Friday, 8 April 2016

The Wobble Returns.

Baltic Dry Index. 517 +17        Brent Crude 40.09

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

Brexit odds checker.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity [to leave] comes.

With apologies to Benjamin Disraeli.

Stock markets reeled yesterday, as more sign of global trouble surfaced. And from Australia to Europe, politicians started throwing the book at wayward banksters in cahoots with Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. UK banksters have been given until April 15th to tell the UK regulator of any ties to the hapless Panamanians.
We open, with the Dow Transports signalling Donald Trump’s recession ahead. Not that any central bank or bankster has ever issued a recession warning ahead of any recession. Nor mainstream media for that matter.
Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

John Kenneth Galbraith

The divergence that’s worrying the stock market’s bulls

Published: Apr 7, 2016 4:46 p.m. ET

The Dow Transports index is a leading indicator—and it’s falling while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is rising

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (MarketWatch) — The bullish case has lost what until just recently was one of its strongest supports.

I’m referring to remarkable weakness in the Dow Jones Transportation Average DJT, -1.30% This lesser-known Dow average is a leading market indicator, and until earlier this year it had been much stronger than the more widely-followed Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.98%

Sure enough, the broad market rose smartly. Since my column six weeks ago noting the Dow Transports’ relative strength, the Dow industrials have tacked on more than 1,000 points.

Beginning in mid-March, however, the Transports have been the weaker of the two Dow averages. As you can see from this chart, the Dow industrials since then have gained around 1%, in contrast to a 4% loss for the Dow Transports.

It makes theoretical sense that the transportation sector would be a leading indicator, of course. If the economy is about to grow more slowly, or turn down, we’d expect freight companies to be among the first to exhibit weakness as advance orders begin to dry up.

This theory also has strong empirical support as well. One of the more rigorous studies was one conducted several years ago by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in the U.S. Department of Transportation. It was based on the “Freight Transportation Services Index,” which the Bureau created to measure the movement of freight in the U.S. The study’s authors found that this index over the past three decades “led slowdowns in the economy by an average of four to five months.”

Asian shares drop as banks come under pressure, yen soars

Thu Apr 7, 2016 11:10pm EDT
Asian shares extended losses to three-week lows on Friday, while the yen soared to a 17-month high against the dollar as investors bet Japan would be hard pressed to drive down its currency in the face of widespread foreign opposition.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 percent, heading for a weekly drop of 1.8 percent.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 pared earlier losses to near-two-month lows to trade 0.6 percent lower, with financials under pressure. It's on track for a decline of 3.1 percent for the week.

China's Shanghai Composite index .SSEC slid 0.9 percent, poised for a similar drop for the week. The CSI 300 .CSI300 was down 0.8 percent, set for a 1.2 percent weekly decline. Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI slipped 0.7 percent, headed for 1.9 percent loss for the week.

Bank shares led losses in Europe and the U.S. markets on Thursday, amid talk of more layoffs and cutbacks planned by Europe's major lenders as they struggle with zero rates.

The U.S. S&P 500 Index .SPX lost 1.2 percent, with financial shares .SPSY falling 1.9 percent. In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.8 percent, hurt by a drop of more than 2 percent in financials.

"When bank shares are making big falls and their CDS spreads are rising like this, obviously you would think something is afoot. If they keep falling in today's session, that is going to be really worrying," said Daisuke Uno, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Bank.

U.S. stock futures ESc1 slipped about 0.1 percent further in Asian trade after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in a conversation with former Fed chairmen, said the U.S. economy is on a solid course and still on track to warrant further interest rate hikes.

Despite a chorus of comments from Fed policymakers about more rate hikes, many investors think the global economy is too weak to allow the Fed to raise rates all that fast.
In London real estate, the super-rich buyers have suddenly gone from the market. A sign of deepening fallout from the oil price crash and industrial commodity depression?

London Luxury-Apartment Slump Triggers 20% Bulk Discounts

April 7, 2016 — 5:00 AM BST Updated on April 7, 2016 — 9:30 AM BST
Developers in central London are offering institutional investors discounts of as much as 20 percent on bulk purchases of luxury apartments as demand from international buyers slumps amid higher taxes and low commodity prices.

Concessions of about that magnitude are being offered to investors willing to take 100 homes or more, according to Killian Hurley, chief executive officer of London developer Mount Anvil Group Ltd. Broker CBRE Group Inc. is negotiating discounts of as much as 15 percent for bulk purchases on the fringes of the capital’s best districts, said Chris Lacey, the company’s head of U.K. residential investment.

A record number of high-end homes are planned in London districts such as Nine Elms and Earls Court even as demand wanes. Sales of properties under construction in the U.K. capital slumped 19 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to researcher Molior London Ltd, while the percentage of overseas buyers fell to 20 percent from about 33 percent a year earlier, broker Hamptons International data show.

 “We will see distress in prime central London and in Nine Elms, where there has been a lot of international investment,” Andrew Stanford, U.K. residential fund manager at LaSalle Investment Management, said in an interview. “There have been a number of house builders who have approached us directly with schemes as a direct result of off-plan sales falling, particularly in central London.”
In Scotland, a tiny oil minnow bites the banks. Something tells me that this commodity debt collapse is just getting underway.

BNP Among Banks Facing $172 Million Loss as Oil Tycoon Fails

April 7, 2016 — 2:26 PM BST Updated on April 7, 2016 — 6:09 PM BST
BNP Paribas SA and its partners in a Scottish energy loan are staring at a loss of 122 million pounds ($172 million) after entrepreneur Ian Suttie’s venture went bankrupt, illustrating the wreckage banks are likely to face from the oil bust.

First Oil Plc, an Aberdeen-based operator in the North Sea, entered U.K. bankruptcy protection in February. While the lenders are jointly owed about 149 million pounds, they may only receive about 27 million pounds in proceeds from asset sales, according to Bloomberg calculations based on bankruptcy filings. The banks, which include Barclays Plc and ING Groep NV, agreed to accept the writedown on April 4, a filing shows. Bank of Nova Scotia has “exited its position” in the debt, spokeswoman Diane Flanagan said.

The episode shows how quickly millions of dollars in bank debt can evaporate when energy prices collapse. The lenders more than doubled their loans to First Oil to 150 million pounds in the year through April 2014, just weeks before the price of oil started sliding, according to the accounts. The company spent 83 million pounds acquiring other firms during the period, and repaid a loan of 11 million pounds to Suttie.

“The underlying reason for First Oil’s demise was the collapse in the oil price,” Jim Tucker, a partner at KPMG LLP who’s helping oversee the bankruptcy, said in a phone interview. “I’d expect further discussions between companies and their lenders as they find a solution to their current financing issues.”

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for May delivery fell 2.3 percent to below $37 per barrel at 12:18 p.m in New York. The commodity has tumbled about 60 percent since mid-2014 amid a glut of supply.

European lenders have a gross exposure of 270 billion euros to the sector, and companies with junk credit ratings face increasing risks of default if prices fail to rebound, Moody’s Investors Service wrote in an April 4 report. BNP, France’s biggest bank, has the biggest single exposure to energy of any lender in Europe, according to the Moody’s analysts, led by Alessandro Roccati.
We end for the day with the mother lode of scandal, the Panama Papers. From Dodgy Dave to dodgy European bankers, there’s a whole lot of explaining to come.  But was the Panama hack done by Uncle Scam’s NSA? The absence of an American aspect to this scandal looks to me highly suspicious. There again, in an election year in America, it might be better not to ruffle the fat cat donors feathers until after the election.

European Bankers Step Down as Panama Papers Pile on Pressure

April 7, 2016 — 9:57 AM BST Updated on April 7, 2016 — 5:22 PM BST
European regulators pressed the region’s banks for details of their offshore business dealings, as two senior bankers resigned over allegations arising from the Panama document leak.

Britain’s financial watchdog sent out letters asking banks and other financial companies to disclose any ties to Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, said a person with knowledge of the situation. Swiss regulator Finma said it would also investigate “suspicious” connections unearthed by the Panama Papers.

“The leaked database from Panama is just the latest proof of how money flows like water through multiple jurisdictions, sometimes for legitimate purposes, sometimes not,” Finma director Mark Branson told reporters in Bern on Thursday.

Media reports this week based on millions of documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca revealed how its lawyers, including a Geneva team, worked with Credit Suisse Group AG, UBS Group AG and other banks to create offshore shell companies for world leaders, athletes and other rich clients.

On Thursday, ABN Amro Group NV announced the resignation of supervisory board member Bert Meerstadt after his name appeared in the leaked records. He said in a statement that he had already planned to leave but was now resigning immediately "to prevent any detrimental effects to the bank." Meerstadt was a shareholder of a British Virgin Island-based entity in March 2001, Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported Thursday.

ABN Amro Chief Executive Officer Gerrit Zalm said he had never heard of Mossack Fonseca before the leak and that he doesn’t know the facts of the case but considers it a private matter.

In Austria, the chief executive officer of Vorarlberger Landes- und Hypothekenbank AG, resigned after the province-owned bank was mentioned in reports about offshore companies. Michael Grahammer cited “biased” local media reports about offshore accounts linked to Gennady Timchenko, a Russian billionaire targeted by U.S. sanctions since 2014.

“I’m still 100 percent convinced that the bank has at no time violated laws or sanctions,” Grahammer said. “At the end of the day, the media bias against Hypo Vorarlberg and myself that showed in the last few days was the main reason for me to take this step.”

In its letters, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority gave firms an April 15 deadline to disclose any connections to Mossack Fonseca, according to a person who didn’t wish to be identified because the letters weren’t public.

In Sweden, the government will consider tightening laws against money laundering and tax evasion. Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund said. He said authorities are investigating allegations that Nordea Bank AB, the biggest bank in Scandinavia, helped clients evade tax through shell companies in low-tax countries.

The CEO of Raiffeisen Bank International AG said he would welcome tougher rules.

The Austrian lender’s business with offshore firms and companies linked to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko surfaced in reports on the Panama Papers.
Again, it may be said that we need not be alarmed at the magnitude of our credit system or at its refinement, for that we have learned by experience the way of controlling it, and always manage it with discretion. But we do not always manage it with discretion. There is the astounding instance of Overend, Gurney, and Co. to the contrary. Ten years ago that house stood next to the Bank of England in the City of London; it was better known abroad than any similar firm—known, perhaps, better than any purely English firm. The partners had great estates, which had mostly been made in the business. They still derived an immense income from it. Yet in six years they lost all their own wealth, sold the business to the company, and then lost a large part of the company's capital. And these losses were made in a manner so reckless and so foolish, that one would think a child who had lent money in the City of London would have lent it better.  After this example, we must not confide too surely in long-established credit, or in firmly-rooted traditions of business. We must examine the system on which these great masses of money are manipulated, and assure ourselves that it is safe and right.
Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street. 1873.
At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 32.45 Moz, Eligible 122.85 Moz, Total 155.30 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today the case for Brexit. Following the maxim never keep a dog and bark yourself, today’s barking comes from a certain Mr. Smith, of the ever prescient Adam Smith think tank.
Roland Smith
The Liberal Case for 'Leave'
The EU referendum campaign is presenting us two competing choices. On the one hand a vision of Britain as part of a steadily-integrating EU (at whatever speed) or a vision of Britain completely outside it.
For the Remain side, we are required to anticipate what may happen over the next generation which, if the last 40 years are anything to go by, will mean a gradual growth of EU power into more and more areas of competence - the ratchet towards “a country called Europe”.
The vision of Britain outside generally uses a number of arguments employed over a long period: of the need to regain our sovereignty and become a self-governing democracy again; to have the flexibility to deregulate; to spend the UK’s EU contributions on something better inside the UK; to drive forward better trade deals with countries beyond the EU; and to constrain immigration.
However let’s take this from a different angle and set out a third vision - a Leave proposition that rejects some of the arguments outlined above. In short, a liberal case for Leave.
In mapping out where this country should go to, one should first consider where it came from and why. We are, after all, a member of the EU so one might ask the question: If it was so awful, why did we join in the first place and why is there still a significant lobby supporting it? Those questions are pertinent not least because it’s sometimes said that if the UK government was proposing to join the EU today, the British would reject it by a large margin.
Let’s bypass the line that says the UK electorate were sold the then EEC on a false premise. Instead let’s look at the circumstances in Britain around the time we joined the EEC and then agreed to stay as a result of the 1975 referendum.
Back then Britain was a country beset by nagging economic problems that were coming to a head: The constant stop/go policies of the post-war period that seemed to only inch us forward while the likes of Germany and Japan seemed to leap ahead; strikes; power cuts; rations even; union power; consensus politics; corporatism; and the 3-day week. Opinion favouring free markets was out on the political fringes.
On a longer view, Britain was a country in decline. Since World War II and particularly since the Suez crisis of 1956, Britain’s empire and its confidence had declined as it grappled with a new post-imperial future. The USA and the Soviet Union were the two blocs that now mattered in the world, each having their own large economic trading zone (the USA itself and Comecon).
Indeed, large and protected blocs seemed to be the future and the EEC was apparently forging a third bloc and third way between these two giants, albeit aligned to the USA.
----Looking back, the EU was (and is) an old ideology in a hurry.
The event that was somewhat more attuned to freer globalised trading was the fanfare around the launch of the single market in 1992, except for the fact that it was and is tied to the EU’s political integrationist ambitions. But now, even the European single market is being rapidly eclipsed by the march of globalisation.

A large and growing body of single market law is now made at global level and handed down to the EU which in turn hands it down to the member states.

The automotive industry’s standards are defined by the World Forum for the Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (known as WP.29) under ‘UNECE’ - a United Nations body. Food standards are defined by the ‘Codex Alimentarius’ established by the UN and the World Health Organisation. Modern labour regulations are defined by the ILO – the International Labour Organisation. Maritime regulations are defined by the International Maritime Organisation. Many energy-related regulations can be traced back to the global Kyoto accord on climate change and other international agreements.

And so it goes on.

Through the 2000s, some service industries including financial services lagged behind in this globalisation process just as they do at EU/single market level. But in the aftermath of the “global financial crisis” the shift to a globalised market with globalised regulation accelerated, with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the OECD and the G20 (Financial Stability Board) taking key roles.
In February 2015, a House of Lords report on the “post-crisis EU financial regulatory framework” noted that:
“… it is likely that the UK would have implemented the vast bulk of the financial sector regulatory framework had it acted unilaterally, not least because it was closely engaged in the development of the international standards from which much EU legislation derives.”

At the global level, regulations are made on a consensus basis and sometimes involve other non-state actors and NGOs. It is not done by crude majority voting. The final agreements then percolate into national (non-EU) law and also into EU Directives and regulations.

The EU is therefore increasingly becoming a pointless middleman as a vast new global single market takes over. Indeed when faced with newspaper headlines about the latest daft EU regulation, one now has to check where they ultimately came from and whether other countries around the world are doing something similar. That will give the clue to a regulation’s global origins. Almost all ‘silly regulation’ stories about food standards usually originate from bodies above the EU.

With such a backdrop, one or two things have become very clear.

The mercantile community will have been unusually fortunate if during the period of rising prices it has not made great mistakes. Such a period naturally excites the sanguine and the ardent; they fancy that the prosperity they see will last always, that it is only the beginning of a greater prosperity. They altogether over-estimate the demand for the article they deal in, or the work they do. They all in their degree—and the ablest and the cleverest the most—work much more than they should, and trade far above their means.

Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street. 1873.

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?

Future devices to transmit data 10 times faster: Graphene ensures data fidelity for future wireless devices

Date: April 6, 2016

Source: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Summary: Graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation. A microchip that filters out unwanted radiation with the help of graphene has been developed and tested. The invention could be used in future devices to transmit wireless data ten times faster.
EPFL and UNIGE scientists have developed a microchip using graphene that could help wireless telecommunications share data at a rate that is ten times faster than currently possible. The results are published today in Nature Communications.
"Our graphene based microchip is an essential building block for faster wireless telecommunications in frequency bands that current mobile devices cannot access," says EPFL scientist Michele Tamagnone.
Graphene acts like polarized sunglasses
Their microchip works by protecting sources of wireless data -- which are essentially sources of invisible radiation -- from unwanted radiation, ensuring that the data remain intact by reducing source corruption.
They discovered that graphene can filter out radiation in much the same way as polarized glasses. The vibration of radiation has an orientation. Like polarized glasses, their graphene-based microchip makes sure that radiation that only vibrates a certain way gets through. In this way, graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation, depending on the orientation of vibration and signal direction. The EPFL scientists and their colleagues from Geneva used this property to create a device known as an optical isolator.
Faster Uploads in the Terahertz Bandwidth
Moreover, their microchip works in a frequency band that is currently empty, called the Terahertz gap.
Wireless devices work today by transmitting data in the Gigahertz range or at optical frequencies. This is imposed by technological constraints, leaving the potential of the Terahertz band currently unexploited for data transmission.
But if wireless devices could use this Terahertz bandwidth, your future mobile phone could potentially send or receive data tens of times faster than now, meaning better sound quality, better image quality and faster uploads.
The graphene-based microchip brings this Terahertz technology a step closer to reality. This discovery addresses an important challenge that was so far unsolved due to lacking technologies, confirming once more the extraordinary physical properties of graphene.
This joint project between EPFL and the University of Geneva was funded by the European Graphene Flagship project and by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Another weekend, with Bluebell season just passing its peak in the woods overlooking the River Pang Valley, tributary of the Thames, entering at picturesque village of Pangbourne. While the Bluebells start to fade, the Blackthorn blossom, brilliant white, is just reaching its rural lane peak. It is now well worth taking an often quite stunning country drive. Later from September on, the Blackthorn produces tiny little bitter bluish plums, used in the making of sloe gin. Unfortunately I like my gin fast and neat, so the sloes are of very little interest to me. Have a great weekend everyone.

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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