Tuesday, 16 February 2016

“Curiouser and curiouser!”

Baltic Dry Index. 295  +04        Brent Crude 34.71

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

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

OPEC, with apologies to Alice and Lewis Carroll.

We open once again with oil news. Other than the continuing short squeeze or an all against all war across the Middle East, any oil price rally at present is unsustainable. So is the Pentagon secretly buying in oil and gearing up for a new war?  The air waves seem to suggest that a new war is coming. All night long the BBC’s World Service news bulletins have been conditioning the global public via American “experts” that the Russians have been bombing hospitals and schools in northern Iraq. Violating international humanity law in a war crime. No mention on the BBC that the Russians say the planes were American and flew in from Turkey. No mention that the USA has form on bombing hospitals in Afghanistan. If war is coming get long physical gold and silver held outside of the financial system.

Below today’s sad news from the oil patch.

Just as Oil Price Rebounds, Fuel Demand Is Poised to Melt Away

February 15, 2016 — 8:16 AM GMT
Here’s one reason to withhold faith in oil’s recovery after the biggest rally in seven years: Once winter fades, it’s downhill all the way for fuel demand until summer.

The 12 percent rebound in West Texas Intermediate on Friday couldn’t save the U.S. crude benchmark from a 4.7 percent weekly decline. Prices remain below $30 a barrel even as demand for heating amid the northern hemisphere weather drives demand to its seasonal peak. Fuel consumption will start to taper off next month as temperatures rise, removing further support from prices.
Over the past 10 years, global oil demand has on average declined about 1.4 million barrels a day between February and May -- more than the combined consumption of the states of New York and Pennsylvania -- according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It starts to increase again by May, as people drive off on vacation in Europe and the U.S., and turn up air conditioners in the Middle East.
“Given the seasonality of oil demand, traditionally there is a supply surplus in the first half of the year,” David Hufton, chief executive officer of brokers PVM Group, said by e-mail. Whatever oil doesn’t get consumed “will come on top of the mountain of oil that built up in 2014 and 2015.”
The International Energy Agency estimates that during the first half of 2016 an additional 1.75 million barrels a day will be piled onto stockpiles that are already at a record. In Hufton’s view, it might take until the second half of 2017 before the surplus is eliminated and stockpiles start to shrink, paving the way for a recovery in prices back toward $50 a barrel.


Published: February 14, 2016

In an oil sector first, the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered free oil to India in return for a storage deal at India’s planned underground facility as the supply glut worsens and some analysts predict that ‘’peak storage” could sending prices crashing further.
The UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has agreed to store crude oil in India's maiden strategic storage facility, sweetening the deal by saying India could take two-thirds of the oil for free.
It’s a great deal for India, which is almost fully reliant on imports to meet its crude oil needs.
India has lured Abu Dhabi in with the building of a massive underground storage facility system that will be able to take on 5.33 million tons of crude as a bulwark against global price shocks and supply disruptions.
ADNOC is eyeing half the storage capacity at one of the new underground facilities, Mangalore, which has a 1.5-million-ton capacity on its own. Abu Dhabi plans to stock 0.75 million tons, or 6 million barrels of oil, here, and 0.5 million tons will belong to India.
The deal is reflective of a wider, global storage panic and talk of what could happen when we reach ‘’peak storage’’. A number of analysts have suggested that oil prices might crash to $20, or even $10 a barrel, if storage tanks become full.
Storage is now at the highest level in at least a decade.
---- The analytical panic is perhaps premature. We’re not facing ‘’peak storage’’ just yet, but Abu Dhabi is playing it smart and safe.
Still, the UAE estimates the oil glut at 2 million barrels a day and growing, and its own storage expansion plans will benefit from this. After all, it houses the biggest oil storage port on the Persian Gulf—Fujairah Oil Terminal FZC—on the Hormuz Strait.

Fujairah received its first shipment just this month of 1 million barrels, and storage capacity is slated to increase 75 percent this decade. 

Iran ships first oil to Europe in 3 years

Published: Feb 15, 2016 1:38 a.m. ET
The first shipment of Iranian crude oil to the European Union in more than three years is poised to depart as soon as Monday, Iranian officials said.

A tanker chartered by French energy giant Total SA is expected to sail with 2 million barrels on Monday, the officials said. Two others will carry 1 million barrels each for Spain's Compañía Española de Petróleos, or Cepsa, and Litasco, the trading arm of Russia's Lukoil, they said.

The ships are carrying a portion of a flood of new oil that Iran says it is producing since world powers agreed to lift Western sanctions related to the country's nuclear program. Those sanctions crippled Iran's oil industry, reducing its export capacity by more than 1 million barrels a day.

Rokneddin Javadi, the deputy oil minister, was quoted by state television broadcaster Press TV on Sunday as saying that Iran's crude-oil production had increased by 400,000 barrel each day. That is the bulk of its stated short-term, post-sanctions target of ramping up production by 500,000 barrels a day.

Litasco, Total and Cepsa didn't respond to requests for comment over the weekend. Iranian officials said the companies were loading over the weekend at Iran's oil terminal at Kharg Island.

Iran is aiming its new exports at two of its prime customers before sanctions: Asia and Europe. While some Asian buyers continued doing business with Iran at reduced rates during sanctions, Europe had imposed a total embargo.

---- The tankers began loading after European oil traders and shippers won a key victory allowing the cargoes to be insured. The American Steamship Owners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association, Inc., or American Club, said U.S. sanctions preventing it from covering cargoes originating from Iran had been removed.

Offshore oil rig operator Paragon files for chapter 11

Published: Feb 14, 2016 9:46 p.m. ET
Offshore drilling rig operator Paragon Offshore PLC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday, with an agreed turnaround plan that will reduce its debts by about $1.1 billion.
A casualty of plummeting oil prices, Paragon announced on Friday that it intended to file for bankruptcy protection, to implement a restructuring strategy supported by unsecured bondholders and senior lenders.
Sinking oil prices have slowed drilling and production activities, taking a toll on companies like Paragon, which are competing for increasingly scarce business. Mexico’s Petróleos Mexicanos and Brazilian state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, which have been big customers for Paragon, have moved to cut back their contracts.
Sunday’s bankruptcy filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., was part of an agreement reached with leading creditors on a debt-slashing plan that Paragon hopes will see it through the industry slump.
In EUSSR news it’s always more of the same.

 “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.”

The EUSSR, with apologies to Alice and Lewis Carroll.

German 'bail-in' plan for government bonds risks blowing up the euro

'If I were a politician in Italy, I'd want my own currency as fast as possible: that is the only way to avoid going bankrupt,' said German 'Wise Man'

A new German plan to impose "haircuts" on holders of eurozone sovereign debt risks igniting an unstoppable European bond crisis and could force Italy and Spain to restore their own currencies, a top adviser to the German government has warned.

“It is the fastest way to break up the eurozone,” said Professor Peter Bofinger, one of the five "Wise Men" on the German Council of Economic Advisers.

"A speculative attack could come very fast. If I were a politician in Italy and I was confronted by this sort of insolvency risk I would want to go back to my own currency as fast as possible, because that is the only way to avoid going bankrupt,” he told The Telegraph.

Mapped: Negative interest rates herald danger for the world

The German Council has called for a “sovereign insolvency mechanism” even though this overturns the financial principles of the post-war order in Europe, deeming such a move necessary to restore the credibility of the "no-bailout" clause in the Maastricht Treaty. Prof Bofinger issued a vehement dissent.

The plan has the backing of the Bundesbank and most recently the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, who usually succeeds in imposing his will in the eurozone. Sensitive talks are under way in key European capitals, causing shudders in Rome, Madrid and Lisbon.

Under the scheme, bondholders would suffer losses in any future sovereign debt crisis before there can be any rescue by the eurozone bail-out fund (ESM). “It is asking for trouble,” said Lorenzo Codogno, former chief economist for the Italian Treasury and now at LC Macro Advisors.

This sovereign "bail-in" matches the contentious "bail-in" rule for bank bondholders, which came into force in January and has contributed to the drastic sell-off in eurozone bank assets this year.

“I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?”

Draghi, with apologies to Alice and Lewis Carroll.

At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 28.91 Moz, Eligible 128.95 Moz, Total 157.86 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Europe’s banking crisis just won’t go away.
“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
Draghi, with apologies to Alice and Lewis Carroll.

The Never-Ending Story: Europe’s Banks Face a Frightening Future

February 16, 2016 Edward Robinson
If you had to pick the moment when European banking reached the point of no return, which would you choose? The July day in 2012 when Bob Diamond resigned as Barclays’s chief executive officer amid the Libor rigging scandal? Or the fall morning later that year when UBS announced it was pulling out of fixed income and firing 10,000 employees? How about Sept. 12, 2010, when Basel III’s raft of costly capital requirements started upending the economics of global finance?

All signature events, to be sure. But try May 21, 2015. That’s when Deutsche Bank stockholders filed into the dome-shaped Festhalle arena in Frankfurt to take part in one of the most venerated and, let’s be honest, boring rituals in corporate life: casting a vote on management’s strategy and performance. It wasn’t dull this time. Almost 40 percent of the bank’s investors gave co-CEOs Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen a big thumbs down. While winning six out of 10 votes is a landslide in politics, it’s a crushing blow at a publicly traded company. By the end of June, Jain was out and Fitschen had agreed to leave the company by May of this year.

Investors are running out of patience with European bank chieftains, and no wonder. Since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, eight of Europe’s biggest banks have announced layoffs adding up to about 100,000 employees, paid $63 billion in legal penalties, and lost $420 billion in market value. In 2015, Deutsche Bank lost a record €6.8 billion ($7.6 billion). In mid-February the industry suffered an epic selloff as subzero interest rates, China’s slowdown, the oil crash, and looming regulatory and litigation costs triggered an outbreak of fear not seen since the fall of 2008. Just last year new CEOs took over at Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Standard Chartered. Now they have to find a way to prosper in a marketplace that’s being reshaped simultaneously by strict new capital regulations and myriad financial technology startups that don’t have to abide by them.

While American banks appear to have turned the corner since that gut-churning autumn nearly eight years ago, European institutions are girding yet again for another round of restructuring. So much so that analysts in London call them “building sites,” Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its forthcoming issue. Credit Suisse’s new CEO, Tidjane Thiam, is “right-sizing” the investment bank and pushing for a 61 percent jump in pretax income from his international wealth management unit over the next two years. At Barclays, Jes Staley wasted no time cutting 1,200 investment banking jobs and closing offices in Asia and Australia after taking charge in December. Meanwhile, John Cryan, the British executive who replaced the India-born Jain, is pursuing an unprecedented overhaul of Deutsche Bank’s entire information technology infrastructure to shore up shaky risk-management systems.

No event crystallizes the forces at work in European finance more than Jain’s exit and Cryan’s entry. Jain, 53, a fixed-income maestro who excelled on the trading floor and the sales side, did as much as anyone to build Deutsche into an investment banking powerhouse with operations in 70 countries. No surprise, then, that when it came time for him to draft a five-year plan to confront the forces buffeting the institution, he balked at a fundamental reorganization along the lines, say, of what Sergio Ermotti did at UBS in 2012. In April 2015, Jain and Fitschen vowed to divest Deutsche’s shares in the German retail lender Postbank and retreat from more than a half-dozen countries as part of a €3.5 billion cost-cutting plan. Even so, as Jain put it, Deutsche Bank would “remain global … remain universal.” He said in a Bloomberg TV interview at the time, “There was quite a bit of speculation that we might have done something even grander, even more radical. It really became a case of not altering the core DNA.”

That wasn’t what investors wanted to hear, and Deutsche shares skidded almost 10 percent over the next week.

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?

A metal that behaves like water

Date: February 11, 2016

Source: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Summary: Researchers have made a breakthrough in our understanding of graphene's basic properties, observing for the first time electrons in a metal behaving like a fluid. This research could lead to novel thermoelectric devices as well as provide a model system to explore exotic phenomena like black holes and high-energy plasmas.
Since its discovery a decade ago, scientists and tech gurus have hailed graphene as the wonder material that could replace silicon in electronics, increase the efficiency of batteries, the durability and conductivity of touch screens and pave the way for cheap thermal electric energy, among many other things.
It's one atom thick, stronger than steel, harder than diamond and one of the most conductive materials on earth.
But, several challenges must be overcome before graphene products are brought to market. Scientists are still trying to understand the basic physics of this unique material. Also, it's very challenging to make and even harder to make without impurities.
In a new paper published in Science, researchers at the Harvard and Raytheon BBN Technology have advanced our understanding of graphene's basic properties, observing for the first time electrons in a metal behaving like a fluid.
In order to make this observation, the team improved methods to create ultra-clean graphene and developed a new way measure its thermal conductivity. This research could lead to novel thermoelectric devices as well as provide a model system to explore exotic phenomena like black holes and high-energy plasmas.
This research was led by Philip Kim, professor of physics and applied physics in John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).
An electron super highway
In ordinary, three-dimensional metals, electrons hardly interact with each other. But graphene's two-dimensional, honeycomb structure acts like an electron superhighway in which all the particles have to travel in the same lane. The electrons in graphene act like massless relativistic objects, some with positive charge and some with negative charge. They move at incredible speed -- 1/300 of the speed of light -- and have been predicted to collide with each other ten trillion times a second at room temperature. These intense interactions between charge particles have never been observed in an ordinary metal before.
The team created an ultra-clean sample by sandwiching the one-atom thick graphene sheet between tens of layers of an electrically insulating perfect transparent crystal with a similar atomic structure of graphene.
"If you have a material that's one atom thick, it's going to be really affected by its environment," said Jesse Crossno, a graduate student in the Kim Lab and first author of the paper. "If the graphene is on top of something that's rough and disordered, it's going to interfere with how the electrons move. It's really important to create graphene with no interference from its environment."
The technique was developed by Kim and his collaborators at Columbia University before he moved to Harvard in 2014 and now have been perfected in his lab at SEAS.
Next, the team set up a kind of thermal soup of positively charged and negatively charged particles on the surface of the graphene, and observed how those particles flowed as thermal and electric currents.
What they observed flew in the face of everything they knew about metals.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished January

DJIA: -06 Down. NASDAQ: +75 Down. SP500: -02 Down.  Both the DJIA and the S&P 500 have now turned negative.

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