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September 2022 Monthly

The highlights of September include continued substantial rate hikes by the major central banks, save Japan. The Tories will pick a new leader, who will…

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The highlights of September include continued substantial rate hikes by the major central banks, save Japan. The Tories will pick a new leader, who will become the next prime minister of the UK. Italy looks determined to have a right-wing government. Sweden goes to the polls in mid-September. The price of defeating the Social Democrats, who have governed since 2014, maybe for the center-right to form an alliance with the nationalist Sweden Democrats. Like Brother of Italy, it has far-right and neo-fascist roots and has emerged as the largest opposition party. In Denmark,  the coalition government appears to be fracturing, and a snap election could be called. Also, the US midterm election in November begins coming into focus.  

Central banks have come under widespread criticism for letting inflation surge, not appreciating its persistence, and being generally too timid when they did move. However, they are demonstrating their resolve by hiking rates aggressively in the face of a dramatic slowdown, which many expect is a prelude to recession. When push comes to shove, central bankers are more worried about the ruinous effects of inflation than a cyclical economic downturn. Surveys suggest many businesses agree. For now, only the Bank of England forecasts a recession and sees the British economy contracting next year and in 2024.  

The market resisted the official attempt to tighten financial conditions. Between mid-June and mid-August, the S&P 500 rallied almost 19%. The 10-year US Treasury yield fell from 3.5% in mid-June to nearly 2.50% by early August. Europe's Stoxx 600 rose more than 11% from late June through mid-August, while the yield on the German 10-year Bund tumbled from above 1.90% in mid-June to less than 0.68% in early August.  

However, officials pushed back, and the markets capitulated in the second half of August. Stocks swooned, and yields surged. In the US, the market priced in a hike in Q1 23 and took out all but the slightest chance of a cut next year. Record inflation has spurred the swaps market tto price in a 75 bp ECB hike in early September. The Bank of Canada surprised with a 100 bp hike in July, and the market has discounted a 75 bp move for this month.

It is fashionable to play up the aggressively stimulative policies in explaining inflation. However, after the Great Financial Crisis, there were similar warnings about a price surge that never materialized. Even now, the relationship between inflation and the size of central bank balance sheets, the general government's deficit, and debts is not clear-cut. Note that Japan's July CPI stood at 2.6%, the US at 8.5%, and the eurozone at 9.1%, and this assumes that there is an agreed composition and weightings of CPI, which there isn't.  

The Bank of Japan's balance sheet is nearly 135% of GDP. The Fed's balance sheet is about 36.5% of GDP. The ECB's balance sheet is almost 69% of GDP. 

Japan's central government debt is more than 2.3-times larger than its GDP. In proportionate terms, US debt is less than half as much as Japan's. The eurozone's debt-to-GDP is a little more than 95%. 

Consider fiscal policy. The cumulative budget deficit in the US for 2020 and 2021 was a stunning 26.4% of GDP. The deficit in the eurozone was less than half the size (12.2%). Japan's was almost 16% of GDP.  

Inflation seemed over-determined in the sense of being driven by several forces, including energy, supply chain disruptions, and policy. In the US, each of these sources has eased. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil has fallen by around 20-25% since the June peak. The average price of retail gasoline in the US has eased consistently since mid-June, and at around $3.85 a gallon, it is nearly a quarter below the high water mark. Surveys show an easing in delivery times.  

The market is well aware of the Fed's rate hikes, the promise to deliver more,  and the pace of reducing the balance sheet to double to $95 bln a month starting in September. What may be less appreciated is the magnitude of the fiscal tightening. The US recorded a budget deficit of almost $58 billion in the first four months of the fiscal year. The deficit in the same 2021 period was nearly $834 bln. The median forecast in the most recent Bloomberg survey has the budget deficit falling to 4.5% of GDP this year from 10.8% in 2021. After the Global Financial Crisis, the US budget deficit peaked at 10.1% of GDP (2009), and it took four years for the deficit to fall below 5%.  

Europe is less fortunate. Since the end of June, the benchmark for natural gas has risen by more than 150%. Some estimates suggest this is the equivalent of $500 a barrel for oil. It rose almost 220% in the first half.   Europe continues to aid Ukraine and then feigns surprise that Russia seeks to use its energy supplies to punish it. Getting one's head around the surge in wholesale electricity prices is challenging. In Europe, which is best understood as the cost of hedging electricity rather than consumer prices. At the end of January, the price of a kilowatt hour of electricity in one year in Germany was 145 euros. In late August, it reached 985 euros before pulling back amid talk of a new EU initiative and gas reserves filling up faster than projected. In France, during the same period, one year forward, a kilowatt hour of electricity rose from about 153 euros to 1130 euros. It, too, fell into month's end. Many fear that Russian gas may be cut off completely, and this risk underscores the need for Europe to deliver, or prices will jump back. 

EU governments have already committed around 280 bln euros to blunting the impact of higher energy on households and businesses. There are numerous national efforts, from tax cuts to heating subsidies in Poland. The Greek government plans on covering almost 95% of the increase in power bills in September. Germany has cut the VAT on gas, introduced some conservation measures, and is preparing a third package of aid. In Italy, the leaders of the two largest parties differed over the imposition of price controls, with the Meloni of the Brothers of Italy arguing in favor of the Europe-wide cap on prices. At the same time, Letta, the head of the Democrat Party, advocated a national cap. Different types of rationing regimes have also been introduced sporadically to limit heating temperature in public buildings and their use of light. The EU will hold an emergency meeting of energy ministers on September 9 in a bid to cap gas prices and/or decouple electricity and gas prices.  

In late August, the UK regulator Ofgem lifted the country's electricity and natural gas cap by 80% to GBP3,549 (~$4200) as of October 1. This is almost three times higher than last winter. This will translate into a large jump in CPI and further exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis, which is spurring widespread labor unrest. Ofgem warned that prices could rise significantly next year. The cap will be reviewed again in January (every three months now, rather than six). The Bank of England had warned that inflation would peak at 13.2% in October, but the National Institute of Economic and Social Research warns that inflation may reach 14.2% in January. Some private economists' forecasts are above 18%. The government has already committed about GBP30 bln to help households, but that was back in May. The new UK government will be under pressure to act quickly. Truss, the likely next prime minister, has suggested boosting North Sea drilling and cutting the VAT. The aid may rival the GBP78 bln spent on the furlough and self-employed income support provided during the pandemic.  

Although the eurozone's economy expanded in the first and second quarters (0.5% and 0.6%, respectively), while the US contracted,  it is seen as more vulnerable. The cost-of-living squeeze is profound. For example, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which is commonplace in the US, is absent from most other countries, including the eurozone and UK. This means that higher interest rates feed through to the homeowner quicker.

Leave side Covid, the commodity shock in general and the energy shock in particular, and the heightened geopolitical tension over Taiwan, China has a different level of challenge. China's property market has been the engine of development and investment for many years.   The wheels came off last year, and the consequences are still rippling through the world's second-largest economy. China's economic managers have neither fixed the property sector nor found an alternative engine. They risk repeating the mistakes of the US and other countries when their property market bubble popped in 2007-2008, which is to under-appreciate the magnitude.  

Regulators, for example, the state-owned China Bond Insurance (CNI), have reportedly been instructed to guarantee onshore bond issues by a few private property developers. The CBI's equity capital at the end of June was almost CNY12.5 bln (~$1.85 bln), and it is estimated that developers have more than CNY300 bln of bonds (on- and offshore) that need to be refinanced. In late August, officials announced another CNY1 trillion. Some bolder and broader initiative seems politically necessary ahead of the Party Congress in October, which will be another blow to the political reforms of Deng Xiaoping that imposed an informal two-term limit on the President and Chairman of Everything.  

The extreme weather has aggravated economic challenges. In China, floods have crimped mining while droughts have cut into hydroelectric production. The rationing in some provinces may be another source of supply chain disruption. It could exacerbate the rise in food prices and inflation more generally. In Europe, the low level of the Rhine River is disrupting its use to transport goods, including coal and oil. Seasonal maintenance has curbed French nuclear output, and it finds itself in the usual situation of having to import electricity. In addition, the warm river water limits some nuclear generators' ability to cool their plants.  

In the US, while there are anecdotal reports of some water rationing, the crunch comes next year as the federal government declared a "Tier 2" crisis as of January 2023 for the Colorado River. The historic drought exacerbates the problem brewing from overuse and what some call "aridification."  The Colorado River and the country's two largest reservoirs (Lake Mead and Lake Powell) are shared by seven states, Mexico, 22 tribal nations, and around 40 mln people. As a result, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico will face reduced water access to the Colorado River. Arizona faces the largest cut. Starting in January, its allotment of the river water will be cut by a little more than a fifth.  

Meanwhile, reports suggest that more than 20 million American households (about 1 in 6) are behind on their utility bills. During the heart of the pandemic, moratoriums were imposed on shutting off power in many states, but these have mostly been wound down. Reports suggest some power companies are getting more aggressive about cutting off services. 

The combination of tighter Fed policy, a rising dollar, a weaker Chinese economy, and extreme weather have stressed many emerging market economies. Most emerging market currencies depreciated against the US dollar, and raising debt in the global capital markets has been too expensive for many. Leaving aside the Russian rouble, which is obviously in a unique situation, three of the following four best performing emerging market currencies in August were in Latin America:  Peruvian sol (~2.2%), Mexican peso (~1.3%), and Chilean peso (~0.25%).

Bannockburn's World Currency Index, a GDP-weighted basket of the currencies from the dozen largest economies, fell by nearly 1.4% in August, reflecting the US dollar's broad strength. That is the largest decline in four months and the second largest since March 2020. It finished August at its lowest level since May 2020 and does not appear to have bottomed. The extreme reading is consistent with other measures that show the US dollar is historically rich.  

According to the OECD's model of purchasing power parity, the euro has now eclipsed the yen as the most undervalued of the major currencies. It is nearly 42% below this metric of fair value compared with the yen's 38.2% undershoot. Sterling is third, almost 24% undervalued. These extreme readings can be expected to distort trade, some types of capital flows, and inflation over time. 


Dollar:   The dollar's downside correction that began in mid-July ran its course by mid-August, and the underlying uptrend resumed. Even though the US economy contracted in the first two quarters, Europe seems more vulnerable. Many European currencies fell to new multiyear lows against the dollar in the second half of August. Federal Reserve Chair Powell warned that the efforts to rein in US inflation will cause some pain to households and businesses. The strength of the US labor market is the key to the central bank's commitment to continue to raise interest rates. While weekly jobless claims have risen, the still subdued continuing claims suggest new positions have quickly been found. The recent JOLTS data on job openings surprised to the upside, and the June series was revised higher. Benchmark revisions found another 571k private sector jobs were created in the 12 months through March, about 8.5% more than previously estimated. Economists forecast the economy grew another 300k jobs in August. While below the 450k average through the first seven months of the year, it would likely be deemed sufficiently robust to allow the Fed to hike another 75 bp on September 21. The dollar's peak may not coincide with the peak in inflation, which looked likely before, but when the labor market shows signs of cracking, 

Euro:  The eurozone is severely challenged. The extreme weather exacerbates the energy crisis spurred by Russia's retaliation for Europe's support of Ukraine. The economy was set to slow in any event as the Covid stimulus faded. There are bound to be political consequences of the cost-of-living shock rippling through Europe. Italy's national election on September 25 will likely renew tensions with the EU over reforms necessary to free up the EU recovery funds. Although the ECB unveiled a new tool (Transmission Protection Instrument) to resist unwarranted increases in interest rate spreads, it is not clear that a right-wing government attempting to renegotiate the agreement with the EU will qualify to trigger it. The euro is vulnerable to increased tensions in the periphery. At the end of July, the swaps market had discounted about an 80% chance that the ECB would deliver another 50 bp hike at the September 8 meeting. However, the hawks have pressed their case, and the market appears to have a 75 bp hike entirely discounted and another 50 bp in October. According to the OECD's model of Purchasing Power Parity, the euro has not been this cheap in more than 30 years. Germany's discount on two-year borrowing has fallen to about 225 bp at the end of August from more than 275 bp at the start of the month. Despite the extreme valuation and the movement on the interest rate differential, which could spur a correction, with the Russian risk, and Italy's election looming, we suspect the risk is still to the euro's downside against the dollar.


(August 31 indicative closing prices, previous in parentheses)


Spot: $1.0055 ($1.0220)

Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast $1.0065 ($1.3155)

One-month forward $1.0025 ($1.0240)   One-month implied vol 10.3% (10.2%)    

 

 

Japanese Yen:  At the risk of oversimplifying, the dollar-yen exchange rate seems to be driven by US rates. The correlation between the differences in the exchange rate and the US 2-year yield rose to a five-month high of more than 0.72 over the last 30 sessions and about 0.70 for the 10-year yield. Japanese officials are more concerned about the pace of the move than the direction or level. Moreover, the yen's weakness seems to cause less consternation than the euro's weakness for the ECB., perhaps reflecting the different inflation experiences. Three-month implied volatility peaked in mid-June near 14% and slipped below 10% in mid-August, finishing the most near 11%. The BOJ has not had to defend its 0.25% 10-year yield cap since June, but rising global rates may force its hand again in September. With a running start, the dollar looks poised push above JPY140 to new 24-year highs.  

 

Spot: JPY138.90 (JPY133.25)    

Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast JPY137.30 (JPY134.15)     

One-month forward JPY138.55 (JPY133.00) One-month implied vol 11.1% (10.8%)

 

 

British Pound: Sterling's 4.65% decline in August brings the year-to-date depreciation to 14.2%. Among the majors, only the Japanese yen (~-17%) and the Swedish krona (~-15.3%) have declined more. As is well known, Japan has not raised rates at all. Sweden's Riksbank raised its repo rate by 75 bp this year (to 0.75%). The Bank of England has hiked twice as much this year (to 1.75%) and is set to lift the base rate another 50 bp in Sept. The swaps market looks for the UK policy rate to peak between 4.25%-4.50% around the middle of next year. The BOE had anticipated inflation to peak near 13.2% in October, but this seems optimistic. Private forecasts are beginning to talk about 15% or higher. Meanwhile, the UK will have its fourth prime minister in six years. Truss, the leading candidate, will inherit an economy on the verge of a five-quarter recession, forecast by the BOE, an energy crisis of historic proportions, and strike activity in numerous sectors. She is likely to respond with tax cuts and some spending increases, perhaps packed into an emergency budget before the end of the month. That policy mix of tighter monetary policy and looser fiscal policy tends to be supportive of the currency. However, we suspect sterling will first retest the 2020 Covid-spike low near $1.14. The current compromise over implementing the Northern Ireland protocol expires in mid-September. Truss threatens to invoke Article 16, allowing unilateral action and escalating tensions with the EU.  

 

Spot: $1.1625 ($1.2170)   

Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast $1.1700 ($1.21350) 

One-month forward $1.1630 ($1.2180)  One-month implied vol 11.8% (10.1%)

 

 

Canadian Dollar:  The key driver of the Canadian dollar's exchange rate is the general risk appetite, for which we have used the S&P 500 as a reasonable proxy. What appears to be a bear market rally in the S&P 500 from roughly mid-July to mid-August coincided with the appreciation of the Canadian dollar. The US dollar fell from near a two-year high (~CAD1.3225) on July 14 to a two-month low on August 11 (~CAD1.2730). As the S&P 500 retreated in the second half of August, the greenback recovered to challenge the CAD1.3150 area at the end of the month. The risk extends toward CAD1.3300-CAD1.3350 in the coming weeks. The Bank of Canada surprised the market with an aggressive 100 bp rate hike in mid-July, which may have helped support the Canadian dollar briefly. In the last three meetings of the year, the swaps market is pricing in 125 bp more of tightening. The next meeting is on September 7. The market toyed with the idea of another 100 bp hike but seems to have settled on 75 bp, which we think is more likely. In terms of macroeconomic data, Canada's relative outperformance in the first half already appears to be fading. Labor market improvement is stalling, but consumption remains strong, even if shifting away from durable goods. Headline CPI softened in July for the first time since June 2021. However, the underlying measures remain firm.


Spot: CAD1.3130 (CAD 1.2795) 

Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast CAD1.3070 (CAD1.2825)

One-month forward CAD1.3135 (CAD1.2800)    One-month implied vol 7.7% (7.6%) 

 

 

Australian Dollar:  After a belated start, the Reserve Bank of Australia has aggressively tightened its monetary policy. It delivered a 25 bp hike in May to begin the cycle and made its third consecutive half-point hike in August. The futures market is pricing in a 60% chance of another 50 bp hike at the September 6 meeting. Furthermore, it is pricing in another 100 bp of tightening in Q4. There are signs that the labor market may have turned, and the interest-rate-sensitive property market has rolled over and will squeeze the indebted households. House prices have fallen 2% in the three months through July, while prices in Sydney are off 5%. Debt-to-income in Australia is at a record of more than 187%. The Australian dollar tracked the broad pattern of the US dollar. It recorded a two-year low in mid-July near $0.6680 and peaked on August 11 at almost $0.7140, just shy of the 200-day moving average (~$0.7155). It has trended lower in the last couple of weeks and appears to be on its way to retest the mid-July low (~$0.6680). 

 

Spot: $0.6845 ($0.6985)     

Median Bloomberg One-Month Forecast $0.6890 ($0.6995)    

One-month forward $0.6850 ($0.6995)    One-month implied vol 12.3% (12.0%)   

 

 

Mexican Peso: Last month, the Mexican peso continued to perform well, but the weakness at the end of August will likely continue into the new month. The US dollar found support in the MXN19.80 area, around where it had bottomed in late June as well. A move above the MXN20.25-MXN20.27 area could signal a return to the MXN20.60, if not higher, in the coming weeks. The August high was near MXN20.8350, and the July high was slightly north of MXN21.00. The central bank delivered its second consecutive 75 bp rate hike in August to bring the target rate to 8.50%. It can be expected to match the Federal Reserve for the remainder of the year. The economy is slowing and the central bank cut its forecast for 2023 growth to 1.6% from 2.4%.  The trade deficit is widening as exports fall faster than imports. Worker remittances remain high, averaging nearly $5.2 bln a month from May through July compared with $4.5 bln in the same period last year. However, the trade balance has deteriorated quicker. The average monthly shortfall in May-July was $4.0 bln compared with less than $1 bln average in the year-ago period.


Spot: MXN20.15 (MXN20.37)  

Median Bloomberg One-Month Forecast MXN20.24 (MXN20.32)  

One-month forward MXN20.27 (MXN20.48) One-month implied vol 12.2% (11.9%)

  

 

Chinese Yuan:  Chinese officials seemed shocked by the economic weakness seen in the July reports, while the Covid-related lockdowns and energy rationing mean that the headwinds are strengthening. China has announced a lockdown of its fourth largest city at the start of September.  Officials shaved key rates, announced new spending/lending efforts, and allowed the yuan to weaken against the dollar. The People's Bank of China appears to signal that while a modest yuan depreciation is acceptable, it is not looking to repeat the six-week move through mid-May when the dollar appreciated 6.5% against the dollar. That said, we had thought that the CNY6.85 area would be sufficient, and although the dollar consolidated around there at the end of August, the risk may extend toward CNY7.0, which it has not seen since July 2020. Chinese officials are expected to provide more stimulus in Q4, including a possible cut in reserve requirements. In addition, news that an agreement that allowed US authorities to review the accounting at many Chinese companies listed on the US exchanges helped trigger a bounce in Chinese shares. Still, the underlying fundamentals are poor and ultimately could drag prices down, even with the additional fiscal and monetary support.  

 

Spot: CNY6.89 (CNY6.7445)

Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast CNY6.8660 (CNY6.7475) 

One-month forward CNY6.8930 (CNY6.7465)  One-month implied vol 5.6% (5.6%)  






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Government

Sinema out, Warnock in – Democrats narrowly control the Senate and Republicans the House, but gridlock won’t be the biggest problem for the new Congress

With Democrats running the Senate and the GOP in control of the House, there’s concern that Congress won’t get anything done. Turns out, unified government…

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Will gridlock mean the new Congress won't get anything done? mathisworks/Getty Images

In the wake of the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, a general sense of the political landscape in the upcoming 118th Congress has taken shape. With Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s announcement that she is leaving the Democratic Party and Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia’s runoff, Democrats will maintain control in the Senate, while Republicans will take control of the House.

Divided government sparks fears of gridlock, a legislative standstill. At face value, this makes sense. Given the different policy priorities of the two major parties, you might expect to see each party passing legislation out of the chamber it controls that has little chance in the other chamber - and thus no chance of becoming law.

Logically, this means a less productive legislature than one in which a single party with a unified agenda controls both chambers and the presidency.

But as a political scientist who studies partisanship, I believe that divided government – including during the upcoming legislative session – will not produce greatly different legislative results than unified government.

This isn’t exactly a hopeful story, though.

Not much passes

The first reason that divided government isn’t less productive than unified government is because unified government isn’t very productive in the first place. It’s really hard to get things done even when the same party controls both chambers and the presidency.

Most legislation only clears the Senate if it has the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Neither party has come close to a so-called “filibuster-proof majority” of 60 seats since 2010, when Democrats briefly held 60 seats prior to Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death and the election of Republican Scott Brown to that seat. Thus, even a unified government is likely only passing measures that have some degree of minority party support.

A bunch of tired-looking men in suits at a meeting.
It can take a lot of talking and listening to get legislation passed in Congress. Here, a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Nov. 30, 2022. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There are ways to force passage of legislation when one party doesn’t want it to pass. A process called budget reconciliation is not subject to filibuster, but it can only be used on provisions that deal directly with changes in revenues or spending. This is what happened with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which Democrats were able to pass via reconciliation, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.

Further, legislative success under unified government assumes that the majority party is united. There is no guarantee of this, as seen in 2017 when Republican senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined Democrats in blocking the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Between 2011 and 2020 the vast majority of new laws clearing the House – roughly 90% – and the Senate – roughly 75% –did so with a majority of minority party members in support.

Even landmark legislation usually has support from most minority party members in at least one chamber. For example, the substantial 2020 revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, as did the defense bill that created the Space Force.

A group of people going down the stairs of the US Capitol building on a sunny day.
While Congress is not that productive, sometimes it passes legislation. In 2020, lawmakers stream out of the Capitol after passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rewards – and risks – in crossing lines

On a more positive note, divided government may still provide opportunities for legislative breakthroughs.

The reason? The local orientation of Congress – lawmakers need to respond to their district’s voters.

In the House, according to a New York Times analysis, Republicans won 10 of the most competitive districts, including five in New York state alone. But the Cook Partisan Voting Index, which measures how strongly a district leans in favor of one party or the other, scores some of these districts as tilting Democratic – potentially giving these Republican members of Congress reason to reach across the aisle. The same goes for Democratic lawmakers whose districts tilt Republican.

But these kinds of mixed districts can also make it hard for sitting lawmakers to vote with their own party. While parties will work to keep a united front, research suggests that voters may punish those members of Congress who toe the party line too closely – providing a potential incentive for crossing party lines. Democratic legislators in Republican-leaning districts who voted for the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, or the stimulus bill, all Democratic Party priorities, suffered electorally in the 2010 midterms, receiving a lower vote share than those who voted against the legislation. In many cases, these lawmakers lost their seats.

Still, defections may be more likely given weak leadership, and currently it’s not certain who will fill the speaker’s role in the next Congress.

More consequential aspects

You don’t have to search for long to see examples of large legislative achievements produced during periods of divided government.

Divided government produced welfare reform in the 1990s and Social Security reform in the 1980s. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed a Republican Senate and a Democratic House overwhelmingly in March 2020.

Certainly, there have been times during which unified governments have pushed legislation through with little minority party support. The Affordable Care Act and the Trump tax cuts were among them. But bipartisan legislative victories are much more common.

There are probably more consequential aspects to the GOP’s takeover of the House of Representatives than concerns over legislative gridlock.

House Republicans have already talked about using the investigatory powers of the chamber to investigate everyone from Hunter Biden to Anthony Fauci. A debt ceiling showdown, in which the GOP might use the threat of default on the U.S. government’s debt to force spending cuts, looms for what feels like the dozenth time in the past several years.

Matt Harris does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Team undertakes study of two-dimensional transition metal chalcogenides

Two-dimensional materials, like transition metal dichalcogenide, have applications in public health because of their large surface area and high surface…

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Two-dimensional materials, like transition metal dichalcogenide, have applications in public health because of their large surface area and high surface sensitivities, along with their unique electrical, optical, and electrochemical properties. A research team has undertaken a review study of methods used to modulate the properties of two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD). These methods have important biomedical applications, including biosensing.

Credit: Nano Research Energy, Tsinghua University Press

Two-dimensional materials, like transition metal dichalcogenide, have applications in public health because of their large surface area and high surface sensitivities, along with their unique electrical, optical, and electrochemical properties. A research team has undertaken a review study of methods used to modulate the properties of two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD). These methods have important biomedical applications, including biosensing.

 

The team’s work is published in the journal Nano Research Energy on November 23, 2022.

 

The team’s goal is to present a comprehensive summarization of this promising field and show challenges and opportunities available in this research area. “In this review, we focus on the state-of-the-art methods to modulate properties of two-dimensional TMD and their applications in biosensing. In particular, we thoroughly discuss the structure, intrinsic properties, property modulation methods, and biosensing applications of TMD,” said Yu Lei, an assistant professor at the Institute of Materials Research, Shenzhen International Graduate School, Tsinghua University.

 

Since graphene was discovered in 2004, two-dimensional materials, such as TMD, have attracted significant attention. Because of its unique properties, two-dimensional TMD can serve as the atomically thin platforms for energy storage and conversion, photoelectric conversion, catalysis, and biosensing. TMD also displays a wide band structure and has unusual optical properties. Yet another benefit of two-dimensional TMD is that it can be produced in large quantities at a low cost.

 

In public health, reliable and affordable in vitro and in vivo detection of biomolecules is essential for disease prevention and diagnosis. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have suffered not only from the physical disease, but also from the psychological problems related to extensive exposure to stress. Extensive stress can result in abnormal levels in biomarkers such as serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, and epinephrine. So, it is essential that scientists find non-invasive ways to monitor these biomarkers in body fluids, such as sweat, tears, and saliva. In order for health care professionals to quickly and accurately assess a person’s stress and diagnose psychological disease, biosensors are of significant importance in the diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and forensic industries.

 

The team reviewed the use of two-dimensional TMD as the functional material for biosensing, the approaches to modulate the properties of TMD, and different types of TMD-based biosensors including electric, optical, and electrochemical sensors. “Public health study is always a major task in preventing, diagnosing, and fighting off the diseases. Developing ultrasensitive and selective biosensors is critical for diseases prevention and diagnosing,” said Bilu Liu, an associate professor and a principal investigator at Shenzhen Geim Graphene Center, Shenzhen International Graduate School, Tsinghua University.

 

Two-dimensional TMD is a very sensitive platform for biosensing. These two-dimensional TMD based electrical/optical/electrochemical sensors have been readily used for biosensors ranging from small ions and molecules, such as Ca2+, H+, H2O2, NO2, NH3, to biomolecules such as dopamine and cortisol, that are related to central nervous disease, and all the way to molecule complexities, such as bacteria, virus, and protein.

 

The research team determined that despite the remarkable potentials, many challenges related to TMD-based biosensors still need to be solved before they can make a real impact. They suggest several possible research directions. The team recommends that the feedback loop assisted by machine learning be used to reduce the testing time needed to build the database needed for finding the proper biomolecules and TMD pairs. Their second recommendation is the use of a feedback loop assisted by machine learning to achieve the on-demand property modulation and biomolecules/TMD database. Knowing that TMD-based composites exhibit excellent performance when constructed into devices, their third recommendation is that surface modifications, such as defects and vacancies, be adopted to improve the activity of the TMD-based composites. Their last recommendation is that low-cost manufacturing methods at low temperature be developed to prepare TMD. The current chemical vapor deposition method used to prepare TMD can lead to cracks and wrinkles. A low-cost, low-temperature method would improve the quality of the films. “As the key technical issues are solved, the devices based on two-dimensional TMD will be the overarching candidates for the new healthcare technologies,” said Lei.

 

The Tsinghua University team includes Yichao Bai and Linxuan Sun, and Yu Lei from the Institute of Materials Research, Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School and the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Thermal Management Engineering and Materials, Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School; along with Qiangmin Yu and Bilu Liu from the Institute of Materials Research, Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School, and the Shenzhen Geim Graphene Center, Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute & Institute of Materials Research, Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School.

 

This research is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, Guangdong Innovative and Entrepreneurial Research Team Program, the Shenzhen Basic Research Project, the Scientific Research Start-up Funds at Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School, and Shenzhen Basic Research Project.

 

##

 

About Nano Research Energy 

 

Nano Research Energy is launched by Tsinghua University Press, aiming at being an international, open-access and interdisciplinary journal. We will publish research on cutting-edge advanced nanomaterials and nanotechnology for energy. It is dedicated to exploring various aspects of energy-related research that utilizes nanomaterials and nanotechnology, including but not limited to energy generation, conversion, storage, conservation, clean energy, etc. Nano Research Energy will publish four types of manuscripts, that is, Communications, Research Articles, Reviews, and Perspectives in an open-access form.

 

About SciOpen 

 

SciOpen is a professional open access resource for discovery of scientific and technical content published by the Tsinghua University Press and its publishing partners, providing the scholarly publishing community with innovative technology and market-leading capabilities. SciOpen provides end-to-end services across manuscript submission, peer review, content hosting, analytics, and identity management and expert advice to ensure each journal’s development by offering a range of options across all functions as Journal Layout, Production Services, Editorial Services, Marketing and Promotions, Online Functionality, etc. By digitalizing the publishing process, SciOpen widens the reach, deepens the impact, and accelerates the exchange of ideas.

 


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Climate-Change Lockdowns? Yup, They Are Actually Going There…

Climate-Change Lockdowns? Yup, They Are Actually Going There…

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

I suppose…

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Climate-Change Lockdowns? Yup, They Are Actually Going There...

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

I suppose that we should have known that this was inevitable.  After establishing a precedent during the pandemic, now the elite apparently intend to impose lockdowns for other reasons as well.  What I have detailed in this article is extremely alarming, and I hope that you will share it with everyone that you can.  Climate change lockdowns are here, and if people don’t respond very strongly to this it is likely that we will soon see similar measures implemented all over the western world.  The elite have always promised to do “whatever it takes” to fight climate change, and now we are finding out that they weren’t kidding.

Over in the UK, residents of Oxfordshire will now need a special permit to go from one “zone” of the city to another.  But even if you have the permit, you will still only be allowed to go from one zone to another “a maximum of 100 days per year”

Oxfordshire County Council yesterday approved plans to lock residents into one of six zones to ‘save the planet’ from global warming. The latest stage in the ’15 minute city’ agenda is to place electronic gates on key roads in and out of the city, confining residents to their own neighbourhoods.

Under the new scheme if residents want to leave their zone they will need permission from the Council who gets to decide who is worthy of freedom and who isn’t. Under the new scheme residents will be allowed to leave their zone a maximum of 100 days per year, but in order to even gain this every resident will have to register their car details with the council who will then track their movements via smart cameras round the city.

Are residents of Oxfordshire actually going to put up with this?

[ZH: Paul Joseph Watson notes that the local authorities in Oxford tried to ‘fact check’ the article claiming they’re imposing de facto ‘climate lockdowns’, but ended basically admitting that’s exactly what they’re doing...]

I never thought that we would actually see this sort of a thing get implemented in the western world, but here we are.

Of course there are a few people that are loudly objecting to this new plan, but one Oxfordshire official is pledging that “the controversial plan would go ahead whether people liked it or not”.

Ouch.

Meanwhile, France has decided to completely ban certain short-haul flights in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions…

France can now make you train rather than plane.

The European Commission (EC) has given French officials the green light to ban select domestic flights if the route in question can be completed via train in under two and a half hours.

The plan was first proposed in 2021 as a means to reduce carbon emissions. It originally called for a ban on eight short-haul flights, but the EC has only agreed to nix three that have quick, easy rail alternatives with several direct connections each way every day.

This is nuts.

But if the French public accepts these new restrictions, similar bans will inevitably be coming to other EU nations.

In the Netherlands, the government is actually going to be buying and shutting down approximately 3,000 farms in order to “reduce its nitrogen pollution”

The Dutch government is planning to purchase and then close down up to 3,000 farms in an effort to comply with a European Union environmental mandate to slash emissions, according to reports.

Farmers in the Netherlands will be offered “well over” the worth of their farm in an effort to take up the offer voluntarily, The Telegraph reported. The country is attempting to reduce its nitrogen pollution and will make the purchases if not enough farmers accept buyouts.

“There is no better offer coming,” Christianne van der Wal, nitrogen minister, told the Dutch parliament on Friday.

This is literally suicidal.

We are in the beginning stages of an unprecedented global food crisis, and the Dutch government has decided that now is the time to shut down thousands of farms?

I don’t even have the words to describe how foolish this is.

Speaking of suicide, Canada has found a way to get people to stop emitting any carbon at all once their usefulness is over.  Assisted suicide has become quite popular among the Canadians, and the number of people choosing that option keeps setting new records year after year

Last year, more than 10,000 people in Canada – astonishingly that’s over three percent of all deaths there – ended their lives via euthanasia, an increase of a third on the previous year. And it’s likely to keep rising: next year, Canada is set to allow people to die exclusively for mental health reasons.

If you are feeling depressed, Canada has a solution for that.

And if you are physically disabled, Canada has a solution for that too

Only last week, a jaw-dropping story emerged of how, five years into an infuriating battle to obtain a stairlift for her home, Canadian army veteran and Paralympian Christine Gauthier was offered an extraordinary alternative.

A Canadian official told her in 2019 that if her life was so difficult and she so ‘desperate’, the government would help her to kill herself. ‘I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAiD, medical assistance in dying,’ the paraplegic ex-army corporal testified to Canadian MPs.

“Medical assistance in dying” sounds so clinical.

But ultimately it is the greatest lockdown of all.

Because once you stop breathing, you won’t be able to commit any more “climate sins”.

All over the western world, authoritarianism is growing at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking.

If they can severely restrict travel and shut down farms today, what sort of tyranny will we see in the future?

Sadly, most people in the general population still do not understand what is happening.

Hopefully they will wake up before it is too late.

*  *  *

It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “End Times” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/09/2022 - 06:30

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