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In The Market For An Oil Tanker? You Can Buy It On The Chinese Ebay

Zerohedge - 2 hours 42 min ago

Submitted by Zainab Calcuttawala via OilPrice.com,

Online marketplaces are just for buying and selling the everyday consumer goods anymore - think bigger: The Chinese government has just auctioned off a nearly US$12-million oil tanker on Taobao, its version of eBay or Alibaba.

A Maltese company just purchased an $11.8 million oil tanker from the Chinese online sales website Taobao, according to the Xinhua news service.

The oil tanker - The Varada Blessing - sold on what is best described as the Chinese version of eBay, attracted 33,000 views and 19 offers from six different bidders before ultimately being sold to Natalia Shipping. The vendor was Guangzhou Maritime Court, which struck the deal on the site’s Paimai judicial auction platform.

The court had attempted to sell the 327-meter-long decommissioned ship on Taobao twice before, without any luck in meeting the minimum desired reserve to trigger a sale. But the third time was a charm.

The tanker was built in 1993 and previously sailed under the flag of Comoros, according to MarineTraffic.com, a site that logs international shipping data. The Varada Blessing carries a gross tonnage of 156,539 tons and had been owned by Varada One Ptd. Ltd. before it was confiscated by the Guangzhou Maritime Court over an admiralty dispute. Ship traffic data says the vessel still sits at the mouth of the Pearl River in between Macau and Hong Kong.

It’s not the first time the Chinese courts have begun selling seized property online. More than 120 courts in the state of Guangdong connected with Taobao's judicial sales program, with the value of the courts’ total earnings in auctions jumping from 100 million yuan in 2014 to 10 billion yuan last year.

Last week, Splash reported the sale of five vessels belonging to Wenzhou Shipping on Taobao for a grand total of $22 million. The Alibaba-owned site also recently facilitated the sale of a newbuild bulker of Nantong Minde Heavy Industry for $14 million.

N. Korean Nukes Exaggerated; More Questions About American Nukes Too

Zerohedge - 2 hours 46 min ago

 Via The Daily Bell

 

George W. Bush invaded Iraq to remove its – ultimately nonexistent – weapons of mass destruction. Barack Obama used cyber weaponry and sanctions to deter Iran from building its own atomic bomb. Now Donald Trump faces North Korea, but stopping its nuclear and missile program may prove impossible, creating what may be his first and perhaps defining international crisis. -Reuters

President Donald Trump is being urged to confront North Korea and also to build up the army which, some say, has been neglected in the Obama years and even before.

He needs to do this as well because North Korea is supposedly getting close to having a usable nuclear force.

This is a crisis everyone has seen coming. That’s why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been so desperate to court Trump, visiting him even before the inauguration. As North Korea launched an intermediate medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, Abe was once again with the president – this time on a golf and bonding trip to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida retreat.

 

... Pyongyang first demonstrated its ability to detonate a crude nuclear device in 2006 – becoming the only Iraq- or Iran-style “rogue state” to ever get that far. Since then, it has continued to develop not just the bombs but also the missiles to deliver them.

 

Ultimately, the regime would love to have the ability to strike the continental United States – a prospect Trump has tweeted to say “won’t happen”. For now, however, there are few signs anyone has a plan to stop it.

The article goes on about North Korea's land-based "nuclear rockets" and the progress it is making in creating and distributing them.

But who is making these claims? One of the only ways to know is to measure earth quakes. America is doing that, but the Pentagon has nearly as many reasons to exaggerate the North Korean threat as North Korea itself.

We don't believe that North Korea has much in the way of nuclear weapons. It may have none at all. Not even the "mini-nuke" that you can possibly pick up in both hands. But with Trump banging the drums for more armament, North Korea has suddenly become a big threat to the United States.

There is no real evidence for North Korea having a large nuclear force. But because we are told it is so, we should believe it. These are the same kind of observations that go back some 75 years to Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though its fairly clear that both cities were firebombed.

Some sort of nuclear device may have been dropped as well, but if it was nuclear device it wasn't a very effective one. Sam Crawford, who ran the post-war nuclear program in Japan has said,

When the bomb went off, about 2 thousand people out of 250 thousand got killed [in Hiroshima] – by blast, by thermal radiation, or by intense x-ray, gamma radiation … You see, it wasn’t “Bing” like the publicity here [said]: a bomb went off and a city disappeared. No such thing happened. That was the propaganda for deterrent …

 

When I came back to this country, I was appalled, from a military standpoint, to find that our major planners in the War Department were using their own propaganda, 100 thousand deaths, Bing! …

 

You don’t hear much about the effects of Nagasaki because actually it was pretty ineffective. That was a narrow corridor from the hospital … down to the port, and the effects were very limited as far as the fire spread and all that stuff. So you don’t hear much about Nagasaki.

It makes very little sense that nuclear weapons have been around for 75 years but never have been used. Never as in not once. Except for the supposed uses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And there is a good deal of doubt they were actually used then. In fact, they are still basically the same size and shape.

Trump seems determined to build up the military to a size never before seen. In this he may agree with Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. These two have asked for base military budget of $640 billion in 2018. That would be $100 billion more than in 2017.

The larger picture according to Pentagon budgets is up to one trillion over the next ten years or so to dramatically hike the Pentagon's nuclear forces.

But the  entire history of nuclear warfare is muddied by a lack of real reporting and credible eye witnesses. The New York Times had only one reporter assigned to nuclear weapons during their formative years. That person turned out to be on the Pentagon payroll as well.

Conclusion: There are a good many questions as to how nuclear weapons work - and if they work and when they work. Before we spend another $1 trillion adding to such weapons, we should ask some hard questions about them. We shouldn't believe everything we hear. When it comes to America's "nuclear program" we should be skeptical.

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N. Korean Nukes Exaggerated; More Questions About American Nukes Too

Daily Bell - 3 hours 9 min ago

George W. Bush invaded Iraq to remove its – ultimately nonexistent – weapons of mass destruction. Barack Obama used cyber weaponry and sanctions to deter Iran from building its own atomic bomb. Now Donald Trump faces North Korea, but stopping its nuclear and missile program may prove impossible, creating what may be his first and perhaps defining international crisis. -Reuters

President Donald Trump is being urged to confront North Korea and also to build up the army which, some say, has been neglected in the Obama years and even before.

He needs to do this as well because North Korea is supposedly getting close to having a usable nuclear force.

This is a crisis everyone has seen coming. That’s why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been so desperate to court Trump, visiting him even before the inauguration. As North Korea launched an intermediate medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, Abe was once again with the president – this time on a golf and bonding trip to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida retreat.

… Pyongyang first demonstrated its ability to detonate a crude nuclear device in 2006 – becoming the only Iraq- or Iran-style “rogue state” to ever get that far. Since then, it has continued to develop not just the bombs but also the missiles to deliver them.

Ultimately, the regime would love to have the ability to strike the continental United States – a prospect Trump has tweeted to say “won’t happen”. For now, however, there are few signs anyone has a plan to stop it.

The article goes on about North Korea’s land-based “nuclear rockets” and the progress it is making in creating and distributing them.

But who is making these claims? One of the only ways to know is to measure earth quakes. America is doing that, but the Pentagon has nearly as many reasons to exaggerate the North Korean threat as North Korea itself.

We don’t believe that North Korea has much in the way of nuclear weapons. It may have none at all. Not even the “mini-nuke” that you can possibly pick up in both hands. But with Trump banging the drums for more armament, North Korea has suddenly become a big threat to the United States.

There is no real evidence for North Korea having a large nuclear force. But because we are told it is so, we should believe it. These are the same kind of observations that go back some 75 years to Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though its fairly clear that both cities were firebombed.

Some sort of nuclear device may have been dropped as well, but if it was nuclear device it wasn’t a very effective one. Sam Crawford, who ran the post-war nuclear program in Japan has said,

When the bomb went off, about 2 thousand people out of 250 thousand got killed [in Hiroshima] – by blast, by thermal radiation, or by intense x-ray, gamma radiation … You see, it wasn’t “Bing” like the publicity here [said]: a bomb went off and a city disappeared. No such thing happened. That was the propaganda for deterrent …

When I came back to this country, I was appalled, from a military standpoint, to find that our major planners in the War Department were using their own propaganda, 100 thousand deaths, Bing! …

You don’t hear much about the effects of Nagasaki because actually it was pretty ineffective. That was a narrow corridor from the hospital … down to the port, and the effects were very limited as far as the fire spread and all that stuff. So you don’t hear much about Nagasaki.

It makes very little sense that nuclear weapons have been around for 75 years but never have been used. Never as in not once. Except for the supposed uses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And there is a good deal of doubt they were actually used then. In fact, they are still basically the same size and shape.

Trump seems determined to build up the military to a size never before seen. In this he may agree with Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. These two have asked for base military budget of $640 billion in 2018. That would be $100 billion more than in 2017.

The larger picture according to Pentagon budgets is up to one trillion over the next ten years or so to dramatically hike the Pentagon’s nuclear forces.

But the  entire history of nuclear warfare is muddied by a lack of real reporting and credible eye witnesses. The New York Times had only one reporter assigned to nuclear weapons during their formative years. That person turned out to be on the Pentagon payroll as well.

Conclusion: There are a good many questions as to how nuclear weapons work – and if they work and when they work. Before we spend another $1 trillion adding to such weapons, we should ask some hard questions about them. We shouldn’t believe everything we hear. When it comes to America’s “nuclear program” we should be skeptical.

NY Times: "Every Time Trump Tweets It Drives Our Subscriptions Wildly"

Zerohedge - 3 hours 10 min ago

Another day, another skirmish between Donald Trump and the "failing" New York Times.

It started early on Saturday morning, when in a tweet Trump slammed the Times' new ad campaign set to air during the Oscars on Sunday night: "For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation,” the president tweeted."

For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017

The ad in question is the following:

Appearing several hours later on CNN - another media outlet bashed by Donald Trump as "fake news" - the executive editor of the New York Times said that Trump’s attempts to smear the publication have instead encouraged more people to read it.

“Trump is the best thing to happen to the Times’ subscription strategy,” Dean Baquet said during an interview with CNN’s "Reliable Sources." “Every time he tweets it drives subscriptions wildly.”

The NYT executive added that Trump has revitalized reporters who may have been pessimistic about the future of the industry.

"Every time Trump tweets it drives @nytimes subscriptions wildly" says Executive Editor @deanbaquet https://t.co/rQusXDhP6r

— CNN (@CNN) February 26, 2017

"There was a long time when the press wondered about its place in society, the last several years as newspaper subscriptions dwindled, as particularly local newspapers worried about their future."

"What’s happened in the last couple of months I have to say has been tremendous for news organizations."

"Our mission is clearer than it's ever been — we’re covering a dramatic revolution in government and how the country is governed, and it feels like all of the things that sort of bothered us and made us lose a little bit of confidence in the last few months have sort of gone away."

While the NYT has often repeated that Trump's bashing has resulted in a boost to its subscriptions (without elaborating on new subscriber churn) confirmation will only be available when the NYT reports it first quarter results in over a month. Meanwhile, however, a more troubling trend for the news paper which was recently forced to lease space in its landmark NYC headquarters to boost cash flow, is the decline in advertising - mostly print - revenue, which in Q4 tumbled by 10%. In fact, while circulation/subscription revenue rose by $10 million in Q4, ad revenue declined by double the amount or $20 million.

That, coupled with a 3% rise in operating costs, has led to a continued decline in operating profits, even when excluding one-time charges.

This is what the NYT said in its public filing on what to expect in the coming quarter:

Total circulation revenues in the first quarter of 2017 are expected to increase approximately 6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.

 

Total advertising revenues in the first quarter of 2017 are expected to decrease in the high-single digits compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Ultimately, for the NYT to be viable as a going concern, it will need to stem the plunge in ad revenue which may also be adversely impacted by Trump's relentless bashing.

And then there is the question of overall traffic, which brings up another curious observation.

Three weeks ago we showed that, inexplicably, according to Alexa a whopping 49% of the NYT's readers were out of China, which was impossible since the US publication is firewalled in China.

49% of NYT visitors come from China? https://t.co/bojHgYExfe pic.twitter.com/XbRrqmdLpO

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) February 9, 2017

Since our public observation, the NYT's Chinese "traffic" has crashed to just 3.5%, which while still improbable, is far more reasonable.

As a consequence of this, the public-facing NYT traffic has tumbled to the lowest level in a year. It is this, more so than Trump's twitter feed, that advertisers will be closely looking at when making future ad campaign decisions.

"Welcome To The Next Awakening" - Author Of Steve Bannon's Worldview Explains The Path Ahead

Zerohedge - 3 hours 52 min ago

"Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book..."

* * * by Neil Howe via WaPo,

Neil Howe is the author, along with William Strauss, of “Generations,” “The Fourth Turning” and “Millennials Rising.”

The headlines this month have been alarming. “Steve Bannon’s obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome” (Business Insider). “Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse Is Coming And War Is Inevitable” (the Huffington Post). “Steve Bannon Wants To Start World War III” (the Nation). A common thread in these media reports is that President Trump’s chief strategist is an avid reader and that the book that most inspires his worldview is “The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.”

I wrote that book with William Strauss back in 1997. It is true that Bannon is enthralled by it. In 2010, he released a documentary, “Generation Zero,” that is structured around our theory that history in America (and by extension, most other modern societies) unfolds in a recurring cycle of four-generation-long eras. While this cycle does include a time of civic and political crisis — a Fourth Turning, in our parlance — the reporting on the book has been absurdly apocalyptic.

I don’t know Bannon well. I have worked with him on several film projects, including “Generation Zero,” over the years. I’ve been impressed by his cultural savvy. His politics, while unusual, never struck me as offensive. I was surprised when he took over the leadership of Breitbart and promoted the views espoused on that site. Like many people, I first learned about the alt-right (a far-right movement with links to Breitbart and a loosely defined white-nationalist agenda) from the mainstream media. Strauss, who died in 2007, and I never told Bannon what to say or think. But we did perhaps provide him with an insight — that populism, nationalism and state-run authoritarianism would soon be on the rise, not just in America but around the world.

Because we never attempted to write a political manifesto, we were surprised by the book’s popularity among certain crusaders on both the left and the right. When “The Fourth Turning” came out, our biggest partisan fans were Democrats, who saw in our description of an emerging “Millennial generation” (a term we coined) the sort of community-minded optimists who would pull America toward progressive ideals. Yet we’ve also had conservative fans, who were drawn to another lesson: that the new era would probably see the successful joining of left-wing economics with right-wing social values.

Beyond ideology, I think there’s another reason for the rising interest in our book. We reject the deep premise of modern Western historians that social time is either linear (continuous progress or decline) or chaotic (too complex to reveal any direction). Instead we adopt the insight of nearly all traditional societies: that social time is a recurring cycle in which events become meaningful only to the extent that they are what philosopher Mircea Eliade calls “reenactments.” In cyclical space, once you strip away the extraneous accidents and technology, you are left with only a limited number of social moods, which tend to recur in a fixed order.

Along this cycle, we can identify four “turnings” that each last about 20 years — the length of a generation. Think of these as recurring seasons, starting with spring and ending with winter. In every turning, a new generation is born and each older generation ages into its next phase of life.

The cycle begins with the First Turning, a “High” which comes after a crisis era. In a High, institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, even if many feel stifled by the prevailing conformity. Many Americans alive today can recall the post-World War II American High (historian William O’Neill’s term), coinciding with the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy presidencies. Earlier examples are the post-Civil War Victorian High of industrial growth and stable families, and the post-Constitution High of Democratic Republicanism and Era of Good Feelings.

 

The Second Turning is an “Awakening,” when institutions are attacked in the name of higher principles and deeper values. Just when society is hitting its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of all the social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Salvation by faith, not works, is the youth rallying cry. One such era was the Consciousness Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s. Some historians call this America’s Fourth or Fifth Great Awakening, depending on whether they start the count in the 17th century with John Winthrop or the 18th century with Jonathan Edwards.

 

The Third Turning is an “Unraveling,” in many ways the opposite of the High. Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Third Turning decades such as the 1990s, the 1920s and the 1850s are notorious for their cynicism, bad manners and weak civic authority. Government typically shrinks, and speculative manias, when they occur, are delirious.

 

Finally, the Fourth Turning is a “Crisis” period. This is when our institutional life is reconstructed from the ground up, always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s very survival. If history does not produce such an urgent threat, Fourth Turning leaders will invariably find one — and may even fabricate one — to mobilize collective action. Civic authority revives, and people and groups begin to pitch in as participants in a larger community. As these Promethean bursts of civic effort reach their resolution, Fourth Turnings refresh and redefine our national identity. The years 1945, 1865 and 1794 all capped eras constituting new “founding moments” in American history.

Just as a Second Turning reshapes our inner world (of values, culture and religion), a Fourth Turning reshapes our outer world (of politics, economy and empire).

In our paradigm, one can look ahead and suggest that a coming time period — say, a certain decade — will resemble, in its essential human dynamic, a time period in the past. In “The Fourth Turning,” we predicted that, starting around 2005, America would probably experience a “Great Devaluation” in financial markets, a catalyst that would mark America’s entry into an era whose first decade would likely parallel the 1930s.

Reflecting on the decade we’ve just lived through, we can probably agree that the 1930s parallel works well. In the economy, both decades played out in the shadow of a global financial crash, and were characterized by slow and disappointing economic growth and chronic underemployment of labor and capital. Both saw tepid investment, deflation fears, growing inequality and the inability of central bankers to rekindle consumption.

In geopolitics, we’ve witnessed the rise of isolationism, nationalism and right-wing populism across the globe. Geostrategist Ian Bremmer says we now live in a “G-Zero” world, where it’s every nation for itself. This story echoes the 1930s, which witnessed the waning authority of great-power alliances and a new willingness by authoritarian regimes to act with terrifying impunity.

In social trends, the two decades also show parallels: falling rates of fertility and homeownership, the rise of multi-generational households, the spread of localism and community identification, a dramatic decline in youth violence (a fact that apparently has eluded the president), and a blanding of pop youth culture. Above all, we sense a growing desire among voters around the world for leaders to assert greater authority and deliver deeds rather than process, results rather than abstractions.

We live in an increasingly volatile and primal era, in which history is speeding up and liberal democracy is weakening. As Vladimir Lenin wrote, “In some decades, nothing happens; in some weeks, decades happen.” Get ready for the creative destruction of public institutions, something every society periodically requires to clear out what is obsolete, ossified and dysfunctional — and to tilt the playing field of wealth and power away from the old and back to the young. Forests need periodic fires; rivers need periodic floods. Societies, too. That’s the price we must pay for a new golden age.

If we look at the broader rhythms of history, we have reason to be heartened, not discouraged, by these trends. Anglo-American history over the past several centuries has experienced civic crises in a fairly regular cycle, about every 80 or 90 years, or roughly the length of a long human life. This pattern reveals itself in the intervals separating the colonial Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and World War II. Fast-forward the length of a long human life from the 1930s, and we end up where we are today.

America entered a new Fourth Turning in 2008. It is likely to last until around 2030. Our paradigm suggests that current trends will deepen as we move toward the halfway point.

Further adverse events, possibly another financial crisis or a major armed conflict, will galvanize public opinion and mobilize leaders to take more decisive action. Rising regionalism and nationalism around the world could lead to the fragmentation of major political entities (perhaps the European Union) and the outbreak of hostilities (perhaps in the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, the Baltic states or the Persian Gulf).

Despite a new tilt toward isolationism, the United States could find itself at war. I certainly do not hope for war. I simply make a sobering observation: Every total war in U.S. history has occurred during a Fourth Turning, and no Fourth Turning has yet unfolded without one. America’s objectives in such a war are likely to be defined very broadly.

At the end of the 2020s, the Fourth Turning crisis era will climax and draw to a close. Settlements will be negotiated, treaties will be signed, new borders will be drawn, and perhaps (as in the late 1940s) a new durable world order will be created. Perhaps as well, by the early 2030s, we will enter a new First Turning: Young families will rejoice, fertility will rebound, economic equality will rise, a new middle class will emerge, public investment will grow into a new 21st-century infrastructure, and ordered prosperity will recommence.

During the next First Turning, potentially the next “American High,” millennials will move into national leadership and showcase their optimism, smarts, credentials and confidence. Sometime in the late 2030s, the first millennial will be voted into the White House, prompting talk of a new Camelot moment. Let a few more years pass, and those organization-minded millennials may face a passionate and utterly unexpected onslaught from a new crop of youth.

Welcome to the next Awakening. The cycle of history keeps turning, inexorably.

Majority Finds Media Coverage Of Trump Is "Too Critical, Exaggerated": WSJ/NBC Poll

Zerohedge - 4 hours 22 min ago

Three weeks after a poll found that the Trump administration was seen as more "truthful" than the news media, a new WSJ/NBC News poll has found that according to a majority of Americans, the media’s coverage of President Donald Trump has been too critical, although the margin is narrow and the split is once again largely down party lines. While 51% rate the media as too critical of Trump since the presidential election, 41% say the coverage has been fair and objective, while 6% say the media hasn't been critical enough.

Furthermore, a majority of those polled, some 53%, also believes that the news media have exaggerated problems in the Trump administration. 45% say that is not the case.

79% of those whose primary news source is Fox News agreed with the statement that “the news media and other elites are exaggerating the problems of the Trump administration, because they are uncomfortable and threatened by the kind of change that Trump represents.” Even large numbers of more-liberal MSNBC audience, 40%, thought that the media had overstated the problems.

The poll failed to provide insight into whether the escalating feud between Trump and the press is working in Trump's, or the media's favor: as the WSJ notes, "it isn’t clear what role Mr. Trump’s barrage of attacks on the fairness and credibility of the press has played in shaping the majority’s opinion that coverage of his administration has been too negative."

Trump's most recent attack on the mainstream media took place at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, when he bashed the media’s use of unnamed government sources and called on reporters to stop the common journalistic practice of reporting news gathered from anonymous sources.

That said, the survey respondents offered strong reactions, both positive and negative, to the president’s outspoken critiques of the media. “I think his views about the press being fake news is horrible and I think it is a fascist viewpoint,” said one respondent.

Others disagreed, and said Trump's assault of the media has been warranted due its "one-sided" coverage. Another person said Trump, in critiques such as calling some mainstream news organizations ”fake,” is doing what he said he would do during his campaign. After covering President Barack Obama for eight years, the media “don’t know what to do with someone who has a different opinion, which is half the country,” the respondent said.

Separately, in the same poll, Trump's job approval rating stood at just 44 percent, a record low for a newly inaugurated commander-in-chief, and half of Americans say that his early challenges suggest unique and systemic problems with his administration. The new rating comes two days before Trump is set to address a joint session of Congress, a State of the Union-style speech in which new presidents typically lay out their vision for the country.

To be expected, Trump's approval split was vast between republicans and democrats. The president's personal favorability rating sootd at 85% positive among Republicans, compared to just 34% positive among independents and nine% among Democrats.

While only 30 percent of those polled overall say that Trump is off to a "great start," 63 percent of Republicans agree. A similar share of Democrats - 58 percent - say that Trump's lack of policy knowledge and his temperament demonstrate that he is not up to the job of being president. In the poll, conducted February 18-22, 48% of Americans said they disapprove of Trump's performance as president and 32% said that his first month in office demonstrates that he is not up to the job. Asked about early challenges in the first month of his presidency, 52% called the issues "real problems" that are specific to his administration, while 43 percent of Americans attributed them to typical "growing pains" for any new president.

Some details from the poll:

Trump retains net positive scores on his decisiveness (net positive 29 percent), his ability to "get things done," (net positive 12 percent) and his fitness to deal with the economy (net positive 11 percent). Six-in-ten Americans said they are hopeful and optimistic about the future of the country, including an overwhelming 87 percent of Republicans (but just 37 percent of Democrats). And a majority of respondents to the poll - 57 percent - also said that Trump is likely to "bring real change in the direction of the country." Among those who think Trump is likely to bring change, 63 percent believe those changes will be positive, while 30 percent disagree. On the other hand, Trump continues to register particularly dismal ratings when it comes to his temperament, with just 18 percent giving his demeanor a thumbs up compared to 55 percent who rank it as poor.

In short: democrats hate Trump, republicans (still) think Trump is great. Hardly surprising.

So how does Trump's approval rating compare to the media? A survey from last September found that Americans’ trust in the mass media dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history. Just 32% said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media, compared with 53% in 1997. In other words, even at his "record low" 44% approval rating, Americans still seem to have more faith in the president than the media, even as both are engaged in a brutal feud with each other.

"There Must Not Be A Bail In": Germany Vows "No Debt Relief For Greece"

Zerohedge - 5 hours 3 min ago

The standoff over the Greek debt crisis was nowhere closer to an amicable resolution on Sunday, when Germany's deputy finance minister Jens Spahn said in an interview with German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that Greece must not be granted a "bail in" that would involve creditors taking a loss on their loans, reiterating the German government's opposition to debt relief for Athens, and confirming that when it comes to Europe's recently adopted "bail-in" protocols, they "work" in theory, but certainly not in practice (see the latest taxpayer funded bailout of Monte Paschi for another recent example).

"There must not be a bail-in," Jens Spahn said quoted by Reuters, adding that "we think it is very, very likely that we will come to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that does not require a haircut," he said, referring to losses that Greece's creditors would have to take if debt was written off.

As everyone is aware by now, the IMF - which recently admitted its bailout policy vis-a-vis Greece has been a disaster perpetuating the Greek depression to unprecedented levels - has repeatedly called for Greece to be granted substantial debt relief, but this is opposed by both Germany, which makes the largest contribution to the budget of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone's bailout fund, and the ECB, whose Greek bond holdings would be impaired should a haircut on official Greek bonds be implemented.

In a positive sign over the recent impasse, last Monday Greece and its creditors agreed to further reforms by Athens to ease a logjam in talks with creditors that has held up additional funding for the troubled euro zone country. As a result, inspectors from the Troika are due to return to Athens this week where they will hardly be greeted with a warm reception.

Spahn, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, said Greece's problem was a lack of growth rather than debt and said that giving Athens debt relief would upset other euro zone countries such as Spain that had to deliver tough reforms.

"Our Spanish friends, for example, say: 'Hang on - that wouldn't be fair: we carry out reforms and get no haircut and now you're talking about giving Greece one?!'"

Spahn said Germany was campaigning hard to keep the IMF on board in Greece's bailout because of its expertise in helping countries that need to deliver reforms in return for aid.

Yet while Spahn is not wrong that Greece is in dire need of more growth, especially since "less" growth seems almost mathematically impossible at this point...

... the German has a clear political agenda in pushing for more Greek growth, which would likely be funded with even more debt, and against a haircut since the real problem facing Europe remains an insurmountable debt load. And as the third Greek bailout case study showed, Germany is willing to risk a Grexit rather than give a greenlight to the rest of Europe's periphery that they, too, can come asking for debt haircuts and similar concessions.

Meanwhile, despite recent progress over stalled Greek bailout talks, Manfred Weber, who leads the conservative bloc in the European Parliament, said this month that if the IMF insisted on debt relief for Greece, it should no longer participate in the bailout, breaking ranks with Berlin's official line that the program would end if the IMF pulled out.

A survey published on Friday showed around half of people in Germany are against granting debt relief to Greece.

Today's news will hardly be welcome in Athens, where the increasingly more unpopular Syriza party has been promising a debt haircut, despite Germany making it abundantly clear such an action would not take place. In any event, we expect no real progress over the latest Greek "situation" for at least another 5 months, when Greece faces €6 billion in bond payments on July 17 and 20, at which point the can will once again be kicked, even if it means more unsustainable debt for the insolvent nation.

Finally, as laid out earlier this month, here is the timeline of near-term events for Greece, via Credit Suisse:

There is an immediate set of events (in February) that could resolve the issues and make the programme progress swiftly. If not in February, there are several intermediate dates that could still deliver an agreement, although at a later stage, most likely around the scheduled Eurogroup meetings – although an extraordinary gathering to approve the bailout happened in the past and cannot be discarded. July 17 – or 20 – would be the “hard” deadline, as Greece would be, same as in July 2015, unable to repay those amounts without additional support under the EU/IMF programme. There are earlier relatively large redemptions, notably in late February and in April – but we believe there is probably room in Greece’s public finances  to fulfill those commitments.

#DemExit: Perez Vote Sparks Progressive Panic Within Divided Democratic Party

Zerohedge - 5 hours 30 min ago

After contentious debate, the Democratic Party has selected a new DNC chairman: Tom Perez. The choice, however, as TheAntiMedia.org's Nick Bernabe reports, is not being celebrated by everyone in the party. In fact, the progressive so-called “Bernie Sanders wing” of the Democratic Party is up in arms, using the hashtag #DemExit, over Perez’ win.

Progressives favored Keith Ellison, who was backed by Bernie Sanders, and see Perez as another establishment tool that conspired to boost Hillary Clinton over Sanders in the 2016 primary. As The Intercept noted, Perez was overly friendly to big banks as secretary of labor under Obama, granting privileges to banks that plead guilty to market manipulation.

Calls for a #DemExit have now began to resurface, and Twitter has been flooded with disgruntled Democrats looking to leave the party. You can see the progressive meltdown unfold in the tweets below:

 

@flippable_org Congrats DNC. This was the final nail on the coffin. #DNCChair #DemExit pic.twitter.com/5PXMpfZ1Ot

— Filthy Pleb (@flowerpower4420) February 25, 2017

Inside the mind of new #DNCChair Tom Perez: Email to John Podesta during his campaign against @SenSanders https://t.co/EoJNbOffN5 pic.twitter.com/PAyXo3lBLW

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 25, 2017

@DNC @keithellison Goodbye DNC, you have no path forward. You let the people know you do not represent us. #peoplesparty #dncweak #byebyednc

— Tracey Noelle Luz (@TraceyNoelleLuz) February 25, 2017

#DNCChair #DemExit @DNC pic.twitter.com/AXnGzWqksX

— Cory Landel (@CoryLandel) February 25, 2017

Dems kiss half your party goodbye Demexit #DraftBernie #DNCChair

— Progressive Wave (@AspireVM) February 25, 2017

Ok, folks. Time for a new party. I’m done with corruption & corporate influence over people & Justice. @BernieSanders, will you lead? #dnc pic.twitter.com/1Cy8wtwjyT

— Josh Fox (@joshfoxfilm) February 25, 2017

@DNC @TomPerez I’m out. You want the same old same old corporate governance.

— Lori Morrell Lomas (@elsiebb) February 25, 2017

Great job DNC. Why swirl around the toilet when you can go down the pipe? #DNCChair pic.twitter.com/jn6OAafpLg

— Tim Black ™ (@RealTimBlack) February 25, 2017

I’m not choosing to leave @TheDemocrats. They’ve spent 25 years choosing to leave me. #FDR Forever!#Demexit #DNCChair

— Peter Daou’s Tears (@theGSpledge) February 25, 2017

The election of Tom Perez for #DNCChair is just more evidence it’s easier to replace @TheDemocrats than fix them. #PartyWithBernie #Demexit pic.twitter.com/sBih2bJjt5

— Draft Bernie (@DraftBernie) February 25, 2017

#dncchair #DNCFuture #DemExit

THIS IS A CLEAR REPRESENTATION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY pic.twitter.com/qQ29khAH29

— Scout (@scoutstandup) February 25, 2017

@TheDemocrats are now confirmed as a dead party. Time to #DemExit to a party that believes & practices #OneMemberOneVote & join @socdemsus

— SDLP USA (@socdemsus) February 25, 2017

Just did it. I didn’t leave the democrats, they left me. #Demexit #beprogressive pic.twitter.com/ZMuRPjBzSF

— Daniel P. (@DanielinPDX) February 25, 2017

11,132 people voted in this #DNCChair poll

Keith Ellison – 5,143
Tom Perez – 502

The DNC doesn’t represent their members. #saturdaymorning pic.twitter.com/r1Z4CvIFQr

— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) February 25, 2017

.@TomPerez Wins #DNCChair–1st domino to fall for a 2-term Trump presidency. Democrats get what they deserve

— Jordan (@JordanChariton) February 25, 2017

I won’t be coming back #DemExit https://t.co/O3aHeQQwun

— Sheila Paul ???? (@sheilapaulmft) February 25, 2017

#DNC #Demexit #DemocraticParty #ProgressivesUnite #KeithforDNC pic.twitter.com/3uFwlah3M7

— Lisa A (@lalv) February 25, 2017

New #DNCChair Tom Perez: 18 Podesta Emails show him working for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders https://t.co/o0XxbtSnK2

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 25, 2017

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GATA Chairman Bill Murphy's presentation to the Dollar Vigilante conference in Acapulco

GATA - 5 hours 46 min ago

11:09a ET Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

GATA Chairman Bill Murphy's presentation Friday at the Dollar Vigilante Internationalization and Investment Summit in Acapulco, Mexico, was titled "GATA and the Gold and Silver Markets" and the notes for it are appended.

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
CPowell@GATA.org

* * *

GATA and the Gold and Silver Markets
By Bill Murphy, Chairman
Dollar Vigilante Internationalization and Investment Summit
Resort Mundo Imperial, Acapulco, Mexico
Friday, February 24, 2017

Hello, everyone. It is great to be here.

I want to thank Jeff Berwick for the invitation to make a presentation on behalf of GATA and for the opportunity to see a number of friends again, ones made over so many years.

(Bitcoin at $1,200.)

GATA was formed in January of 1999 by Chris Powell and myself to thwart the manipulation and suppression of the gold price by the leading bullion banks. It became apparent this was the case after the very visible hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, blew up in September of 1998. They were short some 400 tonnes of gold on their books, which should have been covered, liquidated like all their other positions. To prevent the price of gold from soaring in that event, the likes of a JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs banded together to keep the price below $300 an ounce. No one knows this better than their attorney at the time, Jim Rickards, who has gone on to gain huge visibility in the gold world. And no one knows better than Jim Rickards how right GATA has been all these years, even though he took public exception in the WSJ back then to what we had to say -- but who some 12 years later spoke at one of our conferences in London.

As time went by, GATA learned the operation was much bigger than we initially thought and included the Fed, US Treasury, Exchange Stabilization Fund, BIS, and other central banks.

... Dispatch continues below ...


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Golden Predator Begins Drill Program at 3 Aces Project
and Is Named to TSX Venture Exchange's Top 50 List

Company Announcement
Thursday, February 23, 2017

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada -- Golden Predator Mining Corp. (TSX.V: GPY; OTCQX: NTGSF) is pleased to announce it has commenced a 20,000-meter drill program at its fully owned 3 Aces project in southeastern Yukon. The drilling program will initially focus on targets in the Spades Zone, where 2016 results included a new vein discovery at depth plus 7.5 meters of 33 grams-per-tonne gold at the Ace of Spades.

Management is also pleased to announce that Golden Predator has been named a TSX Venture Top 50 company, placing fifth of 957 mining companies. ...

... For the remainder of the announcement:

http://www.goldenpredator.com/_resources/news/nr_2017_02_23.pdf

Our term for the lot of them is the Gold Cartel. In essence, we learned we would be taking on the most substantial money and power in the world.

Right after inception, only a few in the gold world would give us the time of day.

The months rolled by and we got to May 6, 1999, when I wrote the following in my daily, LeMetropoleCafe commentary:

"Deutsche Bank has been especially aggressive and noticeable in their selling the past few days. We got word late this afternoon that their bullion desk is calling their clients saying that the gold price is stopping at $290."

The very next day the Bank of England announced, in advance, they were going to sell some 400 tonnes of gold, or more than half of their gold. It was unprecedented in that no entity which wants to get as high a price as they can would announce such a sale in advance. This stunning event was the beginning of some very visible people in the gold world, such as James Turk, coming into the GATA camp.

From the beginning we decided to be an activist organization -- not just to talk about the problem, but to do something about it. So, this presentation is first about this effort and what it has led to recently. But then more importantly, why what GATA has learned is going to lead to an explosion in the gold/silver prices, and probably in the not too distant future.

-- Ironically enough, just a few weeks after our inception, I was interviewed by Ron Insana of CNBC. Once they heard what GATA had to say, that was it. Have not been invited back since.

-- We have gone to Washington numerous times to see what we could do.

-- Met with James Saxton, chairman of Joint Economic Committee.

-- Congressman Ron Paul too.

-- And James Hastert, speaker of the House. Who hastily set up a meeting that afternoon with Spencer Bachus, chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy.

Delivered this "Gold Derivatives Bank Crisis" packet to members of Congress during the trip to meet with Hastert.

There was a well attended gathering in D.C. which was televised by C-Span.

Those trips to Washington were made in our early years, and gave us an inkling of what we would be up against.

-- Many years later another trip to Washington would prove further how formidable our opposition was. I had met with CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, who was willing to give us the time of day. GATA was then invited to speak at a CFTC hearing in March 2010, which included a number of our issues.

Three highlights of the all day event were:

-- Being able to introduce London's Andrew Maguire's documentation how JP Morgan was rigging the precious metals.

-- GATA's Board member Adrian Douglas coaxing antagonist Jeff Christian to disclose that the LBMA trades 100 times the gold it has to back it up.

-- And the hearing was televised on the internet with ONLY my five minute testimony blacked out, which was right out of a Hollywood B movie script.

Returning to GATA's early period, we mobilized numerous GATA supporters to write to members of Congress to get truthful answers about what was really going on with America's gold, etc.

Many, many letters, such as this one from Denver's Hank Fellerman were sent to House and Senate members.

Yeoman efforts were made with various members of the financial market press to bring attention to the manipulation of the gold and silver markets. No one in the world has done more in this regard than my colleague Chris Powell.

-- Then there was mega effort made to get the word out there by going to the press via some ads. Here are two in particular.

Roll Call.

And this WSJ ad in 2008, which cost a small fortune -- $264,000. Love to have that back, if we only knew then that nothing about our subject would be able influence the bought-off financial market press and affect the big money and power in the America.

Actually, that effort has led to some disturbing revelations…

-- We don't have a free press in America. Veteran Bloomberg News gold reporter Claudia Carpenter told John Embry, Chris and I in London she is not allowed to mention GATA, and she has not all these years.

-- We don't have free markets either. In addition to The Gold Cartel we learned there is a Plunge Protection Team constantly operating in our stock market, and so on.

-- No free press, no free markets. So much for fighting the Communists all those years for being the same!

-- In that regard my colleague Chris Powell has long said the U.S. would rather release our nuclear secrets than our gold secrets. And the press knows this, so they just won't go there. They are too afraid of the repercussions for doing so -- which by itself reveals how correct GATA is.

But, after all these years, there is the potential for a blockbuster change and one reason has to do with this GATA ad. Based on what we have learned, GATA believes a good portion of the U.S' 8,135 tonnes of official gold reserves are not there -- ergo the ad. The U.S. cannot legally sell any of our gold without an Act of Congress. However, we can swap our gold with another country and sell that country's gold. We believe this has occurred as part of the gold price suppression scheme.

No one knows about the status of our gold reserves because there has not been an official audit since 1955 or so. So why a potential change now? Only that it would fit into the manner in which President Trump is operating and in terms of his "cleaning up the mess he inherited."

And how is that?

-- If it is revealed a fair amount of our gold is gone as GATA believes is the case, the dollar would tank badly, which would be a huge boon for his pledge to change the jobs picture in America.

-- He can blame this eventual scandal on his predecessors and fortify his reputation as a truth teller.

-- And if all our gold is revealed to not be all there, Trump can blame a resulting explosion in the gold price on his predecessors and not due to economic policies he is putting in place. According to former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, and others, gold is regarded as the barometer of U.S. financial market health. Up is bad, down is good. A gold market scandal would completely defuse that notion as it relates to that barometer in terms of current U.S. economic policies.

Time will tell on that one. Hope springs eternal.

-- Before starting my own internet site, I worked with Frank Veneroso who wrote The Gold Book, which gained all kinds of notoriety in the late 1990's. It is the backbone of GATA's discovery about the gold price manipulation scheme, as Frank exposed the fact that central banks were secretly leasing out their gold, which was suppressing the price and why we think a fair amount of the U.S. gold is gone.

We also decided to speak at as many conferences as we could. Over the years CP and I have been to England, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fairbanks, Alaska, Palm Springs, Glendale, Arizona, Spokane, Washington, Vancouver, Toronto, South Africa, etc. to make presentations on behalf of GATA.

The most notable and gratifying effort has been with the four major international conferences we have held. There were in:

-- 2001 in Durban, South Africa.

-- 2005 in Dawson City, way up in The Yukon.

-- 2008 right out side of Washington, D.C.

-- 2011 in London.

All the conferences were well attended from people all over the world. The speakers were terrific, much fun, and in some cases electrifying. There is no way to do all of them justice in this presentation, but want to make a note for a few reasons on the first South African conference, which received some coverage by SABC and was attended by representatives of five African countries.

Before the conference I toured South Africa to drum up interest, making presentations to such disparate people as the South African Central Bank, who just snickered … And to Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, great grandson of the legendary Zulu leader, Shaka. Around 100,000 Zulus work in South Africa's gold mines. What an engaging man.

And then there is the distinct memory of meeting the renowned Brett Kebble, who helped put GATA on the map with a $50,000 contribution so we could hire our first legal firm to take on The Gold Cartel. Brett was assassinated four years later.

Former attorney Reg Howe, Frank Veneroso, and James Turk came over to make presentations.

Reg went on to sue the entire Gold Cartel in a Boston court. It was Reg against the world and nine lawyers representing the BIS, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan/Chase, Citigroup, the U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, and the New York Federal Reserve Bank -- which is as good a representation of The Gold Cartel in one room as you will ever find.

Which leads us to GATA suing the Fed, spearheaded by my colleague Chris. and we received a check for nearly $3,000 from the Fed for its illegally withholding a document.

As mentioned, Frank was the one who discovered the gold leasing scheme by the central banks and he made a supply/demand presentation in which he stated the longest the central banks could hold out suppressing the price was 10 years.

Fast forward 10 years: 2011, one month following GATA's London conference in August of that year, gold took out $1,900 on the upside and it appeared Frank's analysis could not have been more spot on.

But then it all began to fall apart. In retrospect we did not realize how the use of financial market innovation (a.k.a. derivatives) could be mobilized to engineer a multi-year, devastating attack on the gold and silver prices.

How much has it fallen apart? The third of those speakers who traveled all the way to Durban, South Africa on GATA's behalf, the highly regarded James Turk, recently stated that if gold had just been allowed to keep up with inflation in the U.S. (based on the CPI numbers since 1934 when gold was $35 an ounce), it should be $3225 today. That is how much The Gold Cartel has interfered with the gold price.

So here we are, all these years later with The Gold Cartel still visibly making their mark on the precious metals via blatant attacks in the paper markets. Anyone who follows the price action on a daily basis knows what that is all about. GATA consultant James McShirley, a lumber company CEO who spoke at GATA's London conference, has documented for years just how precisely The Gold Cartel operates.

This includes:

-- Stopping the price of gold on 1% advances on a given day, sometimes to the tick.

-- Selling around 10,000 contracts per 1% of a price advance.

-- Selling at precisely the same time of day.

-- Not allowing any follow-through after a good day, etc.

At the same time, after all these years, it appears that GATA's time is at hand and just starting to be so.

To begin with, many of our critics have been silenced by some recent lawsuit revelations which have revealed how correct we have been.

The most stunning and disgusting of all is what was revealed in early December in the lawsuit against Deutsche Bank (there they are again) when a judge released 150,000 pages of documents and 75 audio tapes to settle charges in that suit. The revelations implicated other bullion banks "in a very serious way." What caught everyone's attention was the specific verbiage.

Here's a sample of that evidence:

Deutsche Bank: I got the Fix in 3 minutes

HSBC: I'm bearish

DB: Hahahaha

HSBC: Massively. Really want to smash silver

HSBC: Let's go smash it together

Then, how about this exchange on May 11, 2011 when silver was still not far from $50 an ounce.

DB: the fix dude u guys. WERE THE SILVER MARKET

UBS: why you say that

DB: haha on the fixes

UBS: someone told u?

DB: my 1DN

UBS: Ah OK

DB: you guys short some funky options?

DB: well you told me too but I told no one, you just said you sold on Fix

UBS: we smashed it good

DB: F-ing hell UBS now you make me regret not joining

UBS: By the way keep it to yourself.

* * *

There were 150,000 pages of that stuff. Silver has never had a chance since then, well until about now, which we will get into.

Then just four weeks ago:

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived three private anti-trust lawsuits accusing JPMorgan Chase & Co. of rigging a market for silver futures contracts traded on COMEX.

This is the same JP Morgan, the biggest silver short on the Comex, who has been burying the price ever since the top of the market near $50.

It's going to take some time for these continuing lawsuits to get resolved. But, the cat is out of the bag on what GATA has been banging the table about all these years.

And then it even gets a bit better.

Wikileaks revealed a cable from the early 1970's which was sent to the State Department from the US Embassy in London and describes the embassy's extensive consultations with London bullion dealers about the imminent re-legalization of gold ownership in the United States and possible substantial gold purchases by oil-exporting Arab nations.

The cable reads: "The major impact of private U.S. ownership, according to the dealers' expectations, will be the formation of a sizable gold futures market. Each of the dealers expressed the belief that the futures market would be of significant proportion and physical trading would be minuscule by comparison. Also expressed was the expectation that large-volume futures dealing would create a highly volatile market. In turn, the volatile price movements would diminish the initial demand for physical holding and most likely negate long-term hoarding by U.S. citizens."

This is a big deal in my opinion because it is a direct linkage between the U.S. Government and bullion dealers to deflect interest in the gold market. Nothing has changed over the last 43 years. The Gold Cartel is still at it in the most sophisticated of ways.

Now, that is all fine and dandy to be aware of. What is most important is how does this all affect the gold/silver markets and your investing in the sector?

IMO the most important fact to appreciate is that gold and silver are presently at incredibly low artificial prices -- ones that have been forced down all these years due to the suppression scheme. Remember what James Turk said about what that $3,000+ gold price should be just if it had kept up with inflation. Will get into silver in a bit, but first some reflection on the most remarkable/stunning market development I have witnessed over the last 45 years and it has to do with the Trump election and aftermath.

-- Before the election, one in which few thought Trump would prevail, each time there was any serious indication he had a serious chance to win, the Dow would plunge and the gold price would pop. There was little to NO commentary from the elite in the mainstream financial world touting how an unexpected Trump win would be so great for the stock market. None from no one!

Well, we all know what occurred immediately after the election and since then. Going back to right pre-election thinking, what has occurred would have been called beyond confounding -- with the DOW soaring and soaring and gold getting bombed.

My opinion is that the PPT and Gold Cartel were fully prepared for the election outcome and were laying in the weeds ready to make their moves. They knew what had occurred following the unexpected Brexit win and weren't about to allow that sort of market reaction again, especially with insider concerns over the real fragility of our markets and economy. Petrified of a Trump win, they needed to change the investment world's psychology about what a Trump win would mean. In essence, this meant a 180 degree change of perception about the win -- from a disaster to fantastic. Price action makes market commentary.

And boy did it work. With our stock market indices making record high after record high, American investors are the happiest of campers. The question for us is where do gold/silver investments go from here as today is the first day of the rest of our lives? Will leave the stock market to smarter minds than mine, but I have some very strong opinions about gold and silver, and they are quite bullish as you would imagine.

Besides being so undervalued historically, it is my opinion that The Gold Cartel bombed the gold price following the Trump win because they know that he is going to have to inflate the system to save the system. At the time they were still massively short gold and silver. The bombing terrorized speculative longs who exited their positions in droves.

As a result the gold open interest on the Comex (which is the number of long and short futures positions) fell from its all-time high of 668,000 in the middle of the year to around 388,000 contracts in the middle of December. The silver open interest dropped from 225,000 to 158,000 contracts. The Gold Cartel forces made a fortune. The spec longs were routed.

Since The Gold Cartel's blitzkrieg, the precious metals prices have been grinding their way higher and, IMO, are now on their way to all-time highs in combination with the U.S system being inflated to an enormous degree. Also, IMO, it will be silver leading the way in stunning fashion.

There are two market veterans who have had my attention over the years about the silver price: David Morgan and Eric Sprott. Since you just heard what David has to say, I am going to reflect on Eric's big picture thought on silver, a thought which has been so wrong in recent years … but one which soon should be so right.

My confidence that Eric's view we have $100 silver coming in the not too distant future is based on my history of having the good fortune in my early days to come across and follow three of the most exceptional trading minds in all of America, all who became my friends…

-- I mentioned Frank Veneroso, whom as his broker, watched him sell the high tick of the bond market surge back in 1980 when rates reached 20%. In 1987 Frank, a consultant to The World Bank, realized the world was forgetting about coming Asian demand for copper and the price would have to soar. In 9 months a moribund copper price went from 46 cents a pound to $1.46.

-- Before I met Frank, I came across a guy in the New York Athletic Club. He seemed very smart and was looking for a pork belly price in the paper. He was super bullish. Having studied commodity trading in college, I bought one pork belly contract and lost half of my money the first day. What a fool, eh? It then went up its market limit the next 9 out of 10 days. And I was hooked to get into the industry.

Dan, the CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting, turned down DK Ludvig (the richest man in the world at the time) to run his empire. Then he turned down the opportunity to be the Harvard Chancellor to become the Chancellor at Denver University, where he became a legend.

-- And finally there was my friend Ray Dalio, whom some of you may know is the top hedge fund manager in the U.S. and worth $15 billion. My introduction to Ray as his broker was a buy feeder cattle, buy corn, and sell cattle futures trade. When the profit margin became got too great we put the trade on and made 100% on our money in days to weeks every single time. And then did the reverse when the cattle trade was too big a loser. That one trade told me how special Ray was way back when.

Funny story about Ray. ...

Which brings me back to Eric Sprott who is a legend in Canada for the sort of acumen as my three old friends. Eric is a supply/demand numbers guy, just like them, who has made a mega fortune over the last 40 years. The difference is they dealt with free markets. Eric is dealing with a rigged market, as are the rest of us. However, there is no doubt in my mind he will just as right on his silver call as he has been on his myriad of other calls during his magnificent investing career.

Now, what Eric has not been able to figure out is where The Gold Cartel has been able to come with enough physical silver to keep the price down where it is. In that regard it is my opinion that we are finally reaching that long awaited Tipping Point when the bad guys just can't come up with the physical goods anymore at present price levels. After a false start last year, the recent price action suggests we are on our way, but what a struggle it is and it has to do with the silver open interest on the Comex.

During the move to $50 silver in 2010/2011 the silver open interest remained in a range from around 125,000 contracts to 135,000 contracts ALL THE WAY UP. In other words JPM and their mafia colleagues (as described above in the recent lawsuit revelations) refrained from doing any real selling the entire move. For some reason they let it go, or were forced to let it go.

It is important to note that open interest in a given market normally goes up as the price rises. Simplistically, it is because more speculators enter the scene on the long side as legitimate producers hedge their product on the sell side. Thus, what occurred in silver in 2011 was incredibly bizarre, just as is the escalating open interest at such low price levels as silver is trading now.

What occurred in 2011 was a total contrast to last year and today, in which JPM and friends are going all out to prevent losing control of the price of silver by selling massive amounts of futures contracts. Recently the open interest rose back up to 215,000 contracts, which is much higher that it has ever been prior to last year. This suggests that we have reached a period in which The Gold Cartel is petrified of losing control of the silver price and are going bonkers to maintain order with their selling. For they know if they lose control of silver, their kyptonite, gold, its monetary ally, will be next.

It also suggests that the silver price muggers are going to have to blow up, or be forced to retreat, for any of us to see our expected $100 silver in the not too distant future … and for Eric's call to be correct. That blow up will occur to the bad guys hitting the physical supply wall, or from some sort of Black Swan event, which will precipitate a derivatives crisis -- the sort of crisis triggered by what Bix has documented and brought to his follower's attention.

Think about it. The Gold Cartel is selling silver like crazy right now and the specs are buying like crazy. What is going to happen when the price keeps going up? IF The Gold Cartel has to cover their short positions by buying, WHO is going to sell?

For a while there will be a total vacuum above the market.

Yes, a blow up is just what I expect to happen -- and will seriously commence when the price of silver takes out $21. This is what The Gold Cartel is going all out to prevent and why the silver open interest is soaring again. If this is the case, and THEY get overpowered as expected, look for silver to vault its way much higher more quickly than it did during its last run to $50. This ought to occur because many of the unsuspecting commercial paper shorts just will not be able to come up with enough physical silver to meet their obligations -- which will lead to violent upside thrusts as they are forced to cover their positions at the market.

Concurrently, the price of gold should be taking off as the investment world acknowledges that the U.S. is inflating the system to save the system. The recent U.S. consumer price index was the highest in 4 years. When the silver prices begins to soar in volatile fashion above $21, the gold price should be right along side it. There is no reason to believe we can't make new all-time highs in each precious metal far more quickly than anyone thinks.

If you are a gold/silver investor, there is so much to be positive about after more than five years of disappointment and incredible aggravation. Investment opportunities of a lifetime are here and now in our sector. Please keep Newton's Law about equal and opposite reactions in mind. The longer The Gold Cartel keeps the precious metals down at these artificially low prices, the bigger the eventual moves will be. $100 silver is likely to only be Jacks for Openers.

As far as GATA goes, what has come to the fore of late ought to be only the beginning of what is going to surface over the next few years to expose the gold/silver price manipulation scheme and its ramifications. Once the cat is out of the bag for good, there will be one expose after another. This should include force majeure defaults about silver which cannot be delivered; hypothecated gold which cannot be made good for; a possible revelation that the U.S. gold reserves are found to be vastly overstated; and what the suppression scheme has hidden from the American people and investment world.

There is no doubt in my mind that when it all plays out, the gold price suppression scheme is going to end up being the greatest financial scandal in U.S. history.

Thank you very much.

* * *

Join GATA here:

Mining Investment Asia
Tuesday-Friday, March 28-31, 2017
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
http://bit.ly/1DBH5lb

Mines and Money Asia
Wednesday-Friday, April 5-7, 2017
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
http://asia.minesandmoney.com/

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"It Was A Pretty Disturbing Briefing”: Why State Governors Suddenly Got Cold Feet About Obamacare Repeal

Zerohedge - 6 hours 8 min ago

Several days after Goldman Sachs explained in theory why hopes for a quick "repeal and replace" of Obamacare are now extinguished, and even "repair and rename" is looking bad, overnight state governors meeting in Washington got the bad news in practice, when a presentation from Avalere Health and McKinsey warned that the policies proposed by Republican congressional leaders to repeal and replace Obama's signature healthcare law would lead millions of people to lose their health coverage, while states lose billions in Federal funding.


Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price exits a closed-door discussion on

health-care policy at the National Governors Association in Washington on Saturday

The presentation, reproduced below, estimates that the number of people covered by Obamacare through the individual insurance market could be reduced by as much as 51% in states that chose not to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare and by 30% in those that did expand the federal-state health program for the poor. The governors’ meeting came at a pivotal moment in the debate over the future of the health law, which Republicans have pledged to overturn.

The Republican party controls the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and 33 state governorships; it is also getting cold feet about repealing, replacing or even overhauling Obamacare out of concerns what it would mean for existing coverage, which would lead to millions of Americans losing insurance, and potentially truncating the careers of many politicians. It would also mean the end of millions in Federal government handouts to states coming to an end.

Roughly 12 million people gained Medicaid coverage after Obamacare broadened eligibility for the program. From 2014 through the middle of 2015, states got $79 billion of extra funding from the Medicaid expansion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Under the health law, the federal government paid 100 percent of the cost of the expansion from 2014 to 2016. The government’s share fell to 95 percent this year and was scheduled to fall to 90 percent by 2020.

On the other hand, Obamacare premiums for those paying into the program have soared in the past two years, sucking up a substantial portion of US household disposable income, and leading to widespread displeasure among the US middle-class with the existing format of the healthcare law.

As a result, significant differences remain between GOP officials in the House, the Senate, and the states—most acutely, over the Medicaid insurance program for the poor and disabled, which is administered by the states and jointly funded by the federal and state governments. A summary of the various proposed plans was laid out last week by Goldman.

The debate over the future of Obamacare culminated on Saturday, when governors left a closed-door meeting at the National Governors Association’s winter meeting saying they hadn’t hammered out an answer that day. “We don’t want to create unequal treatment between all the different states,” said Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. “I don’t think we’ve reached a conclusion on that, other than to say it’s a priority that we find a way that we can cooperate.”

Democrats were more willing than their Republican colleagues to talk to reporters after the closed-door meeting. Virginia Governor Terry McCauliffe called the presentation on what might happen if the ACA is repealed, or if Medicaid funding is limited, “scary.”

“Tens of thousands who would not be able to afford their coverage and would lose their coverage,” Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington said after the closed-door meeting. “It was a pretty disturbing briefing.”

According to the presenation, under the standard repeal and replace plane, the impact would vary by state, but as Axios summarized, in a sample state that expanded Medicaid, it's estimated that:

The state would lose $635 million in federal funding, a 65 percent decrease.

  • 110,000 current enrollees would no longer be able to afford a plan.
  • 20,000 currently uninsured people would buy a plan with the new tax credit provided by the GOP plan.
  • Additionally, 115,000 low-income people may lose Medicaid coverage, with no affordable alternative on the individual market.
  • A per capita cap — which would limit funding for each person in the program — would reduce federal spending by 24 percent over five years, requiring the state to spend $6.2 billion to close the gap.

In a sample non-expansion state, it's estimated that:

  • The state would lose $885 million in federal funding, an 80 percent decrease.
  • 130,000 current enrollees would no longer be able to afford a plan.
  • 10,000 currently uninsured people would be able to buy coverage with the new tax credit.
  • A per capita cap would reduce federal spending by 6 percent over five years, requiring states to spend $1.5 billion to close the gap.

While republicans have campaigned for years on a promise to repeal Obamacare, and Donald Trump’s election victory put that goal within reach, now they’re confronting the task of coming up with a replacement, mindful of the 20 million people who’ve gained health insurance under the law and the billions of dollars it sends each year to states.

Among the anecdotes laid out in the presentation, in one hypothetical example presented, a state that didn’t expand Medicaid and had 235,000 enrollees in Obamacare through the individual market would see the number of participants fall to 115,000. In a hypothetical state that did expand Medicaid coverage and had 300,000 enrollees in the individual market, the number would drop to 210,000, Bloomberg reported

The expansion state could see further losses in Medicaid, where another 115,000 would probably lose eligibility, without being able to find an affordable replacement plan. The presentation also revealed that a hypothetical state that expanded Medicaid could lose 24 percent of federal dollars spent on the program over five years, requiring $6.2 billion to make up the gap. The scenario would require Congress to repeal the expansion and implement a per-person funding mechanism. A hypothetical state that didn’t expand the program could lose 6 percent in federal spending.

 

The presentation is based on a plan by Republican leaders to eliminate income-based subsidies under Obamacare that help people afford insurance and replace them with age-based tax credits.

President Trump hasn’t weighed in publicly in the current fight. Members of the administration have been working to smooth the way for changing former President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price attended the governors’ meeting Saturday afternoon. At issue is whether to maintain significant federal funding for states that have expanded eligibility for Medicaid to include residents with income that is up to a third more than the federal poverty level. GOP-led states split almost evenly in opting to take the funds to expand eligibility for their programs. States that didn’t have cited a concern about the impact on the federal budget and a desire to resist Mr. Obama’s health law.

Republican governors in states that expanded Medicaid have been telling their congressional delegations for months that repealing the health-care law without an adequate replacement would cost their budgets and hurt hospitals. While many say they support repealing Obamacare, they’ve advised a heavy dose of caution. Republican leaders in Washington are considering ending the Medicaid expansion, as well as setting per-person caps on federal funding of the program. “Governors know about 50 times more about Medicaid than anyone in Congress,” said Haley Barbour, the former Republican governor of Mississippi. “The idea that we’re going to repeal, repair, replace, redundant, whatever -- the idea that we’re going to do that in a matter of weeks just ignores the difficulty of doing it,” Barbour said.

As the WSJ adds, republican senators are similarly split. Several of them, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) have said they would take cues from their respective states’ preferences. Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who opted to expand Medicaid despite legal challenges from GOP legislators in his state, met with Mr. Trump on Friday and is trying to rally fellow governors behind a compromise in which states agree to pare back eligibility and funding to residents making up to the poverty level. Residents above that threshold would lose Medicaid, he has said, but likely get subsidized private coverage. A handful of states—such as Wisconsin and Arkansas—already have systems in place along those lines.

On Friday, Kasich called House Republicans’ initial plans to replace the health-care law “inadequate.” Kasich, a former Republican presidential candidate, didn’t go into details during brief remarks to reporters after a meeting Friday with President Donald Trump. “To me, it’s not acceptable,” Kasich said. The governor, who opened Ohio’s Medicaid program to more low-income people under Obamacare, has advocated maintaining the Medicaid expansion. He has said the income limit for the program should be lower.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, also a Republican, said he was open to finding a way to help states that expanded the program. But he said it couldn’t be one that came at the expense of states such as his that didn’t do an expansion. “There were 18 governors that fought the ACA and we actually need to be rewarded for that, not punished,” he said. “I have not seen that plan yet.”

Saturday’s meeting is one of several taking place between governors and federal officials.

Governors have been meeting with Trump as well, Bloomberg adds. On Saturday, the president discussed the Affordable Care Act with Florida’s Rick Scott and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, both Republicans. The topic was “how best to solve the problems of Obamacare, with a special emphasis on the states role in health care,” according to information provided to reporters. Democratic governors are reaching out to Republican colleagues in states that expanded Medicaid and “now have a very sick feeling in their stomachs,” Malloy, who’s chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, told reporters Saturday at an earlier press conference. “I know that there is tremendous pressure on them, but we have to stand tall and make sure our fellow Americans have the coverage that they need.’’

The best summary of the current disarray, however, comes from Bloomberg which writes that former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, a Republican, asked why current governors aren’t coming together to develop a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“For members of Congress, it’s primarily a political debate, not a health-care debate,” Geringer said. “Giving Congress cover is probably the best thing you can do right now.”

The full presentation governors were presented yesterday is below:

Back From Never Gone: CURRENCY WARS

Zerohedge - 7 hours 7 min ago

In the previous episode of the currency wars, a few years ago, the Euro-Dollar exchange rate was in the spotlight. This has now completely disappeared to the background and whilst the countries of the Eurozone must be pretty happy with the weak currency (which boosts the export and increases the demand for domestically produced goods), the United States are less than happy as it weakens the position of the country on the export market.

Source: Tradingeconomics

You might have missed it when the mass media were falling over themselves to crucify president Trump, but we had the impression currency wars, and protecting the position of the United States on the world market were pretty high on his ‘to do list’ after decades of huge trade deficits. As you can see on the next image, there clearly is a huge discrepancy in the trade numbers between China and the United States. A substantial trade deficit, which has been nipped in the bud by China using their hard dollars to purchase US Treasuries.

Source: Danske Bank

Whereas the president was definitely pointing fingers at China during his election campaign, he seems to have been softer after a recent call with the Chinese president.

Does this mean the USA and China are now best buddies again? Probably not. It’s far more likely the president has realized he won’t be able to get much done when he gets in a direct confrontation with China. His staff has now launched a ‘test balloon’ and widened the scope of the currency manipulation investigation. Instead of singling out China, the White House will now be using a more general approach, and has even singled out Germany.

Source: Danske Bank

In order to be able to ‘sell’ this idea to concerned countries and entities, the Trump administration might present its own ‘alternative facts’, according to the Wall Street Journal. Even though the trade deficit between the United States and China is very clear in the previous image, it’s entirely possible the White House will introduce a new standard to calculate the trade deficit, to increase the deficit numbers.

According to a paper published by the Trump camp during the election campaign, China was really the main focus of the Economic plan. According to the paper; ‘In a world of freely floating currencies, the US dollar would weaken and the Chinese yuan would strengthen because the US runs a large trade deficit with China and the rest of the world. American exports to China would then rise, Chinese imports to America would fall, and trade should come back towards balance’.

Source: The Trump Economic Plan

That’s an absolutely accurate description, and even in the white paper, the Trump camp looked to things on a larger scale instead of focusing on China. Even the European Monetary Union and specifically Germany were singled out as examples of ‘currency manipulators’.

So don’t be surprised if the White House suddenly announces a plan to use a new method to calculate the trade deficits, in order to make the deficits appear to be larger than they really are. And this could absolutely re-shape the world and increase the impact from currency exchange rates. This doesn’t mean things will definitely change for the worse, but it’s always a very thin line when you’re dealing with powerful trading partners.

It will be difficult to create a win-win situation, but let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a lose-lose situation, as that could cripple the worldwide economy again.

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Iran Holds Massive Naval Drill Over 2 Million Sq. Kilometer Area

Zerohedge - 7 hours 8 min ago

With little active US presence in the region (see latest naval map below), on Sunday Iran launched a massive naval drill at the mouth of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Ships, submarines and helicopters will take part in the drills across an area of about 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) and marines will showcase their skills along Iran's southeastern coast, the state news agency IRNA said even as tensions with the United States continue to build after U.S President Donald Trump put Tehran "on notice".

Iran's annual exercises will be held in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Bab el-Mandab and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, to train in the fight against terrorism and piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, quoted by Reuters. Today's drill marks the last phase of war games that started in 2016, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported. The exercise, codenamed ‘Velayat 95’, kicked off in Iran’s south following an order from Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari.

Apart from the main drills, Iran’s Navy commando units are conducting special operations in the southeastern Makran region. Last June, Sayyari said that Tehran was planning to carry out 20 military drills before March 2017. Iranian officials insist that the war games do not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the nuclear deal between Iran and the Group 5+1 signed in January of 2016.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday that Iran has been found to be in full compliance with the nuclear deal, but the report comes against a backdrop of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Earlier this month, then-US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said that “Iran had been put formally on notice” after Tehran fired a ballistic missile. Later in February, President Trump tweeted that “Iran is playing with fire,” promising that he won’t be as “kind as [former President] Obama” and warned the Islamic Republic after its ballistic missile test on Jan. 29 that it was playing with fire and all U.S. options were on the table.

In response, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blasted the US, saying Tehran remains “unmoved” by threats, but will use weapons “only in self-defense.” Last month, a US Navy destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian military ships that were allegedly approaching them at high speed near the Strait of Hormuz.

The latest US naval deployment shows that while the South China Sea has been a recent focus of the US navy, the only US ship in the region is the LHD 8 Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, although the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier is currently headed for the region.

Is The US Restaurant Recession Becoming Structural?

Zerohedge - 8 hours 31 min ago

Submitted by Wolf Richter of WolfStreet.com

“Flat sales” are now a “welcome change.” The New Normal.

National restaurant data and anecdotal evidence has been piling up. “T Vogel,” a commenter on WOLF STREET, put it this way:

My wife and I make almost 30k more than the median family income in my town (northern CA) with no kids. Our rent just went up by 1k a month – landlord selling – starter houses are selling at 500k.

 

We are not spending a dime more than needed. I plan to skip our weekly night eating out now.

They’re not the only ones to skip restaurants. Costs are going up, not just of restaurant meals, but of life in general. Incomes are lagging behind. And consumers are adjusting…. That’s what a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll of more than 4,200 U.S. adults confirmed today.

One-third of the respondents said they were eating in restaurants less often than three months ago. The poll was conducted in the second half of January. Of them, 62% cited cost as the primary reason.

Restaurant prices have been rising. The price index for “food away from home,” a subcategory in the Consumer Price Index, increased between 2% and 3% every year since 2012. In January, it rose 2.4% year-over-year. Those price increases are cumulative, and they add up after a while.

It’s not just that eating out is getting more expensive; it’s that stretched households are pushed by price increases elsewhere to divert some of their limited means from eating out to other expenditures.

Yet grocery stores aren’t reporting blockbuster numbers either, Bob Goldin, partner at food industry strategy firm Pentallect, told Reuters. “There’s more splintering of the food dollar, and the pie isn’t growing,” he said. “Where you spend has changed more than the amount you spend.”

The national averages, as seen from the restaurant’s point of view, bear that out.

In its most recent Restaurant Performance Index, the National Restaurant Association lamented “soft same-store sales and customer traffic readings” in December, which kept the Current Situation Index (tracking same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures) in contraction mode for the third month in a row:

  • 42% of operators said their same-store sales declined year-over-year.
  • 47% of operators said their customer traffic declined year-over-year.

This sort of data has been coming out for a while. It got to the point where TDn2K titled its most recent Restaurant Industry Snapshot: “Flat Sales, Welcome Change for Restaurant Industry in January.”

And more specifically:

While same-store sales growth was flat (zero percent) in January, it represented a welcome break from the ten consecutive months of negative sales growth experienced by the industry through the end of last year.

These flat sales were a function of slightly higher per-person average spending and fewer people going to restaurants: same store traffic was down 2.5% monthly and 4.1% on a rolling three-month basis. As the report put it: “Although still negative, this was the best month for the industry since last May.”

On a two-year basis, same-store sales were down 0.8% from January of 2015.

There were some winners in January, with growing same-store sales: Upscale casual, family dining, and quick service. Casual dining “was able to achieve flat results in January,” hallelujah, thus breaking a streak of 13 months in a row of falling same-store sales.

And there were some losers with same-store sales declines, according to the TDn2K report: fine dining and fast casual.

You get the idea: It’s been so tough out there for restaurants that any sort of flat spot or even a smaller down-tick in the averages is welcome news for the industry. And it looks like it’s becoming a structural feature of the US economy, though not nearly as bad as the downward spiral of brick-and-mortar retail.

This of course contradicts the theory or hopes that millennials – who are said to prefer splurging money on “experiences,” such as eating out, rather than on products, such as clothes – would pull the restaurant business out of its funk.

That said, you wouldn’t necessary know this by walking around San Francisco. Yelp lists nearly 8,000 eating establishments in the City, many of them recent creations, including 500 cafés and 3,000 delis. A lot of the places are packed. Some can be impossible to get into on a Friday or Saturday night without a reservation days or weeks in advance. Others are nearly impossible to get into no matter when or what.

But then other restaurants are nearly empty. There has been a slew of recent restaurant closures, amid talk of a big shakeout, including something called the “Mid-Market Massacre” in an area around Market St., where restaurant after restaurant closes, done in by exorbitant rents, not enough traffic, too much competition, a finicky public that might have lost interest, and insufficient sales. So yes, it’s tough out there, even in San Francisco, in what must be one of the toughest businesses on earth.

Google refuses to provide any evidence to justify blacklisting of Natural News... webmaster guidelines a "black box of total bulls##t"

Natural News - 8 hours 45 min ago
(Natural News) We’re now five days into Google’s total blacklisting ban of the entire NaturalNews.com website, and Google still won’t provide us with any real evidence of why we’ve been banned. Sign the White House petition NOW and join 52,000+ other people who denounce Google’s outrageous censorship of Natural News. According to a webmaster tools...

Bill Paxton dies from surgery as failed medical system takes another beloved life

Natural News - 9 hours 18 min ago
(Natural News) Actor Bill Paxton died yesterday from “surgery complications.” The widely acclaimed actor was 61 years old and starred in a long list of blockbuster films including Aliens, Titanic, The Terminator, Apollo 13 and Twister. Sadly, Bill Paxton’s death is yet another example of the failed medical system that routinely kills innocent people while...

The Oscars – Gold Plated and Debased Like Dollar

Zerohedge - 9 hours 48 min ago

The Oscars - Worth Their Weight in Gold?

  • 89th Oscars to air this weekend
  • Oscars have been dipped in 24 karat gold since 1929
  • If the Oscars were made of solid gold they would weigh 330 ounces
  • 330 ounces of gold is worth $408,210 at today's prices (nearly €400k & £330k)
  • Oscars cannot be sold, making them a tricky investment piece
  • Steven Spielberg keeps his gold Oscar with the Academy for ‘safe-keeping’
  • Shows importance of owning gold in safest ways
  • Price of gold has climbed from $20.67 since the first Oscars ceremony to over $1,237 today

‘We All Dream In Gold’ read the strap line for last year’s Academy Awards. This is no doubt still the case for the nominees of the 24 awards set to be given out at this Sunday’s 89th Oscars.

Since the first awards in 1929 nearly 3,000 oscar statues have been awarded to the lucky darlings of the film industry. After the teary speeches, after-parties and press junkets following their win, what is left for those who have achieved the highest-level of recognition in the film industry?

Winning an Oscar is an expensive business, studios spend millions trying to get their hands on at least one, each year. But film and celebrity is a fickle trade and few people can remember who received Oscars last year, let alone when they were first launched in 1929.

How much value do they really bring?

As we all dream in gold, we’ve spent some time thinking about the golden Oscars, asking just how golden they are and how they hold up when compared to gold itself.

What is an Oscar?

Designed by George Stanley, the Oscar (rumours abound why it is has that nickname) shows a knight standing with a reel of film, clutching his sword. There are five spokes on the base, one representing the branches of the Academy: Actors, directors, producers, writers and technicians.

Fun fact, whilst the Oscars have been going on since 1929 and seemingly little has changed in regard to the appearance of the statue, the mould currently used was only created last year.

The Academy wanted a version of the statue that was closer to the original 1929 design. A 3D printer created the version that is used today and provides the trophies with their more authentic look.

The awards weigh around 8 and a half pounds, and are made from Britannia metal or Britannium and plated in copper, nickel silver, and on the top layer is 24-karat gold. Excluding three years during the Second World War, the statue has always been dipped in gold. So when the Academy says that we all dream in gold, they’re not wrong when it comes to the Oscars.

Worth its weight in gold?

As mentioned above, the gold on the Oscar is the icing on the cake, a cake which is made up of a few layers and alloys. However there is very little gold when it comes to the actual Oscar, in fact just 0.38 microns (one-two hundredth of the thickness of a human hair).

This year’s statues are rumoured to have a monetary worth of $629 each, demonstrating just how little gold Oscar is wearing.


This isn’t to say the Academy Award trophies aren’t worth anything.

Since the first ceremony in 1929, the price of gold has climbed from $20.67 to $1,237 today. Just the gold alone, in those 13.5 inch statues have climbed by nearly 60 times in price.

It is a classic example of how the dollar has devalued over the years - the dollar has devalued and has lost 98% of its value against gold in those 88 years.

But what if Hollywood had really wanted to show its stars how much they valued them? What if the dreams of gold really came true and the Oscar was made of solid gold?

At 8.7 lb, the statue in its current form is equivalent to 126.9 troy ounces but this weight has been taken on from the fact that the statue is made up of Britannia metal. Britannia metal is an alloy consisting of approximately 92% tin, 6% antimony and 2% copper.

Assuming that we are working with 24 karat gold with a density of 19.282 g/cm3, then research tells us that the cubic centimetres of this much tin is around 531.25, and it would take nearly 22.6 pounds of gold to fill it. This means a solid gold Oscar would weigh around 330 troy ounces and at today’s price would be worth around $408,210. A significant uptick from last year’s which were worth around $382,000.

Had actors and actresses received solid gold Oscars nearly 30 years ago, in 1991, then they would have seen a climb in value of over 3 times over. Not bad for a few months’ work on a film and not a bad return on any investment.

Regardless of whether or not someone remembers who won and what for, the solid gold Oscar wouldn’t care. The gold would act as a timeless store of value and insurance, no matter what the public and critics think of you and your film in the years ahead.

You can sell your gold but not your Oscar

Some of you might be arguing that the Oscars bring so much more than just a piece of gold, and the kudos that comes with them is priceless. If you were to sell an Oscar, you might argue, then you would get far more thanks to the kudos that comes with it being ‘an Oscar.’

Some trophies from the pre-1950s era have been sold and have done very well. David Copperfield bought Michael Curtiz’s 1942 Oscar for Casablanca, in 2003 for $299,000 later selling it for over $2 million. The 1939 Oscar for Gone With the Wind was estimated to sell for $300,000 in 1999 but was bought at a far higher price of $1.54 million.

You could take a leaf out of Steven Spielberg’s book. The ET director and one of the most successful directors of all time has previously bought two 1950s Oscars and rather than kept them in his cloakroom (as many seem to do) he has handed them both over to the Academy ‘for safekeeping’.

This is a similar approach taken by many who invest in the most precious of metal - gold. Gold investors often use storage facilities provided by the likes of GoldCore in Zurich, Singapore, Hong Kong and elsewhere, in order to maintain the safekeeping of their assets.

But before you start thinking you could go out and invest in an Oscar, it is no longer possible. Unlike investing in gold bars, which are borderless and cannot be controlled by one authority, the Oscars market is restricted. Those who receive Oscars are prevented from selling their awards at market price as since 1950 the trophies have been considered the perpetual property of the Academy.

The ‘Regulations’ section of the oscars.org website reads, ‘Award winners shall not sell or otherwise dispose of the Oscar statuette, nor permit it to be sold or disposed of by operation of law, without first offering to sell it to the Academy for the sum of $1.00. This provision shall apply also to the heirs and assigns of Academy Award winners who may acquire a statuette by gift or bequest.’

The idea is that the honour of winning an Oscar is maintained, were it to be sold then some believe it would be cheapened. This is where a solid gold Oscar would be very different.

The market for gold is affected by economics and the desire to hold gold as a form of insurance, rather than the prestige that comes with owning a piece of something that is gold-plated and was once owned or won by somebody who happened to be famous and or was a great actor.

 Gold does not discriminate, the Oscars do

Few will have missed the furore that surrounds the Academy Awards when it comes to recognition that it shows to ethnic minority groups. The issue has its own hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

But what few people discuss is the discrimination when it comes to the benefit of winning an Oscar. A 2008 paper by Kevin Sweeney, finds that “an Oscar increases a male winner’s salary by 81% holding all other variables constant.”

But this is not the case for women, Sweeney finds that, “Female winners do not experience this same clear boost in their salaries…women, experience significantly lower salary increases from winning an Academy Award than men. In such cases, winning an Academy Award did not have a statistically significant effect on women’s salaries in the sample.”

As mentioned above, gold does not discriminate when it comes to who you are or when you won, and it certainly doesn’t care what nationality you are.

Gold is a stateless form of money, something that has been bought for generations as a store of value across the globe. The Chinese Aunties don’t care who won an Oscar when it comes to Chinese New Year, parents don’t mind which film won when it comes to buying their daughter’s wedding jewellery in India and central bankers can’t give two hoots about the best costume winner when they are accumulating gold reserves and diversifying their foreign exchange reserves.

These people and everyone who chooses to own gold, know that it will hold its value and act as a form of insurance and money in the months and years to come.

Give the gift of gold

February is the month of love and this year’s Oscars attendees will certainly be feeling it when they get hold of the 2017 Academy Awards’ infamous ‘Everyone Wins’ goody bags. Last year each of the gift bags were worth £232,000 and included (according to Forbes):

‘ a year's worth of Audi rentals ($45,000), 15-day private tour of Japan ($54,000), VIP all-inclusive trip to Israel ($55,000) and a lifetime's supply of Lizora skincare products ($31,200).’

This year the bags have even more bizarre, luxury products:
"including a female sex toy, the Nuelle Fiera Arouser for Her, deluxe Swiss toilet paper ..." according to the Telegraph.

The swag bags are provided by Distinctive Assets, whose Managing Director said "We are gifting them for the same reason that they are paid upwards of $20 million for a single film...because their personal brand has value as a commodity."

The commodity that is celebrity is (as we said early on) is very fickle and comes and goes with the tides. Gold, the ultimate commodity and money, is not.

Its shine has not been tarnished over the years and it still sees constant and universal demand.

This year, celebrities are not the only commodities that will be on show. A 14 carat gold and diamond OM bracelet is part of the swag bag. As we wrote earlier this month, gold jewellery is a bad investment when compared to a pure gold bar or sovereign coin. Demand for gold jewellery is falling and the resale price is appalling compared to the initial purchase price. Celebrities would be better served, if they were gifted with a few gold bars or coins which will hold their value, in contrast to a flimsy gold bracelet or bangle.

Who will win Best Picture this year?

Personally, I’m not going gaga over 'La La Land' like most people seem to be, so I’m rooting for 'Arrival'. But sometimes these things come down to personal preference.

Look out for our-post Oscars coverage next week. I’m afraid that doesn’t mean we’ll be giving you an actress-by-actress account of who wore what designer, instead we’ll be looking at the winning pictures and how much gold it takes to win an Oscar.

Interestingly the films nominated for this year’s Best Picture Award are diverse in their costs in terms of gold ounces. We will show you in previous years how much the price of movies has and hasn’t changed when it comes to spend in dollars and gold.

Conclusion

Celebrity, fame and awards all have their worth and they’re good fun for lots of people. In the same way, imagining what holding a solid gold Oscar in our hands would be like is also fun.

Winning an Oscar and being acknowledged for being a great actor would be wonderful. Winning a solid gold Oscar would be even better - a conversation starter and contrary to the Oscar 'regulations' in the event of financial crisis and collapse, it could be sold for close to its gold melt or spot value.

When it comes to protecting your life savings, or having essential financial insurance for a rainy day, we just think it’s better to own the good, timeless commodity and currency that are gold coins and bars.

But let’s be honest, most of us are unlikely to win any sort of Oscar - be it one made from base metal or investment grade gold bullion, and so a few gold coins or gold bars are better guarantees of wealth and financial security in the long-run.

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Gold and Silver Bullion - News and Commentary

Gold steady post Fed minutes; focus on Trump economic policy (Reuters)

Asian stocks slide lower after Fed’s rate-hike uncertainty (MarketWatch)

Gold scores a boost after Fed minutes, following 3rd losing session (MarketWatch)

Dollar Falls With Stocks Amid Dovish Fed Minutes (Bloomberg)

Trump budget coming in mid-March, Spicer says (MarketWatch)

France exit the Euro?  Largest sovereign default in history would lead to contagion (CNBC)

The Mother Of All Financial Bubbles: "This Is The Very Definition Of Unsustainable" (Zerohedge)

Why the Royal Mint’s bullion sales were up big in January 2017 (Coin World)

Gold Looted From Ancient Empire Returned to Romania (National Geographic)

Gold’s Fundamentals Strengthen (The Daily Gold )

Gold Prices (LBMA AM)

23Feb: USD 1,237.35, GBP 992.97 & EUR 1,173.13 per ounce
22Feb: USD 1,237.50, GBP 994.21 & EUR 1,178.22 per ounce
21Feb: USD 1,228.70, GBP 988.86 & EUR 1,166.16 per ounce
20Feb: USD 1,235.35, GBP 991.49 & EUR 1,163.21 per ounce
17Feb: USD 1,241.40, GBP 1,000.57 & EUR 1,165.55 per ounce
16Feb: USD 1,236.75, GBP 988.41 & EUR 1,163.29 per ounce
15Feb: USD 1,225.15, GBP 985.27 & EUR 1,161.81 per ounce

Silver Prices (LBMA)

23Feb: USD 18.00, GBP 14.42 & EUR 17.06 per ounce
22Feb: USD 18.00, GBP 14.47 & EUR 17.14 per ounce
21Feb: USD 17.89, GBP 14.41 & EUR 16.97 per ounce
20Feb: USD 17.98, GBP 14.42 & EUR 16.92 per ounce
17Feb: USD 18.01, GBP 14.50 & EUR 16.91 per ounce
16Feb: USD 18.10, GBP 14.49 & EUR 17.02 per ounce
15Feb: USD 17.88, GBP 14.39 & EUR 16.94 per ounce


Recent Market Updates

- Gold To Benefit from Rising Inflation and Higher Than “Official” China Gold Demand
- Russia Gold Buying Is Back – Buys One Million Ounces In January
- Gold The “Ultimate Insurance Policy” as “Grave Concerns About Euro” – Greenspan
- Sharia Standard May See Gold Surge
- Gold Price To 2 Month High As Fiery Trump Declares World Order
- Gold’s Gains 15% In Inauguration Years Since 1974
- Turkey, ‘Axis of Gold’ and the End of US Dollar Hegemony
- Gold Up 5.5% YTD – Hard Brexit Cometh and Weaker Dollar Under Trump
- Bitcoin and Gold – Outlook and Safe Haven?
- Physical Gold Will ‘Trump’ Paper Gold
- Gold Lower Before Trump Presidency – Strong Gains Akin To After Obama Inauguration
- Gold Rallies To $1,207 After Trump Press Conference Shambles
- Prince Owned Land and Gold Bars Worth $800,000

Interested in learning more about physical gold and silver?
Call GoldCore and speak with a Gold and Silver Specialist today!

BOMBSHELL investigation: Google an "information dominance" front for the CIA

Natural News - 10 hours 58 min ago
(Natural News) One of the fascinating things that’s happening as a side effect of Natural News being blacklisted by Google is that thousands of people are contacting us with information about the hidden history of Google. As we are coming to discover, Google isn’t an innocent, friendly search engine created to help humanity… it’s actually...

Google may be part of a deep state conspiracy to silence Trump defenders, new interview reveals

Natural News - 11 hours 24 min ago
(Natural News) The Alt-Left has completely come out of the shadows since the election of Donald J. Trump to become protector and leader of the free world, fully revealing itself and not the 45th president to be the real fascist threat to American liberties and freedoms. The latest incident is Google’s decision to censor all...

The HARM of Google censorship: The day you (or a loved one) are diagnosed with cancer, you will desperately wish Google hadn't censored Natural News

Natural News - 11 hours 32 min ago
(Natural News) Outrage against Google continues to explode across the ‘net, and people everywhere are shocked to learn how incredibly evil Google has become. Over 51,000 people have already signed this White House petition that asks President Trump to intervene and halt Google’s blatant censorship of one of the world’s most beloved resources on natural...

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