Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Great Disconnect.

Baltic Dry Index. 745  +04

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

“The evidence is that the housing market is strengthening and that low mortgage rates are one reason for that strengthening. And that should put people to work in several ways. It will put construction workers back to work, obviously, and people who work in factories that build, you know, appliances or other things that are related to housing”

Bernoccio, February 27, 2013.

With the Bernanke Fed cranking out 85 billion a month in new money out of nothing forever, and roughly half of it pouring into the mortgage market, the other half pours into bonds and stocks, no matter how disconnected from the underlying economy both become.  Dr. Bernanke might just possibly be putting some American construction workers back to work in the housing sector, but the appliance workers, and workers making “other things that are related to housing” will mostly be located in Asia, Mexico, and for certain high end luxury housing goods, Europe.

“The Great Disconnect” will probably be history’s verdict, when a great reconnect back to reality sets in and the next Lehman hits, ending the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money. Stay long physical precious metals for the long run. The world’s central banks are bust running rigged markets. In a rigged market regime, just about everything gets distorted and mispriced. Not for nothing are the Asian central banks and Russia buying gold. A massive hidden gold transfer from west to east is underway in our still new century. When the G-7 central banks eventually fail, the consequences of this transfer will be dire.

"Gold is not less but more rational than paper money. Money holds value so long as it is in limited supply; gold will always be in limited supply, and would require real resources to produce even from the sea; paper and printing ink are not in limited supply. The gold system is much closer to a modern automatic scientific control system than the crude and relatively unstable system of paper."

William Rees-Mogg

Dow transports, industrials point to Dow Theory buy signal

February 27, 2013, 6:30 PM
If you’re a student of Dow Theory, then it’s your time to buy. The Dow’s transportation index is outperforming the already bullish industrials index.

According to the theory, equities still have more room to rise if both indexes clear recent highs with transports taking the lead. That’s certainly been the case  for the past 12 months as the transport index has kept on logging new highs. It was cast into a particularly stark relief Wednesday as transports rose more than twice as much as the already bullish industrials.

Feb. 27, 2013, 3:54 p.m. EST

Bernanke defends low rates in House hearing

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday used his second day in front of Congress to again pound home his contention that the central bank’s ultra-easy stance is needed.

The policy is needed “to keep interest rates a little bit lower to help support housing, automobiles and other parts of the economy that need support,” Bernanke said during his second day of his testimony to Congress on the economy and monetary policy.

Investors were pleased with Bernanke’s stance. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +1.26% rose to its highest levels in the late afternoon, up almost 200 points to 14,098.

In January, the Fed decided to keep buying $85 billion worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities a month until it saw a substantial improvement in the labor market. The Fed has also kept interest rates close to zero since December 2008.

For the second day, Bernanke strongly defended the bond-buying program and repeating that the potential costs don't outweigh the benefits.

Actually, Chairman Bernanke, Americans don’t make many appliances anymore

February 27, 2013, 4:34 PM
---- Alan Tonelson of the American Economic Alert says the Fed chairman may have spoken too quickly. Fact is, Americans buy their household appliances from overseas.

Using 2011 data, Tonelson notes that foreign-made purchases comprised 57.7% of refrigerators and freezers, 52.2% of cooking appliances, 42.5% of laundry machines, 38.5% of miscellaneous appliances (like dishwashers and garbage disposals), 90.6% of small electrical appliances and fans and 49% of enameled iron & sanitary ware (bathtubs, sinks, etc.).

Of course, Americans are still needed to warehouse, sell, install and deliver these Swedish, German and Japanese goods. “But all of the imported appliances and related goods that will fill these homes will represent major lost growth and employment opportunities for an economy that sorely needs all it can get,” Tonelson writes.

Back across the Atlantic in another zone of tragic self-delusion, the awful new reality is finally setting in, and not just in Italy.  Europe seems to be heading for a spring, summer, and autumn of social discontent.

EU 'Troika' rule in Ireland worse than British Empire

Ireland's trade union chief has accused the EU-IMF troika in charge of Irish austerity policies of tipping the economy into downward spiral and acting as an imperial oppressor.

"The Troika has done more damage to Ireland than Britain ever did in 800 years," said David Begg, head of the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions.

Mr Begg said the image of Ireland as the poster-child of EU recovery was a myth culitivated by EU creditors whose only interest is to recoup their money.

"At least the IMF officials are willing to admit they have been wrong but the EU officials are total ideologues."

"It is like being in an awful World War One conflict where the generals have expended a million lives to gain one yard of ground, yet nothing will change their mind in face of all the evidence."

The trade unions say internal consumption has collapsed by 26pc, and investment has fallen to the lowest level in recorded Irish history. Under-employment has reached 23pc despite emigration to Canada, Australia, the US and Britain. "The austerity has to stop. People feel they are drowning," he said.

The outburst comes a day after Irish unions reached a provisional deal with the government for a further round of public sector pay cuts averaging 5.5pc, rising to 10pc for higher earners such as doctors. This follows 14pc pay cuts already in force.

The grim picture is starkly at odds with a optimistic review by finance minister Michael Noonan, who told foreign journalists that exports are booming and the country is on track to return to full market access by the end of the year, becoming the first state to exit its EU-IMF Troika rescue progamme.

"We are very nearly at the end of our journey. We have re-engineered the country to be a modern competitive economy, we have succeeded," he said.

Despite the rosy spin in the headline below, yesterday Italy staggered from bad to worse. The EUSSR is now at each other’s throats. Last night the ECB’s Mario dei Paschi issued an ominous warning. Sounds like he’s getting ready to run up the white flag on Italy and France.

Markets relief at Italian bond test despite chaos in Rome

Italy was forced to pay higher borrowing cost as a price for its political deadlock but its success in raising €6.5bn debt at auction managed to calm markets around the world.

---- Yet traders remained wary. Rather than making progress towards the establishment of a stable government, Italy’s politician descended from deadlock to dispute.

Beppe Grillo, whose Five Star protest party secured 25pc of the vote in Italy, strongly rejected calls by Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic Party, to back a coalition. The popular comedian dismissed Mr Bersani as a “political stalker” who had been “pestering the Five Star movement for days with indecent proposals.”

On his blog Mr Grillo listed the insults Mr Bersani had levied at Five Star during the campaign, for instance: “Lenin is not nearly as bad as Grillo.” Mr Grillo declared that his anti-austerity party would “support in parliament only the laws that mirror its programme - whoever proposes them.”

Meanwhile Italy’s President Napolitano cancelled a dinner with Germany’s prospective chancellor Peer Steinbrueck after he said that “two clowns” had won the election. He was apparently referring to Mr Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi, the former premier.

The Italian elections represented an extraordinary rejection of Brussels’ plans for fiscal discipline in the eurozone. They also poured doubt on the European Central Bank’s ability to help since its Outright Monetary Transaction programme requries a commitment to austerity. But with €420bn of debt to raise this year, Italy can ill-afford high borrowing costs.

Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, warned that there were limits to the support the central bank could offer to any stricken member state. In a speech in Munich last night, Mr Draghi said: “It is important to stress that the ECB’s mandate only extends so far. There are clear limits to what monetary policy can and should aim to achieve. We cannot repair unsound budgets. We cannot clean up struggling banks. We cannot solve deep-rooted problems in the structure of Europe’s economies.”

Compared with the eurozone, the UK economy is not that bad

Beggars can’t be choosers, and George Osborne – under attack on virtually all sides – must gladly seize on whatever support he can find.

Yet even for Britain’s beleaguered Chancellor, to be blessed by Olli Rehn, European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, must feel a bit like the kiss of death.

A mild mannered and basically decent Finn who has never looked comfortable in his role as Europe’s economic slave driver in chief, Mr Rehn is admittedly only a spokesman for policies he surely cannot believe in.

There is, however, no quarrelling with the results – they have been utterly disastrous, helping to induce socially destructive levels of unemployment and economic contraction in large parts of Europe, and now open political insurrection in Italy. Praise from Mr Rehn – according to the economics commissioner, Britain is to be congratulated on its fiscal austerity – must therefore be seen as a form of petrification. Europe is steadily freezing over under his gaze.

We end for today and the month, with graphene, the super material of our new carbon age century, that I think will eventually be what rescues the global economy from the failure of casino capitalism. Unfortunately that may be more mid to late decade than 2013. Click on the link for a most interesting video.

Graphene: The Super Supercapacitor.

"The modern mind dislikes gold because it blurts out unpleasant truths."

Joseph Schumpeter

At the Comex silver depositories Wednesday final figures were: Registered 37.27 Moz, Eligible 125.66 Moz, Total 162.93 Moz.  

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner
The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over. 

Today, China v Japan is heating up again, now that the lunar new year holiday is over.

Beijing War Prep

China moves mobile missiles near coast amid tensions with Japan over islands
BY: Bill Gertz February 27, 2013 4:59 am
United States intelligence agencies recently detected China’s military shifting road-mobile ballistic missiles closer to its southern coast near the disputed Senkaku Islands amid growing tensions between Beijing and Japan over the islands dispute.

U.S. defense officials said the movements are being watched closely as China’s military is also holding large-scale military exercises that some fear could be a trigger for a conflict with Japan that could involve U.S. forces.

The officials did not provide details of the missile movements that were tracked by U.S. aircraft, ship-based, and satellite surveillance systems in the region.

Disclosure of the missile movements comes as White House national security adviser Tom Donilon on Monday met in Seoul with China’s state councilor Liu Yandong. The two were in South Korea to attend the inauguration of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Tensions remain high between Japan and China over Tokyo’s nationalization last year of several uninhabited islands between Okinawa and Taiwan called the Senkakus. China claims the islands as its territory. At issue are large undersea oil and gas deposits sought by both energy-poor countries.

The officials confirmed the missile movements near the provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian after Chinese press outlets first reported them.

The most recent report appeared in the Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily News, a non-Chinese owned outlet that quoted a military source as saying the missile deployments included new solid-fueled DF-16 road-mobile missiles.

The Feb. 21 report said the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Corps, which operates missile units, were preparing to target the disputed Senkaku Islands as well as U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

The Daily News stated that the missile movements were signs the PLA is “preparing for the worst regarding the territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands.”

The report also stated that the DF-16 is capable of defeating U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries that are deployed at U.S. and Japanese military bases in the region. The DF-16 is said to be armed with multiple warheads.

---- The U.S. newsletter reported Feb. 13 that China’s military appeared to be making war preparations by holding large-scale exercises around the Lunar New Year, including live fire artillery and air force bombing runs.

The newsletter said state media also reported large-scale troop movements and maneuvers near the coastal Fujian and Zheijiang provinces, the areas closest to the Senkakus.

John Tkacik, a former State Department specialist on China, said Chinese television recently reported that PLA missile forces practiced saturation bombing exercises that used for the first time an automatic launch system that could fire 10 warheads accurately on one target.

“The Pentagon and the Japanese defense ministry already take the PRC ballistic missile threat to U.S. forces in the Taiwan Strait and Ryukyus seas very, very seriously,” Tkacik said. “If U.S. surveillance and reconnaissance assets show significant redeployments of road-mobile missiles, including DF-16s on China’s east coast, U.S. and Japanese forces have to respond with far higher levels of threat readiness, and that sort of thing can put the gathering crisis in the Senkakus area on a hair-trigger.”

"It is extraordinary how many emotional storms one may weather in safety if one is ballasted with ever so little gold."

William McFee

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished January:
DJIA: +106 Up. NASDAQ: +126 Up. SP500: +140 Up.  All three indexes are giving the same signal, up.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Bernoccio Day Two.

Baltic Dry Index. 741  -02

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

Italy is not technically part of the Third World, but no one has told the Italians.

P. J. O’Rourke

With QE forever back on again according to Dr. Bernanke, the US stock market started a relief rally. The Fed is back targeting stocks again, just like in the mid 1990s, in an effort to generate yet another bubble which they hope will generate a trickle down, feel good, wealth factor. As a plan to stimulate the real US economy and main street, its merely yet another version of voodoo economics. Limited casino capitalism is back in Wall Street, but US consumers are in no position to “shop till they drop” as in 1995-2005, no matter what the spin in the MarketWatch article below. The next Lehman is still out there, as Dr. Bernanke and the Fed know only too well. Tomorrow will not be like today which was like yesterday.  Since the great 1987 stock market crash caused by insane derivatives gambling, each Federal Reserve “fix” has merely led to a bigger new bubble and crash. Now the Fed is busy generating the biggest bubbles of all time. A mispriced credit bubble of unprecedented proportions, and they are the global leaders in the Anglo-American driven system of monetisation, aka quantitative easing, aka competitive devaluation.

Stay long precious metals for the long run. Japan is just about to join in the QE currency wars in a massive way, while the Bernoccio Fed is still monetising at a rate of over a trillion a year. The Great Nixonian Error of fiat money is coming to its end, an end that always finishes in fiat money revulsion eventually. This time round will be no different. Below, how Bernoccio misled the Senate Muppets. Today, it’s time to put on the same dog and pony show for the House.

"When it becomes serious, you have to lie"

Jean-Claude Juncker. Luxembourg Prime Minister and ex-president of the Euro Group of Finance Ministers. Confessed liar.

Feb. 26, 2013, 4:38 p.m. EST

U.S. stocks build gains on housing data

Retailers including Home Depot, Macy’s support Wall Street

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, recouping much of the prior day’s slide, as evidence of a solid finish for housing in 2012 and after Ben Bernanke defended the Fed’s monetary policy.
Home Depot Inc. HD +5.69%   shares rallied after the retailer raised its dividend and approved a $17 billion stock buyback.

“The market is bouncing back after yesterday’s big decline; the other part of it is we get a bit of a bounce from Bernanke’s comments along the lines of continued QE [quantitative easing],” Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners in Chicago, said of the Federal Reserve chairman’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

----Bernanke’s prepared testimony on Capitol Hill had him reiterating his view that the benefits of the central bank’s easing policy outweigh any costs.

---Commerce Department figures showed new-home sales rising 15.6% last month to an annual rate of 437,000, the highest mark since July 2008.

“Since most people have their wealth tied up in their home, rising home prices make consumers more confident, more creditworthy and more willing to spend acquired income,” Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC, noted in an email.

Feb. 26, 2013, 4:41 p.m. EST

Bernanke: QE benefits clear, risks manageable

Fed chief says monetary policy is supporting the recovery

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sent a strong signal Tuesday that he backed the continuation of the central bank’s $85 billion bond-buying program.

“In the current economic environment, the benefits of asset purchases […] are clear,” Bernanke said in remarks to the Senate Banking Committee.

“The bottom line is that it is QE3 until the job markets improve substantially,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

----Bernanke said that Fed policy was not fostering a bubble in the stock market. “I don’t see much evidence of an equity bubble,” he said.

Earnings are very high, and equity holders are risk-averse in their behavior, Bernanke said. But the Fed is on the lookout for excessive risk-taking, he said.

In his testimony, Bernanke backed the new stimulus programs of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This signaled the Fed chairman is not worried about any so-called currency war.

In Europe, Italy’s unemployed youth vote went anti-European Monetary Union in droves. Will Silvio and Beppe now force Italy out of the disastrous dying monetary union? Will sanity and the lira return to Italy? The Italians are not and never will be model modern Germans. Nor are they Greeks. Club Med plus France look likely to exit the euro this year or early next. Time to only take euro notes marked with a German X. Italy’s voters just started the first skirmish in the counter reformation. Stay long physical gold and silver.

How many more laws will the ECB trash before the EUSSR comes to a long overdue end? We should find out later today, if the ECB jumps through hoops to support Italy’s bond sale. Today we find out if Mario dei Paschi has “whatever it takes.”

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it.

W.C. Fields

ECB bond plan in jeopardy as Italy's voters reject conditions

Italy's electoral earthquake is “a catastrophe for the euro and the European Union”, according to Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn.

The verdict was much the same in chancelleries across the eurozone, especially in those countries already starting to feel the first wave of contagion.

“The result touches us all,” said Spain’s foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo. “It is a jump into the void that bodes well for nobody, neither for Italy, nor for the rest of Europe.”

Almost 57pc of the Italian vote went to parties that have vowed to tear up the EU austerity script. Together they control a majority of senate seats.

The Five Star movement of comedian Beppe Grillo, which won 25pc of the vote, has called for a euro referendum and has a return to the lira as one of its manifesto pledges, while ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to pull Italy out of the currency bloc unless the EU switches to a reflation strategy.

Even if the centre-left leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, can put together a “grand coalition” with Mr Berlusconi, there is no going back to the hairshirt regime imposed by Mario Monti’s technocrat government at the EU’s behest over the past 15 months.

“A deal with Monti is impossible,” said Mr Berlusconi on Tuesday. “His austerity policies have put the country into a dangerous recessionary spiral, with rising debt and unemployment, and the closure of a thousand firms a day.”

The great fear is that the European Central Bank (ECB) will find it impossible to prop up the Italian bond market under its Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) scheme if there is no coalition in Rome willing or able to comply with the tough conditions imposed by the EU at Berlin’s behest. Europe’s rescue strategy could start to unravel.

Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS, said: “What has happened in these elections is of seismic importance.
“The ECB rescue depends on countries doing what they are told. That has now been torn asunder by domestic politics in Italy.

“The big risk is that markets will start to doubt the credibility of the ECB’s pledge.”

It is a widely shared view. Luigi Speranza, from BNP Paribas, said: “We fear the markets could lose faith in the OMT’s effectiveness.”

Bond buying under the OMT can begin only after countries in trouble request a rescue from the EU’s bail-out fund under strict terms. This then requires a vote in the Bundestag.

----Yet Italy is big enough to bring down the eurozone if mishandled. It is also the one Club Med country with enough fundamental strengths to leave EMU and devalue, if it concludes that would be the least painful way to restore 35pc of lost competitiveness against Germany since the launch of the euro.

It has low private debt and €9 trillion of private wealth. Its total debt level is 265pc of GDP, lower than in France, Holland, the UK, the US or Japan.

Its budget is near primary balance, and so is its International Investment Position, in contrast to Spain and Portugal. It could in theory return to the lira without facing a funding crisis, and this may be the only way to avoid a crisis if the ECB withdraws support. Any attempt to force Italy to knuckle down risks backfiring disastrously for EMU creditors.

Italy debt auction to show cost of political crisis

MILAN | Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:04pm EST
(Reuters) - Italy will pay the price for its latest political crisis with higher borrowing costs on Wednesday when it sells longer-dated bonds to investors worried about an inconclusive election.

The vote cast over the weekend gave none of the political parties a parliamentary majority, raising the risk of prolonged instability and a rekindling the euro zone crisis.

The results, notably the dramatic surge of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of comic Beppe Grillo, left the center-left bloc with a majority in the lower house but without the numbers to control the upper chamber.

"Markets have been underpricing Italian political risk for months and are now struggling to come to terms with an extremely unstable and fluid political situation," said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy.

As stunned parties look for a way forward after the messy result, the treasury will seek to sell between 3 billion and 4 billion euros of a new 10-year bond and between 1.75 and 2.5 billion euros of five-year paper.
The sale comes in a challenging environment as the outcome of a six-month bill sale and a sell-off on secondary market showed on Tuesday.

"Italy's debt market is facing its most serious challenge since the announcement of the European Central Bank's bond-buying program last summer," said Spiro.

"Sooner or later both the Greek population and international creditors will tire of fighting a losing battle, leading to a break-up of the currency union as Greece pulls out, probably followed by other countries"

Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the Centre of Economics and Business Research.

At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday final figures were: Registered 37.27 Moz, Eligible 124.61 Moz, Total 161.88 Moz.  

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner
The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over. 

Today, Bloomberg takes on the gold miners. For many it’s time to come clean about their true cost of production. For many, especially in South Africa, it’s probably time to close uneconomic mines. Investors looking for a gold mining company to invest in, should take a good hard look at Canada’s African gold miner Semafo.  Not just profitable successful miners, but socially responsible ethical miners too. As always investors must do their own due diligence. I have no connection with the company, but a lot of respect.

Gold Miners Come Clean on Costs After Lost 6 Years: Commodities

By Liezel Hill - Feb 27, 2013 3:31 AM GMT
The gold-mining industry, which has underperformed the precious metal for each of the past six years, is pledging to report costs more accurately as part of its efforts to win back investor confidence.

Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) and Goldcorp Inc. (G), the two biggest producers by market value, have begun reporting “all-in sustaining costs” for the first time. The new measure averaged $941 an ounce between the two companies in the fourth quarter. That’s 50 percent higher than the $626 average so-called cash cost they disclosed in the preceding three months.

The largest gold companies are seeking to lure investors back to the $300 billion industry after a string of money-losing multibillion-dollar takeovers and over-budget projects. Barrick and its competitors are vowing to focus on margins and to get a grip on soaring production costs, rather than boosting output.

Gold producers “have really done themselves a huge disservice by effectively walking around for the last 12 years promoting the gross margin as opposed to the net or the operating margin,” said Joseph Wickwire, the Boston-based manager of Fidelity Investments’ $2.9 billion Select Gold Portfolio fund. “The managements and the boards of the gold companies really have no one to blame but themselves for some of the negative sentiment and disappointment.”

Earnings statements had previously carried so-called cash costs, based on a standard developed in the 1990s that excludes expenses such as exploration and waste-rock removal.

The 55-member S&P/TSX Global Gold Sector Index (SPTSGD) trailed gold each year in 2007 through 2012. The index declined 6.9 percent during that period while gold futures more than doubled in New York. Gold traded at $1,612.20 an ounce at 12:27 p.m. in Tokyo.

Gold has advanced for 12 successive years, driven at least in part by demand from investors looking for a store of wealth amid concern about inflation. Despite benefiting from that rally, gold producers’ margins have come under pressure from rising prices for labor, equipment and raw materials.

The average cash cost of 10 of the biggest gold miners was $694 an ounce in the third quarter, 49 percent higher than in the same period two years earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average gold price rose 35 percent in the same comparison.

SEMAFO is a Canadian-based mining company with gold production and exploration activities in West Africa. The Corporation currently operates three gold mines: the Mana Mine in Burkina Faso, the Samira Hill Mine in Niger and the Kiniero Mine in Guinea. SEMAFO is committed to evolve in a conscientious manner to become a major player in its geographical area of interest. SEMAFO’s strategic focus is to maximize shareholder value by effectively managing its existing assets as well as pursuing organic and strategic growth opportunities.

"Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effective than that which deludes them with paper money."

Daniel Webster

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished January:
DJIA: +106 Up. NASDAQ: +126 Up. SP500: +140 Up.  All three indexes are giving the same signal, up.