Monday, 7 March 2016

Uncle Scam v The Panda

Baltic Dry Index. 349 +07        Brent Crude 39.42

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

Brexit odds checker.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
Cameron: Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. Cameron hit the jackpot.

With apologies to Joseph Heller.
Everyone knows that China’s economic figures are fudged, massaged, fiddled, and curve fitted to meet the needs of the 5 year plan announced by the communist party apparatchiks in Beijing. The Panda regularly lies and nobody cares, because everyone knows they’re lying. The new growth target for the next five years is 6.5 percent a year, for five years. Anyone want to bet against China hitting the target? But what about Uncle Scam’s economic figures? Turns out that they’re no better. We live in a world of utter financial deceit. Sooner or later the Great Disconnect between central bank massaged stocks and the real world will reconnect. My guess is that it happens in 2016.
Below, compare and contrast.
"When it becomes serious, you have to lie"

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

China's economy will 'absolutely not' experience hard landing: state planner

Sun Mar 6, 2016 12:55am EST
China's economy isn't headed for a hard landing and isn't dragging on the global economy, China's top economic planner said on Sunday, but uncertainty and instability in the global economy do pose a risk to the country's growth.
China on Saturday acknowledged it faced tough challenges but said it would keep its economy expanding at least 6.5 percent on average over the next five years while pushing hard to create more jobs and restructure state-owned enterprises.
"China will absolutely not experience a hard landing," Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told reporters at a briefing. "These predictions of a hard landing are destined to come to nothing."
China's economy grew 6.9 percent in 2015. While that rate was the slowest in a quarter of a century, the pace was still relatively fast among major economies, Beijing says. China has set a growth target of 6.5 percent to 7 percent for this year.
The state of the world's second-biggest economy and Beijing's ability to manage it were key talking points at a Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers in Shanghai last month.
Premier Li Keqiang says China has the confidence to handle the complexities both at home and abroad while pressing ahead with reforms.
"In general, I think China's economy performance has stayed at a reasonable range (since 2015)," Xu said, adding that the Chinese economy shouldn't be viewed through traditional perspectives.
"First, we should look from the angle that the economy has entered the 'new normal' period," he said, in which growth rates have shifted and the economy's growth engines are changing towards services from investment.
In the run-up to parliament, Beijing has flagged major job losses in the country's bloated coal and steel industries. But plans to reduce industrial over-capacity were unlikely to result in large-scale layoffs, Xu said.
Economic growth will create more jobs and help offset the impact of capacity cuts, he said.

China aims to maintain growth pace, fend off unemployment in five-year plan

Sat Mar 5, 2016 8:30am EST
China faces a tough battle to keep its economy growing by at least 6.5 percent over the next five years while creating more jobs and restructuring inefficient industries, Premier Li Keqiang said as he opened China's annual parliament on Saturday.
Growth of 6.5 percent would mark a ripping pace for most countries but would be the slowest in China in a quarter century as world's No. 2 economy grapples with gyrating financial markets, softening global trade and efforts to reduce environmental degradation.
"Our country's development faces more and greater difficulties ... so we must be prepared for a tough battle," Li said.
In 2016, Beijing will aim for an economic growth rate between 6.5-7 percent, as Reuters previously reported, with a consumer inflation target of around 3 percent and money supply expansion of around 13 percent, according to a series of draft reports ahead of the opening of the 12-day parliament.
Many investors had been hoping China would post an aggressive target for fiscal spending to prop growth.
But the draft goal of running a fiscal deficit equivalent to 3 percent of GDP, while up from the previous year's target of 2.3 percent, still disappointed some who had hoped for a number closer to 4.

A Modest Proposal: Gift The BLS To The Democratic National Committee Or Sell It To CNBC

by David Stockman • March 5, 2016
Yes, the BLS is now producing such a steaming pile of waste matter that it might as well be made an arm of the DNC. Or in the alternative, some of the billions that US taxpayers have wasted on it over the years might be recouped from a sale to CNBC. After all, bubblevision’s monthly cheerleading session couldn’t do without it.
In any event, once again this month the labor department bureaucrats did not go out and actually count 242,000 new jobs or even extrapolate them from a valid, scientific sample survey of the Gallup variety.
Folks, they never left their cushy offices; they plucked these numbers from a computer model!
Even before the Census Bureau turned over to the BLS its ragged February data sheets from calling households which do not have phones and surveying businesses which may or may not exist, they more or less knew this month’s numbers.
How? Why they are just fitting a projection line to the trend of the last several years, and then gussying up the resulting hockey sticks with even flakier seasonal maladjustments, re-estimates, birth/death factors and a lot more statistical shenanigans.
So why waste $600 million per year on the BLS when a couple of staffers and a lap top computer at the Democratic National Committee could produce the same propaganda? So could an intern or two at bubblevision headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Either way Steve Liesman of CNBC and Barrack Obama of the White House would still be out crowing about how awesome things are on main street. On that score, our clueless lame duck President left nothing to the imagination with respect to this morning’s fiction,
“America’s pretty darn great right now,” Obama told reporters Friday as he celebrated a strong jobs report that he said proved Republicans’ “doomsday rhetoric” is little more than “fantasy.”
Let’s see. It would appear that a few pages fell out of Barry’s briefing folder before he rushed to the press room. That is, just about anything that measures what is actually happening in America is not “pretty darn good” at all:
We will dig deeper into the BLS’ trunk of junk below, but just try this one for a smell test. Is it really possible to believe that private “educational services” jobs——which encompasses everything from swank private days schools to boiler room driven for-profit tuition mills——-have been growing at the exact pace of 62,000 jobs per year since 2006?
In fact, the February 2016 number for this BLS establishment survey category was 3.51 million jobs. That was 64k higher than February 2015; and that, in turn, was 62k higher than February 2014, which was, yes, 63k higher than February 2013.
Then if we go back to February 2006 we get a level of 2.90 million jobs. So subtract that from the 2016 number, divide by 10 years, and, presto, the result is 62k new private education jobs per year for the last decade running.
C’mon. There are more cross-currents out there in the blooming, buzzing world of private education than Carter has liver pills. This huge jobs category covers literally hundreds of thousands of institutions from Podunk Iowa Day School through Harvard Law School. The odds that employment grew by almost exactly 62k for the last three years lies somewhere between zero and none .
In fact, this number is not measured; it’s modeled.
---- Likewise, try jobs in the BLS category called “outpatient care centers”. Here the magic 10-year trend is 29k per year and that compares to 31k jobs gained in February 2016 over prior year; and a gain of 33k and 29k in the two years before that, respectively.
Right. It puts you in mind of the lesser lights in your high school class who stole the answers to the final exam, and weren’t smart enough to get one or two questions wrong in order to cover their tracks.
---- Likewise, seasonals could also shift owing to secular changes in economic function, such as the shift of retail sales from brick and mortar stores to on-line e-commerce venues. In the latter, a lot of the economic function gets captured in BLS warehousing and package transportation categories, as opposed to retailing.
Needless to say, job counts, average weekly employee hours and load smoothing business operations are totally different between Sears and UPS, for example. Yet the ARIMA factor for way back in February 2006 was 1.523 million jobs——a number that is virtually identical to the 1.555 million used in Friday’s report. There is, however, not a snowballs chance that the US economy’s seasonal structure has remained absolutely unchanged for the past decade.
In any event, if this February was a seasonally warmer month than normal and the evident secular shift toward reduced seasonality has proceeded apace, the proper ARIMA factor for this February might have been, say, 1.001% versus 1.095%. In that event, the head line print would have been +109k, not +242k And even though the difference is all statistical noise, Friday morning’s “all is awesome” chatter would have had a far different tone.
---- As I said, you get statistical noise. And you need look no further than the 55k gain in retail jobs reported for February or nearly one-quarter of the entire “upside surprise”. Except……except the modeled NSA number for February was a loss of 142k jobs!
But don’t sweat the small stuff. The ARIMA seasonal adjustment factor for February was +295k jobs, thereby helping mightily to get the February headline into the awesome category.
No, you don’t have to be a philistine to make this point, and you can even agree that perhaps February is a more “seasonal” month for retail than is January, where the ARIMA adjustment was only +98k jobs or just one-third of the boost to February.
But here’s the thing. What is the likelihood that true seasonality in February 2016 was identical to the 295k ARIMA adjustment for February 2014 and nearly identical to the 301k adjustment way back in February 2006?
---- Likewise, only real businesses send taxes to the IRS, not birth and death statistical constructs. So did the real employers of America sending real wage withholding taxes to Washington convey an economy that was “pretty darn great”.
No they didn’t. In light of wage rate growth of about 2% per year, the implied quantity of labor hours generated in the US economy during February was about negative 2%. The real world data, therefore, reflects not awesome, but an economy slipping into recession, as Lee Adler’s latest 4-week moving average clearly suggests.

Jim Rogers: There's a 100% Probability of a U.S. Recession Within a Year

March 4, 2016 — 1:17 PM GMT
Rogers Holdings Chairman Jim Rogers is certain that the U.S. economy will be in recession in the next 12 months.

During an interview on Bloomberg TV with Guy Johnson, the famous investor said that there was a 100 percent probability that the U.S. economy would be in a downturn within one year.

"It's been seven years, eight years since we had the last recession in the U.S., and normally, historically we have them every four to seven years for whatever reason—at least we always have," he said. "It doesn't have to happen in four to seven years, but look at the debt, the debt is staggering."

Most Wall Street economists see a much smaller chance of a U.S. recession within this span, with odds typically below 33 percent.

Rogers was not specific on what could trigger a disorderly deleveraging process and recession but claimed that sluggish or slowing economies in China, Japan, and the euro zone mean that there are many possible channels of contagion.

The former partner of George Soros suggested that if investors focus on the right data, there are signs that the U.S. economy is already faltering.

"If you look at the … payroll tax figures [in the U.S.], you see they're already flat," he concluded. "Don't pay attention to the government numbers, pay attention to the real numbers."

In light of the economic turmoil envisioned by Rogers, he is long the U.S. dollar.

"It might even turn into a bubble," he said of the greenback. "I mean, if markets around the world are crashing, let's just say that scenario happens, everybody's going to put their money in the U.S. dollar—it could turn into a bubble."

Rogers added that a strengthening U.S. dollar has historically been negative for commodities—the asset class that the investor is best-known for.

While the yen is often designated as a risk-off currency, it won't benefit in the event of a flight to safety due to the massive, continued expansion of the Bank of Japan's balance sheet, according to Rogers, who said he exited his position in the yen last Friday.

In other news. Iranian oil is back.

Iranian Oil Lands in Europe for First Time Since Sanctions Ended

March 6, 2016 — 8:09 PM GMT Updated on March 7, 2016 — 12:01 AM GMT
The Monte Toledo oil tanker covered the uneventful voyage from Iran to Europe with a haul of one million barrels of crude in just 17 days, but its journey has been four years in the making.

On Sunday, the tanker became the first to deliver Iranian crude into Europe since mid-2012, when Brussels imposed an oil embargo in an attempt to force the Middle Eastern nation to negotiate the end of its nuclear program. The ban was lifted in January as part of a broader deal that ended a decade of sanctions.

The 275-meter tanker started offloading its cargo into a refinery owned by Cia. Espanola de Petroleos, near Algeciras, a few miles from Gibraltar. By midday, the vessel had already pumped to shore about a fifth of its cargo.

In southern Spain, the tanker’s arrival was met with little fanfare. It was a quiet Sunday at the refinery, and for the workers, the Monte Toledo is just one of the eight or so vessels they expect to receive this month. By the time the refinery has taken in all the Iranian crude, another tanker from Algeria will be already waiting.

---- Around Europe, other tankers with Iranian oil are close behind the Monte Toledo. In February, 29 vessels loaded crude from the Middle Eastern nation, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Of them, three are heading toward Europe -- the Eurohope tanker is sailing to Constanta, an oil port in Romania, and the Atlantas is on its way to France. Another one, the Distya Akula, is anchored at the mouth of the Suez Canal, and is likely to head into a Mediterranean port.

The Monte Toledo and its companions are the vanguard in the return of Iran into the European oil market. Petro-Logistics SA, a Geneva-based tanker-tracking firm, estimated Iran exported in February about 1.4 million barrels a day, up 350,000 barrels a day from the average 2015 level.

Although the increase falls short of the 500,000 barrels a day that Tehran had promised, there are signs that exports into Europe will pick up this month.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell.
At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 25.73 Moz, Eligible 124.71 Moz, Total 150.44 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, why you don’t want a nuclear power plant anywhere near you. Mankind is not really ready for the “next time.” What if “the next time” is in China or India, involving tens of millions of people, or in Western Europe shutting down a significant part of the global economy?
“We were only able to avert a 250-kilometre (160-mile) evacuation zone [around the plant] by a wafer-thin margin, thanks to the efforts of people who risked their lives. Next time, we might not be so lucky.”

Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister

Five years on from the tsunami, the former Japanese prime minister says the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster

Japan's prime minister at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has revealed that the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people.

In an interview with The Telegraph to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Naoto Kan described the panic and disarray at the highest levels of the Japanese government as it fought to control multiple meltdowns at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

He said he considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, along with all other areas within 160 miles of the plant, and declaring martial law. “The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” he said. “Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.”
Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator. He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser. “We questioned him and he was unable to give clear responses,” he said.
“We asked him – do you know anything about nuclear issues? And he said no, I majored in economics.”
Mr Terasaka, the director of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, was later sacked. Another member of Mr Kan’s crisis working group, the then Tepco chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, was last week indicted on charges of criminal negligence for his role in the disaster.

The 9.0 magnitude quake, the largest ever recorded in Japan, triggered a gigantic tsunami which broke through the plant’s flood defences, cutting off power to its control room and the coolant systems of its nuclear reactors.

Deprived of cooling, radioactive fuel, in three of the plant’s six reactors melted down. Explosive hydrogen gas built up, blowing holes in the reactor containment building and allowing radioactivity to escape.
“When we got the report that power had been cut and the coolant had stopped working, that sent a shiver down my spine,” Mr Kan said. “From March 11, when the incident happened, until the 15th, the effects [of radioactive contamination] were expanding geographically.
"From the 16th to the 20th we were able to halt the spread of radiation but the margin left for us was paper-thin. If the [fuel rods] had burnt through [in] all six reactors, that would definitely have affected Tokyo.
“From a very early stage I had a very high concern for Tokyo. I was forming ideas for a Tokyo evacuation plan in my head. In the 1923 earthquake the government ordered martial law – I did think of the possibility of having to set up such emergency law if it really came down to it.
“We were only able to avert a 250-kilometre (160-mile) evacuation zone [around the plant] by a wafer-thin margin, thanks to the efforts of people who risked their lives. Next time, we might not be so lucky.”
----He said the experience had turned him from a supporter of nuclear power into a convinced opponent. “I have changed my views 180 degrees. You have to look at the balance between the risks and the benefits,” he said. “One reactor meltdown could destroy the whole plant and, however unlikely, that is too great a risk.”

Japan's nuclear refugees face bleak return five years after Fukushima

Thu Mar 3, 2016 6:22am EST
Tokuo Hayakawa carries a dosimeter around with him at his 600-year-old temple in Naraha, the first town in the Fukushima "exclusion zone" to fully reopen since Japan's March 2011 catastrophe. Badges declaring "No to nuclear power" adorn his black Buddhist robe.

(For a video of 'Fukushima refugees face a bleak return home' click here)

Hayakawa is one of the few residents to return to this agricultural town since it began welcoming back nuclear refugees five months ago.

The town, at the edge of a 20-km (12.5 mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, was supposed to be a model of reconstruction.

Five years ago, one of the biggest earthquakes in history shook the country's northeast. The 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami it spawned smashed into the power plant on the Fukushima coastline triggering a meltdown and forcing nearby towns to evacuate. The disaster killed over 19,000 people across Japan and caused an estimated 16.9 trillion yen ($150 billion) in damages.

Only 440 of Naraha's pre-disaster population 8,042 have returned - nearly 70 percent of them over 60.
"This region will definitely go extinct," said the 76-year-old Hayakawa.
He says he can't grow food because he fears the rice paddies are still contaminated. Large plastic bags filled with radioactive topsoil and detritus dot the abandoned fields.
With few rituals to perform at the temple, Hayakawa devotes his energies campaigning against nuclear power in Japan. Its 54 reactors supplied over 30 percent of the nation's energy needs before the disaster.
Today, only three units are back in operation after a long shutdown following the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. Others are looking to restart.
"I can't tell my grandson to be my heir," said Hayakawa, pointing at a photo of his now-teenaged grandson entering the temple in a full protective suit after the disaster. "Reviving this town is impossible," he said. "I came back to see it to its death."
---- In Naraha, two restaurants, a supermarket and a post office, housed in prefabricated shacks, make up the town's main shopping center. The restaurants close at 3 p.m.

No children were in sight at Naraha's main park overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a recent morning. Several elderly residents were at the boardwalk gazing at hundreds of bags stuffed with radioactive waste.

In fact, the bags are a common sight around town: in the woods, by the ocean, on abandoned rice fields.
Little feels normal in Naraha. Many homes damaged in the disaster have been abandoned. Most of the town's population consists of workers. They are helping to shut down Tokyo Electric Power Co's (9501.T) Daiichi reactors or working on decontamination projects around town.

Other workers are building a new sea wall, 8.7 meters high, along a nearly 2 km stretch of Naraha's coast, similar to other sea walls under construction in the northeast.

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?

Electricity can flow through graphene at high frequencies without energy loss

Date: March 4, 2016

Source: University of Plymouth

Summary: Electrical signals transmitted at high frequencies lose none of their energy when passed through the 'wonder material' graphene, a study has shown. Discovered in 2004, graphene -- which measures just an atom in thickness and is around 100 times stronger than steel -- has been identified as having a range of potential uses across the engineering and health sectors.
Electrical signals transmitted at high frequencies lose none of their energy when passed through the 'wonder material' graphene, a study led by Plymouth University has shown.
Discovered in 2004, graphene -- which measures just an atom in thickness and is around 100 times stronger than steel -- has been identified as having a range of potential uses across the engineering and health sectors.
Now research has shown graphene out-performs any other known material, including superconductors, when carrying high-frequency electrical signals compared to direct current, essentially transmitting signals without any additional energy loss.
And since graphene lacks band-gap, which allows electrical signals to be switched on and off using silicon in digital electronics, academics say it seems most applicable for applications ranging from next generation high-speed transistors and amplifiers for mobile phones and satellite communications to ultra-sensitive biological sensors.
The study was led by Dr Shakil Awan, a Lecturer in the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics at Plymouth University, alongside colleagues from Cambridge and Tohoku (Japan) Universities and Nokia Technologies (Cambridge, UK).
Dr Shakil Awan, Lecturer in the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics and the principal investigator in the study, said: "An accurate understanding of the electromagnetic properties of graphene over a broad range of frequencies (from direct current to over 10 GHz) has been an important quest for several groups around the world. Initial measurements gave conflicting results with theory because graphene's intrinsic properties are often masked by much larger interfering signals from the supporting substrate, metallic contacts and measurement probes. Our results for the first time not only confirm the theoretical properties of graphene but also open up many new applications of the material in high-speed electronics and bio-sensing."
The study, published in the IOP 2D Materials Journal, was funded by the EU Graphene Flagship, EPSRC, ERC and Nokia Technologies, and the results are now being exploited in developing high-speed and efficient low noise amplifiers, mixers, radiation detectors and novel bio-sensors.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February

DJIA: 16517 -23 Down. NASDAQ:  4558 +45 Down. SP500: 1932 -17 Down. 

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