Wednesday Night #2139

Written by  //  March 15, 2023  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #2139

BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH or, if you are a faithful follower of Heather Cox Richardson, take comfort in the anniversary of the day in 1820 that Maine, the Pine Tree State, joined the Union.

Welcome back, Peter Berezin!
On March 2nd, you wrote:
• Rather than teetering into recession, the global economy has firmed since the start of the year. This has amplified fears of inflation, pushing bond yields higher.
• Our view continues to be that inflation, rather than recession, is the bigger risk for 2023. Nevertheless, even in the US where inflationary pressures are most acute, there are still significant deflationary forces in the pipeline.
• If the US avoids a recession in 2023, earnings estimates should stabilize, at least temporarily.
• Earnings guidance has arguably been too cautious, which is not surprising given that 93% of CEOs expect a recession over the next 12-to-18 months, according to The Conference Board.
• Institutional investors were more than two standard deviations underweight equities in the most recent BofA Global Fund Manager Survey. Any news that inflation is cooling could put a fire under the stock market.
• That said, we would not want to push our luck too far. Achieving a soft landing is a lot less difficult than maintaining one. As such, a vigilant disposition is appropriate at the current juncture.
Any changes in your opinion?
Perhaps a word about Jim O’Neill’s 9 March piece in Project Syndicate The Inflation Picture Gets Murkier? In the global economy, as in politics, a week can be a very long time.
No doubt there will be a quick look at Wednesday’s news of Wall Street down as Credit Suisse sparks fresh bank selloff -an inevitable(?) aftermath of the failure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) on Friday, in the largest bank failure since 2008. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) took control of the bank on Friday. On Sunday, regulators also shut down Signature Bank, based in New York, which was a major bank for the cryptocurrency industry. Another crypto-friendly bank, Silvergate, failed last week.
While commentary has focused on the effect of the failure of SVB on start-ups, Bloomberg points out that It Was Key Partner for Affordable Housing
We look forward to hearing about your visit to Australia and any reactions to the AUKUS announcement.

Finally,  Peter Frise suggests The Economic War in Ukraine a Year On – The energy war, politics & production , by Perun the Australian armchair military analyst with a head for strategy and logistics.
This was posted before Tuesday’s confrontation when Russian Warplane Hits American Drone Over Black Sea
As the bitter fight over Bakhmut rages, newly crowned peacemaker Xi is to visit Russia as early as next week.

Last week we claimed that If there is going to be a news bombshell, chances are that it will be on a Wednesday.
and were immediately contradicted by Friday’s announcement that Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore relations following talks held by China. Amidst some skepticism [ The Hollow Saudi-Iranian Agreement] about the durability of any agreement between the two countries, most analysts are concentrating on the expansion of China’s geopolitical strategy and the concurrent decline of the U.S. sphere of influence in the Middle East.
(See U.S.-China relations November 2022-)
And what part does the traditional U.S. support of Israel play in light of the Saudi Offer to Normalize Relations with Israel?
Riyadh’s ambitious request offers President Biden the chance to broker a dramatic agreement that would reshape Israel’s relationship with the most powerful Arab state. It could also fulfill his pledge to build on the Trump-era Abraham Accords, which brokered similar diplomatic deals between Israel and other Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. On the other hand, does Washington really want to cozy up to Israel these days?

Cleo Paskal writes about another aspect of China’s diplomatic offensive (pun intended) Micronesia’s President Writes Bombshell Letter on China’s ‘Political Warfare’
Outgoing President David Panuelo released a lengthy letter detailing Beijing’s efforts to bribe and bully Micronesian leaders – and exploring the possibility of recognizing Taiwan instead
David Panuelo, the president of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has written a letter to FSM leaders providing extraordinary details on Beijing’s political warfare and grey zone activity in the country – and outlining a potential agreement to switch FSM’s diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan.
Panuelo has a track record among world leaders of being exceptionally astute, open, and direct in his analysis of China’s behavior and actions.

Canada-China relations
In his most recent newsletter, Colin Robertson features his review of ‘Canada and China’: The Bilateral Journey, from Trudeau to Trudeau by B. Michael Frolic.
He reminds his readers of then-Global Affairs Minister Marc Garneau’s statement following the release of the Two Michaels: when it comes to normalizing relations Canada’s “eyes are wide open” and the government is now following a four-fold approach to China: “coexist,” “compete,” “co-operate,” and “challenge.”
Meanwhile The Liberal government is in serious crisis mode on Chinese interference and while “available information shows that both the prime minister and his staff were briefed, on multiple occasions, about indications of Chinese interference as it was happening in both the 2019 and 2021 election,”  in last week’s interview with Catherine Cullen former foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau says he was never briefed about allegations of Chinese interference in the 2021 election (emphasis added). Draw your own conclusions.
On Wednesday, the PM announced the appointment of former governor general David Johnston to probe the election meddling claims

Doug Sweet writes:
“I’m struck by the fact that three of my main media sources – NYT, WaPo and G&M – have all published stories in recent days about our collective unhappiness.
Here are the links:
What if climate change meant not doom — but abundance?
This Isn’t What Millennial Middle Age Was Supposed to Look Like
Learning to let light back in while still in the dark
Have you been feeling uneasy lately? It’s not just you – it’s me, too, and everyone we know. But we need to understand when we’re only terrorizing ourselves
“To be sure, there are plenty of reasons to not be smiling and chipper these days: Ukraine and other global centres of misery, including, increasingly, Israel and the Middle East; climate change and depressing weather patterns in many places; economic turbulence and uncertainty, including bank failures (how do those happen in 2023?); the cost of everything, including, especially, big-ticket items like houses and cars; a polarized social-media-driven politics that fosters fear and loathing in so many places, including here at home (just ask Mary Simon); and so on.”
[Add the uncertainties surrounding the impact of AI, Chatbots, etc. on our society, and the downsizing/disappearance of traditional media]
“As some of the authors point out, we often find ourselves falling short of where we expected to be at any given point in our grim, miserable lives. And even those of us who really have little to complain about still feel a greater sense of gloom and doom today than, say, a decade ago.
“So the big, big question is: how does a society like this fix itself? Aldous Huxley suggested good drugs might numb the pain, but I rather think we have to look elsewhere.”

Paul Wells’ long and gracious interview with Hon. Marc Garneau
The elements of Marc Garneau
He was trained to admit every error. Then he went into politics. A feature interview with the retiring MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount

Why the Debate Over Daylight Saving Time Rages On
We love maps and therefore highly recommend this argument against permanent daylight saving time.
It’s time to change our clocks, again. These maps reveal why making daylight saving time permanent is more controversial than it seems. Opinions vary based on people’s lifestyle, and where they live relative to their time zone boundaries. Maps from cartographer Andy Woodruff of sunrise and sunset times shed light on these geographic differences. His “Daylight Saving Time Gripe Assistant Tool” allows users to test out different outcomes depending on their preferences.

Two geese were lonely — so they were matched for a blind date
Frankie and Blossom had a lot in common. They’d both lost their longtime partners and were seeking companionship. They seemed to enjoy the same food and scenery. On their first date, they walked along a lake, greeted the locals and shared a meal. Two residents of nearby Iowa cities connected the widowed geese last month in hopes they’d become soul mates. So far, the arrangement has worked. Since that date, Blossom and Frankie haven’t left each other’s sides — and might even be in love, their matchmakers told The Washington Post.

“A film is a weapon on time delay” — an interview with “Navalny” director Daniel Roher

Saudi Arabia’s golf case threatens to spill kingdom secrets
A potential ruling in U.S. court would allow lawyers for the PGA Tour to question top officials about business secrets Saudi Arabia has held close, such as details of deal-making involving 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump…

Sunday March 19th
@ Ski Montcalm in Rawdon QC
3294 rue Park, Rawdon (Qc) J0K 1S0 (for your GPS)
First OuiCanSki Alpine event since the Pandemic.
There will be 90 participants.
Half newly-arrived Ukrainian war refugees. Half newly-arrived from other countries around the world.
If you would like to volunteer, OuiCanSki will need bodies to help
OuiCanski is looking for people who can SMILE A LOT!
In addition to smiling,
In the morning:
1) Greet participants as they come off the bus and might be scared/nervous
2) “hold participant hands” so people feel less afraid
3) help put on ski boots
4) help attach ski boots to the skis
5) work alongside the instructors on the magic carpet/baby hill as extra bodies to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable.
After lunch:
Volunteers will, in groups, help people who want to go back onto the slopes and improve their skills.
At the end of the day, everyone will be given a pair of Auclair gloves, maple syrup and Felix and Norton cookies.
Re: language. Most participants have been here for a couple of months and have a rudimentary knowledge of French or English. This should not be an issue for anyone. There will be enough speakers of many languages for everyone to understand.

NEXT WEEK: President Biden comes to Ottawa. He will address Parliament. Expect to hear about Haiti Biden’s visit is expected to focus heavily on Haiti, where Washington wants Canada to take the lead

Long reads
Two from GZERO:
Washington watches as Beijing bargains
Ian Bremmer’s wide-ranging take on the geopolitical ramifications of ​China’s expanding international diplomatic role “It’s in the US national interest to welcome others to broker peace where Americans can’t. But there will be areas where China’s diplomacy won’t make Washington happy. We’ll get a good look at that problem when Xi turns up in Moscow as an ostensible peacemaker, rather than as an enabler of the man who launched this war.
Given the Chinese president’s startlingly explicit recent criticism of the US and its role in the world, the most hawkish comments made by a Chinese leader about Washington in decades, it’s clear there will be plenty of instances where US and Chinese interests just don’t align.”
Gabrielle Debinski: ​Is China’s Saudi-Iran diplomatic deal for real?
After getting the cold shoulder from Biden, Riyadh’s message to Washington appears clear: We have other friends in high places. While that may be true, China is hardly in a position to provide the security guarantees that Washington does, including, ironically, protecting the passages that allow Saudi to export its oil to … China.

Max Boot: What the Neocons Got Wrong
Today, I am much more cognizant than I once was of the limitations of American power and hence much more skeptical of calls to promote democracy in China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, and—fill in the blank. The United States should continue to champion its ideals and call out human rights abuses, but it should do so with humility and not be ashamed to prioritize its own interests.
People Over Robots The Global Economy Needs Immigration Before Automation
Choosing devices over people is a mistake. It leads the world to miss out on the real economic and humanitarian gains that would come from letting people move to where they are needed instead of trying to invent machines that can supplant humans.
The dangerous myth of neutrality in tech, and how to fix it
When a machine learning algorithm or other advanced technological tool gives you an answer to a complicated problem, you tend to trust it. But should you?
Meredith Broussard, a data scientist, journalist and associate professor at New York University, explores this question in her new book, More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech. She argues that the ways we think about tech design create deep-seated problems, because of how these systems can end up reflecting preexisting real-world biases.
Women in politics: To run or not to run?
Despite progress towards gender equality, women’s representation in Canadian politics continues to fall short. With only 30 per cent of seats in the House of Commons held by women, there is still a long way to go for Parliament to capture the diversity of the population it represents.

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