Category Archives: Quarterly

Topley’s Top 10 – April 26, 2022

1. FB, SHOP, PAYPAL, NFLX All Now Underperforming S&P Since Pandemic.

Ben Carlson-A Wealth of Common Sense-Surprisingly, each of these stocks is now underperforming the S&P 500 since the per-pandemic days at the start of 2020:

2. What has Market Priced in Regarding FED Rate Raises?

Jim Bianco-As of Friday’s close, the market had 14 rate hikes priced in for the entire cycle. This includes 50 – 75 – 50 over the next three meetings. Or, a 2.00% – 2.25% funds rate on July 27.

(19) Jim Bianco biancoresearch.eth (@biancoresearch) / Twitter

3. S&P and Nasdaq Officially Testing YTD Previous Lows

S&P Testing Lows

QQQ Testing Lows

4. Put/Call Ratio Spikes to 2020 Sell Off Levels.

The Put/Call Ratio is an indicator that shows put volume relative to call volume. Put options are used to hedge against market weakness or bet on a decline. Call options are used to hedge against market strength or bet on an advance. The Put/Call Ratio is above 1 when put volume exceeds call volume and below 1 when call volume exceeds put volume. Typically, this indicator is used to gauge market sentiment. Sentiment is deemed excessively bearish when the Put/Call Ratio is trading at relatively high levels and excessively bullish when at relatively low levels. Chartists can apply moving averages and other indicators to smooth the data and derive signals.

A Put/Call Ratio at its upper extremities would show excessive bearishness because put volume would be significantly higher than call volume. Excessive bearishness would argue for optimism and the possibility of a bullish reversal.

Put/Call Ratio Chart

CNN Fear and Greed Index

5. The Broad Commodities Index vs. Gold

This Chart shows the broad commodities index vs. gold since inflation really took hold….Gold lagging energy, food, etc.

6. Euro Inflation…German 10 Year Inflation Break-Evens Rise Above U.S. for First Time Since 2009

Jim Reid DB-We have just launched our latest monthly survey, which has lots of questions on inflation, rates, potential policy errors in either direction, and a terminal state WFH question to compare to those we compiled early in the pandemic. The survey will likely stay open until Wednesday lunchtime BST. It’s anonymous, and you can skip any question you don’t want to answer. As always, I’d appreciate all support in filling it in. The link is here.

Over the last week or so, German 10yr breakevens briefly edged above their US equivalent for the first time since 2009. For most of the last decade the differential has been between +50 to +100bps in favour of the US with the peak only just over a year ago at +116bps.

So it’s been a remarkable turnaround and had you said 12 months ago that German inflation would average more than the US over the next decade, you would have been looked at quite strangely.

Clearly, much of the move has been energy related with Europe’s energy costs more at risk over the next few years than the US’s. Speaking to DB’s Francis Yared, he confirms the energy story, especially in the near term, as European 2yr inflation swaps also edged above the US equivalent last week. However, if we look at the 5yr5yr inflation swap differential between the two regions there is still a c.25bps higher rate in the US than in Europe. However, the differential is close to the narrowest its been outside of the GFC period.

In our survey, there is a recurring question about your long-term inflation expectations in the US and Europe, so it’ll be interesting to see if you believe the converging trend is justified or not.

7. Net Net Coal Still Much Higher Usage in Last 25 Years….Flat for 15 Years but Not Down.

Bloomberg-In 2021, the world generated more electricity from coal than ever before, with an increase of 9% from the previous year, according to the International Energy Agency. For 2022, total coal consumption — for generating power, making steel and other industrial uses — is expected to rise by almost 2% to a record of just above 8 billion metric tons and remain there through at least 2024.

“All evidence indicates a widening gap between political ambitions and targets on one side and the realities of the current energy system on the other,” the IEA said, estimating that carbon-dioxide emissions from coal in 2024 will be at least 3 billion tons higher than in a scenario reaching net-zero by 2050.

Russia’s War Is Turbocharging the World’s Addiction to Coal-Will Wade and Stephen Stapczynski

8. Commercial Drone Deliveries Growth-The Daily Shot Blog

Source: McKinsey & Company  Read full article

9. Chick-Fil-A Annual Sales Growth

Chicken sandwiches are big business
America loves Chick-fil-A.  This week the fast food company disclosed that it had sold more than $16.7 billion worth of food across its restaurants in 2021, up more than 20% on last year’s haul of $13.7bn — putting Chick-fil-A near the very top of the fast food food chain, behind only the golden arches and Starbucks in terms of US sales.
Closed on SundaysA typical Chick-fil-A (outside of a mall location), turns over more than $8 million a year (source), which is a staggering amount on its own — and more than any other major fast food chain — but gets even more staggering when you remember that those sales are crammed into just 6 days a week. As tradition has long dictated at Chick-fil-A, all of its restaurants are closed on Sundays.
So why is Chick-fil-A doing so well?The obvious answer is… delicious food. But the business model deserves some credit too. Chick-fil-A has a fairly unique franchise system — the company typically only lets owners own one franchise location (as opposed to multiple). In theory that could have limited the company’s growth, but it also means Chick-fil-A franchisees are laser focused on their one store. The stellar sales numbers suggest it can’t have hurt too much.

10. 5 Reasons Creativity Gets Crushed at Work

Our creative spirit in the workplace can be affected by constant criticism-Anthony D. Fredericks Ed.D.


  • New ideas in the workplace are frequently “shot down” by negative criticism.
  • There are five major reasons why colleagues reject new ideas.
  • Many people protect their “corporate standing” by rejecting new ideas.


Let’s say you’ve got a great new idea, an idea that will transform your department into a dynamic new entity within the company. Profits will soar, people will be happy, and, of course, you’ll get a substantial raise. You bring this new idea to the weekly department meeting and announce it to all your colleagues. There is stunned silence. But, finally, from somewhere in the back of the room, somebody raises their voice and says something like, “That’s got to be the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard! It’ll never work!”

You’ve effectively been shot down. You’ve been hit between the eyes with a verbal bullet and your idea, for all intents and purposes, has been killed on the spot. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that many of us are assailed by these verbal put-downs regularly. That negativity frequently infests our workplaces where criticism is not only condoned but is often the modus operandi of an organization.

Some people are masters at tamping down new ideas. These are the naysayers—those folks who challenge every new idea as though it was a bad idea. They’ll say “no” at the drop of a hat. In many cases, it’s the result of our natural resistance to change. Change is something new and thus change is scary. Cro-Magnons may have been reluctant to hike over a mountain ridge because they didn’t know what (or who) they’d meet on the other side. They had established a comfort zone on one side of the mountain and venturing into a new environment probably meant a new set of survival skills. “Let’s play it safe,” “Let’s not take that chance,” they may have said. “No” is safe, and “yes” holds the possibility of unknown dangers, new fears, and lots of uncertainties.

Modern humans often have the same set of apprehensions—living their lives in fear. “Stay with what’s comfortable; what’s known,” they say to themselves (and others). Consequently, they want to wrap others into that comfort zone—imposing their will on colleagues who may wish to venture outside that zone and see what’s “on the other side of the mountain.”

Why Ideas Are Crushed

Why do some people feel compelled to say “no” to every new idea? Let’s take a look at a few reasons.

First, it’s a control issue. For example, when you tell someone her idea is no good, you exert a measure of control over her. Those we refer to as “control freaks” are often the ones who want to trample our energy and enthusiasm. It wasn’t their idea, so it can be controlled by saying it was a bad idea. They maintain their control by rejecting our ideas.

Second, there is a region of the human brain known as the amygdala, which serves as an automatic alarm system whenever there is danger (or the possibility of danger). Many psychologists believe this is the brain’s default position—that is, if something new and unusual appears in front of us, we have a natural tendency to picture it as harmful or dangerous. As a result, we will either protect ourselves or flee from the potential danger. In evolutionary terms, this is how prehistoric humans survived a harsh and often unpredictable environment. In modern terms, this means that new ideas are often viewed as dangerous ideas. And, if an idea is dangerous, then it must be squelched.

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Third, some people are more comfortable being pessimistic. They see the glass as half-empty, they view the world as a negative environment, they always see the “bad” in a situation, and they always want others to know of their dissatisfaction with the way things are. When someone shares a positive idea, they seek to counter it with a negative reaction. These folks are reactionaries rather than visionaries. They are most comfortable in maintaining the edges of “the box.” As you might imagine, these are individuals who frequently solicit collegial approval. Thus, if someone doesn’t tell them they’re doing a good job (regularly), they certainly aren’t going to celebrate the ideas of others.

Fourth, some people are locked into a “fixed mindset.” They are incapable of embracing new ideas just as they are incapable of embracing change. They resist change in themselves, just as much as they resist change in others or in an organization. For them, change is difficult to fathom—it’s an intimidating proposition. It’s a journey into new territory and for some, that’s both frightening and worrisome. They are content right where they are, so why do things differently? Why venture into the unknown when the “known” is very comfortable just as it is?

Fifth, and perhaps most important, naysayers get attention when they say something that goes against the grain. They are recognized (often for the wrong reasons) for a gibe, a put-down, a taunt, a sneer, or an insult. The spotlight is (temporarily) on them. They are the center of attention. Moreover, they get a reaction—sometimes a negative reaction—but for a moment, all eyes are on them. They’ve inserted their thoughts and (re)claimed their space.

So, how common are those negative comments? According to one report, it appears as though negative reactions to new ideas are on the rise. The researchers interviewed over 3,000 U.S. business leaders about behaviors in the workplace. The results showed that 53 percent of the respondents have seen an increase in “criticism,” 48 percent have seen an increase in “dismissing others’ ideas,” and 36 percent have seen an increase in “hostility” or “disparaging others.”

Are your new ideas crushed by colleagues?

Topley’s Top 10 – April 25, 2022

 1. Capital Group U.S. stocks generally have done well during past rising rate periods.

Capital Group U.S. stocks generally have done well during past rising rate periods

Sources: Capital Group, Refinitiv Datastream, Standard & Poor’s, U.S. Federal Reserve. S&P 500 returns represent annualized total returns.

Is the era of easy money coming to an end? | Capital Group

2. Ten-Year Treasury Approaching 3%….

Barrons-Since 1950, when this yield has been below 3%, stocks have done fine. But they’ve fared worse when it was higher (and still worse when it topped 4%). When the yield was under 3%, equities’ annualized monthly returns averaged 21.9%, versus 10.0% when yields were higher, according to Paulsen’s research. In addition, volatility was lower (13.5% versus 14.6%), while monthly losses were less frequent (occurring 27.6% of the time, versus 38.2%). More to the point, there was only one bear market when the yield was below 3% during the period studied, but 10 when it was over that level.

A Key Bond Yield Nears 3%. By  Randall W. Forsyth

3. U.S. Equities $30B in Outflows in 2 Weeks

Bank of America U.S. equity funds have recorded $30 billion of outflows over past two weeks, the largest since March 2020 market crash -Deutsche Bank

4. Inflation Adjusted Capex of Commodity Stocks at 20 Year Low

Otavio (Tavi) Costa


5. Not Many Historical Charts Dive from $10 Trillion to $300B….Pool of Negative Debt in Europe

6. With Bonds/Stocks Selling Off Together….Vanguard 60/40 Portfolio -9% YTD.

50day went thru 200day to downside back in Feb.

7. Shopify -70% ….About to Hit Covid Crisis Lows

8. Consumers Unhappy but Still Buying

@Charlie BilelloUS Retail Sales hit another new high last month while Consumer Sentiment fell to its lowest level in over a decade. Translation: Americans are not happy about rising prices but they’re still spending money.

Part of the rise in retail sales is simply due to higher prices as inflation-adjusted sales peaked last April. But real retail sales are still 15% higher than pre-covid levels. So demand remains strong irrespective of inflation and is likely due to the strength of the consumer balance sheet.

9. Space X Zero to Almost 2000 Satellites Since 2019

Barrons Starlink Could Be the Key to a $100 Billion Valuation for Elon Musk’s SpaceX By Al RootFollow

10. How to Think: The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught

Farnam Street Blog

How to Think: The Skill You’ve Never Been Taught

No skill is more valuable and harder to come by than the ability to critically think through problems. Schools don’t teach you a method of thinking. Thinking is one of those things that can be learned but can’t be taught.

When it comes to thinking the mind has an optimal way to be operated. When operated correctly you’ll find yourself with plenty of free time. When operated incorrectly, most of your time will be consumed correcting mistakes.

Good decisions create time, bad ones consume it. Good initial decisions pay dividends for years, allowing abundant free time and low stress. Poor decisions, on the other hand, consume time, increase anxiety, and drain us of energy.

But how can we learn how to think?

For the answer we turn to Solitude and Leadership, a lecture given by William Deresiewicz. The entire essay is worth reading (and re-reading).

Learning How To Think

Let’s start with how you don’t learn to think. A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.

I used to have students who bragged to me about how fast they wrote their papers. I would tell them that the great German novelist Thomas Mann said that a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. The best writers write much more slowly than everyone else, and the better they are, the slower they write. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, the greatest novel of the 20th century, at the rate of about a hundred words a day—half the length of the selection I read you earlier from Heart of Darkness—for seven years. T. S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets our country has ever produced, wrote about 150 pages of poetry over the course of his entire 25-year career. That’s half a page a month. So it is with any other form of thought. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.

Improving Thinking

The best way to improve your ability to think is to actually spend time thinking.

Your decisions do the talking for your thinking.

You can’t simply take a few minutes here and there, get the gist of the problem, and expect to make good decisions.

“It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise”

— William Deresiewicz

One heuristic to tell how good someone is at making decisions is by how much time they have. The busiest people are often the ones who make the worst decisions. Busy people spend a lot of time correcting poor decisions. And because they’re so busy correcting past decisions, they don’t have time to make good decisions.

Good decision makers understand a simple truth: you can’t make good decisions without good thinking and good thinking requires time.

Good decisions make the future easier, giving you more time and less stress.

If you want to think better, schedule time to think and hone your understanding of the problem.

Topley’s Top 10 – April 21, 2022

1. Tech vs. S&P Relative Price

Callum Thomas Chart Storm

2. U.S. Households in Best Shape 30 Years

Jim Reid-Deutsche Bank

FW: DB CoTD: US Households in best shape in 30 years… but does it matter?

Back in December I published “When the Fed hikes.. what happens next?” (link here) but while I was on holiday our equity strategists Binky Chadha and Parag Thatte published a much more comprehensive look at what happens to equities, sectors of the equity market, sectors of the economy, and many other things during hiking cycles. See it here.

Amongst a plethora of interesting graphs, one highlight was that showing US household’s cash now exceeds debt for the first time in three decades with net debt collapsing to zero. Clearly there will be distributional biases here but in aggregate the fiscal transfers from the pandemic have put US consumers in a decent balance sheet position. What can we conclude from this? Two things perhaps.

  1. The Fed may have to hike even more aggressively to slow consumer demand and curb price rises given their healthy balance sheets.
  2. While negative net debt is a sign of comfort, we had seven recessions between the early 1950s and early 1980s when it was also negative.

So all clear for a while perhaps with policy so accommodative, but a reminder that we think a hard landing will ultimately be unavoidable by late ‘23 / early ‘24 after an aggressive series of Fed hikes over the next 18 months.

3. Crypto Stocks Riot and Mara Testing Lows for the 4th Time in 2022

4. Stocks vs. Commodities History

Jeremy Schwartz WisdomTree


5. ECB Rate Hikes This Year


6. Debt and Twitter

NYT Deal Book-Andrew Sorkin

A debt-heavy deal for Twitter would be the largest leveraged buyout in decades. But Twitter isn’t the sort of company that can take on a lot of debt. It produces about $1 billion in operating earnings per year, and analysts say it could handle about $20 billion in additional debt on its balance sheet. If Musk’s bid stays above $40 billion, that leaves a lot of equity for him to scrounge up.

7. Downtown Office Vacancies

Barry Ritholtz Blog

8. 20 Most Popular Cities for Renters 2021

Gabriel Cortés@GABECORTES

9. The Number of Murders in U.S. Up 40% Since 2019


Violence in America

Last week’s violent shooting in Brooklyn as well as recent killings in New Orleans and three mass shootings over Easter weekend are the latest tragic examples of a nationwide uptick in killings in the US over the last 3 years.

Preliminary estimates for 2021 show the murder rate in the US hitting 6.9 per 100,000 people, up 38% on the numbers for 2019.

Coming up with reasons why violent crime might be rising isn’t hard. Since 2019 we’ve had a global pandemic, lockdowns, high profile police killings, civil unrest, intense economic uncertainty, a fraught election, and now rising inflation on essential goods. Those things, and others, seem to be taking their toll.

10. 9 signs your coworker has narcissistic traits

Amy Morin

23 hours ago

  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, author, and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.
  • She says there are certain signs to look for if you think a coworker has narcissistic tendencies.
  • People with these traits may brag excessively, act jealous, or respond negatively to feedback.

We likely all exhibit some narcissistic tendencies sometimes. But there may be one coworker in the office who shows those tendencies more often than not.

That’s not to say they have a diagnosable mental illness, like narcissistic personality disorder. But their inflated sense of self may still cause problems at times, at least for those around them.

Here are nine signs your coworker has narcissistic tendencies.

1. They exaggerate their achievements

A colleague with narcissistic tendencies won’t just brag, they’ll embellish. You might hear things like, “I saved the whole company last year” or “Everyone always asks me for help because I’m the only one who knows how to make things happen around here.”

While they may come across like they’re full of themselves, they’re most likely hiding deep-rooted insecurities about not being good enough. The one thing they are confident about, however, is that you’ll believe their stories about how great they are.

2. They love to be the center of attention

They don’t want to hear your opinions or your stories. Instead, they want to use meetings and conversations to share about their favorite topic — themselves.

They might brag for a while, tell long-winded stories about themselves, or do things to get a laugh. Ultimately, they just want to ensure all the attention is on them.

3. They respond to feedback with aggression

Their delicate sense of self depends on being held in high regard so they can’t tolerate hearing anything unfavorable about themselves.

Their go-to defense mechanism is likely aggression. They may respond to criticism by yelling, making threats, or hurling insults. They’ll be desperate to prove the person providing the feedback is incompetent and inadequate.

4. They take advantage of their colleagues

People with narcissistic tendencies are often quite charming. They use flattery and short-lived kindness to convince people to do their work for them.

They may even play the role of the victim by offering sob stories that tug on their coworker’s heartstrings. Then, they prey on their sympathy by convincing coworkers to do favors for them.

5. They blame other people for their mistakes

They don’t want to look as if they don’t know what they’re doing, so if they make a mistake, they’ll be quick to blame other people, often in a degrading manner.

When they can’t blame specific people, they might blame the company for holding them back. The slow internet, impossible software, and lack of office space can all be blamed for any missteps.

6. They have trouble managing their emotions

While they may act aggressively on purpose sometimes, there may be other times when they genuinely struggle to manage their emotions. They’re likely to have a hard time handling frustration, anxiety, and other uncomfortable feelings.

When they can’t control their feelings, they may be quick to try to control the environment and the people in it. They may insist that everything be how they want it and that others accommodate their needs.

7. They believe they’re more special than everyone else

They fully expect to get special treatment from everyone around them. They may demand the biggest office or insist they be exempt from meetings.

Their exaggerated sense of self-importance is likely to wear thin on most people pretty fast, but there may be a few people who believe they should be revered.

8. They’re envious of other people

A coworker with narcissistic tendencies won’t be cheering anyone else on. In fact, they’re likely to resent anyone who gets recognition.

You might hear them say things like, “Well, she only got promoted because she flirts with the boss” or “He only closed that deal because I’d already laid the groundwork.”

9. They’re preoccupied with beauty, success, or brilliance

They often feel the need to be the best in all areas of life and may view life as a competition they have to win.

They may seek validation by insisting other people repeatedly tell them that they look young for their age or they may want everyone in the office to know their new love interest won a beauty contest. They’re focused on making sure they won’t be outdone by anyone in any area of their lives.

How to respond to narcissistic tendencies

A coworker with narcissistic tendencies loves attention, even if it’s negative. So while you can’t control their behavior, you can control how you respond. Ignoring their attempts to prove they’re the best might be the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and for them.

Topley’s Top 10 – April 20, 2022

1. Trucking Index -24% Correction.

2. ARKK—Average Stock in ETF Needs 348% Rally to Get Back to Prior Highs

Bespoke Investment Group–With the average ARKK stock down 70% from its 5-year high, it’s going to take a huge rally in the “growth” space to get back to prior levels.  As shown at the bottom of the table, the average stock in the ETF now needs to rally 348% to get back to prior highs!

3. U.S. Exported 17% of Domestic Gas Production in January

Dave Lutz at Jones Trading-US natural gas prices have jumped to a 13-year high as America exports a record share of its domestic output – For President Biden, that’s a success as the US helps Europe to replace Russian gas, but also his next energy headache

4. U.S. 30 Year Treasury Closes Above 3%

Hitting 7-Year Highs

5. Spreads in CCC Bonds have Widened 125 Basis Points this Year….50 bps. This Week.

Bloomberg-Spreads on CCC-rated debt — bonds most at risk for a default should the economy falter — have widened 125 basis points this year, compared to 57 basis points for BB rated debt and 69 basis points on average for all junk bonds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg..

Junk deals in the primary market are showing signs of trouble as well. A group of banks led by JPMorgan Chase and Co. and Citigroup Inc. last week struggled to offload over $2 billion of junk debt to help finance the buyout of Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope Inc. The company’s unsecured bond sale — rated in the CCC tier — priced at a steep discount.

Yahoo Finance

6. The EV Supply Chain is a Problem

Morningbrew-EVs really wishing they had Chucky powers

Photo Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photos: Getty Images, Rivian Forums

The EV battery shortage is about to hurt more than pinching your finger in a car door.

RJ Scaringe, CEO of EV startup Rivian, told reporters on a tour of the company’s Illinois plant last week that the recent semiconductor shortage hampering the auto industry is just a “small appetizer to what we are about to feel on battery cells over the next two decades.” And with EV manufacturers’ lofty production goals, every part of the supply chain is struggling to keep up.

The biggest hiccup starts at the very beginning

We’re talking raw materials. 80% of the cost of a lithium-ion battery comes from raw materials including lithium (duh), cobalt, and nickel. But as companies scramble to snag those supplies, prices have skyrocketed. The price of lithium alone has gone up over 480% in the last year, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said lithium battery prices were so “insane” he might just get into mining himself. You and us both, buddy.
  • And because lithium-ion batteries account for at least 30% of the cost of an EV, higher battery prices are translating to higher prices for consumers. Both Rivian and Tesla have hiked prices recently, saying expensive raw materials are partly to blame.

And those materials are not Made in the USA

In 2020, the US imported over half of its supply of 46 minerals and all its supply of 17, according to the US Geological Survey. One of the biggest suppliers is China—the world leader in lithium-ion battery manufacturing—which has a history of restricting trade for political reasons.

That’s enough to spook the White House, which considers the EV supply chain to be a national security issue. Last month, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the government access to $750 million to invest in domestic mining operations for critical raw materials needed by battery manufacturers. But it could take up to a decade to see new US mining projects or battery plants.

Zoom out: President Biden’s goal is for half of all new cars sold by 2030 to be electric. But given the shortage of materials, that’s like asking MasterChef contestants to make a meal with two footballs and a single noodle. According to Rivian’s Scaringe, “90% to 95% of the supply chain does not exist.”—MM

Want more EV news? We’ve got an entire newsletter focused on emerging technologies. Subscribe here.

LIT-Lithium ETF

7. The US is building more homes than it has in 16 years and it could finally be the break buyers need

Business Insider A construction worker works on a new house being built in a suburb located north of Toronto. Mark Blinch/Reuters

  • Housing starts rose to an annual rate of 1.79 million in March, the Commerce Department said.
  • That beat the median forecast for a pace of 1.75 million and marked the fastest construction since 2006.

Homebuyers, rejoice. Contractors are picking up some of the extraordinary slack in the housing market.

US housing starts unexpectedly rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.79 million units, the Commerce Department announced Tuesday morning. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected starts to fall slightly to a pace of 1.75 million. The March rate marks the fastest since 2006 and a second consecutive monthly improvement.

The jump was fueled by faster construction of multifamily units. The category saw annual construction leap to an annual pace of 574,000 units from the prior month’s reading of 534,000 units. Single-family construction slowed, though still showed the second-fastest pace of construction since March 2021.

Building permits — seen as a helpful forward indicator for residential construction — rose slightly to an annual rate of 1.87 million, according to the report. That similarly beat forecasts that called for a decline to a 1.83 million-permit pace.

The uptick is a welcome sign for Americans struggling to buy a home in the supply-starved market. Home prices surged at breakneck speed early in the pandemic as strong demand quickly pulled nationwide inventory to record lows. Bidding wars on the few homes still available boosted prices even higher. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index — which tracks prices nationwide — rose 19.2% in the year through January, landing just below last year’s record highs and well above the home inflation seen before the market bubble burst in the late 2000s.

The acceleration in home construction is the latest signal the market is on the mend. While the reading is somewhat volatile and the pace of construction could quickly reverse course, the increase hints builders are rushing to meet demand.

The Tuesday report signals a rosy outlook for homebuilders, but firms still see trouble ahead. The National Association of Home Builders’ measure of contractor confidence fell to 77 from 79 in April, the organization said Monday, reflecting a fourth straight monthly decline. Builders cited weakening sales traffic and lingering supply-chain issues for their soured moods. The market now faces an “inflection point,” with sky-high housing costs starting to dent demand just as inventory is on the rise, Robert Dietz, chief economist at NAHB, said in a statement.

Builders will want to move fast before buying activity slows. Mortgage rates have soared roughly 2 percentage points since the end of 2021 as the Federal Reserve has begun raising broad interest rates in an effort to slow sky-high inflation.

That marks one of the fastest mortgage rate rebounds in history. It’s “only a matter of time” before soaring rates bite into housing demand and quickly cool the market, Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, said Tuesday. Still, order backlogs, strong profits for homebuilders, and the lack of existing supply should keep construction “resilient” in the near term, he added.

Rising mortgage rates will almost surely slow the construction boom later in the year as contractors aim to keep the supply-demand balance in their favor. But the March building data suggests supply is bouncing back, and that the homebuying nightmares of the past year might not be so common through 2022.

8. Russia seizes eastern Ukraine city of Kreminna, official says

Axios Ivana Saric

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Axios on emailThe Russian military has seized the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine and forced Ukrainian troops out of the town, the governor of the Luhansk region said at a briefing Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Kreminna appears to be the first city Russian forces have taken since they launched a new offensive in the Donbas region Monday — a development that marked the start of a second phase of the war centered on a battle for territory in eastern Ukraine.

What they’re saying: Russian forces entered Kreminna after launching an attack “from all sides” to take control of the city, according to Gov. Serhiy Gaidai.

  • “Our defenders had to withdraw. They have entrenched themselves in new positions and continue to fight the Russian army,” he added.
  • “It is impossible to calculate the number of dead among the civilian population,” he added. “We have official statistics — about 200 dead — but in reality there are many more.”
  • Gaidai did not specify how long it took Russian forces to establish control of the city, or the length of the period in which the death toll was incurred, per Reuters.

The big picture: Heavy shelling was reported Monday alongside nearly the entirety of the 300-mile frontline in eastern Ukraine, including the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday stressed the importance of the battle of Donbas, which he said could “influence the course of the whole war.”

Data: Institute for the Study of War; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

9. Top Ranked Universities for Producing Start-Up Founders


10. One Way to Create Good Habits that Actually Stick

Psychology Today Why you should use situational cues when planning for the future.– Mark Travers Ph.D.



  • Research suggests that thinking about performing a certain behavior in a certain situation, and mentally linking the two, can create new habits.
  • Strategically linking an intention to a situation can help people remember that intention.
  • People high on the personality dimension of conscientiousness are particularly good at executing this type of if-then thinking.


A new study published in PLOS ONE explains how one can make long-term behavioral changes by using ‘if-then’ action planning instead of relying purely on motivation or willpower.

“Habits result from repeated past experiences of executing a specific behavior in a particular situation,” says psychologist Torsten Martiny-Huenger from UiT The Arctic University of Norway. “An open question, however, is how novel behaviors become habits. We do not have the prior experiences that make them habitual. So, how are they formed?”

The researchers hypothesized that people create new habits by thinking about performing a certain behavior in a certain situation — in other words, by creating stimulus-response links in thought.

According to Martiny-Huenger, people usually take one of three approaches when executing an action intended for the future. Here’s an example:

Suppose you agree to do a friend a favor — for example, sending a web address that you have as a bookmark on your home computer. You can’t access the bookmark right away. How are you able to complete the task some hours later? Here are three possibilities:

1.   The first approach is to verbally repeat it to yourself continuously (i.e., keep it active in working memory). However, given the many demands of our daily life, it is unlikely that we can remain focused in such a way for a prolonged amount of time.

2.   Researchers in prospective memory provide another possible mechanism. They suggest that such an intention (sending the bookmark later) activates a monitoring process that we are only minimally aware of. However, it is hard to test whether a subconscious monitoring process exists or not.

3.   The third alternative depends on the brain’s ability to form associative links. The intention to send the web address may be linked to a situational cue. For example, while reading emails on your home computer, the friend may be referred to in one of the emails (situational cue). This cue then triggers the recollection of having to send the bookmark.

The authors found evidence to suggest that the third possibility is the primary method through which memories are prompted and new habits are formed. Furthermore, they suggest this method can be used strategically by people to improve memory and habit formation.

For example, when receiving the web address request, one can think repeatedly, “the next time I start my home computer, I’ll first send my friend the web address.” Instead of relying on some coincidence to remind one about the intention, one can strategically link the intention to a situation.

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“Research indicates that making such if-then plans — which are nothing more than verbal situation-response links — facilitate remembering,” explains Martiny-Huenger.

The researchers also found that people high on the personality dimension of conscientiousness were particularly good at executing this type of if-then thinking. This is not terribly surprising, according to Martiny-Huenger, as conscientiousness is characterized by habitual planning behaviors like making lists and using a calendar.

“Our interpretation of this result is that thinking in a situation-response format is one of the cognitive procedures that conscientious people are habitually doing,” says Martiny-Huenger. “This intuitive use of a beneficial strategy contributes to being more successful in day-to-day self-regulation.”

From a practical perspective, when dealing with behaviors we cannot execute right away, the authors advise people to rely less on motivation and willpower and more on associative cues.

“The practical advice is to link the intended behavior to situational cues that provide good opportunities to initiate them,” says Martiny-Huenger. “When you want to get a little more physically active, for instance, then repeatedly think to yourself, ‘When I’m waiting in front of the elevator, I’ll turn around and use the stairs.’ Such if-then planning is not magic and it will not lead to successfully implementing the intended behavior every time, but it will increase the likelihood of completing them.”

Topley’s Top 10 – April 13, 2022

1. The Last 14 Years 91% Correlation Between Fed’s Balance Sheet and S&P

Fed has started process of unraveling the balance sheet

Barrons-All of Fed Choir Finally Is Singing From the Same Anti-Inflation HymnalRandall W. ForsythFollow

2. Software ETF Still -27% from Highs.

Software ETF multiple rallies in last 3 months have failed

3. Contra Indicator? The Share of Investors Expecting the Economy to Deteriorate is the Highest Ever

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading–GLOOMY– Global growth optimism has sunk to an all-time low, with recession fears surging in the world’s investment community, according to the latest BofA fund manager survey – Fund managers expect the Fed to hike seven times this year, up from four times in last month’s survey, and the tightening cycle to end in April 2023.  Investors are very long cash, commodities, healthcare and energy, and materials while they shun bonds, discretionary and euro-area stocks  The share of investors expecting the economy to deteriorate is the highest ever, according to the April survey. Stagflation expectations jumped to the highest since August 2008, while monetary risk increased to a historic high, BofA strategists said, after surveying 292 panelists with $833 billion in assets under management in the first week of April.

4. Commodities in a Sideways Holding Pattern

Commodities sideways on possible recessions and China lock-down

5. Crypto not Holding Up to “Digital Gold” Title…..Bitcoin 90day Correlation to Nasdaq 100 Hits New High

The Daily Shot Blog Cryptocurrency: In the crypto-sphere, Bitcoin’s 90-day correlation with the Nasdaq 100 reached a new high, which comes as Bitcoin fell through the bottom end of its 50-day moving average.

Source: CoinDesk, Koylin  Read full article

6. Inflation-Car and Meat Prices can Revert to the Mean without Recession

LPL Research

7. Housing Holds Up Well During Inflation and Rising Rates

Ben Carlson Blog-Plus housing has held up well historically when mortgage rates rise, especially during periods of high inflation:

8. This US airport has reclaimed its title as the world’s busiest-CNN

Marnie Hunter, CNN

US airports dominated the passenger traffic rankings in 2021, with eight of the top 10 in the United States.

World’s top 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic in 2021

1. Atlanta (ATL): 75.7 million passengers, up 76% from 2020

2. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW): 62.5 million passengers, up 59% from 2020

3. Denver (DEN): 58.8 million passengers, up 74% from 2020

4. Chicago O’Hare (ORD): 54 million passengers, up 75% from 2020

5. Los Angeles (LAX): 48 million passengers, up 67% from 2020

6. Charlotte (CLT): 43.3 million passengers, up 59% from 2020

7. Orlando (MCO): 40.4 million passengers, up 87% from 2020

8. Guangzhou (CAN): 40.3 million passengers, down 8% from 2020

9. Chengdu (CTU): 40.1 million passengers, down 1.5% from 2020

10. Las Vegas (LAS): 39.8 million passengers, up 79% from 2020

World’s busiest airports in 2021: Atlanta reclaims title | CNN Travel

9. Carjackings in Chicago +204% 2019 to 2021

Carjackings rose only 34 percent in Chicago from 2010 to 2019 but skyrocketed 204 percent from 2019 to 1,836 in 2021.

10. How to Increase Your Self-Control

Barriers to patience and ways of overcoming them.

Posted April 12, 2022 |  Reviewed by Ekua Hagan



  • Two barriers to waiting for “larger-later rewards” (rather than “smaller-sooner rewards”) are the lack of ability and the lack of desire to wait.
  • Techniques to increase the ability to wait include distraction, reframing, putting oneself in a positive mood, and using reminders.
  • Techniques that strengthen the desire to wait include exaggerating a delayed reward’s value and waiting before choosing.

Suppose you are told you can have either two marshmallows now or four later. Which do you choose? (Or replace “marshmallows” with a more attractive reward, like “a million dollars!”). No matter what the reward, the choice is between a smaller-sooner reward and a larger-later one.

So, how to decide? More generally, how do you decide whether to obtain what you desire presently or make sacrifices for something better in the future—like saving for retirement, or for a nice vacation, car, or home?

The answer depends on both your ability and desire to exercise self-control, argues a recent paper by Roberts and Fishbach, published in the April issue of Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

The paper, which reviews research on how to increase both the ability to wait and the desire to wait, is summarized below.

Increasing the ability to wait

To increase the ability to wait and improve patience, you need to make it easier to be patient. How? Here are some suggestions:

1.   Distract yourself. If you are sitting by the phone waiting for a call, for example, turn on the TV, listen to music, or find other ways of entertaining and distracting yourself.

2.   Do not make big decisions in a need state (e.g., feeling thirsty, exhausted, in pain). For instance, do not shop for food when hungry or respond to a critical email when tired. Otherwise, you may find it very difficult to resist whatever is immediately rewarding (e.g., buying junk food, sending a vicious response to the critical email).

3.   Pre-commit to being patient. In other words, long before you are faced with temptations, make the decision to wait for the larger-later reward.

4.   Use reminders for the steps you must take to receive the larger reward. Without reminders and a plan, it becomes tempting to choose an immediate option just to have closure (e.g., doing your Christmas shopping now just to cross it off the list instead of waiting and buying better gifts when the desired items go on sale).

5.   Put yourself in a positive mood. Research shows it is easier to be patient when you are happy than sad.

6.   Reframe the thing you are waiting for in a way that reduces its emotional appeal. While waiting for, say, hot chocolate, reframe it as a black liquid—not a hot, sweet, creamy, and rich drink.

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Increasing the desire to wait

To improve patience by increasing the desire to wait, find ways to make waiting worth it. How? Consider these:

1.   Wait before making a choice (“wait-to-choose technique”). For instance, looking over a restaurant menu at home may increase your appreciation for dishes that usually take longer to prepare (i.e. larger-later reward). Note, the wait-to-choose technique differs from Number 3 in the previous section; specifically, the current strategy introduces extra time before, not after, one has made a choice.

2.   Increase your level of certainty and trust, the belief that you will receive the larger reward if you are patient. This is important because as the wait becomes longer, uncertainty naturally increases.

3.   Improve the personal connection to your future self—the self who will benefit from your patience (be it in 10 days or 10 years). A stronger psychological connection to this future self increases motivation to, say, study hard and finish college or save money for retirement.

4.   Change how the options are framed, so the delayed outcome appears more valuable. For example, another way of saying you could have “$10 now or $20 later” is to say you could have “$10 now and $0 later, or $0 now and $20 later.” When options are framed in the second way, people are often more willing to wait.

Concluding thoughts on the importance of self-control and patience

Willpower and self-control are associated with a variety of positive outcomes, such as improved health, better relationships, and greater success in achieving goals.

It is usually assumed the ability to self-control is what matters the most in making good decisions—in choosing between a smaller-sooner and a larger-later reward. We assume: If people can wait, they will.

In reality, however, it is difficult to be patient if the waited-for-object is not considered valuable or desired.

The difference between desire and ability to self-control is important because so often in life we are faced with difficult choices between a smaller-sooner and a larger-later reward. Some examples are:

·  Choosing a medical treatment that works immediately but is less effective overall, or an intervention that may take longer to work but is more effective.

·  Getting a low-paying job now, or focusing on your studies for the next few years to get a better job after you graduate.

·  Going on your usual summer vacation next week, or saving money for a couple of years to go on your dream vacation and travel the world.

Regardless of the options you are faced with, to increase patience, you must analyze the situation and find what is preventing you from exercising self-control.

The research reviewed showed self-control and patience may require, in some situations, the ability to wait, and in others, the desire to wait. And as we discussed, there are techniques to improve self-control in both situations.

In summary, if you cannot wait, this means self-control is difficult. So, make it easier by using the six techniques listed above, such as distraction or reframing.

If you can but do not want to, then waiting does not appear to be worth it. Solution? Make waiting more rewarding by using one of the four strategies described, like using the wait-to-choose technique or increasing your certainty about eventually receiving the reward.