Economic Outlook

China Launches World’s First Smart Oil Tanker

China unveiled the world’s first intelligent Very Large Crude Carrier, which will have a capacity of more than 2.257 million barrels, China News Service reports, adding that the vessel, named New Journey, was delivered to China Merchant Energy Shipping Co. in Dalian.

“At present, countries around the world are actively promoting intelligent navigation and developing intelligent technologies for ships, which plays an important role in improving maritime traffic safety, energy conservation, emission reduction and economic efficiency,” the news service quoted the vice chief engineer of the company that built the VLCC, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co., as saying.

Among the “intelligent” features of the vessel, according to Guan Yinghua, are assisted autopilot navigation, intelligent liquefied cargo management, comprehensive energy efficiency management, equipment operation and maintenance, and finally integrated ship-to-shore communication, China News Service reports.

The Economy Is Both Booming And Headed For Recession

“The economy at the moment is in a superposition of two states.”

A fixture of debates about the relative merits of Fed cuts in the current environment is the paradox of conflicting data, some of which suggests the US economy is rolling over, some of which suggests it’s not.

This is something that’s vexed Fed officials and while there are a number of ways to illustrate it, a simple visualization might simply show, on one hand, unemployment loitering at a five-decade nadir and, on the other, manufacturing surveys diving to Trump-era lows amid trade uncertainty.

Jerome Powell has, of course, spent quite a bit of time documenting the extent to which the data has a habit of sending conflicting signals. Trump’s trade policies cloud the outlook for corporate America and also for the Fed. With respect to the latter, there’s an argument to be made that the president is deliberately muddying the waters to engineer easier monetary policy….CLICK for complete article

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in Canada, May Update

Home prices across major metros in Canada ticked up 0.5% in May from the prior month, the slowest rise for any May in the 21-year history of the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index. “If seasonally adjusted, the index would have been down 0.4% on the month,” the report said. But real estate is local, with wide variations from market to market, and so here we go.

Vancouver:

In Greater Vancouver, house prices, instead of rising seasonally, declined 0.2% in May from April, the 10th month in a row of declines, according to the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index. The index is down 5.0% from the peak in July 2018, the sharpest 10-month decline since July 2009. And it’s down 4.1% compared to May 2018…CLICK for complete article

US Consumer Debt Is Worse Than Ever

By some calculations, our consumer debt right now has surpassed what it was in the 2008 financial crisis. If American consumers held $13 trillion in credit cards, car loans, mortgages and other debt in 2008, it will be shocking to learn that they may have topped $14 trillion this year. The $14 trillion calculation comes from Marquette Associates’ senior research analyst of fixed income, Ben Mohr, and it’s spreading like wildfire in the media for the drastic implications. After all, the last financial crisis hit when all those loans went bad, taking down the securities that were pegged to them.

New polling data from a Morning Consult/CNBC survey supports Mohr’s thesis, showing that Americans have indeed taken on more credit card debt than ever before, including during the 2008 financial crisis.

Discretionary spending–spending on clothes, entertainment, etc–is responsible for a large share of that….CLICK for complete article

The Real Risk of Facebook’s Libra Coin is Crooked Developers

Today Facebook announced Libra, its forthcoming stablecoin designed to let you shop and send money overseas with almost zero transaction fees. Immediately, critics started harping about the dangers of centralizing control of tomorrow’s money in the hands of a company with a poor track record of privacy and security.

Facebook anticipated this, though, and created a subsidiary called Calibra to run its crypto dealings and keep all transaction data separate from your social data. Facebook shares control of Libra with 27 other Libra Association founding members, and as many as 100 total when the token launches in the first half of 2020. Each member gets just one vote on the Libra council, so Facebook can’t hijack the token’s governance even though it invented it….CLICK for complete article

The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Bill Gates top 10 predictions for upcoming breakthrough inventions and the possibilities they hold….CLICK for complete infographic