Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gold World News Flash

Gold World News Flash

The US Economy: Back On Track?

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 06:05 PM PST

Submitted by Erico Matias Tavares via Sinclair & Co.,

The weekly rail traffic report published by the Association of American Railroads (“AAR”) provides a great snapshot of US economic activity almost in real (weekly) time.

Last July we noted that we were starting to witness some signals of a trend change, now suggesting a softening. But much has happened since then, including a broadly unexpected change in the political direction of the US. Have those signals been reversed as a result?

Let’s start with some general indicators.

The US ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index reported by the Institute for Supply Management fell briefly into contraction territory last August, which is often a presage for economic weakness ahead. However, it recovered handsomely in the following months and just printed the highest number in two years.

A significant reversal to the upside was also observed in the latest National Federation of Independent Business (“NFIB”) Optimism Index for Small Businesses - the real wealth generators in the economy, which after some weakness mid-year just printed the highest level since the Financial Crisis of 2008.

Not to be outdone, US investors have pushed equities to new historical highs, as shown in the graph above (by

So things are looking up in the US right? Perhaps so… but the railroads aren’t feeling it.

Rail intermodal traffic registers the long-haul movement of shipping containers and truck trailers by rail whenever combined with (a much shorter) truck movement at one or both ends. It covers a broad range of goods that Americans consume regularly, from laptops to frozen chickens, and is thus a great indicator of how consumers are doing. Given the huge importance of consumption for the US economy as a whole, for us this is the most revealing category.

The grey cloud in our rail shipment graphs (in units) depicted henceforth shows the maximum and minimum volume range recorded for the same week over the five years prior (2011-2015). The green line shows the readings for 2016, now for the full year.

After a strong start of the year, rail intermodal traffic started to underperform, although some pickup was observed later in the year. Aggregating the numbers by year provides a clearer picture, and here are the figures since 2006 (in MM units):

For the first time since the lead up to the 2009 recession, yearly values are down versus the prior year. In percentage terms the 2015-16 decline is almost the same as the 2007-08 decline, when the Financial Crisis was raging.

While clearly not a good sign this is just a warning given the still high transactional levels compared to prior years. If weakness persists in this category into 2017 then we will start getting really, really worried about the broader condition of the US economy.

What about housing, another key industry? The forest products category includes lumber, a major input of house construction, and is shown in the graph below:

Volumes were generally weak throughout the year, setting new five year lows. However, as per US Census Bureau data privately-owned housing completions in November came out at a very solid 15% (±13.5%) above the revised October estimate and a whopping 25% (±15.0%) over the prior year. How can these two seemingly disparate trends be reconciled?

The answer might be in the brackets after the percentage growth figures. These statistics are estimated from sample surveys, so the Census Bureau provides a standard error to indicate a range where the real number might actually lie. And quite a wide one in fact. As such, the actual year-on-year figure could be somewhere in the range +10% to +40%. Given falling volumes transported by the railways even the lower estimate from these surveys looks optimistic. Another category to keep a close eye on.

The motor vehicles and parts graph shown below includes all sorts of vehicles (used and new), passenger car and bus bodies, parts and accessories and other related equipment:

This industry is of course very important for US manufacturing. Last July we noted that it had been the bright spot out of all the categories, recording new cycle highs up until then. And while that persisted for a while longer some weakness sipped in towards the end of the year.

Still, volumes reached the highest level in 2016 since the go-go days of 2007. Not bad at all, but hopefully that year-end weakness is nothing to worry about… because as we shall see other industries – particularly in the primary sector – continue to struggle.

After a terrible performance through 2015, metallic ores (shown above), which include all kinds of ores (iron, copper, lead, zinc and so forth) and waste scrap, managed to do even worse in 2016. Not much reason for optimism here (unless as a contrarian).

The same can be said about coal, with volumes collapsing since the start of the year. Not even the recovery in the second half could avoid a miserable performance overall.

What about oil production?

Using rail shipments of crude oil and refined products to gauge production levels is a little tricky because volumes can be diverted to pipelines and/or the mix can change. That being said, the declines in rail shipments throughout 2016 are consistent with the drop in US production as reported by the IEA, shown in the graph below (in MM bopd):

The silver lining is that the weekly oil rig count as reported by Baker Hughes has responded positively to the recent recovery in crude oil prices, as shown in the graph below (with WTI pushed forward a number of weeks):

So we may see some pickup in activity going forward, as long as prices continue to hold. Other than that it’s pretty safe to say that the US extractive sector as a whole had another miserable year.

And last but certainly not least, here are the rail shipments of grains:

Volumes exploded higher in the second half of the year. The flipside of such volume increases was a continued correction in grain prices, particularly in corn and wheat (soybeans managed to hold up). Great news for consumers, but terrible for farmers: according to the latest USDA estimates in 2016 net farm income dropped to the lowest level in six years.


If so many industries continued to struggle in 2016, with some key ones even deteriorating towards year-end, how come small businesses are so wildly optimistic?

Perhaps the graph above, taken from the same NFIB small business report, provides the answer: while actual sales have languished expectations of future activity have gone through the roof. And that differential between actual versus expectations reached the highest level in many years.

It is hard to dissociate this from all the economic promises of the incoming Administration. That may explain why small business owners across the US – and indeed stock investors – have become so optimistic. However, the hard goods-traded reality continues to show some concerning signs of weakness.

Whether or not the new economic policies will prove to be successful the railways will likely feel it before anyone else. That’s why we will continue to keep an eye on the data.

And with that, here’s our economic wish for 2017: Make Railways Great Again!


Gold Price Closed at $1195.30 Down 3.60 or -0.3%

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 05:03 PM PST

13-Jan-17PriceChange% Change
Gold Price, $/oz1,195.30-3.60-0.3
Silver Price, $/oz16.72-0.06-0.4
Gold/Silver Ratio71.489-0.213-0.3
Silver/Gold Ratio0.0140-0.0000-0.4
S&P 5002,274.644.200.2
Dow in GOLD $s343.910.980.3
Dow in GOLD oz16.640.050.3
Dow in SILVER oz1,189.343.940.3
US Dollar Index101.21-0.17-0.2
IMPORTANT NOTE: The following are wholesale, not retail, prices. To figure our retail selling price, multiply the "ask" price by 1.035. To figure our retail buying price, multiple the "bid" price by 0.97. Lower commissions apply to larger orders, higher commissions to very small orders.
SPOT GOLD:1,197.00

American Eagle1.001,231.711,237.101,237.10
1/2 AE0.50620.43631.421,262.84
1/4 AE0.25316.19321.691,286.78
1/10 AE0.10130.07131.071,310.72
Aust. 100 corona0.981,167.431,176.431,200.20
British sovereign0.24283.89296.891,261.20
French 20 franc0.19223.48229.481,229.14
Maple Leaf1.001,207.001,221.001,221.00
1/2 Maple Leaf0.50688.28628.431,256.85
1/4 Maple Leaf0.25305.24320.201,280.79
1/10 Maple Leaf0.10126.88130.471,304.73
Mexican 50 peso1.211,435.891,446.891,200.04
.9999 bar1.001,201.791,207.001,207.00

VG+ Morgan $B4 19050.7723.0027.0035.29
VG+ Peace dollar0.7717.0020.0026.14
90% silver coin bags0.7212,112.1012,398.1017.34
US 40% silver 1/2s0.304,761.304,911.3016.65
100 oz .999 bar100.001,669.001,694.0016.94
10 oz .999 bar10.00169.40174.4017.44
1 oz .999 round1.0017.0417.3417.34
Am Eagle, 200 oz Min1.0018.2919.7919.79

Platinum Platypus1.00997.401,027.401,027.40

Here's the weekly scorecard:

6-Jan-1713-Jan-17Change% Change
Silver, cents/oz.1,646.601,672.0025.401.5
Gold, dollars/oz.1,171.901,195.3023.402.0
Gold/silver ratio71.17171.4890.3180.4
Silver/gold ratio0.01410.0140-0.0001-0.4
Dow in Gold Dollars (DIG$)352.15343.91-8.24-2.3
Dow in gold ounces17.0416.64-0.40-2.3
Dow in Silver ounces1,212.431,189.34-23.09-1.9
Dow Industrials19,963.8019,885.73-78.07-0.4
US dollar index102.17101.21-0.96-0.9

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"China's Next Time Bomb" - A Look Inside The Insane World Of China's Bitcoin Traders

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 04:50 PM PST

The recent tumble in bitcoin, driven by a stampede of Chinese sellers who until last week were willing buyers at any price, has exposed the weakest link in bitcoin's until recently exponential rise: the mood and social psychology of Chinese momentum and bubble chasers, who like clockwork rush into any one given asset, bid it up to ridiculous levels, watch the bubble burst, before moving on to the next bubble.

The good news is that courtesy of $25 trillion in local savings, or more than double the amount in the US, the bubble eventually returns to where it burst. The bad news is that in the meantime, those who chased the original bubble lose most if not all of their money.

Unfortunately, for most of China's bitcoin traders, the bad news may be just starting.

Take the story of Ding Wen, who by the age of 34 had built up a personal fortune of more than two million yuan after years of hard work at an internet company in Nanjing, in east China's Jiangsu province. But, as SCMP recounts his tale, Wen saw most of that wealth go up in smoke on January 5, when China's bitcoin market crashed, sending the price of the virtual currency plunging 40 per cent in just a few hours after lunch.

With the market in free fall, Ding was unable to log into his account with China's biggest bitcoin trading platform, Huobi, meaning he could not sell off his holdings or top up his principal to meet the margin call. By the time he managed to log on in the evening, most of the bitcoins in his account had been compulsorily sold off by Huobi for 6,361 yuan each, lower than his purchase price of 8,101 yuan. This included the part of his investment he had bought using a loan he obtained from Huobi by pledging the bitcoins he owned originally.

"I have taken on big risks when making leveraged betting, but the collapse of the trading system made me unable to run stop-loss orders, so I think the platform should compensate for investors' losses," Ding said.

The platform disagrees.

Ahead of the market crash, Ding had borrowed 995 million yuan from Huobi by pledging a principal consisting of the 409 bitcoins he already owned. He then bought a further 1,228 bitcoins with the loan. Most of his holdings were compulsorily sold out by Huobi during the price collapse while he was unable to access his account.

Meanwhile, Wu Xing, head of marketing at Huobi, said the log-in delay was caused by a torrent of visits and selling orders, which exceeded the capacity of the website. "[The loss] was due to irresistible factors and not included in the compensation scope. We are sorry and understand the feelings of the investors," she said.

So to recap... trading the extremely volatile bitcoin on massive, unregulated margin, in an exchange that arbitrarily locks out its clients? 

What can possibly go wrong.

* * *

According to SCMP, "many analysts and investors fear China's bitcoin market is quickly turning into another time bomb like the scandal-hit peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector. A series of P2P lending platform frauds rocked the country last year and washed away tens of billions of yuan of investment from small investors, creating a headache for local and central governments, which feared social unrest."

Now speculation, derivative products, leveraged betting and program trading appear to be spreading in the largely unregulated bitcoin market. Such practices are thought to be responsible for pushing up the price of bitcoin by more than 260 per cent since early 2016.

The market hit a historic high of 8,995 yuan on January 5... Just ahead of the crash.


Most of the transactions are happening on three privately owned platforms or through P2P trading.

Data provider Bitcoinity shows trading volume in China accounted for more than 98% of the global total during the past 30 days amid more pronounced price fluctuations. Until now, no regulator has overseen this market, which sees daily turnover worth tens of billions of yuan. However, things appear to be changing fast.

After the great bitcoin crash, the People's Bank of China announced on Wednesday afternoon that it had sent inspection teams to the country's top three bitcoin trading platforms to scrutinise their practices. It is the first regulatory move China's central bank has made publicly involving the virtual currency.

The PBOC has been in talks with the platforms from time to time in private since 2013 and asked them for data and information, according to an executive from a major trading platform, who asked not to be named. But the authorities have not formally listed bitcoin under their regulatory framework. Nor have they issued any rules to govern the market.

Like all other central banks, the PBOC defines bitcoin as a commodity rather than a currency, which ruled it out of their existing regulatory coverage in late 2013. Aurélien Menant, founder and chief executive of Gatecoin, a cryptocurrency and blockchain assets trading platform based in Hong Kong, said: "Given the dominant role of Chinese exchanges, which represent 95 per cent of global bitcoin trading activity, at more than 50 billion yuan every day, it's likely that the PBOC recognises the growing significance of this new and so far unregulated alternative financial market.

"The PBOC has been engaging with the major cryptocurrency exchanges in China for several years, but given the sudden price movements and high volumes traded over the past few weeks, it's very clear that now it just wanted to step up their checks on market manipulation and money laundering."

In an announcement issued on Wednesday, the central bank said it was joining forces with the Beijing Financial Bureau to probe trading platforms including Huobi and OKCoin to check if they were running in accordance with foreign-exchange management, anti-money-laundering and trading exchange rules.

Mainland media reported in recent months that bitcoins had become a popular tool for investors to export money out of China, circumventing capital controls that had been tightened by the regulators amid the yuan's sharp depreciation. Cheung Chun-yin, a PwC China fintech partner, said it was possible for bitcoin holders in China to circumvent domestic capital control limits by selling bitcoin to an overseas buyer in exchange for foreign currency.

"In theory, the bitcoin market is borderless, and as long as you could find a buyer overseas, you would be able to get US dollars, and the trade could happen without leaving a trace, with no record in the traditional banking system," he said, adding that the volume of capital flow through this channel was likely to be quite limited.

Feeling attacked, the local industry quickly rose up in defense. Zhao Dong, owner of Jiandong Tech, a company that buys and sells bitcoin, agreed that the actual amount of capital leaving the country through bitcoin was not likely to be very high.

"Among the 16 million bitcoins already dug out across the world by now, there are around four to five million held by the Chinese. That already caps the total value, while most of the owners are more interested in short-term speculation on the mainland market than exporting them for foreign currencies," he said. Cheung said that although neither the mainland nor Hong Kong financial regulators had included bitcoin in the existing regulatory framework, bitcoin-related activities were "evolving and bearing the features of traditional financial market activities" and overlapping with the traditional financial system. That makes it more important than ever that the regulators start to take notice.

The biggest problem for the Chinese bitcoin market, according to Zhao, is that "the trading platforms are facing the challenge of having to prove themselves innocent" because many investors accuse them of inside trading or market manipulation. The market boom and the quick build-up of leverage had left the market in urgent need of official regulation, he said. Chen Yunfeng, a senior partner with Zhonglun W&D law firm, based in Shanghai, said he was dealing with an increasing number of bitcoin-related disputes. These included cases of bitcoin theft and scams in which investors have been unable to verify their trading partners.

"The bitcoin market is facing great risks, with turnover and leverage climbing quickly, and mixed up with unregulated foreign-currency trading and money laundering. I think it is time that the PBOC prepared new policies," he added.

Industry players said the PBOC was mulling the idea of introducing third-party custodian services to govern the market by taking care of the account records, cash or bitcoins on behalf of the platforms. In early August, investor confidence in bitcoin took another knock when Bitfinex, a prominent Hong Kong-based digital currency exchange, reported the theft of about US$65.8 million worth of bitcoins. About 119,756 bitcoins were lost in a security breach, the company said.

In early 2014, Japan-based bitcoin exchange MtGox collapsed over the loss of nearly US$390 million worth of the virtual currency. Police later arrested its chief executive, Mark Karpeles, who was suspected of having accessed the computer system of the exchange and falsifying data on its outstanding balance.

* * *

Meanwhile, overnight BTCChina announced (and other exchanges allegedly followed) that it had suspended its margin loan service indefinitely. The move came after the exchange received "informal guidance" from the PBoC, which has been more actively engaged with domestic bitcoin exchanges amid the run-up in bitcoin prices seen at the start of the year.  While the move may flush out much of the bubbly euphoria, it may also lead to a far more stable market.

Alternatively, it may just accelerate the blow up of China's "bitcoin time bomb."

Some Election Interference Is More Equal Than Others - How Ukraine Meddled On Behalf Of Clinton

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 04:25 PM PST

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

A couple of days ago, Politico published a fascinating piece describing how factions associated with the current Ukrainian government apparently interfered in the U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The findings seem pretty damning, and certainly warrant at least some conversation within the American media given the 24/7 obsession with Russia. Nevertheless, most of you have probably never heard of this saga, since when it comes to the corporate media news cycle, some election interference is more equal than others.

The article is lengthy, and can be confusing at times given all the moving parts, but I highly encourage you to read it. Ukrainian interference in the election can be traced to essentially two sources. First, there was the apparent collaboration between the Ukrainian embassy in Washington D.C. and a highly paid Ukrainian-American DNC consultant, Alexandra Chalupa. The second angle is far more disturbing, and involves the publicization of a so-called ledger demonstrating corruption between Paul Manafort and pro-Russian elements in Ukraine, by a parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko. Bizarrely, the investigation was effectively dropped after Trump won the election, making you wonder if there was anything really there in the first place.

What follows are excerpts from the excellent piece, Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire:

Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country.


Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.


A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.


The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.


Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.


The Ukrainian antipathy for Trump’s team — and alignment with Clinton’s — can be traced back to late 2013. That’s when the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Manafort had been advising, abruptly backed out of a European Union pact linked to anti-corruption reforms. Instead, Yanukovych entered into a multibillion-dollar bailout agreement with Russia, sparking protests across Ukraine and prompting Yanukovych to flee the country to Russia under Putin’s protection.


In the ensuing crisis, Russian troops moved into the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and Manafort dropped off the radar.


Manafort’s work for Yanukovych caught the attention of a veteran Democratic operative named Alexandra Chalupa, who had worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the Clinton administration. Chalupa went on to work as a staffer, then as a consultant, for Democratic National Committee. The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records, though she also was paid by other clients during that time, including Democratic campaigns and the DNC’s arm for engaging expatriate Democrats around the world.


She said she shared her concern with Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, and one of his top aides, Oksana Shulyar, during a March 2016 meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy. According to someone briefed on the meeting, Chaly said that Manafort was very much on his radar, but that he wasn’t particularly concerned about the operative’s ties to Trump since he didn’t believe Trump stood much of a chance of winning the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency.


Chalupa said the embassy also worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions. She added, though, “they were being very protective and not speaking to the press as much as they should have. I think they were being careful because their situation was that they had to be very, very careful because they could not pick sides. It’s a political issue, and they didn’t want to get involved politically because they couldn’t.”


Shulyar vehemently denied working with reporters or with Chalupa on anything related to Trump or Manafort, explaining “we were stormed by many reporters to comment on this subject, but our clear and adamant position was not to give any comment [and] not to interfere into the campaign affairs.”


Shulyar said her work with Chalupa “didn’t involve the campaign,” and she specifically stressed that “We have never worked to research and disseminate damaging information about Donald Trump and Paul Manafort.”


But Andrii Telizhenko, who worked as a political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy under Shulyar, said she instructed him to help Chalupa research connections between Trump, Manafort and Russia. “Oksana said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa,” recalled Telizhenko, who is now a political consultant in Kiev. “They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa,” he said, adding “Oksana was keeping it all quiet,” but “the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa.


In fact, sources familiar with the effort say that Shulyar specifically called Telizhenko into a meeting with Chalupa to provide an update on an American media outlet’s ongoing investigation into Manafort.


Telizhenko recalled that Chalupa told him and Shulyar that, “If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September.”

Sure seems like pretty close coordination between a DNC consultant and the official embassy of Ukraine in the midst of a Presidential election.

Nevertheless, that’s small potatoes compared to what happened within the Ukrainian parliament itself. As Politico notes:

While it’s not uncommon for outside operatives to serve as intermediaries between governments and reporters, one of the more damaging Russia-related stories for the Trump campaign — and certainly for Manafort — can be traced more directly to the Ukrainian government.


Documents released by an independent Ukrainian government agency — and publicized by a parliamentarian — appeared to show $12.7 million in cash payments that were earmarked for Manafort by the Russia-aligned party of the deposed former president, Yanukovych.


The New York Times, in the August story revealing the ledgers’ existence, reported that the payments earmarked for Manafort were “a focus” of an investigation by Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, while CNN reported days later that the FBI was pursuing an overlapping inquiry.


Clinton’s campaign seized on the story to advance Democrats’ argument that Trump’s campaign was closely linked to Russia. The ledger represented “more troubling connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said in a statement. He demanded that Trump “disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them.”


A former Ukrainian investigative journalist and current parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, who was elected in 2014 as part of Poroshenko’s party, held a news conference to highlight the ledgers, and to urge Ukrainian and American law enforcement to aggressively investigate Manafort.


“I believe and understand the basis of these payments are totally against the law — we have the proof from these books,” Leshchenko said during the news conference, which attracted international media coverage. “If Mr. Manafort denies any allegations, I think he has to be interrogated into this case and prove his position that he was not involved in any misconduct on the territory of Ukraine,” Leshchenko added. 

These are some really serious allegations, which makes his current behavior, which I’ll highlight later, that much more concerning.

Manafort denied receiving any off-books cash from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and said that he had never been contacted about the ledger by Ukrainian or American investigators, later telling POLITICO “I was just caught in the crossfire.”


The scrutiny around the ledgers — combined with that from other stories about his Ukraine work — proved too much, and he stepped down from the Trump campaign less than a week after the Times story.


At the time, Leshchenko suggested that his motivation was partly to undermine Trump. “For me, it was important to show not only the corruption aspect, but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world,” Leshchenko told the Financial Times about two weeks after his news conference. The newspaper noted that Trump’s candidacy had spurred “Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a U.S. election,” and the story quoted Leshchenko asserting that the majority of Ukraine’s politicians are “on Hillary Clinton’s side.”

Well, well, well…but there’s more.

An operative who has worked extensively in Ukraine, including as an adviser to Poroshenko, said it was highly unlikely that either Leshchenko or the anti-corruption bureau would have pushed the issue without at least tacit approval from Poroshenko or his closest allies.


“It was something that Poroshenko was probably aware of and could have stopped if he wanted to,” said the operative.


And, almost immediately after Trump’s stunning victory over Clinton, questions began mounting about the investigations into the ledgers — and the ledgers themselves.


An official with the anti-corruption bureau told a Ukrainian newspaper, “Mr. Manafort does not have a role in this case.”


And, while the anti-corruption bureau told Politico late last month that a “general investigation [is] still ongoing” of the ledger, it said Manafort is not a target of the investigation. “As he is not the Ukrainian citizen, [the anti-corruption bureau] by the law couldn’t investigate him personally,” the bureau said in a statement.

Note that the only thing that changed is Trump won the election, which apparently caused the Ukrainian government to backtrack on the entire thing after its sabotage failed to deliver the desire outcome.

Some Poroshenko critics have gone further, suggesting that the bureau is backing away from investigating because the ledgers might have been doctored or even forged.


And in an interview this week, Manafort, who re-emerged as an informal advisor to Trump after Election Day, suggested that the ledgers were inauthentic and called their publication “a politically motivated false attack on me. My role as a paid consultant was public. There was nothing off the books, but the way that this was presented tried to make it look shady.”

As shameless as all of this is, it doesn’t end there.

Poroshenko’s allies are scrambling to figure out how to build a relationship with Trump, who is known for harboring and prosecuting grudges for years.


A delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians allied with Poroshenko last month traveled to Washington partly to try to make inroads with the Trump transition team, but they were unable to secure a meeting, according to a Washington foreign policy operative familiar with the trip. And operatives in Washington and Kiev say that after the election, Poroshenko met in Kiev with top executives from the Washington lobbying firm BGR — including Ed Rogers and Lester Munson — about how to navigate the Trump regime.


Weeks later, BGR reported to the Department of Justice that the government of Ukraine would pay the firm $50,000 a month to “provide strategic public relations and government affairs counsel,” including “outreach to U.S. government officials, non-government organizations, members of the media and other individuals.”

The fact that foreign influence is purchased like this is simply disgusting, but I digress.

In fact, I’ve saved the best for last…

The Poroshenko regime’s standing with Trump is considered so dire that the president’s allies after the election actually reached out to make amends with — and even seek assistance from — Manafort, according to two operatives familiar with Ukraine’s efforts to make inroads with Trump.

After essentially claiming that Manafort was a hired gun for Putin to intervene in the internal affairs of Ukraine, the government is now reaching out to him? You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see something’s not adding up here. Was the entire investigation a fraud to help Hillary Clinton win the election? If so, isn’t that election interference?

Nevertheless, I somehow I doubt we’ll see America’s three stooges, Graham, Rubio and McCain make a big stink over this one.

Lady Liberty will be a black woman on a U.S. gold coin in April

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 04:04 PM PST

And she's as beautiful as can be.

* * *

By Erin McCann
The New York Times
Friday, January 13, 2017

The United States Mint will release in April a commemorative gold coin that will feature Lady Liberty as a black woman, marking the first time that she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation's currency.

The coin, with a $100 face value, will commemorate the 225th anniversary of the Mint's coin production, the Mint and the Treasury Department announced on Thursday. Going on sale April 6, it will be 24-karat and weigh about an ounce.

It is part of a series of commemorative coins that will be released every two years. Future ones will show Lady Liberty as Asian, Hispanic, and Indian "to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States," the Mint said in a statement. ...

... For the remainder of the report:


Sandspring Resources Commences 2016 Exploration Campaign

Company Announcement
August 17, 2016

Sandspring Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:SSP, US OTC: SSPXF) is pleased to announce commencement of the 2016 exploration campaign at its Toroparu Gold Project in Guyana, South America.

In 2015 the company completed a 3,700-meter diamond drilling program on the promising Sona Hill Prospect, located 5 kilometers southeast of the main Toroparu deposit. Sona Hill is the easternmost gold anomaly in a cluster of 10 gold features located within a 20-by-7-kilometer hydrothermal alteration halo around Toroparu. Drilling at Sona Hill in 2012 and in 2015 intercepted high-grade mineralization in both saprolite and bedrock, and confirmed the continuity and grade potential of the Sona Hill mineralization.

For the remainder of the announcement and highlights of the 2015 drill program:

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2017 The Year The EMP Will Be Used

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 03:30 PM PST

 Something BIG is going to happen: You have to watch this fresh 2017 anonymous message! Anonymous exposes the NWO and their plans for 2017 The Financial Armageddon Economic Collapse Blog tracks trends and forecasts , futurists , visionaries , free investigative journalists , researchers...

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The Worst Thing Russia Ever Did to America

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 02:59 PM PST

This post The Worst Thing Russia Ever Did to America appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

“We are going to do the worst thing we can do to you," wagged Russian political scientist Georgi Arbatov, with purring relish, just as the Soviet Union was set to breathe its last…

"We are going to take your enemy away from you.”

A superpower needs an enemy as a cop needs robbers… the Church needs sinners… or a commie needs capitalists. How else does it justify itself?

The Soviets heaved the towel over the ropes on Christmas Day 1991. For the next decade, America was undisputed heavyweight champ of the world. Its fleets commanded the Seven Seas, its armies policed the four corners of the globe. And was there a spot on Earth where you couldn't catch a rerun of Baywatch? It was the Pax Americana.

But the gods are a jealous lot. And if there's one thing the gods won't abide is a mortal grown too big for its britches. What they won't abide is hubris…

So they hatched a plan. They got some guttersnipes to fly planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Then they put the popcorn in the microwave… put their feet up… and settled in for the show…

Bush Jr. rose to the bait. First, he invaded Afghanistan. The gods knew there's a reason why Afghanistan is called "the graveyard of empires." That's how they did in Alexander the Great over 2,000 years ago. They got him to invade Afghanistan. It was the end of the line for old Alexander.

The Soviet Union was the last empire to end up in the Afghan graveyard. America's still there, digging away. But for how much longer?

That was just the beginning…

Bush decided in 2003 the Middle East needed a good stiff dose of American-style democracy. Tyrants would fall, markets would rise, terrorism would end and freedom would bloom in the harsh deserts of Araby. He found the perfect candidate: the hated Saddam Hussein. What could go wrong?

The gods practically busted their ribs laughing. Hubris?

As Daily Reckoning founder Bill Bonner said of Napoleon's ill-starred invasion of Russia, "Nothing could stop Napoleon. So everything did"…

Almost 14 years, 4,500 American lives and over $2 trillion later, Iraq is a democracy in name only. A tyrant or two has fallen in the Middle East… but a bunch of head-choppers going by the name of ISIS rose in their place.

America's reputation is tattered, its Treasury depleted, its armies weary. Its people have said enough and elected a president who said the same.

But it's not only the gods who laugh at America. The Russians are having a good chuckle of their own. The Soviet Union is gone, but the Russian bear has emerged from hibernation. First there was Crimea and Ukraine. Then it took over in Syria — wasn't that Uncle Sam's job?

Now they're saying the Russians "hacked" the presidential election. Even Trump says it: "I think it was Russia."

Such a grave transgression against American democracy demands retaliation, the usual voices thunder.

In what form? We don't know, exactly. Here's what we do know:

Last week, Washington deployed the first thousand of a 4,000-man force to Poland — the first time ever that American combat boots will be permanently planted along Russia's western border. St. Petersburg is already within artillery range of U.S. troops posted in the Baltics.

A Pentagon mouthpiece on why: "The United States is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine."

Just so. But glance back to 1999, when Russia was still nursing its wounds and NATO was expanding right to the Russian doorstep. Pat Buchanan had this to say:

If the United States has one overriding national security interest in the new century, it is to avoid collisions with great nuclear powers like Russia. By moving NATO onto Russia’s front porch, we have scheduled a 21st-century confrontation. Europe’s sick man of today is going to get well. When Russia does, it will proclaim its own Monroe Doctrine.

And when that day comes, America will face a hellish dilemma: Risk confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia determined to re-create its old sphere of influence, or renege on solemn commitments and see NATO collapse.

Someone might want to give Pat a cigar. Or three. And we mention — en passant of course — that Russian bombers and subs are menacing American shores for the first time since the Cold War.

A new U.S. intelligence report came out recently. Reuters:

The risk of conflicts between and within nations will increase over the next five years to levels not seen since the Cold War… Overconfidence that material strength can manage escalation will increase the risks of interstate conflict to levels not seen since the Cold War [reads the report].

Strike a match somewhere in Eastern Europe and the whole thing could potentially blow. A prediction? No. But a possibility. For what, exactly?

"Empires have a logic of their own," Bill Bonner and our fearless leader Addison Wiggin wrote in Empire of Debt. "That they will end in grief is a foregone conclusion."

So it would seem. But if the American empire is to end in grief, we only hope it's a quiet type of grief… not the type that goes bang.

In the meantime, the gods are munching popcorn, plotting their next move… and laughing their tails off. Boy, are they laughing…


Brian Maher
Managing editor, The Daily Reckoning

The post The Worst Thing Russia Ever Did to America appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Nomi Prins: Big Banks Already Failing Stress Tests

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 01:33 PM PST

This post Nomi Prins: Big Banks Already Failing Stress Tests appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Nomi Prins joined Jason Burack on the Wall Street For Main Street Podcast to discuss the impact of a strong US Dollar on the global economy and what kind of damage it could cause big banks that are already failing stress tests.  Wall Street For Main Street takes on themes of finance, investing and the economy and offer a natural setting for important, independent discussions from economic insiders offered from Nomi Prins and others.  The conversation delves into what to expect in the political and economic year ahead for 2017.

When asked what type of damage could a strong U.S dollar do to the global economy she noted, "First, the fact that the U.S dollar is as strong given how long the Federal Reserve has completed quantitative easing (QE) policies and bought securities is very troubling in general because it indicates that the rest of the world is far weaker on a relative basis."

"It also indicates that is it not necessarily a policy that drives dollars stronger. What's occurring is, outside of the U.S for example, in emerging market countries, they have had funding that has been denominated in dollars over the years."

Nomi Prins a former managing director on Wall Street.  Prins' is currently working on her latest book, The Artisans of Money which is set to be out later in 2017. Before stepping out of the world of Wall Street, she worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns, among other banking giants.

"Increases in  funding from 2014 and 2015 because of the expectations that rates would rise in the U.S and money would be more expensive to come by in terms of lending opportunities. These have leveraged themselves in debt that will have to be paid in U.S dollars. We saw this in the 90's with major debt crises, in particular within emerging markets like Latin America.  That was based more on government debt that was owed to the United States and U.S private banks."

"Now what we have is a situation where a lot of the debt is corporate in nature which makes it a different type of debt.  That is still a debt denominated in dollars, and the more expensive it because the more difficult it is to repay. What we are seeing is an increase in global corporate defaults. We have  had as many corporate defaults in 2016, which were 40% increase over 2015, as we have had in any year since the global financial crisis. That trend is upward. That is going to feed into the general financial fabric of the world and markets outside of the U.S."

When asked about the failed central bank policies that seem to continually get doubled down in efforts to curb economic problems the author remarked, "Whatever aspect you choose to look at the financial system, it is being bolstered by fabricated money – what I call artisanal money. These institutions whose leaders are appointed, and not even elected, have tremendous impacts on economies globally.  On a coordinated level, they have become much more powerful. The Fed started this when bringing rates down to zero."

"The coordinated efforts, such as currency swaps, are backdoor ways to provide, effectively, money to an external central bank.  The idea on the surface is to purchase and sell currency, but the reality is that you are providing capital and liquidity that is fabricated. It is not earned by companies, it's not even produced from tax revenues. It is simply fabricated and has an artificial impact on markets and economies.  It is simply going from balance sheet to balance sheet of central banks.  It is a way to ensure that government has the appearance of being in control of their economies."

When asked about the threat of big banks and the stress tests involvement in attempting to curb financial crisis, "If everything's fine, except for one factor going wrong they will have enough capital to handle it. A crisis is not one "little thing" going wrong and banks need enough capital to protect themselves. That being said, last April 7 out of 8 banks in the U.S under review basically failed their stress tests.  Some failed both tests given, but 7 out of 8 banks are not doing well enough at the moment to survive on their own."

Mr. Burack in discussion regarding the banking climate and the liabilities prompted Prins' to remark, "The only reason it the financial conditions don't appear to be hurting us everyday is because there hasn’t been an actual, acute additional crisis. Just the fact that these cheap money policies have existed for so long indicates that the financial system does have the ability to go into crisis mode, and quite easily. That is a problem."

"Whether you are a conservative or liberal, when a market crashes and your retirement fund gets pillaged by lower values because the values were tossed up by an artificial means, that impacts everyone. That is part of the problem because it is global. People can feel that inherent fragility in the system."

To catch the full conversation on banks failing stress tests, the global financial outlook for 2017 and more with Nomi Prins together with Jason Burack at Wall Street For Main Street, CLICK HERE.

Kind regards,

Craig Wilson, @craig_wilson7
for the Daily Reckoning

The post Nomi Prins: Big Banks Already Failing Stress Tests appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Gold, Silver, and US Equities - A Telescope Into Eternity

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 01:33 PM PST

Gold Seeker Weekly Wrap-Up: Gold and Silver Gain About 2% on the Week

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 01:20 PM PST

Gold edged down to $1192.24 in Asia before it bounced back to $1200.63 in London and then fell to a new session low of $1188.00 in midmorning New York trade, but it then rallied back higher into the close and ended with a gain of 0.24%. Silver rose to as high as $16.838 and ended with a gain of 0.12%.

COT Gold, Silver and US Dollar Index Report - January 13, 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 12:32 PM PST

COT Gold, Silver and US Dollar Index Report - January 13, 2017

Cambridge House International and Katusa Research: Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 10:44 AM PST

Highlights at the conference will be a fire-side chat with mining billionaire, Frank Giustra, Morning Star's #1 rated gold fund manager, Frank Holmes, several live-on stage "CEO grillings" hosted by Katusa Research founder and CEO, Marin Katusa, and a Roast of legendary investor, author and mining newsletter writer, Doug Casey.

Will this stop traders from using personal cell phones for text messages?

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 09:40 AM PST

Deutsche Bank Is Banning Text Messages on Company-Issued Phones

By Steve Arons and Ambereen Choudury
Bloomberg News
Friday, January 13, 2017

Deutsche Bank has banned text messages on company-issued phones in an effort to improve compliance standards.

The functionality will be switched off this quarter, chief regulatory officer Sylvie Matherat and chief operating officer Kim Hammonds told staff in a memo today, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Unlike e-mails, text messages can't be archived by the bank, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

Deutsche Bank is working to improve compliance and clean up a reputation dented by a series of probes into its role in the sale of toxic debt, manipulation of interest-rate benchmarks and failure to prevent possible money laundering in Russia. ...

... For the remainder of the report:


Canadian Government Issues Key Water License
for Seabridge Gold's KSM Project in British Columbia

Company Announcement
Monday, November 21, 2016

TORONTO -- Seabridge Gold Inc. (TSX: SEA) (NYSE:SA) announced today it has received a license from the Government of Canada required for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the water storage facility and associated ancillary water works at its 100 percent-owned KSM Project in northwestern British Columbia.

The license, as authorized within the International Rivers Improvement Act, regulates all structures and activities situated on transboundary waters shared with the United States that have the potential to affect water quality and quantity. The Water storage facility and its ancillary water works (water diversion ditches and tunnels) are the primary water management control systems for the KSM Project. These facilities separate water that has not contacted mined material from so-called contact water originating from disturbed areas of the mine site and then contain the contact water prior to treatment and eventual release to the receiving environment.

These facilities are situated on Mitchell and Sulphurets creeks, tributaries of the transboundary Unuk River system that flows into Alaska. The license was granted for a term of 25 years under the International Rivers Improvements Regulations as administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. ...

... For the remainder of the announcement:

* * *

Join GATA here:

Vancouver Resource Investment Conference
Sunday-Monday, January 22 and 23, 2017
Vancouver Convention Centre West
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Dollar Vigilante Internationalization and Investment Summit
Friday, February 24, 2017
Resort Mundo Imperial
Acapulco, Mexico

Help keep GATA going:

GATA is a civil rights and educational organization based in the United States and tax-exempt under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Its e-mail dispatches are free, and you can subscribe at:

To contribute to GATA, please visit:

Silver Prices for the Year 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 09:26 AM PST

How low and how high will the price of silver range on the PAPER markets during 2017? Knowing the influence central bankers, politicians, HFT algos, bullion banks and JPMorgan exercise over increasingly managed markets … it is impossible to answer the question, and it is probably the wrong question to ask.

Gold’s Fundamental Outlook for 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 09:02 AM PST


Here’s how Trump explained his relationship to Russia in 2013

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 09:00 AM PST

Watch Donald Trump's full 2013 interview In a 2013 interview with Thomas Roberts, Donald Trump explains why he brought his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow despite Russia's anti-gay laws, and whether he has a relationship with President Putin. The Financial Armageddon Economic Collapse...

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Big Gold Buying Coming

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 08:59 AM PST

Gold has hit the ground running in this young new year, a stark contrast to its brutal post-election selloff. Rather remarkably, these strong recent gains accrued despite literally zero buying from one of gold's most-important constituencies. The American stock investors who almost single-handedly fueled gold's strong bull market last year are still missing in action since the election. That means big gold buying is still coming.

Big Gold Buying Coming 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 08:35 AM PST

Gold has hit the ground running in this young new year, a stark contrast to its brutal post-election selloff.  Rather remarkably, these strong recent gains accrued despite literally zero buying from one of gold’s most-important constituencies.  The American stock investors who almost single-handedly fueled gold’s strong bull market last year are still missing in action since the election.  That means big gold buying is still coming. All free-market prices, including gold’s, ultimately result from the balance between popular supply and demand.  When supply outweighs demand as evidenced by investment-capital outflows, gold is forced lower.  That’s exactly what happened after Trump’s surprise win in early November.  When investors flee gold for any reason, including chasing record-high stock markets, the resulting oversupply really hits prices.

A Bullish Case for Gold 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 08:20 AM PST

Dear Parader, This week, I am happy to present an article by dear friend and business partner Olivier Garret, who makes the case for gold under President Trump. While Olivier is biased, given he founded the Hard Assets Alliance, I think you’ll find his logic is sound. My personal concern remains the strength of the US dollar. “The Super-Dollar” is the lead story in the current edition of Compelling Investments Quantified, our premium—and very profitable—monthly investment letter.

How Much Did It Cost to Build the Titanic

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 07:34 AM PST

Gold is a consistent measuring stick. An ounce of gold today is the same as an ounce 100 years ago. Like a meter, yard, liter or pint, an ounce or a gram of gold are units of measurement that do not change over time, in contrast to national currency 'measuring units' like the dollar and the others, all of which devalue over time. What's more, gold preserves purchasing power over long periods of time,[2] but using gold introduces a complication.

Gold’s Fundamental Outlook for 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 06:09 AM PST

Predicting, especially the future, is very difficult. Still, let's try to figure out what investors should expect from the gold market next year. For sure, in the long run, the price of gold will mainly depend on the U.S. dollar, the real interest rates, and the market uncertainty. How will these factors develop and affect the gold market?

GOLD! The Next Big Move Is Starting

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 06:04 AM PST

The HUI index has bounced 21% since December 15th. It's important to keep in mind that the precious metals sector tends to be very volatile. Yes, it's pulled back 43% from its August 4th high of 284, but at that point it had been up 184% from January 19th low close. This type of volatility is characteristic of the sector and 40% pullbacks after triple-digit moves up have been not uncommon occurrences over the last 15 years.

Gold and Silver Off To Shining Start to 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 05:21 AM PST

Bitcoin stole the headlines in the first week of 2017, rising nearly $200 in the first two days of the year before swiftly giving back those gains and more since. Quietly, however, gold and silver have gotten off to an excellent start to the year. Gold began the year at $1,154 and has rarely looked back, rising to over $1,200 on Thursday.

Gold Current Wave [B] – Long to 1550

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 05:15 AM PST

Enda Glynn writes: My Bias: Long towards 1550 Wave Structure: ZigZag correction to the upside. Short term wave count: Upside from 1120~, target 1500 Long term wave count: Topping in wave (B) at 1500 Important risk events: USD: Core Retail Sales m/m, PPI m/m, Retail Sales m/m, Core PPI m/m, FOMC Member Harker Speaks, Prelim UoM Consumer Sentiment.

Gold’s Fundamental Outlook for 2017

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 05:07 AM PST

Predicting, especially the future, is very difficult. Still, let’s try to figure out what investors should expect from the gold market next year. For sure, in the long run, the price of gold will mainly depend on the U.S. dollar, the real interest rates, and the market uncertainty. How will these factors develop and affect the gold market?

Breaking News And Best Of The Web

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 01:37 AM PST

US stocks up a bit, gold down. Global debt continues to soar, especially in China. US retaliates against alleged Russian hacking. Fake news debate rages. Trump holds first press conference since election.   Best Of The Web Secular stagnation theory: challenge to Delong, Summers, Bernanke, more – Mish The calm before the storm for China […]

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