Category Archives: World

(ZH) US Navy Admits Leaked ‘UFO Tapes’ Are Real And Should Never Have Been Released

(ZH)

Three videos appearing to show encounters between US Navy aircraft and what the military terms “UAPs” – so-called ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” – have accidentally been released to the public despite the military insisting that they were never cleared.

According to RT, the clips, which have at this point been widely circulated, depict American aircraft interacting with the unidentified flying objects. Several of these mysterious dark figures demonstrated aerial maneuvers that were far beyond the capabilities of human technology.

The Navy’s Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare Spokesman Joseph Gradisher confirmed that the videos are genuine, but insisted that the government hadn’t finished analyzing their contents, which remained unexplained. He cautioned that the public shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the existence of aliens.

The videos were released to Luis Elizondo, a former military intelligence officer who claims to have been a director of the Pentagon’s UFO research arm, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (or AATIP). He intended to use them in a database about possible aerial threats.

In the first video, titled “FLIR1”, a strange pill-shaped object can be seen sitting on the horizon before darting sideways extremely fast.

In the second video, a US aircraft’s sensor has locked on to an object flying swiftly across the water. The pilot and his teammates can be heard expressing their surprise at the object’s speed.

In the third, an oblong object can be seen moving steadily before stopping and turning around and darting away.

The Pentagon complained about the release of the videos, saying they “should still be withheld” as they were “never officially released to the general public.” But it’s a bit too late to put the UFO back in the back.

These videos have been in circulation for months, ever since the Pentagon released files from AATIP, which had been a secret government initiative that “did pursue research and investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena.” The Pentagon has admitted that it shut down the AATIP in 2012, however there have been reports claiming that the department still investigates potential alien aircraft sightings.

Interviews with several pilots who encountered UFOs can be jarring. The pilots describe encountering vessels that accelerate to hypersonic speeds while making stops and turns – maneuvers that no human ship could pull off. Some pilots described the objects as an ongoing phenomenon. At first, one squad thought they were part of some top-secret drone program, but the pilots soon ruled this out.

AATIP’s existence was revealed in 2017, when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed to have arranged for the program’s $22 million annual funding. It was founded at Reid’s behest back in 2007 after Navy airmen had repeatedly captured footage of UAPs.

(GUA) UN hosts drive to suck back carbon and reverse climate change

(GUA) New York forum aims to ‘restore’ the climate by reducing atmospheric levels of carbon to those of a century ago

Equipment is used to capture carbon dioxide emissions at a coal-fired power plant in Thomspsons, Texas.
 Equipment is used to capture carbon dioxide emissions at a coal-fired power plant in Thomspsons, Texas. Photograph: Ernest Scheyder/Reuters

A new effort to rally governments and corporations behind technologies that suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to help stave off disastrous global heating will be launched at the United Nations on Tuesday.

The first annual Global Climate Restoration Forum, held in New York, aims to spur international support for emerging and sometimes controversial methods to claw back planet-warming gases after they have been emitted from power plants, cars, trucks and aircraft.

The Foundation for Climate Restoration, the group behind the forum, has released a manifesto for its goal to “restore” the climate by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to those of a century ago. Atmospheric CO2 is rising sharply, peaking at 415 parts per million this year, far above the level during most of human history, around 300ppm.

The foundation aims to restore this historical norm by 2050, saying success would be on a par with the moon landing or the eradication of smallpox. It warns that the current climate is leading us “down a path toward the probable extinction of our species and thousands of others”.

“Mother Earth will survive without us but we’d like for humans to survive too,” said Rick Parnell, chief executive of the foundation, which was created last year. “This is the beginning of a 10-year strategy to get governments and companies to understand the need to restore our climate now. Humanity got us into this situation, it can get us out of it.”

Global average temperatures have increased by around 1C in the past century due to the buildup of planet-warming gases from human activity. World leaders have agreed to limit this rise to 2C, and ideally 1.5C, although global greenhouse gases are not declining and major emitters such as the US and Brazil have shown signs of going backwards.

Any realistic chance of avoiding highly dangerous levels of global heating will likely involve the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, either through mass reforestation or nascent technology that either eliminates it from industrial processes or sucks it directly from the air.

(Mish) Oil Shock, Crude Surges 20%, Treasuries Untouched: One Is Wrong, Which One?

(Mish)

In the wake of the attack on Saudi Arabia, crude futures jumped as much as 20%. Treasury yields are flat. One is wrong!

Oil Futures Up 20%

The Financial Times reports Oil prices jump 20% After Attacks Halve Saudi Output.

This is in the wake of a Saudi Oilfield Attack over the weekend.

Questions Abound

By Yemen, Iraq, or Iran? Israel?

Production Back Up When?

See the above link for discussion.

Treasury Yield Flat

Meanwhile, I note US Treasury yields are flat.

As of 8:20 PM central Sunday evening, there is no change in 3-month, 5-year, 10-year, or 30-year treasury yields.

Economic Sense

I propose there is little economic sense to this reaction.

Oil shocks are inherently recessionary.

Theoretically, this could be an inflationary recession like the 1970s.

But really?

Global Fairy Godmother

With stocks priced well beyond perfection, a collapse in global trade, a UAW Trade Strike Involving 48,000 Workers, and trade war threats between the US and Europe (and the UK and Europe), this all seems strange.

Then again, perhaps the Global Fairy Godmother will solve all the issues and restore global inflation (as measured by central banks).

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

(Yahoo) Top 10 countries in the world for best quality of life

(Yahoo)

Porto, Portugal old town cityscape on the Douro River with traditional Rabelo boats. Photo: Getty
Porto, Portugal old town cityscape on the Douro River with traditional Rabelo boats. Photo: Getty

Taiwan may have come first in the ranking for the best country in the world to live as an expat but when it comes to quality of life —Portugal gained the top spot.

InterNations, the world’s largest expat networking group, released its benchmark Expat Insider 2019 report revealing where the best places are in the world to live as an expat.

An expat is defined as an employee sent abroad on a corporate assignment or classed as a new international hire. This will also mean that the experiences of that certain demographic could significantly differ from a local — especially being away on corporate assignment can entail bonuses, such as relocation stipends for example.

READ MORE: The 10 best places in the world to live as an expat

The Expat Insider 2019 report was conducted by InterNations and surveyed 20,259 expats, representing 182 nationalities, living in 187 countries or territories. The survey ran from 7 to 28 March. Respondents were asked to score 48 different factors — which fall into 17 subcategories — related to living abroad. Those 17 subcategories are then put into five pillars — Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, and Personal Finance.

For a place to be ranked, there needs to be a sample size of at least 75 survey participants per destination.

The Quality of Life index is made up of Leisure Options, Health & Well-Being, Safety & Security, Personal Happiness, Travel & Transportation, and Digital Life. Respondents rated factors on a scale from one to seven.

Here is the top 10 country ranking:

Country ranking for best quality of life. Table: InterNations/Yahoo Finance
Country ranking for best quality of life. Table: InterNations/Yahoo Finance

Portugal rose from second to first after improving its rankings across safety and security, specifically in terms of political stability — 81% rate this factor favourably.

One expat from Brazil describes Portugal as “friendly and safe” while an expat from the Netherlands said Portugal’s great quality of life is down to “a combination of things… weather, food, plenty of sites and events, the people, proximity to the beach, everything.”

Spain came in second, thanks to its climate and weather — 76% of expats in the country are completely happy with this factor versus 26% globally.

However, Internations points out that while the country places in the top 10 in almost all other subcategories of the index, it doesn’t make it into the top 20 for Digital Life and Safety & Security.

An expat from Sweden said :“The somewhat corrupt political system and the independence movement in different areas.”

(ZH) Emerging Market Central Banks Panic With Most Rate Cuts Since Financial Crisis

(ZH) The global growth outlook is the lowest since the last financial crisis, and central banks, especially ones in emerging markets, have already started to cut interest rates to make sure growth doesn’t collapse.

Manufacturing across large parts of South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East are reeling from a global structural slowdown, amplified by the US and China trade war, have triggered emerging central banks to cut rates by the most in a decadereported Reuters.

Emerging central banks took notice when major central banks including the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank started to cut interest rates this summer, all in an attempt to lessen the impact of a global synchronized slowdown.

Sri Lanka Central Bank Governor on Interest Rate Cut, Inflation, Tourism

Central banks across 37 emerging market economies recorded a net fourteen rate cuts in August, the most since policymakers dropped rates to zero after the global financial crash in 2008/09.

August marked the seventh straight month of net rate cuts followed by a tightening cycle that ended in early 2019. July recorded a net eight rate cuts. Cuts by Mexico and Thailand in August took markets by surprise.

After nine straight months of rate hikes in 2018, emerging central banks battled the fallout from a firm dollar, increasing inflation, and weaker local currencies.

Here’s a complete list of the recent emerging market central bank policy decessions:

  • PARAGUAY – The central bank cut its policy rate by 25 basis points to 4.25% on Aug. 21.
  • INDONESIA – The central bank, hoping it can spur faster growth at home despite a global slowdown, surprisingly cut its key interest rate for a second time in two months on Aug. 22.
  • MEXICO – Policymakers cut on Aug. 15 the key lending rate by 25 basis points to 8.00%- the first reduction since June 2014, citing slowing inflation and increasing slack in the economy, and fuelling expectations that further monetary policy easing could be on the way.
  • EGYPT – Egypt’s central bank cut the overnight deposit rate by 150 basis points to 14.25% on Aug. 22, its first cut since February, after July inflation figures came in significantly below expectations
  • MOZAMBIQUE – The central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points on Aug. 14 to 12.75%.
  • JAMAICA – Jamaica’s central bank cut its interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.50% on Aug. 28.
  • NAMIBIA – Policymakers reduced the lending rate by 25 basis points to 6.5% on Aug. 14.
  • MAURITIUS – The central bank on Aug. 9 cut the repo rate by 0.15 basis points to 3.35%.
  • PERU – The central bank cut the benchmark interest rate to 2.5% on Aug. 9 amid growing expectations for an economic slowdown in the world’s No.2 copper producer, but stressed its decision did not necessarily mean the start of an easing cycle.
  • SERBIA – The Serbian central bank surprised markets by cutting its benchmark interest rate another 25 basis points to 2.5% on Aug. 8, the second cut in as many months, to further bolster lending and growth.
  • THE PHILIPPINES – The central bank cut its benchmark interest rate on Aug. 8 and kept the door open for further easing to buttress the economy after growth slipped to its weakest in 17 quarters, hurt by tepid government spending and private sector investment.
  • BOTSWANA – The central bank cut the lending rate by 25 basis points to 4.75% on Aug. 29.
  • INDIA – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) lowered its benchmark interest rates for a fourth straight meeting on Aug. 7 with a slightly bigger than expected cut, underscoring its worries about India’s near-five year low pace of economic growth.
  • BELARUS – The central bank said on Aug. 7 it was cutting its main interest rate to 9.5% from 10% with effect from Aug. 14 and that the intensity of inflationary processes had slowed in the second quarter.
  • THAILAND – Policymakers unexpectedly cut the benchmark rate on Aug. 7, expressing worry about strength of the baht and aiming to help support faltering growth.
  • JORDAN – The central bank of Jordan reduced its main rate in early August by 25 basis points to 4.5%.
  • HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) cut its base rate charged through the overnight discount window by 25 basis points to 2.5% on Aug. 1, its first cut since late 2008, in line with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move. Hong Kong’s monetary policy moves in lock-step with the Fed as its dollar is pegged at a tight range of 7.75-7.85 per dollar.
  • MOLDOVA – The central bank raised its main interest rate to 7.5% from 7% on July 31 to fight rising inflation caused by wage increases and higher food prices.
  • SAUDI ARABIA / BAHRAIN / UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Central banks of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – whose currencies are all pegged to the U.S. dollar – cut key interest rates to preserve monetary stability on July 31 after the Federal Reserve lowered U.S. interest rates for the first time in over a decade.
  • BRAZIL – In its first rate cut since March 2018, the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a new low of 6.00% on July 31, an aggressive first move in a widely anticipated easing cycle to inject life into a moribund economy and prevent inflation from slipping too far below target.
  • AZERBAIJAN – The central bank said on July 26 it had cut its refinancing rate to 8.25% from 8.50%.
  • RUSSIA – Policymakers cut the key interest rate on July 26 and flagged that one or two more cuts were possible later this year as Russia faces sluggish economic growth and slowing inflation.
  • TURKEY – The central bank slashed its key interest rate by a bigger-than-expected 425 basis points to 19.75% on July 25 to spur a recession-hit economy, its first step away from the emergency stance adopted during last year’s currency crisis.
  • SOUTH AFRICA – The central bank cut its main lending rate as expected on July 18, but struck a cautious tone that suggested future cuts in borrowing costs were not a foregone conclusion despite benign inflation.
  • UKRAINE – Policymakers cut the main interest rate by half a percentage point to 17% on July 18, citing a downward inflation trend which is expected to continue in coming months and could pave the way for further monetary easing.
  • SOUTH KOREA – The central bank delivered a surprise interest rate cut on July 18, and shaved this year’s growth forecast to the lowest in a decade, as a brewing dispute with Japan piled more pressure on the trade-dependent economy.
  • PAKISTAN – Policymakers hiked the main interest rate by 100 basis points on July 16 to 13.25%, citing increased inflationary pressures and a likely near-term rise in prices from higher utility costs.
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Policymakers cut interest rates by 50 basis points to 5% on June 30.
  • COSTA RICA – The central bank cut the key policy rate to 4.50% from 4.75% from June 20.
  • CHILE – Chile’s central bank unexpectedly cut the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 2.5% on June 7 as it braced for a sharper economic slowdown because of the U.S.-China trade dispute.
  • SRI LANKA – The central bank cut its key interest rates by 50 basis points on May 31, as widely expected, to support its faltering economy as overall business and consumer confidence slumped following deadly bomb attacks.
  • TAJIKISTAN – The central bank reduced the refinancing rate to 13.25% from 14.75% on May 31.
  • KYRGYZSTAN – Policymakers in the Central Asian nation cut the benchmark rate to 4.25% from 4.50% on May 28, citing slowing inflation.
  • ANGOLA – Angola’s central bank cut its benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to 15.5% on May 24.
  • ZAMBIA – The central bank in Lusaka raised the benchmark lending rate to 10.25% from 9.75% on May 22 to counter inflationary pressure and support macroeconomic stability.
  • MALAYSIA – The central bank on May 7 became the first in Southeast Asia to cut its key interest rate this year, by 25 basis points to 3.0%, moving to support its economy at a time of concern about global growth.
  • RWANDA – Rwanda’s central bank cut its key repo rate by 50 basis points on May 6 to 5.0%.
  • MALAWI – Malawi’s central bank cut its benchmark lending rate by 100 basis points on May 3 to 3.5%.
  • CZECH REPUBLIC – The Czech National Bank raised interest rates on May 2, using a window of opportunity created by easing economic risks abroad to stem rising domestic inflation by fine-tuning a tightening cycle it had paused at the end of 2018.
  • KAZAKHSTAN – Policymakers cut the policy rate by 25 basis points to 9.00% on April 15 in an expected move taken after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered them to make credit more affordable.
  • NIGERIA – In a surprise move, the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 13.5% from 14% on March 26 as part of an attempt to stimulate growth in Africa’s biggest economy and signal a “new direction”.
  • GEORGIA – The central bank cut its refinancing rate to 6.5% from 6.75% on March 13, citing forecasts suggesting that annual inflation would stay close to its 3% target this year.
  • TUNISIA – Policymakers in Tunisia raised the key interest rate to 7.75% from 6.75% on Feb. 19 to combat high inflation – the third such hike in the past 12 months.

The reason emerging market central banks were delivering the most cuts in a decade last month is that the world is likely in a trade recession that could significantly worsen into 1H20.

Many emerging market countries have export-driven economies to the developed world, and when demand slows down, their economies suffer the most.

Rate cuts from August will take at least one year to filter into emerging markets, which means economic data from the 37 regions will likely stay depressed for some time.

(ECO) Lisboa é a 53.º melhor cidade do mundo para viver. Sobe um lugar no ranking da The Economist

(ECO) A capital portuguesa teve pontuações mais elevadas na área da cultura e do meio ambiente, bem como na educação, mas pontuações mais baixas no setor que avalia as infraestruturas.

Lisboa voltou a subir no ranking das melhores cidades do mundo para viver. A capital portuguesa avançou um lugar na lista elaborada pela Intelligence Unitdo The Economist, onde é considerada a 53º melhor cidade para viver. É a única metrópole portuguesa neste índice que compila um total de 140 cidades mundiais.

Em cinco anos, Lisboa subiu quatro lugares neste ranking. Estabilidade, cuidados de saúde, cultura e ambiente, educação e infraestruturas foram os elementos analisados para se chegar a esta avaliação. A capital portuguesa tem pontuações muito altas na área da cultura e do meio ambiente, bem como na educação, mas pontuações ligeiramente mais baixas no setor que avalia as infraestruturas.PUBLICIDADE

Já no topo encontra-se Viena, na Áustria, que conseguiu manter a coroa de melhor cidade do mundo para viver depois de ter destronado Melbourne, na Austrália, no ano passado. Para além da capital austríaca, apenas mais uma cidade europeia, Copenhaga, na Dinamarca, figura no top 10 do ranking realizado anualmente.

A Austrália, o Canadá e o Japão destacam-se no ranking, ao terem várias cidades no topo.As dez melhores cidades para viver mantêm-se as mesmas desde o ano passado, apesar de Sidney, na Austrália, ter conseguido passar de 5.º para 3.º lugar, graças ao fortalecimento das políticas para travar os efeitos das alterações climáticas.

Veja aqui o top dez das melhores cidades para viver:

  1. Viena, Áustria
  2. Melbourne, Austrália
  3. Sydney, Austrália
  4. Osaka, Japão
  5. Calgary, Canadá
  6. Vancouver, Canadá
  7. Toronto, Canadá
  8. Tóquio, Japão
  9. Copenhaga, Dinamarca
  10. Adelaide, Austrália

E as dez cidades que se classificaram pior no ranking:

  1. Caracas, Venezuela
  2. Argel, Argélia
  3. Douala, Camarões
  4. Harare, Zimbabué
  5. Port Moresby, Papua-Nova Guiné
  6. Karachi, Paquistão
  7. Tripoli, Líbia
  8. Daca, Bangladesh
  9. Lagos, Nigéria
  10. Damasco, Síria

(ZH) After Trump Leaves France, Macron Warns World “Is Living The End Of Western Hegemony”

(ZH) Having skulked off stage following his joint press conference with President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity to bash Trump and embrace Putin (presumably after getting permission from Angela Merkel).

“We are living the end of Western hegemony,” Macron told diplomats on Tuesday, pointing to the rise of Beijing and Moscow as signs of a shift on the world scene.

“The world order is being shaken like never before…”

“It’s being shaken because of errors made by the West in certain crises, but also by the choices made by the United States in the past few years – and not just by the current administration.”

So a shot clearly aimed at Trump but we wonder if Macron realizes he is part of the “West” he describes as making errors?

Macron then doubled down, warning that it would be a “strategic mistake” for Western nations not to change their attitude toward Moscow.

As RT notes, Macron’s rhetoric towards Moscow has somewhat softened in recent months…

“Pushing Russia away from Europe is a profound strategic mistake.”

“We’re either pushing Russia into isolation, which increases tensions, or to ally itself with other major powers like China, which would not be in our interest,” Macron said, calling for the “rethinking” of relations with Moscow.

Otherwise, Europe will be stuck with “frozen conflicts” and will remain “a theater for strategic struggle between the US and Russia,” he stressed.

These “choices” are impacting “the conflicts in the Middle and elsewhere, making it necessary to rethink military and diplomatic strategies,” Macron noted.

Ironically, Macron’s Putin-pandering comments came after US President Trump was bashed by most of western media for daring to suggest inviting Putin to attend the G7 event next year, (which Trump will be hosting).

Which is odd because journalists claimed one key G7 dinner was “ruined” over Trump’s insistence that Russia would be vital to discussions:

During the seaside meal, French president Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Donald Tusk opposed Trump’s demands. A diplomat present told the publication that the evening was tense: “Most of the other leaders insisted on this being a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies and for that reason they said you cannot allow president Putin — who does not represent that — back in.”

Apparently Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who formally announced his resignation early this week, was the only G7 leader present to back Trump’s proposal. 

More ‘fake news’?

(EUobserver) Brazil does U-turn on Amazon fire aid

(EUobserver) A spokesperson for Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has said the country will accept foreign aid to extinguish Amazon fires. Bolsonaro earlier declined €18m from the G7 states and insulted French president Emmanuel Macron over the offer. The Brazilian spokesman said his country must have full control of foreign grants and that outside help must not impinge on its sovereignty.

(GUA) Amazon rainforest fires: Brazil to reject $20m pledged by G7

(GUA)Senior official says funds should be spent on reforesting Europe and not on ‘colonialist practices’

A Brazilian farmer walks through a burned area of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state
 A Brazilian farmer walks through a burned area of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

A senior Brazilian official has told Emmanuel Macron to take care of “his home and his colonies” as Brazil rejected an offer from G7 countries of $20m (£16m) to help fight fires in the Amazon.

“We appreciate [the offer], but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” Onyx Lorenzoni, the chief of staff to President Jair Bolsonaro, told the G1 news website.

Leaders of the G7 countries made the aid offer at a weekend summit in the French city of Biarritz hosted by the French president, who had put the fires high on the agenda. Environmental campaigners have dismissed the sum as “chump change”.

“Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site,” Lorenzoni said in a reference to the blaze that devastated the Notre Dame cathedral in April. “What does he intend to teach our country?

“Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron.”

The Brazilian presidency later confirmed the comments to Agence France-Presse.

Brazil’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, had earlier told reporters that his country welcomed the G7 funding, but after a meeting between Bolsonaro and his ministers, the Brazilian government changed course.

The announcement of the $20m assistance package was the most concrete outcome of the three-day G7 summit of major industrialised democracies in Biarritz and aimed to give money to Amazonian nations such as Brazil and Bolivia, primarily to pay for more firefighting planes.

Tensions have risen between France and Brazil after Macron tweeted that the fires burning in the Amazon basin amounted to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority at the G7 summit. Bolsonaro reacted by accusing Macron of having a “colonialist mentality”.

Speaking on French TV on Monday night, Macron reiterated that the Amazon was a global issue and intensified his criticism of Bolsonaro.

“We respect your sovereignty. It’s your country,” Macron said. But the trees in the Amazon are “the lungs of the planet”, he added.

“The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance. But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”

He also acknowledged that Europe, by importing soya from Brazil, was not without blame for the agricultural pressure on the rainforest, saying: “We are partly complicit.”

The diplomatic row between the leaders had escalated earlier in the day, when Macron condemned Bolsonaro for what he called “extraordinarily rude” comments made about his wife, Brigitte, after the Brazilian president expressed approval online for a Facebook post implying that Brigitte Macronwas not as good-looking as his own wife, Michelle.

“He has made some extraordinarily rude comments about my wife,” Macron said at a press conference in Biarritz when asked to react to statements about him by the Brazilian government. “What can I say? It’s sad. It’s sad for him firstly, and for Brazilians,” he added.

Macron said he hoped for the sake of the Brazilian people “that they will very soon have a president who behaves in the right way”.

The US president, Donald Trump, skipped the summit session aimed at finding solutions to global heating through tree planting and shifting from fossil fuels to wind energy. In a press conference after the summit, he was dismissive of efforts to change direction.

“I feel the US has tremendous wealth … I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills – which, frankly, aren’t working too well,” he said. “I think I know more about the environment than most.”

Environmental groups said G7’s emergency fire aid was insufficient and failed to address the trade and consumption drivers of deforestation.

“The offer of $20m is chump change, especially as the crisis in the Amazon is directly linked to overconsumption of meat and dairy in the UK and other G7countries,” said Richard George, the head of forests for Greenpeace UK.

(JN) Macron declara a morte do multilateralismo. G7 sem comunicado comum pela primeira vez

(JN) O presidente de França, nação que acolhe a reunião do G7 que decorre entre sábado e a próxima segunda-feira, anunciou que não haverá um comunicado comum no final, quebrando com uma tradição de décadas.

Desde que Donald Trump chegou à Casa Branca que o multilateralismo tem vindo a deteriorar-se. Após episódios de fratura entre os EUA e as outras potências mundiais no G20 ou no G7, o presidente francês, Emmanuel Macron, o anfitrião desta edição do G7, decidiu acabar com o comunicado conjunto. 

Macron quer evitar uma reedição do que aconteceu na cimeira do G7 no Canadá no ano passado. Nessa altura, após a divulgação do comunicado conjunto saído a ferros, Trump saiu mais cedo do encontro, distanciou-se do texto e acusou o primeiro-ministro do Canadá, Justin Trudeau, de ser “desonesto”. 

O presidente francês tinha prometido “inovar” no G7 enquanto anfitrião, tendo referido a ideia de uma série de mini-comunicados sobre temas específicos apenas com a assinatura dos líderes que concordam com as posições tomadas no texto. “Temos de aceitar que em alguns temas há um membro do clube que poderá não assinar. Não conseguimos fazer milagres”, disse no passado.

No entanto, ontem Macron foi mais longe e anunciou que não haverá o clássico comunicado conjunto, explicando que tal se deve a uma “crise muito profunda da democracia”. Há uma “crise do capitalismo e da desigualdade”, declarou. “Ninguém lê os comunicados, sejamos honestos”, disse Macron, citado pelo Financial Times, argumentando que nos últimos tempos só servem para “detetar desentendimentos”. 

Será a primeira vez que tal acontecerá desde que estes encontros começaram em 1975 com a presença do Reino Unido, Canadá, França, Itália, Alemanha, Japão e os EUA. A Rússia, que também fazia parte do grupo inicial, foi expulsa após a anexação da Crimeia em 2014. 

A aposta do Governo francês é em “coligações de ações” onde os Governos conseguiam chegar a acordo e não necessariamente com todos os envolvidos. Caso não haja uma posição conjunta e se confirme que não há um comunicado comum, França, como anfitriã, tem a possibilidade de emitir um comunicado seu no final da reunião.

Pela cimeira deverão passar os temas da tributação dos gigantes digitais, em que atualmente existe divergência entre França e os EUA, assim como o Brexit, nesta que será a primeira reunião do G7 com Boris Johnson à frente do Reino Unido. 

Este é mais um sinal da queda do multilateralismo que tem sofrido vários contratempos desde que Trump decidiu abandonar o acordo nuclear com o Irão ou sair do acordo internacional de Paris para o clima. 

O objetivo dos encontros do G7 (ou G20) entre as potências mundiais era obrigar a negociação conjunta, principalmente para resolver temas que vão além das fronteiras dos países. O comunicado conjunto que era divulgado não tinha força de lei, mas era um símbolo da cooperação entre países.

(DML) Could dimming the sun save the Earth? Bill Gates wants to spray millions of tonnes of dust into the stratosphere to stop global warming… but critics fear it could trigger calamity

(DML)

The plan sounds like science fiction — but could be fact within a decade; every day more than 800 giant aircraft would lift millions of tonnes of chalk dust to a height of 12 miles above the Earth’s surface and then sprinkle the lot high around the stratosphere.

In theory, the airborne dust would create a gigantic sunshade, reflecting some of the Sun’s rays and heat back into space, dimming those that get through and so protecting Earth from the worsening ravages of climate warming.

This is not the crackpot plan of a garden-shed inventor. The project is being funded by billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and pioneered by scientists at Harvard University.

This initial $3 million test, known as Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) would use a high-altitude scientific balloon (pictured) to raise around 2kg of calcium carbonate dust — the size of a bag of flour — into the atmosphere 12 miles above the desert of New Mexico

This initial $3 million test, known as Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) would use a high-altitude scientific balloon (pictured) to raise around 2kg of calcium carbonate dust — the size of a bag of flour — into the atmosphere 12 miles above the desert of New Mexico

Indeed, the plans are so well advanced that the initial ‘sky-clouding’ experiments were meant to have begun months ago.

This initial $3 million test, known as Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) would use a high-altitude scientific balloon to raise around 2kg of calcium carbonate dust — the size of a bag of flour — into the atmosphere 12 miles above the desert of New Mexico.

This would seed a tube-shaped area of sky half a mile long and 100 yards in diameter. For the ensuing 24 hours, the balloon would be steered by propellers back through this artificial cloud, its onboard sensors monitoring both the dust’s sun-reflecting abilities and its effects on the thin surrounding air.

SCoPEx is, however, on hold, amid fears that it could trigger a disastrous series of chain reactions, creating climate havoc in the form of serious droughts and hurricanes, and bring death to millions of people around the world.

One fear is that spreading dust (pictured) into the stratosphere may damage the ozone layer that protects us from hazardous ultraviolet radiation which can damage human DNA and cause cancers

One of the Harvard team’s directors, Lizzie Burns, admits: ‘Our idea is terrifying… But so is climate change.’ An advisory panel of independent experts is to assess all the possible risks associated with it.

So where did the idea for such a mind-boggling scheme come from?

The inspiration was in part spawned by a natural disaster. When the volcano Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded in 1991, it killed more than 700 people and left more than 200,000 homeless.

But it also gave scientists the chance to monitor the consequences of a vast chemical cloud in the stratosphere.

The volcano disgorged 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide high above the planet, where it formed droplets of sulphuric acid that floated around the globe for more than a year. These droplets acted like tiny mirrors to reflect sunlight.

The inspiration was in part spawned by a natural disaster. When the volcano Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines exploded in 1991 (pictured), it killed more than 700 people and left more than 200,000 homeless

As a result, global temperatures were reduced by 0.5c for around a year and a half.

This gave impetus to a idea of a dream ‘fix’ of global warming — and has been the subject of at least 100 academic papers.

But creating what amounts to a gigantic sunshade for the Earth may come at a high price, posing even greater risks than climate change itself.

One fear is that spreading dust into the stratosphere may damage the ozone layer that protects us from hazardous ultraviolet radiation which can damage human DNA and cause cancers.

In theory, the airborne dust would create a gigantic sunshade (in a similar way to a solar eclipse, pictured), reflecting some of the Sun’s rays and heat back into space, dimming those that get through and so protecting Earth from the worsening ravages of climate warming

Climatologists are also concerned that such tinkering could unintentionally disrupt the circulation of ocean currents that regulate our weather.

This itself could unleash a global outbreak of extreme climatic events that might devastate farmland, wipe out entire species and foster disease epidemics.

The potential for disaster does not even end there. Trying to dim the Sun’s rays would likely create climate winners and losers.

The project is being funded by billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates (pictured)

Scientists may be able to set the perfect climatic conditions for farmers in America’s vast Midwest, but at the same time this setting might wreak drought havoc across Africa.

For it is not possible to change the temperature in one part of the world and not disturb the rest. Everything in the world’s climate is interconnected.

Furthermore, any change in global average temperature would in turn change the way in which heat is distributed around the globe, with some places warming more than others.

This, in turn, would affect rain levels. Heat drives the water cycle — in which water evaporates, forms clouds and drops as rain. Any heat alteration would cause an accompanying shift in rainfall patterns. But how and where exactly?

There is no way of predicting how the world’s long-term weather may respond to having a gigantic chemical sunshade plonked on top of it.

As one of the world’s leading climate experts Janos Pasztor — who advised at the UN’s Paris climate agreement and now works for New York’s highly respected Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative — warns: ‘If you make use of this technology and do it badly or ungoverned, then you can have different kinds of global risks created that can have equal, if not even bigger, challenges to global society than climate change.’

The technology may even spark terrible wars. For tinkering with our climate could send sky-high the potential for international suspicion and armed conflict.

Say, for example, the Chinese government — which already has been experimenting with climate-altering technology — used its burgeoning space-age scientific know-how to try to dust the stratosphere to protect its own agricultural yields.

The experiment would see a tube-shaped area of sky half a mile long and 100 yards in diameter. For the ensuing 24 hours, the balloon (similar to the example pictured) would be steered by propellers back through this artificial cloud, its onboard sensors monitoring both the dust’s sun-reflecting abilities and its effects on the thin surrounding air

Then two years later the monsoons fail in neighbouring Asian giant India, causing widespread starvation and disease. Even if the Chinese move had not actually caused the monsoons to fail, billions would blame them.

There is a further peril. The technology involved is seductively cheap, perhaps less than $10 billion a year. This means that an individual nation could use it for their own ends — perhaps as a weapon of war or blackmail.

What’s to stop a nation such as Russia interfering with our weather in the same way it has interfered with elections and social media opinions?

Nevertheless, Harvard scientists maintain that they can manage their brainchild safely.

For example, one of the SCoPEx team’s leaders, David Keith, a professor of applied physics, recently reported that by evenly seeding the entire global atmosphere with low levels of reflective dust, there should be a far lower risk of unexpected problems than is feared.

The technology may even spark terrible wars. For tinkering with our climate could send sky-high the potential for international suspicion and armed conflict. Pictured: A graphic showing the main geoengineering theories to help lower global temperatures

Professor Keith has also suggested that the world’s richer nations should club together to create a pooled global insurance fund to compensate poorer countries for any damage unintentionally caused by their sun-shield experimentation.

Critics point out that the promise of a stratospheric sunshade could encourage politicians and industrialists to decide that there is no need to do the hard, unpopular and expensive work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mike Hulme, a Cambridge University professor of human geography and former scientist on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says we could end up instead relying massively on technology to compensate for climate problems that our industries are causing.

He calls this spiralling problem ‘temperature debt’, because it is like amassing credit-card debts that can never be paid off. ‘It is a massive gamble,’ Professor Hulme warns. ‘Far better not to build up this debt in the first place.’

Even greater questions arise. How do you switch such a global cooling system off? And what unforeseen consequences would arise if you suddenly did so.

This dream ‘fix’ seems to have plenty of potential to become a global nightmare.

(Xinhua) Portugal’s foreign students increase sharply in past four years

(Xinhua) LISBON, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — The number of foreign students in higher education has increased by 48 percent in Portugal in the past four years, the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education announced on Wednesday.

There are currently about 50,000 foreign students in higher education, that now represent 13 percent of the total students, said a statement of the ministry.

The statement said that the number of foreign students applying for higher education this year until July 18, 2019 stands at 7,507, a 36 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

“It is expected that the demand for international students will continue to increase until the end of October,” when the enrolment of higher education ends, said the statement.

“It should also be noted that the number of emigrant applicants for higher education in Portugal has now increased to 538 by 66 percent from 324 last year,” the statement added.

(CNBC) The EU is reportedly stripping 5 countries of some market access rights — that may impact the UK after Brexit

(CNBC)

  • The move will see the European Commission blocking Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Singapore from accessing parts of the European Union’s financial market, according to the Financial Times.
  • The five countries are deemed as no longer regulating credit rating agencies as rigorously as the bloc — thereby removing them from a position which made it possible for European banks to rely on those ratings, reported the Financial Times,
Houses of Parliament 190329 EU

A general view of the Houses of Parliament on March 28, 2019 in London, England.Leon Neal | Getty Images

The European Commission will be blocking five countries from accessing parts of the European Union’s financial markets — in a move that could hit the United Kingdom after it leaves the bloc, according to a Financial Times reporton Sunday.

The decision will see the Commission removing certain market access rights from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Singapore, the FT reported.

The bloc grants financial-market access to non-EU lenders, investment firms, clearing houses or credit rating agencies in its so-called “equivalence” system, as long as it considers their home rules to be in line with the EU’s.

The five countries are deemed as no longer regulating credit rating agencies as rigorously as the bloc — thereby removing them from a position which made it possible for European banks to rely on those ratings, reported the Financial Times, citing a document the newspaper had seen.

This will be the first time such rights are withdrawn.

It is a system that the UK will likely have to subscribe to after it leaves the European trading bloc. The EU has stipulated that Britain must rely on the equivalence provisions for access to the single market after Brexit, according to the FT.

The move is seen by some as a warning to Britain that it needs to be aligned with EU rules if it wants its trading platforms and financial firms to continue having direct access to customers in the bloc.

(ZH) JPMorgan: We Believe The Dollar Could Lose Its Status As World’s Reserve Currency

(ZH) Almost eight year ago, we first presented a chart first created by JPMorgan’s Michael Cembalest, which showed very simply and vividly that reserve currencies don’t last forever, and that in the not too distant future, the US Dollar would also lose its status as the world’s most important currency, since it is never different this time.

As Cembalest put it back in January 2012, “I am reminded of the following remark from late MIT economist Rudiger Dornbusch: ‘Crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.'”

Perhaps it is not a coincidence then that in light of the growing number of mentions of MMT and various other terminal, destructive monetary policies that have been proposed to kick on the current financial system the can just a little bit longer, that the topic of longevity of reserve currency status is once again becoming all the rage, and none other than JPMorgan’s Private Bank ask in this month’s investment strategy note whether “the dollar’s “exorbitant privilege” is coming to an end?”

So why is JPM, after first creating the iconic chart above which has since spread virally across all financial corners of the internet, not only worried that the dollar’s reserve status may be coming to an end, but in fact goes so far as to state that “we believe the dollar could lose its status as the world’s dominant currency (which could see it depreciate over the medium term) due to structural reasons as well as cyclical impediments.”

Read on to learn why even the largest US bank has started to lose faith in the world’s most powerful currency.

Is the dollar’s “exorbitant privilege” coming to an end?

In Brief

The U.S. dollar (USD) has been the world’s dominant reserve currency for almost a century. As such, many investors today, even outside the United States, have built and become comfortable with sizable USD overweights in their portfolios. However, we believe the dollar could lose its status as the world’s dominant currency (which could see it depreciate over the medium term) due to structural reasons as well as cyclical impediments.  

As such, diversifying dollar exposure by placing a higher weighting on other currencies in developed markets and in Asia, as well as precious metals makes sense today. This diversification can be achieved with a strategy that maintains the underlying assets in an investment portfolio, but changes the mix of currencies within that portfolio. This is a completely bespoke approach that can be customized to meet the unique needs of individual clients.

The rise of the U.S. dollar

It is commonly perceived that the U.S. dollar overtook the Great British Pound (GBP) as the world’s international reserve currency with the signing of the Bretton Woods Agreements after World War II. The reality is that sterling’s value was eroded for many decades prior to Bretton Woods. The dollar’s rise to international prominence was fueled by the establishment of the Federal Reserve System a little over a century ago and U.S. economic emergence after World War I. The Federal Reserve System aided in the establishment of more mature capital markets and a nationally coordinated monetary policy, two important pillars of reserve-currency countries. Being the world’s unit of account has given the United States what former French Finance Minister Valery d’Estaing called an “exorbitant privilege” by being able to purchase imports and issue debt in its own currency and run persistent deficits seemingly without consequence.

The shifting center

There is nothing to suggest that the dollar dominance should remain in perpetuity. In fact, the dominant international currency has changed many times throughout history going back thousands of years as the world’s economic center has shifted.

After the end of World War II, the U.S. accounted for biggest share of world GDP at more than 25%.  This number is brought to more than 40% when we include Western European powers. Since then, the main driver of economic growth has shifted eastwards towards Asia at the expense of the U.S. and the West.  China is at the epicenter of this recent economic shift driven by the country’s strong growth and commitment to domestic reforms.  Over the last 70 years, China has quadrupled its share of global GDP to around 20%—roughly the same share as the U.S.—and this share is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead. China is no longer just a manufacturer of low cost goods as a growing share of corporate earnings is coming from “high value add” sectors like technology.

China regaining its status as a global superpowerSource: Angus Maddison Database, IMF, J.P. Morgan Private Bank Economics. Data as of June 14, 2019

Earnings in China are becoming more balancedSource: Bloomberg, J.P. Morgan Private Bank Economics. Data as of September 30, 2018. The low-value added sectors series is HP filtered to smooth over cyclical volatility. Low-value added includes materials and industrials. High-value added includes tech, health care, consumer staples, and consumer discretionary.

In addition to China, the economies of Southeast Asia, including India, have strong secular tailwinds driven by younger demographics and proliferating technological know-how. Specifically, the Asian economic zone—from the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey in the West to Japan and New Zealand in the East and from Russia in the North and Australia in the South—now represents 50% of global GDP and two-thirds of global economic growth. Of the estimated $30 trillion in middle-class consumption growth between 2015 and 2030, only $1 trillion is expected to come from today’s Western economies. As this region grows, the share of non-USD transactions will inevitably increase which will likely erode the dollar’s “reserveness”, even if the dollar isn’t replaced as the dominant international currency.

In other words, in the coming decades we think the world economy will transition from U.S. and USD dominance toward a system where Asia wields greater power. In currency space, this means the USD will likely lose value compared to a basket of other currencies, including precious commodities like gold.

Dollar’s declining role already under way?

Recent data on currency reserve holdings among global central banks suggests this shift may already be under way.  As a share of overall central bank reserves, the USD’s role has been declining ever since the Great Recession (see chart). The most recent central bank reserve flow data also suggests that for the first time since the euro’s introduction in 1999, central banks simultaneously sold dollars and bought euros.  

Central banks across the globe are also adding to gold reserves at their strongest pace on record. 2018 saw the strongest demand for gold from central banks since 1971 and a rolling four-quarter sum of gold purchases is the strongest on record. To us, this makes sense: gold is a stable source of value with thousands of years of trust among humans supporting it.

USD share of central bank reserves, %Source: Exante. Data as of September 30, 2018. The series is FX-adjusted. 

Trade Wars have long-term consequences

The current U.S. administration has called into question agreements with nearly all of its largest partners—tariffs on China, Mexico and the European Union, renegotiating NAFTA, as well as abandoning the Trans Pacific Partnership. A more adversarial U.S. administration could also encourage countries to reduce their reliance on USD in trade. Currently 85% of all currency transactions involve the USD despite the U.S. accounting for only roughly 25% of global GDP.  

Countries around the world are already developing payment mechanisms that would avoid using the dollar. These systems are small and still developing but this is likely to be a structural story that will extend beyond one particular administration. In a recent speech on the international role of the euro, Bank for International Settlements Chief Economist Claudio Borio brought up the benefits of pricing oil in the euro saying, “Trading and settling oil in the euro would move payments from dollars to euros and thereby shift ultimate settlement to the euro’s TARGET2 system. This could limit the reach of U.S. foreign policy insofar as it leverages dollar payments.” The European Central Bank also alluded to this theme in a recent report saying that “growing concerns about the impact of international trade tensions and challenges to multilateralism, including the imposition of unilateral sanctions seem to have lent support to the euro’s global standing.”

We believe we are at an important juncture. On a real basis, the dollar stands currently more than 10% above its long-term average and on a nominal basis has actually been trending lower for 50 years (see chart below).Source: Bloomberg as of June 13, 2019

Given the persistent—and rising—deficits in the United States (in both fiscal and trade), we believe the U.S. dollar could become vulnerable to a loss of value relative to a more diversified basket of currencies, including gold. As we scan client portfolios, we see that many of them have far more U.S. dollar exposure than we feel is prudent. At this stage of the economic cycle, we believe this exposure should be more diversified. In many cases, our recommendation would likely be to place a higher weighting on other G10 currencies, currencies in Asia and gold (see chart).

FX exposureSource: J.P. Morgan Private Bank as of June 13, 2019.

(BBG) China’s Got the World by the Throat

(BBG) Developing countries owe Beijing a lot more money than is commonly realized. This is how empires start. 

Chinese loans are funding projects all over Africa. 
Chinese loans are funding projects all over Africa.  Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Mihir Sharma is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was a columnist for the Indian Express and the Business Standard, and he is the author of “Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy.”

Chinese loans are funding projects all over Africa. 
Chinese loans are funding projects all over Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

China isn’t just the world’s largest exporter of goods: It’s now the world’s largest exporter of capital, too. Of course, these two facts are linked. China earns so much from being the world’s factory, and the spending of its households is so constrained, that it needs to find somewhere to park the difference. That’s the basic imbalance underlying the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s big push into the developing world.

Many analysts — including senior U.S. officials — have long worried about the terms on which China parts with slivers of its giant pile of capital. Unlike traditional development finance, Chinese loans — especially for building infrastructure — carry fairly high rates of interest, and the assets they build often don’t earn enough to pay them back. It’s fair to worry that some countries could end up mired in debt, borrowing more from the Chinese than they can possibly repay.

Chinese officials claim to be incensed by the very notion, and some Western researchers aren’t convinced, either. There’s certainly a case to be made that confusion and lack of coordination lies behind China’s loan binge, rather than a sinister geo-strategic design. Others argue that China’s domestic imperatives, including concerns about depleting its vast pile of foreign exchange, might lead it to slow its acquisitive march.

Live event: Authers’ Notes, Bloomberg’s book club, will discuss George Magnus’s “Red Flags: Why Xi’s China Is in Jeopardy” at 10 a.m. New York time July 25, exclusively on the Terminal. 

On the other hand, recent work from a team of researchers based out of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy suggests we may not be worried enough. They discovered that half of all foreign debt to Chinese state-run banks and institutions is “hidden” from the normal databases. Consequently, “debt levels and the debt service burdens in two dozen developing countries are much higher than previously thought.”

Imagine China says it will finance a road or a power plant for an African or Asian country. The Chinese companies actually executing that project are the final recipients of the loan; instead of sending the money across international borders to the country in question and having that government pay the Chinese company in turn, the bank may just make the transfer to the company’s account within China. The resulting transaction wouldn’t show up in the official international data or even in national accounts. But the borrower would still eventually have to repay the interest and principal.

Worryingly, the Kiel researchers say that these loans are usually secured against public-sector or commodity revenues and their terms are rarely made public. Do they flow mostly to countries that are aligned, or subsequently align, with China? The Kiel study doesn’t say, but there is evidence that Chinese development aid, at least, is closely associated with political support at the United Nations.

Worse, it looks like Chinese capital flows disproportionately to the poorest countries; to those in crisis, such as Zimbabwe and Iran; and to oil exporters such as Angola or Venezuela. For many “highly indebted poor countries” that finally freed themselves of debt in the 2000s, it looks like the nightmare of the 1980s debt crisis may return. The Kiel researchers say debt in “a subgroup of low-income countries is close to reaching pre-HIPC levels, with Chinese lending being one of the main drivers.”

Regardless of what Chinese leaders say, this isn’t a pretty picture. The best-case scenario is that a subset of BRI countries will be pushed into another debt crisis, and we will have to rely on China’s goodwill to pull them out of it. Or, as is feared in the case of the International Monetary Fund’s bailout of Pakistan, multilateral bailout money may ultimately be used to rescue Chinese state creditors.

And the worst outcomes aren’t off the table either. The direction of Chinese lending — towards countries on its periphery, those with resources its economy needs, those with poor domestic institutions or unstable politics — means that we simply can’t assume that the BRI is just like any other infrastructure finance project. This is not the Marshall Plan.

Empires are not constructed overnight; they are created by a mixture, clear only in retrospect, of accident and ambition. As the Kiel researchers note, the structure of Chinese overseas finance bears considerable similarities to the imperial powers’ foreign lending in the 19th century. If the collateral for projects is a country’s natural resources, or its public-sector revenue, then what happens when that country refuses to pay up?

So far, Beijing has not pressed the issue; it has often doubled down instead, extending loan tenures and increasing its exposure. Should the world sit back and hope that this forbearance will last forever?

It’s time for the West to step up. China must be pressured to make its BRI lending more transparent and to follow global norms governing infrastructure finance. But, more importantly, we should all prepare to provide support, material and moral, to countries that want and need to renegotiate terms with China. Standing aside while Beijing corrals resources from the world’s poorest cannot be an option.

(Inquirer) Effects of gentrification on longtime residents are not as negative as typically perceived, Philly Fed says

(Inquirer)

Effects of gentrification on longtime residents are not as negative as typically perceived, Philly Fed says
TIM TAI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A smattering of Philadelphia neighborhoods within the last two decades have experienced dramatic changes, a phenomenon often known as gentrification — a controversial term that can be synonymous with displacement or urban renewaldepending on who is asked.

For residents who once lived in the Arvilla apartments in West Philadelphia, gentrification meant eviction last winter, as longtime renters were forced to leave when the building owner decided to sell. In Brewerytown in recent years, it has meant rising property values for longtime residents and steady work for local contractors. And in Fishtown, the term will forever be linked to the collapse in February of a family’s longtime home — 61 years of memories crumbling to the ground after a construction error next door.


Economists and sociologists have tried to study these effects, seeking to determine how gentrification affects longtime neighborhood residents when they are confronted with a steady flow of construction crews, new residents, and different — often higher-end — businesses.

A new study released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia finds that the consequences of gentrification for original neighborhood residents are often better than they are typically perceived.

In what the authors billed as the first “comprehensive, national, causal evidence” of how gentrification affects the well-being of a neighborhood’s longtime residents, the study found that change “creates some important benefits for original resident adults and children and few observable harms.” Specifically, the authors found that gentrification reduces “original” adult residents’ exposure to neighborhood poverty, raises home values, and increases rent only “more-educated renters” but not for “less-educated” ones. (In the study, “less-educated” residents are defined as adults with a high school degree or less; “more-educated” are residents who attended at least some college.)

Similarly, the study finds that children living in a neighborhood before it gentrified also are exposed less to neighborhood poverty and receive better opportunities for education and employment. Gentrification, the study says, increases the probability that children of less-educated homeowners attend and complete college.

“Taken together,” the study says, “the results for children and adults show that many original residents are able to remain in gentrifying neighborhoods and share in any neighborhood improvements.”

Where Philadelphia Has Gentrified

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia identified 39 census tracts in Philadelphia that had gentrified from 2000 to the five-year 2010-14 time period. Most of the tracts are adjacent to Center City, in parts of South and West Philadelphia, and in Manayunk or Roxborough.Click on the map for more information.

SOURCE: Federal Reserve Bank of PhiladelphiaJOHN DUCHNESKIE / Staff Artist

» Reading on mobile and not seeing the graphic above? Click hereto view the full version.

Despite these reported benefits, however, the authors of the study — Davin Reed of the Philadelphia Fed and Quentin Brummet of the University of Chicago’s NORC institution — also found that gentrification causes both less-educated renters and less-educated homeowners to leave a neighborhood at higher rates than they normally would during a typical 10- to 14-year period, the span of time that the researchers studied. Normally, the study found, less-educated renters tend to move at a rate of 68 percent over the course of 10 to 14 years. When a neighborhood gentrifies, that group tends to move closer to 73 percent of the time, according to the study.ADVERTISEMENT

Similarly, Reed and Brummet found that gentrification also increases the probability that less-educated homeowners will move. Ordinarily, less-educated homeowners will move at a rate of 34 percent. Gentrification increases that to roughly 37 percent.

Still, the authors said, they found no evidence that residents who leave gentrifying neighborhoods, including the most disadvantaged, move to “observably worse neighborhoods or experience negative changes to employment, income, or commuting distance.” (The employment, income, and commuting distance of longtime residents who stay in gentrifying neighborhoods are not positively affected either, the study found.) And because all renters, regardless of education, tend to move even when a neighborhood is not gentrifying, the study suggests this places “a limit on the potential for gentrification to cause displacement,” and makes it possible for neighborhoods to change quickly “even without strong displacement effects.”

» READ MORE: To brag or bemoan? How differing definitions of gentrification are their own problem

The study, which takes a national look at gentrification, offers a rather upbeat portrait of neighborhood change using U.S. Census microdata — something that the researchers acknowledge cannot quantify the emotional, nonmonetary costs associated with gentrification.

“Gentrification and displacement have severe ramifications, both for those forced to move out of neighborhoods and for those who are able to stay,” said Rachel Garland, managing attorney of Community Legal Services’ (CLS) Housing Unit in Philadelphia. “Those who move struggle with the sense that they were forced out of their neighborhoods that they helped to build to make way for newcomers who have no connection or investment in the neighborhood.”

“For those who stay, there is a loss of cultural history and memory,” Garland continued. “Those who stay watch their neighborhoods change drastically around them and have to contend with new neighbors and businesses who do not share the same cultural history, nor participate in the same social and cultural fabric.”

On Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia, new development can look very different from older homes. These homes feature bay windows, which Councilman Kenyatta Johnson attempted to ban from his district earlier this year.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHEROn Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia, new development can look very different from older homes. These homes feature bay windows, which Councilman Kenyatta Johnson attempted to ban from his district earlier this year.

As an attorney for CLS, which provides free legal representation to low-income Philadelphians, Garland said she has seen a “drastic increase” in landlords evicting longtime tenants “so that they can sell their houses to developers to renovate and flip to higher-income purchasers.”

Monty Wilson and Rachel Labush, two CLS attorneys who work in the organization’s homeownership unit, also noted that rising property taxes have the potential to cost people their homes. In addition, they said by email, African American homeowners in Philadelphia are often less able to access the benefits of gentrification, such as buying into improving neighborhoods, in part because the demographic tends to be denied access to loans more frequently.ADVERTISEMENT

Garland added that the changing racial and socioeconomic makeup of Philadelphia neighborhoods are also an important part of the gentrification conversation — both of which are emphasized less in the newly released study.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s study tracked individuals who responded to both the 2000 Census and the 2010-14 American Community Survey, and analyzed the changes that they self-reported in categories including address, income, and home value. They focused on roughly 175,000 original residents of low-income central city neighborhoods of the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

Gentrification was defined as an increase in college-educated individuals’ demand for housing in initially low-income, central city neighborhoods.

Like dozens of other cities across the U.S., Philadelphia in recent years has experienced growing pains related to gentrification — spurring both anxieties and feelings of hope among residents. Longtime Philadelphians often say they feel encouraged by the benefits that neighborhood change can bring, things such as cleaner streets, reduced crime, and growing home values. At the same time, they often fear seeing friends and families displaced from the places they grew up.

Brummet and Reed’s study finds that, compared with many U.S. cities, Philadelphia experienced gentrification to a less dramatic extent. Only 11.4 percent of the city’s census tracts gentrified between 2000 and 2010-14. Comparatively, Washington gentrified the most at a rate of 43.7 percent, followed closely by Portland, Ore., and Seattle. Boston gentrified at a rate of 22.6 percent.ADVERTISEMENT

“One of the things that, personally, I think is important in these debates around gentrification is keeping sight of the actual scale of the problem,” Reed, the Philadelphia-based author, said in an interview. “Yes, gentrification does create these challenges, some of which we document here. But it also creates opportunities as well.”

According to Emily Dowdall, the policy director for the Philadelphia-based Reinvestment Fund, the research presents an opportunity to discuss local policies that could be enacted to ensure that neighborhoods can remain a place for mixed incomes. In the study, the authors encouraged cities to take a “forward-looking approach” to accommodate increasing demand in some neighborhoods.

“Rather than thinking about, ‘Did this neighborhood truly gentrify in this time period?’ we should be thinking, ‘What can we do about this?'” Dowdall said in an interview. “And can the city of Philadelphia allow longtime residents, both renters and owners, to stay in neighborhoods as they change?”

Dowdall pointed to other cities, such as Minneapolis, which offers landlords a tax break in exchange for keeping some units affordable in their buildings. She also encouraged Philadelphia to find a local program for renters that could work similarly to the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP) that offers tax relief to homeowners whose assessments sharply increase.

“Mixed-income neighborhoods are a worthy policy goal,” Dowdall said. “If you could design a program [similar to LOOP] that targets longtime renters, that would really help increase equitable development for renters who are the most vulnerable to displacement.”

(GUA) Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

(GUA) Exclusive: Study shows associated damage to critical pumping muscles, even in children

People wear face masks to combat air pollution in Mexico City
 People wear face masks to combat air pollution in Mexico City, where the subjects of the study had lived. Photograph: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

The hearts of young city dwellers contain billions of toxic air pollution particles, research has revealed.

Even in the study’s youngest subject, who was three, damage could be seen in the cells of the organ’s critical pumping muscles that contained the tiny particles. The study suggests these iron-rich particles, produced by vehicles and industry, could be the underlying cause of the long-established statistical link between dirty air and heart disease.

The scientists said the abundance of the nanoparticles might represent a serious public health concern and that particle air pollution must be reduced urgently. More than 90% of the world’s population lives with toxic air, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the issue a global “public health emergency”.

The scientists acknowledged some uncertainties in their research, but Prof Barbara Maher, of Lancaster University, said: “This is a preliminary study in a way, but the findings and implications were too important not to get the information out there.”

Maher and colleagues found in 2016 that the same nanoparticles were present in human brains and were associated with Alzheimers-like damage, another disease linked to air pollution.

While all ages were affected, Maher said she was particularly concerned about children.

“For really young people, the evidence is now of very early-stage damage both in the heart and the brain,” she said. “We have a likely candidate [particle] able to access both organs, with the pathological evidence to show damage is happening.”

A recent comprehensive review concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body, as tiny particles are inhaled, move into the blood stream and are transported around the body. Much of the evidence of harm, from diabetes to reduced intelligence to increased miscarriages, is epidemiological, as harmful experiments on people are unethical. But one study in 2018 found air pollution particles in the placentas of women who had given birth.Q&A

How does air pollution affect the human body?

The new research is the first direct evidence that iron-rich nanoparticles may cause heart disease. Tiny particles were already known from laboratory tests to be seriously damaging to human cells and to be a significant component of roadside air pollution.

Maher said: “Putting an abundance of iron-rich nanoparticles right into the sub-cellular components of the heart’s muscle tissue, that’s not where you want them to be sitting. They are inside the mitochondria, which are damaged and appear abnormal. Mitochondria are your energy source, making sure your heart pumps effectively.”

Mark Miller, an expert on the cardiovascular effects of air pollution, from the University of Edinburgh but not part of the research, said: “While there are some uncertainties from the study, it highlights how important it is to better understand the way particles in air pollution may cause harm to different areas of the body.

“More effort is needed to reduce particle emissions from vehicles, especially to remove the number of vehicles on the road by encouraging people to walk and cycle for short journeys.”

The research, peer reviewed and published in the journal Environmental Research, analysed heart tissue taken from 63 young people who had died in road traffic accidents but had not suffered chest trauma. They lived in Mexico City, which has high air pollution, and had an average age of 25.

The research was conducted in two main parts: calculating the number of iron-rich nanoparticles present; and looking at their location within the tissue and the associated damage. The number of particles found was between 2bn and 22bn per gram of dried tissue; and their presence was two to 10 times higher in the Mexico City residents than in nine control subjects who had lived in less polluted places.

The medical scientists in the team reported that “exposure to [nanoparticles] appears to be directly associated with early and significant cardiac damage”.

Maher said the results were relevant for all countries: “There is absolutely no reason to expect this would be different in any other city.” Based on previous work, she said, the particles were also likely to carry additional contaminants. “We can imagine these nanoparticles come loaded with a toxic mix.”

Iron-rich nanoparticles begin as molten droplets produced by the combustion of fuel and then cool rapidly into spheres with fused surfaces. The particles in the heart tissue had these characteristics, rather than small iron-rich magnetite crystals that are known to occur naturally in at least one organ, the brain.

The technique used to locate the nanoparticles in the heart tissue could not be used to measure their composition. Instead, the scientists separated the particles from the tissues to determine their composition and magnetic content, and then used the average size and magnetism of the particles to estimate the total number.

They said they would like to confirm the particles’ composition in situ within the cells, but that would require the use of expensive equipment and Maher said they had received no funding for the work. “We are having to do this on a shoestring. It is madness.”