.19%. The Italian market outperformed (+0.11%) for the reasons discussed above. Early this morning, data showed that South Korea’s July CPI inflation rate rose to +6.3% y/y, hitting its highest level since November 1998 (v/s +6.0% in June), in line with the market consensus. The strong inflation data comes as the Bank of Korea (BOK) mulls further interest rate hikes at its next policy meeting on August 25. To the day ahead now and there is a relatively short list of economic indicators to watch, including June JOLTS report and total vehicle sales (July) for the US, UK’s July Nationwide house price index and July PMI for Canada. Given the apparent uncertainty about the direction of the Fed in markets, many will be awaiting Fed’s Bullard, Mester and Evans, who will speak throughout the day. And in corporate earnings, it will be a busy day featuring results from BP, Caterpillar, Ferrari, Marriott, KKR, Uber, S&P Global, Occidental Petroleum, Electronic Arts, Gilead Sciences, Advanced Micro Devices, Starbucks, Airbnb, PayPal, Marathon Petroleum. Tyler Durden Tue, 08/02/2022 - 08:05.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 2nd, 2022

Putin is threatening poor countries with starvation as the "next stage" in his ruthless Ukraine war, experts warn

"The Russian invasion into Ukraine exacerbated an already bad situation" and it's "affecting the entire global community," one expert told Insider. Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with farmers on July, 28, 2016.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Russia's war in Ukraine is fueling a global food crisis, which experts say is a deliberate tactic. Ukraine is one of Europe's biggest wheat producers, but the war has made exporting extremely difficult. Experts say Putin is willing to starve poorer countries to create a crisis that paves the way for Russia's victory in Ukraine. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is exacerbating a global food crisis, and experts say this is part of a deliberate effort by the Kremlin to stoke famine and pressure the Western coalition that's supporting Ukraine's government, an effort the EU has decried as a war crime."Russia has a hunger plan. [Russian President] Vladimir Putin is preparing to starve much of the developing world as the next stage in his war in Europe," Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian and expert on authoritarianism, tweeted on Saturday, adding that Moscow is "planning to starve Asians and Africans in order to win its war in Europe." "This is a new level of colonialism," Snyder added.Ukraine, widely described as Europe's breadbasket, is a major exporter of wheat, sunflower oil, and corn. It provides roughly 10% of the globe's wheat exports, 15% of corn exports, and close to half of the world's sunflower oil. But the war in Ukraine — particularly Russia's blockade of Black Sea ports — has thrown a wrench in its export business. This is leading to a shortage in food supply and skyrocketing prices in many countries that could plunge tens of millions more people into starvation, experts are warning.Roughly 18 million tons of grain are sitting in storage in Ukraine as a result, and the country's farmers are expected to harvest 60 million additional tons by the fall, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "Ukraine's farmers are feeding themselves and millions more people around the world," Rein Paulsen, director of the FAO's emergencies and resilience office, said this week, per Reuters. "Ensuring they can continue production, safely store and access alternative markets is vital to strengthen food security within Ukraine and ensure other import-dependent countries have sufficient supply of grain at a manageable cost," Paulsen added.The UN has warned that the conflict in Ukraine could make an additional 47 million people  food insecure in 2022. Countries in Africa and the Middle East that rely heavily on Ukrainian grain are especially at risk. Together, Russia and Ukraine provide over 40% of Africa's wheat supply.Indeed, Russia also accounts for a massive portion of the world's wheat and sunflower oil. Russia continues to export wheat and other commodities despite the Ukraine war, but has signaled it's being selective about who will receive its supply. "We will only be supplying food and agriculture products to our friends," former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of Putin and deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, said April 1 on Telegram. Similarly, Putin in early April said, "We will have to be more careful about food supplies abroad, especially carefully monitor the exports to countries which are hostile to us."Snyder said Putin's "hunger plan" is designed to work on three levels, including as a larger effort to "destroy the Ukrainian state" by cutting off exports. It's also an attempt to foment instability in the EU by generating "refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, areas usually fed by Ukraine.""Finally, and most horribly, a world famine is a necessary backdrop for a Russian propaganda campaign against Ukraine. Actual mass death is needed as the backdrop for a propaganda contest," Snyder said. "When the food riots begin, and as starvation spreads, Russian propaganda will blame Ukraine, and call for Russia's territorial gains in Ukraine to be recognized, and for all sanctions to be lifted."Rita Konaev, a Russian military expert, told Insider that Russia employed similar tactics in the war in Syria. "They've openly sought to destabilize Syria, neighbors, and Europe through the outpour of refugees — knowing that they would push the envelope towards ending the war in Syria and accepting the future of Syria with Assad. It's part of their playbook," Konaev said of the Russians.'The Russian invasion into Ukraine exacerbated an already bad situation'A farm implement harvests grain in the field, as Russian-Ukrainian war continues in Odessa, Ukraine on July 04, 2022.Metin Aktas/Getty ImagesRussia's military offensive in Ukraine began as the global economy was still dealing with the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and raised fuel prices. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, as many as 811 million people globally faced hunger."The Russian invasion into Ukraine exacerbated an already bad situation" and it's "affecting the entire global community," Ertharin Cousin, who served as executive director of the UN World Food Programme from 2012 to 2017, told Insider."There are some countries that are more affected than others, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa, where they are net importers from Ukraine. So, this has a direct effect on their ability to purchase food — where their source of commodities is no longer available to them. But because of the effect that the lack of those grains in the global food system has on the escalating prices of food for the entire world, it affects us all," Cousin said. In lower-income countries like Somalia, the effects of Russia's war in Ukraine on the food supply are already being felt. Skyrocketing prices for grain and other commodities are pushing Somalia to the brink of famine. "The crisis is worse now than anytime in my lifetime working in Somalia for the last 20 years, and it is because of the compounded effect of the war in Ukraine," Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, Somalia country director for the charity Save the Children, recently told the Washington Post. "Communities are at a breaking point.""Many people would have survived if the Ukrainian crisis was not there and food was coming in," Hassan told the Post, adding, "At least food prices would have been stable, and food would have been available."'Russia attacked Ukraine...that is what created this problem'A view of the beach as authorities ban swimming in the sea due to naval mines in Odessa, Ukraine on July 03, 2022.Metin Aktas/Getty ImagesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has explicitly blamed the growing food crisis on Russia. "If it was not for the Russian war against Ukraine, there simply would be no shortage in the food market," Zelenskyy said in a remote address to the African Union in June. "If it was not for the Russian war, our farmers and agricultural companies could have ensured record harvests this year."Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, has described Russia's blockade on Ukrainian food exports as a "real war crime.""You cannot use the hunger of people as a weapon of war," Borrell said last month in Luxembourg. As Kyiv and its Western allies accuse the Kremlin of weaponizing food and stealing Ukrainian grain, Putin has denied that Russia is blocking grain exports from Ukraine.The Kremlin has blamed the brewing food crisis on the West, pointing to the harsh sanctions it's imposed on Moscow over the war. The Russian government has offered safe passage to ships carrying grain in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Meanwhile, Russia has also blamed Ukrainian naval mines in the Black Sea for the situation, which Kyiv is reluctant to remove because it would make Ukraine's ports more vulnerable as the Russian onslaught continues. When it comes down to it "the war is to blame" for the escalating food crisis, Cousin said, adding, "Russia's occupation of the Black Sea has a direct effect on the ability to move food." "Russia's arguing that they can't move their fertilizer or grain because of the sanctions. If you listen to the parties involved in this — and I'm your audience — I can see where there are challenges from all sides. But we can't ignore the fact that it's not about whether the grain is moving — it's about the fact that Russia attacked Ukraine. And that is what created this problem overall," Cousin said.At the recent G7 summit, leaders pledged $4.5 billion to help address the global food crisis linked to Russia's invasion. As countries move to address the situation, Cousin said it's important for governments "to avoid the mistake of thinking they can protect their own populations from food insecurity by implementing export bans or export restrictions — that only further exacerbates the challenges on the global food system, particularly for net importing countries during a time when they are so dependent on that global food system."Cousin underscored that it's key for the global community to take "preemptive actions" now, warning that "what is today an accessibility problem could become an availability problem by this time next year."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 5th, 2022

Oil Markets Could Face A Doomsday Scenario This Week

Oil Markets Could Face A Doomsday Scenario This Week Authored by Cyril Widdershoven via, Expect lots of oil price volatility in the coming months as markets finally discover just how much spare capacity OPEC members really have. Oil production outages in Libya and the continued impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are going to push oil prices higher if new supply isn’t found. While some analysts are predicting oil demand destruction in the near future, there is little evidence to back up those claims. Global oil markets are going to be very volatile in the coming months if news emerging from OPEC’s main producers about production capacity constraints turns out to be true. OPEC will be meeting again in the coming days to discuss its export agreements, while today the oil group is presenting its Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB) 2022. While the media is likely to be focused on rumors in the next 24 hours of a possible change in the export strategy of OPEC+, the real focus should be on whether or not the oil cartel is even capable of substantially increasing its production.  For years, OPEC producers have been the main swing producers in oil markets. With a presumed spare capacity of more than 3-4 million bpd, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have always been seen as a point of last resort in case of a major crisis in oil and gas markets. During the former global oil glut, it seemed nothing could threaten the oil market, even when major conflicts emerged in Libya, Iraq, or elsewhere. The re-opening of the global economy after COVID-19, however, has brought fear back into the market that leading oil producers, including the USA and Russia, are unable to supply adequate volumes to the market. OPEC kingpins Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now being looked upon to increase production to historically high levels and bring oil prices down. Russia’s war against Ukraine, removing a possible 4.4 million bpd of crude and products in the coming months, has thrown this spare capacity problem into sharp relief.  This week, a possible doomsday scenario could emerge in oil markets, based not only on OPEC+ export strategies but also due to increased internal turmoil in Libya, Iraq, and Ecuador. Possible other political and economic turmoil is also brewing in other producers, while US shale is still not showing any signs of a substantial production increase in the coming months.  Global oil markets have long believed that OPEC has enough spare production capacity to stabilize markets, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE just needing to open their taps. There is ,however, no real evidence to suggest that OPEC has increased production capacity in place in the short term. A research note by Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Tobin Gorey already noted that OPEC’s two leaders are producing at near-term capacity limits. At the same time, UAE Minister of Energy Suhail Al Mazrouei put even more pressure on oil prices as he stated that the UAE is producing near-maximum capacity based on its quota of 3.168 million barrels per day (bpd) under the agreement with OPEC and its allies. That comment could still indicate that there is some spare capacity left in Abu Dhabi, but the remarks were made after French President Emmanuel Macron had stated to US president Biden during the G7 meeting that not only is the UAE producing at maximum production capacity, but also that Saudi Arabia only has another 150,000 bpd of spare capacity available.  Macron stated that UAE’s president Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) told him that the UAE is at maximum production capacity while claiming that Saudi Arabia can increase production by another 150,000 bpd. Macron also claimed that Saudi Arabia won’t have a huge additional capacity within the coming six months. The official figures for both OPEC producers counter this narrative, however. Saudi Arabia is producing at 10.5 million bpd, with official capacity between 12-12.5 million bpd. The UAE is producing around 3 million bpd, claiming to have a capacity of 3.4 million bpd. The two countries’ spare production is still officially slated to be around 3.9 million bpd combined. Most analysts, however, have been questioning these figures for years.  Looking at OPEC+'s own production targets, the group has not been producing at agreed levels for months. At the Middle East and North Africa-Europe Future Energy Dialogue in Jordan, UAE’s Al Mazrouei said that OPEC+ was running 2.6 million barrels a day short of its production target. That means a potential shortage in the market, which could increase even further if internal turmoil causes further production decreases. For July-August, OPEC+ agreed to increase output by another 648,000 bpd, which would mean that the total output cut during COVID-19 pandemic of 5.8 million bpd has been restored. Whether or not OPEC+ is able to reach that level in the coming weeks remains very uncertain.  Pressure will build in the coming days, as Al Mazrouei’s remarks seem to rebuke claims of a spare capacity shortage, but as always “where there is smoke, there is a fire”.  A possible spare production capacity shortage, or non-availability at all, combined with an expected force majeure of Libya’s NOC in the Gulf of Sirte, and a suspension of Ecuador’s oil output (520,000 bpd) in the coming days due to anti-government protests, are likely to lead to an oil price spike.  There is still some optimism in markets about a real demand-supply crunch, as high inflation levels and a possible global economic slowdown could lead to lower demand. Until now, however, that optimism has not materialized at all, demand is still increasing, even though gasoline and diesel prices are breaking historical price levels. The re-opening of the Chinese economy, a natural gas shortage globally, and higher temperatures in the coming weeks, combined with the normal peak in demand due to the US and EU driving season, all look set to push oil prices higher. OPEC’s future is at stake if spare production capacity really has run out. For years, analysts (including myself) have been warning about a lack of investment in upstream worldwide. That has already led to lower production capacity of independent oil companies, such as most IOCs, and for national oil companies, the situation appears to be similar. Even though Saudi Aramco, ADNOC, and some others, have been keeping their upstream (and downstream) investments level during the last decade (even during COVID), other main OPEC producers have seen dwindling investment budgets or even full-scale crises. Most OPEC producers could increase their overall production still, but only for a limited period of time. Where most spare production capacity is short-term based, partly to avoid damaging reserves in the long run, the current oil crisis is a much more prolonged long-term issue. Western sanctions on Russia, combined with existing sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, will hurt markets for years to come.  There is no quick-fix solution to the current oil market crisis, even the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela or Iran will not result in substantial volume increases. At the same time, increased Western political interference in the already struggling market will hit volumes too. The growing call in the USA, UK, and EU, to put a windfall tax on oil and gas companies will not only constrain further investments in upstream but will also lead to higher prices at the pump. Consumers are not going to feel any positive price effects and can expect steadily increasing energy bills in the coming months.  No statements made by OPEC in the coming two days are going to be able to remove the worries in the market. OPEC’s future depends fully on its power to stabilize markets. At present, there appear to be no options available to the cartel. Without new oil production hitting markets soon, OPEC leaders MBZ and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman need to try to maintain the illusion of spare capacity. If spare production capacity is revealed to be under 1.5-2 million bpd, the future of both OPEC and oil markets would be bleak. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 14:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 29th, 2022

"A Dire Warning For Democrats": Over 1 Million Voters Switch To GOP Over The Last Year

'A Dire Warning For Democrats': Over 1 Million Voters Switch To GOP Over The Last Year The Republican Party has been picking up support over the past year, as more than 1 million voters across 43 states switched to the GOP, according to voter registration data analyzed by the Associated Press. More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump. -AP Democrats, meanwhile, picked up just 630,000 new voters in the analysis of 1.7 million voters who had switched affiliations over the last 12 months. The data, which was provided by political data firm L2, used a combination of state voter records and statistical modeling. "While party switching is not uncommon, the data shows a definite reversal from the period while Trump was in office, when Democrats enjoyed a slight edge in the number of party switchers nationwide," reads the report. The data points to a red wave brewing ahead of this fall's midterms, according to Axios. The most damaging aspect of this shift to Democrats? The suburbs. According to the report, 'well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump's Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back." Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa. -AP More notables about the report via Axios: The party switches were evident across the board — in red states and blue states, cities and small towns and suburban areas, AP found. Of the nearly 1.7 million voters who changed parties in states with available data over the last year, some two-thirds went to the GOP. "Biden and Democrats are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that's why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves," RNC chair Ronna McDaniel told the AP. Between the lines: One outlier was in Virginia, where Democrats saw an uptick in registered voters. "It’s more so a rejection of the left than embracing the right," according to 37-year-old Ben Smith of Larimer County, Colorado, who says he reluctantly left the Democratic party over the last year after becoming concerned about his former party's push for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the party's inability to tame crime while focusing on racial justice. AP called it a "dire warning for Democrats" who are already dealing with the macro effects of the economy reflecting in the polls this fall during midterms. What's to blame? According to the report, suburban parents grew 'increasingly frustrated' over the prolonged pandemic-related school closures, while the RNC began hosting voter registration events at gas stations in suburban locations within swing states, such as Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. "Biden and Democrats are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that’s why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves," said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel. "American suburbs will trend red for cycles to come" thanks to "Biden’s gas hike, the open border crisis, baby formula shortage and rising crime." Over the last year, nearly every state — even those without high-profile Republican primaries — moved in the same direction as voters by the thousand became Republicans. Only Virginia, which held off-year elections in 2021, saw Democrats notably trending up over the last year. But even there, Democrats were wiped out in last fall’s statewide elections. In Iowa, Democrats used to hold the advantage in party changers by a 2-to-1 margin. That’s flipped over the last year, with Republicans ahead by a similar amount. The same dramatic shift is playing out in Ohio. In Florida, Republicans captured 58 percent of party switchers during those last years of the Trump era. Now, over the last year, they command 70 percent. And in Pennsylvania, the Republicans went from 58 to 63 percent of party changers. -AP To understand more about why disaffected Democrats have left their party (aside from the overwhelming obvious), click here. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 21:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

5 Beaten-Down Oil Stocks That Need to be on Your Shopping List

Savvy investors could use the temporary decline in an upward-trending energy market to buy stocks like CIVI, MUSA, SU, MPC and CLR at a discount. The Oil/Energy market had its worst week since March 2020, as investors grappled with recessionary fears. In the wake of the central bank deciding to hike the interest rate by a record-high 75 basis points in June and the possibility of doing the same in July, the commodity came under extreme pressure.Futures in New York on Friday ended deep in the red, with the U.S. prices falling 9.2% for the week to settle at $109.56 a barrel. Meanwhile, Brent — the international benchmark — closed at $113.12, posting a weekly loss of 7.3%. Both contracts recorded their most dismal week going back to the start of the pandemic.But based on fundamentals, experts see this price pullback as a transient stoppage in an otherwise large oil price rally. In other words, this presents a compelling buying opportunity in top-ranked energy stocks like Civitas Resources CIVI, Murphy USA MUSA, Suncor Energy SU, Marathon Petroleum MPC and Continental Resources CLR. Crude Suffers a BeatingIn addition to fears that the Fed’s aggressive monetary stance to fight mounting inflation could push the economy into a recession, a few weak economic data also worsened the situation. Per a large section of market watchers, prolonged supply-chain devastation stemming from China’s stringent COVID-19 curbs and the termination of the easy-money policy are likely to slow the economy, and as an extension, crude demand. A stronger greenback, which can weaken dollar-denominated commodities like crude, also contributed to the decline.Record gasoline prices in the United States are partly to blame for oil’s debacle. Motorists in a number of states are currently paying in excess of $5 for a gallon of regular gas at the petrol pump. The national average has gone up by 60 cents in just a month and is nearly $2 above the year-ago price. With millions of Americans on the move, the “pain at the pump,” or the trend of high gasoline prices, is expected to continue in the near-to-medium term. This might ultimately spell trouble for the oil industry as it will most likely lead to demand destruction at some point.Why the Pullback Might be TemporaryWhile oil’s multi-week winning streak fall to the wayside last week, certain analysts see the drop to be transitory and expect the commodity to bounce back shortly based on a slew of positive trends.Overall, prices have been driven up by curbs on Russia, which is one of the world's largest producers of crude. Raising the prospect of a dramatic fall in oil flows, the European Union recently followed the U.S. in blocking imports of Russian energy to protest Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. With no signs of the war ending anytime soon, the energy shortage should keep prices at an elevated level.Even the fundamentals point to a tightening of the market. Per the latest government report, U.S. commercial stockpiles are currently down around 14% compared to the five-year average for this time of year, prompted by a demand spike owing to the reopening of economies and a rebound in activity.In fact, despite slipping over the last few days, the Zacks Oil/Energy sector has gained 15.7% so far this year, in contrast to the S&P 500 Index’s 23.2% depreciation. Further, the Energy Select Sector SPDR — an assortment of the largest U.S. energy companies — is up more than 32% during this period to be at the top of the S&P sector standings.Buy the DipWith the energy picture generally looking up, savvy investors could use the pullback as an opportunity to buy their favorite stocks at a discount. We have narrowed down our search to five companies that carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The Zacks Rank is a reliable tool that helps you to trade with confidence regardless of your trading style and risk tolerance. To learn more about how you can use this proven system for market-beating gains, visit Zacks Rank Education.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Civitas Resources: Formerly known as Bonanza Creek Energy, Civitas Resources was formed out of the merger between Bonanza Creek Energy and Extraction Oil & Gas. CIVI’s high-quality asset base, disciplined capital allocation and fortress balance sheet allows it to maintain an attractive long-term cash flow profile. The pure-play DJ Basin operator also pays out a quarterly dividend of 46.25 cents per share with a yield of more than 3%.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for CIVI’s 2022 earnings has been revised 58.4% upward over the past 60 days. Civitas, headquartered in Denver, CO, has a projected earnings growth rate of 368.6% for 2022.Murphy USA: It is a leading independent retailer of motor fuel and convenience merchandise in the United States. The proximity of Murphy USA’s fuel stations to Walmart supercenters helps the company to leverage the strong and consistent traffic that these stores attract. MUSA’s acquisition of QuickChek Corporation — a family-owned food and beverage chain located — is expected to help the company improve its offerings.Over the past 60 days, this El Dorado, AR-based Murphy USA has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 improve 53.6%. MUSA beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in each of the trailing four quarters, the average being 49.1%.Suncor Energy: Suncor Energy is Canada's premier integrated energy company. The firm boasts an impressive supply chain network, owning significant oil sands and conventional production platforms, along with a strong downstream portfolio. SU is one of the best- positioned companies in the energy space given its access to abundant resources, rich operating experience and technical know-how. Suncor Energy's major projects, including Fort Hills and Syncrude, should support its growth momentum. The company's strong liquidity and modest near-term debt maturities are other positives.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for SU’s 2022 earnings has been revised 50.8% upward over the past 60 days. Suncor, headquartered in Alberta, has a projected earnings growth rate of 191.2% for 2022.Marathon Petroleum: Marathon Petroleum is a leading independent refiner, transporter and marketer of petroleum products. MPC’s $23.3 billion acquisition of Andeavor has integrated the premier assets of both the companies, bolstering the scale and leadership position of the combined entity in the United States. As it is, Marathon Petroleum's access to lower cost of crude in the Permian, Bakken, and Canada helps it benefit from the differentials.Over the past 60 days, this Findlay, OH-based MPC has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 jump 133.7%. Marathon Petroleum beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in each of the trailing four quarters, the average being 65%.Continental Resources: The company has a premier position in the Bakken region, which is one of the largest onshore oilfields in the United States. CLR’s operations in the SCOOP and STACK plays of Oklahoma generate robust profits. It acquired Delaware Basin assets from Pioneer Natural Resources, marking its entry into the prolific Permian Basin. The acquisition has brightened its long-term production outlook. CLR also has a strong focus on returning capital to its shareholders through a combination of dividends and share repurchases.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Continental’s 2022 earnings has been revised 24.9% upward over the past 60 days. CLR, headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, has a projected earnings growth rate of 161.6% for 2022. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Suncor Energy Inc. (SU): Free Stock Analysis Report Murphy USA Inc. (MUSA): Free Stock Analysis Report Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC): Free Stock Analysis Report Continental Resources, Inc. (CLR): Free Stock Analysis Report Civitas Resources, Inc. (CIVI): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksJun 21st, 2022

The pandemic upended my lazy retirement plans, and now I"m taking 4 steps to save for my new dream: owning a brewery

Before the pandemic, Stephanie Hallett thought she'd retire to a cottage and relax in her golden years. But now she's saving to open a brewery. BI GraphicsThe author, left, with her husband at their brewery wedding.Kat Rizza I used to think I'd retire like my dad; he worked for the same employer for decades and achieved "Freedom 55." With life and work so uncertain in COVID's wake, though, I shifted gears to focus on something new. This article is part of the "Re/Thinking Re/Tirement" series focused on inspiring financial planning for a different type of future than the 9-to-5 life allows.     My dad retired at 55 with a wide-open horizon before him: no plans, no commitments, no worries. After decades in the child and youth services industry, he was ready to kick up his feet, flip on the radio, and settle into his golden years — with a healthy pension to support him and my mom.As a union worker employed by a municipal agency in Toronto, he knew early on in his career that if he worked hard for long enough, he'd have a guaranteed income in retirement. I can remember hearing about his "Freedom 55" plan from a young age, watching him go out for strategic promotions that would boost his pension.In 2010, when I started my career, I had moved to the US from Canada and the dust from the Great Recession was just beginning to settle. It is an understatement to say I was walloped by culture shock. I had no idea what a 401(k) was let alone how to use one when it was offered, and it frankly hadn't occurred to me that I'd have to save on my own for retirement. I was 23 and knew only one retired person, my dad, and I thought pretty much everyone's retirement looked the same. Suffice to say I missed out on many years of savings before finally getting it together.When I did start tucking money into a 401(k), around 30, it was with the expectation that I'd follow in my father's footsteps — I'd stop work at a reasonable age (say 65 or so), then enjoy relaxing days with my family and friends, traveling, seeing movies and live shows, working on house projects, and generally taking it easy. But the COVID-19 pandemic flipped a switch in my brain. I suddenly started rethinking my ideal 'retirement'Maybe it was watching my friends get laid off left and right, or feeling, suddenly, the fragility of life, work, and the balance of the two, but at some point in 2020 I abruptly stopped picturing my cottage-oriented retirement and suddenly started to think about building my own business — something that was mine, something that would bring me joy. A pandemic cliché, I know, but it's a cliché for a good reason. When I casually mentioned my small-business dreams to my husband one night, he said he'd been thinking the same thing. Maybe it was all the reality restaurant TV we'd been watching during lockdown, or lingering memories of our brewery wedding, but we started dreaming of a place we'd want to be, many years into our retirement: a brewery with a stage where we could host live shows — theatre, dance, poetry. There would be food trucks, there would be laughter, there would be art and friends and very good beer. Watching so many Americans shift from day jobs to entrepreneurship during the pandemic convinced us it was possible — we just needed the time… and the money.Ah, the money. While we're nowhere near throwing open the brewery's doors today, we've started to think about how to finance our "retirement" dream (because let's be honest, "retirement" today does not mean Freedom 55 for most people — it means leaving your 9-to-5 at whatever age and doing work that can sustain your lifestyle but doesn't require punching a clock, so to speak). We've got a few strategies going to get our financial ducks in a row.1. We can leverage our houseBefore the brewery, I really only had one big-picture money goal: to buy a house. I didn't think it would happen for me until much later in life, but in 2020, my husband and I decided to move from expensive Los Angeles to a lower cost-of-living city and buy a home. With our relatively small mortgage of less than $250,000, we can make extra payments toward our principal now and be in a position to leverage our home's equity in about a decade or less. 2. We're saving and investingWe're still saving into traditional retirement accounts (because life is long and we'll need that money eventually) but we're also setting aside cash every month into savings and brokerage accounts with a plan to put it toward our business. Our "education savings" account is there to support us as we learn new skills, and the money in our brokerage account will be available to cushion us if and when we get the business off the ground.3. We're building our credit scores to take out a small-business loanI'm sure we'll need to borrow money for the brewery at some point, whether it's to buy the industrial supplies we need to start brewing or to rent a space to house the business. With good credit, we can get the best rates available. So we're doing everything we can now to bump up our scores, like paying off our credit cards in full every month and keeping our credit utilization rates low.4. We're investing in home-brew supplies to actually learn the craft of beer-makingIf you've been rolling your eyes while reading this essay wondering what skills I think I have, exactly, that would qualify me to open a brewery, I don't blame you — I frankly have none. This business is a dream at the moment, and it'll take work to get to the finish line. For now, we're investing in home-brew supplies and turning our basement into a workshop. We have to start somewhere. Come by for a drink?Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 9th, 2022

Brown-Forman (BF.B) Q4 Earnings & Sales Beat, Stock Dips

Brown-Forman's (BF.B) Q4 results reflect gains from the recovery in Travel Retail and strength across brands. The resurgence of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey drives the show. Brown-Forman Corporation (BF.B) has reported robust fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 results, wherein the top and bottom lines beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Sales and earnings increased year over year, backed by increased demand for its brands, mainly the resurgence of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.For the fiscal fourth quarter, earnings per share of 31 cents advanced 26% year over year and surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 24 cents. The rise can be attributed to robust operating margin growth, which offset higher costs. In fiscal 2022, earnings per share declined 7% year over year to $1.74, mainly driven by higher income tax rates, offset by operating income growth.Net sales of $996 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $846.9 million. The top line increased 23% year over year on a reported basis. On an organic basis, net sales were up 27% from the prior-year level.For fourth-quarter fiscal 2022, Brown-Forman’s gross profit amounted to $626 million, improving 26% year over year, and the gross margin expanded 140 basis points (bps) to 62.8%. Operating income improved 46% year over year to $246 million on a reported basis. Organic operating income increased 62%. The operating margin expanded 400 bps to 24.7% in the fiscal third quarter.BrownForman Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise  BrownForman Corporation price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | BrownForman Corporation QuoteSelling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses declined 8% year over year, while advertising expenses increased 6% for the fiscal fourth quarter.Despite the strong results, the company’s shares declined 2.2% in the pre-market trading session on Jun 6, 2022. The Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) company’s shares have gained 2.7% in the past three months compared with the industry’s growth of 5.3%.Fiscal 2022 PerformanceBrown-Forman also unveiled the results for fiscal 2022. Earnings for fiscal 2022 declined 7% year over year to $1.74, mainly driven by higher income tax rates, offset by operating income growth. Results included a gain of 20 cents per share from the sale of the Canadian Mist, Early Times and Collingwood brands and related assets.Net sales of $3,933 million rose 14% from the year-ago period. Sales benefited from solid growth across all geographies and the Travel Retail Channel despite the adverse effects of supply-chain headwinds. Sales also improved, driven by strength in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey due to the reopening of the on-premise channel. On an organic basis, net sales were up 17%.Net sales for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands were up 15% on a reported basis and 17% on an organic basis. The upside was mainly driven by the resurgence of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. The Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey reported sales growth of 20%, with 23% organic growth mainly aided by volume growth and favorable channel mix shift to the on-premise channel. Sales were also aided by the ongoing international launch of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple and robust consumer demand for Jack Daniel’s RTDs. However, supply-chain disruptions acted as deterrents.Premium bourbon brands reported sales growth of 17% on both reported and organic basis in fiscal 2022, driven by growth in Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. The gains for the Woodford Reserve were supported by higher volume and pricing in the United States and an increase in volumes at Travel Retail. In the period, sales for Woodford Reserve slightly moderated due to the ongoing supply-chain headwinds. Old Forester continued to report double-digit net sales growth and surpassed 400,000 nine-liter cases in fiscal 2022.The company’s tequila brands witnessed 22% net sales growth on a reported basis and 20% on an organic basis. The category benefited from broad-based growth from Herradura and el Jimado, led by the United States.The company’s overall sales in the United States advanced 10% on a reported basis and 12% on an organic basis. The rise was driven by strength in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, higher volumes and pricing for premium bourbons, and volume growth in tequilas, mainly Herradura and el Jimado. An increase in distributor inventories also aided sales growth in fiscal 2022. Sales growth was somewhat offset by the impacts of acquisitions and divestitures in the prior year, as well as lower volumes for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey due to supply-chain disruptions.Meanwhile, the developed international market reported sales growth of 12%, with organic sales rising 16%. The rise was driven by volume gains from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, along with higher volume and prices of Jack Daniel’s RTDs. The emerging markets registered 24% net sales growth, while organic sales improved 29%. This was backed by growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and the ongoing international launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, partially offset by negative currency exchange rates.Net sales in the Travel Retail channel advanced 65% on a reported basis and 67% on an organic basis on the back of favorable year-over-year comparisons due to the cycling of last year’s significant declines.In fiscal 2022, Brown-Forman’s gross profit amounted to $2,391 million, up 14% year over year on a reported basis and 17% on an organic basis. The reported gross margin expanded 30 bps to 60.8% due to favorable price/mix and the gains from acquisitions and divestitures, partly negated by higher costs.Advertising expenses for fiscal 2022 rose 10% on a reported basis and 11% on an organic basis. The increase can be attributed to continued investments in its brands. SG&A expenses increased 3% on a reported basis and 7% on an organic basis in fiscal 2022. The higher SG&A expenses stemmed from elevated discretionary spend and one-time items like a special employee bonus and costs related to the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Operating income improved 3% to $1,204 million on a reported basis and 27% on an organic basis. The operating margin declined 210 bps to 30.6% in fiscal 2022.Balance Sheet & Cash FlowThe company ended fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 with cash and cash equivalents of $868 million, and long-term debt of $2,019 million. Its total shareholders’ equity was $2,737 million. As of Apr 30, 2022, BF.B generated $936 million in cash from operating activities, while free cash flow amounted to $798 million.OutlookDespite the ongoing macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges, management anticipates continued growth in fiscal 2023. The company expects the strength in its brands and strong consumer demand to continue aiding the top line. It anticipates organic sales growth in the mid-single digits for fiscal 2023. The company expects a slight gross margin expansion in fiscal 2023, owing to the effects of inflation and the removal of EU and UK tariffs on American whiskey.Based on the aforementioned assumptions, the company expects organic operating margin to increase in the mid-single digits. The effective tax rate is expected to be 22-23% for fiscal 2023. Capital expenditure is anticipated to be $190-$210 million.Stocks to ConsiderWe have highlighted three better-ranked stocks in the Consumer Staples sector, namely Fomento Economico Mexicano FMX, The Duckhorn Portfolio NAPA and Heineken HEINY.Fomento Economico Mexicano, alias FEMSA, has exposure in various industries, including beverage, beer and retail, which gives it an edge over its competitors. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). FMX has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 3.9%, on average. Shares of FMX have lost 5.2% in the past three months.You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for FEMSA’s current financial-year sales suggests growth of 7.2% from the year-ago period's reported figures. FMX has an expected EPS growth rate of 8.8% for three-five years.Duckhorn, which produces and sells wines in North America, currently has a Zacks Rank #2. The company has an expected EPS growth rate of 12.2% for three-five years. Shares of NAPA have improved 14.9% in the past three months.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Duckhorn's current financial-year sales and earnings per share suggests growth of 10.8% and 6.9%, respectively, from the year-ago period’s reported figures. NAPA has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 94.4%, on average.Heineken, engaged in the brewing and selling of beer and cider, currently has a Zacks Rank #2. Shares of HEINY have increased 6.2% in the past three months.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Heineken’s current financial-year sales and earnings per share suggests growth of 2.9% and 17.7%, respectively, from the year-ago period’s reported figures. HEINY has an expected EPS growth rate of 14.3% for three-five years. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Electric Vehicles Big money has already been made in the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry. But, the EV revolution has not hit full throttle yet. There is a lot of money to be made as the next push for future technologies ramps up. Zacks’ Special Report reveals 5 picks investorsSee 5 EV Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BrownForman Corporation (BF.B): Free Stock Analysis Report Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V. (FMX): Free Stock Analysis Report Heineken NV (HEINY): Free Stock Analysis Report The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NAPA): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJun 8th, 2022

"Extremely Tense" Beer Bottle Shortage Emerges Ahead Of Germany"s Oktoberfest

"Extremely Tense" Beer Bottle Shortage Emerges Ahead Of Germany's Oktoberfest The world's largest beer festival, "Oktoberfest," situated in Munich, Germany, is four months away, and the country's energy crisis has sparked a beer bottle shortage.  Germany is Europe's largest manufacturing hub and faces exorbitantly high energy costs, rapid inflation, and a breakdown in supply chains, pressuring energy-intensive glass manufacturers. This economic backdrop alone could unleash stagflation.  Holger Eichele of the German Brewers' Federation told the German newspaper Bild the beer bottle shortage would impact small- and medium-sized breweries the hardest. He described the situation as "extremely tense" as the rising cost of production and logistics problems plague breweries.  "If you don't have long-term contracts, you currently have to pay 80% more for new glass bottles than you did a year ago. Some breweries are threatened with idling, they may soon be without bottles," Eichele warned.  Bild found the shortage of glass bottles is due to the soaring cost of fossil fuels, such as natural gas and diesel.  "The current energy price crisis poses major challenges for the energy-intensive glass industry. Energy costs have risen by up to 500% compared to the previous year ... These costs alone account for up to 20% of the operating costs in the glass industry," a spokeswoman for the Federal Glass Industry Association said.  A spokesperson for the century-old Radeberger brewery, located four hours northeast of Oktoberfest, said the beverage and brewing industry is strained and will worsen through summer. It remains to be seen how a beer bottle shortage affects Oktoberfest, scheduled for late September.  Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 07:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 22nd, 2022

If Success Has Many Fathers, Inflation Is An Orphan

If Success Has Many Fathers, Inflation Is An Orphan Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog, The proverb "success has many fathers" means there is no shortage of people willing to claim they contributed to a successful enterprise. If success has many fathers, inflation is an orphan. When it comes to inflation not only does nobody take credit for it, but instead they rush to blame others for its very existence. An example of this is how President Biden and his anti-fossil fuel administration has come out swinging and blamed Russia for higher gas prices in America.  Inflation is generally viewed as a general increase in the prices of goods and services in an economy because of or coupled with a fall in the purchasing value of money. This is where the peanut gallery and purest generally go berserk and argue fiat currency is not money. The most common reason given for rising prices is that demand is stronger than supply. Still, a lot more factors feed into creating inflation than supply and demand making price stability more than a delicate balancing act.  The "inflation puzzle" is highly complex and includes a slew of related confounding variables. The role productivity and savings play in inflation are often overlooked. Most people, even many economists make the mistake of throwing spending into one big pile with little consideration to the fact not all spending is equal. Please note the following; The spending of government often is far different than that of the individual. Unproductive government spending tends to be inflationary. Inflation can stem from a growing lack of faith in a currency, or all currencies, rather than just a lack of available goods. Governments that waste and spend do not generate long-term confidence in their currency. As inflation takes root the goods available for sale often contract as sellers retreat from the market awaiting higher prices, this can be followed by workers then demanding higher wages which creates a self-feeding loop. Also, the velocity of money plays into inflation. When money moves faster it tends to increase demand. What many people fail to consider is why money moves rapidly through the economy or the reason it gets parked in one place.  The ever-changing economic rules by which we play, include taxation and incentives for saving or not saving. Any "incentive" that steers money into intangible assets may feed the wealth effect but often dampens demand for the things we need that are included in the consumer price index. In short, it can lessen inflation but increase investments that may be risky. What people spend their money on and where impacts inflation. So does whether they pay cash or charge the purchase and have to pay interest on the goods. When people buy American goods and invest in their community the money moves from business to business creating jobs. When people buy goods made in Asia from a company like Amazon, their money takes the fast track out of the country and weakens our country.  Productivity is another huge part of the inflation puzzle. An example of an institution that has not been able to adjust and stay relevant in our changing world is the United States Postal service. It is an example of poor spending on the part of our government and could not exist if it were not for continued financial infusions. Years ago the USPS delivered important materials and correspondence, today it delivers the junk mail that fills our landfills. The main reason the USPS exists today is to employ people. It employs not only carriers but those that build and maintain its vehicles as well as those that create and send the junk mail we hate to get. Now Over 30 Trillion And growing While it is easy to point to supply chain disruptions as the reason for much of our inflation, it could be argued inflation has been brewing for a long time. The chart to the right shows bat shit crazy spending has soared. It is only logical to think the consequences would catch up with us at some point. This is why, as we look into the future many of us have arrived at the conclusion inflation has not peaked and more inflation remains a certainty. It seems our government is out of control and simply cannot stop spending. With the Secretary of the Treasury having been the former head of the Fed, and the current Fed chairman both hellbent on spending to boost the economy, our government has embarked on an unsustainable spending spree. This has enabled the global financial system to do the same with few ramifications. Circling back to the idea inflation is an orphan, this means when inflation hits the average consumer they yell out in pain. When that happens it seems none of the players that helped create the situation want to take credit for their actions. Inflation tends to hammer away at most people eroding their wealth. It acts as a stealth transferer of wealth moving it from the masses and into the hands of the few positioned to benefit   We should not forget what we were told by central bankers until recently. In late 2018 Jean-Claude Trichet, who served as President of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011, opined about his outlook for the global economy and monetary policy by repeating the line declaring 2% inflation the desirable goal of intelligent central bankers.   Yes, the central bankers were fast to tell us we needed some inflation and everything is "data-dependent." This translates into the idea central banks have the ability to, and will squash inflation if it begins to run too hot. Well, they better start squashing. The only other option is that we as a society get a great deal more productive or inflation is here to stay. With so many people choosing not to work or unable to find jobs that add substance to the economic pie, that is unlikely.   Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 07:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 16th, 2022

The Economy is Great. The Middle Class is Mad

Jeff Swope felt the first spurt of anger bubble up when he learned in February that his landlord was raising the rent on the empty two-bedroom apartment next door by more than 30%, to $2,075 a month. Though Swope, a 42-year-old teacher, and his wife Amanda Greene, a nurse, make $125,000 a year, they couldn’t… Jeff Swope felt the first spurt of anger bubble up when he learned in February that his landlord was raising the rent on the empty two-bedroom apartment next door by more than 30%, to $2,075 a month. Though Swope, a 42-year-old teacher, and his wife Amanda Greene, a nurse, make $125,000 a year, they couldn’t handle that steep a rent increase­—not alongside the student loans and car payments and utility bills and all the other costs that have kept growing for a family of three. “The frustration­—it was always a frog in the boiling water type of thing. I’d always felt it, but on a basic level. Something’s always brewing,” says Swope, from his modest apartment, where Atlanta Braves bobbleheads compete with books for shelf space. “We looked at the rent increase, and it was like, OK, this is ridiculous. I was like, ‘What the???’” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] For Jen Dewey-Osburn, 35, who lives in a suburb of Phoenix, the rage arose when she calculated how much she owed on her student loans: ­although she’d borrowed $22,624 and has paid off $34,225, she still owes $43,304. (She’s in a dispute with her loan servicer, ­Navient, about how her repayments were calculated.) She and her husband know they’re more fortunate than most—both have good jobs—but they feel so stuck financially that they can’t envision taking on the cost of having children. “It’s just moral and physical and emotional exhaustion,” she says. “There’s no right choices; it feels like they’re all wrong.” The exasperation of Omar Abdalla, 26, peaked after his 12th offer on a home fell through, and he realized how much more financial stability his parents, who were immigrants to the U.S., were able to achieve than he and his wife can. They both have degrees from good colleges and promising careers, but even the $90,000 down payment they saved up was not enough when the seller wanted much more than the bank was prepared to lend on the home they wanted. Abdalla’s parents, by contrast, own two homes; his wife’s parents own four. “Their house probably made more money for them than working their job,” he says. “I don’t have an asset that I can sleep in that makes more money than my daily labor. That’s the part that kind of just breaks my mind.” “Our income supposedly makes us upper middle class, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.”Middle-class U.S. families have been treading water for decades—weighed down by stalled income growth and rising prices—but the runaway inflation that has emerged from the pandemic is sending more than a ripple of frustration through their ranks. The pandemic seemed at first as if it might offer a chance to catch up; they kept their jobs as the service sector laid off millions, their wages started climbing at a faster rate as companies struggled to find workers, and they began saving more than they had for decades. About one-third of middle-income Americans felt that their financial situation had improved a year into the pandemic, according to Pew Research, as they quarantined at home while benefiting from stimulus checks, child tax credits, and the pause of federal student-­loan payments. But 18 months later, they increasingly suspect that any sense of financial security was an illusion. They may have more money in the bank, but being middle class in America isn’t only about how much you make; it’s about what you can buy with that money. Some people measure that by whether a family has a second refrigerator in the basement or a tree in the yard, but Richard Reeves, director of the Future of the Middle Class Initiative at the Brookings Institution, says that what really matters is whether people feel that they can comfortably afford the “three H’s”—housing, health care, and higher education. In the past year alone, home prices have leaped 20% and the cost of all goods is up 8.5%. Families are paying $3,500 more this year for the basic set of goods and services that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) follows than they did last year. Average hourly earnings, by contrast, are down 2.7% when adjusted for inflation. That squeeze has left many who identify as middle class reaching to afford the three H’s, especially housing. In March, U.S. consumer sentiment reached its lowest level since 2011, according to the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, and more households said they expected their finances to worsen than at any time since May 1980. “The mantra has been: Work hard, pay your dues, you’ll be rewarded for that. But the goalposts keep getting moved back,” says Daniel Barela, 36, a flight attendant in Albuquerque, N.M., who is exquisitely aware that his father had a home and four kids by his age. Barela and his partner made around $69,000 between them last year, and he feels as if he’s been jammed financially for most of his adult life. He lost his job during the Great Recession and, after a major credit-card company raised his interest rate to 29.99% in 2008, he had to file for bankruptcy. “No matter what kind of job I’ve held and no matter how much I work, it never seems to be enough to meet the qualifications to own a home,” he says. Even if people Barela’s age, who make up much of the middle class today, earn more money than their parents did, even if they have college degrees and their choice of jobs, even if they have a place to live, an iPhone, and a flat-screen TV, many are now sensing that although they followed all of American society’s recommended steps, they somehow ended up financially fragile. “Our income supposedly makes us upper middle class, but it sure doesn’t feel like it,” says Swope. “If you’re middle class, you can afford to do fun things—and we can’t.” TIME talked to dozens of people across the country, all of whose incomes fall in the middle 60% of American incomes, which is what Brookings defines as the middle class. For a family of three, that means somewhere between $42,500 to $166,900 today. Here’s what we heard: “The American Dream is an absolute nightmare, and I just want out at this point.” “It’s really discouraging. I’m losing hope. I don’t know what to do.” “We did what we’re supposed to do—but we’re just so cost-­burdened.” “It’s the most money I’ve ever made, but I still can’t afford to buy a home.” “I’ve put down roots here. I don’t want to be forced out.” Many mentioned resentment toward their parents or older colleagues who don’t understand why this younger generation don’t bear the hallmarks of the middle class, like a single-­family home or paid-off college debt. “Boomers could literally work the minimum-­wage job, they could experience life—go to national parks or have children and own homes. That’s just not possible for us,” says Julie Ann Nitsch, a government worker in Austin who, when the home she rents goes up for sale in May, will no longer be able to live in the county she serves. “It can take some time for the economic tectonic pressure to build sufficiently—and now the volcano is erupting.”They have a point. Homeownership has become more elusive for each ­successive generation as real estate prices have outpaced inflation. More than 70% of people ages 35 to 44 owned a home in 1980, according to the Urban Institute, but by 2018, less than 60% of people in that age group had bought a place to live. The soaring value of owner-­occupied housing, which reached $29.3 ­trillion by the end of 2019, has created a divide, enriching the older Americans who own homes and shutting out the younger ones who can’t afford to break into the market. Millennials and younger generations came of age in the worst recession in decades, entered a job market where their wages grew sluggishly, and then weathered another recession at the beginning of the pandemic. Through it all, costs continued to rise. Median household income has grown just 9% since 2001, but college tuition and fees are up 64% over the same time period, while out-of-­pocket health care costs have nearly doubled. Just half of all children born in the 1980s have grown up to earn more than their parents, as opposed to more than 90% of children in the 1940s. Both millennials and Generation X have a lower net worth and more debt when they reach age 40 than boomers did at that age, according to Bloomberg. Their worries matter for the larger American economy. As Joe Biden said in 2019, “When the middle class does well, everybody does very, very well. The wealthy do very well and the poor have some light, a chance. They look at it like, ‘Maybe me—there may be a way.’” Mark Steinmetz for TIMEAmanda Greene and Jeff Swope outside their rental in Canton, Ga. If the middle class is feeling left out of one of the strongest economies in decades, when the unemployment rate is at a historic low, it’s a grave sign that social discord is coming. Right now, there’s no Great Recession, no tech meltdown, no collapse of complex real estate investment products to explain away why things are tight. On the surface, the economy looks buoyant. But like Swope’s slowly cooking frog, lots of middle-income earners are realizing that they’re in hot water and going under. “It’s not like this volcano came out of nowhere,” says Reeves, the Future of the Middle Class Initiative director. “To some extent, we’ve seen these long-term shifts in the economy like sluggish wage growth and downward mobility. It can take some time for the economic tectonic pressure to build sufficiently—and now the volcano is erupting.” The costs of all three H’s have soared over the past few decades, but it’s the cost of housing—usually the largest and most crucial expenditure for any family—that is fueling so much of the current discontent. Housing prices have climbed steadily for decades, with the exception of a dip from 2007 to 2009, but growth reached a fever pitch in the past year. Few places are immune; more than 80% of U.S. metro areas saw housing prices grow at least 10%. In the Atlanta metro area, where Swope and Greene live, the median listing price is $400,000, up 7.5% from last year. (They think they could afford a house that costs $300,000.) The rising prices are driven by a legion of forces, including a lag in building in the wake of the Great Recession, a rise in short-term rentals, speculation by institutional investors who own a growing share of single-family homes, a shortage of construction materials, and labor and supply-chain issues. They’re exacerbated by growing demand from families looking to spend the money they’ve saved, boomers who are aging in place rather risking life in a facility during the pandemic, and millennials anxious to start a family. The recent scramble to buy homes has been well documented, but in many places, renters are in a worse position than buyers. Rents rose almost 30% in some states in 2021, and are projected to rise further this year. David ­Robinson, 37, was born and raised in Phoenix and now lives with his girlfriend and three children in a modest three-bedroom apartment in Maryvale, which he considers a low-end part of town. In September, their rent went from $1,200 a month to $2,200, with extra fees, after, he says, “some property-­management company based out of Washington [State]” bought the building. His rent now represents about 50% of his income as a utilities surveyor. “It’s kind of hard to do anything with your family,” he says. “After buying clothes, food, and [paying] the other bills like electricity, water, stuff like that, the financial cushion wears really thin. I’m pretty much working to pay someone else’s bills.” He crosses his fingers that their cars hold out a little longer, not to mention their health. “The No. 1 threat to American constitutional government today is the collapse of the middle class.”Amanda Greene, Jeff Swope’s wife, knows that feeling. She owes $19,000 on her Toyota Corolla, which she downgraded to after her Jeep Cherokee died unexpectedly. And before she married Jeff and went on his health plan, insurance for herself and her 7-year-old daughter through her employer cost $1,400 a month. Greene covered only herself, and paid out of pocket for her daughter. She has a condition that requires extensive testing, and is still paying off thousands of dollars that her insurance didn’t cover. Medical costs have typically risen faster than inflation over the past two decades, propelled by the increased cost of care and more demand for services due to the aging population. National per capita spending on health care in 1980 was $2,968 when adjusted for inflation; by 2020 it was four times that. The pandemic compounded the challenges, as many people lost jobs and the insurance that came with them. More than half of adults who contracted COVID-19 or lost income during the pandemic also struggled with medical bills, according to a survey done by the Commonwealth Fund. Higher education, the third H, has also become steadily more expensive as the cost of college grew and federal funding for public universities plummeted. As prices rose, more students took out loans. Average student-­loan debt in 2020 was $36,635, roughly double what it was in 1990, when adjusted for inflation. Families struggle for decades to keep up with payments. Greene thought she was setting herself apart when she went to a private college to get a degree in nursing. Now she owes $99,000 in loans, while her two sisters who didn’t go to college are debt-free. For many college graduates, the pandemic provided some relief, when the CARES Act paused payments on federal student loans. Suddenly, people had money to pay their other bills, and saw what life would be like without crippling student debt. Greene watched an app on her phone as her loans paused at $99,000—and stayed there. She’s dreading when payments start up again. All told, the three H’s—rent, health care, and higher-­education loans—take up a growing share of Swope and Greene’s take-home pay. Add necessities like food and utilities, and they have months when they write their rent checks without having enough money in their checking account. (Swope gets paid monthly.) They don’t eat out. They switched to generic grocery brands. Although they both work full time, Swope is considering picking up a part-time job. Some economists argue that the parlous state of the middle class is being disguised by poor accounting. Eugene Ludwig, the former comptroller of the currency in the Clinton Administration, says the CPI distorts the real economic picture for lower- and middle-­income Americans because it counts the costs of discretionary items such as yachts, second homes, and hotel rooms. By his calculations, the cost of household minimal needs rose 64% from 2001 to 2020, 1.4% faster than inflation. In March, the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity released a report that suggested housing prices had actually risen 149% (the CPI put it at 54%) and medical costs were up 157% (vs. the CPI’s 90%). “We found that while people in 2001 maybe did have just a little bit of discretionary spending, by 2019 as a comparison, many households did not, particularly the ones with more children,” says the Ludwig Institute’s executive director, Stephanie Allen. (The pandemic made tracking these data too ­unreliable to estimate discretionary spending since then, she says.) The stress and anger people in their 30s and 40s feel is spilling over into their relationships with their parents’ generation. Today, a family in the U.S. making the median household income would need to pay six times that income to buy a median-price house. In 1980, they would have needed to pay double. But many boomers don’t seem to have much sympathy for their children’s predicament. Jeff Swope’s father was able to support a family of three on a social worker’s salary, and bought a house in Sandy Springs, Ga., for around $50,000. His mother sold it last year for $255,000, and that buyer sold it in March for 30% more than that. Swope, on the other hand, graduated from college with a marketing degree in 2003, and got a job selling Yellow Pages ads. When that business disappeared with the proliferation of online search engines, he waited tables and got a second degree so he could teach. He graduated in 2008 in the midst of the Great Recession and supported himself by working as a trivia host and taking whatever teaching placements he could find. He didn’t get an entry-level public school teacher job until 2013. Even now, his income, $55,000, wouldn’t be enough to support a family. He and Greene applied for preapproval for a mortgage but haven’t heard back. He feels stuck. “It’s kind of like, you’re not an adult unless you have a house,” he says. “The older generation looks down on you because they just don’t understand.” One of the things it’s harder for some folks to grasp are the ripple effects of structural changes that were just ­beginning when they were younger. The decades-long decline of unions, for example, has made it harder for workers to negotiate better wages and benefits. Swope is not in a teachers’ union, because Georgia doesn’t allow for collective bargaining for public educators, which is one reason the average public school teacher there made 5% less in the 2020–2021 school year than in 1999–2000, when adjusted for inflation. In Massachusetts, a state with strong teachers’ unions, the average public school teacher’s salary grew 19% over the same time period. Across the nation, a job with health care and other benefits is becoming harder to find. There are at least 6 million more gig workers than there were a decade ago. Even revenue-­rich companies like Google and Meta outsource such functions as cleaning, food service, and some tech jobs, excluding many of the people who work in their offices from the benefits of full-time employment. Adria Malcolm for TIMEThe relationship between Daniel Barela Jr., left, and Sr. has been strained by Daniel Jr.’s struggle to feel middle class At the same time, the unabated rise of automation and technology has meant that ever more employers want workers with a college education. About two-thirds of production supervisor jobs in 2015 required a college degree, according to a Harvard study, while only 16% of already-­employed production supervisors had one. Flight attendant Daniel Barela’s father Daniel Barela Sr. can’t understand why his children are struggling. When he first moved to Albuquerque in 1984, he was making $5.40 an hour as a custodian. He doesn’t have a college degree, but he worked his way up at his company and bought the house where Daniel grew up. He and his wife now own nine properties around New Mexico. “My generation—we didn’t end the week at 40 hours,” he says. “It started at 40 hours if you wanted to be successful, and we did whatever it took. This generation­—at 40 hours, they’re exhausted. They don’t call it the Me Generation for nothing.” The elder Barela has a pension, which people in his role wouldn’t receive today. And he acknowledges that housing is more expensive than it was when he was buying real estate. But he’s also been surprised how hard it is to find ­someone to help him fix up one of his rental ­properties for $12 to $15 an hour. “It’s not just my kids. I see it in other kids—they just don’t want to work,” he says. This frustrates his son to no end. He’s put in long hours to work his way up in the aviation industry and still can’t even qualify to own a home. Whenever he gets a raise, he says, health-­insurance premiums and other costs go up the same amount. It’s not just his imagination. According to the Ludwig Institute, a teacher and an ambulance driver in Albuquerque would make $77,000 a year, which is higher than the U.S. median income of $67,000—but they’d still have to go $6,000 into debt to meet their minimum adequate needs every year. During the pandemic, Barela did have a taste of what life might have been like for his father. Since he was furloughed, and receiving unemployment benefits and stimulus money, he was able to pay off all of his debt, he says. Now that he’s working again, he’s back to using credit cards and living paycheck to paycheck. “Absolutely ridiculous that you can have two of the most important jobs out there and still barely afford to live. I hate this country.”It’s getting so Barela is feeling as if he should just fulfill his father’s prophecy and stop trying so hard. Toil hasn’t gotten him anywhere. Why put in more hours dealing with angry passengers for pay that will get eaten up by bills? “I think if anything, COVID taught us: Is it worth working to the bone over quality of life?” he says. “For myself, I will start to just sustain what I need to sustain, but I’m not going to bend over backwards to fulfill some corporate mantra.” He—like Jeff Swope, and many of the other people interviewed for this story—direct much of their frustrations at the very rich, who accumulate wealth in investments, which when withdrawn are taxed at a far lower rate than wages. Widespread dissatisfaction and shrinkage in the ranks of the middle class has long been linked with political instability. In times of great economic inequality, the rich oppressed the poor or the poor sought to confiscate the wealth of the rich, leading to violence and revolution. But the presence of a middle class has helped America evade that conflict, says Vanderbilt University law professor Ganesh Sitaraman. That’s why he argues that “the No. 1 threat to American constitutional government today is the collapse of the middle class.” It’s no coincidence that the diminishing faith Americans have in their institutions has mirrored the decline in the fortunes of the middle class. And President Biden, who has long fashioned himself as a champion of those in the middle, is nevertheless losing their support; only a third of people approved of his handling of the economy in a March NBC poll, a drop of 5 percentage points since January. Some economists believe that the years following World War II were an anomaly—a period of unprecedented productivity growth and prosperity that will never be replicated. Millions of people went to college on the GI Bill, and wages shot up, allowing families to buy homes and cars and televisions. That means that comparing middle-­class workers with their parents may not be the most useful way to measure their economic state. If their childhoods were built in a period of exceptional economic growth, it’s no wonder that people like Swope and Barela feel left behind today. Moreover, previous generations kept many Americans, including people of color and women, from entering the workforce and from owning homes. “Some of the reasons middle-­class Americans were able to do so well before is that they were excluding people from the labor market, and they had strong trade unions that got them higher wages than the market would have given them,” Reeves says. Adjusting to the new world isn’t going to be easy. Reeves cautions families to compare themselves not with their parents’ generation, but instead with where they would be without the policy actions during the Great Recession and the pandemic recession. Where would the American economy be if the government hadn’t bailed out the banks and the auto companies? What if it hadn’t paused student-­loan payments during the pandemic and sent out stimulus checks and child tax credits? If families could compare themselves with the counter­factual, they might not get so angry—and maybe their anger wouldn’t be as easily weaponized against whoever they think created their economic woes, whether it be people of different races, or Big Business. A little while ago, after Jeff Swope found out about the rising prices in his apartment complex, he posted something in a Facebook group called No One Wants to Work that mocked all the businesses complaining about how they can’t find workers—while they’re offering minimum wage for terrible jobs. “A nurse and a teacher with a 125k household income are about to not be able to not get ahead with any savings. It’s that bad,” he wrote. Some of the commenters blamed him for poor money management. They couldn’t sympathize with someone making a six-figure income and still struggling. But many more of the hundreds of commenters felt something else—that they knew exactly what Swope was feeling. “My boyfriend and I have union jobs at a steel mill and are in about the same boat,” one wrote. Another, also a nurse, wrote that she and her husband, an engineer, were also living paycheck to paycheck. In the comments, their fury was unbridled. “Absolutely ridiculous that you can have two of the most important jobs out there and still barely afford to live,” another commenter said. “I hate this country.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein/New York.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 28th, 2022

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations, Six years ago, before Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country, the Ukrainians bet that a Hillary Clinton presidency would offer better protection from Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though he had invaded Crimea during the Obama-Biden administration, whose Russian policies Clinton vowed to continue. Working with both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign, Ukrainian government officials intervened in the 2016 race to help Clinton and hurt  Donald Trump in a sweeping and systematic foreign influence operation that's been largely ignored by the press. The improper, if not illegal, operation was run chiefly out of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, where officials worked hand-in-glove with a Ukrainian-American activist and Clinton campaign operative to attack the Trump campaign. The Obama White House was also deeply involved in an effort to groom their own favored leader in Ukraine and then work with his government to dig up dirt on – and even investigate -- their political rival. Ukrainian and Democratic operatives also huddled with American journalists to spread damaging information on Trump and his advisers – including allegations of illicit Russian-tied payments that, though later proved false, forced the resignation of his campaign manager Paul Manafort. The embassy actually weighed a plan to get Congress to investigate Manafort and Trump and stage hearings in the run-up to the election. As it worked behind the scenes to undermine Trump, Ukraine also tried to kneecap him publicly. Ukraine's ambassador took the extraordinary step of attacking Trump in an Op-Ed article published in The Hill, an influential U.S. Capitol newspaper, while other top Ukrainian officials slammed the GOP candidate on social media. Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. attacked Trump in an Op-Ed weeks before the 2016 election. At first glance, it was a bad bet as Trump upset Clinton. But by the end of his first year in office, Trump had supplied Ukrainians what the Obama administration refused to give them: tank-busting Javelin missiles and other lethal weapons to defend themselves against Russian incursions. Putin never invaded on Trump's watch. Instead, he launched an all-out invasion during another Democratic administration – one now led by President Biden, Barack Obama's former Vice President, whose Secretary of State last year alarmed Putin by testifying, “We support Ukraine's membership in NATO.” Biden boasted he’d go “toe to toe” with Putin, but that didn't happen as the autocrat amassed tanks along Ukraine’s border in response to the NATO overtures. The Ukrainian mischief is part of Special Counsel John Durham’s broader inquiry – now a full-blown criminal investigation with grand jury indictments – into efforts to falsely target Trump as a Kremlin conspirator in 2016 and beyond. Sources say Durham has interviewed several Ukrainians, but it’s not likely the public will find out exactly what he's learned about the extent of Ukraine’s meddling in the election until he releases his final report, which sources say could be several months away. In the meantime, a comprehensive account of documented Ukrainian collusion – including efforts to assist the FBI in its 2016 probe of Manafort – is pieced together here for the first time. It draws from an archive of previously unreported records generated from a secret Federal Election Commission investigation of the Democratic National Committee that includes never-before-reviewed sworn affidavits, depositions, contracts, emails, text messages, legal findings and other documents from the case. RealClearInvestigations also examined diplomatic call transcripts, White House visitor logs, lobbying disclosure forms, congressional reports and closed-door congressional testimony, as well as information revealed by Ukrainian and Democratic officials in social media postings, podcasts and books. 2014: Prelude to Collusion U.S. envoys Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt helped bring to power Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, right. (AP) The coordination between Ukrainian and Democratic officials can be traced back at least to January 2014. It was then when top Obama diplomats – many of whom now hold top posts in the Biden administration – began engineering regime change in Kiev, eventually installing a Ukrainian leader they could control. On Jan. 27, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt phoned Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at her home in Washington to discuss picking opposition leaders to check the power of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom they believed was too cozy with Putin. “We’ve got to do something to make it stick together,” Pyatt said of a planned coalition government, adding that they needed “somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.” Nuland responded that Biden’s security adviser Jake Sullivan had just told her that the vice president – who was acting as Obama’s point man in Ukraine – would give his blessing to the deal. “Biden’s willing,” she said. But they agreed they had to “move fast” and bypass the European Union. “Fuck the EU,” Nuland told the ambassador, according to a leaked transcript of their call. Hunter Biden: His father helped engineer the rise of an amenable Ukrainian leader who would later fire a prosecutor investigating the son.   Nuland’s role in the political maneuvering was not limited to phone calls. She traveled to Kiev and helped organize street demonstrations against Yanukovych, even handing out sandwiches to protesters. In effect, Obama officials greased a revolution. Within months, Yanukovych was exiled and replaced by Petro Poroshenko, who would later do Biden’s bidding – including firing a prosecutor investigating his son Hunter. Poroshenko would also later support Clinton's White House bid after Biden decided not to run, citing the death of his older son Beau. The U.S. meddling resulted in the installation of an anti-Putin government next door to Russia. A furious Putin viewed the interference as an attempted coup and soon marched into Crimea. Nuland is now Biden’s undersecretary of state and Sullivan serves as his national security adviser. Whispering in their ear at the time was a fiery pro-Ukraine activist and old Clinton hand, Alexandra “Ali” Chalupa. A daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Chalupa informally advised the State Department and White House in early 2014. She organized multiple meetings between Ukraine experts and the National Security Council to push for Yanukovych’s ouster and economic sanctions against Putin. In the NSC briefings, Chalupa also agitated against longtime attorney-lobbyist Manafort, who at the time was an American consultant for Yanukovych's Party of Regions, which she viewed as a cat’s paw of Putin. She warned that Manafort worked for Putin’s interests and posed a national security threat. At the same time, Chalupa worked closely with then-Vice President Biden’s team, setting up conference calls with his staff and Ukrainians. Another influential adviser at the time was former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who provided Nuland with written reports on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia that echoed Chalupa’s warnings. Nuland treated them as classified intelligence, and between the spring of 2014 and early 2016, she received some 120 reports on Ukraine and Russia from Steele. 2015: The Move Against Manafort Commences Paul Manafort: Targeted by Chalupa over work for the ousted Ukrainian president and ties to Trump. (AP) In April 2015, the DNC hired Chalupa as a $5,000-a-month consultant, according to a copy of her contract, which ran through the 2016 election cycle. (Years earlier, Chalupa had worked full-time for the DNC as part of the senior leadership team advising Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.) After Trump threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, Chalupa grew concerned that Manafort was or would be involved with his campaign since Manafort had known Trump for decades and lived in Trump Tower. She expressed her concerns to top DNC officials and “the DNC asked me to do a hit on Trump,” according to a transcript of a 2019 interview on her sister’s podcast. (Andrea Chalupa, who describes herself as a journalist, boasted in a November 2016 tweet: “My sister led Trump/Russia research at DNC.”) Chalupa began encouraging journalists both in America and Ukraine to dig into Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine and expose his alleged Russian connections. She fed unsubstantiated rumors, tips and leads to the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as CNN, speaking to reporters on background so a DNC operative wouldn’t be sourced. “I spent many, many hours working with reporters on background, directing them to contacts and sources, and giving them information,” Chalupa said. But no reporter worked closer with her than Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff. He even accompanied her to the Ukrainian Embassy, where they brainstormed attacks on Manafort and Trump, according to FEC case files. Chalupa was also sounding alarm bells in the White House. In November 2015, for example, she set up a White House meeting between a Ukrainian delegation including Ukraine Ambassador Valeriy Chaly and NSC advisers – among them Eric Ciaramella, a young CIA analyst on loan to the White House who later would play a significant role as anonymous "whistleblower" in Trump’s first impeachment. In addition to Putin’s aggression, the group discussed the alleged security threat from Manafort. Chalupa was back in the White House in December. All told, she would visit the Obama White House at least 27 times, Secret Service logs show, including attending at least one event with the president in 2016. Eric Ciaramella (middle right) across from Ukrainians in a June 2015 meeting at the White House, flanked by Biden security adviser Michael Carpenter and Ciaramella's NSC colleague Liz Zentos. ( January 2016: High-Level Meetings With Ukrainians in the White House On Jan. 12, 2016 – almost a month before the first GOP primary – Chalupa told top DNC official Lindsey Reynolds she was seeing strong indications that Putin was trying to steal the 2016 election for Trump. Emails also show that she promised to lead an effort to expose Manafort – whom Trump would not officially hire as his campaign chairman until May – and link him and Trump to the Russian government. That same day, Chalupa visited the White House. A week later, Obama officials gathered with Ukrainian officials traveling from Kiev in the White House for a series of senior-level meetings to, among other things, discuss reviving a long-closed investigation into payments to American consultants working for the Party of Regions, according to Senate documents. The FBI had investigated Manafort in 2014 but no charges resulted. One of the attendees, Ukrainian Embassy political officer Andrii Telizhenko, recalled Justice Department officials asking investigators with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU, if they could help find fresh evidence of party payments to such U.S. figures. (Three years later, Democrats would impeach Trump for allegedly asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, Joe Biden.) The Obama administration’s enforcement agencies leaned on their Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Manafort, shifting resources from an investigation of a corrupt Ukrainian energy oligarch who paid Biden’s son hundreds of thousands of dollars through his gas company, Burisma. “Obama’s NSC hosted Ukrainian officials and told them to stop investigating Hunter Biden and start investigating Paul Manafort,” said a former senior NSC official who has seen notes and emails generated from the meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Suddenly, the FBI reopened its Manafort investigation. “In January 2016, the FBI initiated a money laundering and tax evasion investigation of Manafort predicated on his activities as a political consultant to members of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politicians,” according to a report by the Justice Department’s watchdog. The White House summit with Ukrainian officials ran for three days, ending on Jan. 21, according to a copy of the agenda stamped with the Justice Department logo. It was organized and hosted by Ciaramella and his colleague Liz Zentos from the NSC. Other U.S. officials included Justice prosecutors and FBI agents, as well as State Department diplomats. The Ukrainian delegation included Artem Sytnyk, the head of NABU, and other Ukrainian prosecutors. Ciaramella was a CIA detailee to the White House occupying the NSC’s Ukraine desk in 2015 and 2016. In that role, Ciaramella met face-to-face with top Ukrainian officials and provided policy advice to Biden through the then-vice president's security adviser Michael Carpenter. He also worked with Nuland and Chalupa.Ciaramella was carried over to the Trump White House. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, he would later anonymously blow the whistle on Trump asking Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help “get to the bottom of” Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election, a phone call that triggered Trump’s first impeachment by a Democrat-controlled House. Ciaramella’s former NSC colleague Alexander Vindman leaked the call to him. Vindman, a Ukrainian-American, is also aligned with Chalupa. (Vindman is now back in the news for his demands that the United States provide more active military support to Ukraine and his insistence that Trump shares great blame for the war.) As Manafort drew closer to Trump, Obama officials zeroed in, and the FBI reopened a closed 2014 probe. (Justice Department Office of the Inspector General) February 2016: Obama White House-Ukraine Coordination Intensifies On Feb. 2, two weeks after the White House meetings, Secret Service logs reveal that Ciaramella met in the White House with officials from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, which would later provide the FBI highly sensitive bank records on Manafort. (In addition, a senior FinCEN adviser illegally leaked thousands of the confidential Manafort records to the media.) On Feb. 9, less than a month after the White House summit, Telizhenko, who worked for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Zentos of the NSC at a Cosi sandwich shop in Washington, according to emails obtained by the Senate. It's not known what they discussed. In addition, on Feb. 23, the two emailed about setting up another meeting the following day. “OK if I bring my colleague Eric, who works on Ukraine with me?” Zentos asked Telizhenko, apparently referring to Ciaramella. In the emails, they discussed the U.S. primary elections, among other things. NSC's Zentos and Ukraine's Telizhenko would meet and correspond numerous times during 2016. (HSGAC-Finance Committee Hunter Biden Report) Telizhenko would later testify that Ambassador Chaly had ordered him then to “start an investigation [into the Trump campaign] within the embassy just on my own to find out with my contacts if there’s any Russian connection that we can report back.” He suspects the Ambassador delivered that report to Chalupa and the DNC. Chalupa visited the White House on Feb. 22, entrance records show, just days before the second meeting Telizhenko had planned with Zentos. March 2016: Chalupa Engineers Manafort Messaging Assault With Ukrainians After Manafort was named Trump campaign chair, the campaign against him went into overdrive. New York Times On March 3, Zentos and Telizhenko planned to meet again, this time at a Washington bar called The Exchange. According to their email, Zentos wrote, “I’ll see if my colleague Eric is up for joining.” The pair also met the next day at Swing’s coffee house in Washington. After the meeting, Telizhenko emailed Zentos seeking a meeting with senior Obama NSC official Charlie Kupchan, an old Clinton hand who was Ciaramella’s boss on the Russia/Ukraine desk. Kupchan is an outspoken critic of Trump who has made remarks suggesting what countries “can do to stop him” and “protect the international institutions we’ve built .” Zentos and Telizhenko also met on March 10, patronizing the Cosi coffee shop again. On March 24, 2016, four days before the Trump campaign announced that it had hired Manafort, Chalupa met at the Ukrainian Embassy with Ambassador Chaly and his political counselor Oksana Shulyar, where they shared their concerns about Manafort, according to Politico. When news broke on March 28 that Manafort was joining the Trump campaign, Chalupa could hardly contain herself. “This is huge,” she texted senior DNC officials. “This is everything to take out Trump.” She immediately began circulating anti-Manafort memos, warning the DNC of the “threat” he posed of Russian influence. The next day, March 29, she briefed the DNC communications team about Manafort. They, in turn, hatched a plan to reach out to the Ukrainian Embassy to get President Porochenko to make an on-camera denouncement of Manafort and feed the footage to ABC News, where former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos works as a top anchor. On March 30, Chalupa fired off an email to Shulyar, her contact at the Ukrainian Embassy: "There is a very good chance that President Poroshenko may receive a question from the press during his visit about the recent New York Times article saying that Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort as an adviser to his campaign and whether President Poroshenko is concerned about this considering Trump is the likely Republican nominee and given Paul Manafort’s meddling in Ukraine over the past couple of decades,” Chalupa wrote. "It is important President Poroshenko is prepared to address this question should it come up. In a manner that exposes Paul Manafort for the problems he continues to cause Ukraine." Within minutes of sending the email, Chalupa wrote the DNC’s communications director Luis Miranda, “The ambassador has the messaging.” Then she reached out to a friend in Congress, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, about holding hearings to paint Manafort as a pro-Kremlin villain. April 2016: Chalupa Solicits Ukrainian Dirt on Trump, His Campaign, and Manafort Though accounts differ, Chalupa discussed Trump dirt with Ukrainian representatives. Federal Election Commission American presidential campaigns aren't supposed to work with foreign governments to dig up dirt on their political opponents. Geneva Convention rules bar diplomats from becoming entangled in their host country’s political affairs, particularly elections. There are also federal laws banning foreign nationals from engaging in operations to influence or interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes. In 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government for that purpose. But just weeks after Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign, the Ukrainian Embassy appeared to be working with the Clinton campaign to torpedo him and the campaign. Emails reveal that Chalupa and Shulyar, a top aide to Ambassador Chaly, agreed to meet for coffee on April 7, 2016, at Kafe Leopold, a restaurant near the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. (Chalupa had paid a visit to the White House just three days earlier.) One of the purposes of the meeting, according to FEC case files, was to discuss Manafort and the danger he allegedly posed. They were joined at the café by Telizhenko, who said he was working on a “big story” on Manafort and Trump with the Wall Street Journal. In a sworn 2019 deposition taken by the FEC, Telizhenko alleged that Chalupa solicited “dirt” on Trump, Manafort, and the Trump campaign during the meeting. Telizhenko also testified that Chalupa told him that her goal was “basically [to] use this information and have a committee hearing under Marcy Kaptur, congresswoman from Ohio, in Congress in September and take him off the elections." Telizhenko later approached Ambassador Chaly about the DNC representative's overtures and he responded: “Yes. And I know that this is happening. You should work with her." After speaking with Chaly, Telizhenko claims that he went back to Shulyar who instructed him to help Chalupa. “I went to Oksana and said, ‘Like what are we doing?’” he testified. " And she told me, ‘You have to work with Chalupa. And any information you have, you give it to me, I’ll give it to her, then we’ll pass it on later to anybody else we are coordinating with.’” Less than a week later, on April 13, Telizhenko met again with White House official Zentos, email records reveal. Telizhenko said he resigned the next month because of concerns regarding his embassy’s work with Chalupa and the Clinton team. In her sworn account of the meeting, Chalupa acknowledged discussing Manafort and the “national security problem” he allegedly presented, but denied asking the embassy for help researching him. She allowed that she “could have mentioned the congressional investigation … that I had talked to Marcy Kaptur,” but maintained she couldn't recall trying to enlist the embassy in the effort. Shulyar, however, clearly recalls that Chalupa sought the embassy’s help warning the public about Manafort – including pitching stories to the press and lobbying Congress, according to a 2020 written statement to the FEC. An “idea floated by Alexandra Chalupa was that we approach a co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus to initiate a congressional hearing on Paul Manafort,” Shulyar said, though she denied the embassy acted on the idea. Around the same time, two Ukrainian lawmakers – Olga Bielkova and Pavlo Rizanenko – visited the U.S. and met with journalists, as well as a former State Department official with close ties to Sen. John McCain – David Kramer of the McCain Institute. Kramer would later leak the entire Steele dossier to the media. The meeting was arranged by major Clinton Foundation donor Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch who lobbied Clinton when she was Obama’s secretary of state. Bielkova was also connected to the Clinton Foundation, having once managed a Clinton Global Initiative program for Ukrainian college students. While Clinton was at Foggy Bottom from 2009 to 2013, Ukrainians gave more money – at least $10 million, including more than $8 million from Pinchuk – to the Clinton Foundation than any other nationality including Saudi Arabians. Pinchuk's donation was a down payment on an astounding $29 million pledge. On April 12, 2016, Bielkova also attended a meeting with Ciaramella and his NSC colleague Zentos, head of the Eastern Europe desk, according to lobbying disclosure records. In late April, Chalupa helped organize a Ukrainian-American protest against Manafort in his Connecticut hometown. Activists shouted for Trump to fire Manafort, whom they called “Putin’s Trojan Horse,” while holding signs that read: “Shame on Putin, Shame on Manafort, Shame on Trump” and “Putin, Hands Off the U.S. Election.” Chalupa also organized social media campaigns against Manafort and Trump, including one that encouraged activists to share the Twitter hashtags: “#TrumpPutin” and "#Treasonous Trump." Also that month, Chalupa reached out to Yahoo News reporter Isikoff to pitch a hit piece on Manafort. She connected him with a delegation of Ukrainian journalists visiting D.C. Isikoff would later be used by Steele to spread falsehoods from his dossier. May-June 2016: Manafort Dirt Spreads In a May 3 email, Chalupa alerted DNC communications director Luis Miranda and DNC opposition research director Lauren Dillion that there was “a lot more [dirt on Manafort] coming down the pipe[sic].” Chalupa told them the dirt has “a big Trump component” and would “hit in the next few weeks.” It’s not clear if she was referring to the notorious "black ledger” smear against Manafort, who was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, but a story about it was brewing at the time. On May 30, Nellie Ohr, an opposition researcher for the Clinton-retained firm Fusion GPS, emailed her husband, Bruce Ohr, a top official at the Justice Department who would become a prime disseminator of the Steele dossier within the government, and two federal prosecutors to alert them to an article indicating NABU had suddenly discovered documents allegedly showing Manafort receiving illicit payments. Amid the flurry of anti-Manafort activity, Zentos met again with Telizhenko on May 4, records show. And Chalupa visited the White House for a meeting on May 13. Chalupa paid another visit to the White House on June 14, Secret Service logs show. On June 17, Ciaramella held a White House meeting with Nuland and Pyatt of the State Department to discuss undisclosed Ukrainian matters. In late June, the FBI signed an evidence-sharing agreement with NABU, less than two months before the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency released what it claimed was explosive new evidence on Manafort. July 2016: Ukrainian Officials Attack Trump Publicly Chalupa continued to pow-wow with the Ukrainian Embassy and got so cozy with officials there that they offered her a position, which she declined, as an “embedded consultant” in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That same month, high-ranking Ukrainian officials openly insulted Trump on social media in an unusual departure from normal diplomacy. For instance, Ukraine Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov tweeted that Trump was a “clown” who was “an even bigger danger to the U.S. than terrorism.” In another July post, he called Trump “dangerous for Ukraine.” And on Facebook, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk warned that Trump had “challenged the very values of the free world." (After Trump upset Clinton, Avakov and other officials tried to delete their statements from their social network accounts, saying that they had been wrong and had rushed to conclusions.) “It was clear that they were supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy,” Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Artemenko told Politico. “They did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing Trump." While attending the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Chalupa spread the scurrilous rumor that Manafort was the mastermind behind the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and that he “stole" her and other Democrats’ emails. She later told her sister’s podcast that she had reported her conspiracy theory to the FBI, eventually sitting down and meeting with agents in September to spin her tale of supposed espionage (the Senate has asked the FBI for copies of her interview summaries, known as FD-302s). Chalupa also prepared a report for the FBI, as well as members of Congress, detailing her Russiagate conspiracy theories, which Mueller later found no evidence to support. In addition, Chalupa helped spread a false narrative that Trump removed a reference to providing arms to Kiev from the Republican platform at the party's convention earlier that month. Internal platform committee documents show the Ukraine plank could not have been weakened as claimed, because the “lethal” weapons language had never been part of the GOP platform. The final language actually strengthened the platform by pledging direct assistance not just to the country of Ukraine, but to its military in its struggle against Russian-backed forces. August-September 2016: The Phony Manafort Ledger Leaks  A page released by Ukrainian authorities from the fake Manafort ledger. New York Times/NABU In another attempt to influence the 2016 election, Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko leaked to the U.S. media what he claimed was evidence of a secret handwritten ledger showing Manafort had received millions in cash from Yanukovych’s party under the table. He claimed that 22 pages of the alleged ledger, which contained line items written by hand, had mysteriously appeared in his parliament mailbox earlier that year. Leshchenko would not identify the sender. A fuller copy of the same document showed up later on the doorstep of a Ukrainian intelligence official who passed it to NABU, which shared it with FBI agents stationed in Kiev. Leshchenko and NABU officials held press conferences declaring the document was “proof" of Manafort corruption and demanding he be “interrogated.” The Clinton campaign seized on the story. In an Aug. 14 statement, campaign manager Robby Mook stated: “We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.” He demanded Trump "disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities." But there was a big hole in the story. Though Manafort was a consultant to Yanukovych's party, he was paid by wire, not in cash, casting serious doubt on the ledger’s authenticity. Another problem: the ledger was alleged to have been kept at party headquarters, but rioters had destroyed the building in a 2014 fire. Leshchenko admitted that he had a political agenda. He told The Financial Times at the time that he went public with the ledger because “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” He added that most of Ukraine’s politicians are “on Hillary Clinton’s side." Leshchenko also happened to be "a source for Fusion GPS,” as Nellie Ohr confirmed under questioning during a 2019 closed-door House hearing, according to a declassified transcript. Fusion was a paid agent of the Clinton campaign, which gave the private opposition-research firm more than $1 million to gin up connections between Trump and Russia. Fusion hired Steele to compile a series of “intelligence” memos known as the dossier. As a former MI6 operative, Steele gave the allegations a sheen of credibility. FBI counterintelligence veteran Mark Wauck said the dossier and the black ledger both appear to have originated with Fusion GPS, which laundered it through foreigners who hated Trump – Steele and Leshchenko. "The ledger and the dossier are both Fusion hit jobs,” Wauck said. “The two items shared a common origin: the Hillary campaign’s oppo research shop." In an August 2016 memo written for Fusion GPS, “The Demise of Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort,” Steele claimed he had corroborated Leshchenko’s charges through his anonymous Kremlin sources, who turned out to be nothing more than beer buddies of his primary source collector, Igor Danchenko, a Russian immigrant with a string of arrests in the U.S. for public intoxication, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. Danchenko had worked for the Brookings Institution, a Democratic think tank in Washington that Durham has subpoenaed in connection to its own role in Russiagate. Danchenko was indicted last year by Special Counsel Durham for lying about his sources, including one he completely made up, as RCI reported. “YANUKOVYCH had confided in PUTIN that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to MANAFORT as alleged,” Steele claimed in the unsubstantiated report, citing “a well-placed Russian figure” with knowledge of a "meeting between PUTIN and YANUKOVYCH” allegedly “held in secret” on Aug. 15. As a paid informant, Steele had long reported to the FBI about alleged corruption involving Yanukovych. The FBI used his Clinton-funded dossier as a basis to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump adviser Carter Page, including the false claim that Page acted as an intermediary between Russian leadership and Manafort in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” that included sidelining Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue. Steele also falsely claimed that Page had helped draft the RNC platform statement to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests by eliminating language about providing weapons to Ukraine, according to a report by the Department of Justice's watchdog. In fact, Page was not involved in the GOP platform. The misinformation came from Danchenko’s fictional source. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson worked closely with the New York Times on the Manafort ledger story. In his book, “Crime in Progress,” Simpson boasts of introducing Leshchenko to the Times as a source, who ended up providing the paper some of the dubious ledger records. On Aug. 19, Manafort stepped down from the Trump campaign the day after the Times reported what it had been fed by the anti-Trump operatives. In effect, Ukrainian government officials tried to help Clinton and undermine Trump by disseminating documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and telling the American media they were investigating the matter. In 2018, a Ukrainian court ruled that Leshchenko and NABU’s Sytnyk illegally interfered in the 2016 U.S. election by publicizing the black ledger. Among the evidence was a recording of Sytnyk saying the agency released the ledger to help Clinton’s campaign – “I helped her,” Sytnyk is recorded boasting. But the damage was done. The Ukrainians, along with Chalupa and the Clinton camp, achieved their goal of undermining the Trump campaign by prompting Manafort’s ouster though they never proved he was colluding with the Russians. Neither did Special Counsel Mueller. In fact, Mueller did not use the ledger to prosecute Manafort after a key witness for the prosecution told him it was fabricated. “Mueller ended up dropping it like a hot potato,” Wauck said.  Ukraine’s neutrality in the election was also called into further question that September, when Porochenko met with Clinton during a stop in New York. He never met with Trump, who appeared to get the cold shoulder from the Ukrainian leader. In statements following Trump’s surprise victory over Clinton in November, Ukraine’s embassy has denied interfering in the election and insisted that Chalupa was acting on her own. Epilogue After Trump won the election in spite of her efforts to sabotage him, Chalupa predicted: “Under President Trump, the Kremlin could likely invade U.S. allies in Europe without U.S. opposition.” Not only did Russia not invade Europe “under Trump,” it didn’t even invade Ukraine. Rather, the invasion came under Biden, whose campaign Chalupa supported. Yet she continues to blame Trump. Recent tweets show a still-obsessed Chalupa has not dialed back her extremist views about Trump or Manafort, whom she believes should be prosecuted for “treason." In a Feb. 28 post on Twitter, for example, Chalupa claimed that Putin installed “a puppet regime in the U.S. with the help of Paul Manafort.” The previous day, she tweeted, “We had a Putin installed Trump presidency.” A day before that, she wrote: “Now would be a good time to release the Putin-Trump treason calls.” And on Feb. 25, Chalupa tweeted another wild conspiracy theory: "It’s important to note that Putin’s imperial aspirations are of a global criminal empire, as we saw when he installed Donald J. Trump president and tried to turn the U.S. into a Russian satellite state." Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Inflation & the Elephant

      To hear an audio spoken word version of this post, click here.   Every discussion I hear about inflation reminds me of the parable of the six blind men and the elephant.1 Having never encountered such a creature before, the sightless men learn about the pachyderm only by touching it: One man… Read More The post Inflation & the Elephant appeared first on The Big Picture.       To hear an audio spoken word version of this post, click here.   Every discussion I hear about inflation reminds me of the parable of the six blind men and the elephant.1 Having never encountered such a creature before, the sightless men learn about the pachyderm only by touching it: One man feels the trunk, another the tail, the tusks, ears, legs, and sides. They argue over what the beast is, each describing it differently, each mans’ understanding incomplete, limited by his narrow, personal experience. It feels like the debate over Inflation is a similar experience: One’s analysis and expectations about inflation can be too narrow, highly dependent upon the aspect of CPI data you choose to focus upon, the priors you bring to those observations, and (therefore) what it is you see in various prices.2 This matters a great deal: Inflation is less than the simple binary question: Is the CPI rising or not? Rather, there are many factors driving the components that make up the Consumer Price Index. When we closely analyze these, we find a broad dispersion across various consumer goods and services. The nature of these inputs will determine how much inflation there is, how long-lasting it might be, and what can be done to combat it. Consider four components that go into CPI, plus two additional factors impacting consumption, and you get a sense of the complexities involved: Automobiles: The constraints of reopening chip fabs to produce semiconductors is a long slow process – estimates are for as long as 24-36 months. Which means we might only be halfway to a third of the way to a sufficient supply of chips for new car productions to ramp up. The shortage of new cars has led to a surge of used car prices — and there are only so many used cars out there. This has had a substantial – and disproportionate – impact on prices (see chart). Without the spike in car prices, that 7% consumer price increase would have been about a third less, closer to 5.5% had car prices been stable. Housing: The lack of supply of new single-family homes has been over a decade in the making; existing-home sales seems to have been impacted by the pandemic lockdowns from apartments to houses. Housing expert Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel notes that “sales volume exploded as the pandemic lockdowns ended.” 3 This was especially true among the upper half of homes, where salaries had risen and net worth rose. As more supply comes online, and mortgage rates rise, we should see price increases moderate. Wages: There are so many crosscurrents in the labor market, but for inflation purposes, I want to draw your attention to three: Minimum wage workers, High-skill workers, and Demographics. Minimum wage workers, relative to most other metrics, have been underpaid for decades. The pandemic gave them two things – CARES act cash, which afforded an opportunity to improve their skills, and negotiating power. It is obvious (to me at least) that rising minimum wages is a belated generational reset. Demographics are partly to blame: Decreased immigration, new business launches, a lack of childcare, covid deaths, early retirement have dramatically reduced the number of people in the Labor Force. High-skill workers have always been in high demand, but the pandemic turned local labor markets like New York, San Francisco, Boston, etc., into national ones. There has been lots of disruption   as the market adjusts, but valuable employees have figured out they can earn a substantial raise by switching employers. The great resignation at least among this group, is more like a huge job exchange. Energy: There is a duality among energy sources: On the one hand, oil and natural gas prices have risen so much that electricity producers are consuming more coal (!) than they have in years. On the other hand, gasoline prices have been flat for 13 years, and are only back to where they were in 2015. Of all the inputs we are discussing into rising prices, Energy seems to have the fastest ability to respond to rising demand with more supply. As every commodity trader knows, the cure for high prices is high prices. Goods versus Services: We discussed in November how the balance of Goods (38.7%) versus Services (61.3%) was altered by the pandemic. CPI Goods are up over 8%, while CPI Services have recovered back to where they were pre covid — at about ~3% price increases. That will eventually revert to pre-pandemic levels. The move towards goods and away from services may be temporary, but it is still inflationary. Logistics: Rebecca Patterson, Bridgewater Associates’ Director of Investment Research, observes that the “biggest monetary stimulus outside of wartime” plus a massive fiscal stimulus has led to a “Demand Shock” driving inflation. Globally, the production of goods is now 5% over 2019 pre-pandemic levels, but Patterson notes that demand has risen 20%. We have more ships on the seas than ever, but it isn’t enough. Increased shipping containers and ports working 24/7 are still insufficient. How will these five factors play out over time? Some are likely to be transitory. Of all of these rising prices, energy prices tend to be the most responsive to rising prices. On the other hand, it takes 4 to 6 months to construct a new home; an adequate supply of semiconductors is estimated to be at least 6 months, or as much as 24 months away; wages have reset higher – $15 is the new unofficial minimum wage – but the rate of increase could very well moderate towards late 2022. To build one of the giant container transport ships is a 3-year process. Last, the balance between goods and services will be determined by how long it takes us to get the pandemic under control. How much the prices of these goods and services respond to rising Federal Reserve rate increases is another question entirely. I am very much in favor of the Fed normalizing rates, but I am less sanguine that rate increases are the cure for what we describe above. Pricing in the global economy is dynamic, ever-changing, with lots of cross currents each responding to different inputs: Supply, demand, interest rates, fiscal stimulus, geopolitics, consumer sentiment, etc. This is the nature of a complex system. Investors should not engage in gross oversimplification, single variable analysis, or even thinking about inflation as a binary outcome. Instead, an awareness of the many factors affecting prices, and how they might play out is a rational approach. Is the worst of U.S. inflation behind us? Maybe, but since we cannot accurately predict the future, we should at least do our best to understand the present. That means doing more than focusing on any one single part of the elephant . . .       Previously: Generational Reset of Minimum Wage (November 30, 2021) Structural or Transitory? (November 23, 2021) How Everybody Miscalculated Housing Demand (July 29, 2021) The Inflation Reset (June 1, 2021) Shifting Balance of Power? (April 16, 2021) Elvis (Your Waiter) Has Left the Building (July 9, 2021)   ______________ 1. It was made famous by John Godfrey Saxe’ 19th century poem. I find it so illustrative I keep returning to it again and again. See e.g., Nation of Rentiers? (February 23, 2018) and Is the Market Still a Future Indicator? (August 11, 2008) 2. It was not my intention to suggest that all economists are blind to the full picture of data that lay before them, but if the shoe fits . . . 3. Interesting side note: Miller adds that, “this is a bit simplistic but land appreciates and buildings depreciate so most of the recent price surges are carried by the land.”     click for audio   The post Inflation & the Elephant appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureJan 21st, 2022

A driver shortage could lead to stores in the UK running out of alcohol ahead of Christmas, trade group warns

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association CEO Miles Beale said there are already delays in delivery which is pushing up costs and limiting availability. Rows of cans of hard seltzer and beer on shelf in store.Richa Naidu/Reuters Alcohol providers are reporting delays in delivering alcohol to stores in the UK.  The Wine and Spirit Trade Association sent a letter to the transport minister urging him to take action. The delays are a result of shortages of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.  The United Kingdom could face a shortage of alcohol ahead of Christmas as the country deals with limited delivery drivers, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association warned. WSTA sent a letter to UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps asking him to take action against shortages of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers. 49 of the UK's wine and spirit businesses signed on to a letter, WSTA said in a press release. "There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos," WSTA CEO Miles Beale said in the release. In a statement to CNN, the UK government said it doesn't anticipate any alcohol disruptions. "The government acted quickly to tackle the challenges to our supply chains, which were brought on by global pressures including the pandemic and the international shortage of HGV drivers," a government spokesperson told CNN. WSTA said that some of its wine and spirit businesses reported it's taking five times as long to import products compared to last year and businesses are now taking 15 days to process shipment orders compared to just two or three days in the past. CNN reported the UK has been experiencing a worker shortage partly because some European Union workers left after Brexit. Trucking companies, alongside other industries, can't recruit EU workers because of new immigration laws. The WSTA said the government should extend a temporary visa program for HGV drivers expected to expire on February 28, 2022, by at least one year and also facilitate better routing of freight from ports. Additionally, they want the government to provide more regular updates on how quickly it's processing tests and licenses for HGV drivers. "We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers. Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond," Beale said in the statement.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 28th, 2021

9 places to buy alcohol online in 2021 and get it delivered in time for the holidays

If you want to get alcohol delivered right to your door, here are the best places to shop whether you want liquor, wine, beer, or Japanese sake. Prices are accurate at the time of publication. Here's how to get alcohol delivered right to your door whether it's your favorite wine, beer, or spirit. Check your state's laws before you shop, and be sure an adult who is 21 years or older can sign for the package. This content is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral, and information service.Trying to carry two bottles of wine, a handle of whiskey, a six-pack of beer, and some bitters to stock our bar cart might as well be an Olympic sport. But the task of buying alcohol doesn't have to be so strenuous, and for anyone who can't or doesn't want to go outside to the store, there's always alcohol delivery. We've broken down how to buy alcohol online and the best places to order from whether you're into spirits, wine, or beer. Some can get you your alcohol within a couple of hours of ordering, while others may have set shipping schedules. One thing to keep in mind with any alcohol delivery service is that each state has its own laws. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah have outright bans on booze deliveries to private citizens. In almost all other states, wine deliveries are perfectly legal, though they will require a signature from an adult who's 21 or older in most places. Check the National Conference of State Legislatures' Direct Shipment of Alcohol Statutes page for the most updated information.Here are the best places to buy alcohol online:The best place to buy wine online: Wine.comThe best place to buy indie wine online: NakedWines.comThe best place to buy sake online: TippsyThe best place to buy beer online: Craft CityThe best on-demand alcohol delivery: DrizlyThe best place to buy alcohol gifts: ReserveBarThe best spirits subscription: FlaviarThe best wine subscription: WincThe best beer subscription: Beer of the Month ClubThe best place to buy wine boasts the world's largest online wine selection, letting you find your old favorites, discover new wines, and shop collectible and boutique wines. There's no shortage of choice at, where you can shop by varietal and region, or browse various curated lists and deals. You can also pick up gift baskets, glassware, and other wine accessories to supplement your bottles. Each product page features helpful winemaker notes, reviews from trusted critics like James Suckling, and additional information about the vineyard. There's also a live wine expert chat function in case you need extra help. In addition to home delivery, the site offers order pickup from more than 10,000 participating locations including Walgreens, Duane Reade, and Safeway. If you anticipate ordering often, get the annual $49 membership, which is called the StewardShip program, and gives you free shipping on every order for a full year with no purchase minimum.New customers can also take $20 off orders of $50+ with the code "GIVING20".Shipping cost: Varied and based on the number of bottles and the size and weight of your orderRead about more places to buy wine onlineItalian Wine Gift Set$49.99 FROM WINE.COMOriginally $64.00 | Save 22%The best place to buy indie wine onlineNakedWines/ lets you support independent winemakers around the world and you'll receive big discounts so you can stock your wine supply for less.If you're interested in getting to know the winemaker behind each of your bottles, you'll love, which specializes in lifting up independent wine labels around the world. You can become an "Angel" who invests $40 a month directly in up-and-coming winemakers, and in return, you'll get wholesale prices (up to 60% off wine) and a free gift bottle every month. Even if you don't want to become an Angel, you can still shop the large variety of red, white, sparkling, rose, and sweet wine on the site and try the user-friendly filtering system. You can even browse winemaker profiles to hear directly from the source, read customer reviews, and easily shop all the wine from that maker. There's a generous welcome offer of $100 off your introductory case that includes six bottles of reds and whites. For future orders, there is a six-bottle minimum. Shipping cost: $10 for orders under $100. For orders $100 and more, delivery is free — except for Hawaii (+$70) and Alaska (+$130).Read our review of NakedWines.comQuevedo Family Touriga Nacional 2019$14.99 FROM NAKEDWINES.COMThe best place to buy Japanese sake onlineConnie Chen/Business InsiderTippsy is a great way to explore Japanese sake à la carte or through a monthly subscription box.If you've never drunk sake outside of a Japanese restaurant, you're missing out on a whole world of booze. And if part of the reason is that you're not sure what to order or what to pair it with, you might want to sign up for Tippsy. Tippsy is an online store for sake, and it keeps the category from being overwhelming with taste profiles, pairing suggestions, translations of Japanese labels and descriptions, and more. Bottles can be purchased a la carte or through a subscription that arrives one, two, or four times a year. Each box contains six 10-ounce bottles, and your first box comes with a Sake 101 guide with tasting notes, and suggestions on food pairings and even what temperatures to enjoy the sake. This is a great way to expand your palate and knowledge of alcohol without venturing out to a Japanese restaurant.  Currently, you can get $15 flat shipping on all orders, or earn free shipping if you order six or more bottles.Membership cost: Starting at $93/box for subscription, à la carte bottles starting at $10 — Jada Wong Read our review of TippsyTippsy Sake Box$99.00 FROM TIPPSYThe best place to buy beer onlineCraft City/InstagramCraft beer enthusiasts will be happy with Craft City's impressive inventory that tends towards smaller brewery labels. If you have a particular craft beer in mind — maybe you tried it while traveling or you bought it from a store once and never saw it again — chances are that Craft City carries it. It also happens to be a great place to buy other fizzy drinks, like craft kombucha and craft soda. You can enjoy the nation's best craft breweries, from more well-known names like Ballast Point and Allagash to labels you've never heard of. The nice thing is that you can buy single bottles rather than full packs, so you can create a fully customized beer stash. Some of the products include ratings from Beer Advocate and Rate Beer, plus each page tells you exactly how much stock is left and whether you need to act quickly to snatch up your favorites. There's also a cool Product Comparison tool if you're between two beers and want a side-by-side breakdown of their differences. Shipping cost: Based on your specific location, and generally, we found you'll pay between $10 to $16 for ground shipping. Read about more places to buy beer onlineMason Ale Works Cash Stout $13.99 FROM CRAFT CITYThe best on-demand alcohol deliveryDrizly/InstagramFor alcohol delivery within the hour, Drizly provides the most reliable, well-designed, and widely available service. Drizly works with your local liquor stores to get you wine, beer, spirits, and even mixers, snacks, and party supplies quickly. Delivery's free in New York City and only $5 in other areas. Drizly service is available in more than 220 markets nationwide. Stock and pricing really depend on your neighborhood retailer, but you should expect all the big brands and bar essentials, as well as more unique offerings such as craft brews, bottles from local distillers, and exclusive wines. They should cost you the retail price, or a little more, though Drizly also regularly runs deals and promotions to save you some money.Both the website and app are easy to use and you can look at your past purchases to make reordering a breeze. Delivery cost: Free in NYC and $5 elsewhereRead our comparison of Drizly, Minibar, and SauceyHornitos Reposado Tequila 1L$25.99 FROM DRIZLYThe best place to buy alcohol giftsReservebar/InstagramReserveBar is an online luxury spirit and wine store that carries rare bottles, gift sets, and fine drinkware. It's the perfect place to find top-shelf options for special occasions. ReserveBar is an online delivery platform offering everything from bottom- and middle-shelf wine and spirits to the very tippy-top, like Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blancs and Remy Martin Louis XIII.However, since it does charge a premium on common bottles and brands, we recommend going to other sites or your local liquor store for the bottom- and middle-shelf stuff and focusing instead on all the rare vintages and limited offerings — if you have the budget. You'll also find custom engravings, fancy crystal and barware sets, and gift baskets. If you ever want to make someone in your life — be it a partner, relative, or business contact — feel special, ReserveBar's the place to find the best boozy gift. Shipping cost: Shipping is $15-$35 for orders under $149. It's free on orders over $149 with the code SHIP149. Read our review of ReserveBarJohnnie Walker Blue Label$259.00 FROM RESERVE BARThe best spirits subscriptionFlaviar/InstagramFlaviar is an accessible starting point and community for people wanting to expand their experience with spirits, and it offers no shortage of member-exclusive features to dive into and explore.The world of fine and niche spirits can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to the scene. But if you're interested in trying small-batch whiskeys, vodkas, tequilas, and more, personalized spirits subscription service Flaviar is an excellent place to start.In addition to providing quality options (including rare bottles) at great prices, Flaviar also serves as an online community for fellow fans (600,000+ strong) to get together and talk about everything spirits-related. It carries more than 20,000 different spirits and every three months, members can pick out one full-size bottle and a curated Tasting Box filled with various samples. There are many other perks, including member reviews, articles about different spirits, cocktail recipes, and interviews with industry experts. Membership cost: $109 per quarter or $349 per yearRead our review of FlaviarFlaviar Annual Subscription$349.00 FROM FLAVIARThe best wine subscriptionConnie Chen/Business InsiderThe modern wine club model is nearly perfect in Winc's hands, from its large and on-trend bottle variety to its streamlined browsing and customer rating system.Winc is always updating its stock of wine, which it produces based on consumer interests and emerging trends. That means you'll always have something new to look forward to when you do your monthly wine shopping haul. Winc's site is easy to use and browse for different varietals and regions, and you can view member ratings and descriptions for each wine. We also love it because its wines are pretty affordable, ranging from $13 to $32 a bottle. Amateur wine enthusiasts can start with the Palate Profile, which will point them in the right direction of different wines to try. Membership isn't required to order from Winc, though it can save you some money if you regularly consume wine. Right now, new customers can take $20 off four bottles or more.Membership cost: $59.95/month, or order a minimum of three bottles starting at $13/bottle Read our review of WincRead more about the best online wine subscriptionsWinc Wine Subscription$24.95 FROM WINCOriginally $52.00 | Save 52%The best beer subscriptionBeer of the Month ClubBeer of the Month Club has more than 25 years of experience recommending craft beers and uses three criteria — quality, freshness, and variety — to curate its 12-packs. This club has been around since 1994 and is more than familiar with the best craft beers you should know about. Its panel members have some impressive experience up their sleeves, including over 100 collective years in the brewing industry and 500 beers rated every year to bring you only top-tier beers. Beer of the Month currently offers five different membership types: US Microbrewed, US and International Variety, Hop Heads Beer, International Beer, and Rare Beer. You'll get 12 bottles that represent two to four beer styles and breweries, plus profiles and tasting notes. The subscription is aimed at people who want to develop their taste in beer or simply find it too time-consuming to do the research and work themselves.Right now, you can save up to $30 off prepaid orders. Use the code "SAVE10" for $10 off a 4-shipment order, "SAVE15" for $15 off a prepaid 6-shipment order, and "SAVE30" for $30 off a prepaid 12-shipment order. Membership cost: $29.95-$38.95 a month, plus $15 shipping. Beer of the Month Club Subscription$31.95 FROM BEER OF THE MONTH CLUBCheck out our other great guidesWince FacebookThe best places to buy beer online, from local delivery services to monthly subscriptionsThe best places to buy alcohol online — from general online liquor stores to monthly wine delivery servicesThe best wine subscriptions we've triedThe best Champagne and sparkling wine you can buy onlineThe best drinking glassesThe best wine openers and corkscrewsThe best cocktail shakersThe best wine glassesRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 19th, 2021

Shoppers are partly to blame for America"s crippling labor shortage

Some retail and restaurant workers say abusive customers are one of the main reasons they quit retail work - and they don't want to return. Retail workers are quitting at record rates. Courtesy of Walmart Retail and restaurant workers are quitting at record rates during a crippling labor shortage. They cite poor pay and working conditions, but rude customers also play a part, surveys suggest. It's time that consumers take some of the blame - and that employees give their workers more power. The labor shortage blame game has bounced between employers, workers, and jobless benefits.Business owners have accused workers of being lazy, or disincentivized by expanded federal unemployment benefits - while workers say they're not paid enough for what they do, and are seeking better pay, benefits, and schedules.But surveys suggest another group shoulders some of the blame: consumers who have treated workers poorly and led some of them to quit their retail jobs and refuse to return to the industry.In a poll of restaurant workers from earlier this year, eight in 10 said that they had experienced hostile behavior from customers who didn't want to follow COVID-19 safety protocols. About half said they were considering leaving their jobs, and of that group, four in 10 said this was because of customer hostility and harassment. A survey of restaurant workers released in August yielded similar results - more than two-thirds said a key reason for the labor shortage was customer disrespect. At the same time, labor department data suggests workers in customer-facing roles are quitting at higher rates than in other industries. The agency's most recent jobs report showed that workers in hotels, food services, and retail quit at a higher rate in August than the record national rate that month - meanwhile, the US is still short of more than 200,000 retail jobs. The customer isn't always rightThe idea that the "customer is always right," which dates back more than 100 years, has given rise to entitled consumers and more aggression toward retail workers, Insider's Avery Hartman recently reported. Some customers have unloaded their frustrations on the cashier checking out their groceries, or the fast-food worker at the drive-thru window.It's happened more and more as the pandemic has progressed: Early on, consumers celebrated frontline retail workers, hailing them as "heroes" who were risking their lives to enable people to buy essentials. "I think my members felt really good about what they did because they were saving their communities," Marc Perrone, president of UFCW, the US' largest retail worker union, recently told Insider. But that mindset shifted over time, and workers increasingly said they felt they were risking their lives only to be abused by rude or aggressive customers. Some of these workers had to police COVID-19 safety rules in stores and ask shoppers to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination."Owners of stores didn't want to tell customers to wear a mask, customers felt entitled, and workers got caught in the middle. I don't think most of the employers took it seriously enough," Perrone said.Confrontations between workers became more frequent, and in one case cost a worker their life. "No wonder so many either don't want to come back to their old customer-facing job, or, they are quitting soon after they return," Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, told Insider. The balance of power is shiftingThe tight labor market is forcing some employers to boost pay and improve benefits. But businesses could go even further to retain staff by rebalancing the power between customers and workers. Stores such as Gap and H&M are already realizing this by launching campaigns to shield workers from hostile customers. Employers could, for example, provide staff "security support in the face of bad behavior on the part of customers," Cohen said. Without these protections, workers are more likely to quit - especially now they are in a better position to do so during the labor shortage."Workers will understandingly seek a best decision for themselves, something they haven't had the luxury of in the past," Cohen said.If you are a retail worker with a story to share please contact this reporter at Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-lastRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 21st, 2021

Supply-chain experts agree that consumers fueled the everything shortage - and might be able to help fix it

The global supply chain has been stretched past its limit during the pandemic and experts say consumers are more than partly to blame. Container ships and gantry cranes in Felixstowe, Suffolk, United Kingdom. John Lamb/Getty Images Experts say consumers fueled the supply-chain crisis by buying more goods during the pandemic. Online spending has gone through the roof in recent years, causing backlogs at ports and warehouses. Shoppers can help alleviate the crisis by buying fewer goods and shopping second-hand or locally. The global supply chain has been stretched past its limit, and experts say consumers are more than partly to blame.From panic-buying to 2-day shipping expectations, consumers helped fuel the supply-chain crisis. Insider spoke with 12 experts in labor, logistics, and economics who said shoppers are at least partially to blame for the supply-chain disruptions that left store shelves empty and spawned price hikes."We're a community [of consumers] that supports a very short-term view of things, and by doing so, we're taking away from any resiliency in the supply chain," Gad Allon, the director of the University of Pennsylvania's Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, told Insider.Surges in demand paired with COVID-19 shutdowns at ports and warehouses left supply-chain workers struggling to make up lost ground. The largest US port has 30% more goods flowing through it and 28% less workers to handle unloading products.More goods flow through the supply chain than ever beforeIn 2020, global consumers spent $900 billion more online than in previous years, and spending continues to balloon. In the first half of 2021, global consumer spending was up 22% year-over-year - a $3.2 trillion increase, according to Tony Pelli, practice director of security and resilience at BSI. Demand grew so rapidly in the past two years that it's equivalent to about 50 million new Americans joining the economy, Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain policy at the National Retail Federation, told Insider."There are very few, if any, industries that could handle a ramp up in demand like that, especially when you consider the lack of scalability in the supply chain infrastructure and manufacturing base," he said.The supply chain is operating at a break-neck pace Multiple dock workers at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports - locations responsible for importing about 40% of US goods - told Insider it's a major misconception the backlogs are from lower productivity levels.In 12 of the past 13 months, the Port of Long Beach broke monthly records for the amount of goods it has processed. Since July, the port processed 5.5 million 20-foot shipping containers (TEUs) - a 32% year-over-year increase. Similarly, the Port of Los Angeles processed 6.3 million TEUs in 2021. Even at a break-neck pace, the ports face infrastructure constraints. What was built to handle 30 to 40 ships at a time cannot suddenly accommodate over 150 vessels."It's not like the ports have gotten slower or retailers are suddenly choosing to route their goods through those California ports," Douglas Kent, executive vice president of strategy and alliance at ASCM, told Insider. "It's that people are buying more and we don't have the infrastructure to support their buying habits." The immediate solution? We all consume less.Experts told Insider further disruptions could be averted if consumers cut back."It would not be great for the economy, but if people who were stuck at home started spending their money on experiences, instead of belongings, we would see less ships moving in and out of those ports," RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Tran told Insider.While a complete halt to online shopping seems unlikely, especially ahead of the holiday shopping season, experts told Insider that shoppers could play a smaller role by shopping early, thrifting, and buying locally. Bayard Winthrop, founder and CEO of American Giant, told Insider shopping locally and focusing on American-made products would help shift the pressure off strained thoroughfares between Asia and the US, while supporting smaller businesses that often get cut out of the equation by retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 20th, 2021

Luongo: Is Europe"s Entire "Energy Crisis" Manufactured?

Luongo: Is Europe's Entire "Energy Crisis" Manufactured? Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, The European Gas Crisis keeps hitting new high after new high as gas prices around the world go ballistic.   While this isn’t just a European problem, if you read the MSM, that’s all they seem to care about.   You know, it snows in Japan as well folks, and China. Prices keep skyrocketing in Europe because there is no shortage of idiocy at the top of the European power structure. The confluence of the pressurizing of Nordstream 2 with the release of the “Pandora Papers” and the beginnings of German coalition talks just after the beginning of Q4 should have everyone’s Spidey-Sense shutting down like your adrenals do after a long period of self-inflicted stress. And honestly, whose adrenals aren’t on the verge of collapse after eighteen months of ‘flatten the curve,’ ‘follow the science,’ and ‘just roll over to the Communism, already, you disgusting plebe!’ that we’ve been going through. I guess that’s yet another thing we have to try and factor into our analysis of what collapse is the most imminent? Because when you put this gas crisis in Europe into its proper context it should be clear where the battle lines are being drawn as the extreme pressure cooker of today’s geopolitical landscape forces everyone off the sidelines and into the fray. On the one hand we have natural gas prices in Europe approaching coffin corner. On the other we have Russia browning out gas deliveries to Europe. China is experiencing major energy shortages and the entirety of the coal delivery network around the world is buckling. These are facts. There are more I could list but let’s stay focused here. The thing that makes no sense, seemingly, is that no one has an answer why these facts exist in the first place. Because all anyone official ever wants to do is blame the sneaky Russians to avoid their own responsibility for this. Finally, after a couple of weeks of this howling, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the issue from their side. I suggest strongly you read his remarks carefully. Because in there you’ll find a couple of ‘facts’ which make this entire crisis in Europe seem like yet another staged ‘false flag’ for political gain. Ready? The two middle points are the ones the no one want to report on but are the key to the understanding of this. Europe is engaged in a game of idiotic brinksmanship with its people and the capital markets over gas supplies. They do this to construct a narrative and distort markets for political benefit. When the reality is that this entire ‘crisis’ is a manufactured one because of their unwillingness to bow to the forces their policies have unleashed. Gas prices in Europe are this way because of Europe’s own mistakes in trying to remake its economy (Putin Point #4). Moreover, Putin also urged Gazprom, as a gesture of good faith despite his misgivings, to ship gas through Ukraine even though it would be better to turn on other capacity. “Gazprom believes that it is economically more viable, it would even be more profitable to pay a fine to Ukraine, but to increase the volume of pumping through new systems precisely because of the circumstances that I mentioned – there is more pressure in the pipe, less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Everything is cheaper, around 3 billion a year. But I ask you not to do this,” the President said. Does this sound like the mustache-twirling tyrant that’s portrayed in the odious British, US and German media? Of course not. Now, I’m not accusing Putin of being an angel here or anything, he’s throwing scraps back to people who have put themselves in a position to starve and freeze to death, both literally and politically. The goal here is to highlight just how moronic the EU’s stance on energy has become, to finally to break up the logjam. He’s happy to see Gazprom (and possibly Rosneft if need be) sell all Europeans as much gas as it can supply and they demand, but only on terms that benefit everyone, supplier and demander. As I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, the EU thinks they have a monopsony on Russian gas and because of this can dictate terms to them. This is patently untrue, and Gazprom shifting around supplies for a few days here and there proves that point dramatically. Like Jay Powell draining the world of eurodollars with just five basis points, Putin and Gazprom can expose the the extent of Eurocrat mendacity with just a few days of slowing gas exports. That’s why this brinksmanship over gas supplies and electricity prices isn’t aimed at the Russians, who clearly have other customers for their gas, but with the people of Europe themselves and the capital markets all structured around one-sigma price volatility they are now extremely vulnerable even if things begin to return to normal. The Russian Bogey Man is simply the cover story for what is a much deeper and, frankly, much more disturbing game. So, while Zerohedge is correct about gas supply brown outs in Europe it’s only partly for reasons abundantly clear to even first-year geopolitical analysts: Flows dropped as Gazprom has booked only about a third of the gas transit capacity it was offered for October via the Yamal-Europe pipeline and no extra transit capacity via Ukraine. Gazprom declined to comment. It has repeatedly said it was supplying customers with gas in full compliance with existing contracts and said additional supplies could be provided once the newly built Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was launched. Ball. Court. Germany. Yes, Germany needs Nordstream 2. Hell Europe needs Nordstream 3 if these Davos ninnies are wrong about Climate Change, which they are. Germany is the country caught in the middle of this titanic battle for the future of the world and Davos is the group creating this false flag to force a shift in sentiment negatively towards Russia. That’s what’s driving this current crisis, one that, I think, is now threatening the future of the European Union itself. If those are the stakes, then eventually someone will finally do the right thing. Putin just offered the smallest of olive branches. Now let’s see if the European Commission has three collective brain cells to rub together and figure out how to save face (and their backsides). Beating up and demeaning your neighbor is not a winning strategy, nor is it a path to lower prices and stable markets. At some point they, the Russians, realize that the situation is exactly what it looks like from the outside, war. And, in this case the Russians under Putin are finally treating the EU commissars as enemy combatants because that’s who they are. That’s why his comments were structured to put the onus of the crisis back on Europe’s leadership rather than blaming the people keeping the lights on in the first place. Whenever things like this happen Capitalism is always blamed. But, it’s always Commie vandals like the EU Commission who created the problem, either deliberately with dumb things like the Third Gas Directive or malinvestment of capital which leaves the world vulnerable to a hot summer in Asia. And this is the essential point no one wants to confront. The EU picked this fight purely for political purposes because they have an agenda — energy instability for political benefit — but it has come back to bite them in the ass. Because, as I said, the markets are so tight it takes only a small shift in sentiment to see the prices of things with inelastic demand, like energy, rise dramatically with a marginal shift in either supply, demand or, in this case, both. Russia doesn’t act this ‘by the book’ at this moment in time without a plan. Treating the EU like the enemies they are is the strategic play. Whining about it in the media only accentuates their weakness and lack of leverage. My friends at are positively despondent because they see this power play for how it affects Italy, which is that it will carve the country up into pieces over divergent needs for inflation and deflation between it and Germany since one of these two countries need to exit the Euro-zone. There’s no way this massive ‘drop’ in Russian supplies to the EU occurs without a longer-term strategic plan by the Russians.  Putin has made it clear he is fully fed up with EU shenanigans and this is the time for him to put the most pressure imaginable on Brussels to break the EU into tiny pieces. How?  It’s again, all about Germany.   When Nordstream 2 was announced and I was writing Gold Stock Advisor for Newsmax in 2013 I talked then about how the difference between how gold was accounted for between the ECB and the Fed.  That put Germany squarely in the middle between the U.S. on one side and Russia on the other. Russia and China still hadn’t signed the big deal for the Power of Siberia pipeline at the time. They are now working on Power of Siberia 2, which will open up the massive mineral deposits in Mongolia.  So, even then, in my naïve way of seeing the world then as a first-year geopolitical analyst, I understood that Russia’s foreign policy had to be focused on getting Germany to side with them versus the U.S. The political establishment in Germany was never going to let that happen because under Obama. Davos was running the operation to cleave Ukraine from Russia.  To date, both have been partially successful.  Both Ukraine and Germany are being torn apart from within as domestic leadership bows to internationals forces forcing them to pursue policies which go completely against their countries’ wishes and best interests. So, now, fast forward to today.  The day after the German elections brings a mess but with a highly likely outcome that the SPD will ally with the Greens and the FDP. With Christian Lidner (FDP) as Finance Minister (at least temporarily) we have a German government at war with itself. As Alex Mercouris brought up after I left the chat with Crypto Rich last week, the Greens are fracturing over the Russia issue.  Part of them want a restoration of good Russian relations, the other are neocon/Davos infiltrators trying to constantly move the goalposts on both Climate Change and geopolitics. The SPD are pure Davos scum at this point so expect nothing good from them.  This is why I think Putin ‘shut off the taps’ the day after the election.  Like everyone else, he can see what Davos is doing and doesn’t like it.  So, in order for him to make his point he does exactly what he should, stop trading with those who have unofficially declared war on Russia and push the political scene in Germany to a breaking point. Because here’s where this goes.  Germany needs to either control the purse strings of the EU or it needs to leave the euro-zone and be independent of the sinking ship.  Putin realizes that the best way to achieve this is to pour gasoline on a raging firestorm in the energy markets (oh, the humanity of the puns!) and remind German voters just who is truly responsible for their €2000/month electricity bills. It’s not Putin.  It’s Berlin.  So, Berlin needs to sign off on Nordstream 2 and then ram it down the EU Commission’s throat.  And they better do it soon because Winter is Coming, after all. And they just voted for more of this while Merkel, who has been the biggest obstacle to AfD’s inclusion in any government, is leaving the scene.  The CDU leadership got whacked across the board.  Most of the big names will not be in the Bundestag this time around, so the party will be doing a lot of self-reflection. Inflation of the type Putin is ‘forcing’ on Europeans today is the type a country only recovers from with a political inversion.  This is why today we’re seeing surprise rate hikes from Poland, for example. It’s why Serbia is begging Russia to increase gas supplies there and Hungary signed a 15-year deal to secure its energy future. While there is no appetite for a political inversion in Germany today after last week’s vote, there will be in about 3 months if coalition talks stall. Because the ECB under Christine Lagarde cannot raise rates but is powerless to stop them rising ultimately if the market senses that there is no political leadership capable of reining it in. That ship sailed a few months ago after the Fed called Lagarde’s hawkish bluff and actively drained more than $1 trillion from overseas dollar markets and just increased the capacity to drain even more, without tapering QE. Now let’s go back to the Fed and Wall St.  If there is a real backlash within some areas of the U.S. ‘big money’ against Davos which is showing up as Fed monetary policy, per my consistent analysis of the situation and events playing out to support it, then they are tacitly coordinating with Putin to give Germany what it wants, an excuse to leave the euro and conduct independent trade and energy policy.   Think about it.  On the one hand the Fed is drying up dollars.  On the other Putin is spiking energy prices making it impossible for Germany to fight inflation within the EU.  On the third hand, China is cracking down on property speculation domestically, kicking out the foreign NGOs and reminding foreign investors that the rules in China are not the same as they are in the West. You can and will lose all your money if you invest behind the Great Wall, as so many Evergrande bondholders just found out. Now let’s square the entire circle. If Europe’s energy crisis is a constructed false flag event to spook capital, encourage speculators and effect political change, then can’t you make the same arguments for the concurrent fight on Capitol Hill regarding the Democrats, the debt ceiling and the spending bills? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been adamant that the Democrats do not need any help in passing a debt ceiling resolution. They can do it any time they want to. But, the Democrats won’t do this? Why? They are manufacturing a narrative that there is crisis on the horizon — default on U.S. bond payments. This is the one outcome no investor wants to contemplate. So, the Democrats, like the Europeans, are arguing against themselves in order to blackmail the world into giving them their cookie or they will hold their breath until they collapse global markets. Let me repeat. There is no debt ceiling crisis. There is no U.S. default crisis. There is only a bunch of Mafiosi on Capitol Hill doing what they’ve been told to do while purposefully scaring everyone into believing there is a crisis when none exists. Do I have to invoke a classic Who song to make my point? What’s the goal? Chaos and the continued undermining of faith in politics, capital markets, energy production and seizing supply chains as we approach the winter in the Northern Hemisphere where susceptibility to pesky things like the flu, the latest iteration of COVID-9/11 and blatant political bullshit swells like a boil on the back of a government bureaucrat blocking a permit for some basic, but eminently important thing. That Putin came out and told the world he’s ready to work with Europe to do his part alleviating the energy supply problems in Europe I’ve not heard one encouraging word from those that would benefit from this the most. Their silence is deafening. And that brings me back to Germany where, unless this gets resolved quickly, the most likely downstream outcome is Germany leaving the euro, reinstitute the Deutsche Mark, watch it fall vs. the dollar in the near term but outcompete the euro.   With the euro in freefall after a disastrous Q3 close and German Bunds getting prepared for their next big sell-off, perhaps, maybe, for the first time in a long time, the markets are beginning to wake up from their central bank induced SOMA injections and get real with the possibilities that forces are now aligned to do the unthinkable, break up the EU. But that only happens with a political inversion where the CDU/CSU ally with AfD and the FDP to form a real government after the current parties can’t form a coalition or any three-way coalition formed fails as inflation crushes the German middle class. If the AfD were smart now they would be blaming all of this on Merkel’s moronic energy policy.  Now we’re seeing calls for delaying shutting down Germany’s nuclear reactors.  They can’t import enough coal to feed the plants.  BASF has shut down ammonia production, so food production is threatened. There is no Agenda 2030 on the horizon if Germans freeze to death in their homes or get decimated by COVID-9/11 because they can’t afford to heat their homes. This will crush France and Macron, overthrow Davos at the mid-terms here in the states and break the European Union in the process. Germany is the lynchpin to the entire Davos edifice.  Without a compliant and beaten Germany there is no further Great Reset.  A Germany that breaks from the euro becomes a Germany that realigns with Russia and Eastern Europe. It’s a Germany no longer hell bent on internal European mercantilism and the establishment of the Fourth Reich through the EUSSR.   The German people keep asking for that policy to end but aren’t given the options by their leadership to make that happen.  Then again, they keep giving their leadership just enough power to forestall their having to make a real decision. That decision is coming at them, fast. As it is everyone across the West in various guises. So, as Powell with five little basis points is under extreme pressure to go full MMT retard, so far has held his water and Putin with a few million BTUs of gas, these men are forcing open fault lines in the aristocracy that thinks it deserves to run the world and can bring down the whole rotten edifice. *  *  * Join my Patreon if you don’t put up fronts BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7Zf BCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6ryt DCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oE LTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5k DASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4Va WAVES: 3PF58yzAghxPJad5rM44ZpH5fUZJug4kBSa ETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edc DGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSE Tyler Durden Fri, 10/08/2021 - 03:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 8th, 2021