David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    The Thucydides Trap and the Rise and Fall of Great Powers

    Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Geopolitical Futures by Jacak Partosiak which may be of interest. Here is a section:

    Political scientist Joseph Nye believes that the key trigger in the Thucydides trap is an excessive reaction to the fear of losing one’s power status and prospects for future development. In the case of Washington and Beijing, the relative decline of America’s power and the rapid rise of China’s power destabilizes their relationship and makes it difficult to manage. Gen. Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, even admitted in May 2012 that his primary task was to ensure that the United States did not fall into the Thucydides trap.

    As a result of the slow but noticeable erosion of the U.S. position in the Western Pacific, it is highly conceivable that a scenario could emerge in which the current hegemon is tempted to conduct a strategic counteroffensive in response to an incident, even a trivial one, in the South China Sea or East China Sea, believing falsely that it has the edge over its inferior rival. This would trigger a modern Thucydides trap.

    An in-depth reading of Thucydides’ work reveals a second trap, even more complex and dangerous than the first. Thucydides clearly warned that neither Sparta nor Athens wanted war. But their allies and vassal states managed to convince them that war was inevitable anyway, which meant that both city-states would need to gain a decisive advantage at an early stage of the escalating confrontation. Thus, they decided to enter the war after being urged to do so by their vassal states.

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    U.K. Can't Inflate Debt Away, New Head of Fiscal Watchdog Says

    This article by Alex Morales for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The chancellor and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have repeatedly said they’re not planning on pursuing austerity policies to rein in government spending, and for now Sunak has focused on preserving jobs to avoid long-term scarring of the economy. He unveiled a 30-billion pound stimulus program last week, and plans a wider package in a budget in the fall.

    Hughes said while there are upside and downside risks to inflation, they’re tilted toward it remaining below the Bank of England’s 2% target. He also warned that the debts being built up by companies to tide them over the pandemic could end up becoming a burden that leads to scarring of the economy.

    “One of the concerns that we’ve had is that the longer the crisis goes on for, the more likely government-guaranteed loans becomes less of a facilitator of the recovery and more of a burden,” he said. “The more the debt is a burden on companies the less they will invest. We know from past crises that one of the reasons you see longer-term scarring on the economy is you have foregone investment, and that scarring can be significant.”

    He suggested one way to mitigate for that effect would be to tie repayments of the government-backed loans to a company’s earnings and profitability.

    Hughes said high frequency data pointed to a “a bit of good news,” with April representing the low point for the economy and output contracting by about 25% instead of the 35% initially forecast by the OBR. The question is how quickly the economy gets back that loss.

    Current OBR projections are based on Britain and the European Union striking a free-trade agreement. If talks fail and Britain is forced onto WTO rules when the current transition period ends in December, there will be adverse “consequences” for growth and the public finances, he said.

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    Skai revises targets for its liquid-hydrogen, long-range eVTOL

    This article by Loz Blain for NewAtlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    One challenge for anyone who wants to work with liquid hydrogen is that you need to keep it extremely cold to keep it in its liquid state. At atmospheric pressure levels, we're talking just 20.28 kelvins above absolute zero (−252.87 °C, or −423.17 °F).

    That temperature can rise a little if you're willing to pressurize as well as cool (using a cryogenic system running between 250 and 700 bar of pressure), but Gunter says that's not part of Skai's plans, as "even a moderately pressurized system has significant weight penalties."

    So, super-cooling it'll be, and while that entails extra energy losses in the liquefaction stage, the cooling equipment, the conversion back into gas for use in the fuel cell and in boil-off in the tank itself, the net result will still be a much longer range aircraft than anyone dealing with gaseous hydrogen – or certainly lithium batteries – will be able to deliver.

    It'll be interesting to see how Skai gets the job done, as really you've got to look to NASA and other space programs to find liquid hydrogen being used in serious volumes.

    "The good thing in all of this," says Gunter, "is the notable developments that occur in this space on an increasing basis. The efficiencies we’ve seen in fuel cells and the same the industry is seeing regarding H2 production all point to increasing effectiveness of any form of H2 as a future focused solution."

    "There's a number of naysayers about what we're doing with hydrogen," says Hanvey, "but we believe we've gone from the question to the possible, and it's now the probable. We know we can fly with hydrogen, and the question is just how quickly we can get it to the market. And based on our experience, we think we can get there a lot quicker than perhaps the market will give us credit for."

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    Record Lows Await for U.K. Money Market and Gilt Yields

    This article by Richard Jones for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    U.K. yields’ march to record lows will gather momentum in the coming weeks as traders’ conviction in
    negative BOE rates grows.

    It’s happening today, with short-sterling contracts in 2022 printing 100 for the first time. This implied a 3-mo. GBP Libor fixing at 0%, with the March 2022 contract implying an unprecedented fix of -0.01%. Moreover, MPC-dated OIS rates currently have a cut to zero fully priced by the June 2021 meeting and 15bps of reductions priced by September 2021, which would take the rate negative.

    In the gilt curve, 2-yr and 5-yr yields are already comfortably below zero and a negative yield in the 10-yr maturity is only a matter of time. The underwhelming fiscal package unveiled this week, with the furlough scheme unlikely to be extended, has spurred investors to bet the BOE will pick up the bulk of the stimulus slack. With that, new superlatives await for the depth of U.K. yields.


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    Franco-Nevada Eyes $1 Billion Deals as Base Metals Lag Gold

    This article by Danielle Bochove for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    “Right now, on the precious metals side, we’re entering a bull market even for the junior companies,” Harquail said. “People are doing financings and they’re upsizing the financings.”

    Franco-Nevada’s investors want the company to focus on precious-metal deals, he said, as gold continues its ascent. The pandemic has created some headwinds, mainly around doing on-site due diligence for new investments. But Franco-Nevada has been able to work around that with “installment deals” that are subject to doing that work once it’s safe.

    The company’s biggest investment, in First Quantum Minerals Ltd.’s Cobre Panama mine, was shut for most of the second quarter but is now reopening.

    Harquail said the possibility of supply interruptions in Chile or Peru is serious but that so far governments have treated mining as an essential industry. The company has a stake in Lundin Mining Corp.’s Candelaria mine in Chile.

    So far, miners have been able to take advantage of their ability to control sites to contain the virus, he said. While Franco-Nevada doesn’t expect full production this year, he’s comfortable if assets are performing at 85% to 90% of optimal volume.

    ”I think the industry is going to be able to manage this quite well,” he said.

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