By the time you read this letter, we will have a new president here in the U.S. However, as I write it this bright, crisp, afternoon here in Manhattan, it is anybody’s guess who it will be. Even at 0615 hrs this morning, when I arrived at my local polling station, I had to wait some 35 minutes before I could fill in with black ballpoint pen the requisite ovals on my voting form. After I’d shoved it into the counting machine (by which it was swallowed up), I declined a round sticker indicating that I had voted.
This whole election can only really be described as having been a cringe-inducing embarrassment. When we asked a friend of ours (newly arrived in NY from Sydney), what she and her friends thought about the whole thing in Australia, the answer was: “A joke!” Would that it had been. Sadly, it was neither a joke, nor was it funny. I believe that, whoever wins, the spectacle to which we have all been subjected has, potentially, done this country irreparable reputational damage.
In a couple of my letters over the summer, I took a look at what the two leading presidential candidates thought about trade and, in particular, both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP) with the EU. Neither, as you will recall, had much positive to say about TPP. Both have stuck to their guns right up to the bitter end. So, it remains to be seen what the winner will actually do. And, if he does win, whether Donald Trump will impose punitive tariffs on Mexico and China, and renegotiate NAFTA!
On to more pleasant things. It was great to see Gina Evangelidis of the MMTA here last month when Ed Meir of INTL FC Stone Inc. gave his metals outlook at HSBC’s offices on Fifth Avenue. I certainly went away considerably the wiser from his assessment of the global outlook for aluminium, copper, zinc, and nickel. Since the situation has been somewhat unclear for a while, I found particularly interesting the light he was able to shed on what is happening in the nickel industry in the Philippines (and Myanmar).
Finally, as is my wont, I continue to scan the news for interesting scientific advances involving minor metals. Since I have always been interested in superconductivity, I was especially interested to read about the results of some research being undertaken at the University of Houston, Texas. Researchers there have demonstrated a new method for inducing superconductivity in non-superconducting materials. And have, thereby, proved a concept that has been around for decades.
They were able to demonstrate that superconductivity in the well-known non-superconducting compound CaFe2As2 (calcium iron arsenide) can be induced at high
critical temperatures by antiferromagnetic/metallic layer stacking. Since superconductivity usually involves cooling, which is expensive, Paul C.W. Chu, chief scientist at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston said that “the method used to prove the concept offers a new direction in the search for more efficient, less expensive superconducting materials.” That would be exciting.
Not really wanting to know the election result, but wishing you all the best from a pre-result New York, I remain
Tom Butcher © November 8th, 2016