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Monthly Archives: October 2022

Annual Performance of FAANG Stocks

Source : Wall Street Journal

Charts: Most Countries Seeing Inflation Above 5%

Charts: U.S. 3m-10Y Treasury Yield Spread Has Gone Negative

The preferred recession signal of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Source : Bloomberg and Fed

In Pictures: Food of Le Bernardin in New York City, U.S.

Fine Dining French Cuisine with Global Influences

No.44 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Infographic: All the Metals Mined in 2021

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Visual Capitalist

China’s Auto Exports Jump in First Three Quarters

In the first nine months, China shipped 2.26 million vehicles, up 51.6 per cent from a year earlier and surpassing the 2021 total, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Exports of new-energy vehicles grew 93 per cent to 656,000 units during the first nine months, data showed.

The top five exporters were SAIC Motor, Chery Automobile, Chang’an Automobile, Dongfeng Motor and Tesla, data from China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed.

China’s auto exports topped 2 million units for the first time in 2021 with sales of 2.12 million, nearly double from the previous year.

The surge growth of Chinese exports, led by demand from the European market, partly reflected inadequate supplies in the overseas market affected by a semiconductor shortage, an energy crisis and geopolitical tensions, analysts said.

Source : Business Times

WJP Rule of Law Index 2022 Countries Ranking

WJP Rule of Law Index Factors

The WJP Rule of Law Index® calculates scores and rankings for eight factors and 44 subfactors.


Factor 1 of the WJP Rule of Law Index measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law. It comprises the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are limited and held accountable under the law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press.


Factor 2 of the WJP Rule of Law Index measures the absence of corruption in government. The factor considers three forms of corruption: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources. These three forms of corruption are examined with respect to government officers in the executive branch, the judiciary, the military, police, and the legislature.


Factor 3 of the WJP Rule of Law Index measures the openness of government defined by the extent to which a government shares information, empowers people with tools to hold the government accountable, and fosters citizen participation in public policy deliberations. This factor measures whether basic laws and information on legal rights are publicized and evaluates the quality of information published by the government.


Factor 4 of the WJP Rule of Law Index recognizes that a system of positive law that fails to respect core human rights established under international law is at best “rule by law,” and does not deserve to be called a rule of law system. Since there are many other indices that address human rights, and because it would be impossible for the Index to assess adherence to the full range of rights, this factor focuses on a relatively modest menu of rights that are firmly established under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are most closely related to rule of law concerns.


Factor 5 of the WJP Rule of Law Index measures how well a society ensures the security of persons and property. Security is one of the defining aspects of any rule of law society and is a fundamental function of the state. It is also a precondition for the realization of the rights and freedoms that the rule of law seeks to advance.


Factor 6 of the WJP Rule of Law Index measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Regulations, both legal and administrative, structure behaviors within and outside of the government. This factor does not assess which activities a government chooses to regulate, nor does it consider how much regulation of a particular activity is appropriate. Rather, it examines how regulations are implemented and enforced.


Factor 7 of the WJP Rule of Law Index measures whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through the civil justice system. It measures whether civil justice systems are accessible and affordable as well as free of discrimination, corruption, and improper influence by public officials. It examines whether court proceedings are conducted without unreasonable delays and whether decisions are enforced effectively. It also measures the accessibility, impartiality, and effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.


Factor 8 of the WJP Rule of Law Index evaluates a country’s criminal justice system. An effective criminal justice system is a key aspect of the rule of law, as it constitutes the conventional mechanism to redress grievances and bring action against individuals for offenses against society. An assessment of the delivery of criminal justice should take into consideration the entire system, including the police, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and prison officers.

Read more

World Justice Project . . . . .

Do Solar-Powered EVs Make Any Sense? I Drove a Prototype To See How It Could Work

John Voelcker wrote . . . . . . . . .

When you write about electric cars, sooner or later you get that question: Why can’t we just slap a bunch of solar panels on an EV and enjoy near-unlimited range? Whither the solar cars? The flip answer is, “Because physics.” The real answer is that today’s solar cells simply can’t generate enough energy quickly enough to power a vehicle in the limited space on its surface. (Also, clouds? And dust?)

But it’s reasonable to ask when better photovoltaic technology might deliver solar cells that could partially power a car, or at least add meaningful battery range to an EV that also has a conventional charge port. That moment has now arrived; this summer, I drove a pre-production prototype of the Lightyear 0 sedan, billed as the world’s first “solar electric car” by the Dutch startup responsible for it.

The experience proved you can power a 3,500-pound passenger vehicle solely (and slowly) via sunlight—though there are still a number of kinks to work out, and the tech still has a ways to go before it can be applied to the SUVs and larger trucks that make up an ever-increasing proportion of North American sales.

Skinny Students in Pool Tables on Wheels

Solar panels have appeared on electrified cars for more than a decade, starting with the 2010 Toyota Prius and its “solar moonroof” that powered ventilation fans to pull hot air out of the cabin. But specifically, it’s the World Solar Challenge in Australia that inspired the Dutch auto startup Lightyear. Since 1987, the 15 Challenges held so far required competing teams to build wheeled vehicles to cover 3,000 km (1,864 miles) of sunny Australian outback roads, using only energy they harvest from the abundant sun for propulsion.

Early entrants often had three wheels, with more than a few resembling pool tables covered in solar cells. They were usually piloted by the team’s lightest, skinniest student member hanging underneath. In 2013, the Challenge added a “Cruiser” class to the unlimited single-seater category, with the idea being to work toward a safe, ideally road-legal, solar vehicle with multiple seats. Lightyear was founded in 2016 by five members of a Challenge team from Eindhoven University of Technology, and the four- and five-seat “Stella” cars they’ve built have won that class in all four events held thus far.

That work led directly to the Lightyear 0 I drove, which the company says will start production before the end of this year. (Until it was revealed June 9, the company called its first production car Lightyear 1. Now it’s 0, though the next one is still Lightyear 2 … got that?)

Appearing Solely on Solar Power

My first view of the final design came in the late afternoon, as the two prototype cars proceeded sedately down the long road leading up to the venue in southern Spain. Their speed, perhaps 20 mph, was chosen to keep the power they used roughly equal to the power being generated in real-time by the five square meters (54 square feet) of solar panels on the roof, hood, and liftgate. While no Lightyear can do highway speeds on solar power alone, it’s still an impressive trick to power a 3,500-pound vehicle entirely from the sun at any speed.

We drove a prototype Lightyear 0 through the sunny countryside of Spain’s Navarre region for about 20 minutes, covering 20 kilometers (12 miles). The drive had no highway time and mostly covered two-lane country roads, with a loop through a small village.

Getting into the low, sleek car required careful negotiation for this five-foot 11-inch writer to get his head past the very steeply raked windscreen pillar. Once inside, the seats proved surprisingly comfortable and perfectly bolstered for my shape. I was warned the two pre-production Lightyear 0 prototypes didn’t have final calibrations for their steering or throttle mapping.

The result was a smooth, heavy electric sedan with linear accelerator feel, which underscored its relative slowness. Lightyear execs said the zero-to-62-mph acceleration time was about 10 seconds, but that they expected final motor tuning to deliver about 10 percent more torque with the same efficiency.

More important was the solar aspect. The car’s real-time app showed solar production of 492 and 673 watts from the two cars around noontime. Its maximum solar charging rate is just over one kilowatt, Lightyear said. That can add up to 70 km (43 miles) on the sunniest day of the year, and up to 11,000 km (6,840 miles) over a full year. For a European driver averaging 35 km (22 miles) a day, the sun could extend recharging intervals to as long as two months in a cloudy environment like The Netherlands. In a sunny spot like Portugal (or Arizona, perhaps?), that interval between recharges might go as long as seven months.

From Tesla Roadster to Lightyear 0

You can think of Lightyear’s 0 as an equivalent to the original Tesla Roadster. It’s a proof of concept EV, built in low numbers by a contract manufacturer, to demonstrate that a new technology can actually work. For Tesla, the Roadster showed a high-capacity battery pack with thousands of commodity lithium-ion cells could power a remarkably high-performance electric car, at a time when EVs were largely considered glorified golf carts. Over five years, Tesla built only 2,600 Roadsters, and their final price started at $109,000.

Lightyear plans to sell only 946 0s—because 9.46 trillion km is the distance light travels in one year, e.g. one light-year—at the substantial price of 250,000 euros ($249,200 USD). They will be manufactured in Finland by Valmet, a contract manufacturer that has built, among others, both Porsche Boxsters and the original Fisker Karma range-extended electric luxury sedan. The 81 million euros ($79.3 million USD) of funding it announced in early September should allow the company to get the 0 into production.

The Lightyear 2, which the company claims will arrive in late 2024 or early 2025 at a price of 30,000 euros ($29,400), will be the company’s volume model—akin to the Tesla Model S that went into production in 2012, four years after the Tesla Roadster arrived. But even Tesla didn’t try to cut its price by a factor of 10, so Lightyear has set itself an aggressive goal.

CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloots said the second vehicle will be a compact crossover akin to a Model Y. He notably didn’t deny the suggestion it would likely have to be built out of stamped steel, rather than the hand-laid carbon fiber of the Lightyear 0. They’re betting on batteries likely being cheaper by 2025, and photovoltaic cells more efficient. Hoefsloots and other execs declined to say anything further about the Lightyear 2, noting the company was still studying customer requirements for such a vehicle in both Europe and North America.

Biggest of Three

Lightyear is not the only company planning to bring a solar vehicle to market, but it’s the most ambitious, simply because its vehicle is the largest: a mid-size four-door sedan.

At the other end of the scale is a reboot of a United States startup that prototyped the ultra-efficient Aptera 2e two-seat, three-wheeled electric car in 2008 and 2009. It looked like nothing so much as a Cessna cabin sans wings and attracted a huge amount of attention. Version one of Aptera shut down in December 2011 while developing a four-wheeled vehicle amidst management upheaval and the Great Recession.

Now the original founders have brought Aptera back, with a battery-electric powertrain claimed to provide up to 1,000 miles of range from the largest (100 kWh) of four battery capacities, powering two or three 50-kW (67-horsepower) wheel motors. The latest Aptera has three square meters (32 square feet) of solar cells on its non-vertical surfaces, which it says generate up to 0.7 kilowatts. It says they will add up to 4 kWh a day, depending on geographic location. The ultra-aerodynamic, very light vehicle achieves up to 10 miles per kWh, so the solar cells can add up to 40 miles a day in the right conditions.

With 26,000 reservations in hand, the company told The Drive, “It is our goal to deliver a production-ready vehicle by the end of 2022 and ramp quickly in 2023.” Its first deliveries will be of a 400-mile, front-wheel-drive version. Aptera says, perhaps optimistically, that it hopes to scale production to a rate of 10,000 vehicles a year by the end of 2022.

Between the sleek Lightyear and the startling Aptera is the Sono Sion, another European startup aiming for ultra-efficient use of every electron. Its vehicle is a small, upright hatchback of a sort you see throughout European cities, but not so much in the U.S.

Started in 2012, the company has shown several concepts and prototypes of its vehicle. A year ago, it said it would fit a 54-kWh battery to what it now calls a “solar-supplemented electric car,” with photovoltaic panels on not only its roof and hood, but also the body sides (at least in a prototype shown in 2017). In April of this year, Sono said Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet—which is also building the Lightyear 0—would assemble the Sion, starting in the second half of 2023.

Sono Motors has no plans to sell the Sion in North America, but this fall it said it had received 20,000 reservations for the car, at an announced price of 29,900 euros ($29,300). It hopes to build 250,000 of them over seven years.

Photovoltaic Cells and Battery Cells

Photovoltaic cells have been with us for many decades, starting with their use on space satellites before 1960. Their efficiency has risen steadily to the point that they’re now mass-produced (largely in China) and usable both by individual homeowners for onsite generation and at a utility scale in fields of hundreds of acres. It’s still a five-figure project to cover the roof of your house in solar cells, but that installation produces considerably more electricity than it did 10 or 20 years ago.

The technology development of photovoltaics would be its own separate article (this is a good primer), but the important point to know is that today’s silicon-based solar cells convert 19 to 23 percent of solar energy. The theoretical maximum of those cells is no more than 28 percent, due to limitations on the wavelengths they can absorb.

Getting above that requires new types of photovoltaic cells, including those made of flexible organic materials. The Lightyear solar team noted that perovskite solar cells could boost that conversion ratio to 29 or 30 percent, automatically raising the energy produced per area by a quarter or more. Given the urgency of transitioning electrical generation to renewable and non-carbon-emitting sources, we can expect generous private and public funding to produce continuous advances in solar-cell efficiency and cost reduction.

Similarly, the cost-performance of battery cells improves by seven to 10 percent each year: their energy density increases for the same cost, or equivalent energy density costs less each year. That’s what’s taken us from 74-mile Nissan Leafs in 2011 to 520-mile Lucid Airs in 2021.

The combination of the two should create a virtuous circle, in which the possibility of cars that power themselves on sunlight grows ever closer. But even if solar cars can now do meaningful battery charging in sunny climes, two challenges remain.

On the Car? Or in a Field?

First, EVs remain pricey, and adding solar cells to them only exacerbates the problem. The Lightyear’s 60-kWh battery pack may now be average for the mid-size segment, but production EVs still aren’t yet price-competitive with their combustion-engine equivalents. The solar cells and their associated electronics likely add a further four figures of cost to the vehicle.

The second problem is that solar cells on the surface of a vehicle still can’t produce enough energy to power it—and they likely won’t any time soon. So why not simply put those solar cells somewhere else: on your roof, in a field, or in a “utility-scale” solar generation field of hundreds or thousands of acres of cheap solar arrays wired together?

At scale, it will inevitably be more cost-effective to keep your solar cells stationary rather than tying them to the cars whose batteries they recharge. So is a Lightyear showing off an impractical technology that’s as much about virtue signaling as actual energy efficiency? Certainly, the high-priced, low-yield solar panels on cars like Toyota Priuses and Fisker Karmas suggest that’s the case.

But I’m going to wait for the Lightyear 2 before I try to answer that question. Because if the company can really sell a four-passenger SUV that’s as slippery, as efficient, and can power itself to the same degree from the sun as its Zero—for $40,000—that may change the equation.

Especially for those drivers who can’t plug in at home each evening.

Source : The Drive

Watch video at You Tube (8:10 minutes)

Lightyear Zero (2023): First Test Drive Video Review . . . .

U.S. National Security Strategy 2022

October 12, 2022

From the earliest days of my Presidency, I have argued that our world is at an inflection point. How we respond to the tremendous challenges and the unprecedented opportunities we face today will determine the direction of our world and impact the security and prosperity of the American people for generations to come. The 2022 National Security Strategy outlines how my Administration will seize this decisive decade to advance America’s vital interests, position the United States to outmaneuver our geopolitical competitors, tackle shared challenges, and set our world firmly on a path toward a brighter and more hopeful tomorrow.

Around the world, the need for American leadership is as great as it has ever been. We are in the midst of a strategic competition to shape the future of the international order. Meanwhile, shared challenges that impact people everywhere demand increased global cooperation and nations stepping up to their responsibilities at a moment when this has become more difficult. In response, the United States will lead with our values, and we will work in lockstep with our allies and partners and with all those who share our interests. We will not leave our future vulnerable to the whims of those who do not share our vision for a world that is free, open, prosperous, and secure. As the world continues to navigate the lingering impacts of the pandemic and global economic uncertainty, there is no nation better positioned to lead with strength and purpose than the United States of America.

From the moment I took the oath of office, my Administration has focused on investing in America’s core strategic advantages. Our economy has added 10 million jobs and unemployment rates have reached near record lows. Manufacturing jobs have come racing back to the United States. We’re rebuilding our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

We’ve made a generational investment to upgrade our Nation’s infrastructure and historic investments in innovation to sharpen our competitive edge for the future. Around the world, nations are seeing once again why it’s never a good bet to bet against the United States of America.

We have also reinvigorated America’s unmatched network of alliances and partnerships to uphold and strengthen the principles and institutions that have enabled so much stability, prosperity, and growth for the last 75 years. We have deepened our core alliances in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. NATO is stronger and more united than it has ever been, as we look to welcome two capable new allies in Finland and Sweden. We are doing more to connect our partners and strategies across regions through initiatives like our security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom (AUKUS). And we are forging creative new ways to work in common cause with partners around issues of shared interest, as we are with the European Union, the Indo-Pacific Quad, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.

These partnerships amplify our capacity to respond to shared challenges and take on the issues that directly impact billions of people’s lives. If parents cannot feed their children, nothing else matters. When countries are repeatedly ravaged by climate disasters, entire futures are wiped out. And as we have all experienced, when pandemic diseases proliferate and spread, they can worsen inequities and bring the entire world to a standstill. The United States will continue to prioritize leading the international response to these transnational challenges, together with our partners, even as we face down concerted efforts to remake the ways in which nations relate to one another.

In the contest for the future of our world, my Administration is clear-eyed about the scope and seriousness of this challenge. The People’s Republic of China harbors the intention and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order in favor of one that tilts the global playing field to its benefit, even as the United States remains committed to managing the competition between our countries responsibly. Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war on its neighbor Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and impacted stability everywhere, and its reckless nuclear threats endanger the global non-proliferation regime. Autocrats are working overtime to undermine democracy and export a model of governance marked by repression at home and coercion abroad.

These competitors mistakenly believe democracy is weaker than autocracy because they fail to understand that a nation’s power springs from its people. The United States is strong abroad because we are strong at home. Our economy is dynamic. Our people are resilient and creative.

Our military remains unmatched—and we will keep it that way. And it is our democracy that enables us to continually reimagine ourselves and renew our strength.

So, the United States will continue to defend democracy around the world, even as we continue to do the work at home to better live up to the idea of America enshrined in our founding documents. We will continue to invest in boosting American competitiveness globally, drawing dreamers and strivers from around the world. We will partner with any nation that shares our basic belief that the rules-based order must remain the foundation for global peace and prosperity. And we will continue to demonstrate how America’s enduring leadership to address the challenges of today and tomorrow, with vision and clarity, is the best way to deliver for the American people.

This is a 360-degree strategy grounded in the world as it is today, laying out the future we seek, and providing a roadmap for how we will achieve it. None of this will be easy or without setbacks. But I am more confident than ever that the United States has everything we need to win the competition for the 21st century. We emerge stronger from every crisis. There is nothing beyond our capacity. We can do this—for our future and for the world.

Read the full report . . . . .

Where US and Ukrainian War Aims Collide

Patrick J. Buchanan wrote . . . . . . . . .

For us, the crucial concern in this Ukraine-Russia war is not who ends up in control of Crimea and the Donbas, but that the U.S. not be sucked into a war with Russia that could escalate into a world war and a nuclear war.

To President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukraine, Crimea and the Donbas are national territories whose retrieval justifies all-out war to expel the invading armies of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Yet, who controls Crimea and the Donbas has, in the history of U.S.-Russian relations, never been an issue to justify a war between us.

America has never had a vital interest in who rules in Kyiv.

Through the 19th and almost all of the 20th century, Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire or the USSR, ruled from Moscow. And that condition presented no issue of concern to the USA, 5,000 miles away.

For us, the crucial concern in this Ukraine-Russia war is not who ends up in control of Crimea and the Donbas, but that the U.S. not be sucked into a war with Russia that could escalate into a world war and a nuclear war.

That is America’s paramount interest in this crisis.

Nothing in Eastern Europe would justify an all-out U.S. war with Russia. After all, Moscow’s control of Eastern and Central Europe was the situation that existed throughout the Cold War from 1945 to 1989.

And the U.S. never militarily challenged that result of World War II.

We lived with it. When Hungarians rose up in 1956 for freedom and independence, the U.S. refused to intervene. Rather than risk war with Russia, the Hungarian patriots were left to their fate by President Dwight Eisenhower.

How the world has changed in the 21st century.

Today, while the U.S. is under no obligation to go to war for Ukraine, we are obliged, under the NATO treaty, to go to war if Slovakia, Czechia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia are attacked.

And, though Kyiv is not a member of NATO, the U.S. finds itself the financier and principal armorer of Ukraine in a war with Russia over Crimea and the Donbas, which could involve the use of nuclear weapons for the first time since Nagasaki.

In short, our vital interest — avoidance of a U.S. war with a nuclear-armed Russia — may soon clash with the strategic war goals of Ukraine — i.e., full retrieval of Crimea and the Donbas.

If Putin is serious about an indefinite war to hold Crimea and the Donbas as Russian territory, how far are we willing to go to aid Ukraine in driving the Russians out and taking these lands back?

What appears to be emerging is a situation something like this:

As U.S. weapons help drive Russian soldiers out of the occupied regions of Ukraine, Russia and Putin are being driven into a corner, where the alternatives left to them shrink to two: accept defeat, humiliation and all its consequences, or escalate to hold onto what they have.

At some point, escalation to prevent defeat can require crossing the nuclear threshold. And Putin and his retinue have said as much.

Bottom line: At some point in this conflict, achieving the war aims of Ukraine must force Moscow to consider escalation or accept defeat.

For Russia, the worse the war situation is, the sooner comes the day when Putin must either play his ace of spades to avoid defeat, or accept defeat, humiliation and his potential overthrow in Moscow.

As Russia’s use of nuclear weapons could lead to a war that could involve the United States, Kyiv’s relentless pursuit of its vital interests — retrieval of all the lands taken by Russia, including the Donbas and Crimea — will eventually imperil vital U.S. interests.

If Kyiv, with U.S. weapons and support, pushes the Russians out of Crimea and the Donbas, Kyiv pushes its war with Russia closer and closer to a nuclear war.

As Kyiv seeks to reconquer all its territory lost to Russia since 2014, it pushes Russia closer and closer toward consideration of the only way to avert defeat and national humiliation, use of tactical nuclear weapons, which means moving closer to war with the United States.

The higher the casualty rates for Putin’s Russia, the worse the defeats inflicted on Russia by U.S.-armed and -equipped Ukrainians, the greater the likelihood Russia plays its ace of spades, nuclear weapons, to stave off defeat and humiliation and ensure the survival of the regime.

In short, the closer Putin comes to defeat, the closer we come to nuclear war, for that increasingly appears to be the only way Putin can prevent a Russian defeat, disgrace and humiliation.

Americans had best begin to consider what is the outcome to this war that can end the bloodshed, restore much of Ukraine to Kyiv, but not be seen as a historic humiliation for Russia.

Some Americans see this war as an opportunity to inflict a defeat and disgrace on Putin’s regime and Russia. Those seeking such goals should recognize that the closer they come to achieving their goals, the closer we come to Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

Recall: President John F. Kennedy sought to provide an honorable way out of the Cuban missile crisis for the Soviet dictator and nation who precipitated it.

Source : Patrick J. Buchanan