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7/6/13

(UPDATED) Twitter is killing traditional media, San Francisco plane crash edition

Today's plane crash in San Francisco is a good example of the way in which Twitter is changing everything forever. Check the timestamp on this:



And compare to this (or any other news media service you care to mention):


And while we're here, an example of Spanish language media and an "urgent" flash report:


In the meantime, us news junkies hanging on Twitter had already seen this...


...which included a picture that clearly showed people had managed to get off the plane and with time to grab their hand luggage.

UPDATE: The point here, which is one discussed with twitterpal @rajoyceUCB over the medium itself, is that the news may be raw and potentially getting its facts wrong (e.g. consider the "exploded" of the first tweet above with the relative calm of a passenger who was on the plane), but that Twitter leads the news and the traditional media channels have to play catch-up. They're not our intelligence or "news" (strict sense) providers any longer and are basically in the same boat as all the rest of us: And that change is massive. 

Here's another great example, as via this tweet...



...you could listen to the whole of the recording of the exchange between pilot and control tower during the  landing. Now look at this, paying attention to the timestamp once again:


Do you get the feeling "Source(s) close to" is a mere euphemism for "Twitter"? Yeah, me too.

Snowden's next country: Latest betting

Isn't this just the most fun since LeBron James picked The Miami Heat?

  • 4/6 Iceland: Obvious choice, politically neutral (ish), offer of asylum on the table, reasonably straightforward connection from Moscow (assuming that's where he is right now, of course).
  • 3/1 Venezuela: Offer on the table, Snowden could choose in order to cock a snook at North. Main problem is that political baggage would weigh round his neck forever and detract from (what he says is) his message.
  • 5/1 Nicaragua: Idem Venezuela, but smaller and more potential to be seized by US (legally or otherwise) and shipped back.
  • 8/1 Argentina: No offer yet, but I'd bet money on Snowden going there if Cristina offers a slot. Easy life for a gringo in Buenos Aires, perfect for a slacker like Snowden (trust me on this, as someone with ample first hand knowledge of being a slacker in BsAs and its easy life for annoying asshole gringos with more money than common sense...he'd fit right in)
  • 8/1 Bolivia: After the West's rank stupidity with the plane episode, Evo has said he'd take Snowden in if asked, but unlikely as a destination. The internet bandwidth issue just for one thing.
  • 10/1 USA: Could be, though all things considered it's unlikely to be a voluntary move.
  • 14/1 Ecuador: Correa retracted offer, but it may be back on after the table after the Bolivia plane snafu, out of solidarity as much as anything else. However, Snowden would be silly to take this one as the rug could be pulled from under his feet if he doesn't play by Correa's rules.
  • 33/1 Vatican: Stranger things have (etc)
  • 50/1 Poland: Cold.
  • 66/1 bar


7/5/13

The Friday OT: Suzanne Vega; Left of center

They spent about $65 on shooting the vid. The hairstyles are "a period throwback" (let's say generously). And yes, that's Joe Jackson on keyboard. But her eyes. And her voice. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh



A rare old blast from the past

Stan Bharti railing against junior mining parasites? This is a joke, surely?

And yet according to this, it's part one of a series of articles. Pot. Kettle. Black.

I'm fully with the nice person who sent in the headsup (ty sir) who said, "I had to stop when Stan lamented the fact that juniors were "too speculative" and "did not deliver"It´s good I wasn´t drinking coffee at the time."


The Barrick Gold (ABX) (ABX.to) implosion

When smart marketwatcher Toby Shute this morning said, "$ABX not too far from its 15-year low, set in Oct 2000 (when gold was $270/oz)" your humble scribe thought "O RLY?" and it was off to check on things:


Holy crap!

Seconding this

This morning, Colin Snider of Americas South and North wrote this:

In an editorial on the Egyptian military coup yesterday, the Wall Street Journal actually wrote the following:
Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy. If General Sisi merely tries to restore the old Mubarak order, he will eventually suffer Mr. Morsi’s fate.
Simply put: this is vile, disgusting, repugnant, vulgar, and ignorant.
continues here.

IKN seconds his sentiment and agrees with the argument put forward in the rest of his article, which you can (and should, because it's good) read here. The way in which North America continues to be so out of touch with South America, ample evidence yet again provided by the WSJ, beggars belief.

UPDATE: Greg Weeks pens a thoughtful piece that steps back and considers the whole "supporting a coup" issue, using plenty of LatAm examples to make his point. It's a good note, also well worth your time (and he also is left "speechless" by the crass WSJ).

On cancelled warrants

It seems as though people that write things took notice of your humble scribe's post on Tuesday Monday*. But in time-honoured style, they're far too deeply up their own colons to have the guts to credit, hat-tip or even mention in passing ....ewwww....a blog. Because getting smart ideas from a blog is so...ewwwwww.

So fuck you, copycats. Not only brainless, but spineless too.

*i can't count. bite me

7/4/13

The US Embassy in Bolivia today cancelled its programmed July 4th celebrations

According to reports, with no official reason given.

La Razón digital /EFE/ La Paz
4 July 2013 
The United States Embassy in La Paz decided to indefinitely postpone its planned celebrations for 4th July, its national independence day, according to the US diplomatic representative via a brief communique. 
Embassy sources contacted by EFE refused to give the precise reasons for the decision, announced after several European countries this week denied air passage and landing to the aircraft of the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, due to suspicions that the ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden was on board.

Oh, and Evo mentioned the possibility of closing the place down entirely during his speech in Cochabamba today, saying:

"I wouldn't lose sleep [if I had to] close the U.S. Embassy, we don't need it."

Potentially related, dontchathink?

The LME versus LME warehouses

Further to our thoughts on ths subject earlier this week, this (as always) insightful column from Andy Home of Reuters looks at the rapidly growing friction between the LME and its associated warehouses. Essential reading for metalheads.

Freedom fries

Your humble scribe is forced to wonder just how the detente thingy is going between France and the USA. After all, the US told France to slam the doors on that Evo flight and now that intelligence has been shown as a crockashit, France has had to apologize to Bolivia for the "conflicting information" that caused a "late confirmation" of the Presidential flight path.

Mull that one over: France has to apologize to Bolivia due to the actions of The USA.

Hilarity ensues.

More on coffee

A perennial market question is "Who's the fade?". Is it Jim Sinclair? Jim Cramer? IKN? Iwnattos? Any of the dumbasses that appear on The Gold Report? Well for my money the biggest fade of all is Bloomberg News and when the certifiably dumb hacks they employ there decide to run op-ed type pieces instead of just reporting the news (which, sadly, is about 60% of the time these days...The Truthiness Is Out There people). So when I see this sort of fuckwittery...


...regaling its bandwidth today then consider that the slump has clearly already happened...

...the temptation to make a foray into the coffee pit is even greater than it was earlier this week.

Chart of the day is...

...the British Pound (GBP) versus the US Dollar (USD), one minute chart:


Mmmm....it might have something to do with something the Bank of England said just now....perhaps?

Blame Canada

7/3/13

Shock! Bolivia announces a delay to lithium production at the Uyuni salt flats project

There was the 2008 Presidential Decree that announced Bolivia would be producing a trial basis 40 tonnes of lithium carbonate per month within 18 months, with a ramp up to full production once things had been green-lighted from the trial.

Then...well, that got kind of delayed, but no problems and when 2010 came around plan was still to be churning out full scale 30,000t/annum Li from the world's biggest deposit by 2014.

And well, that got kind of shifted back a bit, too. Up to last year, it was still 2014 (for carbonate) and 2016 for batteries, but on a trial basis only.

And now today we hear from Bolivia that carbonate production should start in 2016, with those added value batteries coming along in 2020. And if all goes well, the trial production should get going next year, in 2014. Which is bound to happen on schedule, right?


Pacific Rubiales (PRE.to) versus the Amex Oil Index (^XOI)

What a seriously fucking pathetic oil company performance, Serafino.

Here's a good idea

Here's a great suggestion for the North American continent. First treat the South American continent like shit, then complain like merry hell when South America decides to ignore the rules you made and stops allowing you in to make bucketloads of money from its natural resources.

What could possibly go wrong?

Osisko (OSK.to) stands down in Argentina

Yesterday Osisko Mining (OSK.to) made official the true real clear obvious-for-a-long-time situation at its Famatina project in La Rioja, Argentina. The company, the state and the associated governmental mining honchos signed a document that rescinded its contracted development activity obligations at Famatina until such time as the social situation around the project is calmer. Or in the words of a decree emitted by La Rioja (translated, "(T)he continuity and persistence of the confrontation events have to date made impossible the start or programmed activities, generating serious social and economic consequences to the province".

In other words, the anti-mine protesters have stopped things happening and now OSK is relieved of its development duties as stipulated in the contract, which at least allows the company to keep the concession without having the threat of non-compliance hanging over its head. OSK need not spend cash at the site but can keep the land on its books, which is face-saving but not much else because these protesters aren't simply going to fade away and forget about Famatina. Not now, not in six months, not in six years.

Bottom line, protesters win.

UPDATE: AP catches up with the story but can't be bothered to spell the place name correctly.

Snowden winners and losers

Rather than taking the political angle, IKN's preferred wont is to consider which of the players are looking good from all this Edward Snowden hoohah (pun intended) and which are looking like annoying assholes. List time:

Looking good

  • Evo Morales, for keeping his dignity when being treated in a diplomatically scandalous way yesterday. He often opens his mouth and inserts foot when making speeches or comments (his in-country Evo-isms are a whole meme) but on this one he's played it exactly right. 
  • Rafael Correa, for making one of the smoothest and most seamless U-turns in recent political times and getting away with it scot free. Cool play, dude.
  • Joe Biden, for being smart enough to engage with Correa in a long phone call and treating Ecuador as an equal (which I believe is the real reason why the ego-loaded Correa came around to the US side).
  • Glenn Greenwald, who is doing what a real journalist should do. If you get hold of a story, you run with it as far as it will go. He's reminded a lot of people, include me in, just how morally weak the profession has become over the last 10 years.


Looking like assholes

  • First and foremost the NSA, from Clapper down. And while we're here let's throw in the damnfool US Intelligence (term used loosely) team that thought Snowden was on the Evomobile. I mean, seriously guys, you know how worldlevel stupid you look now?
  • Julian Assange, who's turning out to be a whiney git and übercrap at advising people trying to run away what to do...couldn't even do it himself, then couldn't learn from his mistakes. And trying and failing to punch above his weight diplomatically because no way man, you're not on the Head of State level however much the fantasy suits you.
  • Barack Obama, who's basically confirming his long-understood lack of backbone and overriding political assholery. "No, don't worry world, we won't shoot down a commercial flight with Snowden on it" WTF dude?
  • France, Portugal, Italy. The word is "lapdogs", got it? 
  • Nicolas Maduro, who is certainly the democratically and fairly elected President of Venezuela (and also a better choice than the extremely annoying asshole Capriles, who's shown since the vote just why Venezuela made the best (or better said 'least worst') choice) but that's Venezuela's problem, not mine. 
  • Snowden himself. Now this one is aside from the secrets he has revealed, because the world has decided Snowden is separate from Snowden's revelations so why should IKN fight the trend. He just has the air of a twat, that's all. Look dude, if you say you have no fear about this and that then prove it, don't run and don't hide and don't send obsequious mails to Ecuadorian Presidents. I freely admit that I bought your line of not wanting to become some sort of hero in the first days of this affair, but since then all you've done has shown that you're just a dressed up slacker with security clearance and a desire to "be someone". So fuck you.


In other words, for every player looking good there are roughly two* assholes. Like life itself.

*ok, ok, one point five. You can stop mailing me now.

Chart of the day is...

...the five year view of LME copper inventories:



What? Oversupply to a market? Price being kept artificially high? Shome mishtake shurely ossifer!

7/2/13

Thought for the day: Reason

In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, one of the two wildly successful computer programs created by Gordon Way (owner of WayForward Technologies II) is called "Reason". Here below is how the program works, as explained in the novel which is a work of fiction, or so the author told us. At the time I believed him. 

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``...it's to do with the project which first made the software incarnation of the company profitable. It was called Reason, and in its own way it was sensational.''

``What was it?''

``Well, it was a kind of back-to-front program. It's funny how many of the best ideas are just an old idea back-to-front. You see there have already been several programs written that help you to arrive at decisions by properly analysing all the relevant facts so that they then point naturally towards the right decision. The drawback with these is that the decision which all the properly ordered and analysed facts point to is not necessarily the one you want.''

``Yeesesss...'' said Reg's voice from the kitchen.

``Well, Gordon's great insight was to design a program which allowed you to specify in advance what decision you wished to reach, and only then to give it all the facts. The program's task, which it was able to accomplish with consummate ease, was simply to construct a plausible series of logical-sounding steps to connect the premises with the conclusion.

And I have to say it worked brilliantly. Gordon was able to buy himself a Porsche almost immediately despite being completely broke and a hopeless driver. Even his bank manager was unable to find fault with his reasoning. Even when he wrote it off three weeks later.''

``Heavens. And did the program sell very well?''

``No. We never sold a single copy.''

``You astonish me. It sounds like a real winner to me.''

``It was,'' said Richard hesitantly. ``The entire project was bought up, lock, stock and barrel, by the Pentagon. The deal put WayForward on a very sound financial foundation. Its moral foundation, on the other hand, is not something I wound want to trust my weight to. I've recently been analysing a lot of the arguments put forward in favour of the Star Wars project, and if you know what you're looking for, the pattern of the agorithms is very clear.''


(updated) Bolivian Presidential Flight Denial and Spy Stowaway Conspiracy Amusement of the Day

So both France and Portugal suddenly decide to deny air passage of the Bolivian Presidential aircraft, with Evo Morales on board, which then has to turn tail and make (what's being called at least) an emergency landing in Austria because of suspicions that Snowden had hitched a ride with Evo (update: though the audio of the conversation between the Presidential plane's pilot and Austrian ATC indicates the landing was a precautionary measure only, due to a doubt about exactly how much fuel was on board).

As for the suspicions, Bolivia's Chancellor, David Choquehuanca, said "There's no possibility that there is an extra passenger to those that were indicated in the voyage" and that it was "an injustice (based) on unfounded suspicions".

Fact: Quantum of Solace was set in Bolivia

UPDATE: Evo speaks! And says that he and Snowden didn't even see each other during his visit to Moscow and when asked when he was on the plane replied "absolutely not". Italy now also denying use of airspace for the PresWagon. Meanwhile, Bolivia is now calling for an energency seesion of Unasur to discuss the matter.

UPDATE 2: Why do we so love Bolivia? Because it employs a Vice-Minister of Communications, one Sebastián Michel, who asks his fellow citizens to go and urinate on (presumably the walls of, but you never know) the French Embassy in La Paz Bolivia in retaliation for the denied airspace thingy today:



That's why we love Bolivia. Oh yes we do.

Chart of the day is...

...gold and a Star Trek quote:

"There's life Jim, but not as we know it."

A Flash update...

...was sent to subscribers, Tuesday morning, pre-open. A potential trade opportunity has shown up, but only if the entry price is right.

7/1/13

"At what point does the LME system lose its credibility as the centre of price discovery for copper?" Copper inventories and LME's growing problem (from IKN217)

The following was part of our regular coverage of the copper market in The IKN Weekly issue 217, published Sunday evening. The basic story is that there's a growing systematic weakness in the LME system and anyone with exposure to world prices for copper would do well to bear it in mind, because one way or another it's not going to see out 2013.

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We move to inventories and as we’re at the end of another month (time flies once again) we catch up on the state of the world’s stocks via our now-regular charts, but first the weekly update. World stocks dropped by a minor 0,7% last week to stand at a total of 914,518mt. Of that lot, LME inventories rose by a small 0.1% to 665,775mt, Comex stocks dropped by 1.6% to 66,250mt and Shanghai Futures Exchange warehouse stocks dropped 3.5% to 182,493mt.

The month-end totals compare to previous months in this way:




Once again, the strong trend away from Shanghai and towards LME continues. While the two minor warehouse chains see diminishing stocks, the LME’s just keeps growing and growing and has now more than doubled in 2013 alone (and way more than that if you start the count at LME’s lowest point in September 2012, under 220kmt at the time). Stocks at the LME now comprise 72.8% of total World inventories and totally boss the market.

Meanwhile, the strangeness in cancelled warrants grows ever larger, as LME cancelled warrants shot up again last week to stand at 370,375mt, or 55.6% of total stocks. There can be little doubt left that the system is being played by market participants, because if the amount of copper under cancelled warrants was truly sold to end users, it would have left the warehouses by now (note we’re now 12 weeks into the new system noted in IKN207 and eight weeks into the unusually elevated cancelled warrant percentages, which just keep getting higher and higher).


This is where guessing, second-guessing and assumptions that range between reasonable and wild can be floated, but I’m going to avoid (most of) that potential swamp and stay with the most obvious conclusion of all: Somebody, somewhere, seems very keen about keeping a lot of copper away from the market. The way in which this sizeable copper tonnage is being tied up under cancelled warrant and kept away from the warehouse doors by apparently constant recycling of the final delivery warrant means that there are people who don’t want upwards of 300,000 tonnes of copper hitting the market and depressing prices. Now of course that might work and the bet seems to be one of keeping copper prices (artificially?) high until the China re-stocking season rolls around in the Northern autumn and the slack is taken up, but it’s also a game that comes with a ever increasing risk, one that increases with that percentage figure. What, for example, will the world say if 80% of all copper held in LME warehouses were under cancelled warrants but the metal was still leaving the warehouses at its current trickle? Or 90%? Or 95%? Or even 100%? At what point does the LME system lose its credibility as the centre of price discovery for copper? This is high-stakes poker and if it goes against the ones playing this apparent new bet it will finish with a big price jerk to the downside and serious financial losses for the warrant holders.


Trading in Barrick (ABX) today

Here's the one day chart comparing Barrick (ABX), the PMs ETF (GDX) and the gold bullion ETF (GLD):


The ABX open today surprised the merry bejeebers out of your author and can only be subscribed to that long-understood maxim in mining circles: Wall St doesn't have a fucking clue about metals. But sanity soon prevailed and once a few traders had received a well deserved early morning butt-kicking and read the three day old news release, ABX did what it had to do.

By the way, I keep hearing this word "world" used around Pascua Lama, eg 1) ABX on Friday: "When complete, Pascua-Lama will be one of the world's great, low-cost gold mines" or 2) Silver Wheaton (SLW) today: "Pascua-Lama is a world class gold and silver deposit and will be a world class mine once it begins production.". Gotta love that corp-speak, but only thing world-sized about Pascua Lama is the fuck-up, ok guys? Anyway, if you're mad enough to want to know what I really think about ABX at PL now, here's part of a mail that was sent from here to some other person somewhere else on Saturday. DYODD, dude.
My best guess is that last night's NR is the beginning of the end of Pascua Lama. Gold price may save it and ABX has bought time by heel-dragging FY13 and FY14. But ceteris paribus and considering the writedown of just about everything they've spent there to date being flagged for the next qtr, they're clearing the decks for "care & maintenance" come end FY14 if gold/costs doesn't make it an obviously profitable mine by then.


B2Gold (BTG)

Somebody in the United States of America has decided that B2Gold (BTO.to) (BTG) isn't such a bad investment after all.



Canada closed for the day, too.

The 2013 Chilean presidential elections aren't going to make many English language column inches this year

This modern and thrusting world that in what we lives* much prefers its news stories and current affairs analysis on struggles, conflicts, controversies and polemics. Thus, after watching how the results of Chile's election primaries came in last night your humble scribe has been wondering what sort of angle apart from

'Chelle wins

can be put on the upcoming main event on November 17th. For sure Chile internally will be able to spin out the vote coverage to more than just

'Chelle wins

because it can follow the minor players, consider the deeper meanings of that a 10 point win might have instead of a 15 point win or a 20 point win, wonder about the shape of any congressional consensus or mandate, muse on the role of the right wing opposition etc etc and get beyond the most important 

'Chelle wins

message. However, those of you unfortunate enough not to live in South America aren't going to get much in the way of news and views about this upcoming election because all the wider world wants to know about any presidential election is who's going to get the big job. And that one's easy. 'Chelle wins.


*innit

Chart of the day is...

...coffee, monthlies:

Can't help but think there's a trade here, what with the way the LatAm crop is being chewed to bits by disease.

6/30/13

The IKN Weekly, out now



IKN217 has just been sent to subscribers. Last week's theme continues, but there's a potential near-term trad ein the works too. 

OT: The grave of W.B.Yeats

Tom Bartel is a travel blogger who's been on my RSS for plenty time because his eye and observational skills are several cuts above the norm in the genre. In this post over at his blog is his photo, recently taken, of the grave of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. It's a great photo and I hope a few more people get to appreciate it as well.