Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Sinking Global Economy.

Baltic Dry Index. 682 -21       Brent Crude 44.90

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

Brexit odds checker.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
Dodgy Dave on Brexit is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in.

With apologies to Harry Truman and Richard Nixon. Go on Harry, tell us how you really feel.

Did the Great Recession ever really end? By the official numbers it did. Yet it never seemed to end in the real economy, where most people make a living, far from the financialised world of the central banksters, and Wall Street’s Great Vampire Squids. Today, more of life on our version of the RMS Titanic “car crash,” to mangle metaphors. The band is still playing in the lounge, drinks are still being served, there is an air of unreality about any crisis. And yet, nothing seems right all the same.

In central banking as in diplomacy, style, conservative tailoring, and an easy association with the affluent count greatly and results far much less.

John Kenneth Galbraith.

Asian stocks down on oil woes, slow growth

Published: May 4, 2016 12:03 a.m. ET

Australian energy stocks hit hard

Most shares in Asia were back in the red Wednesday with Australia slipping below breaking even for the year amid a renewed fall in oil prices and a nearly 10% plunge in shares of Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton Ltd.

The S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -1.05%   was down 1.2%, giving back some of its gains from yesterday when Australia’s central bank cut interest rates. The benchmark, heavy on energy shares, is now close to flat for the year, after breaking into positive territory for the first time this year yesterday.

Heavy decliners Wednesday included BHP Billiton BHP, -7.96%  , which tumbled 9.6% in Sydney. That followed Brazilian federal prosecutors filing a civil lawsuit Tuesday that demands mining companies — BHP Billiton, Brazil’s Vale SA, and their joint-venture Samarco Mineração — shell out up to $43.55 billion for cleanup and remediation related to a catastrophic dam failure last year.

Losses elsewhere in Asia included a 1.3% decline in the Hang Seng Index HSI, -1.00%  , also weighed down by the energy sector. South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -0.62%   was down 0.6%. The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.22%   slipped 0.4%.

“The street is back again to focusing on low global growth and looking at the crude price as a barometer here,” said Gavin Parry, managing director at Parry International Trading Ltd.

The weakness reflects how shaky the region’s rally has been since mid-February, as global growth fears simmer in the background. Meanwhile, Japan’s stock market, which tumbled for two sessions before closing for a three-day holiday, reopens Friday. That market has been especially volatile, as investors try to gauge the Bank of Japan, which last Thursday left monetary policy unchanged.

Business and household loan quality deteriorating in oil patch, Fed survey finds

Published: May 2, 2016 2:29 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Economic woes from weak commodity prices are spreading in the oil patch from energy firms to other businesses and consumers, according to a Federal Reserve survey of senior bank loan officers released on Monday.

Bank officers reported that credit quality deteriorated in the first quarter on loans to businesses and consumers in energy dependent areas of the country, the Fed said.

In particular, credit quality on auto loans had suffered, with 23% of banks reporting a deterioration, according to the survey of 70 domestic and 22 branches of foreign banks operating in the U.S.
Low energy prices have led to declining activity in regions of the country where oil and natural gas extraction is a key driver of economic activity.

According to the survey 58% of the banks reported that loan quality is going to continue to deteriorate assuming energy prices evolve as expected.

About 15% of banks reported that credit quality had worsened on consumer credit card loans and 14% on loans outside of credit card and autos. Commercial real estate loans were a concern for 16% of the banks.
Banks do not seem overly reliant on loans to the energy sector.

According to the survey, only 11% of banks reported that loans to firms in the oil and natural gas drilling sector accounted for between 10%-20% of their total loans. Only 1% of banks have more than 20% of their loans to the sector.

Banks reported that they were actively taking steps to shore up existing loans to the sector.

Almost half of the banks surveyed said they were tightening lending policies on firms in the energy sector.
More than 75% of the banks said they were restructuring loans to make them more robust given the outlook for energy prices, while more than 80% were requiring additional collateral.

U.S. oil industry bankruptcy wave nears size of telecom bust

Wed May 4, 2016 12:07am EDT
The rout in crude prices is snowballing into one of the biggest avalanches in the history of corporate America, with 59 oil and gas companies now bankrupt after this week's filings for creditor protection by Midstates Petroleum MPOY.PK and Ultra Petroleum UPL.NL.

The number of U.S. energy bankruptcies is closing in on the staggering 68 filings seen during the depths of the telecom bust of 2002 and 2003, according to Reuters data, the law firm Haynes & Boone and

Charles Gibbs, a restructuring partner at Akin Gump in Texas, said the U.S. oil industry is not even halfway through its wave of bankruptcies.

"I think we'll see more filings in the second quarter than in the first quarter," he said. Fifteen oil and gas companies filed for bankruptcy in the first quarter.

Some oil producers appear to be holding on, hoping the price of crude stabilizes at a higher level. In February, oil slumped as low as $27 a barrel from peaks above $100 a barrel nearly two years ago. U.S. crude has recovered somewhat, and on Tuesday was trading a little below $44 a barrel. [O/R]

Until recently, banks had been willing to offer leeway to borrowers in the shale sector, but lately some lenders have tightened their purse strings.

A widely predicted wave of mergers in the shale space has yet to materialize as oil price volatility makes valuations difficult, and buyers balk at taking on debt loads until target companies exit bankruptcy.

The telecom and energy boom-and-bust cycles have notable parallels. Pioneering technology brought an influx of investment to each industry, a plethora of new, small companies issued high levels of debt, and a subsequent supply glut sapped pricing just as demand fell sharply.

Neither this crash nor the telecom crack-up in the early 2000s rival the housing and financial bust in 2007-2009 in terms of magnitude and economic impact. But losses for energy investors in the stock and bond markets in the last two years are significant. It remains unclear how long it will take to get through the worst of the declines, and who will be left standing when it is over.

A 60 percent slide in oil prices since mid-2014 erased as much as $1.02 trillion from the valuations of U.S. energy companies, according to the Dow Jones U.S. Oil and Gas Index .DJUSEN, which tracks about 80 stocks. This has already surpassed the $882.5 billion peak-to-trough loss in market capitalization from the Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Sector Index in the early 2000s.
We end with an unfolding story from Canada. So far no oil production has been affected but we will keep a close watch on developments ahead. Meanwhile up to 60,000 people are being asked to evacuate to the north. Which makes me wonder about the availability of fuel if they do.

Wildfire in Alberta's energy heartland forces thousands to flee

Tue May 3, 2016 11:04pm EDT
Alberta is racing to evacuate thousands of people as an uncontrolled wildfire burns near Fort McMurray, in the heart of Canada's oil sands region, forcing residents to flee north to safety on Tuesday.

Alberta appealed for help from other provinces and Ottawa to help fight the fire and airlift people from the city. Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order for all of Fort McMurray, which affects the city's 80,000 residents.

The 2,650-hectare (6,540-acre) fire, which was discovered on May 1, shifted aggressively with the wind on Tuesday afternoon to breach city limits. The blaze closed off the main southern exit from the city, prompting residents to head north towards the oil sands camps.

"This is the biggest evacuation we have seen in the history of the province," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said at a news conference, adding that there were no casualties in the fire.

"We need to find more camps, we have secured spaces for about 6,000 people, we know we need to find more and that work is underway," Notley said.

Alberta is much drier than normal for this time of year, strengthening prospects for a long and expensive wildfire season, in the wake of a mild winter with lower-than-average snowfall and a warm spring.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO), whose oil sands operations are closest to the city, said its main plant, 25 km (16 miles) north of Fort McMurray, was safe, but it was reducing crude production in the region to allow employees and families to get to safety.

Suncor said evacuees were welcome at its Firebag oil sands facility, while Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) said it was working to ensure any affected CNRL workers and their families could use its camps.

Shell Canada (RDSa.L) also said it would open its oil sands camp to evacuees and was looking to use its airstrip to fly out non-essential staff and accommodate displaced residents.

A number of flights from Fort McMurray airport were canceled and the airport advised passengers to check with their airlines for updates.

The blaze started southwest of Fort McMurray and spread rapidly to the outskirts of the city. Radio stations were forced off the air as staff left the downtown core.

"There's lots of smoke, it's quite bad and hanging over the city," one resident, Nick Sanders, told Reuters as he packed up to leave downtown. "Where there are trees in the distance you can see the fire."

Television footage and photographs on Twitter earlier showed flames and smoke billowing over the city and traffic heading north on the highway to safety, while CTV News reported a trailer park had been destroyed.

The Sinking of the Titanic.

At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday final figures were: Registered 27.98 Moz, Eligible 124.09 Moz, Total 152.07 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Below, the first in, first out, life of the one percenters.

The Super Rich Were the First to Bail During the Financial Crisis

May 3, 2016 — 5:00 AM BST
When the going gets rough, the 1 percent start selling.
That’s the finding of a new paper that says people with the highest income bailed from stocks disproportionately on the worst days of the financial crisis. The share of selling by the biggest earners rose “sharply” in days following spikes in volatility, according to data on millions of sales reported to the government in 2008 and 2009.
Mapping selling patterns in periods of tumult is of interest to researchers trying to get at the psychological underpinnings of events such as the financial crisis, when more than $10 trillion was erased from U.S. share values. Their main conclusion, that different people react with varying urgency to signs of trouble, could help identify behavioral biases that feed market meltdowns.
“Very, very high income people are disproportionately likely to sell a bunch of stock during a financial crisis,” said Daniel Reck, a doctoral candidate in the economics department at the University of Michigan and one of the paper’s authors, said by phone. “It’s difficult to say exactly how much high-income people are responsible relative to everyone else, but they’re certainly contributing more to volatility.”

One explanation for the divergence is that rich people have more at stake per person and are more sensitive to shocks, though it’s only speculation, Reck said. Another is they believe they’re better market timers. A third possibility is that investors who earn less are reluctant to sell at a loss, a cognitive tendency known as the disposition effect.

For the study, researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Michigan examined about 273 million Internal Revenue Service 1099-B forms that record sales in stocks and mutual funds, comparing them with levels of gross income and plotting them against fluctuation in the CBOE Volatility Index. To control for the fact that rich people own more stock, the study focused on changes in the typical selling levels among income groups versus the years before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

“We find that, starting in September 2008, the share of sales volume attributed to the top 0.1 percent of income recipients and other top income groups rises sharply until the beginning of 2009, and in 2008 and 2009 the sales of these groups are relatively more associated with stock market tumult as measured by the VIX,” they wrote.

Specifically, according to the paper, a roughly 10 percent increase in volatility correlated with a 3.3 percent increase in sales volume for the top 0.1 percent of earners, relative to less-affluent investors. When the VIX went up 25 percent, proportionate selling by the ultra-rich rose almost 8 percent.
Brexit Quote of the week.

Dodgy Dave Cameron: leader of the nattering nabobs of Brexit negativism.

With apologies to Spiro Agnew

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?

China Creates World's First Graphene Electronic Paper: What This Means For The Future

By Deepthi B, Tech Times | May 1, 8:42 AM
In a groundbreaking achievement, China has developed the world's first graphene electronic paper that can possibly revolutionize the screen displays on electronic gadgets such as wearable devices and e-readers.
The material, touted as the world's first graphene electronic paper, is also the world's lightest and strongest material in prevalence today.

It has been developed by Guangzhou OED Technologies in partnership with another company in the Chongqing Province.

The hype is real! At just 0.335 nanometers thick, the new material can be used to create hard or flexible graphene displays. Graphene e-paper comes with the capability to conduct both heat and electricity, and it can supposedly enhance optical displays to a brighter level, owing to its high-light transmittance properties.

Graphene-based e-papers can be easily produced cost-effectively given that it is derived from carbon. Traditional e-papers, on the other hand, use indium metal for their display, which is very expensive and rare to source.

Discovered in 2004, graphene can be described as an extremely thin layer of pure carbon - a single, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice. 

Although the material is extremely light and thin, it is apparently 150 times stronger than the equivalent weight of steel. Further, similar to the rubber material, graphene is extremely stretchable and holds the capacity to stretch up to 120 percent of its own length.

Tech Times earlier reported on graphene's usage in electronic displays, in terms of high-end unbreakable smartphone touchscreens being produced using this flexible and strong material.
Touchscreens that use graphene as conductors, if incorporated with plastic instead of glass, can make smartphones so thin they could be folded and then slipped into a pocket. With the material's super strength, touchscreens can be shatter-proofed too.
The wait is still long, however, as the newly developed graphene e-paper will be put into production in a span of one year.

 "In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension."

John Kenneth Galbraith.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished April

DJIA: 17773.64-19 Down. NASDAQ:  4775.36 +11 Down. SP500: 2065.30 -21 Down. 

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