Sunday, December 31, 2017

WHAT is in store for economies and markets in 2018?

Of all sound of all bells ... most solemn and touching is the peal at chez Vicki & George which rings out the Old Year.
— Charles Lamb, who died  in 1834 (quote from the Wylie's Baths)

Pennsylvania woman gets $284bn electricity bill BBC

By Ross Gittins - Keynes or Keynesian isn't a dirty word

BHP's Andrew Mackenzie joins 'stramash' over Western values 
"The international world order is under a lot of threat right now," BHP's chief executive warned in a sweeping pre-Christmas interview with AFR Weekend. "China has a degree of self confidence, some of which is good and, you know, good for us. The drive they have to build their economy, the dynamism ...

24/7 Wall St:  “…The typical CEO of such a company earns $11 million a year — nearly 200 times the $57,617 the typical American household earns a year. The stark difference in compensation only appears to be growing wider. CEO pay increased by 6% in 2016, compared to a 3% increase in earnings for the typical American household. While many working Americans might receive an annual cost of living salary bump, CEOs are used to far bigger raises…24/7 Wall St. reviewed CEO compensation for the 200 largest publicly traded U.S. companies by revenue to identify the highest paid chief executive officers. Compensation figures, which include salaries, bonuses, incentives, and stock options, came from Equilar, an executive compensation data firm…”

Another Imrich family member makes it big in 2017 as Gina Rinehart adds $3.5bn to fortune in a year: Bloomberg Billionaires Index

The richest people on earth became $1 trillion richer in 2017, more than four times last year’s gain, as stock markets shrugged off economic, social and political divisions to reach record highs. The 23 percent increase on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, compares with an almost 20 percent increase for both the MSCI World Index and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.”

O, Brave Old World! Conquering age through curiosity 

Happy forecasting 2018: you couldn’t ask for better conditions to make money SCMP

The Bonfire of the Vanities,’ 30 Years Later

Why Dylan Matters by Richard F Thomas review – Virgil, Homer, Ovid… Dylan? | Books | The Guardian

 Academics have picked over Dylan’s songs in the past, most notably the Cambridge don Christopher Ricks, who made heavy work of the myriad allusions therein in his grandly titled Dylan’s Visions of Sin. In the wake of the Nobel prize in literature controversy, Thomas’s timely book goes further by attempting, though not always convincingly, to recast Dylan as an heir to Virgil and Homer. “He is part of that classical stream,” asserts Thomas, “whose spring starts out in Greece and Rome and flows on down though the years...”

Eating kale and other leafy greens could keep your brain young

How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere.

What have you LEARNED from 2017?

No doubt you have worked hard. You have challenged your creativity, stretched every penny, and exhausted every option. Good job! So, in these last two weeks of this year, how about taking a moment to ... read more

 Australian cryptocurrency traders are running into problems depositing money, with at least one local exchange freezing “all forms of AUD deposits” until 2018.

Hundreds of traders have taken to social media and Reddit since Christmas to raise concerns about the apparent freezes, which one Twitter user linked to actions by Australia’s big four banks.
However, there is uncertainty over the extent of any crackdown by banks on cryptocurrency trading.
The problems coincided with ongoing high levels of interest in cryptocurrency trading as well as a sharp drop in the value of Bitcoin.
Australian crypto exchange CoinSpot announced a “temporary restriction” on AUD deposits before Christmas, and has now indicated the restrictions “will remain in effect until at least the first week of the new year.”
The exchange attributed the issue to its “banking partner”.
“We assure you we are just as unhappy with the situation as you but unfortunately Australian banks have been so far unwilling to work with the digital currency industry which leads to frequent account closures and strict limits on accounts whilst they remain operational, in effect debanking our industry,” CoinSpot said in a statement.
“We will continue to work on establishing a relationship with a banking partner so we can resume accepting AUD deposits as soon as possible.”
Fellow Australian exchange BTC Markets shut AUD deposits via Australian payments gateway POLi on December 22, noting later the deposit method was being “reviewed”.
It advised users to deposit funds via BPAY instead.
POLi has run into problems with banks before. As recently as November,ANZ warned against using the service.
There were also some issues reported with BPAY transactions, however they appeared to be the result of Australian public holidays and large volumes.
One iTnews reader said he had been notified that EFT for AUD was no longer possible on his chosen service due to “new restrictions imposed by certain US intermediary banks that have decided to stop providing their support to trades related to cryptocurrencies”.
The issue with intermediary banks refusing to process transactions to crypto exchanges was common throughout 2017, and may be unrelated to this current batch of AUD processing problems.

   WHAT is in store for economies and markets in 2018? Around this time of year, a large number of analysts and fund managers are giving their views. Among the most interesting and thoughtful approaches can be found at Absolute Strategy Research (ASR), an independent group founded by David Bowers and Ian Harnett.

ASR adds extra depth to its analysis by contrasting its own views with those of the consensus. To do so, the group polled 229 asset allocators, managing around $6trn of assets, for their views on the outlook for economies and markets. They found a groundswell of optimism; the probability of equities being higher by the end of 2018 was 61%, and that shares will beat bonds is 70%. The allocators think there is only a 27% chance of a global recession. And they are not worried about the prospect of the Federal Reserve pushing up interest rates.
There are some disconnects within the consensus view. The first is that investors expect volatility (as measured by the Vix) to rise next year. Usually, equities struggle in such...WHAT is in store for economies and markets in 2018?

2018: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? When we thought the world couldn’t get crazier after 2016, 2017 blew it out of the water. Chances are good we’re in for more.

2018 Politics May Look a Little Different

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tzar VladiMir

Kidnappers free blockchain expert Pavel Lerner after receiving $US1 million ransom in bitcoin

Australian Defence Force on alert after Russian military exercise

Defence personnel were operating under "increased readiness" in Darwin earlier this month after Russian bombers flew out of an Indonesian military base and close to Australia, it has been revealed.
According to the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation's website, two strategic bombers carried out "air alert mission over neutral waters of south Pacific Ocean" on December 7. The flight time "exceeded eights hours".

In a world of so many diversified restaurants in Los Angeles, there is one restaurant that incorporates art with many different cuisines from around the globe, yet keeping a family atmosphere. Doma Kitchen, meaning “home” in slavic language, is just that place. Doma Kitchen - A Culinary Awakening and Cultural Experience
By Pete Allman

Gladiola: Jack of all news tartish trades - Surrealist

“Suddenly…everything mattered.” —Cathy Malkasian, Eartha

From roads and rail to arenas, Gladys Berejiklian named top NSW newsmaker

For a premier who has spent most of her time trying to calm the political waters, it may not be the most welcome award: Gladys Berejiklian has been crowned "NSW newsmaker of the year", but in part not for reasons she would have hoped.

2017 has been filled with many tragic moments - as we walked through the national park a drama unfolded yesterday - One dead after boat capsize near Kurnell in Sydney's south, police say life jackets not worn

Cryptocurrency trader and Youtuber Alex Saunders called out National Australia Bank, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation on Twitter for freezing customer accounts and transfers to four different bitcoin exchanges  - CoinJar, CoinSpot, CoinBase and BTC Markets.

NEWS FROM THE FRONTIERS OF BRAIN SCIENCE?  Proof that the human mind is one part awesome, one part terror.

The Predator State James Galbraith, Catalyst

“The Anti-Corruption Principle” (PDF) Zephyr Teachout, Cornell Law Review (via). “While political virtue is pursuing the public good in public life, political corruption is using public life for private gain. Long, but a must-skim, at least.

"The whole of human life is contained in books" and that's especially true of The Master Key, by Masako Togawa. It's a cross-section of the lives inhabiting a ladies-only apartment building, more like a series of interconnected stories than a novel.
At the age of twenty-five, instead of marrying a young man, she settled down as receptionist manageress of an apartment block full of young women. Day in and day out she sat at the front desk, dreaming her dreams, and determined to better herself. She would watch the young ladies of her own age going out to their work, and she would secretly read and read — several books a day, sometimes, keeping them hidden on her knee under the desk. Well, the whole of human life is contained in books. Love, desire, success and failure, death and grief... they're all there, in the world of books.

So she went on sitting at that desk, and her straight little back gradually began to bend a bit, but still she went on reading books and fed and nourished her mind in that way. And one day, before she had time to notice what had happened, she woke up to find that she was forty years old. Suddenly the shadow of tragedy passed over her at that moment — she didn't know why it was so, but she felt it, and that's what matters.

Derided by the public, attacked by politicians, a scapegoat and strawman for left and right alike, the humanities will nonetheless endure — even if there is no case to defence them 

The Guardian Claims That It’s Time For ‘Woke Cinema

This year (2017) was just of taste of what's to come, the paper says. There's political entertainment on its way, including A Wrinkle in Time and Black Panther, but that's not all (not by a long shot). "If Trump is agreed to have killed off political satire, political history could well be taking its place." … [Read More]
The lower your social class, the ‘wiser’ you are, suggests new studyAAAS (Chuck L). Correlation is not causation. My observation is that how good people are at conflict avoidance/management is heavily influenced, if not largely determined, by modeling from their immediate family members. And this article has an unduly simplistic model of “class”. One of the markers of old money is their manners, their relaxed stance in social gatherings, their attention to making sure other people feel comfortable. The implicit message is: “I am secure in my position and it’s therefore easy for me to be gracious.” And while the plural of anecdote is not data, arguably the greatest diplomat of all time, Talleyrand, came from an ancient and very aristocratic family and remained a powerful figure after the French Revolution.

From Richard Smith:

Two-Layer Graphene Turns into Strong Material on Impact

A good education provides tools for understanding the world. Indoctrinationoffers just one lens. On many college campuses, that lens is  power and privilege 

The Most Remarkable Art-History Discoveries Of 2017…

"In 2017, we gained new insight on the early years of Leonardo da Vinci and the final ones of Andy Warhol; amateur archaeologists were rewarded with major finds; and several masterpieces were discovered, simply hiding in plain sight. From newly mapped Venezuelan petroglyphs to a long-lost Magritte, these are 10 of the most notable art-historical discoveries of the year." … [Read More]

Two koalas wrestle on road

Anthony Powell would purr if he could read this shrewd, fond biography by Hilary Spurling:
 Although a distinguished book critic himself, not least for these pages, Powell held journalists in the same regard as reviewers ("stupid, incompetent, often envious, rarely grasping the point of any given book"). Private Eye parodied his posture like this: "20th January 1995. Re-read various fan letters confirming that I am the leading novelist of my generation. Why is it, one wonders, that my fans are so unusually percipient?… Re-read Hamlet by Shakespeare, a competent but unreliable author, though by now rather dated and always prone to worthiness. Never to my knowledge managed a novel."

Glenlo AbbeyBaby it’s cold outside: 10 great Irish winter escapes from the Blue Book
Can you be partially pregnant?
Ian McKellen: Women partly to blame for sex abuse scandal

Scientists finally confirm there was life on Earth 3.5 billion years ago Quartz

Storytelling is inextricable from power: The act of reading is an act of submission. At best, reading novels is salutary. At worst, it erodes our sense of self Surreal Storytelling  

Instapoets Are Having A Moment. Should We Take This Seriously?

The last time poetry saw this kind of action was with the cable knit sweater-clad poet and singer-songwriter Rod McKuen, who sold millions of books and millions more albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s with titles like “Listen to the Warm” — far outstripping the reach of not only an artist like Leonard Cohen, but most popular novelists of the time. (There were dusty McKuen books and records in my house growing up.) The backlash then makes today’s seem gentle