Jody Avirgan: Neil, my favorite little tidbit from the the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was the fact that each day, all the stats nerds streamed into the building toward panel discussions about sports analytics, waltzing right past — actual sports! There was a massive regional volleyball tournament taking place in the same building, and as far as I could tell, no one stopped to check it out. And, honestly, part of me thinks that it could have been an NFL game and people would have still hustled upstairs to talk about sports rather than just watch them. There was a panel discussion called “Is Analytics Taking the Fun Out of Sports.” This felt like a nice parallel to that idea.Neil Paine: “Hey, nerds — get your heads out of those volleyball spreadsheets and try watching a match!” (Said no one ever.) But seriously, the juxtaposition was interesting, particularly considering that we had the opportunity to speak with some people who do sabermetrics for volleyball. It seemed like this should have been a big moment for them — considering their sport was on display for all Sloan-ites to see — but instead it was just another smaller sport that can sometimes go neglected at an event geared more toward basketball, baseball and football.But not by us — right, Jody?Jody: Never. We contain multitudes. That said, I know next to nothing about volleyball. And while there is obvious strategy involved — you can see play fakes and how teammates work together — I hadn’t really thought about how you would evaluate the merit of particular plays. The main thing I learned from Mila Barzdukas and Giuseppe Vinci was to think about the setting pass. Is it one that leaves the team with no options but to flail and punch it over the net? Or is it a pass that multiple people could spike, from a wide range of unpredictable angles? That is, in essence, the goal of every possession — a versatile set pass. And it’s graded on a scale of 0 to 3. If you’ve got three options of attack from a given set, that’s a success.And the thing that makes it so intriguing is that the quality of the set is related to the pass before it, which is related to the serve before it. … It’s impossible to untangle each pass from the others. Which might be kind of unique among all sports, right? And, I imagine, a real metrics challenge. …Which is where I saw your wheels turning. Have we found your new beat?Neil: It’s possible. Not really having played volleyball since high school gym class, I’d never considered how oddly well-structured it is for analysis, in terms of the way each rally progresses and the fact that outcomes for individual players can be counted with relative ease. (Even at the 14- to 15-year-old level we observed, Vinci and Barzdukas insisted that coaches were tracking basic pluses and minuses — that is, positive and negative plays — for their players during matches.) It’s still not as perfectly suited to analytics as baseball (what is?), but it wouldn’t be unfair to liken it more to basketball than sports with more moving parts, such as hockey, soccer and football.The strategy of maximizing your passing options on any given setting opportunity struck me as particularly fascinating because it seems like one of those statistical best practices that can suddenly bring focus to a coach’s entire game plan. It that way, it may be much like how conserving outs should be the all-consuming imperative of a baseball offense or how resisting mid-range jumpers has become the mark of smart offensive basketball. (Even hockey has recently found a version of this: Playing dump-and-chase is the equivalent of cutting off your setter’s passing options.)The beauty of sports analytics, though, is that they’re a beginning, not an end. Finding the right strategy is just the first step in a journey that (hopefully) ends with the right players putting it to use. And with an actual volleyball tournament in such close proximity to analytics experts, both components of the odyssey were placed side-by-side, however briefly.Jody: Well said, Neil. Nice setup. Even the most grizzled volleyball coach would say you’re “passing a 3.” OK, folks, watch the video. Mila Barzdukas, Giuseppe Vinci, Neil Paine and Jody Avirgan in front of a regulation size volleyball. CORRECTION (March 10, 10:37 a.m.): An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the number of passes in a volleyball point. It’s two, not three.
The weakest division of the American League so far this season is the one that has been the most dominant in recent years: the AL East — featuring the Yankees and Red Sox, the two winningest AL teams since the league expanded to three divisions in 1995.Baltimore is leading the division with a puny 16-14 record, the worst for any division leader in baseball. Four of the AL East’s five teams are being outscored. And it could get even bleaker: All five teams have put up these poor results while facing schedules that are significantly weaker than average.There’s plenty of time for things to turn around; four-fifths of the season remain. Even if just one or two AL East teams get better, that could be enough for the division to win another pennant and even the major-league title.Winning pennants and titles has been the forte of the AL East since the majors reorganized after the 1994-95 players’ strike. Teams from the division have represented 36 percent of all AL clubs but have won 11 of 19 pennants and eight of 10 World Series titles for AL teams — twice as many as any NL division. (NL East teams have won four.) The division has also claimed 71 percent of available AL wild-card slots, twice as many as it would be expected to by chance alone.Much of that postseason success was achieved by New York and Boston, and the division has had plenty of underachieving clubs, too. But the AL East’s overall results stand up nicely, too. Its teams won 51 percent of regular-season games between 1995 and 2013. That understates its success because division games each had winners and losers, so they canceled each other out. Against opponents from outside their division, AL East teams won 52 percent of games, including the same proportion against both intraleague rivals and against NL teams.Surprising early-season results often stem from bad luck: Opposing batters’ grounders find gaps in the infield, and their fly balls sail for home runs, at unsustainable rates. One way to measure this luck is to compare teams’ skill-interactive ERA to their ERA. SIERA tries to control for factors beyond pitchers’ control — so it’s roughly what a pitching staff’s ERA would be if it had the same luck, and fielding ability, of the average team. And all five AL East teams have a SIERA below their ERA. The Yankees’ gap is nearly a run per nine innings.Then again, last year, all five AL East teams also had ERAs worse than their SIERAs. And while that doesn’t appear to have been due to bad fielding, this year most of the AL East clubs have below-average fielding.There’s one more sign that its slow start could mean real trouble for the AL’s worst division. A few days ago, Dave Cameron at FanGraphs calculated teams’ expected scoring margins — based on how well they’ve hit the ball, run the bases, fielded and pitched — relative to their actual scoring margins. If the AL East really has been the victim of hard luck, we’d expect its teams to have better scoring margins than they do. Yet overall, they’ve done about as poorly as expected. Because they’ve won even more than we’d expect by scoring margin, if they keep playing as poorly as they have, their luck — and tougher opponents — could make it even harder for AL East teams to maintain the mediocre level they’ve established so far this season.
Members of the OSU football team gather around coach Urban Meyer (center) before a game against Michigan on Nov. 29 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-28.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorAfter falling short of its goal last season, the Ohio State football team earned a second chance in 2014.The Buckeyes — ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff standings — are set to match up with No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, one day short of a year since they lost to Michigan State in the title game last season.In order to reverse that 34-24 result, senior cornerback Doran Grant said OSU has to work harder than ever before heading into Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.“Just more effort. More effort, more focus, more everything,” Grant said Wednesday. “It’s championship week, everything has to be more, and we’ve gotta execute and compete.”If OSU pulls out a win against the Badgers, it will mean the 35th Big Ten championship in program history, but first since 2009. That four-year gap means the current Buckeye seniors don’t have a conference title on their resume.Grant said his class’ legacy “wouldn’t be too complete” if the Buckeyes lose on Saturday.“That’s something — especially the guys I came in with, the class of 2011 — we never won one since we’ve been here,” he said. “And we gotta get it.”In order to make their resumes application-ready, the Buckeyes will have to slow down an offense averaging 482.1 yards per game and take on a defense giving up just 16.8 points per contest. OSU will also have to do all that without its starting quarterback as redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett is set to miss the remainder of the season after fracturing his ankle in a win over Michigan last weekend.Before his injury, Barrett had set the Big Ten record for total touchdowns in a season to go along with numerous program records. With the Wichita Falls, Texas, native coming off a Sunday surgery, the Buckeyes are set to turn to redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones, who has thrown all of 17 passes this season.With Jones at the helm, that means OSU is set to play arguably its biggest game of the season with a player who’s thrown just two career touchdowns passes, while Barrett threw 34 in just 12 games as the starter.But even with his starter out, coach Urban Meyer said he’s comfortable with the Buckeyes’ quarterback situation.“(I feel) great,” Meyer said Wednesday. “After today, (Jones) had a good day today.”Meyer stressed that — while the quarterback matters — an offense’s success is based more off the group than any individual player.“A good quarterback has a common denominator and that’s good players around him,” he said. “And we have a veteran offensive line and some good players around him.”Jones taking the lead won’t be the only change for the Buckeyes, as the team learned of the death of a teammate barely 24 hours after beating the Wolverines.Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge — a former wrestler turned football walk-on who had been with the team since August — was reported missing last Wednesday before his body was discovered on Sunday. Karageorge’s funeral was held Wednesday before the Buckeyes practiced.Grant said he attended the funeral, and added it’s not necessarily possible to move on from the tragedy, but the team has to play through it.“You don’t really get past it, we just gotta keep fighting,” he said. “Just keep fighting and staying together.”Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said the adversity of the past week has made the team closer, and forced the leaders to step up.“I think it’s kinda all brought us together, and kinda all just put our shields up and ‘let’s go,’” Heuerman said Wednesday. “We’ll go wherever.”With Barrett’s injury in mind, Heuerman added that the offensive leadership has to be even stronger with Jones making his first collegiate start.“Especially on offense with a quarterback who doesn’t have a whole lot of experience back there playing,” he said. “I think the older guys on offense — myself, (senior wide receiver Evan Spencer), (senior wide receiver Devin Smith), (junior offensive lineman) Taylor Decker on the line — a lot of that, it’s really been on our shoulders. Step up our game, bring (Jones) up.”With the spotlight in Columbus focused largely on how Jones will perform, the Buckeyes might need to put even more emphasis on trying to stop the Wisconsin offensive attack. And when it comes to the Badgers’ attack, everything goes through the success of redshirt-junior running back Melvin Gordon.Gordon — who was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday — leads the nation with 2,260 rushing yards on just 283 carries, and has scored 26 touchdowns along the way. Those rushing yards mean Gordon alone would be the 45th best running team in the country.As a team, the Badgers are second in the nation with 4,011 yards on the ground this season.Especially in recent weeks, OSU has struggled against the run, giving up more than 100 rushing yards to a single player in three of its past four games.In order to slow down Gordon and the Wisconsin offense, Grant said he has a simple plan.“Pursue him and get him on the ground,” he said.While that might be easier said than done, Grant said the Buckeyes simply don’t have another option.“That’s what we have to do,” he added.Even though Gordon is the focal point, the Badgers have proven successful throwing the ball as well, especially in recent weeks. Redshirt-junior quarterback Joel Stave completed 11 of 14 passes Nov. 22 against Iowa before throwing for 215 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota on Saturday.Grant said Stave’s play in recent weeks shows the Buckeyes have to be ready for all aspects of the Wisconsin attack.“That means we have to be ready for the pass, they’re not just one-dimensional running the ball,” Grant said. “So we have to cover, and we have to be ready to stop the run.”Grant added that the Badgers like to change it up on offense, meaning the Buckeyes have to work as a team even more than normal.“They shift a lot, they motion a lot,” he said. “We have to communicate and be in the right spots so we can fill our gaps in the run game.”And with that focus on the running game, the Buckeyes will also have to be aware of the play action pass.“You have to stay focused every play though, because you never know when they’re gonna throw that,” Grant said.While the Badgers throw multiple looks at the opposition while on offense, Heuerman said the defense is much more vanilla. But he added that doesn’t mean Wisconsin will be easy to move the ball against, even if the Buckeyes know what’s coming.“They don’t really do a whole lot of different things, they’re just really good at what they do,” Heuerman said. “They play just a few different types of defense, which, you know, isn’t tough to figure out what they’re playing. But they’re gap sound and they got a lot of good players on that team (who) have a knack for the football.”As the Buckeyes prepare for Wisconsin, Heuerman said they’ve completed one of their main goals: competing for championships in November.But he added OSU has made it to this point on a path that it might not have expected.“I don’t think anyone thought this was how we would get here, in all the things we’ve encountered along the way, it’s been a wild ride,” Heuerman said. “But we’re there and we’re doing everything we can to prepare.”With the loss to Michigan State still on his mind, Heuerman said the Buckeyes will come in with a different attitude against the Badgers.“We’ve still got that bad taste in our mouth from last year, in that stadium,” he said. “We haven’t been back since, so we’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder.”The Buckeyes and the Badgers are scheduled to kick off at 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Ohio State senior forward Jae’Sean Tate finishes a dunk in the first half against Appalachian State on Dec. 16, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Station ManagerSince playing Michigan on Dec. 4, Ohio State (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) has dominated three straight nonconference opponents, scoring at least 80 points and allowing no more than 67 points in any game. The Buckeyes will not find their next matchup quite as easy. They travel to New Orleans to play No. 5 North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Here is a rundown of what to expect out of that game.Projected StartersUNC:G — Joel Berry II — Senior, 6-foot, 195 lbs., 17.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, G — Kenny Williams — Junior, 6-foot-4, 185 lbs., 13.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apgG/F — Theo Pinson — Senior, 6-foot-6, 220 lbs., 8.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apgF — Garrison Brooks — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 215 lbs., 6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.8 apgF — Luke Maye — Junior, 6-foot-8, 240 lbs., 19.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 apgOhio State:G — Musa Jallow — Freshman, 6-foot-5, 200 lbs., 4.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.3 apgG — C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., 13.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.4 apgF — Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs., 12.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.9 apgF — Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs., 18.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 apgC — Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 270 lbs., 12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.8 apgScouting UNCOhio State has played a ranked opponent only once this season, and it was an 86-59 loss to now-No. 12 Gonzaga. The team it faces Saturday might be even better than that Bulldog squad. According to Kenpom.com, North Carolina is the No. 11 team in the nation, one spot ahead of Gonzaga. The Tar Heels have handled a few quality teams to this point, beating Stanford 96-72, Michigan 86-71 and No. 21 Tennessee 78-73. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said in watching the film of those wins, it is clear North Carolina is a team that should be making a return trip to the Final Four in 2018.“There’s a reason they’re the No. 5 team in the country,” Holtmann said Thursday. “We’ve watched them play both home and away, they were up on Michigan by 30 with 10 minutes to go. They just can be really, really explosive. Obviously they have a terrific win at Tennessee. Every time you’re watching them play, you’re trying to evaluate things.”But while North Carolina has several big wins on its resume, it also has several standout losses. In its first real test of the season, it was beat down by now-No. 2 Michigan State 63-45, and lost to Wofford 79-75 Wednesday night. The Tar Heels tend to be one of the more dominant teams in the nation across the board, ranking as both a top-20 team by KenPom in both adjusted offensive efficiency (No. 14) and adjusted defensive efficiency (No. 19). But there is one area that could bode well for the Buckeyes. When Ohio State struggles, it is because it gets into turnover trouble. According to KenPom, Ohio State ranks No. 173 in offensive turnover rate. But the Tar Heels have not been a team to force many turnovers this season, ranking only 267th in defensive turnover rate. In North Carolina’s loss to Wofford, it forced just 10 turnovers and scored eight points off those turnovers. But that is one of the only matchups that looks favorable for the Buckeyes. The Tar Heels typically run a zone defense, a scheme that has caused Ohio State fits offensively all season.The Buckeyes also have not dealt with up-tempo teams well. The three teams that have beaten Ohio State — Gonzaga, Butler and Clemson — average just 16.8 seconds per offensive possession this season. The three Power Five teams Ohio State has beaten — Wisconsin, Michigan and Stanford — average 18.2 seconds per offensive possession. The Tar Heels are the seventh-fastest team in the nation on offense, taking just 14.4 seconds on every offensive possession. Ohio State forward Jae’Sean Tate said the team has spent extensive time at practice this week working on transition defense in anticipation for North Carolina’s faster offense.“The way they get the ball up the court so fast even on made-baskets, going to be key trying to make them play in the half-court is basically what we’re going to have to try to do,” Tate said.How will UNC rebound from its loss to Wofford?Both Ohio State and North Carolina wrapped up relatively easy nonconference stretches of their schedules before the upcoming trip to New Orleans. But unlike Ohio State, North Carolina could not handle its business against Wofford, losing 79-75.Wofford shot 43.8 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from beyond the arc overall, but was exceptional in the second half. The Terriers shot 50 percent (17-for-34) from the field, while also maintaining a 40 percent 3-point success rate with 6-of-15 makes. The Tar Heels, by comparison, shot only 36.4 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range during the game. North Carolina, not known to be a 3-point shooting team, fell behind to Wofford and tried to make it all back up in bulk, but went just 5-for-16 from beyond the arc in the second half.The loss to a 25-point underdog could do one or two things to a team: it could serve as sufficient motivation to play as hard as possible the next time out or it could drag down morale. Holtmann and the Buckeyes are preparing for the former, reflecting on how the Tar Heels responded to its first loss of the season to Michigan State.“After they came back from getting beat by Michigan State, they were phenomenal against Michigan and it was incredible. Like I said, up 30 midway through the second half. I think any time you have a veteran team, that’s typically what happens,” Holtmann said. “You look at it, you say, ‘Absolutely, I’m pretty confident that we’re going to get their very best.’”Prediction:UNC wins 76-68
March 18, 2008 Brought to you by PCWorld Problem Solvers with Jason Feifer If you dig around the Web long enough, you’re bound to find things somebody might not want you to know. (Maybe, like me, you hang your laundry out in the backyard.) This week I have a bunch of sites to help you dig up the dirt and do some serious research.Find the Dirt on Your NeighborWith two free Web services, I found the address of a neighbor, his first and last name, his phone number, and how much his home is worth. If Zillow would only update its images, I could even tell you if he hangs his laundry out in the backyard.I met a neighbor while walking the dogs, and we chatted a while. When I got home, I decided to pop something in the mail. (It was some census tract stuff if you must know.) He lives about two blocks down the road, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the guy’s name or his street address. Okay, sure, I could’ve just dropped by his house. But what would I have to write about today, eh?I popped open Zillow and searched on my neighborhood until I found the image of his house, then clicked on it. Zillow told me lots of stuff about the value of his home. What I needed–and got–was his street address.Now that I had his street address, I went to the Reverse Lookup tab at 411Locate, entered info in the Reverse Address Lookup section, and got lucky. In a second, I had Jess’s name. You might not be so fortunate–411Locate doesn’t always come up with the right name.Dig This: Tempted to buy a set of those newfangled color-pencil input devices? Be sure to read the review first–it details advanced features, usability, and, no surprise, bugs.Trulia’s Hindsight: Watch Cities GrowIf you enjoyed Zillow, you might also like Trulia. But there’s more to this real-estate site than you might expect. I was poking around the other day and discovered Trulia Hindsight, which shows annual population growth in most parts of the U.S.Once you’re on Trulia Hindsight, click on Plano, Texas. You’ll see a city map paint on the screen and a timeline at the bottom of the page will begin to advance. The map begins to populate, showing how the area developed over time.Use the contrast slider on the bottom right to adjust how much of the background you want to see and the slider on the bottom left to zoom in or out of the map.Once you get your bearings, grab the timeline slider, move it to the left, then slowly move it to the right. Type a city and state into the search field at the top to find your home town. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have data for every area. If your town isn’t on Trulia’s radar, try downtown Los Angeles.Dig This: You’ve gotta watch The Front Fell Off. My editor started kvetching that while hilarious, it also looks quite plausible. And she complained that the actors aren’t getting credit even though there are lots of clips floating around the Internet. Okay, so here goes: The guys are Australian comedy team Bruce and Dawe.Top 5 Little-Known Research Web SitesAskNow lets you ask a librarian a question. If they ask you where you live, say California.OWL, the Online Writing Lab, lets you look up the whys and wherefores of grammar.The Phrase Finder is a handy thesaurus for phrases.Need a fact checker? Refdesk.com has all the facts–or links to them–you’ll ever need.Visiting the LibrarySpot is like walking in to the local library and walking into the reference room. The site’s part of the StartSpot Network, which includes HomeworkSpot and MuseumSpot.Dig This: Whenever I go to CES in Las Vegas, my first stop’s the craps table for some fast action–and maybe a chance to make a couple of bucks. Yet after watching these videos of Texas Hold’em–the game that “takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master”–I may have to find a low-stakes game.Dig This, Too: Need a change of pace? Try Reel Fishing. You’ll need patience and a steady hand.Steve Bass writes PC World’s monthly “Hassle-Free PC” column and is the author of “PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer,” available from O’Reilly. He also writes PC World’s daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve’s newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail. Listen Now Hear from business owners and CEOs who went through a crippling business problem and came out the other side bigger and stronger. 4 min read
Staffordshire Moorlands: B Biddulph: Multi-way traffic signals on Hurst Road near junction of Hurst Road and Grange Road from Septrember 17 until September 28 Biddulph: Two way traffic signals on Station Road from September 17 until September 21 Biddulph: Two way traffic signals on St Johns Road from September 18 until September 20 Biddulph: Roadworks and road closure on Troughstones Road from August 13 until October 15 Blythe Bridge: Two way traffic lights on Cheadle Road opposite Fairhaven from September 17 until September 21 Blythe Bridge: Temporary closure of Stallington Road for level crossing test from 7am until 2pm on September 23 Brown Edge: Roadworks and road closure on Edgefields Lane from outside Keepers Cottage to junction of Moss Hill on September 20 Brown Edge: Roadworks and road closure on Willfield Lane from outside Moss Hill bungalow to junction of Moss Hill on September 20 Brown Lees: Roadworks and Road Closure on Brown Lees Road opposite number 143 from September 17 until September 21 Read MoreLabourer, 33, left this note before being found dead by his grandad C-K Calton: Two way traffic lights on Back Lane from outside Ivy Cottage to outside Pales Corner Farmhouse from September 18 to September 26 Calton Moor: Two light traffic signals on A52 Ashbourne Road from Fleece House to Old Post Office on September 20 Draycott in the Moors: Multi-way traffic signals on Breach Lane on September 20 Draycott in the Moors: Two way traffic lights on Draycott Road, Totmonslow outside the Spinney on September 17 Draycott in the Moors: Carriageway incursion on Uttoxeter Road on September 17 from Swallow View to Rock Hollow Endon: Multi-way traffic signals on A53 Leek Road from September 3 until September 17 Endon: Two way traffic signals on A53 Leek Road from September 19 until September 21 Forsbrook: Two way traffic signals on Dilhorne Road from August 28 until September 19 Ipstones: Roadworks and road closure on Belmont Road from September 19 until September 24 Kingsley Holt: Roadworks and road closure on Lockwood Road until September 17 Read MoreHundreds sign petition against school crossing patrol cuts as parents warn: ‘Our children are priceless’ L- W Leek: Multi-way traffic signals on Abbotts Road from September 10 until October 26 Leek: Multi-way traffic lights on Broad Street at the junction with Hartington Street from September 21 until September 25 Leek: Carriageway incursion on Broad Street near junction with King Street from September 13 until September 17 Leek: Multi-way traffic signals at junction of Ball Haye Green, Haregate Road and Novi Lane from September 10 until October 26 Leek: Temporary traffic lights on Southbank Street near junctions with London Street, Shoobridge Street, Leonard Street and Westfields from September 10 until October 12. Roughcote: Two way traffic lights on A520 Leek Road opposite Little Blyth farm from September 10 until September 17 Rudyard: Multi-way traffic lights on B5331 Rudyard Road at junction with Green Lane from September 19 until September 20. Rushton Spencer: Some carriageway incursion on Macclesfield Road opposite Smithy Cottages from September 13 until September 17 Stockton Brook: T wo way traffic signals on A53 Leek Road near Trinity Court Club from September 18 until September 20 Stockton Brook: Roadworks and road closure on Moss Hill from junction with Edgefields Lane to outside Bryn Euryn on September 20 Swinscoe: Two way traffic signals on Town End Lane opposite Fairbrook on September 20 Whiston: Black Lane closed for work to be carried out on disused railway bridge from September 17 until October 26 Read MoreSoon YOU could be working four-days-a-week on full pay! (…if these plans go ahead) Want to keep up to date with the latest traffic and travel news?Each day Stoke-on-Trent Live journalists bring you the latest news on the roads and railways across Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire, South Cheshire and further afield to help keep you on the move. For the very latest updates on roads including the M6, A500, A50 and more, visit our dedicated traffic and travel news channel here. We also run a live news feed each weekday, which you can access on our website’s homepage from 7am to 9pm from Monday to Friday. And for more as-we-get-it updates on the roads across the region and beyond, join The Sentinel’s traffic and travel Facebook group here. Newcastle Borough Stoke-on-Trent Stafford Borough and Uttoxeter South Cheshire M6, A500 and A50 Staffordshire Moorlands Get the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid Email Drivers are being warned to expect traffic and travel delays due to roadworks across the Staffordshire Moorlands this coming week. Motorists hitting the roads of the district on Monday morning can expect a raft of delays and road closures waiting for them. The following roadworks are taking place in the Staffordshire Moorlands between Monday September 17 and Sunday September 23. This list contains only the roadworks considered to be most likely to cause delays on key routes as well as those involving road closures and temporary traffic lights. It is not exhaustive and does not feature some minor or emergency repairs that come up after publication. Other roadworks may finish or start before schedule or be cancelled altogether. If you only want information about roadworks in a different area of North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, visit the links below, otherwise scroll down for the roadworks most likely to disrupt your journey in the Moorlands in the coming week All information from Highways England, local authorities and utility companies. Read MoreRoadworks in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire (Sep 17-Sep 23 2018) Full list of roadworks M6 to shut for up to 24 hours
In This Issue. * It’s pretty much an all-out assault by the dollar today! * Chinese & Swedish PMI’s are weaker but above 50. * The BOJ’s QE announcement sinks yen! * The Narrowing thing. It’s Tricky! And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts. China Begins To Take Baby Steps Toward A Convertible Renminbi! Good Day!… And a Marvelous Monday to you! OUCH! Brother am I hurting all over today, as I used muscles yesterday that haven’t been used in a while! We had two semi-large trees fall in the back of our property, down by the creek (probably the work of beavers!), and for the last two weeks I had been cutting it up, a little bit at a time, so as not to wear myself out, but yesterday, I had the help of Jerry and then neighbor, Paul, and we banged out the whole shootin’ match! So, now I have a huge pile of wood ready for splitting. I’ll leave that for Alex to do. (I’ll have a heart attack IF he actually does it! HAHAHAHA!) There’s some BIG news from China to talk about this morning, but first, I need to tell you that the dollar is in an all-out assault mood this morning, with 95% of the currencies, including Gold, looking at losses this morning, and the few without losses are flat, but could turn negative in a NY Minute, so it’s all about the dollar this morning, especially if you check out the cable news who are dropping the ball BIG Time on the China news, but that’s their problem, not mine, for I’m going to give it to you right here! This weekend, the Chinese Gov’t announced that the renminbi will become directly convertible with the Singapore dollar, effective this morning. Folks, I don’t care if the Cable News or The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) or Reuters don’t care to talk about this development, it’s HUGE news any way you look at it! I saw this, and said to myself, “Self, is this the first step in a freely convertible renminbi? Why, I do believe that’s what’s going on here, Self!” I told you all previously that I thought that China was really stepping up the pace of their move to replace the dollar as the reserve currency, and this just confirms that thought! I see this going along much like China went about gaining a wider distribution of their currency by signing currency swap agreements with one country at a time. I see them doing the same type of one country at a time, move with convertibility of their currency, until it’s fully convertible all over the world. This won’t happen overnight folks. The first currency swap agreements were signed in 2008. There was other news from China over the weekend, as the latest Gov’t version of the Manufacturing Index (PMI) printed, and was not as strong as I thought it would be. The index number was still safely above the 50 level at 50.8, but a number north of 51 was expected, and so, it was more of the moving along slowly for the Chinese economy, but not stopping for rest, just moving along slowly. Sort of like me in the backyard yesterday! HA! And since the dollar was taking liberties against most currencies overnight, the Chinese decided to weaken the renminbi / yuan, using the weaker than expected PMI as their excuse for doing so. They didn’t make a Big deal out of the direct convertibility of the renminbi with Singapore, as I’m sure they would have liked for no one to notice. The U.S. news agencies complied, eh? And get this. The man who is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Yngve Slynstad, says that even though assets from China only make up about 1.5% of the $860 Billion Norwegian Wealth Fund’s portfolio, he believes that almost all investment decisions are affected by what happens in China. He didn’t say the U.S., Japan, the Eurozone, the U.K., he said China. Makes you sit back and think about all the things I’ve told you regarding China over the years, they all seem to be coming true, don’t they? Well. So, it’s all about the all-out assault by the dollar today. UGH! That’s crazy, I don’t care what side of the fence you’re on, how in the world can traders and investors take the dollar to this all-out assault mode today? I explained last week how QE 1, 2 & 3, isn’t going to end quietly, that the Fed had announced that when bonds that they bought and hold, mature, they will take the proceeds and invest in another bond. Thus keeping the Fed’s balance sheet at more than $4 Trillion, and allowing them to keep their hands in the bond markets’ cookie jar. But that’s not the only thing on my mind today regarding the currencies, so, let’s open this can of beans and see what’s inside, eh? Well, last week the Bank of Japan (BOJ) Gov. Kuroda, really opened Pandora’s Box of currency losses for the yen, and the bleeding hasn’t stopped yet. On Friday, we saw a whole 2 figure loss in yen, and overnight we’ve seen another 2 whole figure loss in yen. I was talking with a trader friend on Friday, and I told her that when I started in this business 22 years ago, yen was 124. And the way things were going, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it there again, with the way the Japanese Gov’t and BOJ keep pushing it downward. I find this downward move in yen to be quite interesting, as it wasn’t that long ago, that people kept talking about what a miracle it was that Japan had twin deficits, (Current and National Gov’t) but yet the yen was still strong, and why couldn’t that be the same for the dollar? Uh-Oh. Looks like that “miracle” has been shattered, just like the one here in the U.S. with our twin deficits and a stronger currency will be eventually. It takes a while for the markets to get out of bad habits and wake up to smell the coffee, but eventually they do, and when they do, they go at it with a vengeance, like they are doing with yen right now. There comes a time when the markets realize what I’ve been telling you for a while now, that Japan is a basket case. Of course I’ve not been a fan of what’s going on with the twin deficits in the U.S., but we’re not here with yen, just yet. But also remember what I’ve been telling you for quite a few years now. That the U.S. is turning Japanese, yes, I really think so. I loved this quote from David Stockman. He said that “The BOJ had jumped the shark tank and now the Machines, Madmen and Morons are Raging”. Whoa, there David, I would love to say those things, but I get my hands slapped, but as long as you say them, we’re good to go! So, keep the quotables coming! The Aussie and New Zealand dollars (A$ and kiwi respectively) are both on the downswing this morning. Last week it was the interest rate differentials helping the currencies like A$ and kiwi, real, ruble, and rand, but that tricky wording that the Fed used in their press conference on Wednesday last week, got the dollar bugs thinking that these interest rate differentials will soon be narrowed. One of my wife’s fave songs, is (to me a strange choice, but to each his own) the song: It’s Tricky. You know, It’s Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time, It’s Tricky. And that’s how I feel about the stuff going on in these two currencies. The key here is that the dollar bugs think the interest rate differential will be “narrowing” soon. Hmmm. That does NOT mean that the interest rate differential that the currency owns over the dollar is going away, it simply means it could be getting “narrowed”, and for that reason alone, the dollar bugs are all over the place now? It’s Tricky folks. The 1.5% rate hike that the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), pulled off last week, helped the ruble one day, and since then it has been of no help, as the ruble continues to slide further and further downward. There’s a fragile peace in Russia and Ukraine and winter is beginning in the region. I just don’t see how the fragile peace that’s there now will be threatened, as the bitter cold, snow, and winter weather sets in. In fact, I would think that given the weather, the fragile peace could grow stronger. I’m grasping at straws here folks, as I’m looking for something, anything that would wrap a tourniquet around the ruble. Shoot Rudy, if adding 1.5% in a rate hike can’t give the ruble any more love than a one day and done shot, you can see why I’m grasping at straws. The Swedish krona is flat today, which is strange given all the bad news that has come out of Sweden lately, and with the dollar taking liberties against the currencies. We also saw Sweden’s PMI (manufacturing index) drop from 52.5 in September to 52.1 in October. Sure it was still well over the line in the sand number of 50, but it did weaken, which should not have been a reason for the krona to buck the dollar’s all-out assault today. But it is, what it is, and I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, eh? The Brazilian real is opening up this morning with a bee in its bonnet. So, it’s nice to see that the “Narrowing rate differential” talk for the dollar isn’t carrying any weight here in Brazil. Recall that the Brazilian Central Bank (BCB) hike rates last week, and I went out on a limb and said that I expected rate hikes at the next 4 meetings, and I guess the markets are figuring that out about now too, so the real bucks the trend of the dollar’s all-out assault this morning. I’m seeing a data print flash on the Bloomberg this morning. Apparently, Honda, Rocktober Auto Sales were up 5.8%… Unfortunately, the estimates were for an increase of 7.7%… So, 5.8% is nice, but it’s not 7.7%, eh? The U.S. Data Cupboard was gloomy on Friday. Personal Spending fell -.2% in September, disappointing those that thought it would increase .2%, and those that thought August’s .5% was the beginning of a strong economy, after printing flat in July. As long as personal consumption / spending is responsible for over 70% of GDP, this is not good news. And one could actually say that since August was a “back to school” month, with lots of spending going on, that the 3rd QTR spending was atrocious. I know, I know, long time readers are saying right now, but Chuck. You used to get upset when we spent more than we made, and now that’s no longer a problem, you say we’re not spending enough! Ahhh grasshopper. Yes, I don’t like it when we spend more than we make, and looking at the Personal Income data, it certainly wasn’t very good either, rising .2% in September. But, here’s the kicker. Personal Income should be much higher and each month should be more than the Spending component. except maybe in August, December, and April. So, the data is all whacked-out as far as I’m concerned, and right now the problem, as the markets see it is, there’s not enough spending for the economy to grow, which goes along well with the disappointing Retail Sales data we’ve also seen lately. And last Friday (Halloween), I told you that Gold had fallen below $1,200. Well the slide continues this morning, and Silver has a $16 handle, which is better than on Friday when it was a $15 handle.. I have to say that these downward drops in the commodity prices seem to be overdone, by quite a bit. Usually when you see stuff like this, you see a bounce-back. We are well below the production costs of Gold, and remember the story I told you a week or so ago, about the head of the largest Silver producer, saying he was not selling the Silver he produces until he breaks the paper trading manipulators? Well, eventually a there has to be a shortage of supply problem. Geez I would love for his plan to work, now that would be something, and I wouldn’t nominate him for leader of the free world! HA! There is some good news in the metals this morning though, as Platinum and Palladium are booking gains VS the dollar. These two have gotten caught up in the Gold price drop, and they should have been. They are dual metals with investment and industrial uses, and shouldn’t get brought down when the price manipulators go after Gold. Well, that’s my thought and I’m sticking to it! Before I head to the Big Finish today. I wanted to point out what a great job, my longtime friend, and Big Boss, Frank Trotter, did with the Sunday Pfennig & Pfriends piece yesterday. He laid out the fallacy of a cheap currency. Something I’ve tried to get across in these pages for many a year to you dear readers, but leave it to the Big Boss, to drive the point home, in stunning style. For What It’s Worth. Well, this is more or less more of me here. Frank was talking about the cheap currency fallacy yesterday, and that got me thinking about the cheap Oil price fallacy. Sure, everyone is jumping up and clicking their heals right now because the price of gas at the pumps is dropping. for now. You see there’s a major problem brewing in our Oil shale production. There have been 19 shale rigs that have already gone offline just last week! What you have here is the same thing going on in Gold. The price of Oil has fallen very near below the cost to produce it. Fracking Operations have a cost of $75 a barrel, and this morning, the price of Oil is $80 and change. So, while we were on our way here with something good (cheaper gas prices, from cheaper oil prices), the getting’s not going to last. Then we’ll have to import more Oil and guess what our friends (NOT!) at OPEC will do with the price of Oil? So, with just about anything in life, we have to be careful with what we wish for, eh? To Recap. The Big News from China this weekend is being glossed over here in the U.S. because it’s not about the mid-term elections tomorrow! But China announced that beginning today, they will allow direct convertibility of the renminbi with Singapore dollars. Just a first baby step to full convertibility. And what Chuck things is a one-country at a time deal for convertibility of the renminbi. Chinese PMI was weaker but still above 50, and Sweden’s PMI was also weaker but above 50. the U.S. Data Cupboard had some very weak spending data on Friday, so scary for the economy, it deserved to print on Halloween! And Gold continues to slide, and to Chuck it appears to be overdone at this point. Currencies today 11/1/14. American Style: A$ .8715, kiwi .7755, C$ .8860, euro 1.2495, sterling 1.6005, Swiss $1.0365, . European Style: rand 11.0330, krone 6.7725, SEK 7.3810, forint 247.05, zloty 3.3755, koruna 22.2430, RUB 43.35, yen 113.70, sing 1.2890, HKD 7.7550, INR 61.40, China 6.1525, pesos 13.49, BRL 2.4750, Dollar Index 87.18, Oil $80.70, 10-year 2.32%, Silver $16.12, Platinum $ 1,242.00, Palladium $807.50, and Gold. $1,171.77 That’s it for today. Whew! Our lambs, I mean Rams, pulled out a win in a crazy ending to the game yesterday. And my beloved Missouri Tigers won on Saturday, moving them into first place in the SEC East, as Florida upset Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville! I didn’t have many Trick-or-Treaters on Friday night, bummer! And it was pretty chilly sitting outside, by myself waiting for them to come, but very few made it up the driveway to the front porch. Little Delaney Grace was Anna from Frozen, and her little brother was Olaf, the snowman from the same movie. Cute as can be! And Braden finally got with the program and put on his Batman costume, but refused to wear the cape! (hey, he had to win something with that fight!) All of them were very cute! I hope your Halloween was grand. Went to breakfast with my good friend Duane on Saturday and ran into our old colleague, John Kaupisch! He looked great, as retirement has agreed with him. He said, he “highly recommends retirement”. Both Duane and Chuck laughed because we were both talking about that before John walked up to us! Alrighty then, I hope I didn’t miss any birthdays or anything like that. it’s time to get this out the door. I hope you have a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets
— • A critical vote in Italy today could be that pin… That’s why you need to act now. You may be exposed to this toxic financial waste without even knowing it. My friend, mentor, and globetrotting colleague Doug Casey thinks the situation in Italy is just the beginning of a disaster much worse than the 2007–2009 global financial crisis. Here’s Doug: I expect a truly major banking crisis. Much worse than that of 2007–2009. Governments, who are all bankrupt, borrow money from commercial banks. Commercial banks have lent it to them because they believe it’s a risk-free loan. Governments encourage them to lend recklessly, hoping that will jump-start sluggish economies. Central banks, which are the arms of their governments, have taken interest rates to zero and below for that reason and to make it easier for governments to service their debts. This policy has encouraged businesses to take on debt. It’s an idiotic and reckless experiment that will end—likely in this cycle—with bankrupt central banks and governments bailing out bankrupt commercial banks and businesses. Just the way they did in 2007–2009. Except this time, the situation is much more serious. How to profit? Don’t own European companies, stocks or bonds, and banks in particular. In fact, even though they’re already down considerably, they’re going lower and are excellent candidates for short sales, or the sale of naked calls. I agree with Doug. The European banks most exposed to the looming crisis in Italy are excellent short-sale candidates. To hone in on the best options, I looked at which European banks hold a lot of Italian government bonds. According to the German media, French banks are the most exposed by a wide margin. They have over $275 billion worth of Italian sovereign debt on their balance sheets. Germany is next, with $90 billion, followed by Spain, with $45 billion. If you own any of the European bank stocks listed below, I recommend selling them immediately. Even though their share prices have all taken serious hits recently, they’re still great short-sale candidates. You only have a short window to act… Today, Italy is voting on a crucial referendum. It’s almost certain to fail. And that will probably be the pin that pricks this super bubble. Doug and I just released an urgent video on this issue with all the details. Click here to watch it now. It ends at midnight tonight, get started NOW Today – December 4 – Italian citizens will vote on their own version of Brexit. If they vote no like British voters did, it could spell the end of the European Union itself. Since the EU is the world’s largest economy, its fall will instantly affect your investments and savings. The first domino was Brexit, the second domino was Trump’s election, and this Italy vote will be the third domino in the global wave of discontent. This crisis promises to make a few lucky speculators insanely rich, but you need to get prepared before midnight tonight. Here’s the entire story so you can prepare right now… – Recommended Links Editor’s note: You may be exposed to toxic financial waste without even knowing it. In today’s essay, Crisis Investing editor Nick Giambruno details the super bubble that’s set to pop at any moment. Read on to learn what you should be doing now…and why there’s only a small window left to prepare. By Nick Giambruno, editor, Crisis Investing Italian government bonds are in a super bubble. They are primed to collapse soon. Italy has one of the most indebted governments in the world. It’s borrowed over $2.4 trillion, and its debt-to-GDP ratio is north of 130%. (For comparison, the US debt-to-GDP ratio is 104%.) But the situation is actually much worse. GDP measures a country’s economic output. However, it’s highly misleading. Mainstream economists count government spending as a positive when calculating GDP. A more honest approach would count government spending as a big negative. In Italy, government spending accounts for a whopping 50%-plus of GDP. A more accurate debt-to-GDP ratio would exclude government spending from economic output. I suspect that figure would reveal the Italian government’s hopeless insolvency. I don’t see how it’s possible for the Italian government to extract enough in taxes from the productive part of the economy to ever pay back what it’s borrowed. • Yet Italian government bonds are trading near record-low yields… It’s a bizarre and perverse situation. Over $1 trillion worth of Italian bonds actually have negative yields. That’s completely insane. Given the huge risks associated with lending money to the bankrupt Italian government, the yields on Italian sovereign bonds should be near record highs, not record lows. Source: Zero Hedge Italian government bonds are, without a doubt, in super-bubble territory. It won’t be long before a pin pricks it and… pop. Will Bonner: “We’re sharing our family’s next big gold investment” In the past, Bill Bonner hasn’t discussed his specific gold investments. But for the first time, he’s agreed to “open up his gold portfolio” and reveal exactly where he’s about to invest in gold next through his family trust. Click here for all the details. France—Société Générale (SCGLY) France—BNP Paribas (BNPQY) Germany—Deutsche Bank (DB) Spain—Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) Spain—Banco Santander (SAN)
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Apple Pay has been steadily adding to the roster of businesses that let people tap handsets to consummate transactions. Chinese exchange students pay tribute to the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs eight years after his death, amid concerns the iPhone maker’s momentum has stalled Apple is aiming to show it can do more than just make iPhones in a quarterly update Tuesday for investors who are skeptical over whether the culture-changing company can regain the momentum from its glory days. “I distinctly recall Cook telling analysts during a quarterly earnings call that, having studied the country for 30 years, he knew China,” Gassee said in a blog.”How could Apple, which is more embedded than most Western companies, not see a Chinese economy slowdown that started well before the 2018 holiday quarter?”Apple is likely to face questions on whether it boosted prices too far, lifting its newest handsets to $1,000 or more, in a market that is seeing tougher competition.Consumer Intelligence Research Partners said its survey showed 65 percent of iPhone buyers chose the newer models over the less expensive ones, and that the average selling price of the devices rose to “well over $800.” Another important source of income is the surging market for app downloads, where Apple gets 30 percent of the action.Meanwhile, Apple remains under pressure as fans and analysts wonder whether the company lost its ability to wow the world when co-founder and chief Steve Jobs died in late 2011.The China factorApple had been growing in China until recently, but the combination of trade frictions and a slowing Chinese economy are cutting into its sales there.Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee said the surprise on Chinese sales was a massive mistake for CEO Tim Cook. © 2019 AFP “This is unprecedented and representative of a resilient business,” Munster and Thompson write in a blog post.The saturated global smartphone market is forcing Apple to seek another reinvention.”This is not ‘the fall of Apple’—it’s just the shift of smartphones to boring maturity, as we look for what’s next,” Benedict Evans of the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz said in a recent blog post. Rumors buzzing about the company include its plans to produce it own shows, potentially challenging streaming television giants Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have invested heavily in original content.”There are other ways to make money but it’s not clear how Apple is going to do that,” noted analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates.Apple has consistently touted the success of its eponymous smartwatch, engineering the wristwear with health and fitness features. Apple CEO Tim Cook is likely to face questions during the company’s earnings call on its strategy to deal with weaker smartphone sales and a lower demand from China Citation: For bruised Apple, a need to go beyond the iPhone (2019, January 29) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-apple-iphone.html Amid slowing smartphone sales, Apple is seeking to get more revenue from services such as music and its digital payment application, Apple Pay Apple’s bombshell and the trillion-dollar question Apple’s quarterly update comes amid concerns about slowing iPhone sales, especially in China In recent weeks, Apple shares have been hammered on concerns that its best days are over, with smartphone sales slipping and no new “big thing” on the horizon.Amid turbulence in the tech sector, Apple has lost its trillion-dollar status and slid behind rivals Microsoft and Amazon on the list of most valuable corporations.The California tech giant has been trying to shift focus to growth in the side of its business devoted to selling music, movies, apps, and services to the vast “install base” of Apple gadget owners as well as via other internet-linked devices.Apple delivered a stunning admission earlier this month that iPhone sales and overall revenues would be below most forecasts, citing economic weakness in China and trade frictions between Washington and Beijing.Some analysts believe iPhone sales over the quarter to December will show an unprecedented decline, although the exact figures won’t be visible because Apple has decided to leave off unit sales.Resilience?Gene Munster and Will Thompson of the investment firm Loup Ventures said that despite lower iPhone sales, Apple can make up for lost revenues from its growing services segment. Explore further