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Will Lagarde and Mnuchin Push Gold Higher?

Will Lagarde and Mnuchin Push Gold Higher?

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Gold Higher

The ECB held its monetary policy stance steady. Meanwhile, the U.S. fiscal deficit reached its all-time high. What does it all mean for the gold prices?

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On Thursday, the members of the Governing Council of the ECB met together to undertake monetary policy decisions. They decided to leave the interest rates and the conditions of the quantitative easing unchanged. This lack of action was widely expected, so attention shifted to the fresh economic projections and the Lagarde’s press conference. Importantly, the ECB lifted its growth forecast for 2020 from -8.7 to ‘just’ -8.0 percent. With inflation projections almost unchanged, the recent monetary policy statement sounded a little bit more hawkish than the previous one.

However, the most important part was what Lagarde said during her press conference. Or, actually, what she did not say. First, she did not provide any clues about the expansion or extension of the monetary stimulus. Lack of any dovish hints is supportive for the euro and the price of gold – against the U.S. dollar.

Second, she did not say that the recent appreciation of the euro constituted a problem. Lagarde emphasized that the ECB is not targeting exchange rates as it is not a monetary policy tool. So, for the Governing Council, the recent euro’s rise was generally in line with economic fundamentals. Not surprisingly, after Lagarde’s comments that suggested lack of any aggressive measures in order to weaken the bloc’s common currency, traders took the euro higher. The appreciation of the euro against greenback is supportive for the gold prices which like the weakening dollar.

Implications for Gold Prices

Hence, the latest ECB meeting strengthened the euro against the dollar, which should be welcomed by gold bulls. However, it would be too early that they open a bottle of champagne, as inflation in the eurozone has turned negative, falling from 0.4 percent in July to -0.2 in August, according to Eurostat’s flash estimate. With deflation in the euro area, the additional monetary measures are just a matter of time. Moreover, there is resurgence in coronavirus infection in many European countries, which may decrease investor and consumer confidence and hamper the economic recovery. In such circumstances, it is more than certain than Lagarde will ease her stance. It’s bad news for gold, as the divergence between the monetary policies in the U.S. and the eurozone will increase, supporting the U.S. dollar against the euro and gold. As one can see, the divergence in the Treasury yields for the United States and Germany has already bottomed out in April and stabilized somewhat since then.

Gold Prices

However, last week Treasury Department published an interesting report that could raise investors’ doubts about the strength of the U.S. dollar. It turned out that the U.S. federal budget deficit was above $3 trillion for the first 11 months of fiscal year of 2020, more than double the deficit for full 2019. And with one month to go, September, the fiscal deficit could go even higher, possibly to about $3.3 trillion. In August alone, the U.S. government created debt worth $200 million, as the chart below shows.

Gold Prices

Curiously enough, the government’s interest cost to finance is down 10 percent this year, despite the enormous increase in federal debt. Long live low interest rates! Does anyone still have any doubts about the true motives of the ultra easy monetary policy? The very low interest rates do not help anyone but the government! As long as they are low, both Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and gold are happy.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD

Sunshine Profits: Analysis. Care. Profits.

The post Will Lagarde and Mnuchin Push Gold Higher? appeared first on ValueWalk.

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Five tips for a sustainable Halloween

Halloween is a sustainability nightmare – but it doesn’t have to be.

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More than 8 million pumpkins are thrown away over Halloween each year. Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Halloween is the spookiest time of the year. However, as you prepare to send shivers down the spines of your friends and family, you may not have given much thought to the environmental footprint that this holiday conceals.

In the UK alone, more than 8 million pumpkins are thrown away each year over Halloween. This amounts to about 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins going to waste that would have been eaten.

But that’s not the extent of it. Halloween has evolved into a commercial money-spinner, with store shelves brimming with plastic costumes, electronic and disposable decorations, and bags of plastic-wrapped sweets – most of which will eventually find their way into landfills after the festivities end.

If you’re looking to partake in the spooky festivities of Halloween, here are five tips to ensure you can give people a good fright without harming the environment.

1. What to do with your pumpkin

Pumpkin carving isn’t just a problem because of food waste, a huge amount of resources – including fuel for lorries and fertilisers – go into producing the mountain of pumpkins that are used over Halloween.

If you do plan on carving a pumpkin this year, make sure you throw it into a food waste bin. Pumpkins that end up in landfill emit methane as they decompose. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.


Read more: The case for compost: why recycling food waste is so much better than sending it to landfill


A better approach may be to forgo the whole pumpkin thing altogether. Instead, consider investing in a reusable decoration (preferably one that’s not made from plastic) or crafting your own creepy creation out of something you already have in your home to put outside your door.

But if you still want to experience the fun of carving a pumpkin, then make sure it isn’t wasted by baking some pumpkin pie, roasting its seeds in the oven, or simply roasting segments of pumpkin as a savoury treat (even the skin is edible).

A pile of abandoned rotting pumpkins.
Pumpkins emit methane as they decompose. Amanda Wayne/Shutterstock

2. Cut down on buying new

The shops are filled to bursting with Halloween decorations. However, many of these decorations – from cackling witches to vampire bat lights – are electrical. Making these products uses up substantial resources, including endless amounts of copper wiring and some of the rarest materials on the planet, such as lanthanum, an element found in modern television sets, energy saving lamps and optical lenses.

When these decorations are thrown away, they contribute to the growing electrical waste crisis. In 2019, global electrical and electronic waste generation stood at around 54 million tonnes, amounting to around 7.5kg per person. This generation rate is expected to increase significantly in the future.

So consider if you really need to buy new. You may find you already have enough lying around to transform your home into a haunted house. Christmas lights, for example, could double up as a creepy addition to your Halloween decor.

You may also have some other old bits and pieces that you can remake into something suitably spooky. Old dolls can be given unsettling new attire crafted from fabric scraps (although they might be creepy enough by themselves). And bottles can be filled with water and a few drops of food dye to make a collection of witches’ brews.

3. Ditch single-use plastic

We all like being able to hand out some sweet treats to trick-or-treaters. But sweets are often individually wrapped in plastic. Many single-use plastics don’t get recycled and, because plastic doesn’t break down naturally, it can stay in the environment for hundreds of years.

Instead of plastic-wrapped treats, think about getting something in paper packaging. If you have the time, then maybe you could make some sweat treats yourself to hand out.

A group of kids trick or treating.
Sweets are often individually wrapped in plastic that is subsequently thrown away. Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock

4. Make your own costume

Most of the Halloween costumes you can buy are made out of plastic. In fact, an investigation by Hubbub, an environmental charity, found that about 83% of the materials used to make the seasonal outfits available at 19 supermarkets and retailers in the UK were plastic.

These outfits not only contribute to the accumulation of plastic in landfills, they are also a source of harmful microplastics. These minuscule plastic particles have been found almost everywhere, including in water sources, marine life, human bodies, and now even in the clouds.

Even if you don’t throw away your costume, tiny plastic fibres are released from the fabric every time you wash it. These fibres ultimately find their way into the environment through the wastewater system.

So ditch the plastic wig and look at what you already own. Old clothes can be torn up to give the look of a horrifying zombie. And, although it may be an old standby, everyone has an old sheet somewhere that can be used as a ghost costume.

5. Less is more

Sustainability is all about leaving the world in a way that future generations can enjoy as good a quality of life as we do. A crucial element in making this future a reality is only using what we need instead of an excess.

So, when making choices about how to have a happy Halloween, think before you consume. Do you need to buy a load of prepackaged food? Or can you make your own pumpkin pie? Do you need to get in a car to go trick or treating? Or can you do it locally on foot?

By following these tips, you can have a fun, freaky – but also sustainable – Halloween.

Alice Brock receives funding from The South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership.

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Memory in action: what the UK’s official COVID commemoration should look like

Memorialising a pandemic that is still underway is a challenge. Official commemoration needs to be about remembrance and preparedness.

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Whether an actual bereavement or a loss of experience, everyone has lost something to COVID. From early on in the pandemic, grassroots memorials sought to acknowledge this collective experience, including the national COVID memorial wall in London and the annual national day of reflection organised by the Marie Curie charity.

In September 2023, the UK Commission on COVID Commemoration released its final report on how a more official reckoning with the pandemic’s legacy should be shaped. It outlines ten recommendations.

The pandemic has affected people in vastly different ways. How governments, institutions and the wider public have responded has varied enormously, too. It is also still ongoing, which complicates things further.

New variants of the virus are on the rise. And nearly two million people in the UK alone continue to suffer with long COVID.

As immunologist Sheena Cruickshank put it recently, “it may feel like we should all be done with COVID-19, but sadly COVID-19 is not done with us”.

My research into memorial culture and modernism shows how the lack of a clear or coherent narrative for an event like a pandemic makes commemorating it that much harder. The official and cultural memory of the 1918 flu pandemic was subsumed into that of the first world war – and it remained largely unremembered, until COVID brought it back to public attention.

Nurses began erecting memorials early on in the first world war. Wellcome Collection Images, CC BY-NC-ND

Remembrance and preparedness

From October to December 2022, the UK Commission on Covid Commemoration held a six-week period of public consultation. It conducted surveys, garnering 5,000 responses. It also met with affected groups, including bereaved families and long-COVID sufferers, as well as groups that are sceptical about the illness and lockdown strategies.

The report is, to my mind, admirably well considered, sensitive to the difficulties of the task. It firmly establishes why memorialising all deaths that have occurred during the pandemic – COVID-related or otherwise – is necessary. This chimes with previous research that has found that COVID-related grief is particularly difficult and that public commemoration is necessary for social cohesion.

The 11 members of the commission suggest a range of commemorations, which will now be considered for implementation by the British government. These include an annual day of reflection on the first Sunday in March, a new symbol to represent the pandemic, the establishment of a commemoration trust to organise and promote these initiatives, along with a commemoration website and an online book of remembrance.

The commissioners suggest creating ten green spaces across the country, each boasting a sculpture created by local artists. They recommend preserving those grassroots initiatives already in place, including the national COVID memorial wall.

Finally, they propose various educational initiatives. These include teaching the history of the pandemic in schools and college and collating oral histories from a wide range of groups, to, as the report puts it, “serve as a historical record of this period of our time and as an educational tool for future generations”. A postdoctoral fellowship programme is suggested, too, to enable future researchers to work with policy makers on national preparedness for natural hazards.

Most of these recommendations are fairly standard commemorative gestures. The decision to create disparate pockets of remembrance across the UK rather than one large-scale memorial is expected, as there is no consensus or agreed-upon version of the pandemic.

The choice of green spaces is usefully open-ended in terms of meaning. The memorial sculptures destined for each will, doubtless, be similarly open-ended, in keeping with the minimalist, abstract and predominantly secular tendencies in modern contemporary memorials in the UK.

The report also proposes council funding for local commemorative spaces in existing parks or green spaces, not unlike the many community-led first world war memorials.

The COVID symbol the commission suggests is a zinnia flower. Associated with remembrance, this floral design has similarities to the poppy which has long symbolised the first world war.

Large-scale commemorative gestures have already been seen in other nations. Most notably, Joe Biden’s first act as US president was, during his inaugural address, to lead a moment of silence to remember the then 400,000 Americans lost to the pandemic.

By contrast, the UK public has felt left down by its government’s response. The news, that former prime minister Boris Johnson reportedly said, in autumn 2020, that he would rather see “bodies pile high” than impose a third lockdown on the UK, has left a bitter taste.

Johnson’s subsequent clandestine evening trip, in April 2021, to the COVID memorial wall, as well as public scandals such as Partygate, have further angered the public. Bereaved family groups such as COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice are understandably anxious to see that their loved ones are remembered officially as names and not as numbers.

The commission is eager to distinguish itself from the contentious COVID-19 Inquiry. This report is a useful corrective to the inadequacies of the British government in commemorating the pandemic to date.

Some may wonder if it is too early to commemorate a pandemic that isn’t yet over. After 1914, nurses began to create memorials as soon as the first deaths happened. The British government established the Imperial War Museum in 1917, while the war was still ongoing. I have shown how necessary these commemorative gestures were. They ensured that the dead were not forgotten.

Whether the government will now do is yet to be seen. In its insistence both on remembrance and on preparedness – for the next pandemic that, experts agree, will happen – this report is a good first step.

Alice Kelly received a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award from 2017-19 for a seminar series entitled "Cultures and Commemorations of War."

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Extinct ape gets a facelift, 12 million years later

A new study led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn College, and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology Miquel Crusafont has…

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A new study led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn College, and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology Miquel Crusafont has reconstructed the well-preserved but damaged skull of a great ape species that lived about 12 million years ago. The species, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, may be crucial to understanding great ape and human evolution. The researchers describe their findings today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Credit: © David Alba (left), Salvador Moyà-Solà (middle), Kelsey Pugh (right)

A new study led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn College, and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology Miquel Crusafont has reconstructed the well-preserved but damaged skull of a great ape species that lived about 12 million years ago. The species, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, may be crucial to understanding great ape and human evolution. The researchers describe their findings today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, a species from northeastern Spain first described in 2004, was one of a diverse group of now-extinct ape species that lived in Europe around 15 to 7 million years ago. The species is key to understanding the mosaic nature of hominid (great ape and human) evolution because it is known from a cranium and partial skeleton of the same individual—a rarity in the fossil record.

“Features of the skull and teeth are extremely important in resolving the evolutionary relationships of fossil species, and when we find this material in association with bones of the rest of the skeleton, it gives us the opportunity to not only accurately place the species on the hominid family tree, but also to learn more about the biology of the animal in terms of, for example, how it was moving around its environment,” said lead author Kelsey Pugh, a research associate in the Museum’s Division of Anthropology and a lecturer at Brooklyn College.

Previous work on Pierolapithecus suggests that an upright body plan preceded adaptations that allowed hominids to hang from tree branches and move among them. However, debate persists about the species’ evolutionary place, partly due to damage to the cranium.

“One of the persistent issues in studies of ape and human evolution is that the fossil record is fragmentary, and many specimens are incompletely preserved and distorted,” said co-author Ashley Hammond, associate curator and chair of the Museum’s Division of Anthropology. “This makes it difficult to reach a consensus on the evolutionary relationships of key fossil apes that are essential to understanding ape and human evolution.”

In an effort to bring clarity to these questions, the researchers used CT scans to virtually reconstruct the cranium of Pierolapithecus, compare it to other primate species, and model the evolution of key features of ape facial structure. They found that Pierolapithecus shares similarities in overall face shape and size with both fossilized and living great apes, but it also has distinct facial features not found in other Middle Miocene apes. The results are consistent with the idea that this species represents one of the earliest members of the great apes and human family.

“An interesting output of the evolutionary modeling in the study is that that the cranium of Pierolapithecus is closer in shape and size to the ancestor from which living great apes and humans evolved. On the other hand, gibbons and siamangs (the ‘lesser apes’) seem to be secondarily derived in relation to size reduction,” said co-author Sergio Almécija, a senior research scientist in the Museum’s Division of Anthropology.

Other authors on this study include Santiago Catalano, from the Fundación Miguel Lillo (Argentina); Miriam Pérez de los Ríos, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid; Josep Fortuny, from the Catalan Institute of Paleontology Miquel Crusafont (ICP); Brian Shearer, from New York University; Alessandra Vecino Gazabón, from the American Museum of Natural History; Salvador Moyà-Solà, from the ICP and ICREA; and David Alba, from the ICP.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2218778120

 

ABOUT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY (AMNH)

The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869 with a dual mission of scientific research and science education, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses more than 40 permanent exhibition halls, galleries for temporary exhibitions, the Rose Center for Earth and Space including the Hayden Planetarium, and the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. The Museum’s scientists draw on a world-class permanent collection of more than 34 million specimens and artifacts, some of which are billions of years old, and on one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, the Museum offers two of the only free-standing, degree-granting programs of their kind at any museum in the U.S.: the Ph.D. program in Comparative Biology and the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Earth Science residency program. Visit amnh.org for more information.


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