Commodities

Transition Vamp? Or “How the Crash will be won!”

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Earthrise-4

Imagine for a moment, you are sitting on the moon, watching the world as it moves silently across your moon-scape sky.

Down beneath you on Earth, the Japanese are building cars and electronic equipment, Chinese are building new blocks of flats for people who can’t afford them. Building Railroads to cities that are inhabited by ghosts; building roads that cars don’t yet need, buying up iron ore, steel mills, and factory machinery; building ever larger vessels to trade across oceans. Buying American Hotels, Tower blocks, and Bank buildings. And quietly accumulating Gold and Silver, like there is no tomorrow, and a nascent motor industry is taking root.

Americans in their laboratories, are busily inventing new bio-tech remedies to prevent and treat new diseases. Hi-tech entrepreneurs, are designing new software to create new mega-corporations, and software already written, but which we haven’t learned about yet, is being improved upon, and new uses for old energy sources (more of which later) is being developed.

Meanwhile, British businesses, funded by capital from around the world, are building class leading vehicles in Crewe, home of Rolls Royce, and Coventry home of Jaguar Land-Rover, is busy building world-class Jaguars, and Range Rovers as well as numerous other towns and cities too, with increasingly successful manufacturing, all funded from capital raised on world markets, by the financial wizards inhabiting the square mile, where property values there, have been rising in line with the wealth created the world over, but which for its own reasons, seems hell-bent on buying a little piece of this over-crowded country.

Germans are building VWs, Mercedes, Porsches and Audis… Italians their Ferraris, Fiats, Alfas, Lamborghinis and Maseratis, and the French, their Peugeots, Renaults and Citroens – to say nothing of the Russian, Czech, Chinese, Brazilian, Indian, Mexican, U.S. or any other vehicle manufacturer. In 2011, there were 77 million cars, light goods and SUVs, sold worldwide. 2012 saw sales of 81 million, and last year that reached 85 million. By 2018, the world is expected to reach 104 million. Most of that growth will come from China, South America, and South-East Asia.

The world is a-buzz, a hive of activity, as trade and commerce travels around the globe as the world turns, and the sun appears over the Earth’s eastern horizon, only to disappear some hours later, depending on where in the world the worker lives and their latitude.

But unless, you are mistaken, no truck, ship, train, plane, or rocket takes off to trade with another planet.

It is a closed commercial system. Value accumulated on one side of the planet comes from increasing the stock of goods and services, and from extracting value from others. It does not come from outside the planet. What affects one side of the planet, affects the others.

As one side of the planet accumulates, Dollars, Yen, Pounds, and Euros, and all manner of metals, both rare and widely available, precious and semi-precious, and quietly putting them into vaults, or in warehouses.
On that side they are also accumulating holdings in suppliers that give them control, or serious stakes in smaller mining and refining businesses.

On the other side of the world, Americans are accumulating debts and losing their wealth to their Bankers who hold their government in debt to the respective owners of this central Bank – The Fed – $17 Trillion and counting.

Who has the right idea? The world is transitioning. We are moving from the computer age, the PC age, to the information age, where “Big Data”, and “Cloud Storage” is being touted as the way that governments and corporations can grow their revenues.

And, as old industries are dying, new ones are just beginning to emerge and grow. Research and development is going on in labs in Bio-Tech, Energy, Rare-Earths and special metallic elements, and alloys – Beryllium and Thorium, and the 17 Light and Heavy Rare earths.

Where will it all take us?

We can make a guess…

End of the Banking Industry as we know it?

On November 30th, Switzerland goes to the polls. Not to elect a government, or President or any other official. No, the people of Switzerland, concerned at their Central Bank’s abuse of its monetary powers, are voting to return to a partial gold Standard, which would require the Central Bank to carry at least 20% of its reserves in Gold; would not be able to sell any, and would have to return to Swiss soil, any bullion held overseas.

Germany too recently asked to repatriate its Gold holdings at the Fed, all 674 tons of it. To-date, the Fed has been able to send back just 5 tons, and initially stated it would take 7 years, though at current rates it would take over 150.

And nobody really knows exactly how much of the 1,040 tons of Swiss gold is actually stored at the Fed.

And we can only guess how soon the Central Bank would start to accumulate, and at what rate if the vote goes against them (the earliest opinion poll gave the ‘Yes’ camp a small lead). But if or when they do, the dollar is toast, as physical bullion begins being bought, and the market cannot deliver.

When this happens, the premium (the physical price over the paper price) begins to rise. Back in 2011, the premium reached over $50, as India, and China, Russia and the other BRICS nations began their stealth abandonment of the dollar.

India has recanted somewhat on its deal with the devil, as the Indian public began buying Gold and Silver to protect themselves from what is to come, before they (the Indian government) slapped a 10% sales tax on Gold, and instigated legislation requiring that 20% of precious metals be re-exported in value-added form. The so-called 80:20 rule. But Indian manufacturers have been getting creative. Some industry insiders say that manufacturers are turning the gold bars into chains at a mere 1.5% premium, for export, and then re-buying it back as a bar.

Following the legislation, precious metals dealers harangued the government, and the people of India began buying silver with both hands. And a new trend emerged as young Indians began buying 18 carat gold, rather than the 24 carat of historical norms.

However, the Indian Commerce Ministry figures also showed gold imports trebled at $2.04 billion in August 2014, compared with the same period a year ago. In August last year, imports totalled $739 million after the RBI imposed the 80:20 rule.

According to the Gems and Jewellery Promotion Council’s provisional data, gold jewellery exports have doubled during April-August this fiscal year compared with the same period last year. Data also shows exports rising to $2.12 billion against $1.04 billion a year-ago.

The Commerce Ministry data showed gold and other precious metals jewellery rising nearly 25 per cent during April-July compared with a year-ago but Gold imports, on the other hand, were down nearly by half during the period. I’ll leave you to decide whose figures are most accurate… And in the run up to the Indian celebration of Diwali, gold imports soared five-fold over 2013. And are expected to run at 70-75tonnes per month for the rest of the year.

On the one hand, the trade is complaining that gold smuggling is affecting their business badly, but on the other… “When asked how they are managing to get gold, jewellers say that 70 per cent of their demand is met through smuggling,” said Satish Bansal, Managing Director of MD Overseas Ltd, at a gold convention in Pune recently.

China too has been quietly accumulating. And we know (or strongly suspect) from document FT900 (see previous article) that some of the Gold has been secretly coming from the Fed’s vaults at the rate of circa 200+tons a year.

During the last financial crisis, the Fed, added almost $3 trillion to its own balance sheet. But we also know from Lord James of Blackheath that he uncovered that the Fed, sent $15 Trillion in 3 tranches of $5 Trillion each, just weeks apart through the Royal Bank of Scotland, which were passed onto other MTN Banks in Europe. (MTN means Medium Term Note, and is the name given to Banks who handle these in terms of Government and Large Corporation Finance. Monies can be deposited at overnight rates as high as 2.5%)

He released the information live on air, in the chamber of the House of Lords, and those interested can still find the piece on YouTube.

But also via the Fed’s FX liquidity swap lines the Fed also bailed out foreign Central Banks, which in turn took the money and funded their own banks.

It turns out that is only half the story: we now know the Fed also acted in a secondary bail out capacity, providing over $350 billion in short term funding exclusively to 35 foreign banks, of which the biggest beneficiaries were UBS, Dexia and BNP.

Since the funding provided was in the form of ultra-short maturity commercial paper it was essentially equivalent to cash funding. In other words, between October 27, 2008 and August 6, 2009, the Fed spent $350 billion in taxpayer funds to save 35 foreign banks.

And here people are wondering if the Fed will ever allow stocks to drop: it is now more than obvious that with all banks leveraging the equity exposure to the point where a market decline would likely start a Lehman-type domino, there is no way that the Fed will allow stocks to drop ever…

Until such time as nature reasserts itself, we will have market gyrations. The Fed is manipulating the market, and the oscillations of the last two weeks as various commentators have mentioned is because of this, the alternative, is that the Fed is finally wiped out – one way or another.

The Fed in the 08 crisis, also bailed out Barclays and RBS, to the tune of $640 Billion to help these two banks to buy the assets of Lehman Brothers, presumably in the UK).

The $350billion in short-dated paper, was the equivalent of re-capitalizing these banks.

The 35 Banks bailed out were:

UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland)
Dexia SA
BNP Paribas (Banque Nationale de Paris)
Barclays PLC
Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Commerzbank AG
Danske Bank A/S
ING Groep NV
WestLB
Handelsbanken
Deutsche Post AG
Erste Group Bank AG
NordLB
Free State of Bavaria
KBC
HSH Nordbank AG
Unicredit
HSBC Holdings PLC
DZ Bank AG
Republic of Korea
Rabobank
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Banco Espirito de Santo SA
Bank of Nova Scotia
Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd.
Syngenta AG
Mitsui & Co Ltd
Bank of Montreal
Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Shinhan Financial Group Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Corp
Aegon NV
Royal Bank of Canada
Sumitomo Corp

And four days ago, 25 European Banks failed stress tests, forcing them to raise extra capital to reinforce their balance sheets.

When the inevitable happens, the solution to this might just be… to get a whole lot wealthier, and there are two companies I feel, could help in that regard.

One is a Corporation I’ve been researching from North Virginia… Lightbridge Corporation (US:LTBR), and is one of these companies hinted at earlier.

Lightbridge holds U.S. Patent number – 8,654,917 and this provides for a method to develop and use nuclear fuel-rods, that contain Thorium, in such a manner, that this enables existing Nuclear Reactors, including PWRs (Pressurised Water Reactors) which are commonly used in American Nuclear facilities to get better power output, while lowering costs, reducing the risk of meltdown, as the vessel operates at reduced temperature (1,000 degrees less) and the waste material is only one tenth as dangerous when the spent fuel is stored, allowing greater storage density thus saving capital costs going forward, and almost completely eliminating the production of enriched plutonium, thus limiting scope for the further proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The benefits on the face of it, will give energy producers scope to compete on favourable terms with other more unreliable energy sources, and even compete favourably with Liquid Natural Gas and Compressed Natural Gas.

And the number of new reactors proposed or being built, despite the political reticence since Fukushima in 2011, is rising rapidly, even in places like the middle-east – such as Syria, Egypt, Iran and Saudi-Arabia.

Lightbridge’s web-site has this to say about itself:

“Lightbridge is a US nuclear energy company based in McLean, Virginia with operations in Abu Dhabi, Moscow and London. The Company develops proprietary, proliferation resistant, next generation nuclear fuel technologies for current and future nuclear reactor systems. The Company also provides comprehensive advisory services for established and emerging nuclear programs based on a philosophy of transparency, non-proliferation, safety and operational excellence.

Lightbridge’s breakthrough fuel technology is establishing new global standards for safe and clean nuclear power and leading the way to a sustainable energy future. Lightbridge consultants provide integrated strategic advice and expertise across a range of disciplines including regulatory affairs, nuclear reactor procurement and deployment, reactor and fuel technology and international relations.

The Company leverages those broad and integrated capabilities by offering its services to commercial entities and governments with a need to establish or expand nuclear industry capabilities and infrastructure.

Lightbridge is well positioned to serve the growing market for next generation nuclear fuel. Global nuclear power generation which is projected to nearly double by 2030, due to expansion in Asia. Worldwide, there are 435 reactors are in operation today. Another 70 reactors are under construction, with 29 in China and six in India. An additional 473 reactors are on order, planned or proposed around the world. For the first time in more than 30 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012 approved construction and operating licenses for four U.S. reactors. License applications are pending for 27 reactors in 14 states. Nuclear power generation is less expensive per megawatt and more reliable with longer lasting plants, compared with wind and solar generation.”

And the UK., too recently announced the Hinckley ‘B’ power station would be built by French Nuclear Energy Giant – EdF.

Lightbridge also has a $52 million order backlog it’s plugging through right now… and orders keep on pouring in, for consultancy services.

Now any company where the senior management doesn’t have substantial shareholdings, concerns me, but thankfully the Company’s largest shareholder is the CEO, and co-founder – Seth Grae, currently holding 1,255,008 shares representing 8.33% of the total stock. Access to a large Thorium mineral reserve will be important too, and fortunately for Lightbridge, a new vein system has been discovered in Nevada.

Quite frankly, if their material is widely adopted – and why wouldn’t it? – then LTBR’s stock price can only go skyward. Given that they are currently less than $2, and with just 15 million shares in issue where the market capitalisation ends up is considerably higher.

Over the longer term, I suspect this will be at least 10x higher.

The other Corporation is a mining and refining company based in South Africa. The company owns a huge tract of land containing large platinum and palladium reserves (PGMs) on a 5,000-hectare site located south of the Merensky and UG2 reefs being mined by Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum, two of the biggest players in the industry and is the largest undeveloped platinum project in the world…

In the past, mining these ores was not the problem, but refining them was, as these ores are Chromium rich, which frequently caused problems with the arc furnaces. The company bought the site and the technology in an exclusive licence agreement to use an alternative roasting and smelting process called ConRoast, which was developed originally by Mintek. Mintek, is South Africa’s national mineral research organisation, and reports to the Minister of Minerals and Energy.

Mintek, licenced the new technology to a small miner called Braemore Resources, who ran out of cash during the last financial crisis, and who merged with the company in question. Its prime development asset is the Tjate Platinum project, where it has a 63% interest, and which covers 5,140 hectares adjacent to Anglo Platinum’s Twickenham and Impala Platinum’s Marula operations.

According to independent estimates, the project’s exploration area could contain some 65 million ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold. At the moment the total is 20.4 million ounces in the inferred category, and 1.97 million ounces indicated, but there is clearly more to come. Tjate can already be described as the world’s largest undeveloped block of defined platinum ore.

Given the above projections for vehicles, and given that most of those vehicles will require catalytic converters, that use PGMs to reduce noxious gases from exhausts, the demand for platinum, and palladium are going to rise, and therefore, shortages are inevitable. China’s smog problems will only get worse, unless each oil-based energy source uses catlysts to remove toxic emissions from exhaust gases.

The company’s technological lead, and patented technology until 2018, should see a rise over the longer term.
And stocks of both of these precious metals are at lows…  Jubilee Platinum (JLP:AIM) the company in question which has fallen to interim lows, might just be the turnaround target of larger more cash-rich majors.

My rating for both corporations is a medium to longer term – BUY.

W.

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Note:
No shares are currently held by anyone connected with this story, and will not be for a minimum of 72 hours from the posting of this story. The story is meant purely for educational purposes, and any rating is for personal use. The reader is strongly advised to seek professional guidance as to any share purchases. Share prices can go down as well as up, and you may lose considerable sums by choosing to invest in them. The author accepts no liability for actions taken by, or on behalf of readers.

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World War 3.0? The End?

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An important anniversary slipped quietly by last month without any fanfare, on August 15th, as the anniversary of the day, that President Richard M Nixon, closed the Gold Window, and put the world on the path to financial armageddon.

From that day to this, the U.S. has essentially been able to print up as many dollars as it felt it needed to pay for things it wanted, and forced the rest of the world to accept “funny money” – aka. – Fiat Currency.

The fact that they were able to strengthen the dollar in 1973, temporarily when it convinced Saudi-Arabian leadership to accept an offer it could hardly refuse is still highly relevant…

America would back the House of Saud, with the full military might of its national forces, and the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia (KSA), would accept only U.S. dollars for its oil, forcing dozens of other countries to trade for dollars, to pay for that oil, and the KSA, would re-invest those surplus dollars in Treasury Bills. Eventually the rest of OPEC would be forced to follow suit or commit commercial suicide.

Over the last 9 months, events in the precious metals markets and geo-political and economic circles, world-wide have been making headlines.

As geo-political tensions rise around the world, I wonder out aloud what is the end game. To learn where we are going, it’s important to know where we’ve been, and we have to look back 40+ years.

If we look at the ageing baby-boomers who are retiring in droves here in the west, (Of which I am one) and as our spending patterns change, we need to understand why this has such a big impact on economies.

In my experience, young people spend their money on a handful of things – Music, Fashion, Booze, travel and generally having fun, primarily in their pursuit of their partner in life – irrespective of their sexual proclivities.

As these people mature, they buy a bike/car, and their first flat or small starter home, and all the essentials of normal urban life – beds, tables, chairs, sofas, kitchen gadgets etc.

Then as they pair and begin to settle down, their partner now safely esconced in their home, perhaps 5 years have passed, and two incomes in one household means for a while they can experience a rise in social status and maybe buy a bigger home or have more expensive holidays. (though things are a little different in recent years as gap year students take the young to the far-flung corners of the globe.)

With women now making up more than half the working population in the west, women are now leaving “bonding” later, and perhaps seeking someone who meets and exceeds their expectations, and thus probably for professional women (i.e. those with degrees and/or professional qualifications) they’re leaving the having of children until they are in their early 30s, or as late as early 40s causing problems for over-stretched maternity departments, and over-stretched National Health Services, as increased age introduces greater risks and higher costs.

By their mid-thirties, people are climbing the corporate ladder, getting increases in pay, generally as their productivity rises in line with their experience.

Output on a national scale rises but this is only temporary unless higher investment in capital goods (new vehicles/machinery etc., that gets goods to market quicker, and/or cheaper) increases productivity further, these gains are not carried through indefinitely though. This is where political mistakes are made, as politicians think that the growth will continue.

As people hit their forties and early fifties, their willingness to learn unless pushed, seems diminished as they become experts in their field, just at the time newer technologies are adopted by the young first.

By the time people hit their mid 50s and early 60s, their abilities are beginning to decline; health issues begin to rise on average and national governments see a fall off in taxes, as some retire early, or die young – though the demands on their national budgets increase as improvements in health-care put additional burdens on national budgets.

Intermittent overseas wars also add to these burdens as those apparently with historical empires adopt the role of world policemen.

This adds further financial burdens on countries, and leads to overspending to maintain prestige, or to appease emotional electorates, or to maintain their leadership role, allowing those with more quiescent military to improve and begin spending in increasing amounts.

This was the nature of things in the west when Britain began losing its pre-eminence, and the U.S. took up the political and economic cudgels.

As a result, we now see the extent to which Britain, and America have over-spent in recent years, as the U.S. deficit grows to 105% of national income, and its budgets become overstretched as its military tentacles have extended now to over 145 countries.

The role of World policeman is an onerous one, and like all great empires this eventually causes a collapse at home, due to excessive spending as tribute (the term used by the Romans to refer to taxes) begins to lessen.

As demographics affects all economies, those with rising populations have greatest demand for housing, food, water and the other essentials of life, and when economics fails to meet those requirements, people look for scapegoats. Those with the most usually get the most scrutiny and criticism.

But to get back to the title of this piece, where will this ultimately lead us?

As Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping, grow their economies, and grow increasingly wary of U.S. dollar hegemony their actions have consequences for all of us.

China has in recent years agreed bi-lateral trade deals with a rising number of countries to reduce the dollar from its trading, and China in particular has used its excess dollar reserves to buy increasing amounts of Gold and Silver, and overseas resource assets with precious metals and other precious resources for its industries.

Russia too has sought to lessen its dependence on dollars, and the BRICS Development Bank recently announced, will wean these emerging economies off the dollar as the $100billion in Capital gets used to help out economies in difficulties. Will some of this capital be used to buy Precious Metals? It would appear so, as China now trades more Silver in physical metal form, than the COMEX, the former leader in precious metals derivatives trading.

This will ultimately lead to a dollar collapse, and like a wounded animal, this may lead to the U.S. lashing out to protect its interests, as it has been in the middle-east and in Ukraine, where fights to protect access to middle-eastern oil, paid for with dollars, and for access to Ukrainian agricultural land are being waged by proxy military. But the collapse of the dollar unless mitigated by the increasing energy production, may cause the whole world economic woes, or worse.

This involvement in the middle-east has caused many of the problems as those with a different view of the world seek to eliminate western ideologies from their countries. These skirmishes though, may grow to encompass those other major economies – China and Russia.

James Dines, the economic mind behind the Dines Letter and Dr Paul Craig Roberts former adviser to Ronald Reagan, also thinks that we are on the verge of a major conflagration and James Rickards a CIA adviser on financial matters, in a recent interview claims the U.S. is staring down the barrel of an economic gun.

(See: KingworldNews.com)

But also in January 2014, the United States government entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with JPMorgan Chase which is the biggest bank in the United States and one of if not THE biggest banks in the world giving those who have benefitted most from the financial mess the U.S. has gotten itself into essentially a free pass.

The recent prosecutions of Financial Institutions has resulted in fines being paid, and JPM – probably the biggest offender, has paid approximately $29 billion in fines – yet not one senior banker has done any jail time.

When Janet Yellen begins the next round of Quantitative Easing (which might be called something else) all hell will break loose in the precious metals markets.

Buying Silver… Why NOW?

The reasons are not so obvious.

Silver is collectively, a monetary metal, an investment vehicle, and an industrial material.

Silver’s role in international finance has been prominent over several millennia, as this shiniest of metals was used in Roman currency, and only when Emperors devalued the money by reducing the silver content of coins, did they suffer the wrath of the people. (See: The Coming Battle – 2013)

Industrially, silver is the most widely used commodity on the planet, reputedly used in 10,000 applications and rising. Second only to oil in importance, but its price has been walked lower for decades, as silver was first taken from its pre-eminent role in both American and Chinese money with its removal from the dollar, to junior partner, to minimalist role, and finally in 1964 to negligible role as U.S. currency removed the last remnants of the metal from American currency.

Is it significant, that just 7 years later, on August 15th 1971, the last vestige of precious metals, was removed from the American financial system?

If the death of President Kennedy, and Louise Auchincloss Boyer are anything to go by, I think so.

But silver’s western denouement, means that the East has been able to accumulate this most precious of precious industrial commodities at prices unlikely to be seen again, after this financial collapse begins in earnest.

Silver historically was bought in ratios circa 16:1, compared to gold. We see evidence of this still all around us – 16 ounces to the pound, in the U.S. – 16 fluid ounces to the Pint and this ratio has varied in recent years as silver’s role in monetary matters has been slowly extracted, but its time will come again – it always does…

And with the current Silver/Gold ratio of circa 65:1 when it does go up, because it currently comes from the earth at circa a 9:1 ratio, then its rise will be meteoric.

And if that wasn’t reason enough to be accumulating…

These links should help you make up your mind…

http://blog.milesfranklin.com/dont-be-surprised-if-silver-is-the-target

http://www.caseyresearch.com/articles/top-7-reasons-im-buying-silver-now-1

And this page shows you were you can STILL buy silver coins and bars at VAT free prices, and have them discreetly shipped to your door.

www.libertysilver.eu

And you can get further news on these matters at:

http://kingworldnews.com/

 

W.

The Coming Battle

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As events in Ukraine spiral out of control, it is possible that in the absence of a thawing of relations between Russia and the U.S., over the Ukraine, a new cold war could be about to emerge.

Particularly as the Ukraine, gets its gas from Russia, and currently owes the Russian Gas Giant – Gazprom over $2.2 BILLION in unpaid bills.

However, all this turbulence in eastern Ukraine, with Russian defenders of their cultural identity, that have stormed Local and Regional government offices, will possibly force Putin’s hand to defend these ethnic Russians which could draw in western forces to defend its supported government in the west of Ukraine.

For Ukraine whose currency has depreciated in value by 27%, since the troubles began, this could spell disaster for the country and its people. The gas bought from Russia was purchased at the highly advantageous gas prices that Gazprom gave to former CIS/Soviet states.

As Gazprom increased its prices to above market rates to Ukraine, to reflect the risk of failure to pay, and to recoup lost income, it is obvious that naturally Ukraine would be upset. Wouldn’t anyone if their energy bill went up 300%? And this has implications for Ukrainian industry, already not as well developed or efficient as their western counterparts.

Aleksey Miller – CEO of Gazprom, Russia’s biggest energy supplier, which in different circumstances would be a huge investment opportunity, suggested that Russia should abandon the Dollar and use the Euro for the international sale of GAS.

Even Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, weighed in on the subject of Ukraine, by admitting in an interview on 2nd April, that the problems in Ukraine could affect the global economy.

Of course the Soviet state, went through its own internal challenges in the late 80s, as the commodities prices fell.  Russian tanks and soldiers were embroiled in Afghanistan, and the Soviets spent more than they earned,  the end result was the end of the Soviet Empire.

Are there parallels today for the U.S. empire? I suspect so – only their printing press has saved them. But will Chinese Gold cause the U.S. empire to collapse? We shall see…

As American and other nation’s troops are stationed in the Far East to – as Hilary Clinton put it – pivot Washington to the Far East, which drew the statement from a senior Chinese military figure, that “Chinese containment” was not possible.

As the raw materials of life have become more important, both Russia and China have used different strategies to achieve similar results.

Russia and the Global Metals Supply Chain

Both Russia and China have large land-masses, and the potential for commodities production. Russia is an important commodities giant. and Russian output is critical to the global supply chain for many items.

Russia is a major producer and exporter of oil, natural gas, ores, refined metals and industrial minerals. According to a recent analysis by the British firm Roskill, the extractive, energy and chemical sectors are vital to the Russian economy and accounted for an estimated 80% of Russian export revenues in 2013.

It’s important to recognise though, that Russia’s commodities are important on several levels. Russia is more than a major producer and exporter of energy and materials; Russia is an important player within Western supply and product chains. So, targeting Russian companies has the potential to provide blow back on Western businesses and economies.

For example: Nickel is much more than a 5 cent piece in people’s pockets. Nickel is critical to manufacturing stainless steel and a lot more. Nickel prices have pulled back in recent years as supplies have had to adapt to lower global demand, but picked up in recent weeks as commodites prices turned around, and Indonesia, imposed restrictions on exporting raw ore.

One of Russia’s big players, Norilsk Nickel, extracts ore in Russia but refines its product in Finland. Overall, Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of nickel, after China. But since China consumes most of its nickel domestically, this leaves Russia as the world’s key “swing” supplier. In 2013, Russia accounted for 26% of global nickel cathode exports, or around 13% of total world consumption of nickel. Without Russian nickel, the world’s steel industry would be quickly disrupted and prices on international markets would rise, possibly steeply.

Cobalt: Although Cobalt is found in many African countries, Russia is an important supplier. Cobalt, is used in steel and alloys increasingly with military applications as it is used to harden steel based alloys for armour piercing shells, and military vehicles as armour re-inforcement.

Russia accounts for about 6% of global mine output of ore and 3% of global refined output. Most Russian cobalt production is related to Norilsk operations in Finland, where cobalt comes out of nickel production. At 6% and 3%, as noted, Russian cobalt numbers are relatively low overall, but the point is that if Western sanctions somehow choke off Norilsk operations in Finland, we’ll see the impact on global availability of refined cobalt which would only add to military hardware costs.

Vanadium: Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of vanadium – providing about 10% of the world’s supply. Vanadium is critical to hardening steel and other alloys and is a key element for the future of utility-scale storage batteries. If vanadium supply takes a hit, all manner of metal and energy projects could be disrupted. Though a small miner – American Vanadium – is about to commence mining operations in the U.S..

Tungsten: Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of tungsten (behind China) and accounted for about 6% of global supply in 2013. Don’t be fooled by that low raw number, though, because about 70% of global tungsten is a Chinese play. So that Russian 6% “global” statistic is really about 20% of what’s available to the world outside of China. Tungsten is critical to building machine tools as well as manufacturing drill bits. In essence, tungsten is used for requirements that call for hard, dense metals with high melting points. Europe is a major tungsten importer from Russia, and much European industry will have to scramble to make up for any loss due to sanctions.

Titanium: Russia is a large supplier of aerospace-grade titanium to both the U.S. and Europe, accounting for about 12% of imports. Two important buyers are Boeing and Airbus, whose operations could be slowed by lack of titanium supply, certainly in the short term. I’m guessing you can see a trend here?

Rare Earth metals may also be included in this list of essential resources that modern economies cannot do without and that are sourced, at least in part in the former Soviet Empire.

Will Russia Look More to the East?

I could go on with other energy and materials that come out of Russia, but you get the point. Western politicians may feel like they have to “do something” about Russia annexing Crimea. but they have to be careful to not bite the hand that feeds them.

For our purposes, on the investment front, one potential result of Western sanctions will be to give Russian leadership even more incentive to look east, toward Chinese markets. China is a major consumer of many raw materials and refined products and would likely be able to buy and use Russian materials that no longer move west.

Different commodities will move in different ways, of course; some more than others…

Is China’s growth story about to unravel?

David Stockman writer for the Daily Reckoning, says: China is in the greatest construction boom and credit bubble in recorded history. An entire nation of 1.4 billion has gone mad building, borrowing, speculating, scheming, cheating, lying and stealing.

The source of this demented outbreak is not a flaw in Chinese culture or character – nor even the kind of raw greed and gluttony that afflicts all peoples in the late stages of a financial bubble.

Instead, the cause is a kind of monetary madness with an oriental face. Chairman Mao was not entirely mistaken when he proclaimed that political power flows from the end of a gun barrel – he did subjugate a nation of one billion people based on that principle. But it was Deng Xiao Ping’s discovery that saved Mao’s tyrannical communist party regime from the calamity of his foolish post-revolution economic experiments.

Just in the nick of time, as China reeled from the Great Leap Forward, the famine death of 40-60 million people – depending on whose figures you use, and the mass psychosis of the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Deng learned that power could be maintained and extended from the end of a printing press – just as Western Bankers did 200+ years ago.  And that’s the heart of the so-called Chinese economic miracle. Its not about capitalism with a red accent, as the Wall Street and London gamblers have been braying for nearly two decades; its a monumental case of monetary and credit inflation that has no parallel.

Will Hutton who wrote “The Writing on the Wall.” (an ironic play on the Great Wall of China) suggested back in 2007, that the mixture of capitalism and political direction, would eventually lead to a collapse in China’s economy, when investments, and prices were centrally controlled, because the market mechanism of the free flow of information in markets – the price signal – and “Contract Law” is a requirement for all modern capitalist economies to function properly.

Perhaps our own politicians and Bankers would do well to remember that too, as they force Bullion Banks into manipulating currency prices by manipulation of interest rates, and precious metals prices, but I digress.

At the turn of the millennium, credit market debt outstanding in the US was about $27 trillion, and they’ve hardly been slouches in attempting to borrow their way to prosperity. Total credit market debt is now $59 trillion; so America has been burying itself in debt at nearly a 7% annual rate.

But America has been out-banked – to coin a phrase.  In 2000, China had about $1 trillion of credit market debt outstanding, but after a blistering pace of “borrow and build” for 14 years it now carries nearly $25 trillion. BUT, this stupendous 25X growth of debt occurred in the context of an economic system designed and run by elderly party apparatchiks who learned their economics, when Chairman Mao was still alive. That said, the country sent highly educated senior communist figures around the world to study other cultures, and political and economic systems, so it is possible they have learned something since then.

However, it is probable, that there is no legitimate banking system in China – just giant state banking bureaucracies which are run by party operatives and a modus operandi of parcelling out quotas for national credit growth from the top, and then water-falling them down a vast chain of command to the counties, townships and villages.

There have never been any legitimate financial prices in China – all interest rates and Foreign Exchange rates have been pegged and regulated to the decimal point; nor has there ever been any honest accounting either – loans have been perpetual options to extend and pretend. Even the Yuan was pegged to the dollar at 8 to the dollar, until an agreement to enter the World Trade Agreement meant they had to freely float their currency by 2015, and China  has allowed the Yuan to strengthen to circa RMB6.5:$1 – and is also behind their drive to collect as much gold as they can.

However, in two short decades, China has erected a monumental Ponzi economy that is economically rotten to the core. And, needless to say, there is no system of financial discipline based on contract law. China’s GDP has grown by $10 trillion dollars during this century alone — that is, there has been a boom across the land that makes the California gold rush appear pastoral by comparison. Yet in all that frenzied prospecting there have been almost no mistakes, busted camps, empty pans or even personal bankruptcies. When something has occasionally gone wrong with an “investment” the prospectors have gathered in noisy crowds on the streets and pounded their pans for relief – a courtesy that the regime has invariably granted.

Since 2000 China has 1.5 billion tons of steel capacity, but “sell-through” demand of less than half that amount and, on-going demand for sheet steel to go into cars and appliances and rebar into replacement construction meaning the other half is produced merely to go into surplus storage – once the current pyramid building binge finally expires.

The same is true for its cement industry, ship-building, solar and aluminum industries – to say nothing of 70 million empty luxury apartments and vast stretches of over-built highways, fast rail, airports, shopping malls and new cities.

Will this ultimately lead to a price and economic collapse? Probably, but WHEN?

In short, the flip-side of the China’s giant credit bubble is the most massive malinvestment of real economic resources – labor, raw materials and capital goods – ever known.

Effectively, the country-side pig sties have been piled high with copper inventories and the urban neighborhoods with glass, cement and steel erections that can’t possibly earn an economic return, but all of which has become “collateral” for even more “loans” under the Chinese Pyramid scheme.

China has been on a wild tear heading straight for the economic edge of the planet – that is, monetary “Terrain Unknown” – based on the circular principle of borrowing, building and borrowing. In essence, it is a giant re-hypothecation scheme where every man’s “debt” become the next man’s “asset”.

Thus, local government’s have meager incomes, but vastly bloated debts based on stupendously over-valued inventories of land. Coal mine entrepreneurs face collapsing prices and revenues, but soaring double digit interest rates on shadow banking loans collateralized by over-valued coal reserves.  Shipyards have empty order books, but vast debts collateralized by soon to be idle construction bays. Speculators have collateralized massive stockpiles of copper and iron ore at prices that are already becoming ancient history.

Is this factored into China’s Plans for Empire, so that if – IF – a third world war begins, most of the materials will already have been purchased and produced, and once their currency is re-flated due to their large Gold holdings, they can buy what they need with the world’s strongest currency?

So China is on the cusp of the greatest margin call in history? Or the precipice of the biggest long term plan for global domination the world has ever seen?

Only the Chinese political class know the answer to that one.

But a Chinese market collapse would seriously affect all the world’s economies, and the Chinese have the biggest savings on the planet.

Cracks began showing in this edifice when a bank run began at Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commerce Bank last month, as worried citizens clamoured for their money when a withdrawal for RMB200,000 (about $32,000) was refused at the Sheyang branch.

This was on the heels of the failure of several shadow banking institutions whereby several rural co-operatives and Farmer’s Credit Unions failed in recent months.

However, once asset values starting falling, these pyramids of debt will stand exposed to withering performance failures and melt-downs. Undoubtedly the regime will struggle to keep its printing press prosperity alive for another month or quarter, but the fractures are now gathering everywhere because the credit rampage has been too extreme and hideous. Maybe Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate which went belly up last week was the final catalyst, but if not, there are thousands more to come. Like Mao’s gun barrel, the printing press has a “sell by” date, too.

Worryingly, a Chinese man was arrested for spreading rumours/information about these financial problems.

Of the more than US$562 million (RMB3.5 billion) that it owed to debtors, US$112 million was borrowed from 98 private parties with annual interest rates of up to 36%, according to recent revelations from Chinese media. Under that kind of pressure, the only surprise is that the default didn’t happen sooner. The company struggled to find capital for years; the chairman is suspected of borrowing up to US$38.6 million with “fake mortgages.”

But before Xingrun gets branded as China’s worst small, private homebuilder, it’s important to understand how it ended up in the mess in the first place, and what specific factors brought the operation down, or at least to the brink of collapse (local government officials insist it hasn’t officially defaulted yet).

Xingrun’s business in Fenghua, a county-level city that is part of Ningbo in a manufacturing belt on China’s east coast, ran into trouble through a renovation project starting in 2007, Chinese media pointed out. The company attempted, after securing government support and taking over for another distressed local property company, to build high-rise apartment blocks in a village called Changting. The project required the company to build homes for the original residents before the existing village could be torn down and the new buildings built. Construction was slated to start in the first half of 2012. Xingrun projected that it could pay off its debts within three years.

The project never got to the construction phase. In fact, the small village homes are still standing. Xingrun built the replacement homes for the villagers but there’s no sign of its main housing product, high-rises. Nothing has happened because the residents of the village have tangled the project and the company in a lawsuit that has stretched for years.

High risk is something no one seems willing to stomach these days – in stark contrast to just a year ago. That explains why Xingrun was unable to pay back its loans. But why has it come so close to keeling over now? Its troubles with the Changting project persisted for years but the company simply rolled over loans and borrowed at high rates from private lenders.

One problem for capital-strapped developers in the Ningbo area is that private lenders no longer want to lend to highly risky companies. In fact, they are calling in their loans. This is just one of the problems afflicting Xingrun. The value of property in some areas of Fenghua is decreasing and that trend has lowered confidence in developers’ ability to pay dizzyingly high interest rates.

Banks aren’t hot on lending to this kind of developer either. In the past, a developer such as Xingrun could ask the local branch of a commercial bank for more credit. The local branch would take that risk because loan officers there knew that, somewhere much higher up the chain, officials promoted the lending.

That support exists no longer. Now, when small developers beg local banks for credit, they will likely be turned away. Local bank managers are reportedly being told that they may lend to risky borrowers if they wish, but they will be held accountable.

High risk is something no one seems willing to stomach these days – in stark contrast to just a year ago.

Fenghua is a small town, and Xingrun’s reach beyond that area is limited. Analysts have come out strong in saying that such a default has little systemic risk. The bigger picture in the region, however, can’t be ignored.

Xingrun’s woes are still the woes of the local authorities. The default will add US$305 million (RMB1.9 billion) to Fenghua province’s non-performing loan portfolio, pushing up the rate of toxic assets to 5.27% and making it Zhejiang province’s most indebted government, according to calculations by The Economic Observer newspaper.

Add Fenghua’s problems to those of the The greater Ningbo Liberty Silver region. The area reportedly has at least six years of housing stock either sitting empty or under construction. The massive buildout will put small developers under great pressure to pay back loans, especially if private debtors are calling in high-interest loans. A slowdown in property prices won’t help either. Without a rescue from provincial-level banks, Fenghua won’t be the last local government stuck in a jam.

So what is The Coming Battle?

It will be between depositors (the people) and the Bankers when the next economic collapse occurs – far sooner than most people think.  Crypto-Currencies, do not rely on Banks to transfer value between individuals, or between people and businesses, and will increasingly mean the Banks wield less power over the economy, and the state, but this means that many governments will want to outlaw them. However, if you feel you want to find out a little more on the subject at Review Outlaw.

And, you can get some free currency – HERE.

Of course if you have spare capital, putting some of it into precious metals with no counter party risk – that is – hold in your hands metal… would be considered sound advice, and if you want to know where you can buy these wonderful metals – try HERE.

W.

Addendum: 12 April 2014

Since this piece was researched and written, the PBoC (People’s Bank of China) has agreed to provide RMB1,000,000,000,000 (1 Trillion – Renminbi/Yuan) about $153 Billion to provide increased infrastructure in rural communities, improving roads, agriculture and local amenities. So the end speculated on, won’t be happening soon; but someday the spending has to stop. (or not rise quite as much) to rein in inflation, which will probably now happen circa 2018-20.

The west too will probably make one last attempt to stave off the inevitable collapse, resulting in the final outburst of inflation. Bankers will be held to account by the people, and the result will not be pretty.

And the final analysis, will compare Precious Metals with the number of Dollars, Yen, Yuan, Pounds, and Euros in circulation.

Silver which is my favourite precious metal, is so oversold as to be the best buying opportunity for anyone with money to invest, and time to wait.

The above chart tells its own story. The MACD (Moving Average Convergence Divergence) shows when we can expect a turn in prices. When it’s high, the price turns down, and when it is low, the price turns up… You have been shown the future.

The below film, tells of  The Coming Battle.

And here’s more evidence of what’s likely to follow.

http://www.caseyresearch.com/meltdown

 “There are none so blind,

as those who will not see.”

What do YOU see?