EU

Would you do this to your employer and expect to remain there?

These messages from black, queer and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf have done the rounds of late. Note L’Oreal has NOT made these comments.

Munroe Bergdorf, who has been a consultant on the UK diversity and inclusion advisory board of L’Oréal Paris since June 2020, wrote these comments back in 2017, when she was signed as a model for the cosmetic giant’s diversity campaign. L’Oreal sacked her for these comments.

Perhaps more surprising after being sacked, Bergdorf exclaimed, “It puzzles me that my views are considered out of touch and extreme…it is horrible and awful to think that people hate me.

One has to question why L’Oreal has chosen to use her services again? After all, on June 1 she said,

You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought…I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world’s press because YOU didn’t want to talk about racism. You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest.”

But fear not,

While what happened three years ago was extremely traumatic for me personally and professionally, sitting on a board to provide a voice and a champion for black, trans and queer voices in the beauty industry is important for me…It feels good to finally have closure on this matter and I look forward to new beginnings with the L’Oreal team.

FNF Media wonders what the response would be for any normal employee to sound off at their place of work and not face some sort of sanction? As Thomas Sowell said,

Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today, some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered discrimination.

EU commissioned pandemic comic book scarily accurate

Infected

In 2012, the EU commissioned and published a comic book titled ‘Infected‘. It tells the tale of the magic of unelected globalists saving the world from a pandemic. It is eerily close to what we are experiencing today, apart from the fact that unelected globalists have bungled the response as evidenced by the resignation of the EU’s top scientist who criticised Brussel’s response to the Covid-19.

On page 3, the comic starts out inside a lab in China experimenting with deadly pathogens which have no cure. We are assured in the following pages as to the security, safety and surveillance measures in place to avoid any outbreak of a virus.

On page 5, a time traveller goes back to warn them of the catastrophe in the future caused by a pandemic. He seems to be wearing a suicide vest which actually holds vials of the vaccine which can save the planet.

On page 11, evil capitalists look at ways of exploiting the virus to profit from a pandemic. One individual working with an underworld group wants to sell the vaccine to the highest bidder among pharmaceutical manufacturers. He guns down the armed escort holding the captured time traveller (who was time warped inside the secure lab) to get hold of a test tube so they can sell it for mass manufacture.

On page 20, the comic sets the scene of an interview with the UN Special Envoy on Influenza, Pandemics, Food Security and MOI, Mr De La Mancha in a wet market in Asia. He tells a group of reporters that we can trace the origin of most pandemics back to animals which are then spread unknowingly by people jet-setting around the world.

Our fearless UN envoy is suddenly attacked by a monkey who scratches  his skin and infects him. Hours later he starts seeing the effects of the virus from his hotel room. De La Mancha knows he must ‘self-isolate.’ Unfortunately, before he could do so so it spread to the camera crew and journalists who flew home.

On page 35 our time traveller tells de la Mancha’s assistant, Chang Wenling, about the future where the media reports that the international health organisations failed to act quickly enough to prevent the spread.

On page 37 the comic book tells of how self-isolation led to depression and that after years of lockdown people started to break the law and meet up with each other.

Chang and the time traveller fly to Asia to find de la Mancha to give him the vaccine and he is saved. He reports back to the globalist bodies to convince them of his recovery. The globalists at the EU and UN then pat themselves on the back and talk of ‘One Health’ and the importance of it.

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy says to the journalists assembled,

One Health belongs to its actors and builds upon existing capabilities and resources: key political actors, UN technical agencies, the World Organisation for Animal Health, regional bodies, academia, development partners and others. Its success will depend on flexible networking…

One journalist questions the additional burden on the EU taxpayer. She replies,

One Health is not about adding an additional layer of external actions – which would indeed require additional funding. It is basically about working for health in a more integrated way and thinking differently at the policy-making and planning stage.

The comic ends with virologist Chang falling in love with the time traveller. She is heartbroken with the prospect that he must return back to where he came from soon only to learn that it was a one-way journey and that he’ll die before he was born. They embrace and kiss.

How strange that fiction in 2012 has turned out to be so real. Had the EU commissioned this comic in 2018, we can be assured the comic wouldn’t have been approved unless the time traveller had been non-binary asylum seeker instead of a a blonde haired, blue-eyed white hetero toxic male. Don’t scoff. Marvel Comics has already headed down the path of identity politics with its latest characters, Safespace and Snowflake.

Who left the currency printer on?

CBs

This chart shows how fast he printing presses have been flying to boost the “asset” line of the Bank of Japan (blue), the US Federal Reserve (red) and the ECB (green).

The BoJ has grown its “assets” from ¥100 trillion in 2008 to ¥585 trillion today. Yes, that is right the Japanese central bank has printed so much money that the assets on the book are the equivalent of 100% of GDP, 5x that of 12 years ago.

Does MMT predicate that it is ok to print another 100%? After all the existing Japanese national debt pile is ¥1000 trillion. So who is counting?

We note that the shares in Japan’s biggest currency printing press maker Komori (6349) quadrupled during the boom and only tapered off as the BoJ slowed the rate in early 2018. Maybe coronavirus will get the BoJ back to its wicked ways as it buys up even more of the stock market??? It already owns 58% of outstanding ETFs and by stealth has become a top 10 shareholder in almost 50% of listed stocks. In a sense, we have a trend which threatens to turn Japan’s largest businesses into quasi-state-owned enterprises (SoE) by the back door.

The US Fed has grown “assets” from just shy of US$1 trillion at the time of GFC when the economy was worth US$15.7 trillion or around 6%. There was a nice breathing period between 2014 and 2018 before tapering started.

However, in October 2019 we noted that the Fed was getting a LOT more active in the repo market. Now with coronavirus upon us and the volatility in capital markets at the start of 2020 we can see that another $1.6 trillion has been added to the asset line to a record $5.8 trillion or around 30% of current GDP.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has powered up its balance sheet too from around Eur 1.4 trillion to Eur 4.7 trillion. or 40% of Europe 19’s Eur 10.7 trillion GDP. At the time of the GFC, Europe 19’s combined GDP was Eur 9.3 trillion meaning ECB assets were only 15% of the total. Note the ECB has discontinued reporting its assets.

The point is with the world economy about to hit a brick wall, will markets just face more central bank distortion? Surely no one honestly believes that central banks have got this under control with such an appalling record.

To be honest, if modern monetary theory (MMT) was truly working to date, there should be no unemployment, no poverty, no taxes and we could have easily funded all that renewable energy without even having a debate. Just print and spend.

Therein lies its fatal flaw of MMT. Eventually, conjuring money out of thin air hits terminal velocity. Truth be told the tales above show that each asset that the central banks have bought has created less and less impact in the real economy. Velocity has been sliding for decades.

It is a bit like taking morphine to kill the pain. Take too much and the side effects are:

  1. nausea and vomiting
  2. constipation
  3. itching
  4. loss of appetite
  5. lower body temperature
  6. difficulty urinating
  7. slow breathing
  8. sleepiness
  9. changes in heart rate
  10. weakness
  11. dizziness upon standing up
  12. confusion
  13. nervousness
  14. erectile dysfunction
  15. osteoporosis and risk of fractures

Not unlike the symptoms being shown by the global economy today.

Political expediency will trump Coronavirus market rout. Await market manipulation

MARKETS YTD

Share markets have been decimated in recent weeks across the globe. This year to date (YTD) chart above shows the extent. It shouldn’t really have taken Coronavirus or plunging oil prices to lead to this. We’ve been living high on the sauce for two decades and even though GFC in 2008 was a rude hangover, our authorities thought doubling down on all those free money excesses would work again.

Let’s not get too carried away. On a 5-yr basis, shares haven’t exactly blitzed with the exception of the S&P500. The ASX has put on just under 7% in 5 years. Germany, Japan and Italy have gone down. So if one is 45% higher than 5-yrs ago with an S&P fund, is that a mass hysteria moment?

INDEX 5YR

Automotive stocks have been dud investments over the last 5 years. It didn’t take Coronavirus to expose the underlying trends. BMW is don 52% on 5 yrs ago. Ford down 60%. Volkswagen -40%.

Car stocks

Industrial bellwethers like Caterpillar and GE have also not escaped stagnation. YTD, all of these stocks have bloody noses. Boeing has held up surprisingly well despite the MAX problems.

Industrials

Yet if we look at the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix & Google), we can see that over 5 years, investors have made a bundle.

FAANGAs these 5 stocks make up 15% of the S&P500 Index by weight, if they fall the impact is greater. With the exception of Netflix, these monsters are down 15~20%.

FAANG 1M

Worried?

Fear not, our heavily indebted incompetent political class and complicit central bankers will concoct a new potion of even lower rates, more QE and further fiscal spending on wind farms, solar panels and roads to nowhere to keep the ship afloat. It may be a hapless task in the long run but just watch the printing presses move to full speed. The ride is about to get interesting.

We’ve been bearish for years based on the underlying tenet that financial market manipulation by authorities has merely distorted the most efficient clearing mechanism -free markets. The invisible hand will eventually win. Just not quite yet.

Italian Senator and former Deputy PM Matteo Salvini has called for a ban on short selling. Why? All he’ll do is exacerbate the sell-off by diverting capital from Milan to London. The politicians just don’t get it. That is why Milan FTSE All-Share index fell by 10.75% overnight. That market is down 23% YTD.

When the pandemic hit the economy, we should have known from last month that it would spread and impact global travel, trade and oil prices. Why did it take so long?

We wrote last week that the explosion in market chasing (especially levered) ETFs would exacerbate distortions on the downside. The main reason being is that options markets that hedge levered products see heavy delta bleed (pricing blowing out) during routs. The reason is in bull markets human nature is more comfortable taking risk. In bear markets, people panic hence needing larger insurance premiums to protect against the madness of crowds.

Essentially what that means is that when ETFs were a far smaller chunk of the market, today’s 7.8% drubbing may only have been -4% in equivalent terms. That is because the ETFs chase, not lead markets because their product design is to replicate the immediate past. Yet our first instincts are to compare these apples with oranges and equate them to 2008. Wrong. Furthermore, a larger part of the market is dominated by a smaller

So the question is, do we liquidate all of our shares into the falling knife or take the view that some wonderful opportunities will present themselves to get exposure to what we hopefully viewed as sensible long term investments.

We take the latter view. We need to separate Coronavirus (the disease) and the hysteria (eg hand sanitizer and toilet paper panic buying).

While the disease is problematic and will hit the economy hard in the coming quarters, the question is market hope pinned to government response will come back. The measures should continue to grow and grow until they have cauterized the wound. After all, we live in a market where financial TV programs are summoning the opinions of NY Mets baseball pitchers for their ideas on stocks.

Of course, it will be all academic, but confidence is the only thing that matters from here. As soon as we get on top of Coronavirus, markets will swing back into action and many will simply fall for the same tricks like Pavlov’s dog and the short squeeze will send stocks powering back.

Governments now have a legitimate excuse to blow out deficits and borrow to save us. In that sense, this pandemic is a blessing in disguise. That isn’t to trivialize Coronavirus but to note that politicians will do almost anything to stay in power, even if the long term consequences will linger long after they’re out of office.

Where will they spend? The automotive sector has been in the doldrums for ages. Expect to see EV related subsidies which will be a boon for the EV battery plays – we’ve bought Jervois Mining (JRV.AX) which is about to start a cobalt mine in Idaho.

Think of support to the aviation industry when the crisis is under control. Boeing and Airbus. Don’t forget that American Airlines renewed 900 aircraft soon after it announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2011.

Think construction – cement companies and construction machinery companies tend to benefit from public works programs. We continue to hold gold (have done since 2001) as the ultimate insurance policy when the whole system can no longer heal with band-aids.

So get ready to buy some bargain-basement names with cash flow survivability, especially if you have a self-managed super fund.

Yes the underlying economic backdrop is dreadful but there will be one last hurrah!

Know your history

BBC reports that the UK intends to introduce E10 ethanol based fuel. Before going ahead they should reflect on the disaster that befell Germany when it introduced the eco-friendly gasoline.

The German authorities went big for bio-fuels in 2008 forcing gas stands to install E-10 pumps to cut CO2. However as many as 3 million cars at the time weren’t equipped to run on it and as a result consumers abandoned it leaving many gas stands with shortages of the petrol and gluts of E-10 which left the petrol companies liable to huge fines (around $630mn) for not hitting government targets.

Claude Termes, a member of European Parliament from the Green Party in Luxembourg said in 2008 that “legally mandated biofuels were a dead end…the sooner It disappears, the better…my preference is zero…policymakers cannot close their eyes in front of the facts. The European Parliament is increasingly skeptical of biofuels.” Even ADAC told German drivers to avoid using E10 when traveling in other parts of continental Europe.

But governments always know best. Apparently.

BoJo’s EV adventure by 2035 is risky

Image result for ev charger nullarbor

There is a lot of irony when studying electric vehicles (EVs) and government policy. The lack of consultation with the very industry it seeks to regulate is mind-boggling. This picture of an EV charging station powered by a diesel generator along the Nullarbor highlights how poor the thought processes are. The problem governments face is that they are starting with a narrative and trying to reverse engineer the data to fit it. Sadly, the market will ultimately decide – that means consumers.

3 years ago we met with an EV parts supplier, Schaeffler AG, which openly admitted the task to meet the government EV demands was being impeded by their own desire to out virtue signal each other.

Schaeffler said, 200 cities across Europe had EV policies as distinct as the other. Therefore carmakers were struggling to meet all of the non-standardised criteria which was driving up production costs and making EVs even further out of reach. Instead of all working for the “same” outcome, the parts suppliers were saying until governments came to a sensible balance, the delays would continue.

The irony is that the broad range of EVs available in the market is too narrow. Of course we can argue in 15 years that will have vastly changed. The question is whether production can keep up.

First of all, governments around the world tend to generate around 5% of total tax revenues from fuel excise. You’d be a fool to think that EVs won’t end up being stung with a similar registration tax to offset it. It is already happening. Cash strapped Illinois has proposed the introduction of a $1,000 annual registration fee (up from $17.50) to account for the fact EVs don’t pay such fuel taxes.

Secondly, the UK government may well have to introduce cash-for-clunkers style subsidies to entice people to ditch their petrol power for an EV. Because, unless someone owns a classic car, the second most expensive household asset will be near worthless meaning many may not bother to switch by 2035. That will put huge pressure on the auto industry and dealers to convert sales.

Third, the infrastructure to be able to charge millions of EVs overnight will need significant upgrades, especially to the power grid. If the UK wants to go down the renewables path good luck in meeting the surges in demand because EV charging will be highly random. People won’t be happy to be sitting at home waiting for a charge and realising that 200,000 others want to do so at the same time on a cloudy day with no wind.

Then there are the automakers. While they are all making politically correct statements about their commitments to go full EV, they do recognise that ultimately customers will decide their fate. A universal truth is that car makers do their best to promote their drivetrains as a performance differentiator to rivals. Moving to full EV removes that unique selling property. Volkswagen went out of its way to cheat the system which not only expressed their true feelings about man-made climate change but hidden within the $80bn investment is the 3 million EVs in 2042 would only be c.30% of VW’s total output today. Even Toyota said it would phase out internal combustion in the 2040s. Dec 31st, 2049 perhaps? Mercedes have vowed to keep diesel and petrol on the menu out to 2050.

Put simply, why is the government trying to dictate the technology to an industry that has made such amazing advancements in safety and technology? By all means, have a zero-emissions target by 2035 but offer the industry complete technological freedom to achieve it. The consumers will ultimately decide and if carmakers are forced to meet a target that was based on ill-advised government policy, we shouldn’t be surprised if dealers are forced to close or car makers requiring bailouts.

Also at 2m vehicles a sold annually in the UK, it won’t get to dictate where car makers allocate their global EV inventory. If easier market conditions – based on the available output and cost per vehicle to meet the standards – are found in the US, China or Germany, the costs to Brits to make the shift will make the 2035 target even more pointless. Pricing themselves out of the market.

However, it won’t much matter because many of the politicians making the move won’t be in government come 2035 to clean up the mess.

Global Coal-fired power statistics – Diary of a Wimpy Kid

What is it with the self-flagellation over coal-fired power? The announcement that the Morrison government intends underwriting “ONE” coal-fired power plant brings with it the hysteria of publicly force-feeding kindergarten kids with highly radioactive sludge at recess time. Naturally, none of this outrage is based on facts. It is all tokenism.

Here are the stats for coal-fired power stations globally:

Coal Capacity

Australia has only 2.5% of the coal-fired capacity of China. Versus our total of 58, China has almost 3,000 in service.

Coal Operation

Coal-fired plants that have been announced, are under construction, permitted and pre-permit stage around the globe total 1,046. Where are the climate activists in China, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Japan, Russia, Mongolia, Botswana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Korea, Thailand, Malawi, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey, Egypt, Poland and South Africa?

New Coal

The mt CO2-e output of each country is as follows. Note China produces 36x more CO2.

Coal CO2

So China and India are responsible for 58% of coal-fired power generated emissions and will be 50% of all new capacity additions going forward.

Coal CO2 Contrib

China has 100x more coal-fired power on the drawing board than Australia yet we behave as though we are the biggest climate sinners on the planet! China and India have consistently been 70%+ of all new coal-fired plant capacity additions since 2006.

Coal Capa

So do Australian activists honestly think that canning one domestic new coal-fired power plant will have the slightest effect on global temperatures when our Asian and African neighbours are full speed ahead?

There have also been arguments made by activists that our coal exports should be counted against our totals in terms of emissions. Fine. Then by that logic, FNF Media expects the total emissions of every car sold in Australia (including fuel consumed) to be charged back to Japan, China, Korea, America and Europe. Every aircraft, every electronic device, every imported building material, crane, bulldozer, wind turbine, solar panel and truck that transports it. It would equal itself out pretty quickly.

Our global neighbours seem to be prioritizing national growth over climate alarmism. For it would appear they do not have the same level of brain-washed fanatics telling our kids that they have inherited a planet that will make them the last people on earth to survive.

The quickest route for Australia to end its prosperity is to cower to this insanity. To fall in line to the idea that renewables are cheaper (they aren’t) and more green is preposterous. Wind turbine blades are being put into landfill and solar panels are toxic to recycle and likely to end in the same place. Germany is giving us a great beta test case of how renewables are failing them. Indulge yourself here.

Coal-fired plants in Australia are forced to run sub-optimally to cater to the demands of the fluctuations in renewables which must be given priority to the grid. Ask anyone in large scale manufacturing how being forced to run at fluctuating levels destroys efficiency. It really is that simple.

Coal Price

Thermal coal prices are far from going out of control. So our power plant electricity generation isn’t becoming pricier due to input costs.

We have to stop becoming emotional about numbers and data and look at what they are telling us rather than build a narrative and reverse engineer the results. It always catches up to us in the end.

Our government needs to show some backbone and provide easy to understand data about reality. Rather than fold at the confected outrage which appears backed by crony capitalists.

Now that former PM Turnbull is weighing in on the debate (contradicting comments made while PM) saying that it is lunacy to pursue coal. Given his record of poor judgment, it stands to reason building cleaner coal-fired power plants is a sensible way to lower energy prices and remain a competitive global economy.

As FNF Media likes to say, the numbers will always be right in the end. Fiddle them at your peril.

Extinction Rebellion trashes Auto Show

These climate activists are unhinged lunatics. This is the justification that Extinction Rebellion (XR) used for trashing the Brussels Autosalon was as follows,

The truth is, no car is green…The private car is no longer compatible with the Climate and Ecological Crisis….Governments must stop pouring billions into roads and instead make mass public transport affordable, accessible, reliable and convenient.

The Brussels Times reported that 187 were arrested and charged €2,000 each. Febiac, the auto show organizer, said XR’s display at the event caused a whopping €367,829 in damages.

There is a difference between protesting and breaking the law by trashing private property.

Febiac, to its credit, gave XR approval to protest under certain guidelines. The organizer’s Joost Kaesemans said, “We sat together with people from Extinction Rebellion for the salon, we told them they could hold a demo, sing songs and hand out brochures...But we also told them that if they bothered visitors and wreaked havoc, we would take measures. They did not stick to that, so there are consequences.”

So even when the organizers play ball, the fools of XR think they have carte blanche to act as they please. Hopefully XR protestors are forced to pay up, serve time and get handed a bill for wasting the time of the police.

If only XR protests were about saving the planet and not seek to control the way others live their lives.

One final question – does XR have a strategy to re-employ the 15mn that work in auto related industries? Of course not.

Wouldn’t hire you in a pink fit with that attitude

You have got to hand it to the next generation. Before they’ve been hired, many are already dictating terms to prospective employers.

Despite not proving they’re worth one euro cent of value to a company they are already showing their incapacity to think creatively or show a basic modicum of balanced thought, innovation much less display respect to their future bosses.

What company would openly want to hire graduates who think they know more than the companies they might work for? With so much knowledge, FNF Media is surprised these kids don’t demand a position on the board.

It is wonderful that the self entitled generation have such big tickets on themselves. A Student Manifesto says:

We want to take advantage of our power as students by turning to employers that abide by the demands set out in this manifesto. We affirm that it is possible to live decently without drowning into either overconsumption or utter destitution; that the economic system must be aware of its dependence on environment in order to be sustainable; and that solving environmental issues is key to reducing inequalities and conflict risks.

According to EU Observer,

Over the past 15 months, more than 32,000 students or recent graduates have signed the manifesto, mostly – but not only – in France.

What if the company manufactures envelopes and stationery? Will it violate the manifesto? France has a robust industrial sector. Will Alstom, Thales and Renault be forced to hire inferior graduates? Maybe they’ll need to invest more in AI.

When we boil it all down to gravy we can be dead certain that these kids will demand more regulation to make up for the brainwashing drummed into them by leftist institutions who have not prepared them for the real world.

China and other nations not beholden to these ideological gimmicks must relish the thought that Europe is becoming so hard core with respect to stifling innovation that they’ll be able to snap up distressed assets in France on the cheap. Talk about a future of self inflicted wounds.

EU Parliament sticks to its totalitarian roots

Nigel Farage gave his last speech to the EU Parliament last night. It was telling to see his microphone cut off mid speech when he started to wave the Union Jack.

So totalitarian is the EU that it doesn’t allow nations to display national flags in parliament. One would think Farage was waving the Swastika such was the outrage directed at him. Perhaps he would have been expelled if he’d waved a Trump 2020 flag.

Farage hit the nail on the head when he said, “we love Europe, we just hate the European Union.” That is likely true for many Brits.

Parliament vice-president Mairead McGuinness took quite an exception to those remarks, furiously retorting that “we shouldn’t hate anyone, any nation or any people.” Rich coming from a body that hates its members and treats nation state democracy with utter disdain, as was evidenced through the protracted Brexit process.

As we have said all along, the EU requires drastic reform and respect for nation state democracy if it is to survive. If it fails to wake up from Brexit it is doomed. The sooner the better.