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Things Are Never As Bad As You Fear… Are They?

Things Are Never As Bad As You Fear… Are They?

Authored by Bill Blain via,

“If you are feeling depressed, then stop…



Things Are Never As Bad As You Fear... Are They?

Authored by Bill Blain via,

“If you are feeling depressed, then stop reading the Daily Mail. It will most certainly help.”

The news looks bleak. A cataclysm of gloom is set to sink Europe and the UK – but, maybe things aren’t as bad as we think. Good news and a realisation things can get better could stabilize sentiment, and build a recovery base. Maybe?

Perhaps the most important of Blain’s many Market Mantras is: “Things are never as bad as we fear, but seldom as good as we hope.” 

Try to remember it as you read about the multiple challenges facing Occidental Economies:

  • The Ukraine War: Uncertainty on what may happen next and how it could further escalate, and otherwise remain a long-term barrier to growth.

  • The Energy Spike and Energy Insecurity: A massive lightbulb moment for governments, with the threat of economies being destroyed by the rise in energy costs. Power outages and energy rationing are set to cripple Europe – apparently.

  • Embedded inflation and rising social discontent on the back of wage inflationary pressures: increasing discord is expected across Europe

  • Ongoing Supply Chain disorder: China no longer exporting deflation through cheap goods, while key strategic products (including chips) remain scarce.

  • Geopolitical Instability changing established relationships: the support the West traditionally assumed from the Gulf and Asia is no longer apparent as China eyes Taiwan and digests Hong Kong.

  • Political Instability: Populist politics in the US, UK and Europe raise increasing doubts on currencies, bond markets and economic growth. Italy’s next government will call for Europe to reach an accommodation with Russia

Plus, all the usual stuff:

  • Unravelling the massive stock and bond market distortions following 14 years of monetary experimentation and mispriced money

  • Inflation, inflation and inflation…

  • Consumer Cost of Living Crisis hitting debt sustainability.

  • Central Banks hiking interest rates to combat inflation – even as governments are splurging on fiscal rescues.

  • The rising risk of recession and stagflation.

It’s not a pretty picture out there…

But maybe we are being unduly gloomy?

Get over it. Things are never as bad as we fear! Markets, expectations and outcomes evolve – and when things look bleakest, they often tend to move in a more generally positive direction than feared. (True – sometimes they get worse…)

The thing is… we like to scare ourselves.

Any newspaper editor will confirm horror headlines garner most hits, and sell more subscriptions than good news. Negative headlines drive and magnify negative reactions, and curiously are easier to accept than good news. We are biased to always assume the worst – which is why if you put 5 market talking-heads in a room to talk about growth, they will always agree the world is about to end in a cataclysm – which never happens. (In my experience..)

If you are feeling particularly nervous – then whatever you do, not read the new Nouriel Roubini end-of-everything book: “MegaThreats: Ten Dangerous Trends that Imperil our Future”. It’s classic Econo-dysto-Porn. It is apparently so miserable it will sell millions of copies. You would never have heard of Roubini if his books were about how successful the US economy is – he would be correct, but who wants to read about it?

Dr Doom appeals to the current doom and gloom zeitgeist. He called the 2008 crisis. Now he says were heading for the ultimate economic disaster; “a great stagflation that will make the 1970s look moderate.”. Oh dear. I guess I better get the bunker ready. The “preppers” who blame the Davos Cabal and other rich conspiracy theories for all our woes, will say he underestimates the coming “great reset”. Whacky populist Politicians will use it to argue for economic isolationism. A chum was joking the right portfolio composition now is 40% Gold, 40% Tinned Goods, and 20% Small Arms.

If you are of a nervous disposition, don’t buy the Roubini (actually, it’s not published till October..) He will upset you with his recipe for debt crises, geopolitical tension, serial pandemics, migration, climate change and host of other nasty things… They will only upset you further. That other voice of professional global economic misery, Nassim Taleb says: “I have never read a more lucid and nuanced account of our financial condition.”

Again, I say… Relax. Get over it.

Things are not going to be easy… but the end of the World is a long, long way away…

So even though Liz Truss has packed her cabinet with yes-men, and binned anyone who even shook Rishi Sunak’s hand, while Europe is scrabbling to find ways to bailout consumer and small business energy bills through windfall taxes and unravelling renewable pricing agreements…. things could yet surprise us to the upside.

I’m serious. When everyone else is fearful, when everyone else is out… that’s the time to be brave. (Or to put it another way – if we’re doomed.. go out with a boom!)

Humanity is generally more inventive and innovative than we give ourselves credit for. Give us a chance and we tend to find solutions. (Even Americans will eventually stumble on the right solution – after first exhausting every other possibility!) The work-around, muddle-through process works best in market economies, rather than in stultified command economies – meaning Russia and China are set to suffer most, a lesson their new friends in the Gulf, Asia and Latin America will come to rue.

Long term I have zero doubt the West will emerge from the current crisis in stronger shape! We will definitely emerge stronger than either Russia or China. Tech, health and welfare are going to be so much better here. Demographics and taxes – the two most powerful forces in the galaxy – will ensure it. The Occident is ageing, but wealthy (and marginally more healthy!) Russia is poor and old. China got old without getting rich.

The cycle of despair can turn very quickly – one piece of good news can trigger a chain reaction of positivity.

Let’s start with the Ukraine war. It’s a desperate bloody affair for Ukraine, and even more so for Russia. The losses, and the unsustainability of the logistical inventories on both sides, mean a peace is likely. An increasing number of analysts believe Putin will shortly announce he has won, and offer a peace based on the current front lines. He will put the onus on Europe to pressure Ukraine to accept by playing his energy card.

Matteo Salvin of the Italian League, who will be in the next Italian government, has called for an end to Russian sanctions across Europe, to support Italian consumers. Italy is demanding Europe reopens the gas taps by kowtowing to Moscow.

But, much as it will pain the Ukrainian people, we’d be wrong to accept. Winning is important. Whatever the Russian troll-bots would have you believe, there is no moral equivalency between Ukraine and Putin. Letting Putin win would be appeasement, and just be a problem delayed. Russia is the aggressor and must be seen to lose and lose badly. We don’t give folk the credit for understanding that.

It can happen. Europe’s energy situation is not nearly as bad as we think. We don’t need to be beholden to Russia. Putin’s big bluff is founded on persuading us he holds all the keys and has an absolute lock on our energy. He does not. Once we realise Russia can lose, the mood changes.

The latest numbers show Europe’s gas reserve tanks are ahead of the expected curve – the winter storage facilities will soon by 90% full, even with NordStream 1 pipeline remaining shut and not a molecule more from Russia. Even Germany has been able to replenish stocks faster than expected. It’s been costly. Europe has paid top dollar – filling the tanks by buying at the top of a highly distorted market. Europe has paid the cost – now we have to figure out how we afford it without bankrupting SMEs, beggaring consumers and destroying our economies. The blueprints on how to do so are still there from the Pandemic.

Even though I gleefully read that JP Morgan is going to repatriate bank staff from Frankfurt to London because of power cut risks, if we get a normal European winter (as opposed to a very cold one) Europe, including Germany, will avoid power cuts. Things are not as bleak as we fear.

Meanwhile, European businesses are successfully diversifying their energy and raw material supply chains – I was hearing how BASF is keeping fertiliser markets open by importing ammonia from the USA, which ends up being cheaper overall, is less energy dependent, and has the advantage of taking fertiliser security out of Russia or Chinese control. That’s just one single example of how the entire Occidental economy is cutting its reliance on the outside world, and making the group economy of the Democratic West stronger.

Liz Truss is going to announce an imperfect £100-150 bln bailout package. It shows UK government can deliver; biting the bullet to absorb the massive increases in consumer and SME energy bills. It will keep inflation closer to 10% than Goldman’s 22% horror snapshot.

Solving for Europe is not without challenge. Bailing out consumers and SMEs is not so simple – although the EU is talking windfall taxes. How the EU and EBC hold together the Euro in the wake of growing social unrest, recession, job cuts, denied wage demands, the apparent income inequality in society, and the cost of living crisis, is going to spawn a host of naysayers saying the Euro will collapse.

But here’s the thing. It’s easy to explain how Euro will disappear in a puff of logic – but historically that’s not what happens. It’s more likely to surprise its detractors by surviving – external pressures pulling it together rather than apart. Europe is not stupid – they have seen what Brexit has done – and is doing – to the UK.

How quickly market sentiment shifts depends on how quickly we can bring down inflation. That’s a problem for smart governments and aware Central Banks to coordinate. In Europe, the big fear is the new right-wing (and probably kompromated) Italian government will cave, and demand Europe surrenders also. Europe might do best to simply sling them out – why not?

Rather than the end of the World, what we have is a crisis. It doesn’t necessarily end the way we fear most. Yes, there will be problems, unrest and instability, but the reality is better than we think: Europe will survive the winter. That’s a good starting point.

The UK will stagger through yet another likely Tory embarrassment till the next election, and idiots will continue to tell me anything is better than a Labour government. No its not – a change will do us all good. We will survive the winter, and while inflation still has to work its way through the economy – it will not be the end of everything.

Head to the grindstone, keep the portfolios under review. Crisis is coming, but it’s never the end of the World – well, not yet anyway.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/07/2022 - 08:30

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Expanding the arsenal of drugs against COVID-19

Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have developed novel compounds with potential as drug treatments for COVID-19 by modifying…



Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have developed novel compounds with potential as drug treatments for COVID-19 by modifying a previous “hit” compound that was active against the SARS-CoV virus

Credit: Department of Medicinal Chemistry, TMDU

Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have developed novel compounds with potential as drug treatments for COVID-19 by modifying a previous “hit” compound that was active against the SARS-CoV virus

Tokyo, Japan – The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been devastating the entire world. While the vaccination program is advancing, drug treatments for COVID-19 are still highly important for those who become infected. Now, a team at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU), National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM), Tohoku University, NCI/NIH, and Kumamoto University has designed and synthesized compounds that have the potential to be novel drugs targeting SARS-CoV-2.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus contains an enzyme called the “main protease”, or Mpro, that cleaves other proteins encoded in the SARS-CoV-2 genome as part of viral activity and replication. Mpro is an important and appealing target for drugs treating COVID-19 because it is both essential for viral replication and very different from any human molecules, so drugs targeting Mpro are likely to have few side effects and be very effective.

When testing a panel of compounds known to have inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV, the virus responsible for the 2002 SARS outbreak, the team identified a compound named 5h/YH-53 that showed some activity inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, but was inefficient and unstable. Therefore, they used 5h as a starting point to develop other compounds with increased efficiency and stability. “Our strategy involved introducing fluorine atoms into the part of the molecule responsible for inhibiting Mpro to increase its binding affinity, as well as replacing a bond within 5h that is easily broken down by the liver with a different structure to increase biostability,” explains lead author Kohei Tsuji.

“Of the compounds we developed, compound 3 showed high potency and was able to block SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro without any viral breakthrough,” explains senior author Hirokazu Tamamura. “Compound 4, a derivative of compound 3 in which an easily broken-down amide bond had been replaced with a stable thioamide bond, also showed remarkable anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity.” Although compound 4 had lower Mpro inhibitory activity than compound 3, the increased stability meant that the overall activity of compound 4 was comparable to that of compound 3.

When they tested these novel compounds on a variety of strains of SARS-CoV-2, compound 3 was as effective on mutant strains of the virus as on the ancestral Wuhan strain. Additionally, neither compound 3 or 4 showed any toxicity to cultured cells. These data suggest that these compounds show high potential as drug treatments for COVID-19.

A repertory of drug choice is important for treating disease, and so the development of efficient drugs to target the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is highly important. This work identifies two compounds as potential drugs, and further development of these compounds continues. It also proves the principle that easily broken-down amide bonds can be replaced with thioamide bonds in drug development to increase the stability of the resulting compounds. Taken together, this is an important advance in both the wider drug development field as well as for drugs to treat COVID-19.


The article, “Potent and Biostable Inhibitors of the Main Protease of SARS-CoV-2”, was published in iScience at DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105365

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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…



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…



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”.


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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