Friday, 18 December 2015

2015 = 1937?

Baltic Dry Index. 471  unch.      Brent Crude 37.17

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

“What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?”

Adam Smith

Did the Fedster’s raise rates too early? Is it to be a repeat of the 1937 error? The jury’s still out, though if a tiny quarter point key interest rate increase can derail the narrative of a strong US economy reaching escape velocity, that narrative was wrong all along.

We open with the ever growing commodities depression. Commodities and the Baltic Dry Index are signalling big trouble ahead. The Fed’s New York team of stock market riggers and fix-its, as with their Shanghai cousins, may have just bit off more than they can chew. Which of the massively indebted commodities behemoths will survive, which will fail next year?

“Running into debt isn’t so bad. It’s running into creditors that hurts.”


Goldman Takes Ax to Iron Ore Outlook as Industry to Hibernate

December 17, 2015 — 12:48 AM GMT Updated on December 17, 2015 — 6:03 AM GMT
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. took the ax to its iron ore forecasts, predicting the price will remain under $40 a ton for the next three years as China’s slowdown forces the global industry into a long period of hibernation.
Iron ore will average $38 a metric ton next year and $35 in both 2017 and 2018, analysts Christian Lelong and Amber Cai wrote in a report received on Thursday. The new forecasts are 13 percent to 14 percent lower than the bank’s previous outlook.
Iron ore has been pummeled this year as surging output from the largest miners including Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. in Australia and Brazil’s Vale SA combined with weaker demand in China to produce a glut. Goldman Sachs said it expected mine closures to accelerate next year as the health of China’s steel industry deteriorates. The bank raised the prospect that by 2040, China’s iron ore demand may contract by 50 percent as steel consumption drops and more scrap gets used with greater recycling.
“The iron ore sector may have to hibernate for an extended period before alternative steel markets in other regions take over from China and usher in the next bull market,” Lelong and Cai wrote, adding that prices had reached the bank’s $40 forecast one year ahead of schedule. At present, China makes about half of the world’s steel.

Ore with 62 percent content delivered to Qingdao fell 0.5 percent to $39.18 a dry ton on Wednesday, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. The commodity bottomed at $38.30 on Dec. 11, the lowest level in daily data dating back to May 2009.

China economist warns major miners may collapse in 2016

By business reporter Sue Lannin December 17, 2015
A prominent China economist has predicted more mining companies could go bankrupt globally in the new year, including major second tier firms, as China's economy slows down and commodity prices keep falling.
China based economist Andy Xie used to run Morgan Stanley's economics team in Asia.
He has forecast that iron ore prices will trade between $US30-40 a tonne in 2016, and that means more iron ore miners could go under including in China.
"So what I see is that next year Chinese demand is likely to go down a lot more, like 20 million tonnes," Mr Xie told the ABC in an interview.
"And exports will rise less, maybe like 2 million tonnes so the whole production will shrink by at least, I believe, 10 million tonnes.
"So the support for any increase in price is not there."
Mr Xie said a lot of mines in China were in dire straits.
"They've been kept going by local government support, but local governments are all in financial trouble - they have so much debt," he said.
"So I do see a lot of the mines in China will go under."
However, Mr Xie does not think that less supply in China will help higher cost Australian miners, such as Atlas Iron, BC Iron and Fortescue Metals, with iron ore prices expected to fall further or remain around the current price of $US38.20 a tonne.
"I think that anybody who is hoping for a turnaround in price will be in deep trouble next year," he warned.
Mr Xie said Australian miners with higher production costs will struggle, including Fortescue Metals, which has a multi-billion-dollar debt because it had to build its own port and rail infrastructure to export its iron ore.

As Fed fog lifts, central bankers keep puzzling over China

Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:04am EST
The world’s central banks are scrambling to assess the risk a slowing China poses to their economies and appear to be no closer than most other observers to working out what is going on in the world's second largest economy.
While the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Japan have offices in Beijing, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank appear to rely on the same data - that may be flawed - as everyone else.
By raising interest rates on Wednesday the Fed removed one major source of uncertainty, leaving developments in China at the top of investors' and policymakers' watch lists, alongside the Fed's next steps.
China accounts for more than 10 percent of global trade and remains the single biggest contributor to global growth. A financial market selloff in China sent ripples around the world and caused the Fed to stay its hand when it considered a rate hike in September.
If anything, China's influence is growing. If Beijing allows the yuan to weaken further and re-pegs it to a basket of currencies instead of just the dollar, it could end up exporting deflation that might delay or reverse rate hikes globally.
"We try to get the best information we have... and we talk to everybody. But I don’t think we have any better information than anybody else," James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis told Reuters.
---- Economists have questioned China's economic statistics for years and turned to measures such as concrete, steel or electricity production to get a handle on an economy that has grown almost 10 percent a year for 30 years.
Now such gauges are less useful as China shifts to a harder-to-measure services economy from an export-driven manufacturing giant.

We end for the week with the USA finally getting serious about tackling ISIS, the CIA creation gone hopelessly wrong.  An USA created Iraqi Sunni militia meant to take on the Iraqi Shia militia during the US occupation of Iraq, it quickly turned into a shadow Saddam militia once the Hussein ex military took it over. Once the Americans left Iraq, the CIA used it as part of regime change in Syria. Uncle Scam looked away as stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil was brokered through Turkey to finance regime change in Damascus. San Bernardino seems to have been one piece of blow back too far. With Russia bombing the oil tankers transporting the stolen oil, now Uncle Scam seems to be changing sides.

Things are seldom what they seem,
Skim milk masquerades as cream;
Highlows pass as patent leathers;
Jackdaws strut in peacock's feathers.

HMS Pinafore, Gilbert & Sullivan.

U.N. Security Council puts sanctions focus on Islamic State

Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:07pm EST
The U.N. Security Council warned on Thursday that some countries are failing to implement long-standing sanctions against Islamic State, as an unprecedented meeting of finance ministers put the global focus on cutting off the militant group's funds.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a U.S. and Russian-drafted resolution that ties together existing measures targeting Islamic State's finances and offers guidance on implementation in a bid to push more countries to act.

It builds on a Security Council action in February that banned trade in antiquities from Syria, threatened sanctions on anyone buying oil from Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants and urged states to stop kidnap ransom payments.

"This resolution is a critical step, but the real test will be determined by actions we each take after adoption," U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the council after the vote. "We need meaningful implementation, coordination and enforcement from each country represented here, and many others."

The resolution "expresses concern about the lack of implementation" of previous resolutions targeting al Qaeda and Islamic State, including an "insufficient level of reporting" by states on measures they have taken to implement U.N. sanctions.

The council renamed its al Qaeda sanctions regime the "ISIL (Daesh) and al Qaeda Sanctions Committee" - Islamic State is also known as ISIL and Daesh - and called on states to report within 120 days on their implementation of sanctions.

"Unfortunately the obligations ... are not being implemented by all and everywhere," Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council, adding that "special responsibility for suppressing the channels for financing of ISIL unavoidably rests with states neighboring on Iraq and Syria."

Islamic State, which was blacklisted by the Security Council sanctions committee as an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq in May 2013, has seized swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria where it has proclaimed a caliphate.

The council also specifically asked states to report on "interdictions in their territory of any oil, oil products, modular refineries, and related material being transferred to or from (Islamic State or Nusra Front)."
Lew, chair of Thursday's meeting because the United States is the council president for December, said Islamic State had reaped an estimated $500 million from black-market oil sales and "millions more from the people it brutalizes and extorts."

Russia's Churkin said Islamic State also made $250 million a year from the sale of phosphates, $200 million from barley and rye and $100 million from cement. He said Islamic State leaders allocated $30 million a month to buy weapons and ammunition, using shell companies in Eastern Europe.

Defenses in Syria Keep U.S. Grounded

Dec 17, 2015 8:51 PM ES
There is a new crisis for the international effort to destroy the Islamic State, created by the Kremlin. The U.S. has stopped flying manned air-support missions for rebels in a key part of northern Syria due to Russia’s expansion of air defense systems there, and the Barack Obama administration is scrambling to figure out what to do about it.

Russia’s military operations inside Syria have been expanding in recent weeks, and the latest Russian deployments, made without any advance notice to the U.S., have disrupted the U.S.-led coalition's efforts to support Syrian rebel forces fighting against the Islamic State near the Turkey-Syria border, just west of the Euphrates River, several Obama administration and U.S. defense officials told us. This crucial part of the battlefield, known inside the military as Box 4, is where a number of groups have been fighting the Islamic State for control, until recently with overhead support from U.S. fighter jets. 

But earlier this month, Moscow deployed an SA-17 advanced air defense system near the area and began “painting” U.S. planes, targeting them with radar in what U.S. officials said was a direct and dangerous provocation. The Pentagon halted all manned flights, although U.S. drones are still flying in the area. Russia then began bombing the rebels the U.S. had been supporting. (U.S. manned airstrikes continue elsewhere in Syria.)

Black sheep dwell in every fold;
All that glitters is not gold;
Storks turn out to be but logs;
Bulls are but inflated frogs.

HMS Pinafore, Gilbert & Sullivan.

At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 39.82 Moz, Eligible 118.77 Moz, Total 158.59 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, modern troubled South Africa. How will the RSA survive the commodity depression?

Millionaire Gupta Family Seen as Symbol of Zuma's Failing Rule

December 17, 2015 — 4:00 AM GMT Updated on December 17, 2015 — 8:40 AM GMT
As South Africans endure their deepest economic crisis since 2009, it’s not just President Jacob Zuma they blame. There’s a family whose name is increasingly the target of protest: the Guptas.
As tens of thousands marched in October in South Africa’s biggest wave of nationwide anti-government protests since the African National Congress came to power, one poster, broadcast on the nation’s television channels, captured the public anger: “SA: Gupta Farm.”
Since Atul Gupta arrived in South Africa from Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1993, a year before the election of Nelson Mandela marked the end of apartheid, he and his brothers Rajesh and Ajay have built on a computer business to amass stakes in uranium, gold and coal mines, a luxury game lodge, an engineering company, a newspaper and a 24-hour news TV station.  This month they agreed to take control of two coal mines from Glencore Plc.

Having employed or been in business with at least three of President Zuma’s immediate family, including his son Duduzane, the family drew increased scrutiny in September as opposition parties and local newspapers raised the question that they may have influenced the appointment of a minister to manage the embattled and important mining industry.

 “They are the chieftains of patronage. They get extraordinary privileges from the president,” Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
“Zuma is controlled by the Guptas. Once you have a weak institution like the ANC and a government that is institutionally captured, you only have to win control over a few individuals like Jacob Zuma and you control everything.”

Analysts concur.

“It’s a deeply troubling relationship between the Gupta family and the president’s family,” said Nic Borain, an adviser to BNP Paribas Securities South Africa. “There are a multitude of documented relationships and there is a very widespread acceptance and assumption that this goes beyond undue influence. This goes close to capture of political authority by a group of foreign businessmen.”

A spokesman for the Gupta family, Gary Naidoo, declined to comment for the story. So did Zuma’s spokesman Bongani Majola and ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa. In an interview with Johannesburg-based Business Day in 2011, Ajay and Atul said they received no preferential treatment because of their relationship with the president and that their computer business specifically avoided government work to protect their relationships.

Solar  & Related Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this new section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards? DC? A quantum computer next?

Solar cells that can face almost any direction and keep themselves clean

Date: December 16, 2015

Source: American Chemical Society

Summary: In recent years, a complicated discussion over which direction solar cells should face -- south or west -- has likely left customers uncertain about the best way to orient their panels. Now researchers are attempting to resolve this issue by developing solar cells that can harvest light from almost any angle, and the panels self-clean to boot.
Commercial solar panels work best when sunlight hits them at a certain angle. Initially, experts had suggested that solar panels face south to collect the most energy from the sun. But an influential 2013 report by Pecan Street, an energy-research organization, advised that systems tilt westward to maximize efficiency.
Further analysis has found that determining the ideal angle is more complicated -- in essence, it depends on where you live. And even if customers get the positioning correct, they're still losing out on prime sunlight because most residential systems can't move or adjust to the sun's track across the sky. Jr-Hau He, Kun-Yu Lai and colleagues wanted to address this shortcoming.
The researchers developed a glass coating that incorporates ultrathin nanorods and honeycomb nanowalls that can help underlying solar cells harvest sunlight from multiple angles. The cell efficiency can be boosted by 5.2 to 27.7 percent, depending on the angle of the light, and the efficiency enhancement can be up to 46 percent during long-term use.
The material also repelled dust and pollution that would otherwise block some rays from getting absorbed and converted to electricity. The new glass coating kept panels working outdoors at optimum levels for six weeks while the efficiency of panels with an unmodified coating dropped over the same period.

Another weekend, and the last manic retail weekend of the secular Christmas selling season.  Next weekend, the start of the sales and returns.  Don’t you just love Christmas 21st century style? Have a great weekend everyone. Check with the blog for the weekend update. China v Japan/USA.

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”


Advance notice. For a variety of reasons, including cost efficiency, I will be dropping the LIR newsletter from the start of next year, The (mostly) daily LIR update will still be available at the blog, where most of the readership now occurs.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished November

DJIA: +25 Down. NASDAQ: +121 Down. SP500: +45 Down. 

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