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Tokyo Olympics: what are the limits of human performance? Podcast

Plus, the troubled 1920 Antwerp Olympics and the parallels they have for Tokyo. Listen to The Conversation Weekly.

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Are there limits to how much faster, higher or stronger an athlete can get? In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we talk to researchers in biomechanics, sports technology and psychology, to find out. And we hear about what happened at the troubled 1920 Antwerp Olympics, held in the wake of the first world war and the Spanish flu pandemic.

There’s something incredible about watching an athlete break a world record. They peak at exactly the right moment to go faster or further than anyone else ever has in their sport. But how long will records keep tumbling for? How will we know when we’ve reached the peak of what the human body can do?

We asked Anthony Blazevich, professor of biomechanics at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. While he admits there are physical limits to how fast a cyclist or a sprinter can go, he says we’re not there yet: “I think we’re decades away from the very greatest athletes that we will ever see on Earth.” He explains why, as well as how a person’s genes influence their athletic performance.

Technological innovation is likely to play a role in breaking records too, particularly when it comes to running. The advent of super shoes, pioneered by Nike, has seen world records broken across long-distance running events since 2017. Jonathan Taylor, a former professional runner and now a lecturer in sport and exercise at Teesside University in the UK, says: “On the roads, half-marathon and marathon world records have all been broken since 2017.” Taylor explains the science behind the super shoes and the regulations surrounding them, and what other tech could help improve running times even further.

But someone could have the perfect sprinter’s body, the perfect training schedule, and the latest super shoe, but if their head isn’t in the right place on the big day, none of that other stuff matters.

Nicole Forrester, a former Canadian Olympic high jumper, and now an assistant professor in the school of media at Ryerson University in Toronto, explains her research into why psychology – and confidence in particular – is key for an athlete to go from being good, to being great. “At the elite level, it’s impossible for an athlete to be a gold medallist in whatever discipline, without having without confidence,” she tells us.

A little note, we are not focusing on drugs in this episode, but you can read more analysis about the role of doping in sports here.

In our second story (33 minutes), we revisit the 1920 Antwerp Olympics held just after a fourth wave of the deadly Spanish flu pandemic. The first world war caused the cancellation of the 1916 games, scheduled to take place in Berlin. But soon after the armistice, the aristocratic members of the International Olympic Committee, including its founder, the French baron Pierre de Coubertin, were determined to push ahead with the 1920 games.

They chose Belgium, a country hit hard by the war, as host. Keith Rathbone, a senior lecturer in modern European history and sports history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, tells us what happened – and the parallels he sees with the Tokyo Olympics.

And Thabo Leshilo, politics editor at The Conversation in Johannesburg, recommends some analysis on the recent unrest in South Africa following the imprisonment of former president, Jacob Zuma (43m45).

This episode of The Conversation Weekly was produced by Mend Mariwany and Gemma Ware, with sound design by Eloise Stevens. Our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. You can find us on Twitter @TC_Audio, on Instagram at theconversationdotcom. or via email on podcast@theconversation.com. You can also sign up to The Conversation’s free daily email here.

News clips in this episode are from World Athletics, CBS News, INEOS 1:59 Challenge, BBC News and DW News.

You can listen to The Conversation Weekly via any of the apps listed above, download it directly via our RSS feed, or find out how else to listen here.

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Economics

Weekly investment update – Emerging markets miss out on equities and bonds surge

At first sight, the direction of financial markets in July might have come as a surprise: global equities posted their sixth consecutive monthly gain despite a steep drop in emerging market equities, while bond markets also recorded strong advances, again

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At first sight, the direction of financial markets in July might have come as a surprise: global equities posted their sixth consecutive monthly gain despite a steep drop in emerging market equities, while bond markets also recorded strong advances, again except for those in emerging markets.

Volatility spiked at times during July. Indeed, it hit its highest since early May and took equities from a historical peak to the lowest level in a month within the space of a week before they set another high towards month-end. Emerging market equities suffered from a persistent sell-off in Chinese stocks over the government’s regulatory clampdown on sectors ranging from ride hailing to gaming.

Economic growth – On an even keel  

While markets worried that the economic recovery had peaked, the latest purchasing managers’ data – seen as a leading indicator of the direction of growth – did not signal a sharp slowdown. China’s PMI for July, typically also a proxy for wider emerging market growth, fell by 0.5 of a percentage point from the previous month, indicating that company activity had slowed down. Remaining at above 50, the indicator also signalled that overall economic expansion overall is continuing.

In the eurozone, business activity rose at its fastest rate in just over 15 years in July. At 59.8 in July, after 58.3 in June, the services sector PMI was at its highest since June 2006 and consistent with a sharp rate of activity growth.

US GDP growth was 6.5% annualised in Q2 after 6.3% in Q1 and fell short of expectations. While inventories and net exports contracted, personal spending on consumption and non-residential private investment grew strongly. GDP was above its pre-Covid peak. Thanks to massive fiscal and monetary stimulus, it is now back on its pre-Covid trend.

Despite this economic progress, the US Federal Reserve has continued to indicate that there is still ‘some ground to cover’ before it will start reducing its pandemic support for the economy. Employment is still some seven million jobs below pre-Covid levels. Risks to the outlook remain, not least as Delta variant Covid cases rise.

Equities: Record-setting

July saw concern over slowing global growth offset by news of strong corporate earnings and still record-low interest rates. Markets were buoyed by optimism over the outlook for the US economy in the second half of 2021, even in the face of a pickup in Covid infections due to the more contagious Delta variant.

Some observers are pointing to the small chance of widespread lockdowns, while others have noted that although caseloads are rising rapidly, hospitalisations and fatalities are not.

US stocks recorded their sixth monthly rise in a row. The S&P 500 rose by more than 2%, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ and the Dow Jones added more than 1%.

There were all-time highs for European stocks as well, allowing them to record a sixth consecutive month of gains. Mid-caps, IT and dividend stocks led the market, while the energy sector lagged.

Asia takes a dip

In contrast, Asian equity indices had a poor month due to rising Covid cases across the region and concerns that a regulatory crackdown on tech businesses in China could slow already decelerating growth. This came on top of spreading Delta cases in the country and a softening land and property market. The developments clouded market sentiment across various regions.

Japanese equities lost more than 2% on concerns about another coronavirus wave and its impact on the economic recovery. Investor worries over global economic growth not only drove down US Treasury yields, but also the US dollar, allowing the yen to strengthen. The break in what had been the yen’s weakening trend also roiled Japanese markets.

Tepid domestic data, concerns about growth in China and volatile oil prices – Japan imports some three quarters of its oil consumption – also weighed on the market.

We believe there are reasons to be somewhat cautious on equities despite the good recent earnings momentum and the continued support from central bank pandemic measures. Recent recoveries followed sell-offs on a modest scale rather than sharp retrenchments and dips have not attracted many more new buyers or more widespread buying. Recent gains look vulnerable to us.

Bonds: The rally rolls on

Yields fell as investors sought shelter in haven assets such as US Treasuries and Bunds, extending the rally by a third month.

In the US market Treasury, 2- and 10-year yields notched their biggest one-month drops in over a year (March 2020), even as the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge rose sharply in June for the fourth big gain in a row. However, June’s increase was smaller than forecasters had expected.

Investors still appear to be siding with the Fed, accepting its view that higher inflation is due to supply bottlenecks and shortages and that these should ease off as the recovery matures. Ironically, the pressure should also ease as a growth slowdown tamps demand.

Over the month, long-dated debt yields fell to around five-month lows.

What’s up with real yields?

Some investors appear to worry that very low real yields — which measure the returns investors can expect once inflation is taken into account — are warning of a (coming) sharp slowdown in growth as the more contagious Delta variant spreads, turning businesses and consumers cautious again.

Others have argued that market pricing has become too pessimistic, pointing to the US economy’s strong rebound, even if growth has now peaked.

A further explanation could be that continued large-scale bond buying by central banks is still holding down yields across the board – even yields that are adjusted for inflation that has seen high readings in the US, the UK and Europe. An end to this form of support for economies does not appear to be in sight any time soon.

The Fed, which has bought about USD 120 billion of bonds monthly throughout the pandemic to pin down borrowing costs for households and businesses, reiterated after its latest policy meeting that the economy was making ‘progress’, but it remained too early to tighten monetary policy. Any tapering of bond purchases could be delayed by a growth slowdown, which should support markets.

Elsewhere in bond markets, high-yield credit in USD, EUR and GBP had another good month, extending their run of gains by a seventh month. UK inflation-linked bonds were in the lead in the fixed income segment.   

Gold was supported by the continued rise in inflation and the declines in real yields that have made it more attractive as an inflation hedge. Commodities more broadly were the best-performing asset class in July.

BOND MARKETS      
10-year yields   Monthly change 2021
US T-note 1.22 -25 31
JGB 0.02 -4 0
OAT -0.11 -23 23
Bund -0.46 -25 11
EQUITY MARKETS      
Euro Stoxx 50 4089.3 0.6% 15.1%
Stoxx Europe 50 3555.8 1.2% 14.4%
       
Dow Jones 30 34935.5 1.3% 14.1%
Nasdaq 14672.7 1.2% 13.8%
S&P 500 4395.3 2.3% 17.0%
       
Topix 1901.08 -2.2% 5.3%
       
MSCI all countries (*) 724.2 0.6% 12.1%
MSCI Emerging (*) 1277.8 -7.0% -1.0%
(*) in USD      

Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. The views expressed in this podcast do not in any way constitute investment advice.

The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions).

Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

Writen by Nathalie Benatia. The post Weekly investment update – Emerging markets miss out on equities and bonds surge appeared first on Investors' Corner - The official blog of BNP Paribas Asset Management, the sustainable investor for a changing world.

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Government

China’s “Social Credit” System Has Arrived In America

China’s "Social Credit" System Has Arrived In America

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

As a journalist in China, Liu Hu was no stranger to punishment.

For reporting on corruption among government officials, Hu was arrested,…

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China's "Social Credit" System Has Arrived In America

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

As a journalist in China, Liu Hu was no stranger to punishment.

For reporting on corruption among government officials, Hu was arrested, accused of “fabricating and spreading rumours,” and fined.

But then one day in 2017 he suddenly found that he was unable to buy a plane ticket. The system just rejected him. He also found he couldn’t purchase certain train tickets.

Then he discovered that he was unable to acquire a loan from any bank, and even forbidden from buying property at all.

Eventually Liu Hu discovered his name on a government “List of Dishonest Persons Subject to Enforcement.” And there was no obvious way to appeal the designation, or have his name removed from the list.

Hu was one of the early victims of the Chinese social credit system which blacklists citizens who are found to be untrustworthy— in the sole discretion of the Chinese government.

Others on the list have been prevented from renting certain apartments, holding particular jobs. They’ve even,had their bank accounts frozen.

Sometimes, all it took to become blacklisted was an accusation from a disgruntled business partner, or a social media post critical of the government.

It’s almost like an official version of the Twitter mob’s habit of “canceling” people for wrong-think.

The Twitter mob may be easy enough to ignore for most of us. But now it’s become more mainstream to purge US residents who have bad social credit.

For example, PayPal has announced an inquisition in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League to research funding for extremism on its payment platform.

“PayPal and ADL will focus on further uncovering and disrupting the financial pipelines that support extremist and hate movements. In addition to extremist and anti-government organizations, the initiative will focus on actors and networks spreading and profiting from all forms of hate and bigotry against any community.”

They are extremely vague about what exactly they will consider extremist content. But we have some idea…

The New York Times, for example, considers the word “freedom” to be an “anti-government slogan,” according to a recent article on the protests in Cuba.

Twitter considered it hate speech and banned a Spanish politician for Tweeting, “a man cannot get pregnant.”

If you protest lockdowns, you are an extremist putting lives in danger. If you burn down police stations and flip cars in the name of social justice, you are a mostly peaceful protester.

And these days, anything from the “Ok” hand gesture to cheese is considered racist.

PayPal is not going to keep this research to itself. It intends to be the tip of the social justice warrior’s spear:

“The intelligence gathered through this research initiative will be shared broadly across the financial industry and with policymakers and law enforcement.”

So the Big Banks will be able to use this same intelligence to blacklist “extremists” peddling “hate speech.”

Just last month Wells Fargo closed the accounts of two different conservative activists, without explanation. In 2019, JP Morgan Chase did the same thing.

And the CEO of the alternative social media website Gab had four banks in four weeks ban the company’s account, allegedly because the platform harbors “extremist content.”

All of this looks eerily like a back door for a Chinese-style ‘social credit system’ in the United States.

Vaccine passports are an obvious example.

If certain people have their way, the unvaccinated will be unable to board an airplane and banned from restaurants. Some people even say the unvaccinated should lose their health insurance for making an unpopular personal health decision.

During the pandemic, governments across the world set up reporting systems to rat out your neighbors for having family over for the holidays. Bad Citizen!

Vermont’s governor even asked students to snitch on their own parents who might have invited extended family over for Thanksgiving 2020.

And now the US government is leading the charge— with the help of the Big Tech companies, of course— by providing new, easy ways to report your ‘radical’ friends and family to the government.

What exactly constitutes radical? Anything they don’t want you to do, or believe.

This is the problem when just a handful of powerful centralized institutions controlling society.

And it is the reason a solid Plan B gives you options to ensure that you’re not entirely reliant on one country’s government, one country’s banking system, or one country’s public health policies.

I’m actually an optimist, and I have strong hope that humanity will overcome authoritarianism, as it always has before.

But hope is not a course of action. Optimism is not a viable strategy.

To truly become more secure from threats like America’s version of the Chinese social credit system, it’s important to give deliberate consideration to Plan B options that will put you in a position of strength.

*  *  *

On another note… We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That's why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here.

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/04/2021 - 19:00

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Stocks

Are These Penny Stocks on Your List of Small-Caps to Watch?

With penny stocks in focus, which small-caps are on your watchlist right now?
The post Are These Penny Stocks on Your List of Small-Caps to Watch? appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information | PennyStocks.com.

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3 Penny Stocks That Could Be Worth Adding to Your Watchlist

In August 2021, the options for finding penny stocks to buy are almost endless. While not all penny stocks will have forward value, finding the ones that will is the key to making money with small caps. And while it may seem difficult at first, with the right research and a commitment to getting a trading education, it can be much easier than previously imagined. Right now, there are a few external factors to consider before picking any penny stocks to watch. 

The first and most important is without a doubt the pandemic. While it seemed like we were on the way out only a few weeks ago, the rise of Delta variant-related cases has changed that thought train. Now, investors are searching once again for penny stocks that could benefit from the current state of the pandemic. This includes reopening penny stocks, biotech penny stocks, energy penny stocks, and more. 

[Read More] 3 Tech Penny Stocks To Watch In August 2021

And with this, traders should think outside of the box, considering how each company could benefit as case numbers hopefully begin to drop in the near future. While this is not the only factor impacting the stock market right now, it is arguably the most important. So, with all of this in mind, let’s take a look at three penny stocks that could be worth adding to your watchlist. 

3 Hot Penny Stocks For Your August Watchlist 

  1. Camber Energy Inc. (NYSE: CEI
  2. Hut 8 Mining Corp. (NASDAQ: HUT
  3. Origin Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: ORGN)

Camber Energy Inc. (NYSE: CEI)

Camber Energy Inc. is as its name suggests, an energy penny stock that has continued to show solid momentum throughout the past year or so. This company acquires and develops properties for oil and natural gas exploration. After acquiring properties, Camber then develops them for the purpose of selling crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. As of March 31st, 2020, the company had total estimated proved reserves of 133,442 million barrels of oil equivalent.

On July 30th, Viking Energy Group Inc. announced an additional equity investment in Camber Energy. Camber has purchased $11 million worth of common stock of Viking Energy Group. Viking also recently announced the closure of a $15 million equity transaction from an institutional investor. These funds are to be used on working capital, new acquisitions, and more.

“These transactions serve as significant catalysts for advancing Camber’s growth initiatives. The $15M commitment by the institutional investor is encouraging and seemingly reflective of the confidence in Camber and our operations both short and long term. We are excited about the Company’s future and remain focused on forging a path toward profitability and increasing shareholder value.”

The President and CEO of Camber, James Doris

With this new update in mind, will CEI stock make your penny stocks watchlist?

Hut 8 Mining Corp. (NASDAQ: HUT)

Hut 8 Mining Corp. is a penny stock that has been trending upwards recently. YTD, shares of HUT stock are up by almost 70%, and in the past five days alone, shares have shot up by over 10%. For some context, this company mines for cryptocurrency in the United States. Hut 8’s mining operations are primarily for Bitcoin, which is as you may know, the most valuable crypto out there. It’s worth noting that the company also owns 94 BlockBoxes in two cities located in Alberta, Canada.

Bitcoin mining companies have become very popular in the stock market over the last few years. Since HUT stock has gone public, it has seen tremendous growth in the market. In that time, the popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, DogeCoin, and Ethereum have all grown substantially. In addition, blockchain-based technology such as NFT’s have also seen increased investor attention.

[Read More] 4 Top Reddit Stocks To Watch As Robinhood (HOOD) Stock Breaks $80

On July 29th, the CEO of Hut 8 Mining Corp., Jaime Leverton, appeared on CEO Clips. CEO Clips is the largest library of publicly traded company CEO videos in the U.S. and Canada. These video profiles are shown on national TV and the top 15 financial sites. Leverton spoke on the company’s innovation in the Bitcoin space during her time on the show. This is the latest that has come from Hut 8 Mining Corp.

And while it may not seem that important, events like these help to offer both awareness of what the company is doing, and attention on what it could do in the future. For these reasons, it is always important to stay on top of announcements like this. With that in mind, will HUT stock be on your August small-caps watchlist?

Penny_Stocks_to_Watch_Hut_8_Mining_Corp._(HUT_Stock_Chart)

Origin Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: ORGN)

Origin Materials Inc. is a materials penny stock that only recently joined the NASDAQ via an SPAC deal. While prices have been down for ORGN, this is common following a listing on a new exchange. For some context, Origin Materials focuses on converting the carbon found in biomass into useful materials. This aligns with its goal of transitioning the world toward the use of sustainable materials for everything from car parts to tires and textiles. Its patented technology has an extremely broad range and it states that there is an almost $1 trillion addressable market for it.

On June 25th, the company announced the completion of its business combination with the SPAC, Artius Acquisition Inc. In other recent news, Origin will be releasing its second-quarter results for 2021 on Thursday, August 12th, 2021. This will then be followed by a conference call on the same day. 

As stated many times before, business updates, financial, and any upcoming news are always extremely important for investors to pay attention to. This is especially true when we consider a newly listed company such as Origin Materials.

In addition to this, from a broad perspective, we have witnessed solid bullish sentiment with ESG penny stocks. And as a clear part of this industry, ORGN stock could be worth paying attention to. So, considering this interesting prospect and its new status on the NASDAQ exchange, is ORGN worth adding to your list of penny stocks to watch?

Penny_Stocks_to_Watch_Origin_Materials_Inc_ORGN_Stock_Chart

Which Penny Stocks Are You Watching Right Now?

Finding the best penny stocks to buy all comes down to understanding where to look. By considering geopolitical events and the trajectory of the pandemic, investors can narrow down their watchlists to a few penny stocks that could be worth watching.

[Read More] Best Biotech Penny Stocks For Your Small-Caps Watchlist Right Now

And while this is not a be-all-end-all list, it should offer some inspiration. With all of this in mind, which penny stocks are you watching right now?

The post Are These Penny Stocks on Your List of Small-Caps to Watch? appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information | PennyStocks.com.

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