Saturday, 30 April 2016

Weekend Update 30/04/2016 – Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

Brexit Countdown Clock.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
“We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.”

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

It is the last day of April and another hard frost this morning. But that’s just fine since the clear sky at 4:30 am walking the dog, provided an excellent view of Saturn trailing ever brightening Mars, in the southern sky. A late rising waning moon in the east, merely adds to God’s spectacular free early morning show.
In the EUSSR, still including Eurozone Sealion, aka Great Britain, everyone’s off celebrating Mayday this long weekend. Near where I walk Rosie daily in the countryside above the River Pang valley, the equestrian center will hold a Gymkhana on Monday. It is also one of the biggest weekends for GB’s garden centers.
The good news over, now comes the bad news. Uncle Scam has just about had his fill of all the currency wars. The Saudis war on US frackers, is now starting to show results. The American War Party’s botched coup in Kiev, together with Russian sanctions, and Draghi’s ECB currency war, is now taking out Uncle Scam’s dairy industry. It’s a funny old world as the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, Communist money, gets more and more dysfunctional in the end game.
Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.

Henry Kissinger.

U.S. calls out Asia’s leading exporters, Germany over economic policies

Published: Apr 29, 2016 4:28 p.m. ET
 The Obama administration has delivered a shot across the bow to Asia’s leading exporters and Germany for their economic policies and warned that a number of major economies around the globe could face intense pressure to engage in currency interventions to counter slow growth.

The U.S. Treasury Department, in its semiannual currency report to Congress, called out China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Germany for relying on policies that it says threaten to damage the U.S. and the global economy.

The countries are cited in a new name-and-shame list that can trigger sanctions against offending trade partners under fresh powers Congress granted last year to address economic policies that threaten U.S. industries.

Morning After In The Shale Patch—-Oilfield Workers Getting Slammed

by Wall Street Journal • April 29, 2016
The slump in crude prices is starting to show up as missed payments by consumers in the oil patch.

In states from Oklahoma and Texas to North Dakota and Wyoming, rising unemployment in the energy sector is pushing up loan delinquencies and raising the risk of new losses for banks.

Wells Fargo & Co. this month reported an increase in borrowers falling behind on payments in areas including Houston and parts of Alaska. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said auto-loan delinquency rates picked up in some energy-related markets.

Overall, energy-dependent states are posting delinquency rates that in many cases exceed the national average, according to data prepared for The Wall Street Journal by credit bureau TransUnion.

“In these energy states, we are clearly seeing the impact of the loss of oil jobs,” said Ezra Becker, senior vice president and head of research at TransUnion. “We don’t expect to see any kind of material improvement in the short term.”

Some 119,600 oil and gas jobs nationwide have been eliminated—22% of the total—since September 2014, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The price of U.S.-traded oil, while on the rise this year, has dropped 28% since June. Some analysts have warned that persistent crude oversupply could prevent further price gains.

Car loans and credit cards have been affected the most, and there are some early signs of delinquency-rate increases in borrowers who can’t make mortgage payments. Moody’s Investors Service said the share of borrowers in oil-focused areas falling 30 days behind on a pool of Freddie Mac mortgages, while low at 0.38% in December, began to exceed the average elsewhere in the country last summer. The average for other areas was 0.29% in December.

----While delinquency rates overall are still low, the regional trend risks hurting profits at smaller banks, potentially leading to tighter standards for loans like mortgages and home-equity lines of credit.

“Do I expect delinquencies to be on the rise? Absolutely,” said Doug Weedin, president of Pinnacle Bank-Wyoming, a community bank with about $710 million in assets, based in Cody.

Auto-loan delinquency rates at Pinnacle Bank jumped to just over 1% of outstanding loan dollars in the fourth quarter of 2015 from 0.1% in the year-ago period, according to data provider S&P Global Market Intelligence. Delinquencies could rise given the large number of layoffs in Pinnacle’s region over the past two months that Mr. Weedin said aren’t reflected in the latest data.

Oil Market Deja Vu Triggers Predictions of a Return to $30

April 29, 2016 — 3:24 PM BST Updated on April 30, 2016 — 12:01 AM BST
Oil’s climb above $45 a barrel is reassuring influential figures from BP Plc to the International Energy Agency that the industry is finally recovering from the worst slump in a generation. Others say the market is about to fall into the same trap as last year.

There’s a sense of deja vu at Commerzbank AG, BNP Paribas SA and UBS Group AG, who say crude’s gain of about 70 percent from a 12-year low in January resembles the recovery that took hold this time last year -- only to sputter out by May as the supply glut endured. Prices will sink back towards $30 a barrel in the coming weeks, BNP and UBS warn.

“There are dangerous parallels to 2015,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. “The market already appears overheated and a correction is overdue.”

Last year, Brent crude rose 45 percent from January to almost $68 in May as traders anticipated a rapid decrease in U.S. output as drilling rigs were idled. The rally reversed when production kept rising, peaking at 9.61 million barrels a day in June 2015, a year after the price slump began. While drilling cutbacks eventually took their toll and the nation’s output slipped to 8.9 million barrels a day last week, the current recovery could boost industry activity and slow the decline.

The price increase has been reinforced by unplanned disruptions in producers such as Nigeria, Iraq and Kuwait. Even the failure of talks between OPEC and other major producers in Doha to freeze production couldn’t dent this month’s rally, which for Brent is on track to be the biggest in almost seven years.

----But for now supply still exceeds demand, and will continue to do so if prices don’t stay low for long enough to strangle investment in the U.S. shale industry, according to BNP Paribas.

The U.S. Is Sitting on a Mountain of Cheese

Move over bacon, we have a new food glut to deal with.

April 29, 2016 — 9:43 AM BST
When bacon was abundant it was everywhere: in your jam, on seemingly every burger, even flavoring bourbon. So if history is any guide, this year's food trend should be extra cheese.

The reason is the U.S. is sitting on more butter and cheese than it knows what to do with, and the Europeans are to blame.

Exports from the European Union have climbed so far this year and last -- even after the bloc's once-largest customer, Russia, banned trade in retaliation for sanctions over its incursion in Ukraine. A glut of milk, plunging prices and a weakening euro mean the EU has been able to grab customers in Asia and the Middle East, while U.S. sales have fallen.

European dairy products are so cheap right now that the U.S. itself has become the new No. 1 customer for some products -- imports of EU butter doubled last year and rose 17 percent for cheese, according to the European Commission. All that excess supply is building up in U.S. refrigerators, especially as American dairy production heads to a record this year.

USDA statistics show cheese inventories at the end of March were the highest for the date since 1984, the year Prince's "Purple Rain" was released. More than half of the supply is American cheese, while Swiss accounts for about 2 percent, and the rest the government classifies as "other."

 "It's been difficult for them to export, given the strong dollar, and they're sucking in imports," said Kevin Bellamy, a global dairy market strategist at Rabobank International in Utrecht, the Netherlands. “Where the U.S. has lost out on business, Europe has gained.”

This year, the EU has boosted butter exports by 27 percent while cheese shipments rose 13 percent, according to the European Commission.

Even though sales increased, things are still pretty dire for European dairy farmers, who've warned for months that rock-bottom prices risk putting them out of business. Average raw milk prices in the EU have slumped to the lowest levels since 2010. U.S. prices have also started falling, with cheddar on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading this week at a five-year low.
In other news, China and America continue shadow boxing over the South China Sea. China attempts to end the commodity market chaos caused by some of the Chinese stimulus money flowing in to rampant speculative gambling.

China denies Hong Kong visit request by U.S. carrier group: Pentagon

Fri Apr 29, 2016 3:27pm EDT
China has denied a request for a U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS John C. Stennis to visit to Hong Kong, the U.S. Defense Department said on Friday, amid heightened tensions over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Bill Urban, said a U.S. warship, the USS Blue Ridge, was currently in Hong Kong on a port visit and the United States expected that to continue.

Urban said the request for the Hong Kong visit by the carrier and its accompanying vessels, which have been patrolling the South China Sea, was recently denied, despite a "long track record of successful port visits to Hong Kong."

A U.S. Navy official, who did not want to be identified, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry's commissioner in Hong Kong conveyed Beijing's denial of visit, saying it was "not convenient" at this time.

The Chinese government and its embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The nuclear-powered Stennis has been conducting patrols in the South China Sea, which China claims most of and where Beijing has sparked U.S. and regional concerns by building artificial islands to bolster its claims.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Stennis while it transited the South China Sea on April 15 to underscore U.S. concerns about the need to maintain freedom of navigation in the face of Chinese moves.

Exclusive: China securities regulator confirms order to curb futures speculation

Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:07am EDT
China's securities regulator on Friday urged commodity futures exchanges to curb excessive speculation following a surge in prices that has sparked fears markets were heading for a dangerous boom-and-bust cycle.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said it would not allow the futures market to become a "hot-bed" for speculators.

The CSRC comments confirmed a Reuters story earlier on Friday that the regulator had asked commodity futures exchanges in Dalian, Shanghai and Zhengzhou to bring speculative trading activity under control.

Investors, including hedge funds and retail investors, have placed big bets on Chinese commodities futures this year, driving up contracts including in iron ore, rebar, cotton and even eggs. The rally has prompted many analysts to warn of similarities with a boom in the country's stock markets, which reversed into a sharp crash last summer.

The futures market should stick to its fundamental purpose of serving the real economy, and regulators will "adamantly prevent the futures market from becoming a hotbed for short-term speculators," the CSRC said in a statement on its official microblog.

"We will continue to guide the exchanges to take appropriate actions against excessive speculation and illegal behaviors," the regulator said.

Three people with direct knowledge of the situation said the CSRC had issued its order to the exchanges to bring speculative trading under control on Monday.

In response, the exchanges ordered major institutional investors that lack a commodities background to rein in their trading, the people said. They didn't define what was meant by a lack of background in commodities.

We end for the week with yet more reasons for Brexit. GB has to urgently take back control of its borders, from the inmates running the EUSSR asylum.
No foreign policy - no matter how ingenious - has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none.

Henry Kissinger.

EU executive opposes call for easier suspension of visa-free travel

Fri Apr 29, 2016 6:58am EDT
A proposal by Germany and France to make it easier to suspend visa-free travel to the European Union from countries such as Turkey drew a frosty reception from the executive European Commission on Friday.
In what was seen as a move to make visa liberalization for Turks, Ukrainians and Georgians more acceptable, Berlin and Paris wrote to EU partners this week calling for a tougher safeguard mechanism in case of a spike of asylum requests, overstays or readmission refusals.

Under their plan, which would have to be formally put forward by the Commission, any member state would be allowed to suspend visa-free travel from any country for six months unless EU states voted by a qualified majority to overrule it. [Emphasis added.]

The proposal came in the midst of a debate about whether to extend visa liberalization to Ankara by the end of June under a deal to curb the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe.

The Commission is due to report next Wednesday whether Turkey has met the 72 technical and legal conditions to qualify for visa-free travel. If so, member states and the European Parliament would have to approve the plan.

Former Labour MEP jailed for four years over dishonest expenses claims

Friday 29 April 2016 11:34 GMT
An MEP who claimed nearly £500,000 in expenses dishonestly has been jailed for four years.
Peter Skinner was a Labour MEP for the South East between 1999 and 2014.

He was found guilty of three charges after a trial at Southwark Crown Court in London.

The BBC first reported that Skinner was found guilty of one count of making a false instrument, one count of fraud and one court of false accounting.

Skinner claimed thousands of pounds for support staff that actually went toward jewellery, and outings to hotels and restaurants.

The MEP, of Snodland in Kent, said he was confused over the rules and blamed European Parliament procedures.

The BBC said his fraud eventually added up to £480,000.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be pleased to see justice done as someone who stole vast amounts of their money is sent to jail.

"Skinner’s case highlights the shameful lack of accountability and transparency in the European Parliament’s expenses system which is clearly open to abuse: the fact that he was able to defraud the system over a period of years shows the inadequacy of current safeguards to protect taxpayers' money from corrupt individuals."

"Hola. I'm a British Socialist Labour MEP from God forsaken Snodland in Kent GB. Here's 
my expenses claim."

"Holy Shit! This is more that we pay the Belgian King, and that lying Luxembourg bastard Juncker!" "Get Blair on the phone."

"It's Dodgy Dave there now sir."

"Call the EUSSR police! The Stassi."
Have a Great Weekend everyone, whether celebrating Mayday or not.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Ringing The Bell. Eurozone Seeloewe.

Baltic Dry Index. 710 -05      Brent Crude 48.09

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

Brexit odds checker.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
No real English gentleman, in his secret soul, was ever sorry for the death of a political economist.

Walter Bagehot.

With Brent crude trading above 48 dollars and a long Mayday weekend ahead, if I had put on synthetic double options ahead of the Doha meeting, I would now take profits and close out the position. There may well be more upside ahead, but there will always be another opportunity ahead. It is never wrong to take the money and close out.

Do they ring a bell at the top? Well maybe not a bell, but a whole lot of container ships are blowing off steam. Meanwhile in Swizzerland, their flagship “shower-toilet, hybrid model,” whatever that is, has taken something of a dump, as the formerly flush Ritzy tourists stay away from expensive Switzerland. Or maybe even the Russians have found the Swiss push button, indoor shower-toilet machine, a luxury too far.  Outside of Switzerland, the shower-toilet bathroom fitting, is also something of hard sell. Push buttons, it didn’t.

What Global Growth Rebound? Ports Quiet, Containerships Losing Steam

by Wall Street Journal • April 27, 2016
At a logistics park bordering Shanghai’s port last month, the only goods stored in a three-story warehouse were high-end jeans, T-shirts and jackets imported from the U.K. and Hong Kong, most of which had sat there for nearly two years.

Business at the 108,000-square-foot floor warehouse dwindled at the end of 2015 after several Chinese wine importers pulled out, said Yang Ying, the warehouse keeper, leaving lots of empty space. The final blow came after a merchant turned away a shipment in December at the dock.

“The client told the ship hands, just take the wine back to France,” Ms. Yang said. “Nobody wants it.”
Pain is increasing among the world’s biggest ports—from Shanghai to Hamburg—amid weaker growth in global trade and a calamitous end to a global commodities boom. Overall trade rose just 2.8% in 2015, according to the World Trade Organization, the fourth consecutive year below 3% growth and historically weak compared with global economic expansion.

The ancient business of ship-borne trade has been whipsawed, first by a boom that demanded more and bigger vessels, and more recently by an abrupt slowing. That turnabout has roiled the container-shipping industry, which transports more than 95% of the world’s goods, from clothes and shoes to car parts, electronic and handbags. It has set off a frenzy of consolidation and costs cutting across the world’s fleets.

Ashore, it is also slamming ports and port operators, the linchpin to global commerce. Nowhere is the carnage more painful than along the Europe-Asia trade route, measuring roughly 28,000 miles round trip. A cooling Chinese economy and a high-profile crackdown by Beijing on corruption has damped demand for everything from commodities like iron ore to designer scarves and shoes. Meanwhile, Europe’s still sputtering recovery from the global economic crisis is hitting the flow of goods in the other direction.

On Friday, the Hong Kong Marine Department reported throughput for its port in the first quarter was off 11% from the first three months of last year. Throughput for all of 2015 also dropped 11%.

“It is the first time you see people in shipping being really scared,” said Basil Karatzas, of New York-based Karatzas Marine Advisors and Co.

Chinese imports from the European Union fell nearly 14% in 2015. Chinese exports to Europe were down 3%. This year isn’t starting any better. In the first quarter, Chinese imports from the EU fell 7% from a year earlier, a decline matched by exports to Europe.

Strong Franc Hits Swiss Toilets as Geberit's Hotel Market Slows

April 28, 2016 — 10:51 AM BST
Geberit AG, a Swiss maker of urinals, forecast stagnating demand in Switzerland this year as hotels postpone bathroom improvements due to a revenue slowdown caused as the strong franc puts off tourists.
Switzerland’s tourism industry is suffering after the Swiss National Bank in January 2015 removed its cap on the currency of 1.20 per euro. Last year, demand from European guests was at its weakest in almost 60 years, with overnight stays by visitors from Europe falling nearly 10 percent, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

“We have weak demand from hotels,” Geberit Chief Executive Officer Christian Buhl said on a call with analysts and journalists. “We are not all that optimistic about growth in Switzerland, but we don’t expect a decline.”

Any decline in the local hotel trade is a blow to Geberit as Switzerland is among the top markets for its flagship shower-toilet, a hybrid model combining the benefits of a bidet and a more traditional toilet, all at the touch of a button.

Restrictions on building second homes, including holiday homes, has also damped demand in the residential sector in Switzerland, leading to “a collapse of building activity in tourist regions”, Buhl said. Switzerland, Geberit’s second-largest market, contributed about 11 percent of net sales in 2015.

Guerrillas and Rebels Do for Oil Market What Producers Couldn't

April 28, 2016 — 11:00 PM BST Updated on April 29, 2016 — 5:48 AM BST
Leftist guerrillas in Colombia, rebels in Libya and militants in Nigeria are succeeding where the world’s biggest oil producers failed, helping keep a 1.5 million-barrel crude surplus from expanding.

While Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major producers couldn’t agree on a production freeze earlier this month, disruptions ranging from pipeline attacks to field shutdowns have taken 800,000 barrels a day of crude supply offline this year, according to energy-industry consultant FGE. As the collapse in oil prices cuts their revenue, producers in some parts of the world are finding it harder to keep supplies flowing, according to Citigroup Inc.

“The fact of the matter is that the oversupply in the market is very narrow,” said Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup. “The world has become highly prone to disruptions of supply in vulnerable petro states.”

An effort by the largest oil-producing countries to seal a deal to freeze production failed after an April 17 meeting among OPEC members and nations outside the group in Doha, Qatar, ended without producing an agreement. “The focus on Doha did miss the biggest elephants not in the room,” said Morse, referring to the supply disruptions, which have helped drive a surge in prices since February.

We end for the long Mayday holiday weekend, with Manchester United the only thing standing in the way of the biggest mispricing of odds payoff, since Joe Cassano blew up AIG, via the sale of mispriced Credit Default Swaps in London. So mispriced at AIG London, no one ever thought that they’d ever have to pay out. With no pay outs ever possible, why bother to put any collateral behind them, or to hedge them? So they didn’t. Unlike Bernie Madoff, AIG got a 85 billion bailout from Uncle Scam’s hapless taxpayers, rather than “a Bernie,” 150 years in jail.
“It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those transactions.”
Joseph J. Cassano, a former A.I.G. executive, August 2007

Bookies Vow Never Again as 5,000-1 Leicester Closes on Title

April 28, 2016 — 7:16 AM BST Updated on April 28, 2016 — 10:41 AM BST
William Hill Plc and other bookmakers gave better chances to finding Elvis Presley alive (2,000-1) or discovering the Loch Ness monster (500-1) than to Leicester City F.C. winning this season’s English Premier League soccer title. It won’t make that mistake again.

On Sunday, the Foxes of Leicester City could capture their first Premier League title in their 132-year history -- with early bets at 5,000-1 odds.

If the team’s core of unknown and journeyman footballers defeat 20-time champion Manchester United, William Hill would lose 2 million pounds ($2.9 million), according to company spokesman Rupert Adams. The bookmaker took 58 pounds in bets on Thai-owned Leicester City at odds of 5,000-1, and would have to pay out 750,000 pounds to gamblers who bet later in the season when the odds dropped to 1,500-1.
“We are going to lose 2 million quid when Leicester win it,” Adams said in a phone interview. “As it stands, the biggest price for anyone next year is 1,000-1.”

William Hill represents about 20 percent of the U.K. betting market, meaning a Foxes victory will cost bookmakers across the country about 10 million pounds, Adams said. And even celebrities could be getting a payout. Actor Tom Hanks this week said he bet 100 pounds on the Foxes, and now stands to win 500,000 pounds if Leicester City wins.

But the Leicester City Miracle isn’t all bad news for bookies. Until Christmas, the Foxes upset the odds week after week by beating teams they were supposed to beat -- and ruining several so-called accumulator, or parlay, bets in which gamblers select a slate of results over a weekend of games.

The market for preseason betting will also grow by as much as five times next season, said Alex Donohue, a spokesman for Ladbrokes Plc, which with William Hill operates half of the U.K.’s licensed betting shops. His company faces a similar 3 million-pound payout to bettors. Each company took about 1 million pounds worth of bets on the Premier League Title winners.

“Next year it will be colossal,” Donohue said. “Imagine if you support Bournemouth or Norwich or Crystal Palace, you’ll think if Leicester can do it why can’t we. I’m sure there will be incredible volume from next season.”

In Ladbrokes’ 130-year existence, the company has never paid out bets on odds of 5,000-1. The company accepted 47 bets at 5,000-1, and 23 of them are still live, with others deciding to cash out.

Behind Insurer’s Crisis, Blind Eye to a Web of Risk

Two weeks ago, the nation’s most powerful regulators and bankers huddled in the Lower Manhattan fortress that is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, desperately trying to stave off disaster.

As the group, led by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., pondered the collapse of one of America’s oldest investment banks, Lehman Brothers, a more dangerous threat emerged: American International Group, the world’s largest insurer, was teetering. A.I.G. needed billions of dollars to right itself and had suddenly begged for help.

One of the Wall Street chief executives participating in the meeting was Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Paulson’s former firm. Mr. Blankfein had particular reason for concern.

Although it was not widely known, Goldman, a Wall Street stalwart that had seemed immune to its rivals’ woes, was A.I.G.’s largest trading partner, according to six people close to the insurer who requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. A collapse of the insurer threatened to leave a hole of as much as $20 billion in Goldman’s side, several of these people said.

Days later, federal officials, who had let Lehman die and initially balked at tossing a lifeline to A.I.G., ended up bailing out the insurer for $85 billion.

5 Years Ago Bernie Madoff Was Sentenced to 150 Years In Prison – Here's How His Scheme Worked

Five years ago Sunday, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the biggest fraudulent scheme in U.S. history. Even now, only a few of his victims have since regained all of their losses.
A well-respected financier, Madoff convinced thousands of investors to hand over their savings, falsely promising consistent profits in return. He was caught in December 2008 and charged with 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury, and theft.
Here's how Madoff conned his investors out of $65 billion and went undetected for decades:
Madoff used a so-called Ponzi scheme, which lures investors in by guaranteeing unusually high returns. The name originated with Charles Ponzi, who promised 50% returns on investments in only 90 days.

Ponzi schemes are run by a central operator, who uses the money from new, incoming investors to pay off the promised returns to older ones. This makes the operation seem profitable and legitimate, even though no actual profit is being made. Meanwhile, the person behind the scheme pockets the extra money or uses it to expand the operation.

To avoid having too many investors reclaim their "profits," Ponzi schemes encourage them to stay in the game and earn even more money. The "investing strategies" used are vague and/or secretive, which schemers claim is to protect their business. Then all they need to do is tell investors how much they are making periodically, without actually providing any real returns.

Ponzi schemes aren't usually very sustainable. The setup eventually falls apart after: (1) The operator takes the remaining investment money and runs. (2) New investors become harder to find, meaning the flow of cash dies out. (3) Too many current investors begin to pull out and request their returns.

In Madoff's case, things began to deteriorate after clients requested a total of $7 billion back in returns. Unfortunately for Madoff, he only had $200 million to $300 million left to give.

Another reason Madoff managed to fly under the radar for so long (despite multiple reports to the SEC about suspicions of a Ponzi scheme), is because Madoff was a well-versed and active member of the financial industry. He started his own market maker firm in 1960 and helped launch the Nasdaq stock market. He sat on the board of National Association of Securities Dealers and advised the Securities and Exchange Commission on trading securities. It was easy to believe this 70-year-old industry veteran knew exactly what he was doing.

Madoff really only made off with $20 billion, even though on paper he cheated clients out of $65 billion, according to CNNMoney.

Poverty is an anomaly to rich people; it is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.

Walter Bagehot.
At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 31.96 Moz, Eligible 119.50 Moz, Total 151.46 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards.

Walter Bagehot

Ever wonder why the EUSSR never really worked? Below that, continental Europe is turning weird again. Brexit now, before the “toilet-shower” becomes mandatory.

The European Union always was a CIA project, as Brexiteers discover

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard27 April 2016 • 8:18pm
Brexiteers should have been prepared for the shattering intervention of the US.  The European Union always was an American project.
It was Washington that drove European integration in the late 1940s, and funded it covertly under the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.
While irritated at times, the US has relied on the EU ever since as the anchor to American regional interests alongside NATO.

There has never been a divide-and-rule strategy.

The eurosceptic camp has been strangely blind to this, somehow supposing that powerful forces across the Atlantic are egging on British secession, and will hail them as liberators.

The anti-Brussels movement in France - and to a lesser extent in Italy and Germany, and among the Nordic Left - works from the opposite premise, that the EU is essentially an instrument of Anglo-Saxon power and 'capitalisme sauvage'.

France's Marine Le Pen is trenchantly anti-American. She rails against dollar supremacy. Her Front National relies on funding from Russian banks linked to Vladimir Putin.

Like it or not, this is at least is strategically coherent.

The Schuman Declaration that set the tone of Franco-German reconciliation - and would lead by stages to the European Community - was cooked up by the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson at a meeting in Foggy Bottom. "It all began in Washington," said Robert Schuman's chief of staff.

It was the Truman administration that browbeat the French to reach a modus vivendi with Germany in the early post-War years, even threatening to cut off US Marshall aid at a furious meeting with recalcitrant French leaders they resisted in September 1950.

---- For British eurosceptics, Jean Monnet looms large in the federalist pantheon, the emminence grise of supranational villainy. Few are aware that he spent much of his life in America, and served as war-time eyes and ears of Franklin Roosevelt. 
General Charles de Gaulle thought him an American agent,  as indeed he was in a loose sense. Eric Roussel's biography of Monnet reveals how he worked hand in glove with successive administrations.
It is odd that this magisterial 1000-page study has never been translated into English since it is the best work ever written about the origins of the EU.

Nor are many aware of declassified documents from the State Department archives showing that US intelligence funded the European movement secretly for decades, and worked aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into the project.

As this newspaper first reported when the treasure became available, one memorandum dated July 26, 1950, reveals a campaign to promote a full-fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the Central Inteligence Agency.

The key CIA front was the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), chaired by Donovan. Another document shows that it provided 53.5 per cent of the European movement's funds in 1958. The board included Walter Bedell Smith and Allen Dulles, CIA directors in the Fifties, and a caste of ex-OSS officials who moved in and out of the CIA.
Papers show that it treated some of the EU's 'founding fathers' as hired hands, and actively prevented them finding alternative funding that would have broken reliance on Washington.
There is nothing particularly wicked about this. The US acted astutely in the context of the Cold War. The political reconstruction of Europe was a roaring success. 
There were horrible misjudgments along the way, of course. A memo dated June 11, 1965, instructs the vice-president of the European Community to pursue monetary union by stealth, suppressing debate until the "adoption of such proposals would become virtually inescapable". This was too clever by half, as we can see today from debt-deflation traps and mass unemployment across southern Europe.

Germany's Anti-Immigration Party Takes Aim at the ECB

April 28, 2016
Germany’s surging anti-immigration party isn’t just railing against asylum seekers. It’s also gunning for the European Central Bank, an alleged “master plan” to eliminate cash and negative deposit rates that it says amount to financial “repression.”

To Alternative for Germany, a proposal by the German Finance Ministry to limit cash transactions to 5,000 euros ($5,670) and ECB considerations to phase out the 500-euro note are more than measures aimed at curtailing criminal activity. They’re a first step in banning paper money and robbing helpless account holders of their privacy, according to Joerg Meuthen, the party’s co-chairman.

“This is a master plan on the road to eliminating cash in order to take complete control over financial transactions,” Meuthen, a professor of economics at the University of Public Administration in Kehl, said in an interview Thursday. “Everything people spend will be completely under surveillance by the state.”

Fresh from sweeping into three German state assemblies in March, the party known most recently for opposing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-border refugee policy and warning against Islamic influence is marshaling a broader list of grievances ahead of a national convention this weekend. The draft party platform includes a ban on minarets, calls for partnership with Russia and rejects international efforts to combat global warming as based on “faulty computer models.” Elsewhere, proposed amendments call for outlawing male circumcision when practiced by Jews and Muslims for religious reasons.

----“These measures are financial repression,” Weidel, an economist, said by phone. “The ECB has become a huge redistribution machine.”

The Frankfurt-based central bank should eventually be abolished, “but that will happen anyway in the end,” she said, because the 19-country euro area is doomed to fail.
All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.

Walter Bagehot.

Brexit Quote of the week.

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

George Orwell.

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?

Theory establishes a path to high-performance 2-D semiconductor devices

Date: April 26, 2016

Source: DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Summary: Researchers have uncovered a way to overcome a principal obstacle in using two-dimensional (2-D) semiconductors in electronic and optoelectronic devices.
Researchers at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have uncovered a way to overcome a principal obstacle in using two-dimensional (2D) semiconductors in electronic and optoelectronic devices.
2D semiconductors such as molybdenum disulfide are only a few layers thick and are considered promising candidates for next-generation devices. Scientists first must overcome limitations imposed by a large and tunable Schottky barrier between the semiconductor and a metal contact. The barrier, at the metal/semiconductor junction, creates an obstacle for the flow of electrons or holes through the semiconductor.
The NREL team discovered that the height of the Schottky barrier can be adjusted-or even made to vanish-by using certain 2D metals as electrodes. Such adjustments are not possible with conventional three-dimensional metals because of a strong Fermi level pinning (FLP) effect occurring at the junction of metal and semiconductor, due to electronic states in the semiconductor band gap that are induced by the metal. 
Increasing the flow of electrons or holes through a semiconductor reduces power losses and improves the device performance.
The NREL theorists considered a family of 2D metals that could bind with the 2D semiconductors through van der Waals interaction. Because this interaction is relatively weak, the metal-induced gap states are suppressed and the FLP effect is negligible. This means that the Schottky barrier becomes highly tunable. By selecting an appropriate 2D metal/2D semiconductor pair, one can reduce the barrier to almost zero (such as H-NbS2/WSe2 for hole conduction).
They noted that using a 2D metal as an electrode would also prove useful for integrating into transparent and flexible electronics because the 2D metal is also transparent and flexible. They also noted that the junction of 2D metal and 2D semiconductor is atomically flat and can have fewer defects, which would reduce carrier scattering and recombination.
The work by Yuanyue Liu, Paul Stradins, and Su-Huai Wei, "Van der Waals metal-semiconductor junction: weak Fermi level pinning enables effective tuning of Schottky barrier," appears in the new issue of Science Advances.
The trio of researchers predicts that hexagonal phase of niobium disulfide (NbS2) is the most promising for hole injection into a 2D semiconductor, and heavily nitrogen-doped graphene can enable efficient electron injection.

Another weekend and a wintry one forecast for much of these islands once known as Great Britain, and now known in Brussels and Berlin as Eurozone Seeloewe. Speaking low German or Parisian French isn’t yet compulsory, at least until after “Remania.” Have a great weekend everyone.

Poverty is an anomaly to rich people; it is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.

Walter Bagehot.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished March

DJIA: 17685.09 -18 Down. NASDAQ:  4869.85 +33 Down. SP500: 2059.74 -22 Down.