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Monsanto's fraudulent tomato patent revoked by patent office

Natural News - Tue, 12/29/2015 - 02:00
(NaturalNews) In an effort to help consumers make smart food decisions and not be strong armed into choosing edibles produced by a select few shady mega-corporations like Monsanto, No Patents on Seeds! has made significant strides. The coalition made tremendous headway when they,...

Deception: Major tortilla chip brand using 'No GMO' label on contaminated product

Natural News - Tue, 12/22/2015 - 02:00
(NaturalNews) The nonprofit consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports has released a new report on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) that warns of inadvertent deception and possible outright fraud in non-GMO claims that aren't certified by independent third parties such as the...

Do You Need a Vitamin D Supplement to Maintain Ideal Levels?

Dr. Mercola - 7 hours 9 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Vitamin D is a profoundly important nutrient that provides a vast array of health benefits. The question is, do we really need to supplement, and if we do, what's the proper dosage?

Dr. Robert Heaney is a professor and one of the most well-respected researchers in the field. He has studied osteoporosis, vitamin D, and calcium physiology for over 50 years.

Trained as a physician and endocrinologist, he’s been working at the Creighton University’s Osteoporosis Research Center, which he founded, since the late 1960s, with a focus on bone biology.

"Inevitably, when you deal with bones, sooner or later, your path crosses with vitamin D, which is  ital and important for a whole host of functions," he says. "The most obvious of which is the promotion of calcium absorption, because you need calcium for bone health."

For the last two decades, Dr. Heaney has focused almost exclusively on vitamin D, noting that:

"We need to know how much we need every day. We need to know where to get it. We need to know how much the body uses every day, via what pathway and for what purposes..."

While thousands of papers have been published on the mechanisms of vitamin D, very few studies have homed in on the issue of how much you actually need, and how best to get it.

“When I first got involved with the measurement of calcium absorption, I assumed that it had all been worked out. But I found that there was not a single paper in the medical literature... that had measured how much vitamin D you needed for calcium absorption nor how much absorption a certain amount of vitamin D might produce.”

Vitamin D Is Vital for Cellular Function Throughout Your Body

According to Dr. Heaney, vitamin D is involved in the biochemical cellular machinery of all cells and tissues in your body. When you don’t have enough, that “machinery” doesn’t work very well, and your entire body will end up struggling to operate as programmed into our genomes.

Some diseases that have a long-standing association with vitamin D deficiency include rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of your bones), but these are really only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

“What we didn’t know until very recently is that a part of the apparatus that all cells need to open up the genome is the active form of vitamin D,” Dr. Heaney says.

"In the absence of that active form of vitamin D in the cellular environment, the cell cannot access the information in its own [genetic] plans—its DNA library...

Under those circumstances, nothing works right. The lower your vitamin D status gets, the worse the problem... [E]very tissue in our body effectively needs to have vitamin D [to optimize access its genetic code]... That's the role that vitamin D plays and it's absolutely vital."

What's an Optimal Level of Vitamin D?

According to Dr. Heaney, "the embarrassing secret about the whole field of nutrition is that we don't have any a priori idea about what normal is; absolutely no idea at all."

For example, the Institute of Medicine, in approaching most nutrients, simply defines the requirement as the least you can get by on without developing a certain disease. But this may be a far cry from what you need for optimal health, and as a general rule, many nutritional guidelines are insufficiently low.

“If you take an approach that’s based in physiology, you end up with completely different numbers,” Dr. Heaney says.

“For example, if you want to know how much vitamin D you ought to have to minimize your body’s need to compensate for the amount you’re getting – “compensate,” that is to adapt or make up for what you’re not giving it—the way to measure that is to make certain that the parathyroid hormone levels are at a functional minimum. That means that you’re not constantly having to ramp up your bone resorption in order to get the calcium you need but which you’re not absorbing.

And you’re not absorbing enough because you don’t have enough vitamin D. When you take that approach, you end up with a vitamin D requirement that produces a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the range of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter.

Another approach [is to] ask, for instance, “How much vitamin D does a nursing mother have to take in every day in order to ensure that her milk will contain the vitamin D her nursing infant needs?”

Very recent work coming out of the Medical University of South Carolina has shown definitively that such a woman needs 6,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, every day, in order for her infant to  be adequately nourished, at least as far as vitamin D is concerned.”

As it turns out, the vitamin D level that a nursing mother needs to maintain is within the same range as that which minimizes the need for the parathyroid hormone adaptation, namely 40-60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).

A third approach is to determine what level of vitamin D human beings have who live on the equatorial plains of East Africa. Various tribal groups living in East Africa, who still follow ancestral lifestyles, have had their blood 25-hydroxy D measured by Dutch investigators. And again, the levels they found were in the 40-60 ng/ml range.

“It’s very useful to look at what those ancestral-living humans today actually have, exposing a lot of skin and living in equatorial East Africa, where the sun shines all the time and where you can make vitamin D every day. That’s the best indicator I know of about what is optimal for our physiology,” Dr. Heaney says.

"I find it very compelling that those three distinct approaches: 1) what's the minimum compensation required, 2) what's the ancestral value, 3) and how much do you need for a critical function such as lactation—they all converge on the same numbers, somewhere in the range of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter of 25-hydroxy D.

The corresponding input from all sources combined is 5,000 to 6,000 international units; not just from supplements per se. We do need supplements, but the 5,000–6,000 IU figure is the total input every day needed to sustain a blood level of 40-60 ng/ml.”

What's the Ideal Way to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level?

Vitamin D is created naturally when your skin is exposed to sunshine. Interestingly, new research shows that carnivorous animals who cannot make vitamin D in their skin actually get all of the vitamin D they need from the meat they eat.  This finding has led to improved understanding of food-based vitamin D. For the longest time, meat was not considered a good source of vitamin D, primarily because it was so difficult to measure that we didn’t think it contained useful amounts.

"Most of the assays that have been published up until very recently listed no vitamin D content for beef, pork, poultry, etc. Things are changing in lots of ways, [for starters], we have a much better way of measuring vitamin D than we did back then. We're now finding vitamin D present in [food] at quantities that are biologically meaningful...

My best guess – and I'm going to qualify that by saying 'guess,' because this is a moving target and we don't have all the data we need yet – is that the average adult today living in the central part of the US is getting 1,500 to 2,000 international units from food—unrecognized sources of food. They get less than we use to think from the sun... Most of us – professionals, wage slaves, workers of one kind or another – we're indoors. Not very many of us work outdoors and not very many of us get sun exposure in mid-day, and that's when you make your vitamin D."

There are also a number of other benefits associated with sun exposure that are unrelated to vitamin D production. For example, UVA exposure produces nitric oxide (NO), which has a blood-pressure lowering effect. According to Dr. Heaney, the entire solar spectrum is important for optimal health. We’re not dependent solely on the narrowband wavelength of about 295 nanometers, which is where vitamin D is made.

The Importance of Vitamin D Testing

All of that said, Dr. Heaney stresses that you need to get approximately 5,000 to 6,000 IU's of vitamin D per day from all sources – sun, supplements, and food – in order to reach and maintain a healthy blood level of 40-60 ng/ml. Keep in mind that the specific dosage is still a very loose guideline, because people vary widely in their ability to respond to vitamin D.

“Some people may get almost no increase at all with 2,000-or 3,000 IU supplement every day, whereas others may get all the way up to where they need to be with that dose. There’s a huge range of sensitivity. There’s no easy way to handle that for a physician except to measure... If you measure you can tell whether you’re giving enough. The right amount is not some arbitrary number... the right amount is the amount you need in order to get your patient between 40 and 60 ng/ml. Whatever that is, it’s not only the right amount, but it’s the safe amount as well.”

The vitamin D test you’re looking for is called 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the officially recognized marker of overall D status, and is most strongly associated with overall health. There’s another vitamin D test available, called 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D (1,25(OH)D). As explained by Dr. Heaney, even though some promote the use of this test, he does not think it’s very useful for determining vitamin D sufficiency. It can however be a useful for assessing your calcium metabolism.

The reason for this, he explains, is because “1,25-dihydroxy D, as it circulates in your body, serves an endocrine function. It communicates between the parathyroid gland and the intestines saying, “Hey, we need more calcium,” and the 1,25-dihydroxy D stimulates the intestinal mucosa to make the transport apparatus, which absorbs calcium out of the food... The blood 1,25-dihydroxy D level is really a measure of calcium status, not vitamin D status.”

Concerns About Vitamin D Toxicity Have Been Overstated

In years past, there were serious concerns about vitamin D toxicity at doses over 2,000 IU’s or so. Another persistent question has been whether or not it might be detrimental to have too high a blood serum level; say a level of 70-100 ng/ml or higher. The Institute of Medicine and various other expert bodies have defined toxicity as hypervitaminosis D (vitamin D toxicity), which consists of excess serum calcium, kidney stones, calcification of the kidney, and related health problems. The good news is, we now know there’s a very wide margin of safety. According to Dr. Heaney, there are no reported cases of elevated serum calcium below 30,000 IU’s of vitamin D per day, and for the most part, there are none below 50,000 IU’s.

“There is, however, a gray zone between 30,000 and 50,000 [IUs of vitamin D per day].But there’s no reason to go above 30,000. I mean, there’s a good margin of safety,” Dr. Heaney says.  “Alternatively, if you look at the blood levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, there are no recorded cases of vitamin D intoxication at levels below 200 nanograms per milliliter.

We’re talking about 40 to 60 here as the optimal range. There’s no real concern about toxicity until you get up into doses you shouldn’t be taking. Those are almost always associated with either sloppy manufacturing practices or deliberate poisoning. Both kinds of cases have been reported.”

I believe the literature is clear that  many of the symptoms associated with vitamin D toxicity are actually related to other nutrient deficiencies—vitamin K2 deficiency specifically. When you take supplemental vitamin D, you increase your body’s need for vitamin K2, so when supplementing with oral vitamin D3, you need to make sure you’re also increasing your K2 and magnesium intake. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues. So vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries.

The Difference Between Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

With all this evidence showing we need far more vitamin D than we're currently getting, why have agencies such as the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) failed to keep up? Why are they still recommending levels that are so far below ideal? According to Dr. Heaney, there are two main reasons for this discrepancy:

  1. They're looking for disease prevention rather than health promotion, and the endpoints are very different. The US Preventive Services Task Force, for example, is concerned with the prevention of diseases, and their focus is on what you need to do in order to minimize your risk. "The focus of prevention is not inappropriate for an agency that's concerned with prevention. But that's not the same thing as promotion of nutrition," Dr. Heaney says.
  2. Lack of study standards for nutritional research is another hurdle. Dr. Heaney notes that there are no standards by which you can decide how to do a study to see if vitamin D lowers blood pressure, or reduces the risk of cancer, for example. He notes: "About 12 months ago, I published a set of guidelines in the journal of Nutrition Reviews,1,2 which set forth a group of five conditions that a clinical study of a nutrient should meet if it's going to answer the question of whether it does any good.
  3. I added to that a set of six criteria for systemic reviews and meta-analyses. The US Preventive Services Task Force, the Institute of Medicine, and several other authoritative bodies have relied on systematic reviews and meta-analyses in order to see if the evidence supported the proposition that vitamin D may reduce the risk of hypertension, cancer, or whatever.

    The problem is that if you look at the criteria [I published]... the best of systematic reviews and meta-analyses fail on four of the six criteria. They simply do not meet the criteria needed in order to have an informative study. That’s the second reason why they get null answers; they combine studies, which if adequately understood at the time of their design,  would have been said to be null... [they’re] not going to show anything because they  aren’t done right.”

Vitamin D—An Inexpensive and Powerful Way to Optimize Your Health

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common and drives a large number of disease processes, yet it’s quite inexpensive to address, and doing so might make a huge difference in your health. While I recommend getting as much of your vitamin D from sensible sun exposure as possible (or a tanning bed), you almost certainly will still need a supplement, basically year round.

“We need to keep in mind that under more primitive circumstances, we were getting a lot more [vitamin D] from the sun than we do today. I think if any of you can think back to your own grandparents, you’d realize they spent a lot more time outdoors. They hung their wash out on the line to dry; they mowed the lawn.

They walked to the bus stop or street car stop and they got fresh air. They worked out in the gardens. There was just a lot more outdoor time and sun exposure. People are scared to death now of skin cancer, but nobody was dying of melanoma back in those days. I fear we have a problem that’s been created by the cosmetic industry rather than a real problem for cancer prevention,” Dr. Heaney says.

The January 2015 issue of Nutrition Reviews contains a comprehensive summary of Dr. Heaney's work. To learn a whole lot more about how much vitamin D we typically get from the sun; how much we get from food; the difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, and how it's handled in the body, please read through his paper, Quantifying the Vitamin D Economy in the Body.3

Super Energy Kale Soup

Dr. Mercola - 7 hours 9 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Eating kale and other cruciferous vegetables two to three times a week or, even better, four to five times a week, is an easy way to significantly boost your health. Just one cup of kale will flood your body with disease-fighting vitamins K, A, and C, along with respectable amounts of manganese, copper, B vitamins, fiber, calcium, and potassium.

With each serving of kale, you’ll also find more than 45 unique flavonoids, which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.1 In terms of green leafy vegetables, you really can’t go wrong… but kale is definitely worthy of its reputation as “king of veggies.”

And here’s a secret: kale’s flavor gets sweeter after it’s been exposed to a frost, making winter the ideal time to eat it (and it is in season starting mid-winter). When the temperatures drop you might not feel like eating a raw kale salad, but what about a bowl of warm kale soup?

The recipe that follows, from the George Mateljan Foundation,2 will not only warm you up and boost your nutrition, it’ll give you a nice energy boost, too.

Super Energy Kale Soup


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 cups chicken or bone broth
  • 1 medium carrot, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 red potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups kale, rinsed, stems removed and chopped very fine
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop garlic and onions and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out their health benefits.
  2. Heat 1 TBS broth in a medium soup pot.
  3. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently.
  4. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
  5. Add broth, carrots, and celery and bring to a boil on high heat.
  6. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 more minutes.
  7. Add kale and rest of ingredients and cook another 5 minutes. If you want to simmer for a longer time for extra flavor and richness, you may need to add a little more broth.

Serves 4

Kale May Fight at Least Five Types of Cancer

Like other cruciferous vegetables, kale is a good source of cancer-fighting sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. To date, kale has been found to lower the risk of at least five types of cancer, including bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate.3

The glucosinolates in kale and other cruciferous vegetables break down into products that help protect DNA from damage.4 As noted by the George Mateljan Foundation:5

Kale's special mix of cancer-preventing glucosinolates has been the hottest area of research on this cruciferous vegetable.

Kale is an especially rich source of glucosinolates, and once kale is eaten and digested, these glucosinolates can be converted by the body into cancer preventive compounds. Some of this conversion process can also take place in the food itself, prior to consumption.”

While some research suggests raw kale is best for cancer prevention, other studies suggest lightly cooked is best, in part because it improves kale’s ability to bind with bile acids in your digestive tract.

This makes the bile acids easier for your body to excrete, which not only has a beneficial impact on your cholesterol levels, but also on your risk of cancer (bile acids have been associated with an increased risk of cancer). According to one study in Nutrition Research:6

Steam cooking significantly improved the in vitro bile acid binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage compared with previously observed bile acid binding values for these vegetables raw (uncooked).

Inclusion of steam-cooked collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage in our daily diet as health-promoting vegetables should be emphasized.

These green/leafy vegetables, when consumed regularly after steam cooking, would lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, advance human nutrition research, and improve public health.”

Eat Kale to Support Natural Detoxification

Foods that support both Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification are key to supporting your body’s daily removal of harmful substances from your body. Phase 1 detoxification is when toxins are broken down into smaller particles, while during your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, the broken down toxins are shuttled out of your system.

If you eat foods that support Phase 1, but not Phase 2, the broken-down toxins may begin to accumulate in your body. But the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in kale help to promote both Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification. The George Mateljan Foundation explained:7

“In addition, the unusually large numbers of sulfur compounds in kale have been shown to help support aspects of Phase II detoxification that require the presence of sulfur.

By supporting both aspects of our cellular detox process (Phase I and Phase II), nutrients in kale can give our body an "edge up" in dealing with toxic exposure, whether from our environment or from our food.”

Kale Earns Its Reputation as a Superfood

Kale is one vegetable that lives up to its nutritional hype. It’s loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin at over 26 mg combined, per serving, for starters. Of all the carotenoids, only zeaxanthin and lutein are found in your retina, which has the highest concentration of fatty acids of any tissue in your body.

This is because your retina is a highly light- and oxygen-rich environment, and it needs a large supply of free radical scavengers to prevent oxidative damage there.

It is theorized that your body concentrates zeaxanthin and lutein in your retina to perform this duty, and consuming these antioxidants may help to ward off eye problems like age-related macular degeneration.

And as far as calcium is concerned, one cup of kale will give you 90 milligrams in a highly bioavailable form. One calcium bioavailability study found that calcium from kale was 25% better absorbed than calcium from milk.8 What else do you gain when you eat kale?

  • Anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease and autoimmune diseases
  • Plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, protecting against heart disease and stroke, and regulating blood clotting
  • An impressive number of beneficial flavonoids, including 32 phenolic compounds and three hydroxycinnamic acids to help support healthy cholesterol levels and scavenge free radicals

Choose Organic Kale When You Can

When choosing kale, look for firm, fresh deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Avoid leaves that are brown or yellow or that contain holes. Kale with smaller leaves tends to be more tender and milder than larger-leaved kale. Choose organic varieties (or grow your own), as kale is frequently sprayed with pesticides, and particularly toxic pesticides at that. One study by the Environmental Working Group detected 51 pesticides on kale, including several they described as “highly toxic.”9 For best results, store kale in your refrigerator (unwashed) in a plastic storage bag. Remove as much air as you can. Ideally, eat kale as soon as you can, because the longer it sits the more bitter the flavor becomes.10

Visit Our Food Facts Library for Empowering Nutrition Information

If you want to learn even more about what's in the food you're eating, visit our Food Facts library. Most people are not aware of the wealth of nutrients available in healthful foods, particularly organic fruits and vegetables. By getting to know your food, you can make informed decisions about how to eat healthier and thereby boost your brain function, lower your risk of chronic disease, lose weight, and much more.

Food Facts is a directory of the most highly recommended health foods to add to your wholesome diet. Its purpose is to provide you with valuable information about various types of foods including recipes to help you maximize these benefits. You'll learn about nutrition facts, scientific studies, and even interesting trivia about each food in the Food Facts library. Remember, knowing what's in your food is the first step to choosing and preparing nutritious meals each and every day. So visit Mercola Food Facts today to get started.

The German 10 Year Bund Effectively a Call Option at 30 Basis Points

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 23:48

By EconMatters


Bonds are not Stocks


On Friday the German 10 Year Bund yield touched the 0.30 mark or 30 basis points, yeah that`s right the same instrument that was yielding 90 basis points in November of last year, a 140 basis points last May 2014, and 195 basis points at the beginning of 2014. It has gotten so ridiculous in the bond markets that I think investors have forgotten what bonds actually are as an asset class, they trade based on price appreciation like stocks, and this perverted mentality has completely ignored the risk component of what bonds represent as debt obligations.   


German Core CPI expected to be 1.1% in 2015


But the case of the German 10 year Bund has gotten so idiotic that all finance logic has been thrown out the window. Excluding food and energy, consumer prices are expected to increase by 1.1 percent year on year in Germany for 2015. Yes energy has dropped 50% and so the comps are skewing everyone`s inflation readings to the downside, this is the rationale for focusing on the core inflation readings historically because of the high volatility of these two categories. Once the bad year over year comps start coming out of the energy components all the inflation readings will start spiking up again late next year, but remember the German Bund yielding 30 basis points is for the duration of 10 years, not 3 months!


Read More: The Bond Market Has Reached Tulip Bubble Proportions


Bund Yields in the Financial Crisis


There is talk about slow growth in Europe responsible for these low yields, but during the financial crisis of 2008/2009 the German 10 year yield was between 3% and 4%, and this was a time of the global recession where oil was trading as low as $33 a barrel, things were much worse during the financial crisis compared to today.


ZIRP is the Elephant in the Room


The real reason the German 10 year yield has dropped so dramatically is the abundance of cheap money in the financial system, all the big financial institutions are basically borrowing at ZIRP levels from government central banks, levering up their balance sheets, and taking advantage of this delta or difference in abnormally low borrowing costs and government bond yields, without any concern or notion of the risks associated with this strategy.


Read More: The Fed Has to Sell Treasury Holdings Back to Marketplace


Remember these are 10 year bond durations we are talking about, and not 3 months! Do the central banks themselves think these are wise investments for financial institutions to be taking on their balance sheets at these prices and yield levels? They have to know, we can see the direct correlation of the ECB`s equivalent Fed Funds Rate dropping from 0.25 to 0.15 to 0.05 and the yield crashing in the German 10 Year Bund. But again this is for a duration of 10 years, for instance just 6 short years ago the ECB main borrowing rate was set at 3.75%.


Read More: Wall Street Will Always Find An Excuse For Not Raising Rates


Unintended Consequences


Does the ECB realistically think about the long term consequences of these financial institutions levering up their balance sheets with German 10 year Bunds trading with a 30 basis points yield? They have to realize that their policies are directly incentivizing this insane, irresponsible investing behavior with fallout being far more detrimental to the entire financial system of the European Union than a Greek exit, or a slow growth environment. 


All of these European Bonds are going to be extensively underwater from current price and yield levels for any holders at anywhere near these valuation metrics 5 and 10 years from now. This is like buying real estate in a hot real estate market, with no down payment loans, no documentation loans, and at zero percent borrowing costs with no borrowing limits, it is the housing crisis on steroids.


Read More: The 5–Year Bond is Emblematic of Careless Risk Taking in Bond Markets


I have heard the response that these financial institutions believe that the ECB will buy these underwater bonds in a bailout scenario so they don`t really worry about traditional bond valuation metrics. Really the ECB is going to be able to buy all these bonds from them without steep haircuts? Why would any rationale central bank even go down this road in the first place, kicking the can down the road is one thing, going full boar into a suicide financial implosion is another matter entirely?


Out of the Money Prices versus Risk under Normal Mean Reversion of 10 Year Average


At 30 basis points yield, a short on this German Bund via the futures market is basically a call option on the utter destruction of this Massive Yield Chasing Strategy on behalf of financial institutions that has taken place over the last few years.


Seriously what is the downside risk of this trade, does the German Bund go down to yielding only 15 basis points? And what after the deflationary cycle the inflationary, or even hyper-inflationary cycle takes off? Remember it isn`t like Germany doesn`t remember the hyper-inflationary cycle. So what is the upside of this trade, it really is off the charts for the next 10 year period from a risk reward standpoint. 



Just to put some rough numbers here let`s say 15 basis points risk, and 400 plus basis points reward on this trade scenario over the duration of this 10 year bond. Actually the sound investment for financial institutions is exactly the opposite of the one they are so aggressively seeking out at the moment in the bond markets. Remember these positions often sit on financial institutions balance sheets for years if not decades in some cases. I can just imagine the write downs on these Yield Chasing Trading Positions at the large financial institutions in the future.


There is no way in hell the German 10 Year Bund is trading at 30 basis points in five years’ time, let alone in ten years. When bond yields become so compressed that they represent far out of the money call option`s prices, but are not even premium priced for a normal reversion to the mean of the last 10 year average yields of the bonds, this sets up the entire financial system for systemic risk on a grand scale that central banks better start focusing on right now. We have a problem central banks, and it isn`t the problem you are worrying about, forget sluggish growth, we have the biggest financial bubble brewing right now in the largest financial asset class in the world, and the German 10 Year Bund yielding 30 basis points is a disaster waiting to happen for any investor levering up their balance sheets with this ridiculous bond investment.


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Socialist Exceptionalism

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 23:00

"In the minds of the statists, "Government Works Better" and 'things' work at the surface; but at the core, it's a disaster... The Americans that look to the government to 'save' them - and even gleefully thank the government for helping bail them out - fail to realize that it was the government that f##ked them in the first place..."


Simply put, "debt-financed socialism and corporatism isn't working" and a day of reckoning is coming...

How Ukraine Can Save China From Its Existential Threat (Spoiler Alert: Girls)

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 22:00

In China last year, just over 115 boys were born for every 100 girls, and since sonogram technology was introduced to China in the 1980s - allowing families to determine a baby’s gender during the first few months of pregnancy - the gender imbalance in the world's largest economy has grown colossal. However, as Beijing News recently explained, there may be a solution for China's 34 million woman shortfall... Ukrainian women, as "their economy is depressed but beautiful women are running rampant." While Foreign Policy notes that the best destinations for Chinese men to find spouses are Japan and South Korea, there appears to be plenty of fish in the sea, at least outside China. Oh the wonders of Ricardian comparative advantage - Ukraine needs an export business (and produces - from what we have heard - attractive women) and China needs to import 'women' (to fill its massive shortfall). Global economic growth problems, solved...


As Foreign Policy reports,

"Their economy is depressed but beautiful women are running rampant,” the state-run Beijing News reported Jan. 22 in a story suggesting that Ukrainian women could be the solution to China’s woman shortage. The piece, illustrated with charts, bubbles, and cartoon illustrations of lonely Chinese men, was a breezy attempt to make light of China’s missing women and the severe gender imbalance caused by couples aborting female fetuses in favor of boys. So widespread is the practice that it has badly skewed the country’s sex ratio: The global average is around 105 boys born for every 100 girls; but in China last year, just over 115 boys were born for every 100 girls.


The problem has been brewing since sonogram technology was introduced to China in the 1980s, allowing families to determine a baby’s gender during the first few months of pregnancy. Combined with the country’s restrictive family-planning policies — until recently, most urban families were only allowed a single child in order to curtail population growth — and a traditional preference for sons, the newfound ability to practice sex-selective abortion has resulted in one of the world’s highest gender imbalances. The topic flared anew in the public mind after the National Bureau of Statistics announced the latest population figures on Jan. 20, noting that at the end of 2014 China had 701 million men and 667 million women, a shortfall of nearly 34 million women.




China is not alone in these cultural predilections. Indian social scientist Ravinder Kaur wrote in an August 2013 paper that “the common response” in both China and India “when the connection between sex selection and bride shortage is pointed out is that rather than allow daughters to be born, they would resort to importing brides.” Kaur also wrote that bride shortages in China and India can lead to “kidnap marriage,” which includes “deception and enticement” and “luring women for marriage into high sex ratio areas.”


To address the problem, China has resorted to propaganda campaigns extolling the virtues of daughters and offering cash incentives for couples who have them. These measures have spurred more female births, but not enough — China’s gender imbalance is still “the most serious in the world and has lasted for the longest time and affected the largest number of people,” China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission said in a Jan. 21 statement.

Beijing News provided a tongue-in-cheek infographic explaining the problems and potential solutions... (our Chinese is not great but the pictures seemed to speak for themselves)...


Encourage feather-boah tickling parties...?


or marry a Ukrainian woman...


*  *  *

Be careful though when 'googling' Mail Order Brides - Ukraine...


Because, from what we are told, not all Ukrainian women look like this...


What Do They Know? Why Are So Many Of The Super Wealthy Preparing Bug Out Locations?

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 21:15

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

A lot of ultra-rich people are quietly preparing to “bug out” when the time comes.  They are buying survival properties, they are buying farms in far away countries and they are buying deep underground bunkers.  In fact, a prominent insider at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland says that “very powerful people are telling us they’re scared” and he shocked his audience when he revealed that he knows “hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand”.

So what do they know?  Why are so many of the super wealthy suddenly preparing bug out locations?  When the elite of the world start preparing for doomsday, that is a very troubling sign.  And right now the elite appear to be quietly preparing for disaster like never before.

The insider that I mentioned above is named Robert Johnson.  He is the president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, and what he recently told a packed audience in Davos is making headlines all over the planet

With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.

But he didn’t stop there.

In a separate interview, Johnson admitted that “very powerful people are telling us they’re scared” and that the elite “see increasing evidence of social instability and violence”.  You can watch video of the entire interview below…


And Johnson is not the only one saying these things.

The following quote comes from the Mirror

His comments were backed up by Stewart Wallis, executive director of the New Economics Foundation, who when asked about the comments told CNBC Africa: “Getaway cars the airstrips in New Zealand and all that sort of thing, so basically a way to get off.  If they can get off, onto another planet, some of them would.”

Of course not all elitists are planning to jet off to the other side of the globe.

Some are planning to go deep underground when things hit the fan.

For example, there is an underground decommissioned missile silo in Kansas that has been transformed into luxury survival condos by a real estate developer.  The following is from a Wall Street Journal article about those condos…

The so-called Survival Condo complex boasts full and half-floor units that cost $1.5 million to $3 million each. The building can accommodate up to 75 people, and buyers include doctors, scientists and entrepreneurs, says developer Larry Hall.


Mr. Hall, who lives in a Denver suburb, bought his first missile-silo site in Kansas in 2008 and completed construction in December 2012. A year later, he says, the development had sold out. Work on the second security compound—the one where Mr. Allen bought a unit—is under way, and Mr. Hall says he is considering additional sites in Texas and elsewhere.


As former nuclear missile sites built under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers, the structures were originally designed to withstand a direct hit by a nuclear bomb. At ground level, they can be sealed up by two armored doors weighing 16,000 pounds each. Mr. Hall added sophisticated water and air-treatment facilities, state-of-the-art computer network technology and several alternate power generation capabilities.

Other wealthy individuals are turning their current homes into high tech security fortresses.

Those that are involved in providing these kinds of services have seen business absolutely soar in recent years…

Wealthy families across the country are shelling out millions to protect their loved ones from intruders, natural disasters or the apocalypse as home security goes increasingly sci-fi.


Companies that provide concerned homeowners with futuristic gadgets – and a priceless peace of mind – have revealed the growing demand of costly bunkers, passageways, panic rooms and recognition software.


Chris Pollack – president of Pollack+Partners, a design and construction adviser in Purchase, New York – told Forbes that, while security has always been important for the wealthiest clients, the spending on home security has noticeably grown in the past five years.


And the options available on the market are like something from a Bond film.

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Why Are So Many Wealthy People Building Futuristic High Tech Security Bunkers?

So why are all of these wealthy people so alarmed?

Well, the truth is that they can see what is happening.

They can see that millions of people are falling out of the middle class.  They can see that society is breaking down in thousands of different ways.  They can see that anger and frustration are rising to unprecedented levels.  And they can see that things are likely to boil over once the next major economic crisis strikes.

Even though the economy is still fairly stable for the moment, signs of increasing economic suffering are everywhere.  For example, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that homeless encampments are rapidly spreading throughout the Los Angeles area…

Over the last two years, street encampments have jumped their historic boundaries in downtown Los Angeles, lining freeways and filling underpasses from Echo Park to South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a city-county agency, received 767 calls about street encampments in 2014, up 60% from the 479 in 2013.

We live at a time when almost everyone is getting poorer except for the elite The top 1 percent now have close to 50 percent of the wealth in the entire world, and each year wealth becomes even more concentrated in their hands.

The elite know that eventually a breaking point is going to come.  Those that are smart don’t want to be around when that happens.

And we got a few clues about what things might look like what that time comes from the recent “snow scare” in New York.  Frightened consumers wiped out supplies of bread, milk and eggs within just a few hours.  People started to take advantage of one another, even the journalists seemed like they were on the verge of panic, and virtually the entire city shut down.

All of this over just a few snowflakes.

So what is going to happen when we have a real crisis?

If the elite are preparing to bug out, it is hard to blame them.

I wouldn’t want to be right in the middle of a volcano when it erupts either.

Life is about to dramatically change, and signs of the coming storm are everywhere.

I hope that you are getting prepared for what is about to hit us while you still can.

16% Of Global Government Bonds Now Have A Negative Yield: Here Is Who's Buying It

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 21:04

A week ago many were surprised to learn that in his attempt to "fight deflation", the ECB's Mario Draghi unleashed the biggest deflationary wave of all time, when in the aftermath of the ECB's NIRP policy, and subsequently QE, an unprecedented €1.4 trillion in European debt with a maturity of more than 1 year traded down to subzero, as in negative, yields.

But what happens if one expands the Eurozone NIRP universe to include the debt of other countries including Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and so on? Conveniently, JPM has done the analysis and finds that a mindblowing $3.6 trillion of government debt traded with a negative yield as recently as last week. This represents 16% of the JPM Global Government Bond Index, or in other words nearly a fifth of all global government debt is now trading with a negative yield, meaning investors pay sovereigns, using other people's money of course, for the privilege of buying their issuance!

JPM's full take:

There is currently €1.5tr or $1.7tr of Euro area government bonds of greater than one year maturity trading with negative nominal yields, almost all of them of core euro governments of up to 5 years maturity. This figure rises to $1.8tr if one adds $16bn of Swedish, $60bn of Swiss and $45bn of Danish government bonds currently trading with a negative yield. Almost all Japanese government bonds are trading with positive yields this week, but last week around $1.8tr of them were trading with a negative yield. So the total universe of government bonds traded with a negative yield was $3.6tr last week or 16% of the JPM Global Government Bond Index.

The logical follow up question: as the entire world appears slowly but surely headed to a uniform NIRP platform, where every single sovereign's debt will have a negative yield thanks to one or more central banks' guarantees that said debt will be monetized no matter what (those curious what happens when there is even a faint doubt if a given nation's Treasurys won't be backstopped and purchased by a central bank, just look at what happened to Greek bonds this past week), why do investors keep dumping their cash in securities that have a negative carry?

Here again courtesy of JPM's Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, are six investor classes which, even with US stocks trading at the low, low forward GAAP PE of a modest 20x, prefer to incentivise governments around the globe to issue even "moar" debt, in the process making a global debt crisis that much worse, as the stock of government debt rises to truly catastrophic proportions.

  1. Investors who fear or expect deflation tend to find nominal bonds with even negative yields attractive as long as expected deflation makes real yields positive. In a deflationary environment investors tend to shift away from real into nominal assets. During the previous two decades in Japan, this took the form of a shift away from equities and real estate into cash and nominal JGBs.
  2. Investors who speculate on currency appreciation, for example investors buying Swiss or Danish government bonds to speculate on CHF or DKK currency appreciation.
  3. Investors who expect capital gains from central bank easing i.e. rate cuts or QE. For example, investors who have been buying euro area bonds over the past six  months in anticipation of ECB rate cuts and QE, have seen strong capital gains already and some of them hold on to their investments despite negative yields as they expect further capital gains. Another example is investors buying Swedish bonds currently to speculate on Riksbank cutting its repo rate to negative over the coming months.
  4. Central banks can buy bonds with negative yields. For example, the ECB stated that its QE program will encompass purchases of nominal bonds with negative yields. The ECB funds its bond purchases at a depo rate of -20bp so buying bonds with slightly negative yields is still a positive carry trade. The BoJ bought government debt securities at negative yields in recent months.
  5. Indexed or passive funds have to buy bonds with negative yields. This universe is considerable and has been growing due to an increasing shift towards passive investing. In the US the universe of bond and hybrid mutual funds that are passive is $375bn or 7.8% of all bond and hybrid mutual funds. Extrapolating this to the global bond and hybrid mutual fund universe of $11.5tr implies a passive bond and hybrid mutual fund universe of $900bn. And this excludes bond ETFs, a $350bn universe globally. Admittedly only a portion of these passive bond funds invest in government bonds only, but this portion is significant. In the case of bond ETFs for example we note that $150bn out of $350bn of bond ETFs invest in government bonds only.
  6. Banks buy bonds with negative yields to escape negative depo rates such as those by the ECB, SNB and the Danish central bank. There is currently a large amount of €220bn of reserves subjected to negative interest rates and this amount looks set to grow exponentially due to ECB's QE (this €220bn includes the ECB’s excess reserves, Danish central bank’s certificates of deposits and Swiss sight deposits subjected to a negative depo rate). And the recent experience in Switzerland shows that even a small amount of reserves subjected to negative interest rates can have a big impact on bond yields. For example, there are CHF380bn of sight deposits at the SNB’s balance sheet but only a small portion of around 10%-15% is subjected to the punitive -75bp depo rate. This is because this charge is only levied above a threshold which is 20 times the minimum reserve requirement. Most Swiss banks including the two biggest are said to be below this threshold. But foreign banks are more likely to be subjected to the negative depo rate. This is also true for financial institutions that do not have  inimum reserve requirements, such as insurance companies. These domestic financial institutions are subjected to a fixed threshold of only CHF10m, above which the negative depo rate will be applied. As of the end of December, foreign banks had CHF17bn of sight deposits with the SNB while non-bank domestic institutions had CHF33bn of deposits. At a depo rate of -75bp these CHF50bn of sight deposits could cost CHF375m per annum to their owners. This is enough for these institutions to rush to get rid of these deposits by purchasing bonds with yields as low as -75bp in order to reduce this loss. Most likely they purchase these bonds from banks not subjected to negative depo rate. As a result, 7-year Swiss government bond yields declined to as low as -67bp last week.

    In addition to negative depo rates, commercial banks still have a large gap between deposits and loans, meaning that they need to invest a large amount of excess deposits into securities. A big portion of this liquidity is invested in short-dated/intermediate government bonds of 2-5 year maturity given banks’ reluctance to take duration risk as it would compound the mismatch between asset and liabilities, given zero risk weighting for government bonds and given the liquidity coverage ratio regulation which forces commercial banks to buy high-quality government-related bonds.

Of note: in their infinite wisdom, regulators continue to keep government debt at a "zero risk weighting", which is perhaps the biggest self-fulifilling prophecy ever and one which is only valid as long as the weakest link in the "central banks are infallible" chain holds. Because a few more episodes like the SNB's shocking, and confidence-crushing, reversal in January, and the faith in central banker omnipotence will slowly but surely start to evaporate, and as it goes, it will also reveal just how much risk there truly is in this biggest "frontrun-the-central-banks" bandwagon trade of all time.

In the meantime, prepare for much more laughter as well as sheer horror, as such until recently Onionesque market dislocations as negative interest rate mortgages (now available in Denmark, soon everywhere else) become an ubiquitous feature of a broken financial system now clearly in its terminal phase, where prudent behavior is punished outright, while spending money one doesn't have, and will never be able to repay, becomes the most rewarded activity.

"King Dollar" Is Crushing 'Recovery'Dreams, 87% Of US Companies Have Guided Lower

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 20:30

The 'souring' of the mother's milk of stock markets continues. Management guidance and commentary implies 3-5pp impact due to 'king dollar' FX headwinds as an astounding 87% of companies guided below consensus expectations for next quarter. Bottom-up consensus 2015 EPS estimates were cut by 4% during January, and, as Goldman Sachs warns, 4Q EPS is tracking 7% below the consensus estimate at the start of reporting season. Finally, and perhaps most worrisome, granular bottom-up consensus is below top-down 'strategist' consensus for the first time since 2009... as the gap between Forward P/E valuations and long-term growth is as wide as it has ever been.

"King Dollar" is not 'unambiguously good' for America...

Revenue results are correlated to dollar strengthening, which has led to weaker revenue results and lower forward guidance that incorporates the FX headwind.



Anecdotally, management commentary implies the dollar strengthening will lower revenue growth by 300-500 bp. Foreign sales accounted for 33% of aggregate revenue for the S&P 500 in 2013.


Based on our earnings model, a 10% strengthening of the trade-weighted dollar lowers S&P 500 2015 EPS by about $3.

Bottom-up Consensus 2015 EPS is tumbling...

An astounding 87% of companies (39 of 45) guided below consensus expectations for next quarter, the highest level in our 34-quarter history. Historically, 71% of firms guide down in a typical quarter.


Full-year 2015 guidance also disappointed. 80% of firms guided earnings below consensus.



The median company guided 4% below consensus expectations for 1Q 2015 and 2% below consensus for full-year 2015.


Bottom-up consensus 2015 EPS estimates plummeted by 4% during January due to both falling oil prices and negative company guidance.




The $4.50 decline in EPS to $120.50 from $125 now places bottom-up consensus estimates below our forecast of $122 and the top-down consensus forecast of $125. Bottom-up consensus estimates were last below top-down estimates in 2009.

And finally - valuations...

Consensus long-term growth estimates are slumping... whch means multiple expansion is the only way to keep the dream of wealth creation alive. As @Not_Jim_Cramer exposes, this 'gap' has seldom - if ever - been wider...



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Here's Some Frightening Honesty (Courtesy Of The US Congress)

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 19:46

Submitted by Simon Black via Sovereign Man blog,

A member of my staff caught an obscure resolution that was introduced in the US House of Representatives last week—Resolution no. 41.

The fact that there was essentially no coverage of this Resolution really shows how the mainstream media is completely turning a blind eye to the true fiscal situation of the United States of America.

The entire point of the resolution is to say that the federal government is broke.

It can’t pay its own bills, and therefore is shouldn’t be responsible to pay anyone else’s either.

It doesn’t’ take a rocket scientists to figure out what a bankrupt government will do—just like any thief, they’ll go after easy targets first.

The easiest target of all is future generations.

They’re going to run up the debt as high as they can, which essentially means pulling future tax revenues into today. It’s the easiest tax of all, because unborn children do not vote.

The estate tax is another one to watch out for—because, like unborn children, dead people don’t vote either.

We had a great podcast yesterday about retirement savings, where there’s an easy $5 trillion treasure chest for them to raid.

And, of course, there’s the greatest tax of all, the inflation tax, which decreases the standard of living for most of the population as the cost of living rises much faster than incomes.

This Resolution is a pretty scary dose of honesty. But again, what’s even more concerning is that it was just ignored and has objectively a zero percent chance of passing.

I do encourage you to check it out though—even the government is admitting it’s finished.

I’ll quote from the Resolution now without comment and wish you a very pleasant weekend:

Whereas the Federal Government is operating at an annual deficit and is increasing its outstanding debt every year;


Whereas the Federal Government, as of January 2015, is carrying more than $18.0 trillion in debt, of which $13.0 trillion is owed to the public and $5.08 trillion is owed to Social Security and other trust funds;


Whereas foreign governments, individuals, and corporations as of October 2014 own 47 percent of Federal debt held by the public;


Whereas Social Security’s unfunded liabilities in 2014 are $10.6 trillion over 75 years and $24.9 trillion over the infinite horizon;


Whereas the Federal debt held by the public is expected to increase by more than $7 trillion from 2014 to 2024 according to the Congressional Budget Office;


Whereas more than 16 percent of the entire Federal budget goes directly to States and local governments;


Whereas more than 22 percent of total State and local government general revenue comes from the Federal Government according to Census Bureau’s latest Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finance;


Whereas several State and local pension plans are expected to fully exhaust their funds within ten years.

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Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

The AAPL Effect: Q4 Earnings Growth Without Apple: 0%; With Apple: 2.1%

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 19:29

Yesterday we commented on the outsized macro impact that one company already excerts on the world, when we reported that in the fourth quarter, a whopping 60% of retail sales growth was due to the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, and the surge of Chinese tourists who tok advantage of Hong Kong's lower prices and earlier release. So how about the micro level?

For the answer we present the chart below. Behold: the AAPL effect, which demonstrates that what until AAPL's release was shaping up to be a flat Q4 earnings season for the S&P 500, has since transformed into Q4 EPS growth of 2.1%, and made Apple the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. All this, thanks to just one company!

Factset's take on this dramatic, outsized impact :

During the past week, the blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 for Q4 2014 increased to 2.1% today from 0.2% last Friday. The dollar-level earnings for the index rose by $5.0 billion over this period (to $273.8 billion today from $268.8 billion last Friday). What caused the increase in dollar-level earnings for the index this past week?


At the sector level, the Information Technology sector witnessed the largest increase in dollar-level earnings of all ten sectors over the past week, as the dollar-level earnings for the sector rose by $3.1 billion over this period.


At the company level within the Information Technology sector, Apple was the largest contributor not only to the increase in dollar-level earnings for the Information Technology sector, but also to the increase for the S&P 500 index as a whole. On January 27, Apple reported actual EPS of $3.06 for Q4 2014, which was 17.5% above the mean EPS estimate of $2.60. Due to the magnitude of the surprise and the company’s weight in the index, Apple accounted for just over 2.5 billion (or 51%) of the $5.0 billion increase in earnings for the S&P 500 index over the past week. If Apple had reported actual EPS that matched the mean EPS estimate, the blended earnings growth today would be 1.1% rather than 2.1%.


As a result of the upside earning surprise, Apple is now the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. If Apple is excluded, the blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 for Q4 2014 would drop to 0.3% from 2.1%.

In light of these facts, one can only hope that Apple's growth, which many sellside analysts have already pegged will result in the first $1 trillion market cap, continues without a hitch in perpetuity, as it now appears that even the slightest deviation from "priced to perfection" growth of just this one company will result in not only an economic recession or worse, but an S&P earnings and market crash too.

GFMS Reports Chinese Gold Trade Volume Incorrect By 100%

In Gold We Trust - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 19:23

Thomson Reuters GFMS, one of the leading consultancy firms regarding precious metals supply and demand data has recently released the GFMS Gold Survey 2014 – Update 2. From the report:

Thomson Reuters’ supply and demand data are collected and collated by our team of research analysts based in Australia, China, Europe, India and the USA within an extensive field research programme which involves interviewing stakeholders across the supply chain in every market and utilizing the unique data sets available to us after researching the market continuously since 1967.

… [etc]

All this information, including mine cost profiles, analysts “view of the field”, disaggregated supply and demand data back to 2000, as well as base case and two alternative scenarios underpin price forecast for one, three, and ten year periods and are now available on Thomson Reuters Eikon.

For the ones that don’t know, Thomson Reuters Eikon is a data terminal that costs you something in between $800 and $1,800 a month, depending on how many options you prefer.

In a previous post I noted I didn’t agree with GFMS on Chinese gold demand, disclosed by them at 866 tonnes while supply in China was 1,833 tonnes (import 1,200 + mine 451 + scrap 182), resulting in a gap of 967 tonnes. But I would like to save the demand discussion for another post to expand upon.

The section in the GFMS report that shows gold trading volume on the largest exchanges of the planet looks like this:

The table is obviously meant so readers can compare the gold volumes traded on the major exchanges; all data is computed into metric tonnes. The COMEX data is correct, the CME publishes gold futures contracts volume as number of contracts, when I multiply all contracts traded in 2014 by 100 ounce, which is the size of one contract, and divide the total amount of ounces by 32151, the total tonnage is 126,007. (Just about the same as GFMS reports.)

Then, the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE), the primary gold futures exchange in China. One gold contract/lot on the SHFE equals 1 Kg. The SHFE publishes gold futures contracts volume as number of contracts, when I add all contracts traded in 2014 and divide the total amount by 1,000, the total tonnage is 47,500 tonnes. Seemingly the same as GFMS reported. However, volume on the SHFE is counted double-sided, or bilaterally. From the SHFE:

  1. The unit for trading volume, open interest and the change of open interest is lot, herein are double-side counted; trading value herein is double-side counted.

There for the total tonnage has to be divided by 2 if compared to COMEX volumes. The actual total tonnage traded on the SHFE in 2014 was 23,750 – counted unilaterally. GFMS has effectively double counted SHFE gold trading volume. This way GFMS has also disclosed all data from the SGE incorrect – Au(T+D) and the spot contract. Also take note I’ve written on August 27, 2014, GFMS was making the same mistake on their silver numbers. 

Imagine you pay $1,800 a month for an Eikon terminal that feeds you completely wrong Chinese volume and open interest data. Quite a bummer.

Previously I noticed an error in the Bloomberg terminal that discloses the Chinese price of silver including 17 % VAT, and thus feeding false data. Of course it’s anyone’s choice to decide what numbers to use, I just wanted to share my view on Chinese precious metals trade data.

The post GFMS Reports Chinese Gold Trade Volume Incorrect By 100% appeared first on Koos Jansen.

GFMS Reports Chinese Gold Trade Volume Incorrect By 100%

BullionStar - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 19:23

Thomson Reuters GFMS, one of the leading consultancy firms regarding precious metals supply and demand data has recently released the GFMS Gold Survey 2014 – Update 2. From the report:

Thomson Reuters’ supply and demand data are collected and collated by our team of research analysts based in Australia, China, Europe, India and the USA within an extensive field research programme which involves interviewing stakeholders across the supply chain in every market and utilizing the unique data sets available to us after researching the market continuously since 1967.

… [etc]

All this information, including mine cost profiles, analysts “view of the field”, disaggregated supply and demand data back to 2000, as well as base case and two alternative scenarios underpin price forecast for one, three, and ten year periods and are now available on Thomson Reuters Eikon.

For the ones that don’t know, Thomson Reuters Eikon is a data terminal that costs you something in between $800 and $1,800 a month, depending on how many options you prefer.

In a previous post I noted I didn’t agree with GFMS on Chinese gold demand, disclosed by them at 866 tonnes while supply in China was 1,833 tonnes (import 1,200 + mine 451 + scrap 182), resulting in a gap of 967 tonnes. But I would like to save the demand discussion for another post to expand upon.

The section in the GFMS report that shows gold trading volume on the largest exchanges of the planet looks like this:

The table is obviously meant so readers can compare the gold volumes traded on the major exchanges; all data is computed into metric tonnes. The COMEX data is correct, the CME publishes gold futures contracts volume as number of contracts, when I multiply all contracts traded in 2014 by 100 ounce, which is the size of one contract, and divide the total amount of ounces by 32151, the total tonnage is 126,007. (Just about the same as GFMS reports.)

Then, the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE), the primary gold futures exchange in China. One gold contract/lot on the SHFE equals 1 Kg. The SHFE publishes gold futures contracts volume as number of contracts, when I add all contracts traded in 2014 and divide the total amount by 1,000, the total tonnage is 47,500 tonnes. Seemingly the same as GFMS reported. However, volume on the SHFE is counted double-sided, or bilaterally. From the SHFE:

  1. The unit for trading volume, open interest and the change of open interest is lot, herein are double-side counted; trading value herein is double-side counted.

There for the total tonnage has to be divided by 2 if compared to COMEX volumes. The actual total tonnage traded on the SHFE in 2014 was 23,750 – counted unilaterally. GFMS has effectively double counted SHFE gold trading volume. This way GFMS has also disclosed all data from the SGE incorrect – Au(T+D) and the spot contract. Also take note I’ve written on August 27, 2014, GFMS was making the same mistake on their silver numbers. 

Imagine you pay $1,800 a month for an Eikon terminal that feeds you completely wrong Chinese volume and open interest data. Quite a bummer.

Previously I noticed an error in the Bloomberg terminal that discloses the Chinese price of silver including 17 % VAT, and thus feeding false data. Of course it’s anyone’s choice to decide what numbers to use, I just wanted to share my view on Chinese precious metals trade data.

The post GFMS Reports Chinese Gold Trade Volume Incorrect By 100% appeared first on Koos Jansen.

The Black Swan Of Super Bowls: "Ticket Prices Are Being Manipulated To The Extreme"

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 19:00

Super Bowl ticket prices continue to soar. With the game now just a day away, prices have exceeded the $10,500 average and get-in price is just over $9,000 but, as TiqIQ's CEO reports, the ticket market’s "Black Swan" moment will leave some fans showing up to Arizona having paid for tickets they’ll never receive... as derivative-based speculators were selling tickets they never had to begin with, and the short squeeze is unprecedented. "The market is being manipulated to the extreme by those who have paid teams and the league for access." When this happened in the 2011 BCS National Championship game, many brokers went out of business filling their short orders, and some others even walked away from their orders, leaving fans to fend for themselves and it appears tomorrow will be the same for Super Bowl attendees (and speculators).

As the CEO of online ticket site TiqIQ notes (via The Daily Beast),

Two days after the conference championship game, the cheapest ticket for Super Bowl XLIX was going for under $2,000. That same cheapest ticket—also known as the “get-in price”—is now going $9,600. While good old-fashioned demand played a role in this year’s run-up, like 2008's market-based Black Swan euphoria and subsequent crash, the 2015 Super Bowl dynamic was driven principally by derivative-based speculators looking to make a quick buck.




In the 2015 Super Bowl ticket market, short selling has again played a major role, but this time around, anyone that shorted the market is now looking at losses of as much as $8,000 for each ticket.


In ticketing, short selling works like this: A speculator offers to sell a ticket they do not own, for a price above where he thinks the market will ultimately end up. At the time of the sale, this may seem like a good deal. Following the normal ticket market demand curve, as the event gets closer, prices drop.


When that happens, the “spec” buys a ticket, ideally below the price at which they originally sold it. For last year’s Super Bowl in New York, the cheapest ticket on game-day was going for around $1,500. If the same pattern held this year, a spec seller who sold their ticket for $2,000 after the conference championship would pocket $500 and a 33% return for their week’s worth of work.


With the cheapest pair to the 2015 game now going for $10,000, those same sellers are now looking at losses of up to $8,000—for each ticket. The result of this short-selling has been a week-long scramble by underwater brokers looking to fill orders at the best price available.

Simply put - the average fan never sees a fair price as the "short squeeze" demand prices all reasonable buyers out of the market. This is not the first time - but it is the most significant yet...

The first time the U.S. ticket market crossed the $5,000 average mark was in 2011 for the BCS National Championship between Auburn and Oregon. That game also took place at University of Phoenix Stadium, and like this year, short selling played a big part in the elevated price levels. That year, however, tickets dropped as low as $3,000 on game-day.


Despite that drop, many brokers went out of business filling their short orders, and some others even walked away from their orders, leaving fans to fend for themselves in Arizona without the ticket they thought they had.

Yet again a market is being manipulated by those with financial might or elite positioning to the detriment of the general public...

With the arrival of $10,000 tickets, now something has to be done to protect consumers in situations like this. As a lawsuit filed last year makes clear, less than 2 percent of Super Bowl tickets actually become available to the general public. The NFL controls who gets the rest, with the two participating teams getting 17.5 percent, the host team getting 5 percent and each NFL team getting 1.2 percent each.


That way, the NFL dictates when and to whom tickets are made available. Unlike most events, the Super Bowl does not allow for e-tickets, so tracking and accountability is entirely within control of the NFL.




The cheapest face value ticket for this year’s Super Bowl was $1,200, which is $8,000 less than what you can get now on the secondary market. With nothing particularly different about the match-up, the participants or the location, those kinds of numbers suggest that the market is rigged.


The market is being manipulated to the extreme by those who have paid teams and the league for access.


While those with access won financially this year, they’ve done so at the expense of the fan, their own integrity, and the consumer’s trust in the ticket market. For Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, the NFL needs to have a fix in place to ensure 2015 never happens again.

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Natural builders like Simon, Jon, SunRay and Tony push at the edges of what most...

Natural Homes - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 18:31
Natural builders like Simon, Jon, SunRay and Tony push at the edges of what most of us would think impossible or couldn't even imagine. These are their inspirational homes and words of experience and advice...

Inspiration and advice...
This is a collection of natural homes built by truly inspirational people with their words of advice...

How "Unequal" Is Your State?

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 18:15

Submitted by Salil Mehta via Statistical Ideas blog,

It's an appealing chart from this week's Economic Policy Institute's report, leveraging the fashionable, French economist Piketty's statistics, in order to illustrate how well the "top 1%" are doing in each of the 50 states.  The report is provokingly titled: "The Increasingly Unequal States of America".  But the report creates distortions in the truth.  An important matter affecting hundreds of millions should also include a straight acknowledgement of probability theory.  We see through this article, that beyond the obvious national-level inequality (those at the top versus those at the bottom), targeting state-level differences in values is perverse.  The latter is more a matter of probability theory, involving large sample sizes.

Let's start by looking at this chart below.  It shows the differences in state-level ratios, contrasting the typical incomes at the top 1% versus the typical incomes at the bottom 1%:

Everyone from the press, to news readers, gawk at how much each state's levels are, in relation to the levels of other arbitrary states.  But this is irrational.  Are liberal states such as California and New York, twice as biased (or twice as unfair) as conservative states such of Arkansas and Maine?  Of course not.  But that's the poor logic one would convey from the former two states showing nearly twice the inequality values on the chart, versus the latter two states.  Ex-post examination of living costs doesn't fully explain things either, as expenses are generally higher in states such as Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii, versus the expenses in states such as Texas, Illinois, and most of Appalachia.

This week I devoted a couple hours spelling out to a confused Wall Street Journal writer how there is some pertinence here, related to probability theory.  Population size theoretically impacts these statistics, and only a small number of these states are grossly unequal enough to warrant exhibiting them through a charming, 50-state map.  Whenever we are forced to explore state-level analysis though, it should be done through the prism of simply explaining relative variation, well beyond what random luck would suggest.

The most liberal people suggest that even thinking about this math is unnecessary.  Perhaps any glorification of wrongs that need to be righted, justifies the means that it would take to get there.  Over time this can conflate math ideas with one's ideological bias.  We must separate the discussion of national and structural inequality, among a population, from one where there is a perceived advantage for some groups relative to others.

We can't prove the inappropriateness of inequality, by looking at the differences in relative inequality between states.  We enjoy the right in the U.S. to pursue different outcomes.  To take risks on the margins.  We've been making many billions of these choices, across generations.  This means that we always enjoy some separation in outcomes, particularly among the largest populations.

That's how probability theory impacts all of our lives, even in "equal" conditions.  We would prefer a safety net against hard times.  Yet we will still take risks such as how much and what we learn, what we feed our bodies, what we do on vacation, what financial investments we accept, when we plot a career change... the actions here can't be deemed some unfair inequality.  They are the mystical elements we call life!

In a divergent context, we will always see these interesting differences (based upon population size alone), in areas that have nothing to do with the draw of inequality.  Such as the state-level distribution of newborn baby sizes, or the performance distributions of high-school athletes.  We'll mention others still later in this article.  And all of this collectively confirms our understanding that there is something important to the probability math, explaining the relative dispersions connected to population sizes.

Before moving too far ahead, let's first show that the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) chart above has an obvious concordance between income dispersion and the population size itself.  We'll use simple arithmetic(!) as well, substituting for a complex probability area known as copula math (here, and here).  If there were no connection between a state's inequality calculations and the population rank, then how many states would be in the top 10 of both?  What about in the bottom 10 of both?  The answers are quite low:

(10/50)*(10/50)*50 = 2 states in the top 10 of both of both variables


(10/50)*(10/50)*50 = 2 states in the bottom 10 of both variables

So only 4 (2+2) states total.  But it's easy to certify from the chart that there is much more of a match among these variables than 4.

Of the top 10 populated states, 5 were also among the top 10 "unequal" states: CA, TX, FL, NY, IL.  Of the 10 least populated states, 4 were also among the 10 least "unequal" states: VT, AK, ME, HI.  So instead of 4 overlapping states, we have a significantly higher 9 (5+4) states overlapping.  Additionally, there are no crossover states (e.g., a highly "unequal" less-populated state, nor a less "unequal" highly-populated state).  The easy math (9>4 with no crossovers) shows something, and it's not structural inequality.

The only common variable between the selection of the top 10 (and in the selection of the bottom 10) populated states is just population size itself!  Does population size coerce inequality?  Again, no.  Otherwise we could just split California into two smaller states, making citizens suddenly feel there is somehow "greater equality".  Or we could reunite Virginia and West Virginia, making the new super-state's citizens feel there is magically "greater inequality".  But this sort of statistical reasoning is crazy.  It leads one to think inequality can be solved with scissors and glue.

In our popular "Aristocrats in flyovers" article (a name suggesting easier state-level wealth in less-populated flyover states), we dig into the probability theory of extreme data.  And there we continue to see this pattern show up repeatedly in diverse datasets.  Such as the wealthiest individual per state, or the number of cumulative Miss America winners per state.  Again this couldn't be coincidence, and we can also mathematically solve for the theoretical expected values for parametric most extreme individual, as we did in this article here.
Take a look at the bar chart below (of the top 1% income), and see in dots how tight the trend is for relative inequality, versus state population.  We mathematically expect the more populated states to have considerably higher top 1% income (a double-digit percent increase!), versus the top 1% income in the less populated states- and this relates to the EPI chart above.  Connecticut was the single, unreliable outlier removed, using a parallel statistical process others also do (notice Wyoming is missing in the aforementioned chart.)

We also show a related transformed bar chart, below, instead fixating on changes in the the relative standard confidence interval (as one moves across the chart from the less populated states, to the most populated states).  We can now confirm that we mustn't ignore probability modeling as part of this story.  We can't persistently pretend that less-progressively larger (a generally concave inequality dispersion function, similar to how it is with most economic data) inequality doesn't exist, for the most populated states.

Don't assume -as many lay people and activists do- that these are sampling errors that must vanish, as the sample population sprouts into the millions.  This would be deceitful and cause most people to further jump on top of similar "research" as the EPI chart, falsely connecting most of the state-level calculation differences to genuine differences in inequality. 

The conclusions of this article are again as pertinent for the top 1% in a population, as it is for the most extreme person in any group.  This is since the top 1% is still extreme enough along the probability distribution (from 0%, to 100%), so that larger populations will lead to less-progressively larger, top percentile thresholds.  Of course this is not true for sampling (Ch.5 in Statistics Topics) closer to the middle of a peer distribution (e.g., top 49%, or bottom 49%), where most of us in society have performed  through the ages.

The Official White House Terrorist Identification Chart

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 17:30

Presented with no comment...




We Ignore Unintended Consequences At Our Peril

Zerohedge - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 16:45

Submitted by Chris Martenson via Peak Prosperity,

Early in my business career, I was faced with a challenge that gave me an appreciation for a critical lesson about life and business. It's that oftentimes, even with the best of intentions, our actions create consequences completely different from what we intend.

It's that insight that makes me so concerned about the grand central banking experiment being conducted around the globe right now. With little more than a lever to ham-fistedly move interest rates, the central planners are trying to keep the world's debt-addiction well-fed while simultaneously kick-starting economic growth and managing the price levels of everything from stocks to housing to fine art.

As with an earlier article I wrote focusing on the Bullwhip Effect phenomenon: the complexity of the system, the questionable credentials of the decision-makers, and the universe's proclivity towards unintended consequences all combine to give great confidence that things will NOT play out in the way the Fed and its brethren are counting on.

A Puzzle To Solve

Two years after graduating business school, I joined the team at Yahoo! Finance as its Marketing lead. It was a crazy time there; the tech bubble was in mid-burst and advertiser dollars -- the main source of revenue for the business unit -- were fast drying up. We went through several general managers within my first year there as the leadership scrambled for a sound course to chart.

Amidst the turmoil, a lot of misfit projects were tossed in my lap. Partly because I was the "new guy" and least likely to refuse, but mostly because the engineering-driven culture there didn't quite know what to do with a marketer, so any square peg looked like fair game.

One of those projects was the Yahoo! VISA card. A few years before my arrival, VISA approached Yahoo! with an idea everybody thought a winner: Our credit card + your massive audience = lots of money to be made. So a snazzy purple card was minted, which Yahoo! committed to promote with a certain chunk of its prodigious banner ad inventory.

By the time the project fell to me, I was told that things weren't working out to either party's hopes. VISA was disappointed and Yahoo! felt it wasn't getting enough money in return to merit the value of advertising inventory it was blocking off. But no one seemed to have any details to share. Apparently things had been running mostly on autopilot, with no one held accountable for oversight. So, I started doing a little digging.

On the Yahoo! side, I made sure the ads were running in the channels of our network where we knew "people who spend money" were most likely to be: Finance, Real Estate, Shopping, Autos, etc. We were also using targeting profiles that looked for users in favorable demographics (peak earning ages, high-earning professions, affluent zip codes, etc). So, it seemed our marketing plan was sound, and indeed, the click-through rates on the ads were well above normal. We were sending a lot of leads over to VISA.

Things got murkier when talking with the VISA folks. "The quality of your leads is terrible", they told me. Which puzzled me at first. I double-checked the data and confirmed the demographics of the people targeted by the ads were solid -- substantially better, in fact, than the median Yahoo! user. And Yahoo!'s user base was so vast, there was no reason to suspect it should be materially different than other mass market audiences VISA marketed to.

So if our audience was good, and our ads were generating plenty of leads, why was our relative performance so much worse?

Attracting The Undesirable

The 'aha!' moment came once I learned why our leads were getting rejected. Their credit scores were terrible.

This was something I was blind to when running my ads on Yahoo!. I could see what a user was interested in (for example, stocks), I knew he was a 45-54 year-old male living in a zip code that had an average household income of $100,000 (say, Newport Beach, CA), but I had no ability to know if he managed his finances wisely or not. He could be up to his eyeballs in debt, and he'd look no different to me than his debt-free neighbor.

So for some reason, all the reckless spendthrifts were responding to my ads much more than the prudent savers. Why? I wondered.

And then it hit me: this was a classic example of adverse selection.

Think about it for a moment. What do you often see when you open up your mailbox? A bunch of offers for credit cards. Who doesn't get those? People with bad credit.

And if you have bad credit, chances are your finances aren't in great shape. Meaning: you'd sure like some credit if you could get your hands on it.

So, those were the people who were thrilled to see the banner ads I was serving, and who rushed to click on them and apply for the card.

The entire 'win-win' strategy originally struck between VISA and Yahoo! was failing due to a massive unintended consequence. The people we least wanted to respond to the offer were in fact the ones most motivated to do so.

Acknowledging The Reality Of Unintended Consequences

I see a lot of similar unintended consequences in the strategies that the Federal Reserve and its central banking brethren have been pursuing over much of the past decade.

The global financial system wants to correct via natural market forces, due to slower economic growth and excessive debt levels around the world. But the central banks have decided to thwart nature by intervening to prop up insolvent institutions and reduce the cost of debt, all in hopes of buying enough time for the system to grow out of its woes.

But nearly 7 years after the 2008 crisis and $Trillions upon $Trillions in stimulus, where are we? With moribund economic growth and an ever bigger wealth gap than ever before, as this recent video explains:


Quite simply, the strategy is not working out according to plan. 

And very likely compounding these unintended consequences is the basic principle of uncertainty. In his article Why Our Central Planners Are Breeding Failure Charles Hugh Smith recently opined on how unknowable much of the results of current monetary policy will be, despite the Fed et al's assurances that they have everything well under control:

As noted above, any policy identified as the difference between success and failure must pass a basic test: When the policy is applied, is the outcome predictable?  For example, if central banks inject liquidity and buy assets (quantitative easing) in the next financial crisis, will those policies duplicate the results seen in 2008-14?


The current set of fiscal and monetary policies pursued by central banks and states are all based on lessons drawn from the Great Depression of the 1930s. The successful (if slow and uneven) “recovery” since the 2008-09 global financial meltdown is being touted as evidence that the key determinants of success drawn from the Great Depression are still valid: the Keynesian (or neo-Keynesian) policies of massive deficit spending by central states and extreme monetary easing policies by central banks.


Are the present-day conditions identical to those of the Great Depression? If not, then how can anyone conclude that the lessons drawn from that era will be valid in an entirely different set of conditions?


We need only consider Japan’s remarkably unsuccessful 25-year pursuit of these policies to wonder if the outcomes of these sacrosanct monetary and fiscal policies are truly predictable, or whether the key determinants of macro-economic success and failure have yet to be identified.

It's this concern about the failure of the current strategy our central planners are pursuing, paired with tremendous magnitude of the impending cost of that failure, that motivated Chris to issue our recent report The Consequences Playbook, which begins:

What’s really happened since 2008 is that central banks decided that a little more printing with the possibility of future pain was preferable to immediate pain.  Behavioral economics tells us that this is exactly the decision we should always expect from humans. History says as much, too.


It’s just how people are wired. We’ll almost always take immediate gratification over delayed gratification, and similarly choose to defer consequences into the future, especially if there’s even a ridiculously slight chance those consequences won’t materialize.


So instead of noting back in 2008 that it was unwise to have been borrowing at twice the rate of our income growth for the past several decades -- which would have required a lot of very painful belt-tightening -- the decision was made to ‘repair the credit markets’ which is code speak for: ‘keep doing the same thing that got us in trouble in the first place.’


Also known as the ‘kick the can down the road’ strategy, the hoped-for saving grace was always a rapid resumption of organic economic growth. That’s how the central bankers rationalized their actions. They said that saving the banks and markets today was imperative, and that eventually growth would return, thereby justifying all of the new debt layered on to paper-over the current problems.


Of course, they never explained what would happen if that growth did not return. And that’s because the whole plan falls apart without really robust growth to pay for it all.


And by ‘fall apart’ I mean utter wreckage of the bond and equity markets, along with massive institutional and sovereign defaults. That was always the risk, and now we’re at the point where the very last thing holding the entire fictional edifice together is beginning to give way. Finally.

When credibility in central bank omnipotence snaps, buckle up. Risk will get re-priced, markets will fall apart, losses will mount, and politicians will seek someone (anyone, dear God, but them) to blame.

In The Consequences Playbook (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access) we spell out what will happen next and how you should be preparing today for what might happen tomorrow. If you haven't yet read it, you really should. Suffice it to say, a tremendous amount of wealth will be lost if (really, when) the central banks lose control. And standards of living for many will be impacted. A little preparation today can make a huge difference in your future.

Bron Suchecki: Repatriation update

GATA - Sat, 01/31/2015 - 16:06

3:04p ET Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Gold market analyst Bron Suchecki of the Perth Mint today notes the seeming discrepancies around the recent repatriations of German and Dutch gold reserves from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and concludes that the discrepancies may be best explained by unannounced gold swaps.

Indeed, in 2009 a member of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve confirmed to GATA that the Fed has secret gold swap arrangements with foreign banks:

Why should central bank gold transactions be so secretive and mysterious? Is it to prevent Doug Casey from realizing that central banks are a little more relevant to the markets than he thinks? Is it to avoid hurting the feelings of CPM Group's Jeff Christian, who portrays himself as a consultant to most central banks and affects that he knows everything they do with gold? Or might it be because disclosure of gold transactions by central banks would impair their surreptitious market interventions and manipulations, as the secret March 1999 report of the staff of the International Monetary Fund concluded?:

Suchecki's detective work is headlined "Repatriation Update" and is posted at his Internet site, Gold Chat, here:

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.


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