Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Depression - Survival of the Fittest

Baltic Dry Index. 551 unch.      Brent Crude 40.87

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

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

J. K. Galbraith.

Following China’s crash landing earlier in the year, a rolling series of crash landings is now occurring all across the commodities sector. At least one decade of a massive central bankster fuelled malinvestment bubble has entered its inevitable correction. With West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading about 38 dollars a barrel, an epic USA frackers smash-up comes next, followed by a hedge fund rout among the hedgies that financed them via stocks and bonds.

We are living in a once in a life time growing global commodities depression.  How far it spreads out into the wider global economy is an open question, but spread out it will. The best cure for low prices is low prices, goes the old adage. In the commodities sector, in industrial metals that cure is never fast. Malinvested mines need to sell at any price to service debt, or close down. It’s only after driving out many mines that over production ceases, and finally over built inventory can peak and begin the long process of being sold off.

Eventually, at glacial speed, the market bottoms and the survivors slowly struggle towards the next boom, when the lack of cap-ex earlier in mining, leaves the survivors unable to meet a new rising demand. That’s more likely to be 2020ish than this decade. Between now and then, the trick is to guess who is likely to survive and who likely to crash and burn,

Iron Ore in $30s Seen Near Tipping Point for Largest Miners

December 8, 2015 — 2:43 AM GMT Updated on December 8, 2015 — 11:38 AM GMT
Iron ore’s tumble into the $30s threatens the world’s biggest miners as prices approach break-even costs, according to Capital Economics Ltd. BHP Billiton Ltd. shares slumped to the lowest in 10 years and Rio Tinto Group dropped to the lowest since 2009.
The most expensive operations at the four largest suppliers are on the verge of making losses at rates below $40 a metric ton, said John Kovacs, senior commodities economist at Capital Economics in London, who estimates their break-even levels at $28 to $39, taking into account freight and other costs. While these producers will keep output strong, they’ll be constrained by low prices, he said by e-mail on Monday.
Iron ore’s plunge below $40 comes as producers including Vale SA in Brazil and Rio and BHP in Australia press on with expansions to cut costs and defend market share just as demand from the largest consumer China slows. They’re the world’s biggest suppliers along with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Prices of the raw material have lost 45 percent this year and have plunged 80 percent from their peak in 2011.
“The big four will find it hard to maintain output at below $40,” Kovacs said in response to questions. “If prices remain weak, output from the highest-cost mines of the big four will be under pressure.”
Ore with 62 percent content delivered to Qingdao sank 1.1 percent to $38.65 a dry ton on Monday, a record low in daily prices compiled by Metal Bulletin Ltd. dating back to May 2009. The raw material peaked at $191.70 in 2011.

----UBS Group AG estimates that of the four biggest producers, Fortescue has the highest break-even cost of $40 and Vale’s is $34 in terms of ore landed in China with 62 percent content including interest. BHP’s break-even level is $29 and Rio’s $30, the bank’s data show.

Anglo to Shrink by Two-Thirds, End Dividend as Metals Plunge

December 8, 2015 — 8:08 AM GMT Updated on December 8, 2015 — 5:26 PM GMT
Anglo American Plc, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, is shrinking to a fraction of its former size to cope with the collapse in commodity prices.
The company is selling assets, closing mines and will eventually employ 50,000 people, compared with 135,000 now, Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday, without giving a time frame. Anglo also scrapped its dividend for the second half of this year and for 2016. The shares plunged 12 percent, the biggest drop since 2009.
"Anglo can take out its high-cost production and restructure all it wants, but essentially its fortunes don’t change until resource prices go up," said Wayne McCurrie, who helps manage 170 billion rand ($11.6 billion) at Momentum Wealth in South Africa. "It was inevitable that they were going to cut the dividend."
Cutifani is seeking to keep the company afloat with metal prices showing no signs of a recovery from the lowest levels in six years. Years of increased output from miners have created global surpluses just as slower economic growth from China erodes demand. While there have been some production cuts, the rout has deepened because miners are still supplying more metal than is needed around the world.

After the restructuring, Anglo will be much smaller. It will control 20 to 25 assets split across three divisions of its De Beers diamond unit, industrial metals and bulk commodities, Cutifani said. The company currently has about 55 assets. The focus will be on its so-called tier-one assets, which are competitive at low commodity prices.

----The stock fell 12 percent to a record low of 323.65 pence in London, giving the company a market value of $6.3 billion. The shares have plunged 69 percent this year, the second-biggest decline in the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index.

Below, it never rains but it pours. A commodity depression and two 60 year old law cases to settle or win. Rio Tinto must be wondering what comes next.

Rio Tinto Now Has a Pair of 60-Year-Old Legal Problems in Canada

December 7, 2015 — 11:38 PM GMT
Rio Tinto Group has found trouble on both ends of Canada. The global mining giant is being told it can’t skirt a pair of lawsuits that reach back to projects built in the 1950s, a quarter-century before it first set foot in Canada.
On a single day in October, the Supreme Court of Canada cleared the way for separate aboriginal groups to challenge the future operations of a Rio Tinto hydroelectric dam in British Columbia and an iron-ore mine, with accompanying railway and port, in Quebec and Labrador.
The rulings received scant notice during the final days of a dramatic Canadian election that brought Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to power. Now the cases are sparking a debate as to whether they will discourage investment in the resource sector, or perhaps instead force companies to treat Canada’s 1.4 million indigenous people as full partners.
For Rio Tinto, which paid $38 billion in 2007 for Canadian-based Alcan Inc. and took control of The Iron Ore Company of Canada through a A$3 billion deal in 2000, the legal challenges come at a bad time. The company is already reeling from the plunge in global commodity prices, with its shares down 65 percent from their high in 2008.
Now Canada’s top court has given two Innu First Nations in Quebec the go-ahead to proceed with a suit seeking damages of $900 million against IOC along with the closing of its iron ore mines, 260-mile railway and port facilities in Sept Iles on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
----“Private companies now have to face aboriginal peoples directly and can’t hide behind the skirts of the government,” said James O’Reilly, the lawyer who represented the Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and Matimekush-Lac-John in the Quebec case.
“This is now an industry-wide issue that has to be faced by each and every one of the developers,” he said.
In British Columbia, Rio Tinto is facing similar demands from the Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations that it restore much of the water flow to the Nechako River that was diverted by construction in the early 1950s of a hydroelectricity dam to generate electricity for a nearby Alcan aluminum smelter. Alternatively, the aboriginals want damages paid in compensation for harm to their traditional fishery.

Oil Repeating $200 Billion Cut Risks Imbalance, Eni CEO Says

December 8, 2015 — 2:47 PM GMT Updated on December 8, 2015 — 4:16 PM GMT
The global oil industry is set to repeat this year’s $200 billion of investment cuts in 2016, raising even more concerns than the current slump in crude prices, according to the chief executive officer of Italy’s Eni SpA.
"What is worrying me is not the price of today; it is what is happening in the industry,” CEO Claudio Descalzi said in an interview with Bloomberg TV from the COP21 climate change conference in Le Bourget, France. “We cut about $200 billion and I think next year we are going to do the same and that can create in the mid term an imbalance between supply and demand."
The 65 percent collapse in oil prices since June 2014 has forced the industry to defer exploration to preserve cash and safeguard dividends. Spending has been cut by $250 billion this year compared with 2014, according to consultancy Rystad Energy AS, which expects a further $70 billion reduction in 2016. There may be more to come as prices slid after OPEC’s decision to set aside its production target on Dec. 4, Rystad said.
Descalzi said a “right price” for oil stood at $60 a barrel. That’s about $20 above benchmark Brent crude, which fell below $40 a barrel for the first time in almost seven years on Tuesday.
“I think that the right price is not just the right price for us,” the CEO of the Italian oil producer said. “It’s the right price for the average in the industry and also for the producer country.”
Eni shares fell 2.3 percent as of 4:50 p.m. in Milan trading, bringing this year’s decline to 4 percent.

"In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension."

J. K. Galbraith.

At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday final figures were: Registered 42.27 Moz, Eligible 116.16 Moz, Total 158.43 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
As a service to LIR readers, did some of you lose your planes?

Did You Forget Your Planes? Airport Takes Out Ad to Locate Owner

December 8, 2015 — 11:12 AM GMT
There are a few unusually large items lying at the lost and found counter of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. placed an advertisement Monday in the nation’s best-selling English daily asking for the “untraceable” owner of three Boeing Co. 747-200F planes to come and collect them. The planes are parked at three separate bays at KLIA in Sepang, outside the Malaysian capital, the Star newspaper ad showed.
“If you fail to collect the aircraft within 14 days of the date of this notice, we reserve the right to sell or otherwise dispose of the aircraft pursuant to the Civil Aviation Regulations 1996 and use the money raised to set off any expenses and debt due to us under the said regulations,” the notice read.

Nearly 40 years after 747s entered commercial service, Boeing is preparing to cut output of the iconic jumbo jetliners amid waning demand for four-engine planes and an air-cargo market hit by China’s slowing economic growth. Boeing no longer makes the 747-200, but the more modern 747-8 Freighter version is the company’s second-most expensive plane, with a list price of $379.1 million.

Left Behind

The three planes have been sitting on the KLIA tarmac for more than a year, said Zainol Mohd. Isa, the contact person listed in the ad. He declined to say how much in parking fees and other charges were owed to the air terminal.

“We have been in communication with the so-called owner, but they have not been responding to take away the aircraft. That’s why we go through this process to legalize whatever actions we want to take,” Zainol said by phone Tuesday. “We want to clear the area, we want to utilize our parking bay.”

Malaysia Airports and Boeing didn’t immediately reply to e-mails seeking comment.
“The singular feature of the great crash of 1929 was that the worst continued to worsen. What looked one day like the end proved on the next day to have been only the beginning. Nothing could have been more ingeniously designed to maximize the suffering, and also to ensure that as few as possible escaped the common misfortune. The fortunate speculator who had funds to answer the first margin call presently got another and equally urgent one, and if he met that there would still be another. In the end all the money he had was extracted from him and lost. The man with the smart money, who was safely out of the market when the first crash came, naturally went back in to pick up bargains. …..The bargains then suffered a ruinous fall.”
J. K. Galbraith. The Great Crash: 1929.

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?

Graphene takes flight with Chinese aviation firm

15:13, 7 Dec 2015
Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials - BIAM - has become the latest partner of the National Graphene Institute (NGI), based at the University, to promote the research and development in the use of graphene in the aviation industry and other sectors.

Planes made with the 'wonder material' graphene could be a step closer as a result of a partnership between the University of Manchester and a leading Chinese aviation company.

Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials - BIAM - has become the latest partner of the National Graphene Institute (NGI), based at the University, to promote the research and development in the use of graphene in the aviation industry and other sectors.

The NGI has around 50 industrial partners working collaboratively on a range of potential applications.

The Institute has a number of collaborations with Chinese companies, and in October hosted President Xi 
Jinping as part of his state visit to the UK.

For this project, BIAM and the University, under the leadership of Professor Robert Young, will exchange expertise and cooperate on the structure of graphene.

The projects could result in lighter, stronger and conductive parts for aeroplanes, high speed trains and other industrial equipment to replace traditional materials.

The collaboration could improve the technology maturity and accelerate the updating of aeroplane structural materials and functional materials.

Both parties also expect to work together in the future to expand the collaboration on graphene materialsm and look into other areas such as graphene energy storage materials and environmental purification materials.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished November

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

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