Sunday, December 31, 2023

The EV Saga Continues - The Nightmare of Replacement Lithium Batteries

Thanks to a friend who forwarded me this video regarding the battery packs in Hyundai's much-touted and highly rated IONIQ 5 electric vehicle:


...which was followed by this video one week later:


...we are learning about another downside to EV ownership.


For those of you who do not live in Canada, here is a screen copy of Hyundai's pricing for the IONIQ 5 in Canadian dollars, excluding any provincial or federal, taxpayer-funded subsidies:


So, basically, according to the issues facing these two Canadian IONIQ 5 owners, the replacement battery packs for their vehicles are more costly than the original vehicle.  As such, it's not terribly surprising that insurance companies are writing off these EVs even though the damage appears, at first glance, to be surficial.  This type of damage in an ICE vehicle would be easily and relatively cheaply reparable.  


Two questions come to mind:


1.) Why isn't Hyundai installing a much more robust shielding system on the underside of their vehicles to protect the critical and highly fragile lithium batteries from the impact of road debris?


2.) What will be the ultimate impact of these write-offs (which will multiply) as EV adoption increases on all vehicle insurance rates even though the majority of insurance consumers don't own EVs?


While it has been apparent for some time that the cost of replacing aging EV lithium batteries is excessive and likely subeconomic, these cases show just how vulnerable EV consumers are to losing any economic advantage to electric vehicle ownership.


It's funny how the kakistocrats who insist that we will all adopt EVs seem to be blissfully unaware of this substantial downside of electric vehicle adoption, isn't it?  Or, are they not as stupid as they appear to be?

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The United States Fiscal Position - A Crisis in the Making

If you want a sense of where Washington's next fiscal crisis will come from, look at this graphic with data from the Federal Reserve's FRED database:


In the third quarter of 2023, interest on the federal debt was consuming 45 percent of every tax dollar that individuals remitted to Washington.  While this is below the record set back in the 1980s and early 1990s, it is important to keep in mind that this is what interest rates looked like back then compared to today:


Here is a graphic from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showing how federal interest payments have grown since Q1 2021:


The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office shows the following increase in net interest outlays (in grey) to 2053 as a percentage of GDP:


Net interest outlays will rise from 2.5 percent of GDP in 2023 to 3.6 percent in 2033, 4.8 percent in 2043 and 6.7 percent in 2053, outstripping the growth in mandatory spending on both social security and major health care programs.

With Washington's total debt looking like this:


...and, to reiterate, it's pretty apparent that an unprecedented debt crisis is looming as interest owing on the federal debt rising at a record rate and nearly doubling since the third quarter of 2020:


Nations, particularly those who are members of the BRICS organization are increasingly divesting of the U.S. dollar which means that Washington will be forced to keep interest rates relatively high to attract investors to its increasingly unappealing currency, further increasing both the debt and interest payments on the debt.


Net interest outlays will rise from 2.5 percent of GDP in 2023 to 3.6 percent in 2033, 4.8 percent in 2043 and 6.7 percent in 2053, outstripping the growth in mandatory spending on both social security and major health care programs:


Here is a quote from the aforementioned Congressional Budget Office's latest report on American's fiscal situation with my bolds:


"Persistently large deficits would lead to substantial increases in federal debt. In CBO’s projections, federal debt held by the public, measured in relation to GDP, surpasses its highest level in history in 2029, reaching 107 percent. Debt continues to climb thereafter and reaches 181 percent of GDP at the end of 2053.


Such high and rising debt would have significant economic and financial consequences. It would, among other things, slow economic growth, drive up interest payments to foreign holders of U.S. debt, elevate the risk of a fiscal crisis, increase the likelihood of other adverse effects that could occur more gradually, and make the nation’s fiscal position more vulnerable to an increase in interest rates. In addition, it could cause lawmakers to feel more constrained in their policy choices."


According to the CBO, here are the consequences of high and rising federal debt:

"1.) Borrowing costs throughout the economy would rise, reducing private investment and slowing the growth of economic output.

2.) Rising interest costs associated with that debt would drive up interest payments to foreign holders of U.S. debt, decreasing the nation’s net international income.

3.) There would be an elevated risk of a fiscal crisis—that is, a situation in which investors lose confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to service and repay its debt, causing interest rates to increase abruptly, inflation to spiral upward, or other disruptions to occur.

4.) The likelihood of other adverse effects would also increase. For example, expectations of higher rates of inflation could become widespread, which could erode confidence in the U.S. dollar as the dominant international reserve currency.

5.) The United States’ fiscal position would be more vulnerable to an increase in interest rates, because 

the higher debt is, the more an increase in interest rates raises debt-service costs.

6.) Lawmakers might feel constrained in using fiscal policy to respond to unforeseen events or for other purposes, such as to promote economic activity or strengthen national defense."


If America's federal politicians continue to spend what they don't have and kick the "debt can" further and further down the road, America is screwed and the demise of the U.S. dollar is assured.  With Washington sabre-rattling at China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, one can be assured that cuts to spending are not going to happen and that outlays for defense are going to continue to rise in the future, putting further strain on the U.S. economy.

Friday, December 15, 2023

The World Economic Forum - Board of Trustees and Canada's Ego-In-Chief

The World Economic Forum, the international non-governmental organization that believes that it has the answers for everything that ails the world, is run by an august group of individuals known as the Board of Trustees.  In this posting, I'll provide you with the list of each of the trustees along with screen captures of  their CVs as posted on the WEF website.  I'll present them in alphabetical order with one exception for "dramatic effect":


1.) Mukesh D. Ambani:


2.) Mark Benioff who is best known as the owner of TIME magazine:


3.) Peter Brabeck-Letmathe who is best known as the former CEO of the Nestle Group:

4.) Thomas Buberl best known as CEO of AXA:


5.) Laurence Fink who is best known as Chairman and CEO of Blackrock, the world's largest asset manager:


6.) Orit Gadiesh who is best known as Chairman of Bain & Company, a management consulting company:


7.) Kristalina Georgieva who is best known as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and former CEO of the World Bank:


8.) Fabiola Gianotti who is best known as the Director General of CERN, the operator of the Large Hadron Collider (ask Sheldon Cooper for more information):


9.) Al Gore who is best known as the former Vice President of the United States and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner:

10.) Andre Hoffmann:

11.) Christine Lagarde who is best known as the current President of the European Central Bank and former Managing Director of the IMF:


12.) Yo-Yo Ma who is best known as a world-renowned cellist:


13.) Patrice Motsepe  is the founder of the massive African Rainbow Minerals, South Africa's first black-owned mining company:

14.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is Director-General of the World Trade Organization:


15.) Lubna S. Olayan:


16.) Her Majesty Queen Tania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:


17.) David M. Rubenstein who is best known as the co-founder and co-chairman of the Carlyle Group and co-chairman emeritus of the Brookings Institute:


18.) Mark Schneider who is best know as the CEO of Nestle:


19.) Jim Hagemann Snabe who is best known as the Chairman of Sieimens:


20. ) Julie Sweet who is best known as the Chair and CEO of Accenture:


21.) Feike Sybesma:


22.) Heizo Takenaka:

23.) Zhu Min:


Now, as promised earlier, I was holding back one Trustee.  Here she is:


24.) Chrystia Freeland who is best known as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of what is, in the global sense, an irrelevant nation:


I might also add that she is also best known for locking Canadians who disagreed with her government's stance on the Trucker's Protest out of their bank accounts.  I'm surprised that that little fact doesn't appear in her CV given that one of the World Economic Forum's "suggestions" is that, "by 2030, we'll own nothing and be happy".


You'll notice that Freeland is playing in a field of highly qualified, highly educated and highly influential individuals who have far more influence than she does on the corporate, political and financial world.  I would say that a woman who was a freelance writer for the mainstream media does not make her qualified to do much other than write but then that's just my opinion.


One other observation; despite the field that she's playing in, her CV is three times the size of her fellow Trustees (excluding that of Ms. Gadiesh) including that of her boss,  Klaus Schwab:

When I was in the corporate world, we had an unofficial rule of thumb; the longer that your CV was, the less you had actually achieved.  It's like putting lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig no matter how much lipstick you apply.  The same might be said for Ms. Freeland and her personal brag sheet.

As an aside, this does beg two questions

1.) What is Freeland really like in WEF Board of Trustee meetings?

2.) Will the WEF toss Freeland aside once she is no longer playing the role of the unofficial Prime Minister of Canada and becomes useless to their cause?

Ms. Freeland who is well known for her condescending attitude toward Canadians who disagree with her viewpoint on any given issue would certainly appear to be Canada's Ego-in Chief even when she compares herself to the global elites.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Maternal Mortality Rates - A Critical Health Issue

One of the key measures of health in various nations is maternal mortality.  In this posting, we'll compare the maternal mortality rate for the world's most advanced nations, those who are members of the OECD.


Here is a definition of maternal mortality from the World Health Organization:


"The annual number of female deaths from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes) during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy."


Let's start by looking at some background information on maternal mortality according to the World Health Organization:


Women in low-income countries have a higher lifetime risk of death of maternal death. A woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is the probability that a 15-year-old woman will eventually die from a maternal cause. In high income countries, this is 1 in 5300, versus 1 in 49 in low-income countries.


Maternal mortality is unacceptably high. About 287,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2020 (nearly 800 women each day) with a death occurring every 2 minutes throughout 2020. Almost 95% of all maternal deaths occurred in low and lower middle-income countries in 2020, and most could have been prevented.


The high number of maternal deaths in some areas of the world reflects inequalities in access to quality health services and highlights the gap between rich and poor. The MMR in low-income countries in 2020 was 430 per 100,000 live births versus 12 per 100 000 live births in high income countries.  In 2020, almost 95 percent of al maternal deaths occurred in low- and lower-middle-income nations.


A late maternal death is “the death of a woman from direct or indirect obstetric causes, more than 42 days but less than one year after termination of pregnancy”. Like maternal deaths, late maternal deaths also include both direct and indirect maternal/obstetric deaths. Complications of pregnancy or childbirth can lead to death beyond the six-week (42-day) postpartum period, and the increased availability of modern life-sustaining procedures and technologies enables more women to survive adverse outcomes of pregnancy and delivery, and also delays some deaths beyond 42 days that postpartum period.


The causes of maternal deaths are mainly due to the following issues:


1.) severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth)

2.) infections (usually after childbirth)

3.) high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia)

4.) complications from delivery

5.) unsafe abortion

Now, let's look at maternal mortality data per 100,000 live births for OECD nations from the OECD.stat website noting that 2020 is the most current year for which data is available for most member nations in order of highest to lowest maternal mortality rate:



For comparison's sake and since data for 2020 is not available for four nations, data from the missing nations is as follows in the latest year for which data was actually available:


1.) France - 7.6 (2015)

2.) New Zealand - 13.6 (2018)

3.) Belgium - 7.6 (2018)

4.) United Kingdom - 5.5 (2017)


You'll notice that the United States has the fourth worst maternal mortality rate among its OECD peers and well above its the rates seen in its European peers and the 11.9 deaths per 100,000 live births average of all advanced nations. Another surprise is Canada with its socialized (but failing) medical system; at 8.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, its rate is below the OECD average but still has the 11th worst maternal mortality rate among its advanced economy peers.


While the world's public health officials wring their hands over the next pandemic, it would certainly appear that maternal mortality is a health issue that should also be of great concern, even among the world's so-called advanced economies. But then again, dying mothers just aren’t as sexy an issue as an infectious disease that can be “solved” using highly profitable pharmaceutical interventions.

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Bank of Canada - How Canadians Feel about a Canadian Dollar CBDC

There is little doubt that the world is heading towards a central bank digital currency-dominated future, thanks to the efforts of organizations like the Bank for International Settlements, the World Economic Forum and like-minded organizations.  While the implementation of CBDCs may be unavoidable, one of the world's central banks, the Bank of Canada, undertook a survey of Canadians to understand their views on the development and rollout of CBDCs.  The results of the public consultation portion of this survey were just released and are rather eye-opening:



Let's look at some of the highlights.


A total of 89,432 responses were collected during the public consultation which took place from May 8 to June 19, 2023 which the Bank of Canada considers a "high level of engagement".  The survey was divided into five main sections:


1.) How you pay for things today 


2.) Design concepts and principles


3.) Design features and use cases


4.) Your advice


5.) About you


The individuals that took the time to complete the 30 question survey exhibited a high level of familiarity with the concept of a digital Canadian dollar with 87 percent having heard about a Bank of Canada CBDC.  Here is a map showing how respondents represented the vast geography of Canada:


Here is a graphic showing the payment types used by respondents in the last month before they completed the survey:



Here are the reasons for using these payment methods noting that cash was often used for "privacy", "safety" and "anonymity":


When asked about the importance of a universally accessible digital Canadian dollar, respondents answered as follows:



Note that nearly half of respondents felt that accessibility was very unimportant compared to only 29 percent who felt that it was very important.


When it comes to the design features of a digital Canadian currency, here are respondents' recommendations:

In Canadians' opinion, the most important feature is privacy (13 percent) followed by protection against government abuse or control (8 percent).


When asked if they would be interested in having a payment method in addition to cash that would work offline when the internet is not functioning or there is a power, outage, two-thirds of Canadians said that they were uninterested in such a feature:


When asked how often they would use digital Canadian dollars offline, here's what Canadians said:


Now let's get to the most important aspect of a central bank/government-controlled digital currency, the issue of privacy and trust in the Bank of Canada to issue a digital currency that is secure from fraud, cyberattack or theft:



The top privacy features of a Canadian digital dollar that would be expected are as follows:



Lastly, here's how much Canadians trust their own financial institutions, the Bank of Canada, the Government of Canada and Big Tech:


It is quite clear that Canadians have very little trust in their nation's financial system, particularly  the Bank of Canada, the Government of Canada and Big Tech, when it coms to protecting their personal information and spending habits.


Let's close with this graphic which shows the percentage of respondents that would use a digital Canadian dollar:



...and the percentage of Canadians who would use a digital Canadian dollar rather than their current form of payment:



To summarize, 86 percent of respondents responded negatively when commenting on the idea of a digital Canadian dollar with only 5 percent responding positively.  One commenter even noted the Trudeau government's attempts to freeze the bank accounts of Canadians who disagreed with their response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the Truckers' Protest of February 2022.


Let's close with a couple of comments from the Bank of Canada's summary of their own survey:


"Overall, the public consultation gathered a diversity of attitudes and concerns from Canadians regarding a digital Canadian dollar, underlining significant reservations related to privacy and security and a strong preference for existing payment methods....


Ultimately, it will be up to Parliament and the Government of Canada to determine if or when to issue a digital Canadian dollar."


Personally, I think that that the implementation of CBDCs in Canada is a done deal no matter what Canadian voters want but that's just my opinion.  All that it will take is some type of financial catastrophe to push the Bank of Canada and the Government of Canada to force CBDCs on Canadians or the perceived need to remain competitive with the central banks of other nations who implement their own central bank digital currencies.