Wednesday Night #1653

Written by  //  November 6, 2013  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Nothing endures but change.
Heraclitus

With the foreshadowing of end of the year and the anticipation of winter, one cannot but ponder the coexistence of the anticipated season of peace without conflict, both armed and intellectual between the human inhabitants of the planet.

Temporarily  the  impact of sequestration –  a term previously only used in relation to jury trials  and now a fancy word for spending cuts – is over, though fears remain for what could happen in 2014;  Iranian, U.S. and European officials are meeting in Geneva with some hope that the talks will bring a reduction in sanctions in return for a reduction in Iran’s uranium enrichment program;  the presidents of the U.S. and Russia have shaken hands, albeit possibly only ceremoniously. Technology advances at a rapid pace, curiously, apparently leading to unemployment and underemployment, to a wider gap between rich and poor, rather than more leisure time for those who produce as well as to those who consume. Historically, from the Gutenberg press to the McCormick harvester, to today`s robotics, technological changes have been followed by unemployment, then ultimately, prosperity.
The world is unfolding as it should. The stock market has had a good run and at least one Wednesday Night experts expresses cautious optimism about its future over the next few years. Another predicts that the market will continue to rise, albeit at a lesser rate than it has recently, although a small correction may be anticipated during that upward trend. China is expected to become a more important player on the world stage. U.S. companies are extraordinarily profitable, but in a large part offset by a relatively low wage growth. Earnings may very well be maintained over a period of years.
Historically, although technology appears to advance in leaps and bounds, projections of long-term trends do not appear to take into account the long-term potential of current technological change, an example being the impact of rising petroleum prices as a catalyst for the development of such alternative, competitive energy sources for many applications as solar, electric or nuclear.
Although peace appears to have finally come back to Iran and U.S. missiles remain rattled but not fired, negotiators are said to be optimistic in negotiations with Iran on uranium enrichment issues.

∞∞Quotes of the Evening∞∞

“Things do happen precipitously. When you look at long term trend changes, change tends to happen precipitously.”
“People tend to forecast what they know.¨
“You need a Steve Jobs who makes the changes, makes the innovation.”
“The world will never run out of oil but as prices rise, innovation will kick in.”
“High interest rates would decimate the economy, playing havoc with pensions.”
“Inequality between the very poor and very wealthy is widening incredibly.”
“Any success of the computer is a success of the human brain.”
“We`re not anywhere near a bubble, so stocks will continue to rise for some time.”
“In China 200,000 people have moved from poverty to improvement since 1976, but the gap between the poor and very wealthy has widened untenable.”
“Gold will not go down, because of cost of production. No other currency can replace the dollar.”
“The big issue with promises is that you have to keep them.”

P R O L O G U E
As some Wednesday Nighters appear to enjoy historical references, we should caution that in December 1653, The Instrument of Government was adopted and Oliver Cromwell installed as Lord Protector (an elected post, but held for life) on the following day. Not that we wish to draw any conclusions regarding possible developments in our immediate world.

We are triply blessed this Wednesday November 6th: Peter Berezin with TWO Bank Credit Analyst reports – November and October, plus Kimon Valaskakis.

In the October report The Bull Market In Oil Is Far From Over, co-authors BCA’s energy strategist Elena Gavrina and chief geopolitical strategist Marko Papic argue that weak supply growth and strong demand from emerging markets will push oil prices substantially higher over the coming decade, a development that will have important geopolitical implications.

Titled Where To, Ms. Yellen?, the November report argues that under Janet Yellen’s leadership, the Federal Reserve will continue to strengthen its forward guidance framework even as it begins to unwind QE. It is also possible that the Fed will eventually start to target the price level rather than the inflation rate. This would effectively transition monetary policy toward a nominal GDP targeting regime.
Peter adds: There is a good chance that Congress will strike a deal before the end of the year to further increase the debt ceiling, fund the government, and possibly eliminate the sequester. U.S. stocks will continue to grind higher over a two-to-three year horizon, but European and Chinese equities offer a more attractive risk-reward profile.

In the wake of the successful launch of his new book Buffets And Breadlines Is the world really broke or just grossly mismanaged?  –  the first of a trilogy –  Kimon’s presence ensures continuing discussion of alternative views of the global economy.

Both CBC and CTV are reporting on a Canadian Press Story that internal documents indicated that the EU gained more than it expected — and might have settled for less had Ottawa pushed harder.
“The internal document, obtained by The Canadian Press, indicates EU exporters expect to make great inroads in the Canada market. Negotiators hope the gains can be used to their advantage in other trade negotiations, including talks with the United States that have just begun. The Europeans cite bidding on government contracts, as well as shipments of cheese, wine and spirits, as negotiating victories. — We may therefore wish to suggest that BCA’s December report examine the alarming news that A Global Wine Shortage May Soon Be Upon Us

Although neither Peter nor Kimon has mentioned the topic, we hope that they might have some comments on the possibility/probability that the EU will sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine (see Ukraine’s Prisoner’s Dilemma)

Other events on the international scene are sure to draw comments. The assassination of two French journalists in Mali reminds us of  the exceptionally fragile situation in that country (France says its journalists ‘coldly assassinated’ in Mali), while The Guardian reminds us that Egypt is on high alert as the Mohamed Morsi trial which starts on Monday threatens to revive civil unrest. In a sign of the tense atmosphere, the popular Bassem Youssef, referred to as the “Jon Stewart of Egypt”, has had his program suspended.

Of course, there will be discussion of the outcomes of the Conservatives’ Hallowe’en Convention, including the results from Conservative Convention To Debate ‘Less Progressive Tax System’. It appears that Mr Harper’s Friday night keynote speech went over well. The National Post grumbled that he had failed to adequately address the Senate scandal and Andrew Coyne attacked it as a parody of a parody of an empty cliché, however, in our view, the most pertinent observations come from Tom Flanagan Why Harper dug in his heels: That’s where the money is.

Don’t forget to vote in Sunday’s municipal elections , and do follow the wise advice of the Gazette editorial “In all cases, Montrealers should vote for the candidates they believe will serve their district, borough and city best. But one thing they might consider is spreading their vote around, voting one way for mayor and another for their city councillor, to ensure a diversity of views on the next council that will help keep the new administration honest and on its toes.”
As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, we favour Mélanie Joly  whose steady rise in the polls indicates that Montrealers are ready acknowledge that a lack of political experience can be an advantage  and to follow the lead of the western cities that have elected fresh young faces. We all know how well that has worked  in Calgary!
For those who, like us, live in Peter-McGill, we highly recommend city councillor candidate Damien Silès and, of course for those in CDN/NDG, Marie-Claude Johnson.

With the end of municipal election campaign, we can once again turn our political energies to Quebec and Ottawa (by-elections) – with of course a sympathetic glance at Toronto’s travails.

One of the very best pieces we have seen addressing the Quebec Charter is Mireille Silcoff: Why I have faith in medical treatment delivered by the religiously devout

Reminder for your calendar
Plundered Cultures Stolen Heritage
Concordia University’s contribution to Canada’s year of Holocaust Remembrance leadership— begins the task of filling that gap and integrating our knowledge.  On 6 and 7 November 2013, leading experts on the experiences of cultural destruction and mass atrocities suffered by the First Nations, Armenian and Jewish peoples are assembling to discuss the motives of the perpetrators of these assaults, their impact, and the significance these attacks pose for restitution and reconciliation today. The Keynote address will be given by Morley Safer, of CBS News “60 Minutes”, on Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 7:45. More information, but it seems that availability is now only on the basis of waitlisting.

Seeds: Monsanto Under The Microscope
Seeds, Annabel Soutar’s docudrama at the Centaur until Nov. 24

Alan Hustak says in his review: Who would have thought a play about canola, corn, soybeans and wheat could be so, uhm, damned entertaining and thought provoking. Seeds … is all about the perceived evils of Monsanto Inc., the international bio-tech seed monopoly, and the meaning of life.
It is a complex, fast paced, three-hour experience which examines the “unintended consequences of genetically modified seeds.” He concludes: Seeds is a perceptive work of theatre that is not only adds to the debate over multinational control, but could serve as a valuable contribution to public policy.

 

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