Economic Factors

May Miscalculates

Published 6.9.2107
World events that potentially influence the economic and market models are frequently topics here. Certainly the snap British Election called by Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May qualifies. When she called for the election, the expectation was that the Conservative Party would increase its majority in the House of Commons and strengthen her hand during the Brexit process. Instead, Conservatives lost a net 12 seats, and the previously flailing Labour Party won a net 31 seats.

May must form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party (UDP), and face down critics within her own party calling for her resignation. May wasn’t the only big loser in the election, Scottish National Party’s (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon also lost big. The SNP lost a net 19 seats, most of which flipped to conservative. Had the SNP held those seats, the United Kingdom (UK) would have Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. Sturgeon acknowledged that her push for a second referendum on Scottish independence was likely a negative for the SNP in the election. Scotland will not leave the UK, though Sturgeon has yet to officially pull the referendum from the table.

The American right is horrified by the election result, as is the British right. There are plenty of reasons being offered as to why May lost. Theresa May is not a talented politician, that was known prior to the campaign. What was revealed, however, was her completely tin ear as to the public mood. Among the reasons proffered in explanation:
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Assessing the Trump effect

Published 6.8.2017
The actions and policies of the president of the US have an oversized effect on world political and economic conditions, which merely states the obvious. Unlike his recent predecessors, Trump entered office with few concrete positions and plans. He’d made campaign promises, but the specifics of and how those promises were to be implemented was unknown. A sharp break from Obama’s policies was certain, and to the extent that anything has been accomplished, that is the case.

Prior to the main assessment, the events of today (June 8, 2017) must be acknowledged. Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) James Comey testified in a Congressional hearing about his firing and his interactions with Trump. Comey called Trump a liar no less than five times. It is unusual for so stark a term to be used in political discourse, but in the age of Trump, both political correctness and civility are passé.

The Comey hearing, despite Trump’s personal lawyers assertions, is the beginning not the end. Some think that even if Trump wasn’t being investigated when Comey was fired, which Comey repeatedly affirmed, he still can be, Here is a live blog of the hearing written by lawyers. Although most analysis of the hearing simply reflects the writer’s bias (including this one), it is clear this story has legs and will continue to distract Trump and his administration. The other takeaway from the hearing is that General Michael Flynn is in real legal jeopardy.
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Energy

Of Bats and Blades

Published 6.1.2017
Wind power has enjoyed significant growth globally in the past decade as societies attempt to lower emissions to combat climate change. No energy source is without environmental impact, and wind is no different. Beyond the aesthetic and noise issues with wind installations, wind turbines are known to kill birds and bats. The industry is aware of the wildlife issues, and, in stark contrast with legacy power sources, has adopted mitigation strategies.

The simplest and most effective mitigation strategy to date is to slow or stop the blades spinning at lower wind speeds or during known bat migration periods. Slowing or stopping the blades is easier to accomplish with newer turbines that are remotely controlled. For older turbines, which have to be manually adjusted, this is a more expensive solution.
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