When Mauricio Macri was elected president of Argentina in 2015, one of his first acts was to abolish capital controls that restricted buying and selling of the peso. The move symbolized Argentina’s pivot back to open markets and liberal economic reforms under his rule. On September 1st, after weeks of market turmoil, Mr Macri was forced to issue a decree re-imposing controls in an attempt to shore up the currency. From now on ordinary Argentines’ purchases of dollars will be capped at $10,000 a month. Companies will face restrictions on their ability to purchase dollars in the foreign-exchange market and to pay dividends to investors abroad.
Following days of market chaos in the wake of the vote (the August 11 primary vote that went to Peronist rival Alberto Fernandez (no relation to former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner)), Mr Macri’s government bowed to the inevitable last week and asked creditors for more time to pay back Argentina’s $101bn of foreign debt, including the IMF money, as Buenos Aires struggled to avoid the country’s ninth sovereign default — and the third this century. Currency controls were imposed on businesses on Sunday after it lost an estimated $3bn in reserves in just two days last week.
Thirty percent of all investment-grade securities now bear sub-zero yields, meaning that investors who acquire the debt and hold it to maturity are guaranteed to make a loss. Yet buyers are still piling in, seeking to benefit from further increases in bond prices and favorable cross-currency hedging rates—or at least to avoid greater losses elsewhere.
China’s trade war with the United States has escalated in recent days, posing a growing threat to an already slowing economy.
China is not running out of money. But Chinese banks are reluctant to lend to private businesses because they consider big, state-owned enterprises more reliable in paying off their debts. Alternative sources of money have dried up as regulators have cracked down in recent years on China’s shadowy world of unofficial lending.
So a growing number of companies are issuing i.o.u.s to their suppliers. Some suppliers turn around and use the notes to pay another supplier. And then — in a sign of how desperate some Chinese companies have become for money — they sell the notes for less cash than they are worth.
Commercial acceptance bills are not legal tender. Rather, they are pieces of paper promising payment in the future. Companies owed some $211 billion in these informal notes as of February, the most recent government data available, an increase of more than one-third from the previous year.
More debt may be floating around China’s corporate world and goes untracked if the notes are being traded for less than their face value. A market has formed around commercial acceptance bills, in which companies buy and sell them based on the prospects for being paid back. The bigger and better known the company, the more secure the bill is considered.
A pillar of China’s economy, the property sector, is feeling the squeeze particularly hard. Sales have been slowing since late 2017, making it hard to pay for new projects. At the same time, the government is clamping down on other ways that property companies raise money, like through the shadow banking system.
Property companies have adapted by effectively turning the commercial acceptance bills into a currency, according to interviews and filings from dozens of property developers and suppliers like steel companies, design and construction firms.
Xu Jiang of Zhubo Design, an architecture and urban planning company in the southern city of Shenzhen, said customers had started to pay with commercial acceptance bills two years ago. The customers, which include some of the country’s biggest developers, local governments and state-owned firms, now use these notes more frequently than paying cash, he said.
Today, one of the biggest issuers of i.o.u.s is China’s largest and best known property company, Evergrande ($36bn market cap). By the end of last year it had issued nearly $20 billion worth of i.o.u.s to its suppliers. With a towering $100 billion debt pile and a penchant for raising bonds to pay off the interest, it appears to have turned to commercial acceptance bills to help cover costs.
Bauing Construction Holding Group, a big supplier of design and materials to China’s biggest property developers, has disclosed that it is owed $96.4 million in these i.o.u.s from Evergrande.
Another company that owes Bauing money is the state-owned firm China State Construction Engineering. China State said it had owed $490 million in i.o.u.s to all of its suppliers at the end of last year.
Another major property developer, Greenland Holding, which was founded by the Shanghai government and has property developments in dozens of cities across China, had $550 million worth of unpaid notes out to suppliers by the end of last year, according to its annual report. The company said that was 10 times the amount it had outstanding in 2017.
Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice
- “…There is no such thing as too big to be simple.”
- “Problems arise when ultra-wealthy people assume the normal rules don’t apply to them.”
- “A simple reform might fix America’s dysfunctional politics.”
- “Competition for ‘HQ2’ shows how hard it is to ensure city development benefits the poor.”
- “They are the biggest global generation – and their choices are upending business from the US to China.”
Markets / Economy
Health / Medicine
- “Official recognition of social media addiction could well be next in line.”
- “Petrol prices jumped at the fastest pace in 18 years in May, with an average increase of 6p per liter from the previous month, according to roadside assistance and insurance company RAC.”
- “Unleaded petrol rose from 123.43p to 129.41p ($6.46 per gallon) over the month, taking the cost of filling up a 55-litre (14.53 gallon) family car to £71.18 ($93.79), an increase of £3.29 in just one month, according to RAC Fuel Watch data.”
- “Price rises were driven by a jump in oil prices combined with the weakening of the pound against the dollar, said RAC.”
- “Debt collectors in China are harnessing new technologies such as artificial intelligence in a bid to collect on an estimated Rmb1.3tn ($200bn) debt bubble that has formed in the country’s peer-to-peer lending industry.”
- “An estimated Rmb1.3tn in outstanding P2P debt as of May, according to online lending intelligence firm Wdzj.com, and a rising number of defaults have opened the door to a wave of start-ups using new technologies to try to recover tardy loans.”
- “’People’s usage of P2P debt is very high but the government only monitors the banking system closely,’ said Cherry Sheng, chief executive of Shanghai-based debt collection group Ziyitong and a former manager at Citigroup and ANZ Bank. ‘This has become an opportunity for start-ups with advanced technology to move into this market.’”
- “Ziyitong, which has sought to recover Rmb150bn since it was set up in 2016, recently launched an AI platform to help recover delinquent loans for some 600 debt collection agencies, and more than 200 lenders including Alibaba Group and Postal Savings Bank of China, Ms. Sheng said.”
- “The system scrapes the internet for information on borrowers and their friends, then contacts the borrower via phone using a dialogue robot. The conversations are recorded and analyzed by an algorithm that then determines the phrasing with the highest likelihood of pressuring the person to pay back the loan. The system also calls friends of the borrower and asks them to relay the urgency of making payments.”
- “In May the AI system had a recovery rate of 41% for large clients on loans delinquent for up to one week, according to Ms. Sheng, compared with a rate of as low as 20% via traditional debt collection methods for similar loans. Ziyitong plans to expand the system to loans that have been unpaid for longer periods of time.”
- “Yigou, another debt collection start-up, has launched a mobile phone application that allows collection agents to search thousands of individual debt records and choose cases, streamlining connections between lenders and collectors. The company can also provide geo-locational data on some borrowers to help the agents track them down.”
WSJ – Daily Shot: OECD – Levels of Working Poor by Country 5/8
Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice
- “…is journalism really in such a parlous state? Look closer. News is an industry in transition, not in decline. It is reemerging as something more digital, more personalized, more automated, more paid for—and (eventually) less fake. In many ways history is repeating itself, with the main surprise being the survival of so many established names. And good journalism still does have the power to change lives.”
- “In a world where the facts are known, commentary will become ever more important…”
- “That points to the final series of changes: the multiplicity of formats. The standard print news story is being broken up, split among explainers, videographics, podcasts, and so on. Editorship is increasingly a matter of choosing the best way to deliver information to a time-starved consumer. News is likely to get shorter, quicker, and more graphical. But if you need to understand Syria or cryptocurrencies, you may save time reading one long story in Businessweek or the New Yorker rather than endless small ones.”
- “The newspaper has not so much died as transmuted. News is in a state of transition—and what’s emerging is molded by both new technology and old verities. As journalists, we have to work harder to keep our audiences. But I’m still optimistic—not least about fake news. It won’t go away; it never has. But it will play a smaller role. And the big winner will be you, the consumer. Even if you have to pay a little more for it.”
Markets / Economy
- “US retailer to pay $15bn for 75% stake in India’s largest ecommerce group.”
WSJ – Daily Shot: LPL Research – Length of Economic Expansions 5/8
WSJ – Daily Shot: Green Street Advisors – US Commercial Property Price Index 5/8
WSJ – Daily Shot: Bianco Research – State Muni Yields vs. S&P Muni Index 5/8
- “Retirement plans across the country still project their investments will grow at a median rate of 7.25%, according to Wilshire Consulting, an adviser to pension funds. Yearly returns on public pension plans have returned a median 6.79% over the past decade and 6.49% over the past 20 years, according to Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service, a database.”
- “Unlike corporations, public pensions have wide latitude in projecting investment returns.”
- “Public retirement systems had an average 72% of assets they need to pay for retirement promises in 2016, according to the latest data available in the Public Plans Database, which tracks about 170 pension funds. The figure a decade earlier was 85%.”
- “Companies don’t have the same flexibility to set return expectations on their pension plans. Pension plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies have an average 87% of assets needed to cover their pensions promises, according to Mercer, a consultancy.”
WSJ – Daily Shot: CME Lumber (Jul) 5/7
- “An annual report released in late April revealed that HNA spent more on interest than any nonfinancial company in Asia last year, a $5 billion bill that represented a more than 50% increase from the year before.”
- “Overall debt rose 21% in 2017, according to the report, with short-term borrowing climbing by 25%, to about $30.3 billion. Total debt amounted to about 20 times HNA’s earnings before interest and taxes…”
- “Nonetheless, HNA, which Chen co-founded in the 1990s, counting George Soros among its early investors, isn’t at risk of immediate catastrophe. At the start of 2018, according to people familiar with the matter, it told creditors it would sell about $16 billion in assets in the first half to lighten its balance sheet. Happily for the banks that financed its rise, HNA is already nearing that goal, thanks largely to the Hilton sale ($8.5bn).”
- “In a test of Chinese authorities’ commitment to reducing financial risk, a large Chinese manufacturing group has begged for a government bailout to avoid default on up to $7bn in debt after a regional lender withdrew loans.”
- “Over the past year, China has tightened credit in a bid to tackle an explosion of corporate debt that the International Monetary Fund has called ‘dangerous’. But the plea highlights how painful Beijing’s deleveraging campaign has been for some indebted groups.”
- “According to Caixin, a respected Chinese financial news website, the crisis involving DunAn began when Zheshang Bank, a regional lender in Zhejiang, demanded early repayment of loans, causing other banks to restrict lending to the group.”
- “DunAn employs 29,000 workers and manufactures a range of equipment including air-conditioning parts, civil explosives and wind power equipment. It has also expanded into asset management and real estate.”
- “Government bailouts are most common for state-owned companies, but officials have also rescued private groups when their potential collapse raised the prospect of contagion.”
- “The Shanghai government shielded investors from losses on bonds from privately owned Chaori Solar, whose 2014 default was the first in China’s domestic bond market.”
This will be the only post this week from me. This week I’m attending the ULI Spring Meeting in Detroit, MI.
- Clearly there is some disconnect between showing just this chart and the title. Emphasis less on India and more on the gender split of Facebook users.
Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice
Markets / Economy
- “This week high-yield bond investors faced a puzzle: how to value a bond sold by an unprofitable company that does not own hard assets or offer a clear outlook for its free cash flow?”
- “The company in question was WeWork, the office-sharing company that last year attracted a $4.4bn equity investment from Japan’s Softbank. WeWork, which hired JPMorgan to lead the sale but had more than a dozen other banks working as well, attracted enough demand to increase the sale to $702m from $500m.”
- “Several investors who steered clear of the bond — and one who bought it — said WeWork’s debt was not the type that typically appealed to high-yield investors. But nor was it the first company vowing to disrupt an industry to have found buyers in the junk market. Last year electric carmaker Tesla sold a $1.8bn high-yield bond, and in March, Uber raised $1.5bn in a leveraged loan.”
- “A combination of low interest rates and shrinking supply has made it harder for money managers to find bonds with attractive yields. WeWork’s bonds were sold at a yield of 7.875%.”
Environment / Science
WSJ – Daily Shot: CME Lumber (Jul) 4/26
- Very cool animation.
After speaking with some readers, it appears that my little experiment wasn’t working out as I intended. It was not clear that the majority of the content was being hosted on the website, while the direct email was only showing one article.
So, back to the old format.
Thanks for reading – and if you like this blog, please be sure to tell your peers about it.
If you were only to read one thing…
- “Toronto’s housing market has seen a stunning slowdown in the past year. Now one brokerage has cataloged the damage for 988 homeowners who got caught in the eye of the hurricane.”
- “In the space of four months last year, the homeowners lost a collective C$135 million ($107 million) as the median house price slid 18%, a faster decline than any major market during the U.S. market crash, according to Realosophy Reality Inc.”
- “The story goes like this: The median house price surged 30% from January to peak at C$765,000 in March, largely driven by investors who were pouring money into the market for quick returns, Realosophy said in a report. To tame the beast, the government instituted a series of regulations, including a foreign buyers tax, starting in April.”
- “Some 866 homeowners had clinched a sale but were not able to close, eventually selling to another buyer later in the year for C$140,200 less on average. Some buyers had to walk away as they weren’t able to sell their own homes or the banks appraised the house for less than what they agreed to. Another 122 sellers sold their houses for an average $107,325 lower than what they bought it for earlier. By the time the dust had settled in July, the median price had dropped to C$626,000 from C$765,000 in March.”
- “To put that 18% four-month decline in perspective, it took major U.S. cities 20 months on average for prices to fall 18% from their peaks between 2005 and 2006, with Miami the shortest at 12 months, according to the report.”
- “This February, Toronto led the drop in Canadian home prices falling for the first time since 2010, a consequence of the housing downturn which saw additional mortgage lending rules put in place this year amid higher interest rates. For now, prices have largely stabilized for detached-homes. But there’s a new hot spot to watch out for: Toronto’s condominium market has seen prices soaring about 20% since last February and is a target for speculative investment.”
Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice
- “The party is strengthening its influence – often gaining direct decision-making power – over the international firms doing business in China.”
Markets / Economy
WSJ – Daily Shot: Scotiabank – Combined Central Bank QE Projections 4/13
WSJ – Daily Shot: Scotiabank – Forecast Central Bank Rates 4/13
- “Chinese trade barriers are compounding the problems faced by companies that recycle scrap paper, plastic and metal.”
- “The U.S. generates more recyclable waste than any other country. China is the top customer for that scrap. China bought two-thirds of the used paper and half the scrap aluminum that the U.S. sold overseas last year, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc., part of an overall haul of 13 million metric tons of cast-off American packaging, periodicals and shredded car bodies.”
- “China’s 25% tariff on U.S. scrap aluminum would make reusable metal from other countries more appealing. China also recently imposed tougher quality standards on other imported recyclables, sending the U.S. recycling industry into a tailspin.”
- “Prices for discarded newspaper, office paper and magazines have fallen to zero in the U.S. Inventories of paper, crushed milk jugs and old cardboard are swelling. No other country wants to buy as much U.S. junk as China had during the past several years.”
- “After shaking up the music industry, Spotify is now prompting investors to question the value they get from investment banks underwriting new listings with its low-cost IPO.”
- “The music streaming firm effectively deprived banks of hundreds of millions of dollars in fees by shunning them in its $26.5 billion New York Stock Exchange float on April 3.”
- “Banks can charge companies as much as 7% of the amount raised in a U.S. listing and fund managers in London, another of the main centers for initial public offerings (IPOs), say Spotify’s success means underwriters will now have to show more clearly what value they bring to companies and their backers.”
- “Banks have been richly rewarded for co-ordinating IPOs and ensuring companies raise the money, pocketing annual fees of $33.6 billion in the U.S. and $14.4 billion in Europe over the last decade, Thomson Reuters data shows.”
- “But while critics claim that high costs have discouraged some firms from joining the stock market, crimping their prospects and hindering the growth of the economy, bankers say few are likely to be able to replicate Spotify’s direct listing.”
- “This was only possible because a large number of founding shareholders wanted to sell and it was not raising a large sum of capital, meaning that for now, the route may only be open to well-known, highly valued internet firms like Spotify.”
- “Banks help to make trading in newly listed shares less volatile by hand-picking institutional investors who are likely to hold them over the medium to long term, and by limiting the volume of stock sold to day traders keen to make a quick buck.”
WSJ – Daily Shot: Reuters – US & European Annual IPO Fees 4/13
WSJ – Daily Shot: Credit Suisse – Fund Flows and Domestic Equity Flows 4/13
- “Hong Kong has been forced to intervene twice in the past two days to support its currency after the Hong Kong dollar slumped to its weakest level since 2005, in a move that risks putting pressure on mortgage borrowers and Hong Kong’s high-priced property market.”
- “The Hong Kong Monetary Authority took the rare action of stepping in to prop up the currency on Thursday night in Asia, after it dropped to HK$7.85 against the US dollar, the lower end of its permitted trading band.”
- “The Hong Kong dollar is one of the few currencies to trade within a band pegged to the US currency, ranging from HK$7.75-HK$7.85 against the US dollar.”
- “Mr. Lee (Howard Lee, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority) said this will ‘provide a more conducive environment for the normalization of the interest rate in Hong Kong following more closely the interest rate level in the US . . . so we will expect that interest rates will rise incrementally . . . so I hope that people with debt burden will be watchful about this rise in interest rates.’”
If you were only to read one thing…
- “The United States on Tuesday ratcheted up its efforts to block Kremlin-linked industrialists from doing business in the West, warning that British banks will have to sever their relationships with the tycoons if they want continued access to American financial institutions.”
- “Sigal P. Mandelker, a top American Treasury official in London to meet with her counterparts, said British banks could face ‘consequences’ if they continued to carry out significant transactions on behalf of the 24 influential Russians sanctioned by Washington on Friday. The list includes the industrialists Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, along with Kirill Shamalov, who American officials have identified as President Vladimir V. Putin’s son-in-law.”
- “The warning has resonated in London, which for decades has served as a haven for Russia’s wealthiest families. Russian investors own iconic British assets like the Chelsea Football Club and swaths of high-end London real estate, and they support thriving networks of lawyers, financial advisers and estate agents.”
- “The new American sanctions expose financial institutions outside the United States to penalties if they ‘knowingly facilitate significant financial transactions’ on behalf of the listed Russian oligarchs.”
- “The wording is similar to secondary sanctions imposed against Iran. These ‘essentially prohibit the individuals involved from taking part in the dollar economy,’ said Daragh McDowell, an analyst for Europe and Central Asia at Verisk Maplecroft, a consulting firm based in Bath.”
- “It is likely to compel risk-averse British banks to cancel the Russians’ accounts altogether, said Brian O’Toole, a former senior official at the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces American sanctions.”
Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice
- “The city’s success shows why industrial policy, not tariffs, is the winning strategy.”
WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – Federal Reserve Total Assets (Balance Sheet) 4/2
WSJ – Daily Shot: FRED – Commercial and Industrial Loans 4/2
Cryptocurrency / ICOs
WSJ – Daily Shot: Investing.com – Bitcoin v. Bitcoin Cash 4/2
- “This year’s box office so far has been a story of one completely dominant movie, ‘Black Panther,’ highlighting a potentially troubling trend for Hollywood in which ticket sales are increasingly concentrated among just a few ultra-successful pictures.”
- “With $650.7 million and counting, ‘Black Panther’ is on track to become the third highest grossing movie ever in the U.S. and Canada. It accounted for 23% of all ticket sales in the first three months of the year, ending Saturday, according to comScore. That is the second-highest percentage ever behind only ‘Titanic,’ which took 25% in the winter of 1998.”
- “’Black Panther’ is an extreme example of the trend that Hollywood has been struggling with for some years. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the top 10 movies raked in between 32% and 35% of total box office, comScore said. Previously, that figure never exceeded 30%. So far this year, it is 58%.“
Health / Medicine
- “After a decade as one of the world’s hottest housing markets, Toronto is moving in two directions. Transactions have certainly cooled since May as the government introduced new rules to tame runaway prices. But the impact has been largely on big, expensive detached homes, with sales plunging 41% in February from a year earlier, and prices dropping 12% since hitting a record last year. Condo prices, in contrast, soared about 20% since last February.”
- “The deviation is largely as a result of mortgage regulations that went into effect on Jan. 1 as well as rising interest rates. The rule requires that even people with a 20% down payment, who don’t require mortgage insurance, prove they can make payments at least 2% points above the rates under which they go into contract.”
- “That’s pushing buyers out of the detached segment and right into the condo market.”
- “Thousands of online lenders could be facing extinction as China rolls out a new licensing framework, amid complaints about a lack of clarity on how the regime will work.”
- “P2P platforms match borrowers with investors online. China’s P2P lending industry recorded transactions valued at $445bn in 2017, according to Online Lending Club, a data company.”
- “Many P2P lenders, including one of the largest, Hongling Capital, were weeded out in crackdowns in 2016 and 2017 after agencies reporting to China’s central bank began closing fraudulent platforms and those selling high-interest loans.”
- “Of more than 6,000 online lending platforms launched over the past several years, fewer than 2,000 were still in operation at the end of February, according to Online Lending House, a data provider — a sign of how regulation, competition and fraud have thinned the industry’s ranks.”
- “As part of the regulatory overhaul, P2P lenders are barred from guaranteeing principal or interest on loans they facilitate; are limited to loans of no more than Rmb1m ($159,000) for individual borrowers and Rmb5m for companies; and must use custodian banks.”
- “After years of delay and quiet opposition from vested interests, China will push ahead with a property tax that is viewed as crucial to taming the country’s housing bubble.”
- “House prices in major Chinese cities are among the highest in the world in terms of price-income ratios, with speculative demand from Chinese investors — who see few other good places to park their savings — as a major driver. The result is an estimated 50m empty homes, according to a broad survey by researchers from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu.”
- “A landmark blueprint for economic reform that the Communist party leadership approved five years ago included a pledge to push ahead with a property tax. But a subsequent slowdown in the economy, including a housing-market downturn in 2014-15, prompted authorities to shelve those plans.”
- “Quiet opposition from wealthy urbanites, including government officials who own multiple homes, also hindered progress.”
- “’When will the tax actually come out is difficult to say, but at least the intention has strengthened,’ said Chen Shen, head of property research at China Securities in Shanghai. ‘Two years ago everyone was discussing whether it would ever happen, but now it’s very clear that it will’.”
WSJ – Daily Shot: @NickTimiraos – Change in Home Prices – Japan & U.S. 4/2
Other Interesting Links
Markets / Economy
- “The world’s poorest countries are increasing their borrowing at a worrying pace and face the mounting risk of debt crises, the IMF has warned.”
- “Since 2013, the median ratio of public debt to gross domestic product in low-income countries has risen 13 percentage points to hit 47% in 2017, according to new research by the IMF.”
- “The research found that 40% of low-income developing countries face ‘significant debt-related challenges’, up from 21% just five years ago.”
- “Fiscal deficits rose between 2013 and 2017 in nearly three-quarters of the nations the IMF studied, and in nearly half of those cases the deficit increase came despite a decline in investment, an indication that the debt was not being put to productive use economically. “
- “As a result it is becoming increasingly likely that more poor countries will face a debt crisis, the IMF staff paper said.”
- “Homes prices at $4 million or more that went into contract in the first 12 weeks of the year had their asking prices cut by an average of 10%, the most in data going back to 2012, according to Olshan Realty Inc.”
- “Xi’s drive to encourage building of residences for rent opens market worth a potential $2tn.”
- “Since 2014, 30 quasi-REITs worth Rmb65bn have been issued on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges and through private placements, according to the China REITs Alliance, an industry group.”
- “But these products trade over the counter, so liquidity is poor. Most are also not accessible to retail investors. Some also differ from true REITs because their yields derive partly from capital appreciation, not only rental income.”
- “The value of Chinese REITs could reach Rmb4 to Rmb12tn if their share of gross domestic product or of total real estate assets were comparable to the same ratios in the US, according to estimates last year by researchers at Peking university’s Guanghua School of Management.”
- “But experts say a more active REITs market in China requires action from the tax bureau. The boom in Chinese housing and land prices over the past decade means that absent new policy, older property sold off to a REIT would be subject to large capital gains taxes.”
- “High property prices also mean that rental yields are low — often less than 3% for commercial real estate and under 1% for residential. Without tax benefits, dividend yields on REITs would be too low to attract investor interest.”
Environment / Science
- “A collection of plastic afloat in the Pacific Ocean is growing rapidly, according to a new scientific estimate.”
- “Predictions suggest a build-up of about 80,000 tons of plastic in the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ between California and Hawaii.”
- “This figure is up to sixteen times higher than previously reported, say international researchers.”
- “One trawl in the center of the patch had the highest concentration of plastic ever recorded.”