Friday, March 24, 2023

Top News Stories From Around The Web - 24 March 2023


France Burns As Million Protesters Rage Against Pension Reforms

France is engulfed in turmoil following President Emmanuel Macron's controversial decision to raise the retirement age. Over a million people participated in nationwide protests on Thursday, transforming urban areas into scenes of chaos. These demonstrations, the largest in years, have triggered fuel shortages, hundreds of arrests, and even claims of "civil war." 

 Picture: CBC Canada

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told French media outlet CNews on Friday morning that more than 900 fires were reported in the streets of Paris on Thursday night -- in one of the most violent days of protests in a while. 

"There were a lot of demonstrations and some of them turned violent, notably in Paris," Darmanin said. He said more than a million people marched yesterday. 

Police warned anarchist groups were infiltrating marches across Paris and other demonstrations. Men wearing hoods and facemasks were seen smashing windows and setting fire to trash piles and, in some cases, burning buildings. In the southern city of Bodeaux the town hall was set on fire by protestors. ... Continue reading >>>

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Germany's Chancellor Scholz says 'No Reason To Worry' As Deutsche Bank Bloodbath Reignites Global Bank Crisis Fears

Last night, amid assurances from the US Federal Reserve that a global banking crisis had been averted, market watchers noticed an unprecedented ($60 billion) surge in foreign official Repo (repurchase agreemen: a financial instrument for short term borrowing,) under the Fed's new FIMA repo facility, which means that the foreign banks or institutions desperately needed access to USD. 

The assumption was that it was Credit Suisse (or their new owner UBS) shoring up some shortfalls, but with the action of the last couple of days, others are worrying that there is more trouble brewing in the EU banking sector. 

After brief respite earlier in the week, European bank stocks are cratering once again, now at 3-month lows (catching down to Senior Financial CDS)... Deutsche Bank stock has crashed to 5-month lows... Deutsche Bank CDS, (Credit Default Swaps, a method of insuring lenders agaist borrowers defaulting on interest payments,) is soaring Commerzbank is also rising rapidly both are now higher than at peak of the COVID lockdowns... 

Notably, Deutsche Bank unexpectedly announced its decision to redeem a tier 2 bonds on Friday in a reassuring effort. “Deutsche’s decision to redeem (having received all required regulatory approvals) should be a reassuring signal to credit investors,” Autonomous analyst Stuart Graham wrote in a note on Friday. But instead, other Deutsche Bank AT1 bonds have plunged in price (with yields soaring above 16%). With the Credit Suisse meltdown only a week old, it looks like deja vu all over again. MORE posts on Banking and Finance

EV battery scratched in accident? Your insurer might have to write off the whole car.

(Source: Reuters) On top of all the other draw.backs of owning an electric vehicle, unhappy owners are now finding their cars are being wriiten off and scrapped when they make an insurance claim following even a minor accident. Even seemingly trivial damage to the battery pack can have catastrophic results and there is no way to repair or even properly assess damaged battery packs after accidents. Lithium, the main component of EV batteries is a highly volatile material and a damaged battery can pose an unacceptable risk of spontaneous combustion, resulting in a fire that cannot be put out by conventional means (i.e. water, CO2,) forcing insurance companies to write off cars with only a few miles on the clock. Inevitably this is leading to higher premiums and undercutting gains from going electric.

Additionally, and in spite of ecoloons claims to the contrary, there is as yet no way of recycling battery packs and not imminent advances are likely to change that so clapped out and damaged EV battery packs are piling up in scrapyards in some countries, a previously unreported and insurmountable obstacle in what was supposed to be a "circular economy."


"We're buying electric cars for sustainability reasons," said Matthew Avery, research director at automotive risk intelligence company Thatcham Research. "But an EV isn't very sustainable if you've got to throw the battery away after a minor collision."

Battery packs can cost tens of thousands of pounds, dollars or euros to replace and represent up to 50% of an EV's price tag. The cost of installing a replacement battery pack can often exceed the second hand value of the car they have been installed in, making it economically unjustifable to replace them.

While some EV makers like Ford Motor Co (F.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N) say they have made battery packs more easily repairable, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has taken the opposite direction with its latest Model Y, the new structural battery pack of which has been described by experts as having "zero repairability."

Tesla have not responded to requests for comment.

A Reuters search of EV salvage sales in the U.S. and Europe shows a large portion of low-mileage Teslas, but also models from Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), Stellantis (STLAM.MI), BMW (BMWG.DE), Renault (RENA.PA) and others have been scapped after minor accidents.

"The number of write offs is going to increase as EV sales increase, so the handling of batteries is a crucial point," said Christoph Lauterwasser, managing director of the Allianz Center for Technology, a research institute owned by Allianz (ALVG.DE).

Unless Tesla and other EV manufacturers can produce repairable battery packs and provide third-party access to battery cell data so that independent mechanics and electricians can work on them, already-high insurance premiums will keep rising and more low-mileage cars get scrapped after collisions, insurers and industry experts said as reports were circulating that second hand EVs are practically unsaleable and everyday drivers are coming to realise that while EVs are fine as taxis or delivery vehicles, for the private motorist they are expensive city runabout or rich boys' toys.

Electric Car Fireworks