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Daily Archives: April 26, 2022

Chart: The U.S. Recessions Costing the Most Jobs

Source : Statista

Cost of Sea Freight from China Continues to Fall Off Record High

The cost of sea freight out of China continued to drop this month from record highs early this year as overseas demand slackened and domestic Covid-19 outbreaks disrupted trucking.

The China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI), a measure of export container shipping prices to major markets, declined to 3109.78 for the week ending Friday, down 0.6% from the previous week and 13.3% lower than the early February peak, data from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange show.


Source : Caixin

Chart: The U.S. Productivity Pay Gap

Workers are more efficient than they used to be, but wages haven’t kept up.

Source : Chartr

Despite Hopes, Vitamin K2 Supplements Fail to Slow Calcium Buildup in Heart Valve

Laura Williamson wrote . . . . . . . . .

The progressive narrowing of the aortic heart valve in a group of older men could not be slowed during a recent clinical trial using vitamin K2 supplements, dampening hopes of finding a medical treatment for this common but serious condition.

The research, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, built upon earlier studies suggesting vitamin K2 supplements could slow the progression of aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the valve that controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. But this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial – considered the gold standard of epidemiological studies – found vitamin K2 and vitamin D supplements did not slow the progression of calcium deposits on the aortic valves of older men once the process had begun.

“As previous animal studies, epidemiological studies and an open-label study did suggest a beneficial effect, we hoped for a positive trial,” said lead study author Dr. Axel Diederichsen, a professor in the department of cardiology at Odense University Hospital in Denmark. “Thus, we were surely disappointed.”

Aortic stenosis is the most common heart valve disease in high-income countries, according to the study, which estimates it affects about 2% to 5% of people older than 65. The number of people in the United States and Europe with aortic stenosis is expected to more than double by the year 2050, according to American Heart Association statistics that estimate 12.4% of people over 75 have the condition.

Symptoms may include chest pain, a fluttering heartbeat, trouble breathing, lightheadedness, fatigue, swollen ankles or feet and difficulty sleeping. There are no treatments when detected early, other than trying to control risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and gum disease. In the later stages, it is treated by replacing the heart valve. If not treated, aortic stenosis can progress and lead to heart failure and death.

“We haven’t had any medical therapies that slow the progression of stenosis,” said Dr. Brian Lindman, medical director of the Structural Heart and Valve Center and an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “We anticipate when we see it in the earlier stages that it will eventually become severe, and you’ll have to have your valve replaced.”

Lindman, who was not involved in the research, said he was disappointed by the results because prior research suggested “this might be an effective intervention. I very much want to identify an effective medical therapy for these patients, so there’s an emotional component to it.”

In the study, 365 men with aortic stenosis from four Danish hospitals were randomly assigned to receive placebo or 720 micrograms of vitamin K2 and 25 micrograms of vitamin D for two years. All were 65 to 74 years old with aortic valve calcification scores of 300 AU or higher, a measure obtained with CT scans showing calcification had begun. The scores were measured again at the end of one year and at the end of the study. They also measured calcification levels in participants’ coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.

Researchers found no significant differences in valve calcification progression between the two groups, leading them to conclude the supplements were ineffective in slowing disease progression. However, there was some suggestion the group taking them experienced slower progression of calcification in their coronary arteries. Diederichsen said this needs to be explored in future studies. Researchers also said because the study only included men, the findings do not apply to women.

Research has suggested eating a diet high in vitamin K can benefit heart health. Vitamin K comes in two forms and is primarily found in leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. Vitamin K2 is the less common form and is found in fermented foods, such as cheese. A study published last August in the Journal of the American Heart Association found eating a diet rich in vitamin K was associated with a lower risk for hospitalizations from cardiovascular disease related to plaque buildup in the arteries.

But Diederichsen said most foods contain insufficient levels of vitamin K2 to make an impact on heart health – with one exception. Natto, a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans, is high in vitamin K2.

While vitamin K2 supplements showed no promise for treating aortic stenosis, Lindman remains hopeful researchers will find another way to slow the progression of the disease. “There are a number of potential drugs and pathways that still need to be tested.”


Source: American Heart Association


Read also at The Heart and Vascular Centre:

What is Aortic Stenosis . . . . .

Pony.ai Scores Taxi License for Autonomous Vehicles in Guangzhou

Rebecca Bellan, Rita Liao wrote . . . . . . . . .

Autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai has been awarded a permit in Guangzhou to operate 100 robotaxis as traditional taxis. The license, which allows Pony to charge for rides in its autonomous vehicles, signifies another step on the path to commercializing autonomous ride-hail vehicles in China.

WeRide, one of Pony’s competitors in China, has been running a partnered service with Guangzhou’s government-backed taxi group Baiyun since 2019, which has given the company an early mover advantage on the path to commercialization. However, this is said to be the first time China has rolled out a taxi license dedicated to an autonomous ride-hail fleet, without the need to partner up with a traditional taxi operator. The license also subjects Pony’s fleets to the same rules that regulate traditional human-operated cabs.

“The inclusion of autonomous vehicles in the unified and standardized management of taxis proves that both government policy and the public are increasingly accepting robotaxis as a form of everyday transportation, recognizing the ride experience and technical stability of Pony.ai’s robotaxi,” said Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and chief technology officer of Pony.ai in a statement.

Pony, which last month announced an undisclosed raise that brought the company’s valuation up to $8.5 billion, will begin charging fares in the Nansha District of Guangzhou in May, an 800 square kilometer port region in the middle of the country’s tech-driven Greater Bay Area. Passengers will be able to hail a ride and pay through the PonyPilot+ App between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., with fares based on “standard taxi pricing in Guangzhou,” according to Pony.

The company did not respond to requests for information about what type of vehicles will be included in its fleet, but photos Pony shared with TechCrunch display a Lexus equipped with Pony’s sensor suite.

Each ride will initially have a human safety driver in the front seat, although Pony has stated its intention to remove the driver “over the short to intermediate time frame.” This is a bold goal, for no city government in China has officially allowed undrivered robotaxis to chauffeur passengers around. Even if Pony is able to remove the driver, it’s hard to imagine such a service will be allowed to operate on Guangzhou’s busy downtown in the short run.

Pony said it intends to gradually expand the scale and scope of its service to other areas of the city, but didn’t specify when.

“To qualify for the license, Pony.ai had to pass stringent safety and other multifaceted vehicle qualification tests set forth by national inspection institutions, such as having at least 24 months of [autonomous driving (AD)] testing in China and/or other countries, at least 1 million kilometers of testing mileage, at least 200,000 kilometers of AD testing within Guangzhou’s designated test area, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents,” the company said in a statement.

In California, where Pony was testing its driverless capabilities, the company recently had to issue a recall of its autonomous driving software following a crash in October, which led to the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspending the company’s driverless permit.

Guangzhou isn’t the first city Pony has charged for robotaxis in. The company, along with Baidu’s autonomous driving service, received a permit in Beijing last November to charge passengers within a small suburban pilot zone.

Pony is also testing autonomous vehicles in Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Fremont and Irvine in California. The company said it has completed more than 700,000 rides as of mid-April, although it’s likely that most of those rides occurred in China.

If commercialization in Guangzhou and Beijing is successful, Pony intends to expand its commercialized robotaxi footprint to two other major Chinese cities next year, with further expansion planned for 2024 and 2025, the company said. Pony did not respond to requests for more clarification, or whether it has applied for deployment permits in California.

The company had intended to go public in New York through a SPAC merger last year, but those plans were reportedly put on hold after the company failed to gain assurances from the Chinese government that it wouldn’t become a target of a crackdown against Chinese tech companies.


Source : Tech Crunch

央行出手稳预期 人民币汇率长期有支撑

记者: 向家莹 张莫 . . . . . . . . .

  人民币汇率连日回调。中国外汇交易中心4月25日公布数据显示,人民币中间价报6.4909,较前一交易日下调313个基点。而就在同一日晚间,中国人民银行宣布,自5月15日起,下调金融机构外汇存款准备金率1个百分点,即外汇存款准备金率由现行的9%下调至8%,释放出强烈的稳定汇率预期的信号。

  接受《经济参考报》记者采访的业内人士表示,人民币对美元汇率快速回调主要是受美联储释放持续加息信号、美元指数走强等因素影响。伴随货币当局出手,人民币汇率持续贬值可能性较小,经济基本面稳固也将给予人民币更多支撑,我国跨境资金流动将呈现合理均衡发展格局。

汇率阶段承压 央行下调外汇存准率

  受国际金融市场波动加剧、疫情扰动以及市场供求等多重因素共同影响,近期人民币汇率一改年初强势态势,中间价连续四个交易日走低,跌幅达1189基点。与此同时,Wind数据显示,4月18日至25日的5个交易日内,在岸、离岸人民币对美元大幅走低,其中离岸人民币对美元汇率短短5个交易日贬值超过3%。

  在此背景下,央行快速出手,将外汇存款准备金率由现行的9%下调至8%。对此,国家金融与发展实验室特聘研究员任涛表示,央行下调外汇存款准备金率,相当于向市场释放出更多的美元流动性,不仅有助于提升金融机构外汇资金运用能力,也有助于缓解近期不断超调的人民币汇率,向市场传递出稳预期的强烈纠偏信号。

  “此次针对外币降准是逆周期的重要举措之一,有助于改变近期一直处于单边贬值态势的人民币行情,减弱羊群效应的影响,让人民币走势更为理性,推动人民币汇率双向波动、外汇市场趋于平衡。”任涛进一步指出。

  分析人士普遍认为,近期人民币汇率快速回调受到内外多重因素的影响。在美元指数升破100且持续强势的背景下,此轮人民币对美元汇率较快回调,属于汇市正常波动。“没有只涨不跌的货币,汇率灵活性增加,有助于及时释放压力,避免预期积累。”中银证券全球首席经济学家管涛直言。

  整体来看,今年以来人民币走势依然稳健。外汇局数据显示,今年以来,截至4月21日,美元指数上涨4.2%,欧元、英镑、日元对美元贬值幅度都在4%-10%之间。在这种情况下,人民币对美元汇率交易价略贬1.2%。从多边汇率看,中国外汇交易中心的人民币汇率指数上涨了2.4%。因此可见,人民币稳健性仍然较好。

不会持续单边回调 汇率长期有支撑

  虽然人民币汇率阶段性承压,但展望未来,分析人士普遍预计,中长期来看,人民币汇率出现持续性单边回调的概率不大,随着政策逐渐主动发力、靠前发力,预计经济增速将逐渐企稳回升,经济基本面稳固将给予人民币更多支撑。

  国家外汇管理局副局长、新闻发言人王春英说,中国经济韧性比较强,长期向好的发展态势没有改变,国际收支结构稳健,经常账户保持合理规模顺差,人民币资产具有长期投资价值,这些都会为人民币汇率基本稳定提供根本支撑。

  中国银行研究院研究员王有鑫也表示,目前汇率的快速回调很大程度上受市场悲观情绪影响,预计随着市场压力的集中释放,市场情绪将逐渐平稳,人民币将回归有序、平稳波动。“我国经济基本面稳固将给予人民币更多支撑。反观美国,在美联储快速加息后,预计经济增长预期将逐渐回落,三季度前后中外经济增长态势和货币政策走势将出现此消彼长的动态变化,届时,人民币将得到更多支撑。”他说。

  管涛说,近期人民币下跌不是外资减持人民币资产的原因而是结果。只要疫情蔓延势头得到有效控制,或是防疫措施更加精准、科学,加上宏观政策靠前发力、适时加力,经济复苏前景明朗,市场信心恢复,外资随时都可能回来,人民币汇率也会重新得到支撑。

  “应该客观看待人民币汇率的近期走势,这是多重因素作用下的市场化结果和复杂经济金融形势下的自然反应,总体反映出中美两大经济体经济与政策层面的周期性差异,亦说明人民币汇率的自动调节器功能在内外均衡中得到了更为有效的发挥。”任涛也表示。

市场有韧性 跨境资金流动长期将合理均衡

  业内人士认为,人民币汇率阶段性走弱会在短期内加剧跨境资本流出压力,不过长期来看,我国跨境资金流动也将呈现合理均衡发展格局。

  《2021年第四季度中国货币政策执行报告》指出,发达经济体宏观政策总体退坡,不仅可能伴生资产价格震荡调整的金融风险,还会通过贸易往来、资本流动、金融市场等渠道对新兴经济体产生明显外溢效应。“对于一个经济体的国际收支和跨境资本流动来说,美联储加息的确是一个重要的外部影响变量,但是根本因素还是自身宏观基本面和市场基础。对中国来讲,近年来中国外汇市场韧性不断增强,有基础和有条件适应本轮美联储政策调整。”王春英表示。

  在任涛看来,汇率波动既是预期的结果,又会在一定程度上改变市场预期,人民币汇率阶段性走弱会在短期内加剧跨境资本流出压力,但人民币汇率的双向波动以及丰富的政策工具箱则有助于跨境资本流动中长期内保持在可控范围内。因此,虽然短期内未来人民币汇率双向波动与跨境资本双向流动的均衡可能会被打破,但中长期内保持平衡仍将是主流。

  王有鑫表示,考虑到我国通胀率较低,实际利率仍然明显高于国外,随着市场形势稳定,短期资金将再度流入增持人民币资产,这在过去几轮市场波动中已多次得到验证。此外,对于直接投资和贸易顺差等长期跨境资金来说,受汇率影响较小,人民币汇率的适度回调有利于提高出口企业竞争力,发挥汇率的国际收支自动稳定器和调节器功能。因此,目前市场需要更多耐心、需要更加稳定的预期,在短期波动之后,跨境资本流动仍将维持流入态势。


Source : 新华网

Infographic: All Electric Car Models Available in the U.S.

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Visual Capitalist