Links 17 September 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing:





Leith van Onselen
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)



    U.S. homebuilder confidence hits record high in September … Reuters / Yahoo Finance

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. single-family homebuilder confidence increased to a record high in September as historically low mortgage rates continue to boost the housing market despite the COVID-19 recession, which has left tens of millions of Americans unemployed.

    The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose five points to an all-time high of 83 this month, data showed on Wednesday. A reading above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. … read more via hyperlink above …
    Data show prospective home-buyers are shifting to suburbs in COVD era … SUN GAZETTE NEWSPAPERS

  2. Spotted an interesting comment in one of the linked article comments. There is a split developing between those that need to physically attend work, and those that can work remotely. It then goes on to ask what that will do to human communications within the second group. This is based on the way social interactions on social media get so toxic so quickly. Emails need so much care to not get off track, or convey a humorous comment as insulting. Even MB comments, with its highly educated and aware (even better than ‘woke’) participants can become off track. At least it’s not like the Zerohedge swill pond. The point is – will some people interact with work colleagues and friendship groups much more in the virtual world than we’ve ever seen before, and how will that change behaviours?

    Edit: looking back, the credit should go to @Nyleta links.

    • I’ve started a new job for the last 3 weeks and I’ve never met any of them in person. To be honest I’m half introvert and half extrovert at times. But I definitely miss the in person relationship building.

      It’s kind of rough also with a 1 month old at home at the same time. In many ways leaving the house would give me a much needed break. But would be more work for the missus

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      From experience running a “Remote” company, there are a few things:
      – small project teams of 2 people.
      – in person company catch ups every three months, usually somewhere ‘nice’ with no expectation any work, other than maintaining social bonds (if everyone is in the same state, every 6 weeks is good)
      – devolving the responsibility of what gets done to the project teams
      – never employ blowhards who work hard being seen to do work, rather than doing work (those sorts don’t last long working remotely)
      – no expectation of immediate responses to messages or email

    • Your life now lived and enjoyed through a screen-delightful development!
      Will want one for my casket interior for sure – will need a solar powered battery.

    • The yoof who grew up with a large proportion of social interactions via… let’s go with “non-traditional” avenues… should thrive. So probably anyone under 30, maybe 35.

  3. “He represents Victoria on a number of key national bodies including the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. He is also Chief Human Biosecurity Officer for Victoria.”

    Well well well, how can the chief human biosecurity officer not be in charge of quarantine???

    He represents Victoria on a number of key national bodies including the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. He is also Chief Human Biosecurity Officer for Victoria.

  4. The Kitco article, ‘Why the supply of electric vehicle nickel is so constrained’, lists the short supply of nickel as an impediment in EV manufacture.

    However, it’s not just nickel in short supply

    For perhaps the most important video on why complex civilisation will NOT see a green energy transition ou’re ever likely to see:

    Detailed facts and figures on today’s global energy supply and consumption and what resources will be needed to transition away from FF derived electricity and the minerals needed to replace the world’s ICE transport fleet of cars, trucks, and ships (not planes).

    For instance – it takes seven years to bring one new li-ion mine into production,
    To replace the current fleet with EVs will require 868.3 million tons of li-ion batteries, which, at 2018 rates of production will require:
    132,000,000 tonnes of nickel which will take 57.5 years at 2018 production rates
    24,000,000 tonnes of cobalt, which will take 173 years to produce at 2018 production rates
    19,000,000 tonnes of lithium, which will take 205.4 years to produce at 2018 production rates

    Electric grid expansion required:-
    Total global non-fossil fuel electricity production in 2018 was 8,935.9 TWh. This will need to expand to 37,849.7 TWh in order to replace global coal, gas and oil powered electricity, gas heating, and to charge the replacement EV rail, trucks, cars and ships batteries.

    This will require an additional 164,770 electrical grids to be built, all at a time most countries are struggling to maintain the ones they have and are up to their eyeballs in debt.

    Then there is the battery storage for the grids……and on it goes.

    • Wow, thanks for the summary. I haven’t watched the vid but it would be good to also have a ‘peer review’ expert opinion vid on this. Maybe R2M is right after all, much more manual (and animal, presumably) labour involved in a post-FF world.

      • Pleasure 🙂

        Yup, I think the take home message is that renewables are green hopium that are never going to materialise.

        A pretty compelling amount of info in these graphs and statistics that I wouldn’t imagine anyone else has tried to do. An hour long watch but well worth it to crystallise one’s thinking – and a handy link to share with woke techno dreamers 🙂



    This deliberately delayed 2020 Update until a month or so prior to the New Zealand General Election, is, of necessity , considerably larger than usual.

    There is just so much ‘happening’ !

    Readers hopefully will get a sense of some of the overwhelming multitude of forces (including Covid 19) driving the inevitable quest for more affordable and convenient urban decentralization and dispersal.

    These forces of progress are unstoppable.

    It is suggested readers make a point of watching the three videos of New Zealand Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford’s addresses … first, a 2 1/2 minute Facebook presentation … and second, his outstanding 1st and 3rd Reading speeches during the processing through the New Zealand Parliament of the Infrastructure Funding and Financing Bill … now Act … with the associate political initiatives as well.

    The major sobering lesson here is that the buying public ‘plan’ our cities.

    The best their servants … the politicians , urban planners, broad media, industry providers and others can do, is respond positively and with respect to the buying public wants and needs.

    Check out the Westpac Bank New Zealand and Australian Housing Preference Surveys and the IPSOS New Zealand Issues Monitors.

    New Zealand Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford, with his Labour – led Coalition government are leading the way.

    Minister Twyford with his government achieved the support of all political parties within the Parliament with the Infrastructure Funding and Financing Act.

    A remarkable political feat … which makes me very proud as a New Zealander.

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