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Seniors Have Nearly Doubled Their Cannabis Use

An increasing number of states have licensed cannabis sales, so a couple of geriatrics researchers wondered how many of the new users are elderly. Plenty, it turns out, according to a study published Monday in the Internal Medicine imprint of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the four years ended 2018, the share of seniors who acknowledged cannabis use soared 75%, report Benjamin Han and Joseph Palamar from New York University. This rising usage should spur clinical research on older consumers, they say, because “older adults are especially vulnerable to potential adverse effects from cannabis.”

Survey data collected by the federal government showed that the proportion of seniors reporting pot use rose from 0.4% before 2007, to nearly 3% by 2016. As legalization has spread to new states, Han and Palamar found, the share of people 65 or older using cannabis increased from 2.4% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2018.

The researchers found that certain groups of the elderly showed even bigger jumps in their number of cannabis users, including women, the mentally ill, and those with higher incomes. There was also a striking increase in use among patients suffering from diabetes.

One trend that troubled the NYU researchers was an increase in the elderly who used both pot and alcohol. That co-use mirrors behavior found in studies of states such as Washington, where pot has long been legal, and the researchers note that combining the two drugs can compound their risks.

Another finding in the new study is intriguing, given the popular rationale for legalizing cannabis to help patients suffering from chronic disease. Apart from increased use by diabetics, say Han and Palamar, most of the rise in pot use in the elderly was by people who don’t have chronic medical conditions.


Can we quit cobalt batteries fast enough to make electric cars viable?

Electric cars are getting cheaper and their sales are on the rise, but their future success may depend on ditching a key ingredient: the heavy metal cobalt.

The mineral is used in the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars, and demand is steadily rising. A new analysis by Elsa Olivetti at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues has found there may be cobalt shortages if we don’t start refining and recycling it more efficiently or in greater quantities.

They estimate that global demand for cobalt will rise to between 235,000 and 430,000 tonnes by 2030 – an amount that is at least 1.6 times the world’s current capacity to refine the metal, as of 2016 figures.

Lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars and other consumer electronics account for about half of all cobalt demand, and the demand for these batteries is projected to more than quadruple over the next decade.

Cobalt is often produced as a by-product of copper or nickel mining. As such, it is affected by fluctuations in the demand and pricing of those metals. It is also expensive, costing around $33,000 per tonne.

Beyond its price, extracting the metal has a human cost too. Most of the world’s supply – 60 per cent – comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where mining has been linked to child labour and deaths.

The new analysis suggests cobalt supply is adequate at least in the short-term, but that more mining exploration, such as in the ocean, is needed. In addition, we will need to ramp up cobalt recycling by recovering it from batteries in unused electric cars, laptops and mobile phones.

Another option is to shift to batteries that use less cobalt, or none at all. Elon Musk’s car firm Tesla is in talks with battery manufacturer CATL to use entirely cobalt-free batteries in its China-made cars, according to a report this week by Reuters.

Neither firm has commented publicly on the report, but Musk has previously stated an ambition to ditch cobalt, tweeting in 2018 that existing Tesla batteries used less than 3 per cent cobalt and that the “next gen” would use none.

Lithium-ion batteries in electric cars commonly use either nickel cobalt aluminium or nickel manganese cobalt oxides for their ability to offer a long lifespan and high energy density – a determining factor in how far a single charge can power an electric car.

For short-range cars made and sold in China, Reuters says Tesla will instead use lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, which are much cheaper and don’t have the same environmental problems as those needing cobalt. The disadvantage is that these batteries tend to have a lower energy density, reducing how far a car can drive without needing to charge.

Industry analysts such as Simon Moores at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence in London have suggested that the move is unlikely to be replicated outside China, saying it is driven more by a desire to reduce production costs in China than to phase out cobalt.

Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries are already widely used by other Chinese firms, including BYD, the world’s biggest electric car manufacturer. If other electric car manufacturers follow internationally, we may be able to reduce our dependency on a dwindling mineral resource.


JPMorgan: China’s economy to grow 15% in Q2 as it recovers from coronavirus

The world’s second largest economy, China, will recover from the COVID-19 crisis to emerge stronger than ever, according to JPMorgan Chase’s global economist Joseph Lupton.

Lupton told CNBC he is projecting negative four percent growth for the first quarter, when the coronavirus outbreak brought much of China’s economy to a halt.

“It’s not just looking at things still depressed. It’s looking at where the bottom is and are we starting to march our way upward?” he said.

Lupton added that 15 percent quarter-on-quarter annualized growth could still be possible. “If you get a rebound that’s happening, even if you’re still down 30 percent, if you were down 50 percent, that’s a 20 percentage point move that actually starts to impact growth not just in the second quarter but even in the late first quarter.”

According to the economist, there will be increased fiscal stimulus from China’s central bank, which will aid the country’s ability to recover economically.

The International Monetary Fund has cut its growth outlook for China’s economy by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6 percent, saying that announced policies are being implemented and China’s economy will return to normal in the second quarter.


NEWS: VSBLTY Announces Closing Of First Tranche Of Brokered Private Placement

Further to its new release on February 20, 2020, VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (the “Company” or “VSBLTY”) (CSE: VSBY) (Frankfurt: 5VS) (OTC: VSBGF) is pleased to announce that it has closed the first tranche of its private placement (the “Offering”) of $1,000 principal amount 10% convertible unsecured debentures (the “Debentures”) for gross proceeds $1,630,380, of which $870,000 was raised from the brokered portion of the Offering (the “Brokered Offering”) and $760,380 was raised from the non-brokered portion of the Offering (the “Non-Brokered Offering”). Echelon Wealth Partners Inc. (the “Agent”) acted as lead agent and sole bookrunner for the Brokered Offering.

The Debentures will bear interest from February 26, 2020 (the “Closing Date”) at a rate of 10% per annum on an accrual basis, calculated and payable semi-annually, and will mature on February 26, 2022 (the “Maturity Date”).

The principal amount of the Debentures may be converted, in whole or in part, at any time before the Maturity Date, into units of the Company (each, a “Unit”) at $0.30 per Unit, if converted at any time prior to or on the date that is one year from the Closing Date, or otherwise convertible at $0.60 per Unit if converted after one year from the Closing Date but before the Maturity Date.

Each Unit consists of one common share in the capital of the Company (a “Share”) and one Share purchase warrant (each, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant will be exercisable into one Share (each a, “Warrant Share”) at a price of $0.60 per Warrant Share for a period of 24 months from the Closing Date, subject to acceleration. The Company may exercise its warrant acceleration right, if on any ten consecutive trading days, beginning on the date that is four months and one day following the Closing Date, the closing price of the Shares on the CSE is greater than $1.00 per Share. If the Company exercises its warrant acceleration right, the new expiry date of the Warrants will be the 30th day following the notice of such exercise.

The Company paid a cash commission to the Agent of $69,600, a finance fee of 87,000 Shares and issued 232,000 non-transferable broker warrants (the “Broker Warrants”). Each Broker Warrant entitles the Agent to purchase one Share at the price of $0.30 per Share for a period of 24 months from the Closing Date.

The net proceeds from the Offering will be used for acquisitions and general and corporate working capital purposes.
The securities issued in the Brokered Offering and Non-Brokered Offering are subject to a statutory four month and one day hold period, which expires on June 27, 2020.

On Behalf of the Board of VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Inc.
 “Jay Hutton”CEO & Director

Full release

10-year Treasury yield drops to new record low of 1.30% on coronavirus fears

The 10-year Treasury yield turned lower on Wednesday after an initial bump higher, falling to a new record low amid heightened fears about the fast-spreading coronavirus and its effect on the global economy.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, fell four basis points to a 1.302%, just below its last record low reached on Tuesday of 1.307%. The benchmark yield was about 3 basis points higher earlier in the session. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was also lower at 1.807%, near its record low.

Investors sought the safety of U.S. government debt and fled riskier assets on fears that the deadly coronavirus will disrupt the global economy growth. The S&P 500 posted back-to-back losses of more than 3% this week, suffering its biggest two-day plunge since 2015.

Yields extended its losses after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the coronavirus is on the cusp of becoming a pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also warned Americans to prepare for the virus to arrive stateside.

Solid economic data on Wednesday did little to lift yields. New home sales jumped 7.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units last month, the highest level since July 2007.

The benchmark 10-year yield has tumbled 20 basis points this month alone, and 60 basis points this year so far.

New coronavirus cases have emerged across Europe, most recently in Austria, Switzerland and Spain, while the virus spread south in Italy to take the country’s death toll to 11, with new cases surpassing 320.

South Korea has reported 169 new cases of the virus, taking its total to 1,146 with 11 fatalities, while a U.S. soldier stationed in the country has also tested positive. Total confirmed cases globally have surpassed 80,200 with at least 2,704 deaths.

The two-year yield hit a low of 1.136% on Wednesday, its lowest level since Feb. 2017. The short-duration rate is the most sensitive to Federal Reserve’s monetary policy expectations. Traders have increasingly priced in a rate reduction at the central bank’s April meeting.

“Expectations the Fed will be forced to cut relatively soon are leading to a re-resteepening impulse,” Ian Lyngen, BMO’s head of U.S. rates, said in a note on Wednesday.

The fed funds futures market is assigning a near 60% chance of a rate cut at the Fed’s April policy meeting, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. Traders also see the possibility of three cuts in 2020.