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EV Buyers Can Expect Cheaper Batteries and More Chargers in 2020 SPONSOR: Lomiko Metals $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM at 1:57 PM on Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

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  • According to research by BloombergNEF, European automakers and governments will move toward helping curb global warming with stricter carbon emissions regulations, which could force an electric-vehicle revolution.

In the United States, electric vehicles are primarily being purchased by consumers that want to take action on their own. Fuel is cheap, the country doesn’t have a real climate change plan, and large vehicles like pickups are king. All of this means that there’s little incentive, beyond the $7,500 federal tax credit, to purchase an EV. That, though, isn’t the case in other countries like China and, soon to be Europe.

EV Revolution Coming This Year

According to a report by Bloomberg and a forecast from BloombergNEF, Europe will see an electric revolution in 2020. The outlet states that the country’s government will soon look to cut carbon emissions from vehicles as part of a plan to curb global warming. This, in turn, will force automakers to introduce electric vehicles.

Bloomberg claims that sales of electric cars are set to increase to 2.5 million units in 2020. That figure represents an increase of 20 percent from 2019.

Just like this year, China will continue to lead the way forward for sales. But the country recently decided to reduce subsidies for EV owners, which could help Europe gain a larger piece of the market. The outlet’s forecasting claims that Volkswagen’s push to become an electric-vehicle force will boost the number of electrified vehicles in Europe. In total, the outlet expects 800,000 electric cars to be sold in Europe in 2020.

“The long-term future is really bright, but in the short term we’re expecting growth to be relatively slow,” said Colin McKerracher, an analyst at BloombergNEF. “You’re still in the middle of this transition, from a market driven by direct subsidies toward one driven by a combination of real consumer demand and other big policy mechanisms.”

Better Prices, More Infrastructure Coming

Another important aspect of electric vehicles that will help sales increase in Europe are decreasing lithium-ion battery prices. The outlet states that prices per kilowatt-hour will hit roughly $135 – approximately 13 percent lower than in 2019. With the increase of battery production, better battery designs, and more sales, battery prices are expected to tumble.

All of these things mean that more chargers will be needed. Luckily, public chargers are expected to rise to 1.2 million, up from 880,000 last year. The increase in chargers will come in part from governments and energy companies looking to expand infrastructure to support the increase in demand for electric cars.

Another interesting trend to look at in 2020 include other forms of electrified transportation. A few companies, even automakers, showcased flying electric cars at CES. While it’s unlikely that one would come out in 2020, it’s likely something that more companies will pursue this year. Other forms of transportation, including boats could go electric in 2020, too.


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Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 7:00 PM on Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Volvo to Build an Electric Vehicle Battery Plant in the U.S. SPONSOR: Lomiko Metals $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM at 12:26 PM on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

SPONSOR: Lomiko Metals is focused on the exploration and development of minerals for the new green economy such as lithium and graphite. Lomiko owns 80% of the high-grade La Loutre graphite Property , Lac Des Iles Graphite Property and the 100% owned Quatre Milles Graphite Property. Lomiko is uniquely poised to supply the growing EV battery market. Click Here For More Information

Swedish automaker Volvo announced plans to build an electric battery plant at its assembly factory in Ridgeville, South Carolina to support the launch of electrified Volvo models for the U.S. market. Construction of the battery assembly plant will be completed by the end of 2021.

While many people consider Detroit home of the automobile, the southeast region of the U.S. is becoming a hotbed for auto manufacturing. Automakers BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai built assembly plants in the region to manufacture vehicles for the U.S. and global markets. 

Most recently, Toyota and Mazda recently announced they will be opening a new $1.6 billion plant in Huntsville, Alabama, adding around 4,000 new jobs to the region. Now Volvo becomes the latest automaker to expand its U.S. manufacturing with a new electric vehicle battery plant.

The automaker announced plans to build an electric battery plant at its assembly plant in Ridgeville, South Carolina to support the launch of electrified Volvo models for the U.S. market. Construction of the battery assembly plant will be completed by the end of 2021, a Volvo spokeswoman said to Automotive News.

The battery production plant is part of a previously announced $600 million project that is already underway at Volvo’s plant in Ridgeville, S.C., which includes adding a second production line and Volvo Car University. The 2.3 million sq. ft. facility includes a body shop, paint shop, final assembly, a vehicle processing center and an office building.

The Ridgeville plant is Volvo’s first in the U.S. Construction began in 2015. 

At that facility, employees will assemble and test the lithium ion battery packs that will power the electric XC90. By assembling the packs on at the plant, Volvo hopes to reduce shipping costs involved in transporting the heavy batteries.

Dallas Bolen, a manager with Volvo’s product launch group, told local media outlet the Post and Courier that local battery production would be more cost-effective than building batteries off-site then having to transport them to the factory.

The Ridgeville plant is currently the production home of the Volvo S60 sedan. The U.S.-built S60s are exported around the world through the Port of Charleston, one of the busiest ports in the U.S.

Volvo’s next EV will be the XC40 Recharge. It will arrive at U.S. dealers later this year.

The South Carolina plant will become the global production center for the third-generation XC90 flagship crossover. Volvo plans to build the next generation XC90 sport utility vehicle in 2022, along with a fully-electric version. The plant has the capacity to build 150,000 vehicles annually.

Volvo has not said how much of the XC90’s production at the $1.1 billion factory will be devoted to the battery-electric variant. 

That next-generation XC90 will be built on the next version of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture platform, referred to as SPA2. The new electric vehicle architecture is designed to make it easy to add new technology, such as microprocessors, sensors and camera technology.

Volvo declined to release its production capacity for the battery assembly plant or say how many jobs it will create. Overall, the planned XC90 production line is expected to create about 1,000 jobs.

The XC90 would be Volvo’s third battery-powered model following the electric version of the popular XC40 compact crossover, was unveiled in October. 

The electric XC40 is expected to arrive in U.S. dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2020. The crossover will be competitively priced under $48,000, after the $7,500 federal tax credit, Volvo said.

The new battery plant will support Volvo’s push to electrify around half of its lineup. The automaker aims for EVs to account for half of its global sales by 2025. Over the next five years, Volvo expects to launch a fully electric vehicle every year.

“A Volvo built in 2025 will leave a carbon footprint that is 40 percent lower than a car that we build today,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said during a press event in October. “We made safety part of the brand. We should do the same with sustainability.”

In November 2019, Volvo Cars announced it will be the first carmaker to implement global traceability of cobalt used in its batteries by applying blockchain technology, ensuring that customers can drive battery-powered Volvos knowing the raw materials for the batteries has been responsibly sourced.


Gold’s Big Picture SPONSOR: Affinity Metals $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM at 12:49 PM on Sunday, January 19th, 2020

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From the HRA Journal: Issue 314

The fun doesn’t stop. Waves of liquidity continue to wash traders cares away. Even assassinations and war mongering generate little more than half day dips on Wall St. It seems nothing can get in the way of the bull rally that’s carrying all risk assets higher.

It feels like it could go on for a while, though I think the liquidity will have to keep coming to sustain it. By most readings, bullishness on Wall St is at levels that are rarely sustained for more than a few weeks. Some sort of correction on Wall St seems highly likely, and soon. Whether its substantial or just another blip on the way higher remains to be seen.

The resource sector, especially gold and silver stocks, have had their own rally. Our Santa Claus market was as good or better than Wall St’s for a change. And I don’t think its over yet. I think we’re in for the best Q1 we’ve seen for a few years. And we could be in for something better than that even. I increasingly see signs of a major rally developing in the gold space. It’s already been pretty good but I think a multi-quarter, or longer, move may be starting to take shape.

I usually spend time on all the metals in the first issue of the year. But, because the makings of this gold rally are complex and long in coming I decided to detail my reasoning. That ended up taking several pages so I’ll save talk on base metals and other markets for the next issue.

Eric Coffin
January 7, 2020

Gold’s Big Picture

“Après moi, le déluge“

No, I’m not writing about Louis IV, though there might be some appropriateness to the analogy, now that I think about it. The quote is famous, even though there’s no agreement on what it was supposed to mean. Most figure Louis was referring to the biblical flood, that all would be chaos once his reign ended.

The deluge I’m referring to isn’t water. It’s the flood of money the US Fed, and other central banks, continue to unleash to keep markets stable. Markets, especially stock markets, love liquidity. You can see the impact of the latest deluge, particularly the US Fed’s in the chart below that traces both the SPX index value and the level of a “Global Liquidity Proxy” (“GLP”) measuring fiscal/monetary tightness and weakness.

You can see the GLP moved lower in late 2018 as the Fed tightened and the impact that had on Wall St. Conversely, you can see the SPX running higher in the past couple of months as the US backed off rate increases, increased fiscal deficit expansion, and grew the Fed balance sheet through, mainly, repo market operations.

Wall St, and most other bourses, are loving these money flows. The Santa Claus rally discussed in the last issue continued to strengthen all the way to and through year end. As it turned out, the Fed either provided enough backstop in advance or the yearend repo issues were overstated. The repo market itself was calm going through year end and a lot of the short-term money offered by the Fed during that week wasn’t taken down.

Everything may have changed in the past couple of days with the dramatic increase in US-Iran tensions. I don’t know how big an issue that will be, since no one knows what form Iran’s retaliation will be or how much things will escalate. I DO think it’s potentially a big deal with very negative connotations, but it may take time to unfold. Someone at the Fed thought so too, as the past couple of days saw a return to large scale Fed lending in the repo market.

I’ve no doubt Iran will try and take revenge for the assassination of its most famous military commander by the US. But I don’t know what form it will take and if this means the US has drawn itself into the Mideast quagmire even more. I fear it has though. The US is already talking about adding 3,000 troops to its Mideast presence and they’re just warming up. Even larger scale attacks, if they happen, may not derail Wall St, but they’re certainly not a positive development at any level.

We know how stretched both market valuations and sentiment were before the Suleimani drone strike. The chart below shows a three-year trace of the “fear/greed index”. You can see that its hardly a stable reading. It flip flops often and extreme readings rarely hold for long. At last check, the reading was 94% bullish.

Sentiment almost never gets that bullish and, when it does, nothing good comes of it for bulls. A reading that close to 100% tells you we’re just about out of buyers. Whatever happens in and around Iran, I think a near term correction is inevitable. The only question is whether it’s a large one or not.

A rapid escalation in US-Iran tensions could certainly make a near term correction larger. If the flood of liquidity continues though, a correction could just be another waystation on the road to higher highs. There are a couple of other dangers Wall St still faces that I’ll touch on briefly at the end of this article. First however, lets move on to the main event for us-the gold market.

It wasn’t just the SPX enjoying a Santa rally this year. Gold experienced the rally we were hoping for that gold miner stocks seemed to be foretelling early last month. Gold’s been doing well since it bottomed at $1275 in June, but it didn’t feel that way during the long hiatus between the early September high and the current move. The gold price currently sits above September’s multi-year high, after breaching that high in the wake of the Baghdad drone strike. And the first retaliatory strike by Iran. Volatility will be very high for a while going forward.

I think we’ll see more multi-year highs going forward. I hate that the latest move higher is driven by geopolitics. Scary geopolitics and military confrontations mean people are dying. We don’t want to profit from misery. And we won’t anyway, if things get ugly enough in the Mideast to scare traders out of the market.

Geopolitical price moves almost always unwind quickly. I’d much prefer to see gold moving higher for macro reasons, not as a political safety trade. I expect more political/military inspired moves. As the Iran conflict unfolds. Make no mistake, Iran is NOT Iraq. Its army is far larger, better trained and better equipped than Iraq. This could get ugly.

The balance of this piece will deal with my macro argument for higher gold prices over an extended period. The geopolitical stuff will be layered on top of that for the next while and could strengthen both gold prices and the $US in risk-off trading. It should be viewed as a separate event from the argument laid out below.

What else is driving gold higher? In part, it was gold’s inverse relationship with the US Dollar. As you already know, I’m not a believer that “its all about the USD, all the time” when it comes to the gold market. That’s an over-simplification of a more complex relationship. It also discounts the idea of gold as its own asset class that trades for its own reasons.

If you look at the gold chart above, and the USD chart below it, its immediately apparent that there isn’t a constant negative correlation at play. Gold rallied during the summer at the same time the USD did and for the same reason; the world-wide explosion of negative real yields. Gold weakened a bit when yields reversed to the upside and the USD got a bit of traction, but things changed again at the start of December.

The USD turned lower and lost two percent during December. US bond yields were generally rising during the month and the market (right or wrong) was assuming economic growth was accelerating. So, neither of those items explains the USD weakness.

If gold was a “risk off” trade, you sure couldn’t see it in the way any other market was trading. So, is there another explanation for recent strength in the gold price, and what does it tell us about 2020 and, perhaps, beyond?

Well, I’ve got a theory. If I’m right, it could mean a bull run for gold has a long way to go.

Some of this theory will be no surprise to you because it does partially hinge on further USD weakness. There are long term structural reasons why the US currency should weaken. But there are also fluctuating sources of demand for USDs, particularly from offshore buyers and borrowers that transact in US currency. That can create enough demand to strengthen the US over long periods. We just went though one such period, but it looks like that may have come to an end, with more bearish forces to the USD reasserting themselves.

How did we get here? Let’s start with the big picture, displayed on the top chart on the next page. It gives a long-term view of US Federal deficits and the unemployment rate. Normally, these travel in tandem. Higher unemployment means more social spending and higher deficits. Government spending expands during recessions and contracts-or should- (as a percentage of GDP) during expansions. Classic Keynesian stuff.

You rarely see these two measures diverge. The two times they did significantly before, on the left side of the chart, was due to “wartime deficits” which acted (along with conscription) to stimulate the economy and drive down unemployment.

You can see the Korean and Vietnam war periods pointed out on the chart.

The current period stands out for the extreme size of the divergence. US unemployment rates are at multi decade lows and yet the fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP keeps rising. There has never been a divergence this large and its due to get larger.

We know why this is. Big tax cuts combined with a budget that is mostly non-discretionary. And the US is 10 years into an economic expansion, however weak. Just think what this graph will look like the next time the US goes into recession.

We can assume US government deficits aren’t going to shrink any time soon (and I think we can, pun intended, take that to the bank). That leaves trade in goods to act as a counterbalance to the funding demand created by fiscal deficits.

The chart above makes it clear the US won’t get much help from international trade. The US trade balance has been getting increasingly negative for decades. It’s better recently, but unlikely to turn positive soon, and maybe not ever.

To be clear, this is not a bad thing in itself, notwithstanding the view from the White House. The relative strength of the US economy and the US Dollar and cheaper offshore production costs have driven the trade balance. It’s grown because Americans found they got more value buying abroad and the world was happy to help finance it. It’s not a bad thing, but not a US Dollar support either.

The more complete picture of currency/investment flows is given by changes in the Current Account. In simplified terms, the Current Account measures the difference between what a country produces and what it consumes. For example, if a country’s trade deficit increases, so does its current account deficit. If there are funds flowing in from overseas investments on the other hand, this decrease the Current Account deficit or increase the surplus.

The graph below summarizes quarterly changes in the US current account. You can see how the balance got increasingly negative in the mid 2000’s as both imports and foreign investment by US companies increased.

Not coincidentally, this same period leading up to the Financial Crisis included a sustained downtrend in the US Dollar Index. The USD index chart on the bottom of the next page shows the scale of that decline, from an index value of 120 at the start of 2002 all the way down to 73 in early 2008.

The current account deficit (and value of the USD) improved markedly up to the end of the Financial Crisis as money poured into the US as a safe haven and consumers cut back on imports. The current account deficit bas been relatively stable since then, running at about $100bn/quarter until it dipped a bit again last year.

Trade, funds flows and changes in money supply have the largest long-term impacts on currency values. When the US Fed ended QE and started tightening monetary conditions in 2014, the USD enjoyed a strong rally. The USD Index was back to 100 by early 2015 and stayed there until loosening monetary conditions-and lots of jawboning from Washington-led to pullback. Things reversed again and the USD maintained a mild uptrend from early 2018 until now.

There are still plenty of US Dollar bulls around, and their arguments have short-term merit. Yes, the US has higher real interest rates and somewhat higher growth. Both are important to relative currency valuations as I’ve said in the past. Longer term however, the “twin deficits” -fiscal and current account-should underpin the fundamental value of the currency.

Movements don’t happen overnight, especially when you’re talking about the worlds reserve currency that has the deepest and largest market supporting it. Changing the overall trend for the USD is like turning a supertanker. I think it’s happening though, and it has big potential implications for commodities, especially gold.

Dollar bulls will tell you the USD is the “cleanest shirt in the laundry hamper”, referring to the relative strength of the growth rate and interest rates compared to other major currencies. That’s true if we just look at those measures but definitely not true when we look at the longer term-fiscal and current account deficits.

In fact, the US has about the worst combined fiscal/current account deficit in the G7. The chart at the bottom of this page, from shows the 2018 values for Current Account and Trade balances for a number of major economies, as a percentage of their GDP. It’s not a handsome group.

Both the trade and current account deficits are negative for most of them. In terms of G7 economies, the US has the worst combined Current/Trade deficit at 6% of GDP annually. You may be surprised to note that the Current/Trade balance for the Euro zone is much better than the US, thanks to a large Trade surplus. Much of that is generated by Germany. Indeed, this chart explains Germanys defense of the Euro. It’s combined Trade/Current Account surplus is so large it’s currency would be skyrocketing if it still used the Deutschmark.

Because the current account deficit is cumulative, the overall international investment position of the US has continued to worsen. The US has gone from being an international creditor to an international debtor, and the scale if its debt keeps increasing. That means it’s getting harder every year to reverse the current account position as the US borrows ever more abroad to cover its trade and fiscal deficits. Interest outflows keep growing and investment inflows shrinking. Something has to give.

The US has to borrow overseas, as private domestic demand for Treasury bonds isn’t high enough to fund the twin deficits. In the past, whenever the US Dollar got too high, offshore demand for US government debt diminished. It’s not clear why. Maybe the higher dollar made raising enough foreign funds difficult, or perhaps buyers started worrying about the USD dropping after they bought when it got too expensive. Whatever the reason, foreign holdings of US Treasuries have been declining, forcing the US to find new, domestic, buyers.

Last year, the US Fed stopped its quantitative tightening program, due to concerns about Dollar liquidity. Then came the repo market. Since September, the Fed’s balance sheet has expanded by over $400 billion, mainly due to repo market transactions.

The Fed maintains this “isn’t QE” because these are very short duration transactions but, cumulatively, the total Fed balance sheet keeps expanding. The “QE/no QE” debate is just semantics.

What do these transactions look like? Mostly, its Primary Dealers, banks that also take part in Treasury auctions, in the repo market. The Fed buys bonds, usually Treasuries, from these banks and pays for them in newly printed Dollars. That injects money into the system, helps hold down interest rates in the repo market and, not coincidentally, effectively helps fund the US fiscal deficit. To put the series of transactions in their simplest form, the US is effectively monetizing its deficit with a lot of these transactions.

The chart below illustrates the problem for the Primary Dealer US banks. They’ve got to buy Treasuries when they’re auctioned-that is their commitment as Primary Dealers. They also need to hold minimum cash balances as a percentage of assets under Basel II bank regulations. Cash balances fell to the minimum mandated level by late 2019- the horizontal black line on the chart. That’s when the trouble started.

These banks are so stuffed with Treasuries that they didn’t have excess cash reserves to lend into the repo market. Hence the blow up back in September and the need for the Fed to inject cash by buying Treasuries. The point, however, is that this isn’t really a “repo market issue”, that’s just where it reared its head. It’s a “too many Treasuries and not enough buyers” problem.

It will be tough for the Treasury to attract more offshore buyers unless the USD weakens, or interest rates rise enough to make them irresistible. Or a big drop in the federal deficit reduces the supply of Treasuries itself.

I doubt we’ll see interest rates move up significantly. I don’t think the economy could handle it and it would be self-defeating anyway, as the government deficit would explode because of interest expenses. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that President Trump would be freaking out daily.

Based on recent history and political expediency, I’d say the odds of significant budget deficit reductions are slim and none. That’s especially true going into an election year. There’s just no way we’re going to see spending restraint or tax increases in the next couple of years. Indeed, the supply of Treasuries will keep growing even if the US economy grows too. If there is any sort of significant slowdown or recession the Federal deficit will explode and so will the new supply of Treasures. Not an easy fix.

Barring new haven demand for US Treasuries, odds are the Fed will have to keep sopping up excess supply. That means expanding its balance sheet and, in so doing, effectively increasing the US money supply.

That brings us (finally!) to the “money shot” chart that appears above. It compares changes in the size of the Fed balance sheet and the US Dollar Index. To make it readable and allow me to match the scales, I generated a chart that tracks annual percentage changes.

The chart shows a strong inverse correlation between changes in the size of the Fed balance sheet and the value of the USD. This is unsurprising as most transactions that expand the Fed balance sheet also expand the money supply.

It’s impossible to tell how long the repo market transactions will continue but, after three months, they aren’t feeling very “temporary”. To me, it increasingly looks like these market operations are “debt monetization in drag”.

I don’t know if that’s the Fed’s real intent or just a side effect. It doesn’t really matter if the funding and money printing continues at scale. Even if the repo market calms completely, the odds are good we see some sort of “new QE” start up. Whatever official reason is given for it; I think it will happen mainly to soak up the excess supply of Treasuries fiscal deficits are creating.

I don’t blame the FOMC if they’re being disingenuous about it. That’s their job after all. If you’re a central banker, the LAST thing you’re going to say is “our government is having trouble finding buyers for its debt”, especially if its true.

With no prospect of lower deficits and apparent continued reduction in offshore Treasury holdings, this could develop into long-term sustained trend. I don’t expect it to move in a straight line, markets never do. A severe escalation in Mideast tensions or the start of a serious recession could both generate safe-haven Treasury buying. Money flows from that would take the pressure off the Fed and would be US Dollar supportive too.

That said, it seems the US has reached the point where a substantial increase in its central bank’s balance sheet is inevitable. Both Japan and the Eurozone have gotten there before the Fed, but it looks like it won’t be immune.

The Eurozone at least has a “Twin surplus” to help cushion things. And Japan, considered a basket case economically, had an extremely deep pool of domestic savings (far deeper than the US) to draw on. Until very recently, Japan also ran massive Current Account surpluses thanks to decades of heavy investments overseas by Japanese entities. Those advantages allowed the ECB and especially the BoJ to massively expand their balance sheets without generating a huge run up in interest rates or currency collapse.

I don’t know how far the US Fed can expand its balance sheet before bond yields start getting away from it. I think pretty far though. Having the world’s reserve currency is a massive advantage. There is huge built in demand for US Dollars and US denominated debt. That gives the Fed some runway if it must keep buying US Treasuries.

Assuming a run on yields doesn’t spoil the party, continued balance sheet and money supply expansion should put increasing downward pressure on the US Dollar. I don’t know if we’ll see a move as large as the mid-2000s but a move down to the low 80s for the USD Index over the course of two or three years wouldn’t be surprising.

It won’t be a straight-line move. A recession could derail things, though the bear market on Wall St that would generate would support bullion. Currency markets tend to be self-correcting over extended periods. If the USD Index falls enough and there is a bump in US real interest rates offshore demand for Treasuries should increase again.

The bottom line is that this is, and will continue to be, a very dynamic system. Even so, I think we’ve reached a major inflection point for the US currency. The 2000s were pretty good for the gold market and gold stocks. We started from a much lower base of $300/oz on the gold price. Starting at a $1200-1300 base this time, I think a price above $2000/oz is a real possibility over the next year or two.

It’s not hard to extrapolate prices higher than that, but I’m not looking or hoping for those. I prefer to see a longer, steadier move that brings traders along rather than freaking them out.

This prediction isn’t a sure thing. Predictions never are. But I think the probabilities now favor an extended bull run in the gold price. Assuming stock markets don’t blow up (though I still expect that correction), gold stocks should put in a leveraged performance much more impressive than the bullion price itself.

There will be consolidations and corrections along the way, but I think there will be many gold explorers and developers that rack up share price gains in the hundreds of percent. That doesn’t mean buying blindly and never trading. We still need to adjust when a stock gets overweight and manage risk around major exploration campaigns. The last few weeks has been a lot more fun in the resource space. I don’t think the fun’s over yet. Enjoy the ride.

Like any good contrarian, a 10-year bull market makes me alert of signs of potential trouble. As noted at the start of this editorial, I’m expecting continues floods of liquidity. That may simply overwhelm everything else for a while and allow Wall St to keep rallying, come what may.

That said, a couple of data points recently got my attention. One is more of a sentiment indicator, seen in the chart below. More than one wag has joked that the Fed need only worry about Wall St, since the stock market is the economy now. Turns out there is more than a bit of truth to that.

The chart shows the US Leading Indicator reading with the level of the stock market (which is a component of the official Leading Indicator) removed. As you can see, without Wall St, the indicator implies zero growth going forward. I’m mainly showing it as evidence of just how surreal things have become.

The chart above is something to keep an eye on going forward. It shows weekly State unemployment claims for several major sectors of the economy. What’s interesting about this chart is that claims have been climbing rapidly over the past few weeks. Doubly interesting is that the increase in claims is broad, both within and across several sectors of the economy.

I take the monthly Non-Farm Payroll number less seriously than most, because it’s a backward-looking indicator. This move in unemployment claims looks increasingly like a trend though. It’s now at its highest level since the Financial Crisis.

It’s not in the danger zone-yet. But its climbing fast. We may need to start paying more attention to those payroll numbers. If the chart below isn’t a statistical fluke, we may start seeing negative surprises in the NFP soon. That won’t hurt the gold price either.

Source and Thanks:

International Code Council Calls For All New Homes To Be Ready For 240-Volt EV Charging SPONSOR: Lomiko Metals $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM at 10:37 AM on Thursday, January 16th, 2020,512

Building codes are a labyrinth of national, state, and municipal rules. While California since 2015 has required new homes to have the necessary conduit and service-panel capacity for EV-charging, guidelines in the rest of the country are spotty. That could soon be fixed because the International Code Council (ICC) – which provides widely adopted best practices and standards for construction ­– approved putting EV-readiness in its latest guidelines.

The new guidelines equate to a ready-made, consistent national approach for EV-charging capabilities for new homes and apartment buildings.

While all states follow the principles outlined by the ICC’s building codes, the provisions are voluntary until incorporated into state or local laws. Quartz reports that about half of US states are expected to adopt the ICC’s new EV-readiness requirements.

Forward-looking municipalities – notably Atlanta, Denver, Palo Alto, and Seattle ­– already have EV-friendly construction codes in place.

Estimates for the cost of compliance for a newly constructed home vary widely from less than $100 to nearly $1,000.

A 2016 study pegged the price in San Francisco to be $920 (for a building with 10 parking spaces). But that’s significantly less than adding charging capabilities after the fact. The same research indicates that retrofitting sites by expanding electrical panels and adding wiring, could cost as much as $3,550.

The ICC explains, “The proposed code [now adopted] will allow current and future EV-owners to avoid the cost of electrical equipment upgrades, demolition, and permitting for future retrofits.”

Here are the new definitions:

  • ELECTRIC VEHICLE SUPPLY EQUIPMENT (EVSE). The conductors, including the ungrounded, grounded, and equipment grounding conductors, and the Electric Vehicle connectors, attachment plugs, and all other fittings, devices, power outlets, or apparatus installed specifically for the purpose of transferring energy between the premises wiring and the Electric Vehicle.
  • EV CAPABLE SPACE. Electrical panel capacity and space to support a minimum 40-ampere, 208/240-volt branch circuit for each EV parking space, and the installation of raceways, both underground and surface mounted, to support the EVSE.
  • EV READY SPACE. A designated parking space which is provided with one 40-ampere, 208/240-volt dedicated branch circuit for EVSE servicing Electric Vehicles. The circuit shall terminate in a suitable termination point such as a receptacle, junction box, or an EVSE, and be located in close proximity to the proposed location of the EV parking spaces.

While builders will make sure that there’s access to a 240-volt supply, it’s up to owners or tenants to buy and install the charging equipment.

The ICC says there will need to be 9.6 million new EV charging ports by 2030, with nearly 80% located in single and multi-family residential buildings. As any EV driver knows, home is where the vast majority of electric-car charging takes place.

Source: International Code Council calls for all new homes to be ready for 240-volt EV charging

Lomiko Metals $ Discusses Benefits to Quebec Graphite Project From New Canada-USA Critical Metals Trade Deal at VRIC Booth 103 $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM at 9:18 AM on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

Vancouver, British Columbia–(Newsfile Corp. – January 15, 2020) – Lomiko Metals Inc. (TSXV: LMR) would like to cordially invite you to visit us at Booth #1030 at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC) to be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre West (1055 Canada Place, Vancouver) on Sunday January 19 – Monday January 20, 2020.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference has been the bellwether of the junior mining market for the last twenty-five years. It is the number one source of information for investment trends and ideas, covering all aspects of the natural resource industry.

Each year, the VRIC hosts over 60 keynote speakers, 350 exhibiting companies and 9000 investors.

Investment thought leaders and wealth influencers provide our audiences with valuable insights. C-suite company executives covering every corner of the mineral exploration sector as well as metals, oil & gas, renewable energy, media and financial services companies are available to speak one on one. This is a must-attend for investors and stakeholders in the global mining industry.

For more information and/or to register for the conference please visit:

We look forward to seeing you there.

For further information:

Lomiko Metals Inc.
A. Paul Gill
[email protected]
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