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BNP Banker, His Wife And Nephew Murdered In Belgium

zerohedge.com /  Tyler Durden / 04/20/2014 08:35 -0400

In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.

L’venir reports:

 According to Marcel Neven, Mayor of Vise, nothing can yet explain what caused the violent shooting that rocked the neighborhood sports hall of his town this Friday, April 18, late at night. A man of 37 years, Benedict Philippens, bank manager Ans-Saint-Nicolas, was shot. A little 9 year old boy, living in Dolhain, was also killed. A lady, the wife of the man and the boy aunt and godmother, Carol Haid, 37 also died of his injuries on Saturday, in the morning. She was hit by three bullets in the back, said a judicial source.

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US Drone Pilots Are ‘Stressed’ and ‘Demoralized’ – Official Report

thedailysheeple.com / April 20th, 2014

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has produced a scathing report detailing the Air Force’s mismanagement of its active-duty drone pilots, who are responsible for the most demanding and deadly missions in the entire US military.

US senators asked the GAO to investigate how the Air Force treated its pilots back in 2012, following previous reports of pilot issues, and in view of the massive expansion of America’s secretive drone pilot army. Since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the number of drone pilots has tripled, and now stands at over 1,300.

The picture that emerges is of an organization struggling to cope with such growth, and unsure of how to handle its newest division. The Air Force “faces challenges to recruit, develop, and retain pilots and build their morale,” says the 54-page field study.

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LBMA defense of London gold fixing distracts from central bank involvement

gata.org / CHRIS POWELL / Sun, 2014-04-20 01:53

10:03p ET Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

The March edition of the London Bullion Market Association’s magazine, The Alchemist — presumably named for the ability of LBMA members to turn gold into paper — carries a long defense of the daily London gold price fixings against complaints that they are likely manipulated by their participating bullion banks.

The defense, written by Peter Fertig, director of QCR Quantitative Commodity Research Ltd., maintains that there are plausible explanations for the aspects of the fixings that have been called suspicious by Professor Rosa Abrantes-Metz of New York University’s Stern School of Business. Plausible explanations or not, Fertig declines to explain the necessity of the peculiarly closed and elite mechanism of the London fixes, a mechanism not used and indeed not allowed in any other commodity or currency market.

Fertig acknowledges only briefly that peculiarities in London gold fix prices may have something to do with central banks. “During the period under investigation,” Fertig writes, “many central banks had been sellers of gold.”

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Nothing Like A Website That Cost $90 Million And Was Still Abandoned

teapartyeconomist.com / Sarah Hurtubise / April 19, 2014

Maryland has given up on its Obamacare website, but not before spending $90 million of taxpayer funding on technology, according to a cost breakdown released Friday.

Of the $90 million, exchange board Chairman Joshua Sharfstein said that the marketplace spent $55 million on the website itself, The Washington Post reports. Officials opted in late March, after six months of struggling with the inoperable system, to give up on fixing the website and start over again with a model of Connecticut’s more successful exchange website.

Maryland’s Obamacare exchange received millions in federal taxpayer dollars to build its Affordable Care Act website and was even awarded early innovator grants that earned it even more taxpayer funding. But the website crashed on the first day of open enrollment and

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Five Reported Killed In East Ukraine Following Ultra-nationalist Attack

zerohedge.com /  Tyler Durden / 04/20/2014 03:18 -0400

And to think it was just two days ago when all the USDJPY momentum ignition algos roared to life on flashing headline news of yet another diplomatic “de-escalation” of tensions in Ukraine. What was clearly ignored is that since John Kerry was involved, it was nothing but the latest sham. And the proof came moments ago when Reuters reported, citing Russian state television on Sunday, that five people were killed when Ukraine gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk.

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LEGEND WARNS STOCKS TO COLLAPSE, GOLD TO SKYROCKET & MORE – Victor Sperandeo:

kingworldnews.com / Sunday, April 20, 2014

PLEASE CLICK ON PICTURE TO LISTEN TO THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Why China is a positive and not a negative for the gold price going forward

arabianmoney.net / 20 April 2014

Last week a report from the World Gold Council suggested that around 1,000 tonnes of gold is being used as collateral in Chinese commodity financing deals that would be unwound if the shadow banking complex was to collapse. Not surprisingly news of such a supply overhang depressed the gold price.

Since then analysts have pointed out that this is an assumption and based on little more than an estimate of gold imports. Moreover, last year gold experienced significant volatility and high local premiums in China that would not have made it ideal for financing. Copper is the usual commodity of choice for such deals. You don’t use assets carrying large premiums either.

Facts, facts

So it looks like a rather poor piece of work that has unnecessarily damaged the gold price based on supposition rather than facts. Indeed, ArabianMoney has always argued that China is a valuable support for the gold price and also a reason why it will eventually head much higher.

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Terry Coxon on US Dysfunction and the International Trust Solution

Terry Coxon

thedailybell.com / With Anthony Wile – April 19, 2014

Introduction: Terry Coxon is the author of Keep What You Earn and was for many years a close collaborator with and editor for the late Harry Browne. He currently is a regular contributor to The Casey Report. Mr. Coxon has a distinguished history as an architect of innovative financial planning arrangements, including the Permanent Portfolio Fund, the United States Gold Trust (the first gold ETF), the Passport Financial Offshore Trust and the Open Opportunity IRA. 

Daily Bell: It’s been a while. Let’s start with a question we ask almost everyone. Is the US really recovering from recession – or isn’t it?

Terry Coxon: The short answer is, yes, the U.S. recovery is still underway. Inflating the money supply by 90% almost guarantees a revival. But more interesting to me is that five-and-a-half years after the near panic in 2008 everyone is still asking the question and, by now, almost everyone has been called upon to give an answer. What a waste of time and mental energy!

Daily Bell: What would be a better way?

Terry Coxon: The attention so many of us spend on sorting out the consequences of the government’s trifling with the currency and interfering in the capital markets could be spent on something more productive – if it weren’t a matter of necessity for us to figure out how to protect ourselves from the government’s bad habits.

Daily Bell: But is “Yes, there’s a recovery” the end of the story?

Terry Coxon: No. It’s the beginning of the story, or of the current chapter of the story. The recovery has been slow because of the memory so many people have of the near-death experience of 2008-2009 and because of the U.S. government’s recent above-average rate of growth in deficit spending and regulatory interference. 

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Anti-HFT Trading Platform Comes To “Rigged” FX Markets

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden on 04/19/2014 19:29

The surge in volume on the anti-HFT equity trading platform IEX - of Flash Boys and TV-fight-night fame – makes it very easy to see how the buy-side (which the US retail investor is one small part of) clearly prefers an un-rigged place to find willing sellers (or buyers). Relatively light regulation and high volumes make the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign-exchange market a prime target for high-frequency traders. More than 35% of spot currency volume in October was by speed traders, up from 9% five years earlier, but just as in equity markets, there are speculators and there are natural buyers and sellers in FX markets (looking to hedge payments and receipts from real business for example). As Bloomberg reports, a currency-dealing platform known as ParFX, established in 2011, offers a transparent marketplace and subjects orders to random pauses of about 20 to 80 milliseconds, and “is the industry’s effort to heal itself.”

IEX volumes hit record highs…

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Shopping malls empty in Venezuela, as economic woes worsen

utopiathecollapse.com / 

Venezuelans, already struggling to find basics like milk and toilet paper at the super-market, are now confronted with empty appliance store windows and clothes racks at shopping centers. Malls have become deserted in the oil-rich country, with stores straining under government-imposed limits on profits, rents and access to hard currency. Venezuelans have always loved to shop, even under a socialist-inspired government that frequently lambasts capitalism and consumerism. But in many shopping centers, stores are closing and the shelves are nearly empty in those that remain open. “Shopping centers are like a window onto the country, and whoever comes to Venezuela will realize that from 2013 to how we are today, the sector has deteriorated. It is chaos,” said Claudia Itriago, director of the Venezuelan Chamber of Shopping Centers, or Cavececo. Itriago warns that the collapse of the sector — which provides work for some 586,000 people — would deliver a hard blow to an economy that is posting listless growth and saddled with 57 percent inflation. In recent weeks, representatives of malls and the footwear and textile sectors have met with President Nicolas Maduro, the populist heir to the late Hugo Chavez, and other officials in a bid to find ways to keep the shopping centers afloat. Shortages of some foodstuffs and basic goods are nothing new in Venezuela.

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The War on Retirement

retirement_watch_220

dailyreckoning.com.au / BY  / ON APRIL 19, 2014 AT 10:00 AM

We have some bad news today, dear reader: you’re living through a very difficult time to prepare for retirement. The good news is, doing something about it will give you a greater advantage than ever before.

All around the world, retirees are seeing their prospects unexpectedly worsen. We believe this is the result of demographic changes, which are coming to Australia too. But even if we’re wrong about why, the trend is still obvious.

In Europe, attempts at austerity are bringing about fiscal reform and retiree benefits are on the chopping block. To be fair, describing some of Europe’s former pension policies as ‘excessive’ would be an understatement. But let’s not harp on about it.

American companies are starting to pull back on retirement related employee benefits too. Matching an employee’s additional retirement contributions and ‘vesting’ retirement benefits that an employee would miss out on if they continue work after retirement age are becoming less popular company policies. AOL Inc. tried to delay payments into the US version of superannuation accounts a few weeks ago. Employees didn’t like it, believe it or not.

Government pensions are even worse off in the US. Bridgewater Associates estimates about 85% of public pension funds in the US will go bankrupt in the next three decades. They face a shortfall of $7 trillion, with just $3 trillion accumulated.

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Power Outside The Matrix: breaking the boundaries

jonrappoport.wordpress.com / by Jon Rappoport / April 19, 2014

People are fixated on rules and boundaries and systems. They are waiting and hoping for some kind of salvation, which will be delivered through a system.

This is a form of mind control. It’s ultimately self-imposed.

The person who lives a creative life finds another aspect of his own mind.

This different consciousness starts with inventing space, which has always been the premise of art. Always.

When I was putting together my new collection, Power Outside The Matrix: The Invention Of New Reality, I was very cognizant of these things.

The journey and the voyage are invented through and by imagination, which begins from open space.

We are dealing with The New. Old notions of cause and effect don’t apply. The past doesn’t determine the present. The way a religion or a science paints a cosmology is irrelevant.

This isn’t a loop of feedback consciousness or problem-solving consciousness. It’s creative consciousness. It can go anywhere.

People are looking through tunnels of ideology. They create what they think will align with that ideology…and they want to go no further. All ologies and isms are primitive reflections of needs for systems.

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The Secret World Of Gold

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden on 04/19/2014 21:22

In light of the Chinese demand we discussed earlier, the ongoing manipulation of ‘rigged’ markets everywhere, and rising geopolitical tensions (as the de-escalation continues)we thought it worth dusting off this excellent  and wide-ranging look at the history and present of the barbarous relic, gathering many perspectives (pro and con) on gold.

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5 Reasons for a Q2 Decline in U.S. Interest Rates

financialsense.com / JOHN KOSAR CMT / 04/16/2014

Commercials at an 8-Year Bullish Extreme on the 5-Year Note

Chart 1 below measures investor sentiment according to the intermediate to long term investment time horizone of Commercial Hedgers in the CBOT 5-Year Note contract via the latest Commitments of Traders data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is plotted weekly since 2005 by the red line in the upper panel. Commercials use the futures market to hedge, and sometimes to enhance, their physical holdings in an asset.

The green ellipse in the upper right edge of the chart shows that professional investors are net long 191,692 contracts according to the latest data, which represents a minor retraction from a multi-year net bullish extreme of 300,000 contracts by the smart money. The green vertical highlights between both panels show that similar, and sometimes less severe, net long extremes have closely coincided with most of the important bottoms in the CBOT 5-Year Note contract since 2005, most recently in September 2013.

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“Timestamp Fraud”: A Rigged Market Explained In One Simple Animation

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden on 04/19/2014 14:18

The topic of High-Frequency-Trading quickly dissolves into a smorgasbord of mnemonics and ‘inside-baseball’ technical terms – just complicated enough to lose everyone that matters or should care about its implications. Despite the fair-and-balanced defense from the mainstream media business channels (sponsored by the belief in the status quo fair markets that ‘America the free’ is known for), the fact is that HFT does front-run (perfectly legal under the umbrella protection of Reg NMS) order flow, but there may be one more wrinkle – one which would cement the Michael Lewis (accurate) allegation that the market is rigged.

Because if as Nanex shows below, there is in addition to everything else the element of timestamp fraud involved in the distribution of NMS “compliant” trading data for Direct Feed-to-SIP matching purposes, this means that not only is the market rigged, but its rigging goes from the very top all the way to the lowliest algo.

What’s worse, the rigged system is so embedded there is nothing anyone can do about it, until it just collapses under its own weight: think May 2010 HFT-created flash crash, only without the mirror-image bounce.

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Homeland Security Says Your Children Could Be Terrorists

infowars.com / April 19, 2014

The White House counter-terrorism chief who suggested that confrontational children could become terrorists is unfortunately just another example of a government official abusing “terrorism” rhetoric.

Earlier this week, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) called Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters “domestic terrorists.”

“I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism,” he added.

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Tesco Profits Panic! Back to Back £5 Off £40 Shop Voucher Promotions

marketoracle.co.uk / By: Nadeem_Walayat / Apr 18, 2014 – 09:22 PM GMT

Tesco, Britain’s giant supermarket chain is once more reeling following its latest trading results that reveal another bad year with profits slumping by 7% as the discount chains such as Aldi and Lidl continue to consume King Tesco’s market share that fell to a 10 year low of 28.6% that sows the seeds for the market leader ultimately to join the ranks of has been’s such as Morrisons that has been floundering in the supermarket wilderness for over a decade now.

Tesco reported profits falling by 6.9% to £3.1bn and like for like sales by 1.4% is a continuing trend of Tesco’s being hit by over seas losses such as a huge mark down of £734mln of value of european assets coupled with a 28% profits slump, that followed last years U.S. stores fiasco that resulted in a £1.2 billion write down.

Tesco is battling against Aldi and Lidl discounters against whom it just cannot compete as similar weekly shops albeit with less choice and a poorer quality of product and service tend to cost a good 1/3rd less than a similar shop at a Tesco store would cost.

Therefore the only way Tesco can compete is to replicate the discounters in terms of product, range, quality and service which means downsizing giant over stocked and staffed stores, something that is not apparent in any of Tesco’s statements or actions as the super market chain has been on a trend of creating hundreds of costly to run Tesco express and Metro stores when instead the optimum size is somewhere between a super store and a express store.

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Mencken Was Correct

economicnoise.com / Monty Pelerin / APRIL 18, 2014

H. L. Mencken (1880 -1956) was an astute observer of the American scene.

He despised politicians, although gained amusement from them and the fools who elected them. His voice has never been needed more than today, given the further degeneration of governance and governors. He would not be surprised at our continuing slide to the bottom.

Jennifer Harper reports this discouraging news:

• 54 percent of U.S. voters say Hillary Rodham Clinton is “honest and trustworthy”; 27 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

• 49 percent of voters overall say Jeb Bush is honest and trustworthy; 67 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent say New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is honest and trustworthy; 52 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

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menckenquote

Two Of The Most Remarkable Charts We’ve Seen This Year

kingworldnews.com / April 19, 2014

As the world seems to hurtle from one crisis to another, today a man out of Europe who has been extremely accurate with his calls on the gold market sent King World News two of the most remarkable charts we’ve seen this year.  He also included some fantastic commentary to go along with the key charts.  Below is the exclusive KWN piece by Ronald-Peter Stoferle of Incrementum AG out of Liechtenstein.

By Ronald-Peter Stoferle, Incrementum AG Liechtenstein

April 19 (King World News) - Two Of The Most Remarkable Chars We’ve Seen This Year

It seems that market participants have been conditioned like Pavlovian dogs to ever-growing monetary stimulus measures.

Today the main factor influencing financial markets seems to be the anticipation of central bank actions. Historical market patterns have been radically altered over recent years.  Since 2009 the Fed has reacted to every economic slowdown by introducing fresh easing measures, so that a paradoxical situation now can be observed: disappointing macroeconomic data lead to price increases in stocks as the expectation of a pause of “tapering” of the QE program is priced in….

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Eastern Ukraine: Of Stalled ‘Invasions’ and Agreements

acting-man.com /  / April 19, 2014

Ukraine’s Army Fails to Retake Anything in the Eastern Ukraine

The Ukrainian army’s recent foray into the country’s East to regain control over administrative buildings seized by separatist militants has proved spectacularly unsuccessful. In Slovyansk the operation stalled out, although there was actually a shoot-out in Slovyansk which left three people dead. Pro-Russian groups insist that these were unprovoked shots at peaceful protesters, but it is of course difficult to be sure what actually happened.

“A military operation that the Ukrainian government said would confront pro-Russian militants in the east of the country unraveled in disarray on Wednesday with the entire contingent of 21 armored vehicles that had separated into two columns surrendering or pulling back before nightfall. It was a glaring humiliation for the new government in Kiev.

Though gunshots were fired throughout the day, and continued sporadically through the evening in this town that is occupied by pro-Russian militants, it was unclear whether anybody had been wounded. One of the armored columns stopped when a crowd of men drinking beer and women yelling taunts and insults gathered on the road before them, and later in the day its commander agreed to hand over the soldiers’ assault rifles to the very separatists they were sent to fight.

Another column from the same ostensibly elite unit, the 25th Dnipropetrovsk paratrooper brigade, surrendered not only its weapons but also the tracked and armored vehicles it had arrived in, letting militants park them as trophies, under a Russian flag, in a central square here.A pro-Russian militant then climbed into the driver’s seat of one and spun the vehicle around on its tracks, screeching and roaring, to please the watching crowd.

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Elderly Man Calls Ambulance for Wife with Dementia, Cops Show Up and Beat Him

thedailysheeple.com / Melissa Melton / April 19th, 2014

It seems more and more these days that if you think a loved one is in danger in America, calling the cops should be your absolute last possible resort.

Missourian Elbert Breshears recently called for an ambulance because his elderly wife, who suffers dementia, had endured an episode and knocked a window out of their home.

According to ABC affiliate KSPR33 and unfortunately for Breshears, the cops showed up before the ambulance did:

“The wife and I were standing about here, that’s the window she knocked out. I was standing here holding her hand and she was wavering hollering help,” Breshears said.

When police got there,”police car drove up, he bailed out ran over and knocked me down. He told me to get up, I told him I couldn’t,” he explained.

That’s when Breshears says police got aggressive. “First thing, I know they grab me, threw me out there on the gravel. One of them sat down on my back, the other sat down on my head. They were trying to get handcuffs on me. I told them I can’t get my hands up. I have no objection to being handcuffed,” says Breshears.

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copsthennow

COT Gold, Silver and US Dollar Index Report – April 18, 2014

news.goldseek.com / Friday, 18 April 2014

The COT reports which we look at each week provide a breakdown of each Tuesday’s open interest for markets in which 20 or more traders hold positions equal to or above the reporting levels established by the CFTC. The weekly reports for Futures-and-Options-Combined Commitments of Traders are released every Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. The short report shows open interest separately by reportable and Non-reportable positions. For reportable positions, additional data is provided for commercial and non-commercial holdings, spreading, changes from the previous report.

Futures and Options Combined

What does this title mean? A future is a standardized contract traded through regulated exchanges where an investor buys or sells a contract at a specified price for a specific date in the future. The price includes the interest charge due to the seller by the buyer from the date of the contract to the due date. An option is the ‘right to buy or sell’ a contract at a fixed date in the future at a specific [strike] price. The difference is that a futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell, whereas an option gives the holder the right to buy or sell. An option holder can decide not to take up that right and will only lose the cost of buying the option. His loss is therefore definable at the start of his investment, while the potential profit has not limit to it. A futures contract is usually leveraged [a loan provided] up to 90% of the contract. However, with the owner liable to top up his ‘margin’ to maintain this 10% his potential losses can rise far higher than his investment. A ‘long’ [buying] contract limits its loss to the full price of the item, whereas the ‘short’ [selling] contract has no limit except the height that the price of the item can rise to.

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Silver COT Report: Futures
Large Speculators Commercial
Long Short Spreading Long Short
45,957 32,858 17,939 74,713 98,007
915 4,078 -3,049 7,168 1,557
Traders
80 46 45 49 46
Small Speculators Open Interest Total
Long Short 164,158 Long Short
25,549 15,354 138,609 148,804
-192 2,256 4,842 5,034 2,586
non reportable positions Positions as of: 143 125
Tuesday, April 15, 2014   © SilverSeek.com

Everything is Awesome When You Part of the (Fed) Team

trueeconomics.blogspot.com / Saturday, April 19, 2014 

Fed’s Balance sheet then and now:

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Save MtGox – Bitcoin Important Implications of Going Down

marketoracle.co.uk / By: Mike_McAra / Apr 19, 2014 – 05:29 AM GMT

Cutting right to the chase: short positions might be the way to go now (stop-loss at $550).

A group of investors has come up with an initiative to convince the Tokyo Distric Court to not liquidate Mt. Gox’s assets but instead give a go-ahead to the plan to rehabilitate the failed exchange. A website Save Gox has been set up and the plan has been outlined on it. We can read:

Under our proposal, MtGox’s remaining assets would be distributed to customers immediately. Creditors would be made whole over time by sharing revenue generated from business operations and from other recovery programs, such as participating in the upside if they continue doing business with the rebuilt exchange.

We are prepared to invest heavily in this business once we have conducted a full accounting of MtGox’s assets and legal liabilities. When MtGox was hacked, customer balances potentially were altered, resulting in the deficits that forced the exchange to shut down. Until a qualified audit has been undertaken by a suitable internationally recognized auditor, the size of those liabilities will remain unknown.

Our group would like to begin this due diligence immediately. Only then will we know the extent of the risks and the capital required to rebuild the business.

Once the valuation is completed, our goals are to:

1. Remove the information vacuum by disclosing in a timely fashion what happened to the missing bitcoins, the true status of MtGox assets and by providing creditors with audited statements of their balances.

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BitstampUSD Chart

Cars And Stupidity

market-ticker.org / by Karl Denninger / 2014-04-18 11:05

This sort of thing makes my blood boil, and not for the reasons you may think:

If you think cars are getting too expensive, you may be right. A new report shows that the average price of a new vehicle is out of reach for people in medium-income households in all but one of the 25 largest metro areas in the U.S.

The report by Interest.com shows that Washington, D.C. is the only American metropolitan area in which a family earning the city’s median income can afford the average price of a new vehicle, which was $32,086 in 2013, according to Kelley Blue Book. That price equates to a monthly payment of $633, assuming the buyers put 20 percent down, financed for 48 months and principal, interest and insurance did not exceed ten percent of the household’s gross income.

$32,000 for an average new vehicle is utterly nuts.

Flat-out, stark raving nuts.

First off, virtually nobody puts 20% down on cars any more; almost everyone I have heard from or about is buying them with 100% financing — which is stupid all on its own, because if you don’t take GAP insurance and wreck it you’re totally screwed.  If you do take GAP insurance then you’re paying for yet another service and your monthly cost goes up even higher.

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Current Economic Collapse News Brief — Episode 345

X22ReportPublished on Apr 19, 2014

Pulling NATO Strings in Ukraine is Washington’s Dr. Stangelove Drama

21stcenturywire.com / BY  / APRIL 19, 2014

21st Century Wire says…

Not a day goes by now that we do not hear the following words coming out of White House or NATO’s head office: “The Russian threat”.

What is clever turn of words, seeing that the only entities moving eastward right now are the US and its world police force, NATO.

The whole idea of the ‘Russian threat’ was devised during the last century by propaganda merchants in the United States and incredibly, survives to this day, and is still effective on a section of society: the truly stupid and intellectually challenged, which (unfortunately for the rest of the world) includes many career politicians in sensitive decision-making positions…

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1-Obama-Ukraine-Dr-Strangelove

What’s Important – What the COMEX Participants Say or Do?

gotgoldreport.com / by Gene Arensberg /Saturday, April 19, 2014, at 01:57:21 PM

We read all kinds of commentary on the Web about the positioning of the large traders in gold futures on the COMEX bourse.  Rather than argue, let’s just point out something we think is pretty darn interesting if not telling.

We tend to focus on the positioning of the largest of the participants in the gold biz.  The traders generally known as commercial traders. In the legacy commitments of traders reports (COT)  the commercials include the categories now known as the Producers, Merchants, Processors and Users  (which we shorten to the “Producer Merchants”) together with the mercenary banks that the CFTC classes as Swap Dealers.  So today, in the disaggregated COT reports, there are two classes of traders we consider “commercial,” with perhaps the most important of them being the Producer Merchants because it is this category of trader that uses hedging to protect their natural long positioning.  And, it is from their desire or motivation to hedge that we get a decent read on the attitude of the gold trade itself toward, or rather, about its expectation for the price of gold looking ahead.

We read the comments by those on both sides of the battlefield, including the likes of the already very short (with an attitude) Swap Dealer banks such as Jeffrey Currie of the mercenary firm Goldman Sachs, who is already apparently all in on the short side of gold and willing to talk their book – even when it has not “paid” to do so.  But we digress…  Stop the tape right here.  Let’s instead just say what the record shows and have done with it for another week or two or three.

Consider that on March 18, 2014 (a month ago) traders classed by the CFTC as Producer Merchants held a net short position of 60,312 contracts with gold then having tested $1390, but having retreated back to $1355.50. In the month since then as gold continued to decline by $53.09 or 3.9% to $1302.41 the Gold Trade (the Producers, Merchants, Processors and Users) very strongly reduced their combined collective net short stance by a whopping 45,727 lots or 76% from 60,312 to show just 14,585 contracts net short as of April 15.

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20140419 PM Net Gold

ECB Moving Closer to Unconventional Policy

financialsense.com / SOBER LOOK / 04/17/2014

The ECB received another set of disappointing inflation reports yesterday. For some time now the central bank has been betting on the fact the declining inflation figures were driven by food and energy, while the core CPI rate was recovering. Well, that didn’t turn out to be the case, at least for now.

With the euro remaining at lofty levels, the ECB is beginning to prepare the markets for new monetary stimulus, as the various officials discuss “unconventional” policy.

Weidmann:

BW: – After building a reputation as a nay-sayer on the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, the Bundesbank president’s [Jens Weidmann's] support for large-scale asset purchases marks a shift that helps the fight against deflationary threats. His tentative backing of quantitative easing will shore up its credibility as officials debate whether they need to implement it.

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Maryland Spends $90 Million in Taxpayer Money for Obamacare Website – Abandons it

President Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act in Maryland

freedomoutpost.com /  / April 18, 2014

Maryland has given up on its Obamacare website, but not before spending $90 million of taxpayer funding on technology, according to a cost breakdown released Friday.

Of the $90 million, exchange board Chairman Joshua Sharfstein said that the marketplace spent $55 million on the website itself, The Washington Post reports. Officials opted in late March, after six months of struggling with the inoperable system, to give up on fixing the website and start over again with a model of Connecticut’s more successful exchange website.

Maryland’s Obamacare exchange received millions in federal taxpayer dollars to build its Affordable Care Act website and was even awarded early innovator grants that earned it even more taxpayer funding. But the website crashed on the first day of open enrollment and officials have been unable to fix it.

The late decision won’t help anyone who hoped to sign up for health insurance on the exchange for 2014. The open enrollment period in Maryland closes Friday, with a special exception for more than 18,000 people who have already requested extra time to sign up due to the website’s problems. Sharfstein said Tuesday that the exchange will serve these customers, whether or not they get to it before the extended deadline.

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