Economic Factors

Stirring the pot in Korea and Millennials buy homes

Published 5.15.2017
LWRAS regularly considers factors both economic and political that might impact various markets.

South Korea’s new president, who wants closer ties with North Korea, is already stirring the pot.

Mr. Moon has also said that he would seek to review the Park administration’s decision to deploy a controversial U.S. missile-defense system in South Korea. He didn’t mention the issue, however, in his inauguration speech on Wednesday, saying instead that he would negotiate with the U.S. and China to resolve their concerns.

So if Trump tries to make them pay, they may turn to China.

Perhaps the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) wasn’t so bad after all.

TPP would have given a boost to e-commerce by limiting restrictions on data flows and prohibiting any of the participating countries from requiring computer servers be located domestically—where information is easier to censor or control. It also would have required state-owned enterprises to operate like commercial companies rather than political tools of the state. Intellectual property protection would have been strengthened and restrictions to competition in services reduced.

Trump’s insistence on bilateral deals does not necessarily increase US leverage.
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Energy

The answer is blowing in the wind & basking in the sun

Published 5.12.2017
Coal is not coming back. Even West Virginia coal mine owners realize that. West Virginia’s governor wants the state’s biggest utility to burn more of it, but that’s not going to happen.

Beam told the governor—a farmer and coal mogul himself—that all new power generation would likely come from wind, solar, and natural gas. “The governor asked me, ‘I’d like you to burn more coal,’” Beam said according to the West Virginia Gazette-Mail. “Well, we don’t have any more coal plants. We’re not going to build any more coal plants. That’s not going to happen.”

New coal plants are not going to be built. Trump hasn’t said yet if he is going to keep the US in the Paris Agreement, but if he does, there’s no way to meet the emission standards with new coal plants. The Global Wind Energy Council makes this point in every presentation they make. As of this writing, it is not clear what Trump will de vis a vis the Paris Agreement. Secretary of State Tillerson has advised staying in the accord to keep a "seat at the table."
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Optics

Brief takes on recent items in optics

Published 4.20.2017
Although the ultimate goal here is to publish much monger, more in depth analysis of the optics and optical materials industries, LWRAS will still publish briefer takes on interesting items.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University developed broad band anti-reflection coatings (ARC) for polymer optics.

Fabricated using glancing-angle deposition (GLAD) of Teflon AF, a commercial fluoropolymer, the simple bilayer graded-index AR coatings are hydrophobic and antifogging, and exhibit a solar-spectrum-averaged (between 400 and 1600 nm) reflectance of <1% over a wide range of incidence angles. Using the GLAD process, the researchers were able to continuously vary the refractive index of the coating in the range from approximately 1.17 to 1.33 by varying the deposition angle, and found that the coatings adhere strongly to a variety of common polymer optical materials.

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Haptic Technology

Immersion in the between times

Published 3.17.2017
Haptics is an area of focus here. Immersion is a bellwether stock for haptics at LWRAS, because the company owns significant intellectual property (IP) relating to the software “engines” (programs) to control the hardware actuators on phones to create different sensations. Immersion’s history is replete with challenging the infringement of others, and overall the company has won more of these battles than it has lost.

Currently, Immersion is suing Apple. Preliminary court rulings haven’t been a complete disaster for the company, but neither is success assured. Apple is a tenacious in court battles, and its pile of money is greater than Immersion’s. Uncertainty regarding the outcome of the Apple suit is weighing on the company’s stock prices at the moment, but far worse is the lack of a new contract with Samsung. A new contract with Sony has yet to emerge as well.

It may be that Samsung and Sony are waiting to learn the outcome of the court case. SONY lost a court battle with Immersion years ago, and Samsung paid royalties for years. The loss of the Samsung revenues explains the shortfall in performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 (2016Q4), which Immersion reported at the end of February.
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