Gold & Silver Daily

Ed's Critical Reads

Aug 29, 2014

U.S. Economic growth for the Q2 revised up to 4.2%

The economy expanded even more rapidly than previously estimated in the second quarter, the government said Thursday.

The nation's gross domestic product grew at a 4.2% annual rate, vs. the surprisingly strong 4% pace initially believed, the Commerce Department said. Economists expected a revision to 3.9%.

The higher growth estimate was due to stronger business investment of 8.4%, up from the 5.5% initially believed. Equipment spending — a measure of core capital spending — increased 10.7%.

If you believe this, dear reader, then you'll obviously believe any type of shameless propaganda that comes out of Washington.  This news item appeared on the usatoday.com Internet site at 6:14 p.m. EDT yesterday, which is amazing since Casey Research's own Louis James passed it around late yesterday morning Denver time, its' obviously been edited in the interim.

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Pessimism on Economy Has Grown Since Recession: Survey

Americans are more anxious about the economy now than they were right after the Great Recession ended despite stock market gains, falling unemployment and growth moving closer to full health.

Seventy-one percent of Americans say they think the recession exerted a permanent drag on the economy, according to a survey being released Thursday by Rutgers University. By contrast, in November 2009, five months after the recession officially ended, the Rutgers researchers found that only 49 percent thought the downturn would have lasting damage.

And that was when the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent, compared with the current 6.2 percent.

"They're more negative than they were five years ago," said Rutgers public policy professor Carl Van Horn.

This article put in an appearance on the moneynews.com Internet site at 12:02 p.m. EDT on Thursday---and it's courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.

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"The Buyback Party is Over" - Albert Edwards Warns the "Market is Now Running on Fumes"

While we have yet to do the actual math on the now-concluded second quarter earnings season, to find out if spending on buybacks surpassed the Q1 record, one thing is still quite clear: with the impact of Fed's QE fading, if only for the time being, buybacks remain the marginal driver, and according to some only driver, of stock market upside in 2014.

However one person who has decided not to wait in declaring the buyback party over, is SocGen's Albert Edwards, the same person who correctly forecast back in late 2012 the epic scramble by investment grade (and high yield) companies to lever up, incidentally, to record levels crushing all the endless blather that there is some massive corporate deleveraging going on.

This is what Edwards said in his latest note:  "Much has happened over the summer, but two landmark firsts have occurred only recently, with the S&P500 breaking above 2,000 and the 10y bund yield breaking below 1%. Our Ice Age thesis has long called for sub-1% bond yields and I see this extending to the US and UK in due course. It is the equity markets where I have been consistently surprised. QE has been an essential driver for the equity market, providing the fuel for the heavy corporate bond issuance being used for share buybacks. Companies themselves have been the only substantive buyers of equity, but the most recent data suggests that this party is over and as profits also stall out, the equity market is now running on fumes."

This Zero Hedge piece, with some excellent charts, was posted on their website at 12:51 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank reader U.D. for passing it around.

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Here Come the Helicopters! The Establishment Goes All-In For a Keynesian Money Drop

The house organ for the Council of Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, has published its final solution under the title: “Print Less and Transfer More: Why Central Banks Should Give Money directly to the People.”  Written under the names Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan, but trumpeting the establishment voice of, say, Martin Wolf, they state:

"It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers – as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -  to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops…. Many in the private sector don’t want to take out any more loans; they believe their debt levels are already too high. That’s especially bad news for central bankers: when households and businesses refuse to rapidly increase their borrowing, monetary policy can’t do much to increase their spending…. Governments must do better. Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly…. The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them.”

This guest commentary by Frederick Sheehan appeared on David Stockman's website yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for pointing it out.

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Chris Martenson: I Blame the Central Banks

The current bubbles in financial assets -- in equities and bonds of all grades and quality -- raging in every major market across the globe are no accident.

They are a deliberate creation. The intentional results of policy.

Therefore, when they burst, we shouldn't regard the resulting damage as some freak act of nature or other such outcome outside of our control. To reiterate, the carnage will be the very predictable result of some terribly shortsighted decision-making and defective logic.

Blame can and should be laid where it belongs: with the central banks.

This excellent 2-part commentary was posted on the peakprosperity.com Internet site at 8:17 p.m. on Wednesday evening.  The second part is free, but you have to sign up to read it, so you'll end up on his mailing list.  Part 1 is definitely worth reading---and I thank reader U.D. for his second contribution to today's column.

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JPMorgan and Other Banks Struck by Hackers

A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four others, were struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, according to four people briefed on a continuing investigation into the crimes.

The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including checking and savings account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyber attack.

The motivation and origin of the attacks are not yet clear, according to investigators. The F.B.I. is involved in the investigation, and in the past few weeks a number of security firms have been brought in to conduct forensic studies of the penetrated computer networks.

According to two other people briefed on the matter, hackers infiltrated the computer networks of some banks and stole checking and savings account information from clients. It was not clear whether the attacks were financially motivated, or if they were collecting intelligence as part of an espionage effort. Aside from JPMorgan, it was also not immediately clear which other banks were infiltrated.

This was posted on The New York Times website on Wednesday---and I'll leave it up to you to decide how much of this might be true.  It's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.   Elliot Simon sent us this moneynews.com story from Thursday on the same issue.  It's headlined "Russian Hackers Said to Attack Five Banks Seeking Customer Data"

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The cost to renounce U.S. citizenship going up 500 percent

Reader Patty Kosters sent me the link to the relevant U.S. State Department web page where it shows all the new fees.  So if you are sitting on the fence, you've got until September 12 to get out at the old price, which is a bargain at $450.00.

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Argentina Proclaims Peso Devaluation "Obviously Won't Happen" - Just Like it "Vowed" in 2013

May 2013, President Kirchner: "As long as I'm president, those who want to make money through devaluations, which other people have to pay for, will have to keep waiting for another government,"

Jan 2014: Argentina Devaluation Sends Currency Tumbling Most in 12 Years

Aug 2014: Argentina’s Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said today a devaluation of the peso, "obviously won't happen."

So what's next?

This Zero Hedge article appeared on their website at 9:49 a.m. EDT on Thursday---and I thank reader M.A. for bringing it to our attention.

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E.U. widens aid to dairy exporters hit by Russia food ban

The E.U. has announced emergency help for dairy producers hit by the Russian ban on food imports from the E.U.

The move follows E.U. aid worth €125m (£100m; $170m) announced earlier for fruit and vegetable exporters.

The European Commission will help pay storage costs for butter and skimmed milk powder. E.U. aid will also extend to certain cheeses. Last year E.U. cheese sales to Russia were nearly €1bn.

The biggest E.U. dairy exporters to Russia in 2013 were: the Netherlands (€301m), Finland (€253m), Germany (€184m) and Lithuania (€160m).

This article showed up on the bbc.com Internet site at 8:46 a.m. EDT on Thursday---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sending it along.

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Moscow Says Swiss Sanctions Groundless, Contradict Switzerland’s Interests

Switzerland’s decision to expand its blacklist of sanctions against Russian individuals and companies is groundless and damages Switzerland’s own interests, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

“We consider this decision by Bern unfounded. It shows that Switzerland continues to copy anti-Russian U.S. and E.U. measures to the detriment of its own interests,” the statement reads.

Switzerland on Wednesday increased sanctions against Russia over the situation in Ukraine to blacklist 11 individuals, six banks and two companies.

This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 7:28 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening, which was 11:28 a.m. in New York.

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Washington Piles Lie Upon Lie — Paul Craig Roberts

The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.

How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?

This, of course, is a good reason for knowing that the latest Western propaganda is a lie. Those who are pathological liars don’t suddenly start telling the truth.

But there are even better reasons for understanding that Russia has not invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops.

Paul holds nothing back here---and this must read commentary appeared on his website on Thursday.  I thank Roy Stephens for finding it for us.

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Pepe Escobar: From Minsk to Wales, Germany is the key

The road to the Minsk summit this past Tuesday began to be paved when German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to ARD public TV after her brief visit to Kiev on Saturday.

Merkel emphasized, “A solution must be found to the Ukraine crisis that does not hurt Russia.”

She added that "There must be dialogue. There can only be a political solution. There won't be a military solution to this conflict.”

Merkel talked about “decentralization” of Ukraine, a definitive deal on gas prices, Ukraine-Russia trade, and even hinted Ukraine is free to join the Russia-promoted Eurasian Union (the E.U. would never make a “huge conflict” out of it). Exit sanctions; enter sound proposals.

This is another excellent must read commentary.  This right-on-the-money 'Op Edge' piece appeared on the Russia Today Internet site at 9:27 a.m. Moscow time on their Thursday morning---and I thank reader U.D. for his third contribution to today's column.

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White House Rushes to Clarify After Obama Said 'We Don't Have A Strategy Yet' For ISIS

The White House is pushing back after President Barack Obama's stated his administration currently doesn't have "a strategy" for dealing with the jihadist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and drew headlines across the country.

"I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama said at a press briefing late Thursday afternoon. "We don't have a strategy yet."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest subsequently insisted that Obama specifically articulated a "comprehensive strategy" for dealing with the Islamic State during the briefing.  

Earnest quickly scheduled an appearance on CNN during which he argued Obama was simply referencing the U.S. options against the Islamic State in Syria — not in Iraq.

This article appeared on the businessinsider.com Internet site at 6:04 p.m. EDT on Thursday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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The Leninist in the White House — Paul Craig Roberts

According to Lenin, the Soviet government rested “directly on force, not limited by anything, not restricted by any laws, nor any absolute rules.” (V.I. Lenin, “A Contribution to the History of the Question of the Dictatorship,” October 20, 1920, in Collected Works, 4th Russian edition, p. 326.)

In the 21st century the U.S. government has echoed Lenin. No laws, domestic or international, restrain the US from torture. Laws do not prevent the US from attacking sovereign countries or from conducting military operations within the borders of sovereign countries. Constitutional protections and due process do not prevent the US from detaining citizens indefinitely or from murdering them on suspicion or accusation alone.

The latest manifestation of Washington’s Leninism is Washington’s announcement that the US government has no plans to coordinate US attacks on ISIS on Syrian territory with the Syrian government. Washington recognizes no limitations on its use of force, and the sovereignty of countries provides no inhibition.

In Washington coercion has supplanted the rule of law.

Here's another must read from Paul.  This one appeared on his Internet site on Wednesday---and I thank reader M.A. for his final contribution to today's column.

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Falling Housing Prices Are Causing Violent Protests in China

In a sign of growing public concern over fluctuations in the country’s housing market, homeowners in two Chinese cities gathered over the weekend to demonstrate against plans by property developers to make steep price cuts even as the industry has recently struggled to attract buyers.

According to website MarketWatch, a crowd of homeowners surrounded the Shanghai sales office of property developer Greentown China Holdings Ltd. to protest a 25 percent drop in home values owned by the company. Meanwhile in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, owners unfurled banners to protest a similar cut and clashed with counter-protesters organized by the real-estate company.

China's economy, the world’s second largest behind the United States, is highly dependent on its real estate sector, which accounts for between 16 percent and 20 percent of China's gross domestic product growth. Because of strict capital controls and a volatile stock market, Chinese citizens invest a significant portion of their surplus income into real estate: Despite widespread rural poverty, China’s home ownership rate is 90 percent (compared to 65 percent in the U.S.). Meanwhile, local governments lend money to property developers, whose investment in steel, cement and other commodities fuels politically desirable GDP growth. As a result, rows of apartment buildings -- often lacking residents -- dot the landscape in China’s major cities, creating widespread concerns of a bubble.

This very interesting news item was posted on the International Business Times website on Wednesday---and I found it embedded in yesterday's edition of the King Report.

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Japan economy stalls as incomes, spending languish

Japan's vital signs remained weak in July as wages fell further and household spending dropped, signaling continued weakness in the world's third-largest economy.

Data released Friday showed the inflation rate was unchanged from the previous month. The core price consumer index that excludes volatile fresh food prices rose 3.3 percent in July, the same as a month earlier. Much of the increase stems from a 2 percentage point increase in Japan's sales tax in April, which has since sapped much of the steam from the country's economic recovery.

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the government and central bank have sought to spur inflation on the premise that it would goad businesses and consumers into spending more instead of saving money in anticipation the Japan's deflationary spiral will guarantee lower prices in the future.

That strategy, dubbed "Abenomics," has made some headway in ending the long spell of deflation that slowed growth for much of the past two decades. But headline inflation remains below the official target of 2 percent, excluding the boost from the tax hike, and so far there are only scant signs of the desired "virtuous cycle" of higher corporate spending to sustain growth in the long term.

So much for 'Q.E. to infinity' Japan style.  This AP story put in an appearance on their website at 10:59 p.m. EDT last night---and I thank Elliot Simon for sharing it with us.  It's worth reading.

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Two King World News Blogs

The first interview is with Rick Rule---and it's headlined "I'm Incredibly Bullish on Gold and Silver".  The second is with Gerald Celente---and it's entitled "Albert Einstein, World War III---and a Global Collapse"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Tocqueville Gold Fund - Manager Q&A: August 2014

John Hathaway and Doug Groh, co-portfolio managers of the Tocqueville Gold Fund, answer questions about the fund.

This short commentary, in PDF format, showed up on the tocqueville.com Internet site yesterday sometime.

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Goldcorp president and CEO: Gold miners outshine gold

This brief 2:03 minute video clip appeared on the cnbc.com Internet site at 5:36 p.m. EDT on Wednesday---and I thank reader Ken Hurt for digging it up for us.

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GoldCore: Referendum on Swiss gold would repatriate it from U.K., Canada

Mark O'Byrne's daily commentary on Thursday remarked on the impending gold repatriation referendum in Switzerland and noted that much Swiss gold is vaulted at the Bank of England in London and the Bank of Canada in Ottawa, the latter bank vaulting gold for three other nations as well.

All the info associated with this was posted on the goldcore.com Internet site yesterday---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the above paragraph of introduction.

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Botswana blocks copper trucks from Congo on Ebola fears

More than 100 trucks hauling copper from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been denied entry into Botswana over fears of an Ebola outbreak in Congo, leaving the trucks stranded at a border crossing, local media reported on Thursday.

The trucks, en route to South Africa from DRC, have been stranded in neighbouring Zambia since Monday, when they were denied entry into Botswana, the Times of Zambia newspaper reported.

Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday declared an Ebola outbreak in its northern Equateur province, about 1,200 km north of the capital, Kinshasa. Most of its copper mines are in Katanga, about as far from Kinshasa to the southeast as Equateur is to the north.

At least 1,427 people have died of the deadly hemorrhagic virus since it broke out in the remote jungles of southeast Guinea in March. It then spread quickly to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

This Reuters article appeared on the miningweekly.com Internet site yesterday---and it's the second offering of the day from reader B.V.

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Gold likely to regain sheen in India in the second half of 2014: WGC

Despite the possibility of deficient monsoon casting a shadow on the rural demand, riding on overall better sentiments gold is expected to recover its sheen in the second half (July-December) of the year, Somasundaram P.R., managing director (India), World Gold Council (WGC) said.

“The second half will be a better one as compared with the previous year. The first half (January-June) was affected by the 80:20 rule on exports and expectations that there will be a duty cut.

Now, with budget for 2014-15 presented, people are not looking at a date for a duty cut, Somasundaram said, adding: “It has now receded in the minds of the consumers as priority.”

This gold-related news item, filed from New Delhi, was posted on the gulftoday.ae Internet site on Monday---and I found it on the Sharps Pixley website in the wee hours of this morning.

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Aug 28, 2014

Equities Reach Record $66 Trillion as S&P 500 Hits 2,000

Rallies from Brazil to Japan and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s first trip above 2,000 sent the value of global equities to a record $66 trillion.

Shares worldwide added more than $2.2 trillion in value since Aug. 7, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Optimism that central banks will support economic growth sent the MSCI All-Country World Index up 3.8 percent from its low this month. It was little changed at 9:40 a.m. in New York today. The S&P 500 has risen for 10 of the last 13 days and the NASDAQ Composite Index is about 10 percent from an all-time high.

Global markets are surmounting crises in Ukraine, the Gaza Strip and Iraq as investors renew bets that stimulus will revive growth. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index posted its biggest two-day gain since April after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled policy makers may consider introducing an asset-buying plan. Japan’s Topix index is near its highest level since January, rebounding from losses earlier this year.

Beam me up, Scotty!  There's no intelligent life down here.  This Bloomberg article appeared on their website at 7:42 a.m. Denver time on Wednesday morning---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for today's first story.

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Dr. Marc Faber: More Market Volatility in Next 6-12 Months

Marc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, talks about the outlook for global markets. Faber speaks with Matt Miller on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop."

This 5:18 minute video interview appeared on the Bloomberg website on Tuesday sometime---and I thank reader Ken Hurt for sending it along.

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Doug Noland: Reflexivity, Bubbles and Profits

I expect the next crisis to likely revolve around the harsh reality that central banks cannot guarantee robust and liquid markets. Actually, reflexivity ensures that perceptions of limitless cheap liquidity and market backstops ensure the type of excess that inevitably ends in liquidity crisis. When this historic Bubble bursts, corporate profits will be one of the more prominent casualties. And in the fascinating world of Bubble analysis, I can confidently posit that the Fed is oblivious to the unfolding financial stability problem. They clearly don’t appreciate the Bubble they have induced in corporate profits and the ramifications for the true overvaluation of corporate securities generally – both equities and bonds.

Soros has taken a bearish position through the purchase of put options on the S&P 500. Surely he is not alone in looking at relatively inexpensive market insurance for downside protection (as myriad risks become increasingly apparent). These types of instruments tend to exacerbate market volatility. In market declines, those that have sold/written market insurance must dynamically hedge this exposure, which can lead to self-reinforcing selling. At the same time, these types of bearish bets also provide buying power when markets reverse course and rally. This helps to explain why markets (think 1999 or 2007) tend to go into speculative melt-up mode right into the face of deteriorating fundamentals.

It’s also worth noting that the hedge fund industry is generally struggling with performance again this year. Ironically, all the “money” slushing into index products only makes the job of generating “alpha” from stock picking all the more challenging. There are many reasons I suspect the markets have entered a period of heightened volatility.

This commentary by Doug must have been posted on the prudentbear.com Internet site last Saturday, as it wasn't there late on Friday night when I checked it for inclusion in my Saturday column.

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Financial Times still can only hint at market rigging by central banks

In the conclusion of a series of articles about "asset bubbles," Wednesday's Financial Times shows that it is fully aware of market manipulation by central banks but still can't bring itself to put those words together in the same sentence, nor to mention gold in that context.

From yesterday's article, written by the FT's Ralph Atkins:

"Investors have seen central bankers suppressing market volatility; the VIX index of expected U.S. share price movements, known as the 'Wall Street fear gauge,' is at a seven-year low. ...

"With their massively expanded balance sheets, central banks have come to dominate many markets, replacing the private sector. ..."

Too bad that the series ends short of any specification of the most sensitive market central banks are dominating. But mainstream financial journalism in the West can go only so far. Apparently mere hints are supposed to be considered heroic.

This Financial Times article from yesterday is posted in the clear in this GATA release---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the above preamble.

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Lockdown in Cardiff: City turned into high security 'prison' with 10 mile 'ring of steel' ahead of NATO conference

Cardiff city centre has been turned into a high security ‘prison’ with 10 miles of fencing - which is being dubbed the ‘ring of steel’ - ahead of the NATO conference next week.

Police have erected the nine feet high security fencing around Celtic Manor resort in Newport where Barack Obama, David Cameron and other world leaders will meet in Wales on September 4 and 5, as well as the city centre.

It comes as former foreign office minister, Kim Howells, issued fears that home grown Islamic State terrorists could be planning to attack the 2014 summit.

This rather imposing photo essay appeared on the dailymail.co.uk Internet site on Tuesday at 8:14 p.m. BST on Tuesday---and I thank reader Sean McLaren for bringing it to our attention.

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The DSKing Of Christine Lagarde: IMF Head Formally Charged In Fraud Probe

Ah, the perils of European power politics.

A day after France revealed its new government, the person who so eagerly stepped in after DSK's [Dominique Strauss-Kahn] infamous and choreographed fall from grace and the IMF presidency (not to mention his derailed French presidential ambitions, green-lighting Hollande as what would become the worst French president ever), Christine Lagarde is about to be DSKed herself after "someone" clearly has set their sights on the former French finance minister.

Several hours ago the news hit that a French court has put Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, under a formal probe for negligence in a corruption investigation dating back to her days as finance minister.

To be sure, this development is hardly a shock: recall that it was over a year ago when "IMF's Lagarde Flat Raided Over French 'Payout' Probe" with her ascent to the head of the IMF also riddled with numerous allegations of impropriety involving the Tapie matter. However, until now, such outside interventions were below the radar, and certainly never escalated to anything formal or official. Alas, it now appears that Madame's time has come, even if Lagarde hasn't grasped it just yet.

This very interesting news item got the Zero Hedge treatment yesterday---and it's worth reading.  I thank reader M.A. for sharing it with us.

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Europe will be Russia's hostage over gas supplies for at least another decade

Europe will remain heavily reliant on Russian gas for at least another decade, according to a leading rating agency.

Fitch said a lack of alternative sources meant policymakers would have no choice but to continue buying gas from Russia until at least the mid-2020s and "potentially much longer".

Europe already buys a quarter of its gas from Russia, and analysts expect consumption to increase by a third by 2030 as economies recover from the debt crisis and gas-fired electricity generation replaces old coal and nuclear power.

The fear-mongering never stops.  One thing that this Ukraine/Russia imbroglio has highlighted for me, is that the mainstream Western media have all become propaganda channels for Washington and NATO.  It's shameless, as is this piece that was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site on Wednesday at 3:57 p.m. BST---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Putin says hands tied on gas issues

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday his hands are tied in terms of the dispute over natural gas to Ukraine because of pending court issues.

The Ukrainian government filed a case in an international court of arbitration challenging the gas bills sent by Russian energy company Gazprom. In April, Gazprom sent Ukraine an $11 billion bill for not taking enough gas in 2013 under a take-or-pay contract.

Putin said from Minsk, where he met directly with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, that settling the gas issue would have to wait.

"Right now, we cannot even accept any suggestions regarding preferential terms, given that Ukraine has appealed to the arbitration court," he said.

This short UPI article appeared on their website at 9:08 a.m. EDT?---and it's worth skimming.  It's the second offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Russia Set to Fulfill European Gas Contracts Regardless of Situation in Ukraine – Minister

Russia is set to fulfill its European gas delivery contracts, regardless of political situation in transit nations, including Ukraine, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Wednesday.

"I would like to stress that Russia’s stance on this issue remains unchanged: we will make maximum efforts to fulfill our contract obligations to European importers regardless of current political situation in this or that transit nation," the Russian minister said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk claimed earlier in the day that Russia was planning to «cut all delivery of energy resources to Ukraine» and "halt gas transit in winter completely, even to European Union consumers."

Commenting on the reports, Novak said Russia was "perplexed by statements about Russia’s alleged intentions to halt gas transit to E.U. countries, made by certain Ukrainian politicians."

This news item showed up on the RIA Novosti website at 9:30 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening---and I thank reader M.A. for another contribution to today's column.

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Ukraine Says Russian Forces Lead Major New Offensive in East

Determined to preserve the pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine, Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday, sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory.

The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.

Russia, which has denied it is helping the insurgents, did not acknowledge the military movements. But the Russians have signaled that they would not countenance a defeat of an insurgency in the heavily Russian eastern part of Ukraine, which would amount to a significant domestic political setback for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in his increasingly fractious relationship with the United States and its European allies.

I mentioned a couple of months back that I wasn't going to post any more stories from The New York Times about the Ukraine/Russia situation because they [along with the WSJ] had become such whores for Washington and NATO.  But I just couldn't help myself today, as they really outdid themselves with this one.  This is such bulls hit, that it's hard to believe that any 'reporter' worth his salt would put their names on such shlock.  I'm not sure whether I should thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way, or not.  And by the way, the headline has been changed to read "Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front"

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Switzerland adopts stricter sanctions on Russia

To prevent Russia from skirting international sanctions via Switzerland, the Swiss government has taken additional steps to reflect sanctions imposed by the EU in connection to the Ukraine crisis.

Taking effect on Wednesday, the new measures strengthen the ordinance that Switzerland adopted in April. The policies – outlined in detail in a statement – affect the finance sector and items requiring an export licence, in particular military supplies and dual-use goods that could be used for civilian as well as military purposes. There is also a ban on imports of such goods from Russia and Ukraine. Another embargo applies to the import and export of key goods used to extract oil and gas.

In addition, the cabinet “acknowledged the measures taken by Russia in respect of agricultural goods” and stressed that “Switzerland is not engaged in any state measures to promote additional Swiss exports to Russia”.

The cabinet said it  would continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine closely, reserving “the right to take further measures depending on how the situation develops”.

So much for Switzerland's famous neutrality.  This article appeared on the swissinfo.ch Internet site  at 5:14 p.m. Europe time on Wednesday afternoon---and I thank South African reader B.V. for finding it for us.

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Anti-Russian rhetoric pre-dated Ukraine crisis, Moscow does not want spats - Lavrov

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the West started its “irrational attacks on Russia long before” this spring’s events in Ukraine, but insisted that Moscow is seeking to avoid “spiraling sanctions” with the EU and the US.

“We are not interested in confrontation, we are not interested in a sanctions spiral,” the minister said in a speech to an audience at the Lake Seliger youth camp in central Russia.

“I can only note that long before events in Ukraine the West’s attacks on Russia assumed an irrational form. It all started long before this spring.”

Lavrov accused Western political leaders of “stirring up” anti-Russian feelings among their electorates, saying that their attitudes towards Russia “require a reevaluation.”

This commentary was posted on the Russia Today website at 1:13 p.m. Moscow time, which was 5:13 a.m. in New York.  It's another offering from Roy S.

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Russia to take rubles, yuan for oil

Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said it agreed Wednesday to accept rubles and the Chinese yuan for crude oil deliveries.

For exports from the Novoportovskoye field in the arctic, the company said it would accept the Russian currency, while China could use its own currency for oil delivered from the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline.

The switch could help the Russian economy reduce its dependency on the U.S. dollar in an era when Western economies are imposing tough sanctions on Moscow in response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

This brief UPI item appeared on their Internet site at 9:57 a.m. yesterday EDT?---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for bringing it to our attention.

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Russian Central Bank prepares bill to create SWIFT analog in Russia

The Russian Central Bank and the government’s financial and economic departments have prepared a bill to create a Russian analog of the SWIFT international financial message system, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev said on Wednesday.

“We have prepared a bill. We have consulted with the banking industry and the Central Bank,” Moiseyev said.

Russia will go ahead with the bill as soon as it becomes clear that the Central Bank is technologically prepared “to transfer all operations to internal processing inside Russia.”

Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Georgy Luntovsky said in July that SWIFT was discussing a possibility with the Russian regulator to establish an operational center in Russia. SWIFT Director for Russia, CIS and Mongolia Matvei Gering confirmed this information at that time.

This very interesting news story put in an appearance on the ITAR-TASS website at 3:06 p.m. Moscow time on Wednesday afternoon---and it's certainly worth reading.  I thank 'David in California' for passing it around yesterday.

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David Stockman: Bombs Away Over Syria! Washington Has Gone Stark Raving Mad

America’s spanker-in-chief is at it again—threatening to bomb Syria owing to the uncivilized actions of its inhabitants. And when it comes to Syria, Washington avers that there are punishable malefactors virtually everywhere within its borders.

Exactly one year ago Obama proposed to take Bashar Al Assad to the woodshed because he had allegedly unleashed a vicious chemical attack on his own citizens. That was all pretext, of course, because even the CIA refused to sign-off on the flimsy case for Assad’s culpability at the time—-a reluctance corroborated since then by the considerable evidence that hundreds of Syrian civilians were murdered during a false flag operation staged by the rebels with help from Turkey. The aim of the rebels, of course, was to activate American tomahawk missiles and bombers in behalf of “regime change”, which was also the stated goal of the Obama Administration.

Now the White House is threatening to bomb Syria again, but this time its “regime change” objective has been expanded to include both sides! In 12 short months what had been the allegedly heroic Sunni opposition to the “brutal rule” of the Assad/Alawite minority has transmuted into the “greatest terrorist threat ever”, according to the Secretary of Defense.

So Obama has already unleashed the drones and surveillance apparatus to identify targets of attack that will help bring down a regime in northern and eastern Syria—the so-called Islamic State—which did not even exist a year ago. And a regime that is now armed to the teeth with America’s own latest and greatest weaponry as previously supplied to the disintegrated Iraqi army and the Syrian rebels trained by the CIA in Jordan.

This commentary by David showed up on his Internet site yesterday sometime---and it's worth reading as well.  I thank Roy Stephens for his second-last contribution to today's column.

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Iran speeds weapons deliveries to U.S. ally in Iraq

U.S. officials are taking a wary view of the disclosure this week that Iran – one of four countries the United States accuses of supporting terrorism – has begun arming the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, as the Kurds scramble to combat the threat posed by ISIS.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, has seized large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, and recently came close to overrunning Erbil, the capital of the KRG in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. It was the immediate threat to Erbil, where the U.S. has a number of diplomats stationed, that prompted President Obama to launch airstrikes against ISIS.

While the Kurds are grateful for American intervention, they also say the central Iraqi government in Baghdad has starved them of cash and military hardware in this time of grave threat. “We asked for weapons and Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition," KRG President Massoud Barzani said during an appearance in Erbil on Tuesday with Iran’s foreign minister.

It's hard to know what is fact---and what is propaganda.  This news item appeared on the foxnews.com Internet site on Wednesday sometime---and I thank reader M.A. for his final offering in today's column.

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Moscow-Beijing Cooperation Important for International Security

Constructive relations between Russia and China are important for international stability and security, the head of Russia’s General Staff of the Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui and Vice Central Military Commission Chairman Fan Changlong in Beijing Wednesday.

“We put great importance on the development of military links with China. Russia highly appreciates the state of and the prospects for the military departments’ cooperation. Today, this is especially important,” Gerasimov told the press.

Among other issues, the general staff chiefs discussed regional security.

“The military and political state of the region is characterized by the high pace and contradictory character of events. On the one hand, the intention to search for new forms of political and economic interaction is increasing. On the other, there is a political tension in the region Gerasimov said.

This rather short article showed up on the RIA Novosti website at 7:59 p.m. Moscow time on their Wednesday evening, which was 11:59 a.m. in New York.

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Two King World News Blogs

The first interview is with Dr. Philippa Malmgren---and it's headlined: "Ex-White House Official - Tragedy, Chaos and Human Suffering".  The second is with Keith Barron---and it's entitled:  "We Are Now Living in a  World That is Teetering on the Brink".

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Chinese-made U.S. military coins should be outlawed, Stilp says

Learning that U.S. Navy commissioning coins were made in China is more than Middle Paxton Twp. resident Gene Stilp can tolerate.

The citizen activist doesn't like seeing the "Made in China" label on any product, knowing it signals the continued erosion of America's manufacturing base. But having the United States military buying Chinese-made commemorative coins is an insult to those who wear its uniforms, he said.

On Monday, Stilp asked U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., to push for a federal law barring any branch of the military from buying collectible coins minted outside the nation's borders.

This interesting article was posted on the pennlive.com Internet site on Tuesday evening EDT---and I thank Elliot Simon for bringing it to our attention.

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Gold Switzerland interview: Alasdair Macleod on the reasons for owning gold

GoldMoney research director Alasdair Macleod, interviewed by financial journalist Lars Schall for Matterhorn Asset Management's Gold Switzerland, offers what he considers the three primary reasons for owning gold.

But just as interesting, Macleod argues that the London gold market is declining because of its lack of transparency, that gold will remain money if only because Asia increasingly says so, that countries are beginning to realize that they cannot be independent if they rely on the U.S. dollar and U.S.-controlled payment systems, and that Germany's Bundesbank has made itself ridiculous by its inability to recover its gold from custody by the United States.

Schall's interview with Macleod is 17 minutes long and can be viewed at the goldswitzerland.com Internet site.  I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the above paragraphs of introduction.

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London Metal Exchange dismissed from U.S. price-fixing lawsuits

A judge has dismissed London Metal Exchange Ltd as a defendant from U.S. antitrust litigation accusing banks and commodity companies of conspiring to drive up aluminum prices by restricting supply, hurting manufacturers and purchasers.

In a decision made public on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan concluded that the LME was an "organ" of the U.K. government, and therefore immune from the lawsuit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Forrest acknowledged that her decision may at first glance seem "somewhat surprising and counterintuitive," noting that the LME is a privately-held, for-profit company subject to extensive regulation. But she said the relevant case law "tips decidedly" toward a grant of immunity, noting that the LME is required by law to perform "the decidedly public function of market regulation".

This Reuters piece, filed from New York, put in an appearance on their website at 2:35 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon EDT---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site yesterday.

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Absolute change needed to mine Wits basin’s stranded 1.1 billion gold ounces

South Africa’s Witwatersrand basin contains another 1.3-billion ounces of gold, almost as much gold as has been mined there since 1886 – but miners can only get to another 200-million ounces of it using today’s mining methods.

If the industry does not come up with a new way of mining, more than a trillion dollars worth of gold will not be mined, because the 1.1-billion ounces in question are either below the cutoff for the current mining method, or they are at depths where there are no technical solutions to get to mine those ounces.

Moreover, safety has reached a plateau and unless significant change is made to what creates this plateau, death and injury in mines will continue, which is totally unacceptable.

There is thus an absolute need to change – and senior VP technology and projects Shaun Newberry is at the forefront of an AngloGold Ashanti move that could result in all three billion Wits basin ounces being mined and not merely 1.9 billion of them.

A much higher gold price wouldn't hurt, either.  But as reader B.V. pointed out in an e-mail exchange we had yesterday, that's not the real issue here.  This very interesting article appeared on the miningweekly.com Internet site yesterday sometime---and my thanks go out to reader B.V. for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.

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Koos Jansen: Comparison of Chinese silver price is complicated by 17% tax

Gold researcher and GATA consultant Koos Jansen reports that silver prices reported from Shanghai have been including a 17-percent sales tax, complicating their comparison to prices outside the country. Jansen writes that he'll be investigating this subject.

His commentary was posted on the Singapore-based Internet site bullionstar.com Internet site at 5:00 p.m. local time on their Tuesday afternoon.  It's another article I found on the gata.org Internet site yesterday.

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What the Next Gold Confiscation Will Look Like

You may be familiar with the story of how the U.S. government confiscated gold bullion and then made owning it illegal back in 1933.

Actually this event is more accurately termed a nationalization. Americans were forced under harsh penalties to sell their gold at an artificially low “official price.” If it were an outright confiscation, the government would have just taken the gold without giving anything in return. But no matter how you label it, the end result was the same: the theft of purchasing power.

Many have speculated that the U.S. government could once again turn to gold confiscation/nationalization if it became desperate enough. These fears are not unfounded given the abysmal financial situation of the U.S. government that only continues to get worse, coupled with a total lack of political will to cut spending.

But would the US government really turn to a 1933-style grab again?

I would argue that they wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean the threat to your gold has diminished. Quite the opposite.

This commentary by International Man senior editor Nick Giambruno appeared on his Internet site yesterday---and is certainly a must read.

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Aug 27, 2014

Investor Net Worth Drops to New All-Time Low, NYSE Reveals

One can debate whether or not margin debt as reported by the NYSE has any relevance in a world in which the retail investor is long gone, and where the marginal buyer are hedge funds (and primary dealers who use excess reserves as collateral for marginable derivatives and futures) who fund themselves using far more arcane "shadow" repo conduits as we have explained previously, it is indisputable that the leverage statistics disclosed monthly by New York Stock Exchange provide a useful glimpse into how the broader market is obtaining "dry powder" to keep BTFATH.

And while in July margin debt did dip modestly from near all time highs hit back in June when total margin debt was virtually tied with the previous record, at $464 billion, it was that other metric tracked by the NYSE, namely Investor Net Worth, calculated by subtracting margin debt from the notional represented in free credit cash accounts and credit balances in margin accounts, that was the notable highlight in the July report: at a negative $182.1 billion, a decline of $6.3 billion from the prior month, investor Net Worth has never been lower.

This happens to be a deficit which is more than twice as large as the net worth shortfall reached during the last market bubble, which hit ($79) billion, peaking during the quant freakout in the summer of 2007 and subsequently surging to a record high of $184.6 billion in August 2008, as repo desks closed all margin positions with virtually any and every counterparty, leaving everyone in a position of record high "net worth."

This short, but very interesting article, with a 'must see' chart, appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 3:25 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

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Sprott Money's "Ask the Expert" interviews Jeff Berwick

This 39:21 minute audio interview conducted by Geoff Rutherford---along with a transcript---was posted on the sprottmoney.com Internet site yesterday.

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It Begins: Council On Foreign Relations Proposes That "Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly"

Moments ago a stunning article appearing in the "Foreign Affairs" publication of the influential and policy-setting Council of Foreign Relations, titled "Print Less but Transfer More: Why Central Banks Should Give Money Directly to the People." 

In it we read the now conventional admission of failure by Keynesians, who however, unwilling to actually admit they have been wrong, urge the even more conventional solution: do more of the same that has lead to the current financial cataclysm, only in this case the authors advocate no longer pretending that the traditional monetary channels work but to, literally, para-drop money. To wit:

To some extent, low inflation reflects intense competition in an increasingly globalized economy. But it also occurs when people and businesses are too hesitant to spend their money, which keeps unemployment high and wage growth low. In the eurozone, inflation has recently dropped perilously close to zero. And some countries, such as Portugal and Spain, may already be experiencing deflation. At best, the current policies are not working; at worst, they will lead to further instability and prolonged stagnation.

Governments must do better. Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly. In practice, this policy could take the form of giving central banks the ability to hand their countries’ tax-paying households a certain amount of money. The government could distribute cash equally to all households or, even better, aim for the bottom 80 percent of households in terms of income. Targeting those who earn the least would have two primary benefits. For one thing, lower-income households are more prone to consume, so they would provide a greater boost to spending. For another, the policy would offset rising income inequality.

This is the first of two absolutely positively must reads today---and this one is the second contribution of the day from reader M.A.

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James Grant on Bubbles, Bargains---and Everything in Between

The Daily Reckoning presents… Steve Forbes' Intelligent Investing with Jim Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer

Forbes: Tell us, what is going on? We’ve had the worst recovery from a sharp downturn in U.S. history. Yet the monetary base has exploded far in excess of what it did in the ’70s and yet we haven’t had an explosion, at least in the Consumer Price Index. Gold is down from its highs of three years ago. Stocks are at a record high. What you call the taper tantrum, now the markets are in seeming calm about that. So what in the world is happening?

Grant: Well, I think first and foremost the patient is over-medicated. That is, the economic patient. Stimulus, by the bottle full, by the prescription fill, gradually and by degree are (and I guess not so gradually) the Federal Reserve has moved to substitute price administration for price discovery. And it seems to me that the Fed’s kind of full-court pressed (to switch metaphors) on financial markets and pricing thereof has induced a deep complacency with respect to financial assets and has also introduced a sharp degree of optimism or what we might call even inflation in the financial markets.

I certainly can’t explain why, to date, no such inflation has been visible or very little has been visible in the consumer realm. But you know one would almost expect that in this day and age of miraculous digital enhancements to everything we do and the related improvements and the efficiency of production that prices would, in the absence of these monetary insertions, actually fall, or at least dwindle a little bit. So I suppose that a little bit of inflation is itself an anomaly one ought to have seen, kind of a dividend for the working guy in the shape of low and everyday lower prices.

The video interview runs for 34:26 minutes---and there's a transcript as well.  It was posted on the dailyreckoning.com Internet site on Monday---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it our way.

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The Daily Reckoning: One World, One Bank, One Currency

The government is very good at making things overly complicated for the purpose of obscuring what’s really going on from the public,” observed hedge fund manager Erik Townsend during our interview in May.

He was making a point about the 2008 bailouts. The Federal Reserve played a leading role, applying trillions in paper-clip and rubber-band solutions. The Fed’s balance sheet swelled from $900 billion in September 2008 to $4.4 trillion as we go to press.

Luckily for you, our friend Jim Rickards is just as good at elucidating the muddled world of finance as the government is at obscuring them.

“Since Federal Reserve resources were barely able to prevent complete collapse in 2008,” Jim writes in his recent New York Times best-seller, The Death of Money, “it should be expected that an even larger collapse will overwhelm the Fed’s balance sheet.”

Simply put, next time, printing another $3 trillion-plus won’t be politically feasible. “The specter of the sovereign debt crisis suggests the urgency for new liquidity sources, bigger than those that central banks can provide, the next time a liquidity crisis strikes. The logic leads quickly from one world to one bank to one currency for the planet.”

This interview/commentary by Jim Rickards was done by The Daily Reckoning's Addison Wiggin---and it was posted on their website a week ago today.  I thank Carl Lindfors for sharing this item with us.

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Lars Schall interviews Ambrose Evans-Pritchard---Part 1

This fascinating video interview runs for 29:05 minutes---and it was posted on the goldswitzerland.com Internet site yesterday.  Even though I've been posting his columns from The Telegraph for almost a decade, it's the first time I've ever seen him "in the flesh" so to speak, or even heard what his voice sounded like.

I've just watched the first bit---and will watch the rest after I get out of bed later this morning.  From what I've heard so far, it's definitely worth watching.

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Scottish separatist wins TV debate ahead of referendum

Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond on Monday (25 August) was seen as the winner of a final TV debate before a referendum which could lead to the creation of a new EU member state.

The BBC debate, spiced up by heckling from the audience, saw Salmond continuously interrupting and contradicting Alistair Darling, a former British minister who is head of the "Better Together" campaign to keep Scotland in the U.K.

"If we are Better Together, why are we not better together already?" an audience member shouted at one point.

A snap poll by ICM Research found that 71 percent of viewers said Salmond had won the debate, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. Darling, the winner of the previous TV debate, only convinced 29 percent of the polled viewers.

This article appeared on the euobserver.com Internet site at 9:30 a.m. Europe time on Tuesday---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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French government reshuffle expels dissident ministers

France's prime minister reshuffled his Cabinet on Tuesday to silence ministers who had openly criticized Socialist President Francois Hollande's economic policies as he tries to pull the nation out of stagnation and steer it toward growth.

Emmanuel Macron, who had earlier served as top adviser in charge of the economy, took over the Economy Ministry, replacing Arnaud Montebourg, who had publicly railed against government policies as being too austere and unjust to the French.

Macron, a 36-year-old former banker who advised Hollande until June 2014, is known for his pro-business stance and is sure to send a positive signal to the European Union, which is pressuring France to get its finances in order.

Education Minister Benoit Hamon and Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti, who supported Montebourg in his criticism, also lost their jobs.

This AP story, filed from Paris, showed up on their website at 4:10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday---and it's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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German business confidence shattered, lowest in 13 months

Business confidence in Germany, which has led the E.U. economic revival over the last year, declined for a fourth month in August, which further clouded prospects of a broader recovery across the E.U.

Germany’s Ifo Business Climate Index in manufacturing, which looks at the confidence of the country’s 7,000 firms, fell to 106.3 in August from 108 in July.

It’s the lowest figure since last July, marking the longest successive monthly decline since 2012, the report said.

Monday’s figures come after frustrating economic data for the second quarter. It showed Europe’s biggest economy contracted 0.2 percent during the period, after it grew 0.7 percent in the first quarter. Much of the unexpected drop is attributed to the effects of the crisis in Ukraine that has led to a tough 'sanctions war.' Even after the disappointing second quarter, Germany believes it will achieve 1.8 percent growth this year. By contrast, the UK, which is not part of the euro currency zone, showed its strongest quarterly economic growth in 6 years, with 0.8 percent in the second quarter.

This article appeared on the Russia Today website at 3:01 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon, which was 7:01 a.m. EDT.  It's another offering courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Europe Does Not Expect Ukraine to Halt Russian Gas Transit – E.U. Energy Chief

The European Union is not concerned by the possibility of Kiev halting Russian gas transit via Ukraine, the vice-president of the European Commission responsible for energy, Gunther Oettinger, said in Minsk Tuesday.

There is no actual concern,” he said on the sidelines of the Customs Union-Ukraine-EU meeting in the Belarusian capital.

Last month, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill allowing to impose restrictive measures on Russia, including the possibility of halting transit of Russian oil and gas via the territory of Ukraine.

This RIA Novosti news item, filed from Minsk, put in an appearance on their Internet site at 11:28 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday night---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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Russia, Ukraine, E.U. Agree to Continue Three-Party Talks on Gas – Russian Energy Minister

Russia, Ukraine and the European Union agreed to continue the three-party talks on gas issues that stalled this summer, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday.

The three-party consultations continued from mid-April to June, but produced no result. Kiev insisted on a sharp reduction in the gas price refusing otherwise to pay its debt that had reached at the moment $4.5 billion. Russia later offered a discount, which however, failed to satisfy Kiev’s demands. After that the Russian side announced it would continue negotiation only after Kiev cleared its debt. On June 16, Gazprom introduced a prepayment system for gas deliveries to the country.

The European Commission has repeatedly called for the consultations to be resumed.

This article, also filed from Minsk, was posted on the RIA Novosti website at 7:40 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday evening---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Embargoed E.U. Goods Actively Re-Imported to Russia via Belarus – Putin

Goods embargoed by Moscow in response to Western economic sanctions are being actively shipped to Moscow via Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

"Even within the Customs Union framework, embargoed goods are being actively re-imported to the Russian Federation from the European Union countries, namely via Belarus," Putin said.

"I know that the leadership of Belarus and its president are trying to prevent this negative practice."

The Russian leader added that exporters often replace an E.U. label with a new one and send the goods to Russia.

This RIA Novosti news item, also filed from Minsk, showed up on their website at 7:39 p.m. Moscow time yesterday---and the stories from Roy just keep on coming.

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Meeting Between Putin and Poroshenko Ends in Minsk – Spokesman Peskov

The meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko came to an end in the Belarusian capital Minsk; the private conversation of the two leaders lasted for about two hours.

“The meeting is over,” the Russian leader’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said withholding though any further comments on the results of the talks.

Following the Customs Union-Ukraine-E.U. meeting, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told journalists that Russia and Ukraine “had agreed on a private meeting between the presidents of the two countries to discuss urgent issues.”

Earlier Spokesman Peskov said that the two leaders may discuss the crisis in Ukraine, humanitarian aid to the country’s eastern regions, the flow of refugees to Russia, and the possibility of an internal dialogue between Kiev and eastern Ukraine. Apart from that, during the talks the Kremlin was expected to discuss the bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Kiev following Ukraine’s signing the Association Agreement with the European Union.

Another RIA Novosti news item, also filed from Minsk yesterday afternoon---but this one is courtesy of reader M.A. for a change.

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Ukraine’s transition to E.U. trade will cost €165bn - Putin

Switching over to E.U. trade standards and nixing duty-free trade with Russia will cost Ukraine €165 billion over the next 10 years, President Putin warned at a meeting with President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk on Tuesday.

Russia will be forced to cancel all preferential trade agreements for Ukraine’s imports and switch to a standard regime when it ratifies its E.U. trade association agreement in September, the President said.

“In full accordance with the terms of agreement with the CIS free trade zone and WTO standards, we will be forced to cancel preferential imports from Ukraine,” Putin said.

Russia will cancel its duty-free relationship with Ukraine, which will lead to import tariffs of up to 8 percent affecting 98 percent of commodities.

This article was posted on the Russia Today website at 12:42 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon, which was 4:32 a.m. EDT.  I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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The NYT’s Monumental Hypocrisy: Takes Umbrage About Rebel-Held POWs; Ignores Neo-Nazi Militias Sent by Kiev to Attack Donbas Civilians

The New York Times has taken deep umbrage over an unseemly parade staged by ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine featuring captured Ukrainian soldiers. The Times noted that the Geneva Conventions prohibit humiliation of POWs, surely a valid point.

But the Times – in its profoundly biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis – apparently feels that other aspects of this nasty civil war are less newsworthy, such as the Kiev government’s bombardment of eastern Ukrainian cities sending the death toll into the thousands, including children and other non-combatants. Also downplayed has been Kiev’s dispatch of neo-Nazi storm troopers to spearhead the urban combat in ethnic Russian towns and cities in the east.

When the Times finally noticed this street-fighting role of neo-Nazi militias, that remarkable fact – the first time armed Nazis were dispatched by any government to kill people in Europe since World War II – was consigned to the last three paragraphs of a long article on a different topic, essentially a throwaway reference.

Similarly, the Kiev regime’s artillery fire on residential areas – killing many civilians and, over the weekend, damaging a hospital – has been treated by the Times as a minor afterthought. But Times’ readers are supposed to get worked up over the tasteless demonstration in Donetsk, all the better to justify more killing of ethnic Russians.

This commentary by Robert Parry was posted on David Stockman's website yesterday sometime---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Russian Central Bank proposes regulating foreign rating agencies

Foreign rating agencies may need to set up subsidiaries in Russia instead of branches or representative offices, so their operations could be subject to Russian legislation. It is seen as another attempt by Russia to better control its domestic finances.

The Central Bank of Russia has proposed a bill that would regulate operations of rating agencies in Russia, Kommersant reports.

Moody`s, S&P and Fitch acknowledged the receipt of the draft law but declined to comment. If the bill becomes law it would be the first regulation of the sort in Russia.

Central to the bill is that the international rating agencies will have to create Russian subsidiaries, which will be Russian legal entities.

This Russia Today article appeared on their Internet site at 12:54 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

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NATO plans east European bases to counter Russian threat

NATO is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations' summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia's borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine's security, "modernise" its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

This story appeared on The Guardian Internet site at 9:04 p.m. BST on Tuesday evening---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Clive Maund: Will the U.S. break Russia to maintain dollar hegemony?

In my essay "Why they are making an enemy of Russia?," we looked at two of the key reasons why the U.S. is making an enemy of Russia, namely the promotion of conflict by the powerful Defense industry lobby in order to keep its order books full, and the value of conjuring up an external enemy as a hate figure for the masses, in order to take the heat off the government. In this article we are going to look at what is arguably an even bigger reason, that was largely omitted in the earlier article, which is that Russia, in alliance with China, is threatening to bring an end to the dollar as the global reserve currency, which would mean the end of the American empire.

We are witness to the greatest struggle of our age – the battle to maintain global dollar hegemony, and with it U.S. economic, military and political dominance of the entire planet – and this struggle is now coming to a head.

Notwithstanding its undeniably great accomplishments of the past hundred years, the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world is parasitic. This is because it creates money and debt instruments out of nothing, requiring virtually no effort, which it then swaps for goods and services with other countries. Because the U.S. dollar is the global reserve currency, it is able to rack up astronomic deficits that would be untenable for any other country.  U.S. debts are now at such levels that if the U.S. dollar loses its reserve currency status, the United States economy will implode and it will quickly be reduced to the status of a banana republic – hence the sense of urgency in the face of growing threats.

I'd never seen Clyde write a thing except about gold and silver as long as I've been following his work.  So when this piece showed up on the gata.org Internet site yesterday, I was more than skeptical about it.  That all changed after just two paragraphs.  This rather long essay is the second absolutely positively must read commentary in today's column, as it describes the end game of the New Great Game perfectly.

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U.S. begins surveillance flights over Syria after Obama authorization

The U.S. has started flying surveillance drones over Syria after President Obama authorized the missions, two senior Defense officials told Fox News, in a move that could pave the way for eventual airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the country. 

A decision still has not been made, at least publicly, to launch airstrikes in Syria. But the Obama administration would likely need additional intelligence on possible targets should the president take that step. 

Sources told Fox News that Obama approved surveillance missions in Syria for the first time over the weekend; they have since begun. 

It remains to be seen whether the Syrian government will raise any objections to the move. On Monday, the Syrian regime demanded that the U.S. seek permission before launching any airstrikes on its territory against Islamic State targets, but did not discuss its position on surveillance drones.

This news item, including at 6:21 minute embedded video clip, showed up on the foxnews.com Internet site on Tuesday---and it's the final offering of the day from reader M.A.

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Three King World News Blogs

1. Jeffrey Saut: "People Forget One of Jesse Livermore's Greatest Trades Ever"  2. Stephen Leeb: "Expect Skyrocketing Gold as China and Russia Continue Buying"  3. Jean-Marie Eveillard: "Legend Warns More Shocking Global Chaos on the Horizon"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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State Department agrees to try looking for gold records again

Three years ago GATA more or less won its freedom-of-information lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which GATA sought access to the Fed's records involving gold swaps.

While the court found that most of the Fed's records involving gold swaps were exempt from disclosure under the law, GATA's initial inquiry to the Fed produced an admission that the Fed indeed has secret gold swap arrangements with foreign banks and the court ordered disclosure of one record, the minutes of the April 1997 meeting of the G-10 Gold and Foreign Exchange Committee, at which Western treasury and central bank officials conspired to coordinate their policies in the gold market.

And a few days ago GATA's law firm, William J. Olson P.C. in Vienna, Virginia, received from the State Department a notice that the department has granted GATA's appeal and indeed will reopen its search for gold-related records.

Of course this whole process is silly and ridiculously slow, deliberately so to discourage embarrassing disclosures about the U.S. government's secret involvement in the gold market. But the process establishes, if with great difficulty, that something is going on here and that the government is so desperate to conceal it as to risk looking ridiculous.

This process also establishes again that the crucial prerequisite of the Western gold price suppression scheme is the cooperation of the mainstream financial news media, their agreement not to commit ordinary journalism when it comes to surreptitious intervention by Western governments and central banks in the gold and currency markets.

This commentary by Chris Powell showed up in a GATA release yesterday---and it's definitely worth your while if you have the time.

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Lawrence Williams: Is Asian gold demand really slipping so much?

By all accounts in the mainstream media, gold demand in Asia, and in particular in China and India, has been slipping dramatically this year which some see as the principal reason behind current price weakness. But all may not be as the reports suggest. Is Chinese demand, as suggested by the enormous slippage in gold imports though Hong Kong really as bad as the figures appear to show?

Reuters reports Hong Kong net gold exports to mainland China in July as falling to the lowest level since June 2011 at 22 tonnes (Bloomberg reports the figure as 21 tonnes). Compare this with the heady days last year when such gold imports exceeded 100 tonnes monthly for 6 months in a row from May to October. If this is an accurate indication of Chinese gold demand weakness then this is indeed something of a blow for gold bulls. 

But, China has moved the goalposts. While Hong Kong was very much the primary routing for gold entering the Chinese mainland in the past, indications are that this may no longer be the case as China has now designated a number of other points as import points for gold – notably Shanghai and Beijing. But as it does not publish statistics for these, overall import figures are much more opaque.

This commentary by Lawrie showed up on the mineweb.com Internet site in the wee hours of Tuesday morning MDT.  I saw it in time to post it in Tuesday's column, but I was already full up, so here it is now.  It's certainly worth reading. [Note: when I was editing today's column at 4:45 a.m. EDT, the mineweb.com Internet site was down]

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Ted Butler: How the Coming Silver Bubble Will Develop

The conclusion is simple – the asset requiring the least amount of buying to create a bubble is, automatically, the best candidate for developing into the biggest bubble. The fuel for any bubble is total (world) buying power versus the actual amount of an asset available for purchase. Previous, as well as prospective, bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate grew to many trillions of dollars of total valuation. At $200 an ounce, all the silver in the world (bullion plus coins) would “only” amount to $400 billion, not even a rounding error to the total valuation of stocks, bonds, real estate and, even, gold. In other words, due to silver’s current undervaluation and its shockingly small amount in existence, it has more room to the upside than any other asset class.

But I’m not done. Silver’s unique dual role as a vital industrial material and primary investment asset creates a setup for something happening that has never occurred in any previous bubble. As and when sufficient physical investment buying develops in silver to drive prices significantly higher, the industrial consumers of silver, in everything from electrical and solar applications to medical and chemical applications, will likely be subject to delays in the customary delivery timelines of the metal. As is almost always the case, whenever industrial consumers of a commodity are deprived of timely deliveries, they resort to stockpiling that commodity as a remedy, further exacerbating delivery delays to other users.

Thus, the stage is set for something the world has never experienced previously – an asset bubble accompanied with an industrial shortage. The two greatest upward price forces known to man, an asset bubble and a genuine commodity shortage, appear set to combine in silver. Either one, alone, would have a profound impact on the price, but the combination seems both inevitable and almost impossible to contemplate in terms of how high the price of silver could be driven. And it’s hard to see how intense investment buying wouldn’t trip off industrial user attempted inventory stockpiling or vice versa; it doesn’t matter which comes first.

I've already borrowed many paragraphs from this 20 August 2014 Ted Butler commentary as my 'Quote of the Day.'  Now I don't have to steal it in bite-sized chunks, as Taki Tsaklanos has published the entire article over on the goldsilverworlds.com Internet site.  It is, of course, an absolute must read.

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Aug 26, 2014

Goldman Sachs to pay US$3.15b to settle mortgage case

Goldman Sachs will pay US$3.15 billion (S$3.94 billion) to resolve claims it misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on mortgage-linked securities it sold them before the US housing bust, officials said on Friday (Aug 22).

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator for Fannie and Freddie, which were rescued by the government during the 2008 crisis, said that Goldman will repurchase the securities it sold to the two effectively government-backed mortgage giants between 2005 and 2007.

Goldman said the agreement will resolve "all" federal and state securities claims for mortgage-backed securities purchased by Freddie and Fannie over the period.

"We are pleased to resolve these matters," said Gregory Palm, executive vice president of Goldman Sachs.

Without doubt, this sum amounted to a licensing fee compared to the overall scam.  This article appeared on the channelnewsasia.com Internet site at 7:31 a.m. Singapore time---and I thank reader Harry Grant for today's first story.

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Burger King in Talks to Buy Canadian Chain Tim Hortons

Burger King Worldwide Inc., the second-largest U.S. burger chain, is in talks to buy Tim Hortons Inc. and move its headquarters to Canada, becoming the latest American company seeking to relocate to a lower-tax country.

Burger King would create the world’s third-largest fast-food chain by merging with Canada’s biggest seller of coffee and doughnuts, the companies said in a statement. The Canadian corporate tax rate is typically 26.5 percent, compared with 40 percent in the U.S., according to auditing and tax firm KPMG.

The deal renews debate over American companies shifting their headquarters internationally in search of lower corporate tax bills. The trend drew criticism last month from President Barack Obama, and his aides vowed that the administration would take action to curtail the practice.

This item is big news here in Canada---and the embedded video clip in this Bloomberg story pretty much sums it up.  It was posted on their Internet site on Sunday sometime Denver time---and has been updated since.  I thank Howard Wiener for being the first reader [of many] through the door with it.

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Too Much Corn With Nowhere to Go as U.S. Farmers Plan for Record

The ripening corn and soybean fields stretch for miles in every direction from Dennis Wentworth’s farm in Downs, Illinois. As he marveled at his best-yielding crops ever, he wondered aloud where the heck he’ll put it all.

“Logistics are going to be a huge problem for everyone,” the 62-year-old grower said, adding that he has invested in boosting output rather than grain bins. When harvesting starts in a few weeks, Wentworth expects his 150-year-old family farm to produce 10 percent more than last year’s record. “There are going to be some big piles of grain on the ground this fall.”

From Ohio to Nebraska, thousands of field inspections this week during the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour show production of corn could be 1 percent more than the government’s estimate and soybeans 1.2 percent higher, according to a Bloomberg survey of crop scouts.

Months of timely rains and mild weather created ideal growing conditions, leaving ears with more kernels than normal on 10-foot (3-meter) corn stalks and more seed pods on dark, green soy plants.

Well, dear reader, having spent my early years on a farm, I follow the growing season with more than the usual amount of interest---and drive out into the country just about every weekend to see how the crops are doing around Edmonton.  The cereal and canola crops look pretty fantastic---and a lot of canola is laying in swath already---because with the exception of a cool, wet spring, growing conditions have been nothing short of ideal here as well.  The above article, courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon, was posted on the moneynews.com Internet site last Friday morning EDT.

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Iceland volcano: Bardarbunga remains quiet

Iceland lowered its aviation alert level to orange from red Sunday, saying there was no sign of an imminent eruption at the Bardarbunga volcano. And scientists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office said their announcement Saturday that the volcano had experienced a subglacial eruption was wrong.

However, the office cautioned in a statement that seismic activity at the volcano, which has been hit by thousands of earthquakes over the past week, was not slowing, and an eruption remained a possibility in coming days.

Two earthquakes measuring greater than 5 in magnitude — the biggest yet — shook the volcano beneath Iceland's vast Vatnajokull glacier early Sunday. The Met Office recorded earthquakes of 5.3 and 5.1 in the early hours.

Iceland had raised the alert for aviation Saturday to red, the highest level on a five-point scale, warning that an ash-emitting eruption could be imminent. An orange alert indicates "heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption."

This CBC story was posted on their website at 5:41 a.m. EDT on Sunday---and was subsequently updated at 4:35 p.m. EDT Sunday afternoon.  I thank Roy Stephens for drawing it to our attention.

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France In "Political Turmoil" After Hollande Unexpectedly Dissolves Government

Earlier Monday morning Europe time, those expecting an out-of-control European deflationary tumble got one step closer to their goal when French President Francois Hollande asked his prime minister, who only assumed the post a few short months ago in March, to form a new government, following what Reuters reported was him "looking to impose his will on the cabinet after rebel leftist ministers had called for an economic policy U-turn" spearheaded by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg demanding an end to French "austerity."

The Guardian is somewhat more direct and to the point: "France has entered uncharted political waters after the prime minister, Manuel Valls, presented his government's resignation amid a political crisis triggered by his maverick economy minister who called for an end to austerity policies imposed by Germany."

This very interesting news item is worth skimming.  It appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:02 a.m. EDT Monday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it.

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Not-so NATO-ally? Germany spying on Turkey for ‘38 years’

German foreign intelligence agency has been tapping Turkey for almost four decades, reports Focus amid the ongoing spy scandal between Berlin and Ankara. Some German officials defend the practice, saying that not all NATO allies can be treated as friends.

The German Federal Intelligence Service, BND, has been eavesdropping on Turkey since 1976 following the Social Democrat Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s government approval, Focus magazine wrote on Saturday.

Passions over previous spying allegations revealed in the media are still running high, but a new report may add fuel to the fire triggering further tensions between the two long-time North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.

As for the current BND’s mandate to keep their eye on Turkish political and social institutions, it had also been given a green light by a government working group, which brought together representatives of the chancellor's office, the defense, foreign and economy ministries, reported Focus, citing government sources.

Nothing should surprise us in the spying game these days, dear reader.  This Russia Today story showed up on their Internet site at 2:55 a.m. Moscow time on their Monday morning, which was 6:55 p.m. Sunday evening in New York.  I thank reader Harry Grant for his second contribution to today's column.

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German Exports to Russia May Shrink by One Quarter This Year – German Businessmen

Germany’s exports to Russia may shrink by 25 percent this year, the union of leading associations representing German businesses said in a statement Monday.

“It is possible that by the end of the year our exports to Russia will decline by 20-25 percent. It will affect some 50,000 workplaces in Germany,” Eckhard Cordes, the chairman of Germany’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Germany’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations is an influential organization that represents the interests of German companies doing business in the former Soviet Union countries and in Eastern Europe.

According to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, who is referring to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, German exports to Russia amounted to 36.1 billion euros [$47.7 billion], down from 5.2 percent in 2013.

This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 7:01 p.m. Monday evening Moscow time---and I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Eurozone opens doors to Q.E. as Germany and France stumble

The eurozone has moved closer to adopting further radical measures to ward off a second recession and a spiral of deflation after its two biggest economies fell deeper into trouble yesterday.

The dual shock of a French government reshuffle and weaker-than-expected German figures yesterday threatened to add to the malaise in the eurozone, where unemployment remains stubbornly high and growth is at a standstill.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, this resulted in stock markets across Europe surging and government borrowing costs falling to new lows as traders reacted to indications that Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, may be opening the door for large-scale asset purchases and further cuts to interest rates.

This commentary appeared on The Telegraph's website at 6:00 p.m. BST yesterday evening---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site.

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German Vice Chancellor Calls for Ukraine's Federalization

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday said that federalization of Ukraine was the only viable solution to the crisis that has engulfed this East European country.

Speaking in an interview with the German weekly Welt am Sonntag, Sigmar Gabriel said that, “A smart concept of federalization seems to me the only viable solution.”

Gabriel, who also serves as Germany’s minister for economic affairs and energy, added that “an offer” has to be made to those regions in Ukraine where populations are predominantly ethnic Russian.

“Ukraine’s territorial integrity can only be preserved if an offer is made to regions with majority Russian population,” he stressed in an interview to appear on Sunday.

This article was posted on the RIA Novosti website at 7:03 p.m. Saturday evening Moscow time---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sending it.

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Militia wants independence, not federalization - DPR

The prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, rejects the prospect of federalization and insists on independence.

"We want independence. Federalization does not suit us," he told the press in Donetsk.

He said the self-proclaimed republic has sufficient resources to exist independently. "We have ample mineral resources and recreation zones. We are a self-sufficient region," he said.

This Interfax story appeared on the Russia Beyond the Headlines website at 11:59 p.m. Moscow time on Sunday evening---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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'Germans fed up with NATO allies and U.S. wars' – Former German Defense Secretary

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev.

Willy Wimmer, the former State Secretary of the Minister of Defence of Germany, joins Russia Today for analysis of the joint statements by the leaders of both countries.

This 5:17 minute youtube.com video clip was posted on their on Saturday---and it's worth watching.  I thank Brad Robertson for sending it our way.  I found the interview to be a little disjointed, but the message is clear.

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Baltic Fears: NATO Debates Directing Missile Shield against Russia

NATO officials are considering deploying a long-planned missile defense system -- aimed at protecting Europe from attacks from the Middle East -- against Russia as well, SPIEGEL has learned.

Calls for such an expansion to the system's remit, which is backed by the United States, are growing in Poland as well as in NATO member states Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In the run-up to next week's NATO summit, the four countries called for the remaining members to agree on language at the summit that would pave the way for the plan. They feel threatened by Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

But the majority of NATO members, especially Germany, are opposed to the proposal, warning that it could result in an unnecessary provocation of Moscow. Representatives of these countries have warned that NATO has for years pledged to Russia that the missile defense system would not be directed at the country. Further debate on the issue has since been delayed until after the summit.

This news story appeared on the German website spiegel.de at 11:16 a.m. Europe time yesterday morning---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine moves step closer to default - Fitch

The Fitch ratings agency has downgraded Ukraine one step closer to default grade, as the Ukrainian currency the hryvnia hits a record low, and the economy balances on the brink of a collapse.

Fitch cut the long-term local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of Ukraine from B-,signifying a default risk, to CCC, where default is a real possibility, and affirmed its long-term foreign currency IDR at CCC, it said in a statement on Friday.

The downgrade came amid deteriorating economic outlook due to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian currency has lost 39 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, on Friday reaching an all-time low at 13.7 hryvnia to the dollar. Last week the hryvnia lost 3.1 percent, while in August the currency fell by 9.4 percent.

This article put in an appearance on the Russia Today Internet site at 3:15 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday afternoon.  I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way---and it's certainly worth reading.

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Ukraine president pledges $3 billion to rearm military

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday promised to spend some $3.0 billion to reequip the country's military over the next few years.

"From 2015 to 2017 we are planning to allocate more than UAH 40 billion ($3.0 billion, 2.3 billion euros) to rearmament," Poroshenko said in a speech ahead of an Independence Day parade in Kiev.

And where, pray tell, is the money coming from for this---along with their $5 billion gas bill that's several years in arrears?  Just asking. The above two paragraphs are all there is to this AFP story that appeared n the france24.com Internet site at 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning Europe time.  I thank Orlando, Florida reader Dennis Mong for finding it for us.

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Anti-govt forces ‘circle 1000s of Kiev troops, capture 2 tank battalions’ in E.Ukraine

After sustained defensive combat against Ukrainian troops in the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk during August, rebels are now reporting entrapping two large groups of Kiev troops and seizing military hardware in a counteroffensive.

The main headquarters of the DPR army has made a decision to stop operations in small groups and form full-bodied independent military units, the anti-Kiev forces say in a summary of their operations filed on Sunday.

They also say they are blocking a large “punitive force” near Alekseevskoe, Blagodatnoe, Voykovsky, Kuteinikovo, Ulyanovskoe and Uspenka.

Some 5,000 Kiev troops “with military hardware” including some 50 tanks, over 200 armored vehicles and 50 artillery rocket systems (including Grad) are trapped in the area, the DPR claims.

I'd take this Russia Today story with a big grain of salt if I were you.  It showed up on their website at 9:41 a.m. Moscow time on their Sunday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

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Ukraine President dissolves parliament, paves way for early election

Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has made the decision to dismiss the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, a message on his official Twitter account says.

The decision comes because “the majority of the MPs voted for dictator-style laws,” which cost the lives of Maidan activists, RIA Novosti news agency reports citing Poroshenko's spokesman.

The election of the new parliament will be held on October 26, the spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on his Facebook page.

Poroshenko has called on “democratic forces” in Ukraine to enter the elections as a united “pro-Ukrainian, pro-European team,” Tsegolko’s Facebook post states adding that the Rada was dismissed “because it is the only right and responsible decision.”

This news item appeared on the Russia Today website at 6:49 p.m. Moscow time on Monday---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Russia Prepares 2nd Humanitarian Convoy "Invasion"--and Lavrov asks about Flight MH17 once again

Following the 'success' of the first humanitarian convoy, Bloomberg reports that Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the nation plans to send a second convoy loaded with humanitarian aid to Ukraine. he U.S. and the European Union condemned the decision to send the first convoy of about 280 trucks, which the government in Kiev called an "invasion," and the US accused Russia of painting military vehicles white.

This time will be different, according to Lavrov, as the government in Moscow is maneuvering to avoid the border standoff and uproar that marred its first convoy last week, adding “We’ll work on ensuring security guarantees from the side of the militias." Ironically, Lavrov also reminded a "disinformation"-prone media that Russia remains the only nation that continues to seek an MH17 probe, as Ukraine has still not released Dnipropetrovsk air traffic control recordings.

Yes, that pesky flight MH17 issue just won't go away, no matter how the Western press wishes it would.  After such a long time, I wouldn't give you a nickel for what's on the data flight recorders and ATC tapes, as there has been enough time passed for the British to have cooked them both real good.  This Bloomberg story, embedded in a Zero Hedge commentary, showed up on their website at 8:45 a.m. EDT on Monday morning---and it's the second offering in a row from reader M.A.

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Russia Not Planning to Participate in Wales NATO Summit – Permanent Mission

Russia has no plans to participate in any activities during the NATO summit in Wales, Russia’s Permanent Mission to NATO told RIA Novosti on Monday.

Earlier the same day, the Kommersant business daily cited diplomatic sources as saying that Russia's participation in the upcoming summit was deemed "unreasonable."

The summit is expected to attract the leaders of more than 60 countries to discuss topics concerning Russia, such as NATO-Russia relations, as well as strengthening ties with Ukraine and enhancing the collective defense of the alliance.

This very brief article showed up on the RIA Novosti website at 4:44 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday afternoon---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Russia will do whatever necessary to protect its legitimate interests – Lavrov

Russia doesn’t want to escalate tit-for-tat sanctions with the West, but is ready to do whatever is necessary to protect its legitimate interests, including those of national security in all its dimensions, Russia’s FM told The Daily Telegraph.

Peace in Ukraine can only be attained through a broad national dialogue that includes all regions and its terms cannot simply be dictated by a “government of the winners,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“The point is for Kiev to stop war games and to abandon the illusion that the deep crisis in Ukraine can be resolved by winning the war against your own people,” Lavrov said, reiterating that with support from US and EU, Kiev continues to ignore its numerous commitments to a “government of national unity.”

“Unfortunately, the logic of “the winner takes it all” remains the thrust of Kiev’s actions resulting in thousands of victims among civilians, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, as well as almost totally destroyed social infrastructure in many cities and towns in Eastern Ukraine.”

Lavrov delves into Flight MH17 once again in this commentary on the Russia Today website late Monday evening Moscow time---and it's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Press-conference of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Moscow, August 25 2014

I blanched when I saw the length of this press conference with Sergey Lavrov, as it runs 1:23:27.  That's why I'm always happy to leave the final edit of each daily missive up to you. 

It was posted on the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca website at 3:14 p.m. EDT? on Monday---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Islamist fighters seize Tripoli airport

Islamist fighters in the Fajr Libya coalition said on Saturday they have captured Tripoli's battered international airport after many days of clashes with nationalist militiamen.

The claim followed a setback the previous night when a warplane raided Islamist positions, killing 13 fighters, a Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) spokesman said.

If independent sources confirm the airport has changed hands, it would be a major defeat for the nationalist fighters from Zintan west of Tripoli who have held the airport since the fall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

A statement shown on An-Nabaa television, which is regarded as close to the Islamists, said: "Fajr Libya announces that it totally controls Tripoli international airport."

This news story put in an appearance on the france24.com Internet site on Sunday sometime---and it's another story courtesy of Dennis Mong.

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Egypt and U.A.E. Said to Secretly Bomb Militias in Libya

Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.

Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign across the region — in the news media, in politics and diplomacy, and by arming local proxies — to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Several officials said in recent days that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing the intervention could further inflame the Libyan conflict as the United Nations and Western powers are seeking to broker a peaceful resolution. "We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official. Officials said the government of Qatar has already provided weapons and support to the Islamist-aligned forces inside Libya, so the new strikes represent a shift from a battle of proxies to direct involvement. It could also set off an arms race on both sides.

I guess that only the U.S., Britain, France and Israel are allowed to drop bombs on Arab countries. This very interesting article, which is definitely worth reading, was posted on The New York Times website on Monday sometime---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Moscow Blames Political Chaos in Libya on Forceful Democratization by U.S., NATO

The United States and its NATO allies caused the current political chaos in Libya by their attempts “to forcefully democratize the country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

“We are convinced that the current chaos in Libya is a direct consequence of irresponsible interference by the U.S. and its NATO allies into Libya’s internal political conflict, with an aim to overthrow the Muammar Gaddafi regime and forcefully democratize the country,” the ministry said in a statement.

“At present, the Libyans are paying for this, with thousands of lives lost and social infrastructure destroyed in the violent internal struggle,” the statement continues.

“We can now say for sure that the political process of creating a modern democratic state on the rubble of the Gaddafi regime, overthrown in 2011, is now completely deadlocked,” the ministry said.

I think that the Russian Foreign Ministry is being charitable in their assessment of the Libyan situation.  This news story appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 11:27 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday evening, which was 3:27 p.m. EDT.

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Militants make renewed push for main Iraq refinery

Militants have launched a renewed push to seize Iraq's main oil refinery north of Baghdad, battling security forces backed by air support, a police officer and witnesses said on Sunday.

The fighting, in which militants attacked the Baiji refinery from three sides, broke out on Saturday evening and continued into the next day, the sources said.

Militants have repeatedly sought to overrun the refinery, which once accounted for some 50 percent of Iraq's supplies of refined oil products.

While they have previously managed to enter the refinery compound, security forces were able to push them back.

This short, but must read AFP story appeared on the france24.com Internet site on Sunday sometime---and it's the third and final offering of the day from Dennis Mong.

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Fractures in Arab Gulf alliance a greater threat to oil security than Islamic State

In 1981 six Arab monarchies, which today control about a fifth of the world’s oil supply, formed the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).

As the war between Iraq and Iran intensified, the Sunni Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf peninsula - Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar - originally came together in theory to form a Middle Eastern version of the European Union. Although the group has no formal political charter like the EU, it still provides the only official forum where all six leaders of these oil-rich countries can sit down together to debate and agree on mutually beneficial policies in the region.

But the rise of Islamic extremism across the Middle East, America’s growing willingness to deal with Iran and lingering leadership succession issues amongst member states are now unpicking the ties that have bound the GCC together in a tectonic shift that could have profound implications for the security of the world’s largest oil fields.

Formed in the shadow of war, its initial purpose was to help guarantee security mainly from larger Pan-Arab nationalist despots such as Saddam Hussein and the threat posed by the Shiite Mullah’s in Tehran. But after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 its focus became increasingly economic. Initiatives such as interconnecting electricity networks across the GCC, regional transportation projects including a railway and the possibility of a formal currency union took hold.

This absolute must read editorial appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 6:00 a.m. BST on Sunday morning---and it's another offering from South African reader B.V.

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Guest column by Eric Margolis — The Beheading

The alleged beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the shadowy ISIS (or Islamic State) has sparked outrage and horror around the globe.  I say “alleged” because we are not sure if the decapitation was real or faked.

After three decades of covering wars in the Mideast, Africa, Latin America, and Afghanistan, my reaction as a journalist was also outrage – but cautious outrage.

We westerners have a charming and quaint  belief that killing people from the air by using bombs, rockets, shells, napalm and cluster munitions – or even nuclear weapons – is somehow not really as bad as ramming a bayonet into an enemy, blowing him to pieces with heavy artillery, or slashing his throat the way sheep are killed.

I’ve long travelled the same road as this courageous young man---and countless other field journalists, covering extremely dangerous places all on my own, with no backup or support system. It’s very lonely and often demoralizing work.

Written by a man who has "been there---and done that".  This article by Eric Margolis was posted on the Paul Craig Roberts Internet site yesterday---and it's definitely worth reading.  Rob Bentley was the first in line with this article.

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Alasdair Macleod: The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and Mackinder’s prophecy

There will be a defining geopolitical event next month when India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This will increase the population of SCO members to an estimated 3.05 billion. We should care about this because it is the intention of the SCO to do away with the US dollar for trade settlement.

The nations joining in September are currently designated as Observer States and the only one left will be Afghanistan, which will presumably join when it can untie itself from NATO. Dialog Partners, defined as states which share the goals and principals of the SCO and wish to develop mutually beneficial relations, include Belarus Sri Lanka and Turkey. Turkey is of special interest because it has been a long-standing NATO member. It had hoped to join the EU but it became clear that this was never going to happen. Instead under the leadership of Recep Erdoğan Turkey is moving towards the SCO.

Erdoğan was re-elected earlier this month by a comfortable majority and it will be interesting to see how quickly Turkey's new alignment evolves. Erdoğan must be aware that Asia is on the up while the EU declines, in which case Turkey as a front-line state is better off joining the SCO.

The SCO's influence extends beyond its boundaries, with China and India's diaspora populating much of the rest of south-east Asia. SCO members, particularly China and India, are also the largest consumers of Middle Eastern energy. And because they write the biggest cheques they have primacy over the west; so the swing away from the petrodollar towards Asia is in the making. China also has sub-Saharan Africa sewn up, securing vital minerals such as copper from Zambia.

We must also consider why Russia is aggressively driving the pace of the SCO's development, and it's not just to escape the west's economic sanctions as many observers think. Fundamentally the SCO is about resources and the production of goods: Russia controls Asia's resources and China turns them into goods.

I've posted more than one story about this already, however this very excellent commentary by Alasdair showed up on the goldmoney.com Internet site last Friday---and it's a must read as well.  I thank Howard Wiener for sharing it with us.

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Nigerian troops cross border after Boko Haram clashes

Some 480 Nigerian soldiers have crossed into Cameroon following fierce fighting with Boko Haram militants.

Reports claimed that the troops had joined thousands of citizens fleeing the fighting, but Nigeria said they were conducting a "tactical manoeuvre".

Clashes are said to be continuing in the border town of Gamboru Ngala.

Boko Haram on Sunday released a video claiming that it had established an Islamic state in the towns and villages it controls in north-eastern Nigeria.

This article appeared on the bbc.com Internet site at 2:25 EDT yesterday---and it's the final offering of the day from reader B.V.

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Eight King World News Blogs/Audio Interviews

1. John Embry: "We Are Headed For a Financial System Apocalypse"  2. Ronald-Peter Stoferle: "Expect Extreme Long Term Systemic and Economic Instability"  3. Richard Russell: "Current Financial System to Tear Itself Apart"  4. Rick Rule: "Sovereign and Strategic Money Pouring Into Gold and Silver"  5. Michael Pento: "Deflationary Depression, Government Lies---and a New Paradigm"  6. Robert Fitzwilson: "Massive Social Unrest Coming as People Struggle to Survive"  7. The first audio interview is with Rick Rule---and the second audio interview is with Dr. Philipa Malmgren

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Koos Jansen: India's silver imports run ahead of last year's

Gold researcher and GATA consultant Koos Jansen reports that India's silver imports are running slightly ahead of last year's, as the government's heavy restriction of gold imports pushes demand toward the other monetary metal.

Jansen's analysis was posted at bullionstar.com Internet site at 04:47 a.m. Singapore time last Thursday---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site on Saturday.

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Silver is almost always knocked down at 6 p.m. ET

Market analyst and GATA consultant James McShirley calls attention to the almost constant knockdown of the silver futures price upon the 6 p.m. Eastern time opening of the access market.

McShirley writes: "Virtually every evening for the last three years at precisely 6 p.m. ET something very odd has happened: Comex silver offers swamped the bids to the tune of a 3-10 cent decline. For this to happen for three consecutive weeks would be strange. If it were to happen for three straight months it would be bizarre. Only MOAMOPE -- Mother of All Management of Perspective Economics -- can describe when it occurs for three straight years. ...

"Silver has had a near-iron clamp imposed on it commencing with the access trade reopen. How severe is this iron clamp? From September 1, 2011, to the present, 621 out of the 744 6 p.m. access trade opens have been lower. All manipulation denialists take note: That's an astounding 83.5 percent."

There's nothing really new here, as I've been commenting on this for weeks now.  However, James has gone where I just didn't have the time to go---and has researched this to the 'nth' degree.  As you should have figured out in an instant, there's nothing free market about this.  The first person through the door with this story yesterday was reader M.A.---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the paragraphs of introduction.  It was posted on the goldseek.com Internet site on Monday---and it's definitely worth reading.

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Will There Be a ‘New Gold Rush?’ -- Ian Gordon, Longwave Analytics

“I do believe this will happen. Even though the amount of dollars is going up, eventually debt will be wrung out of the system. This causes deflation, which is very bullish for gold. In deflation, both creditors and debtors are in dire straits. They’re facing enormous pressure. People tend to turn towards stores of value like gold.

“We saw this happen in the 1930s’. When the stock market bubble collapsed, capital flowed into gold instead. Gold production in Canada rose from 1,928,308 fine oz. in 1929 to 5,311,145 fine oz. in 1940, which amounted to a 175% increase.  There were 100 new gold mines started during that time, and world gold production increased by over 100%. That happened because capital was going into gold.”

“We’re in the same period in the cycle as we were in the 1930’s and after 1873. The economic winter has been muted by the creation of paper money ad infinitum, but we will probably experience another leg down – similar to 2000.

This interview with Ian was conducted by Henry Bonner over at the sprottglobal.com Internet site yesterday.

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Jersey hoard: Archaeologists unpick 70,000 coins

Work to separate 70,000 Celtic coins and pieces of jewellery is taking place under the public gaze at Jersey Museum.

Researchers aim to remove and clean up to 500 coins a week for the next three years in a specially built glass-walled lab.

The metal detector enthusiasts who made the find are now part of the team working on the project.

They unearthed the hoard, though to be the world's largest, in 2012 in a field in Grouville.

For the past two years the team, led by Jersey Heritage conservator Neil Mahrer, has been documenting the hoard, which is about 2,000 years old.

This very interesting article showed up on the bbc.com Internet site at 7:27 EDT last Friday---and I thank Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

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China's Hong Kong gold imports drop - fifth month in a row

China’s gold imports from Hong Kong in July fell by 42 percent from a month earlier as an anti- corruption campaign and price declines deterred Chinese consumers.

Net imports totaled 21.1 metric tons, compared with 36.4 tons in June and 113.2 tons a year earlier, according to calculations by Bloomberg News based on data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department today. Exports to Hong Kong from China fell to 17.9 tons last month from 19.7 tons in June, the statistics department said in a separate statement. Mainland China doesn’t publish such data.

The continued weakness adds to signs of slowing demand in China, which in 2013 overtook India as the biggest user after gold entered a bear market, spurring a buying frenzy among Chinese consumers. President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive this year hurt demand for luxury goods, according to the World Gold Council. Prices fell by the most since December last month amid bearish forecasts from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

As I, along with others, have been saying for months, with China now importing gold through Beijing, the importance of importing through Hong Kong in the full glare of the public eye has gone the way of the Dodo bird.  And as I said this time last month, there will come a point where the imports through Hong Kong will be meaningless when trying to figure out China's gold import numbers---and that time has obviously arrived.  This Bloomberg story found a home over at the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday.

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Lawrence Williams: Russia leading central bank gold buyer, but China - who knows?

Despite the lower gold price – or perhaps because of it – it is apparent that Central Banks outside Western Europe and North America are continuing to increase their gold holdings. Is this perhaps some kind of prelude to a re-evaluation of the world’s monetary system with gold holding an important role in some kind of new world economic order?

According to World Gold Council statistics as published in its quarterly Gold Demand Trends reports, if anything Central Banks have been buying at a higher rate this year than last with a reported 240 tonnes of purchases in the first half as against 180 tonnes in H1 2013. But these are figures as reported to the IMF and, of course, do not include anything China may have done to boost reserves over the period.

The biggest recent buyer as far as published data are concerned has been the Russian Federation, although here it may in part be building a ‘war chest’ as it continues to consider its options over Ukraine. It has just been announced that in July it increased its holdings by a further 9.33 tonnes, following an 18.6 tonne increase in June which brings its total gold holdings to comfortably over 1,100 tonnes representing about 10% of its foreign currency reserves. This is the world’s fourth largest national official holding (disregarding the IMF’s holdings), but lags substantially behind the U.S. and three European nations (Germany, Italy and France which all hold very significantly higher proportions of their foreign exchange reserves in gold), but ahead of China’s official reserves, which are widely believed to be very substantially understated at 1,054.1 tonnes.

This commentary by Lawrie was posted over at the mineweb.com Internet site last Friday---and I don't know how I missed it for my Saturday column.  It definitely falls into the must read category.

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