Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Fretting And Rolling Over!

Baltic Dry Index. 487 +16        Brent Crude 38.57

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

Brexit odds checker.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
You will find as you grow older that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public life.

Benjamin Disraeli.

Up first, reasons to fret over the EUSSR. A slowing, wobbling China is impacting Germany. But with paymaster Germany’s exports slowing, why would any of the others want to remain in a dying German currency union? America finally gets it. Globally the real world is a continuing car crash.  Finland pays the price for joining the Germanic euro and following EUSSR orders to start a trade war with next door Russia, following Uncle Scam’s disastrous botched coup in Kiev. Everyone everywhere has a reason to fret over the iron and steel industry. Another unintended consequence of the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, and all the malinvestment bubbles it triggered. Just don’t let on to Main Stream Media, nor our gormless, out of their depth, Keynesian, Goldmanite, central banksters.
Stay long fully paid up physical gold and silver, held outside of the financial system, as insurance against the coming tempest.
"The gold standard sooner or later will return with the force and inevitability of natural law, for it is the money of freedom and honesty."

Hans F. Sennholz

German Factory Orders Unexpectedly Fall on Exports Slowdown

April 5, 2016 — 7:00 AM BST Updated on April 5, 2016 — 7:32 AM BST
German factory orders unexpectedly fell in February in a sign that a global trade slowdown is weighing on Europe’s largest economy.
Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, dropped 1.2 percent from the prior month, when they rose a revised 0.5 percent, data from the Economy Ministry in Berlin showed on Tuesday. The reading, which is typically volatile, compares with a median estimate for an increase of 0.3 percent in a Bloomberg survey. Orders climbed 0.5 percent from a year earlier.
While Germany corporate confidence improved last month because of robust domestic demand, exporters are struggling with a China-led slowdown in emerging markets. Bundesbank warned last month that the nation’s growth momentum could slow in the second quarter as weakening exports prompt companies to curb output and hiring.
“Against the background of potential new uncertainties, the outlook for the German industry remains anything but rosy,” said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Diba AG in Frankfurt. “Today’s new orders were another piece of evidence that the German industry is treading water, as it is suffering from a cooling of global activity.”

U.S. Stocks Retreat as Rally Falters Amid Global Growth Concerns

April 5, 2016 — 10:57 AM BST Updated on April 5, 2016 — 9:32 PM BST
U.S. stocks fell, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posting the steepest loss in four weeks, amid simmering concerns that weakness in global growth will deepen.

Banks paced the retreat, sinking along with Treasury yields as bonds rallied on haven demand. Bank of America Corp. slid 2.4 percent. Health-care companies fell for the first time in three days, dragged lower by Allergan Plc’s 15 percent tumble after the government took steps to limit so-called inversion deals, threatening its merger with Pfizer Inc.

The S&P 500 dropped 1 percent to 2,045.17 at 4 p.m. in New York, leaving it little changed for the year and ending the longest streak of calmness in 13 months. The index’s move had been capped within 1 percent in either direction in the last 15 days, something not seen since March 2015. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 133.68 points, or 0.8 percent, to 17,603.32. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1 percent. About 7.3 billion shares traded hands on U.S. exchanges, 13 percent below the 2016 average.

“We’re stalling out,” said Michael Block, chief strategist at Rhino Trading Partners LLC in New York. “That’s part of it, and it’s being exacerbated by this continued rally in the Japanese yen and the release from the Treasury that’s causing a lot of pain in Allergan. We have Fed minutes tomorrow and the expectation is for it to be super dovish, and if it’s not then people might get confused.”

The rally that lifted the S&P 500 as much as 13 percent from a 22-month low in February has started to lose momentum, with sentiment shifting as investors assess whether central banks can fend off weakness in the global economy. Worries that a slowdown in China would spread, intensified by tumbling crude prices had sent stocks to their worst-ever start to a year.

Struggling Finland Is Trying to Cut Wages Without Causing a Riot

April 4, 2016 — 11:01 PM BST
At the height of the European sovereign debt crisis, internal devaluation -- economists’ jargon for "cutting wages" -- was the recipe of choice for addressing the woes of the euro zone’s periphery.

Several years on, governments with a view of the Mediterranean or the Atlantic have tried to boost competitiveness with mixed results. Crucially, those efforts have come at a high political price. Just ask the leaders of mainstream parties in Greece, Spain Portugal or Italy.

Now, Finland is having a go.

After three years of recession, and with little scope for maneuver on the spending front (the government is holding talks Tuesday on how to find extra savings worth 400 million euros, or 456 million dollars), the ruling coalition says Finland must lower labor costs or face more credit rating downgrades.

So, how do you cut your workers’ salaries without stoking anti-EU sentiments, provoking massive unrest or suffering the ultimate punishment -- being ousted from power?

4-point plan

Here’s how it’s being done in Finland by the center-right coalition government of former businessman Juha Sipila and his Brussels-savvy finance and economic ministers, Alexander Stubb and Olli Rehn:
  • Persuade unions that an overall cut in labor costs of around 5 percent is in their best interest, since it will eventually fuel growth by boosting exports, then gently bash their heads together with those of employers until they agree on a plan and a deadline -- in this case June 2016 
  • Threaten to impose measures by law if they don’t come up with a solution, but brace yourself for compromises. The Labor Pact now being completed involves shifting the onus of some social contributions to workers from employers; persuading people to work an extra 24 hours a year at the same pay; and cutting the public sector’s holiday bonuses by 30 percent
---- Still, there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong before the next elections are due, in 2019.

There’s a very concrete risk that reluctant unions may eventually water down and even sink the deal. Moreover, even if labor costs are actually cut by 5 percent (the current calculations point to around 4 percent), there’s no guarantee that reducing labor costs will translate into greater exports, as the demise of Nokia’s consumer electronics business has shown.

Antti Rinne of the opposition Social Democratic Party points out that "Finland’s biggest problem is that we lack companies that have products and services that are demanded in international markets."

240 jobs at risk in Finland as Outokumpu announces planned cuts

The stainless steel giant says it will axe up to 600 posts worldwide in a bid to become a market leader by 2020 and tackle the company’s debt burden.

5.4.2016 10:35 | updated 5.4.2016 10:37
The stainless steel giant Outokumpu has announced plans to cut up to 600 jobs, of which up to 240 are in Finland.

In a statement released at the start of talks between employers and unions, the firm said it intends to axe up to 140 jobs from its Finnish operations, and outsource a further 100 posts from its production support operations in Tornio, northern Finland.

Outokumpu also said on Tuesday that it aims to become the best-value stainless steel producer by 2020, vying to increase turnover to half a billion euros and a debt-equity ratio of under 35 percent. In the interim, this means cutting net debt to 1.2 billion euros by the end of 2017.

The company’s CEO Roeland Baan said that Outokumpu is not currently performing as profitably as it should be. “While we now have a world-class industrial foundation and a robust financial position, the true profitability potential of the company is far higher than the current financial performance shows. To bridge that gap, we must significantly improve our competitiveness.”

The announcement comes after a turbulent few years for the Finnish company, which has shed thousands of jobs worldwide in a bid to tackle debts of around 3 billion euros. In 2014 Outokumpu also emerged from a decade-long series of fines and legal settlements over its part in a cartel to fix the prices of copper sanitary piping.

Japan sees April-June crude steel output sinking to 7-yr low

Tue Apr 5, 2016 7:46am BST
TOKYO, April 5 Japan's crude steel output for April-June will fall 2.4 percent from a year earlier to the lowest for the quarter in seven years, the government said on Tuesday.

That would come as the latest in a series of signals of economic slowdown, clouding the outlook for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive to reflate the economy and spurring calls for more monetary stimulus.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) estimated crude steel output would sink to 25.24 million tonnes in April-June, the lowest output for the quarter since 2009 when steel demand was hit hard by the global financial crisis. Against the previous quarter, output is seen falling 3.1 percent, it said, citing an industry survey.

Demand for steel from the construction sector is forecast to slide 3.1 percent from a year earlier, while demand from manufacturing is seen dropping 1.7 percent for the quarter.

"Construction demand for distribution warehouses is fairly solid, but demand for civil engineering and new shops is sluggish," Takanari Yamashita, director of METI's iron and steel division, told a news conference.
"Automobile and electronics segments are likely to see a pick up in demand, but industrial machinery is expected to stay under pressure," he said.

Slack steel demand elsewhere in Asia and anti-dumping steps taken by many countries will drag on exports, while slow demand for energy-related steel products such as drilling pipes in the wake of plunging oil prices will add to pressure, he said.

Demand for steel products, including those for export, is forecast to sink 3.8 percent to 22.91 million tonnes in April-June compared with a year earlier. Steel product exports are expected to decline 6.3 percent.
Next, the IMF frets over China. It’s late in the day for this “recovery” from the Great Recession, and the wheels are now starting to fall of practically everything in China.

China jitters could trigger global market bloodbath, IMF warns

Szu Ping Chan4 April 2016 • 2:55pm
Jitters over the health of the Chinese economy could trigger a bloodbath on financial markets if a hard landing materialises, the International Monetary Fund has warned.
The IMF said policy choices in the world's second largest economy would also have "increasing implications for global financial stability" in the coming years as the country opens up its bond and equity markets.
The fund said emerging market economies such as China, India, Brazil and Russia had driven more than half of global growth over the past 15 years.
Stronger trade ties and financial linkages meant spillovers from these countries had become "the norm, not the exception", increasing the risk that future shocks could send powerful reverberations around the globe.
The IMF calculated that emerging market spillovers now accounted for a third of the fluctuations seen in equity and currency markets in advanced nations.

Highlighting last summer's massive stock market sell-off after China devalued its currency, the IMF noted that Chinese growth had an "increasing" and "significant" impact on global equity prices.

"The impact of shocks to China's fundamentals on global financial markets is expected to grow stronger and wider over time," the Fund said in a pre-released chapter of its Financial Stability report.

"Clear and timely communication of its policy decisions, transparency about its policy goals, and strategies consistent with achieving them will, therefore, be essential to ensure against volatile market reactions, which may have broader repercussions."

The IMF also urged policymakers to do more to rein in corporate debt, which it has previously said could see a wave of defaults as the US hikes interest rates
Up next the troubled iron and steel sector in general. Based on iron ore shipments from Australia to China, there’s no sign of any cutback coming in China’s steel production. The Great China Steel dump looks set to continue wreaking continuing havoc in the rest of the world’s steel sector.

Iron Ore Exports From Australia's Port Hedland Expand to Record

April 5, 2016 — 7:27 AM BST
Iron ore exports from Australia’s Port Hedland surged to a record in March, according to a monthly summary from the world’s biggest bulk-export terminal which handles cargoes from miners including BHP Billiton Ltd. and entrant Roy Hill Holdings Pty.
Total shipments increased to 39.53 million metric tons last month from 36.63 million in February and 36.61 million a year earlier, according to data from the port authority on Tuesday. The figure eclipses the previous high of 39.4 million tons set in September. Exports to China gained to 32.6 million tons compared with 29.14 million tons in February and 31.2 million in the same month in 2015.
While iron ore has staged a surprise rally in 2016 as Chinese policy makers signaled their willingness to bolster growth in the largest user, prices have sagged in the past two weeks as holdings at ports in China expanded to the highest level in almost a year. Port Hedland is a maritime gateway to low-cost supply from the Pilbara, the world’s largest production center. Billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill venture has been ramping up operations this year, and last month dispatched its inaugural cargo to China.
Ore with 62 percent content in Qingdao was at $54.80 a dry ton on Monday after losing 2.8 percent last week and 2 percent the week before, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. The price surged 23 percent in the first quarter as some supplies from Port Hedland were disrupted in January, mills in China ramped up output ahead of the peak-construction season and the country’s leaders pledged to back growth.
In scammy tax evasion news, it’s Apple’s turn in the spotlight. How to make billions yet pay no taxes. Caught squarely in the EU headlights, Apple somehow got the US Treasury Secretary involved. Presumably a service offered to all humble Americans caught up in disputes over taxes. Mr Lew looks set to become very busy. For the sake of Apple, Mr Lew threatened to take America’s inward investment ball away from the EUSSR. Mr Lew, apparently, is a closet supporter of Brexit.

Apple’s tax affairs spark a transatlantic face-off

April 4, 2016 7:48 pm
Washington calls foul over the EU inquiry — amid anger over a $1tn offshore cash pile
To remind herself that she will always upset someone with her rulings, Margrethe Vestager keeps a ceramic hand with a raised middle finger on her desk. It was sent to her by an angry trade union during her time as economy minister of Denmark.

Since she became the EU’s competition enforcer in late 2014, those irate adversaries have only become more powerful. She is now facing a showdown with the world’s richest company and most powerful government.

On January 21, Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, made a personal appeal to Ms Vestager in Brussels. His aim was to deflect her from issuing a ruling against the technology company’s tax arrangements in Ireland, suspected of saving the company billions in international tax payments. If Apple is found to have benefited from a sweetheart deal, in contravention of EU competition rules, it could have to pay back billions of euros of underpaid tax to Dublin.

According to those briefed on the meeting, it was a heated, testy encounter. Mr Cook took aim at the “fairness” with which Ms Vestager conducts her cases — a point of pride for her — and argued that Brussels was pursuing a legally baseless raid on Apple’s $200bn international cash pile. Mr Cook complained that the EU’s probe into Apple undermined the very principles that Europe claimed to stand for.
The impassioned executive from Alabama seemed frustrated by the cool imperturbability of the Dane. She, in turn, resented his interruptions.

Only days after Mr Cook’s visit, Jack Lew, the US Treasury secretary, and his team turned their ire on Ms Vestager. They accused the EU of conducting a crusade against tax avoidance that would set “disturbing international tax policy precedents” and argued that its methodology raised “serious concerns about fundamental fairness”.

The thrust of the US allegation was that European probes into Apple, Amazon, Starbucks and McDonald’s unfairly singled out American companies. They also accused Ms Vestager of applying laws retroactively and of improperly targeting funds that were owed to the US Treasury. There was a danger that the EU’s tax campaign could deter US investment in Europe, they warned.

Ms Vestager has already publicly rejected Mr Lew’s accusations, but the two are likely to clash again when they meet in Washington later this week in what will probably be the last big diplomatic set piece before the European Commission makes its decision on Apple. A ruling is expected this spring.
We end with war resuming in the Middle East, where the USA is allied to Al Qaeeda. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that perpetual war rubbish.

Syria truce in shambles as government warplane shot down

Published: Apr 5, 2016 8:48 p.m. ET
BEIRUT — Syria’s five-week truce was left in tatters as Islamist rebels shot down a government warplane and captured its pilot near Aleppo while the regime and its allies vowed to launch a new offensive to drive all opposition fighters from the northern city.

Tuesday’s events were the latest in a series that have rendered the internationally-brokered cease-fire largely ineffective and cast a shadow over another round of United Nations-mediated peace talks set to resume in Geneva next week.

The warplane was downed in an area south of Aleppo where Nusra Front and allied Islamist rebel groups launched a new military campaign on Friday to recapture territory from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and its Iran-backed allies.

Al Qaeda-linked Nusra, which along with Islamic State has been excluded from the truce engineered by the U.S. and Russia, is now at the center of events undermining it. Several rebel groups fighting with Nusra in the campaign that started Friday had signed on to the partial cease-fire.

“We all knew the Nusra Front’s interest in sabotaging the cease-fire but even we, the other rebel factions, were not convinced the cease-fire was going to work because we have tested the regime so many times before,” said Ahmed Alwan, a cleric in northwest Syria close to several of the Islamist rebel factions allied with Nusra. “I can say that the cease-fire is effectively finished.”
“The problem with fiat money is that it rewards the minority that can handle money, but fools the generation that has worked and saved money.”

“Adam Smith” aka George Goodman.
At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday final figures were: Registered 32.91 Moz, Eligible 121.95 Moz, Total 154.86 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, Asia frets over the fate of Euroland irrespective of the outcome of Brexit.

Eurozone won’t find a happy ending, worldly Asians fear

Published: Apr 4, 2016 8:01 p.m. ET
VIENTIANE, Laos (MarketWatch) — During a panel discussion on April 3 in Vientiane on growth in the Asian economy, I asked Tarisa Watanagase, a former governor of the Bank of Thailand, what she thought of the future of Europe’s economic and monetary union. Watanagase, who was governor in 2006-10 and previously helped clear up the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis in Thailand, answered without demur. “It will not be a happy ending.”

Three decades ago in Asia, she said, countries like Thailand were able to emerge from turmoil within a year, with currency devaluation a major part of the adjustment — an option not available in Europe’s fixed exchange-rate system. “That’s very unfortunate when you’re in a crisis.”

Watanagase, has also spent time as an economist at the International Monetary Fund, said she foresees EMU breaking down into a smaller, more homogenous arrangement of like-minded countries.

Watanagase’s words reflect what serving Asian policy makers are saying behind closed doors. They are reminiscent, too, of the latest thoughts of Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, who as a retiree is freer to speak his mind on the euro EURUSD, -0.3950%

Watanagase’s views are relevant because of two events in the last few days: the death of Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the former German foreign minister who was a legendary figure behind his county’s reunification in 1990, and renewed signs of severe problems in the eternal struggle between Greece and its creditors.

---- Less well known was Genscher’s role, before the 1991-92 Maastricht treaty, in blocking progress towards a much-mooted European political union as part of the move to EMU. Many leading Germans, including Kohl, had said monetary union without political union was unsustainable. Yet Genscher was highly skeptical about pooling political power, memorably saying that if all European countries had had a vote on German unification, it would never have happened.
All this comes to mind when Germany is grappling with an impossible task in Greece. If Europe were a political union, the Germans would have bailed out the Greeks long ago. But then Germany would never have entered a union with a country as politically and economically disparate (some might say wayward) as Greece.
As leaked transcripts over the weekend show, the IMF appears to be asking Germany to grant much-needed Greek debt relief or to accept that the Fund will pull out of the latest bailout program — both politically ruinous options for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The IMF seems to be hoping that Greece will be forced, through debt repayments scheduled in coming months, to agree fresh austerity that Athens itself finds unacceptable. None of this high-stakes squabbling is really new. The IMF’s board was told as long ago as July 2015 that Greece’s unsustainably high debt and shortcomings in realizing reforms preclude a further IMF bailout unless Berlin and other European creditors agreed on debt relief.

"Were we to be directed from Washington [Brussels] when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread."

Thomas Jefferson

Brexit Quote of the week.
Cameron: The gods too are fond of a joke.

With apologies to Aristotle

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?
Today, the other side of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, Daimler and Volkswagen, among others. Since they’re only exploited black African children, no one seems to care in China and the west how their vanity technology product is made using cobalt. More 19th century Dickens, than 21st century Obama, Cameron, Merkel, and Xi.

Exposed: Child labour behind smart phone and electric car batteries

19 January 2016, 13:57 UTC
Major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products, said Amnesty International and Afrewatch in a report published today.

The report, This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt, traces the sale of cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries, from mines where children as young as seven and adults work in perilous conditions.
“The glamourous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage,” said Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.
“Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products.”
The report documents how traders buy cobalt from areas where child labour is rife and sell it to Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd (Huayou Cobalt).
Amnesty International’s investigation uses investor documents to show how Huayou Cobalt and its subsidiary CDM process the cobalt before selling it to three battery component manufacturers in China and South Korea. In turn, they sell to battery makers who claim to supply technology and car companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, Daimler and Volkswagen.
Amnesty International contacted 16 multinationals who were listed as customers of the battery manufacturers listed as sourcing processed ore from Huayou Cobalt. One company admitted the connection, while four were unable to say for certain whether they were buying cobalt from the DRC or Huayou Cobalt. Six said they were investigating the claims. Five denied sourcing cobalt from via Huayou Cobalt, though they are listed as customers in the company documents of battery manufacturers. Two multinationals denied sourcing cobalt from DRC.
Crucially, none provided enough details to independently verify where the cobalt in their products came from.

Democratic Republic of Congo: "This is what we die for": Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt

By Amnesty International, 19 January 2016, Index number: AFR 62/3183/2016
This report documents the hazardous conditions in which artisanal miners, including thousands of children, mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It goes on to trace how this cobalt is used to power mobile phones, laptop computers, and other portable electronic devices. Using basic hand tools, miners dig out rocks from tunnels deep underground, and accidents are common. Despite the potentially fatal health effects of prolonged exposure to cobalt, adult and child miners work without even the most basic protective equipment. This report is the first comprehensive account of how cobalt enters the supply chain of many of the world’s leading brands. Company responses sought in the production of this report can be found in document AFR 62/3412/2016 available on this website.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished March

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

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