Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Lull Before ….

Baltic Dry Index. 1231 +08       Brent Crude 55.86

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

A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank.

Ron Paul

In our new very dangerous, high stakes, pre-world war three, political world,  denial.  Let’s whistle our way past the graveyard! Nothing bad is about to happen. President’s Putin and Xi are about to roll over in front of President Trump. Pax Americana 1945 -2000 is about to stage a sequel, our complacent stock markets think. With 59 cruise missiles in Syria, President Trump has conquered the world. At least that’s the false news in western media and believed by our all too complacent markets for now.

Too this old dinosaur commodities trader since 1968, Pax Americana 1945-2000 is highly unlikely to ever come back; global circumstances have changed, and the world has moved on, and not for the better. All fiat currencies are on borrowed time, drinking in the last chance saloon, leaving the bill to be paid by the generations to come. Modern western politicians are mere caricatures of the likes of Churchill, Truman, Ike and JFK.  Under Presidents Clinton, Bush the lesser, and Obama, America squandered fiat money, personal freedoms, global leadership, and trust. It set out to remake the world as California and New York State, and failed.

Now an erratic US President occupies America’s White House. One seemingly driven by media headlines, the popular fad of the moment, America First, and a nepotist kitchen cabinet. Modern American leadership is a mile wide but only an inch deep. President Trump seems to want to make most of the world his enemy.

But in Europe, a wealth and jobs destroying, dying EUSSR, is already falling apart. There is absolutely no sign of the rump-EU embarking on meaningful reform. The bureaucratic, sclerotic, entrenched old politics, corrupt EUSSR is trashing its young generation’s aspirations and employment. Still looking to the past for solutions to problems long ago left behind.  The EUSSR will not replace Pax Americana, nor even come close. Nor will there arise a second British” Empire” based around the 52 nation Commonwealth.  The EU couldn’t make much progress as a talking shop of a mere 28. Nothing meaningful comes out of a talking shop of 52. Just look at the UN based in New York.

And so this morning, our world stumbles on towards World War Three. Just don’t mention our new reality to our stock and commodity markets for now. It doesn’t have to happen of course. But as in the disastrous year of 1914, all of the players in 2017 seem to have lead ears.

Below, crisis, what crisis?

Commodity gains boost Asian markets, offsetting geopolitical worries

Published: Apr 10, 2017 11:15 p.m. ET
Rising crude oil prices drove gains in key commodities-focused equity markets in Asia, helping to offset the impact of geopolitical tensions.

Brent-oil futures moved above $56 a barrel for the first time in a month, with prices in Asia adding to overnight gains. Oil prices are on their longest winning streak since August, as production outages in Libya and Canada add to rising concerns after last week’s U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.31%   reversed early losses to rise 0.5% in late morning trade. Banks were also higher. Among major oil companies, Woodside Petroleum WPL, +1.87%   added 1.6%, Oil Search OSH, +0.53%   rose 1.3% and Santos STO, +0.26%   gained 0.4%.

Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.46%   was up 0.2%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.86%   reversed early gains to decline 0.6%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index STI, -0.42%   and the Jakarta’s JSX Index JAKIDX, -0.16%   also reversed early gains and were slightly lower.

Investor concerns about the risk of a North Korea-related military escalation were reflected in higher oil prices and buying of haven assets, said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. “We might get into a situation when financial flows and growth might be affected,” he said.

The oil-stock gains in Australia helped to offset a decline for index heavyweight BHP Billiton BHP, -1.28%  , which fell as much as 2.4% early Tuesday.

The mining company rejected activist investor Elliott Management Corp.’s proposal for BHP to list its U.S. petroleum assets and significantly restructure operations.

Iron-ore prices continued to fall overnight, dropping 1% to $74.71 per metric ton, far below the $94.86 high hit in February, as market participants worried about tighter Chinese monetary policy, steel consumption and mine expansions in Brazil.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average NIK, -0.59%   was down 0.5% following a 0.1% rise in the yen against the dollar. A stronger yen weighs on Japanese exports.

Against the yen, the euro fell to a five-month low of ¥117.26 and was at its lowest level since Nov. 18, with the dollar also coming under pressure. The dollar fetched ¥110.80 in morning trade after breaching ¥111.40 in U.S. trade on haven buying.

“There were some jitters in the New York afternoon as talk circulated about Chinese troop movements at the North Korean border — very much unconfirmed,” said Sean Callow, a senior forex strategist at Westpac.

Mon Apr 10, 2017 | 4:53pm EDT

Trump administration open to additional strikes on Syria: White House

U.S. President Donald Trump is open to authorizing additional strikes on Syria if its government uses chemical weapons again or deploys barrel bombs in the country, the White House said on Monday.
"The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures that if we see this kind of action again, we hold open the possibility of future action," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.
"If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people ... you will see a response from this president."

Barrel bombs are oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel.

Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on Syria's Shayrat air base last week in response to what his administration and U.S. allies say was a poison gas attack by Syria's military in which scores of civilians, including many children, died.

Spicer said later his mention of barrel bombs as a potential trigger for further action by the United States did not reflect a change in position.

"Nothing has changed in our posture," he said by email.

"The president retains the option to act in Syria against the Assad regime whenever it is in the national interest, as was determined following that government's use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. And as the president has repeatedly made clear, he will not be telegraphing his military responses."

Mon Apr 10, 2017 | 11:17pm EDT

South Korea warns of North Korea 'provocations', U.S. navy group approaches

South Korea's acting president warned on Tuesday of "greater provocations" by North Korea as tension on the Korean peninsula rises over concern the North may conduct a test of its military hardware in coming days.

A U.S. Navy strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is en route to the western Pacific with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria.

South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn ordered the military to intensify monitoring of the North's activities and to ensure close communication with the ally the United States.

"It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People's Assembly," said Hwang, acting leader since former President Park Geun-hye was removed over a graft scandal.

The North convenes a Supreme People's Assembly session on Tuesday, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country's founding father and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong Un.

A military parade is expected in the North's capital, Pyongyang, to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities.

The North's foreign ministry, in a statement carried by its KCNA news agency earlier on Tuesday, said the U.S. navy strike group's move near the Korean peninsula showed America's "reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase".

"We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves," an unidentified ministry spokesman said.

Russia Opens New Front in Rivalry With U.S. With Taliban Support

by Eltaf Najafizada and Henry Meyer
10 April 2017, 22:00 BST
Russia and the U.S. are increasingly sparring over Afghanistan, adding to rapidly souring ties between the Kremlin and President Donald Trump’s administration.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has voiced alarm at Russia’s actions in Afghanistan, where it’s been cultivating links with the Taliban amid a campaign waged by the terrorist group against Afghan and NATO forces.

His comments come as local Afghan officials and a former Taliban commander say there is evidence Russia is supplying arms to the insurgents. U.S. officials won’t go that far in public, but U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel has told a congressional panel that Russia was probably providing the group with weapons.

Moscow’s support for the Taliban risks adding another front to tensions with Washington after Trump last week ordered a missile strike on an airbase in Syria. The frictions are set to loom large over the meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Italy, after which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to travel to Moscow.

In other less warlike news, VW’s dirty killer diesel problem hasn’t gone away.

What Do You Do With Half a Million Rigged VWs?

Volkswagen bought back hundreds of thousands of emissions-cheating cars. Now it has to figure out what to do with them all.
by Ryan Beene 10 April 2017, 05:01 BST
Volkswagen AG is making progress settling U.S. legal claims from its emission-cheating scandal, but one challenge looms unresolved: What to do with the hundreds of thousands of diesel cars it is being forced to buy back?
The German automaker agreed last year to buy back about 500,000 diesels that it rigged to pass U.S. emissions tests if it can’t figure out a way to fix them. Except for a handful of 2015 models, VW dealers can’t sell the cars until — and unless — the company comes up with repairs to satisfy regulators.  The costs for buying back or scrapping tainted diesel cars are part of the 22.6 billion euros ($23.9 billion) VW earmarked for expenses related to the scandal so far. VW Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller told journalists last month he's not aware of any further significant charges. 
In the meantime, the company is hauling them to storage lots, such as ones at an abandoned NFL stadium outside Detroit, the Port of Baltimore and a decommissioned Air Force base in California.
“This could get drawn out for a long time,” said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with industry consulting firm AutoPacific Inc. “The question is how long will it take for VW to say ‘I give up?’”
The buyback — a costly logistical headache — is part of the penance for Volkswagen’s years-long scheme to circumvent U.S. emissions regulations. The automaker sold half a million diesel vehicles with software that activated stronger emissions controls during government lab tests but were inactive in the real world, when nitrogen oxide emissions surged to as much as 40 percent above legal limits. Six VW executives have been indicted and the company has set aside more than $10 billion to buy back vehicles in the U.S.
About 15,000 VW owners are showing up at dealerships each week now to sell their Jettas, Golfs, Passats, Beetles and Audi A3s to the carmaker in exchange for payments of as much as $40,000. The agreement dictates that the cars can’t be put back on the road without being brought into environmental compliance, something that is almost certainly impractical for most of them. Even exporting them to countries with lesser emissions standards is forbidden.

In all, around 288,000 owners or lessees had opted for a buyback or early lease termination as of Feb. 18, of which 138,000 had been completed, according to the latest update filed with a court overseeing the settlement. Another 52,000 owners have said they want to keep their cars and are awaiting a fix.

Depending on the model, it could be a long wait.

Regulators are reviewing repair proposals from the company, but the only cleared remedy applies to about 67,000 diesels from model year 2015 that the company recently won approval to market. They are equipped with the latest version of VW’s diesel engine technology and will be fixed in two phases: a software update available now and hardware retrofits when parts become available early next year.

“Suckers think that you cure greed with money, addiction with substances, expert problems with experts, banking with bankers, economics with economists, and debt crises with debt spending”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

At the Comex silver depositories Monday final figures were: Registered 29.18 Moz, Eligible 159.28 Moz, Total 188.46 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, the bent central banksters again. Did the dodgy, “Bent Old Bag Lady of Threadneedle Street” and Her Majesty’s Labour Government, orchestrate the rigging of Liebor? “Get out there and lie for your country. Make millions!” Then just walked away from the duped riggers as they faced jail? What did Gordon Brown know and when did he know it?
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

Bank of England pushed banks to rig Libor, secret BBC tape suggests

Published: Apr 10, 2017 6:32 a.m. ET
The Bank of England repeatedly urged commercial banks to lower their Libor settings during the financial crisis, according to a secret tape obtained by BBC journalists.

The 2008 recording adds to evidence that the central bank participated in one of the biggest rate-rigging scandals in history, the U.K.’s national broadcaster said in a report. The scandal rocked the financial industry when it was uncovered in 2012

Libor, or the London Interbank Offered Rate, is the daily rate at which banks lend to each other. It is used to set the price of trillions of dollars worth of financial products, including mortgages and loans to retail customers.

In the recording, obtained by the BBC’s “Panorama” program, former senior Barclays BARC, -0.05% BCS, -0.74%  manager Mark Dearlove instructs Libor submitter Peter Johnson to lower his Libor rates, citing pressure from the BOE.

“The bottom line is you’re going to absolutely hate this ... but we’ve had some very serious pressure from the U.K. government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower,” Dearlove tells Johnson, according to the BBC.

Johnson objects, saying it’ll break the rules for setting the interest rate.

“The fact of the matter is, we’ve got the Bank of England, all sorts of people involved in the whole thing... I am as reluctant as you are... these guys have just turned around and said just do it,” Dearlove replies.

The episode of “Panorama” with the rest of the journalists’ findings is scheduled to air at 8:30 p.m. on Monday local time.

The BOE has consistently said it wasn’t aware of the Libor manipulation until years after the rigging happened.

On Monday, in response to the BBC findings, the central bank noted that Libor and other global benchmarks weren’t regulated in the U.K. or elsewhere during the period in question.

“Nonetheless, the Bank of England has been assisting the [Serious Fraud Office’s] criminal investigations into Libor manipulation by employees at commercial banks and brokers by providing, on a voluntary basis, documents and records requested by the SFO,” the BOE said in a statement.
Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this 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?

Beyond graphene: Advances make reduced graphene oxide electronics feasible

Date: March 30, 2017

Source: North Carolina State University

Summary: Researchers have developed a technique for converting positively charged (p-type) reduced graphene oxide (rGO) into negatively charged (n-type) rGO, creating a layered material that can be used to develop rGO-based transistors for use in electronic devices.
"Graphene is extremely conductive, but is not a semiconductor; graphene oxide has a bandgap like a semiconductor, but does not conduct well at all -- so we created rGO," says Jay Narayan, the John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the work. "But rGO is p-type, and we needed to find a way to make n-type rGO. And now we have it for next-generation, two-dimensional electronic devices."
Specifically, Narayan and Anagh Bhaumik -- a Ph.D. student in his lab -- demonstrated two things in this study. First, they were able to integrate rGO onto sapphire and silicon wafers -- across the entire wafer.
Second, the researchers used high-powered laser pulses to disrupt chemical groups at regular intervals across the wafer. This disruption moved electrons from one group to another, effectively converting p-type rGO to n-type rGO. The entire process is done at room temperature and pressure using high-power nanosecond laser pulses, and is completed in less than one-fifth of a microsecond. The laser radiation annealing provides a high degree of spatial and depth control for creating the n-type regions needed to create p-n junction-based two-dimensional electronic devices.
The end result is a wafer with a layer of n-type rGO on the surface and a layer of p-type rGO underneath.
This is critical, because the p-n junction, where the two types meet, is what makes the material useful for transistor applications.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished March

DJIA: 20,663  +131 Up. NASDAQ:  5,912 +165 Up. SP500: 2,363 +135 Up.

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