Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tsu Koon quits on May 16, Soi Lek later

By Md Izwan
KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — Just a week following Election 2013 where both their parties lost badly, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon announced today he will resign the Gerakan presidency on May 16 while MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has stood firm to only go after party elections this December.
Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow has also decided to quit on the same day, Koh said today, adding deputy president Chang Ko Youn will be acting president until June, when the party election process starts.
Koh also said Gerakan, just like the MCA, will not take up any federal Cabinet positions, but will take up state leadership positions instead.
But Dr Chua, who has faced calls to resign immediately, stuck to his guns to stay on until the party elections.
“I will go at a suitable time, when everything is completed,” he told reporters today.
He said he wanted to stabilise the party before stepping down from office, to take responsibility for its dismal polls results.
The MCA managed to cling on to only seven of the 37 federal seats and 11 of the 90 state seats it contested in the 13th general election, earning it the embarrassing moniker the “seven-11 party”.
The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the popular vote to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Election 2013 and saw its seat tally reduced to 133, while PR won 89 seats in the 222-member Parliament.
Dr Chua also played down increasing pressure from several divisions and MCA veterans who have openly called for his resignation as president.
“They love this party very much,” he said, referring to the party elders, before adding, “but at the same time, there are many who still support me.”
At a news conference yesterday, 10 MCA veterans called on Dr Chua to make way for new blood to revive the Chinese party, a founding member of BN.
“We’re asking our party president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek to kindly step down at this time to allow new members to come in to revive and resuscitate the party,” former party president Tan Koon Swan said.
“We have no personal agenda nor are we against Dr Chua personally. For the sake of our party and the community especially, he should take responsibility and step down,” said Tan, who acted as the group’s spokesman.
Tan also said the MCA elders, 10 of whom were present at the press conference, were “saddened by the total embarrassment and humiliation” of the party’s historic defeat in its 64-year history.
Former MCA deputy president Tan Sri Lee Kim Sai also said that Dr Chua staying even a minute longer was “too long”.
Dr Chua had already said he will not contest the party presidency in this year’s internal elections while other MCA divisional leaders have asked him to step down over the party’s poor showing.
The MCA was formed in 1949 by the late Tun Tan Cheng Lock to save the Chinese in Malaya from being repatriated to China during the guerilla war against the communists in the Malayan insurgency.

Most PKR state reps want Khalid as Selangor MB, say sources

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — A majority of Selangor PKR lawmakers and division chiefs want Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim to be reappointed as the state’s mentri besar, party sources have said, amid protests by a faction led by the party’s deputy president Azmin Ali.
The Malaysian Insider understands the endorsement was made at a closed-door “gathering” held at Empire Hotel in Subang Jaya on Monday where most of the 14 state assemblymen, 16 division chiefs and a few federal MPs who attended felt that Abdul Khalid should be allowed to lead the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government for a second term.
“The meeting was supposed to have Azmin there but he didn’t turn up. Most of those who turned up want TSKI to be MB,” the source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to Khalid by his initials TSKI.
Several PKR leaders, including former state executive councillor and second-term Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong, confirmed that the Empire Hotel meeting took place.
“Yes,” she said via a short text message when asked if the meeting included discussions about the mentri besar post.
Azmin claimed yesterday PKR had bypassed the necessary consultation process in choosing a candidate for the post when a letter purportedly endorsing Abdul Khalid for the post was allegedly sent to the Selangor palace.
He also appeared to question Abdul Khalid’s leadership at a press conference yesterday, and said he was seeking a meeting with PKR’s national leaders for a consensus decision to be made on who gets to be the new Selangor MB.
Port Klang PKR division chief Yeoh Boon Lye told The Malaysian Insider that most of the party’s Selangor leaders felt that Abdul Khalid was pivotal to PR’s increased support in the state.
The PKR-DAP-PAS alliance won 44 out of the 56 state seats, eight more than in the last general election. PKR, however, won only 14 seats while the DAP and PAS netted 15 each.
But the despite DAP and PAS’s leading position, both parties said they would continue to allow Abdul Khalid to lead the state for a second term, in a move seen as a show of confidence in his leadership, a view echoed by Yeoh.
“We got success from Tan Sri Khalid. How can we change (him) when he led us to win? We won because of him,” he said.
The mentri besar post debacle has sparked talk that Azmin, who is also said to be vying for the position, would leave PKR following the party’s supposed endorsement of Abdul Khalid’s governance.
Azmin dismissed the speculation at yesterday’s press conference where he was flanked by some of the party’s Selangor line-up in what appeared to be a sign of protest against Abdul Khalid’s likely reappointment as the state’s chief executive.
Although the Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman was evasive when bombarded by questions for his view on the candidacy for the post, the PKR deputy president made several insinuations that leaders from the party’s Selangor chapter were against Abdul Khalid’s reappointment.
He repeated throughout the press conference that Abdul Khalid’s administration was rife with complaints of “red tape”, and at times implied that the state government had not been responsive to issues facing voters.
“In the second term, there must be a reformation of the (Selangor) administration. We have a reserve of RM2.6 billion but this means nothing if none of the benefits are felt by the people.
“The rakyat want a government that is responsive… there were complaints of rubbish not picked up, sewerage problems, roads not repaired,” he said, adding that the grievances had been brought to the attention of PKR’s central leadership several times before.
Azmin denied the criticisms were related to the mentri besar post debacle and claimed they were complaints raised by Selangor voters and the party’s state assemblymen.





Texas power company collects $500 million in 'taxes' that don't exist

(NaturalNews) Millions of people living in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex region of North Texas have basically been getting ripped off on their electric bills since at least 2008, and very few of them are the wiser, according to new reports. A federally-mandated utility tax levied on customers by power company Oncor has ratcheted up hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few years, but none of this cash has been used by the company to pay any actual federal taxes, says a new study.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power (TCAP) says Oncor collects about $200 million annually from its customers for "phantom" federal taxes that it ultimately does not have to pay. This, according to the group, is due to the fact that Oncor files its taxes as a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, a private hedge fund that is apparently on the brink of bankruptcy, and thus has not had to pay any federal income taxes since at least 2008.

Instead, all this tax money collected by Oncor from its customers is being used by Energy Future Holdings to "fight off creditors," according to Jake Dyer, a policy analyst at TCAP. Even though there is nothing illegal about the practice - Oncor is actually just following the legal precedent set by the Texas Supreme Court several decades ago for utility taxes - it will likely come as a surprise to many people who have been under the false impression that such fees are being used for their claimed purposes.

"Since 2008, [Oncor has] collected $500 million for the purpose of paying taxes on their income ... (but) those taxes that are collected from the consumer never end up getting paid to the federal government," says Randy Moravec, Executive Director of TCAP, as quoted by CBS DFW. "It's an unfair levy on consumers."

Many utility companies across America collect taxes they never pay

Oncor is apparently not alone in its forced exploitation of this lucrative tax loophole. According to a 2006 report by The New York Times (NYT), utility companies in at least 26 states routinely and legally pocket fees collected for tax liabilities, while utilities in another 21 states can also legally do this if they so choose. And in most cases, collecting these phantom fees is actually a requirement by law.

"[I]n recent years many utilities have expanded into unregulated business," writes David Cay Johnston for the NYT. "When those other businesses lose money or create artificial losses through tax planning, those losses can be used to offset income earned by the utilities. As a result, the parent companies owe less in taxes than their electric customers paid. Sometimes these companies owe nothing, or receive large tax refunds."

According to the Dallas Business Journal two bills recently proposed in Texas, House Bill 711 and Senate Bill 1364, could strip the Public Utility Commission (PUC)'s ability to influence the collection of these phantom taxes by utilities like Oncor that are technically a monopoly. According to TCAP, the passage of these bills will only make the situation worse.

Sources for this article include:

US Business Owners Can Be Fined and Imprisoned for Supporting Israeli Boycott

A little known US law has actually criminalized boycotting Israel.

Daniel Jackson

Would Stephen Hawking be fined or jailed for boycotting Israel if he ran a business in the United States?

Over the years many prominent activists and organizations have called for and participated in a boycott on Israel.

This swelling boycott is primarily due to, among other reasons, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the overall Israeli treatment of Palestinians throughout the region.

Recently famed scientist Stephen Hawking even joined the boycott, opting to pull out of an upcoming conference set to be hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

According to Al Jazeera:
As announced by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and subsequently covered by The Guardian, Reuters and others, world-renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking has decided to heed the Palestinian call for boycott, and pull out of an Israeli conference hosted by President Shimon Peres in June. 
After initial confusion, this was confirmed - Hawking is staying away on political grounds.
Besides activists and prominent individuals, many have called for US businesses to join the boycott. Unfortunately, a little known law has actually criminalized boycotting Israel.

The antiboycott laws, enforced by US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security under the Export Administration Act, discourage and even outlaw "furthering or supporting" the Israeli boycott.
The Bureau is charged with administering and enforcing the Antiboycott Laws under the Export Administration Act. 
Those laws discourage, and in some circumstances, prohibit U.S. companies from furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League, and certain Moslem countries, including complying with certain requests for information designed to verify compliance with the boycott. 
Compliance with such requests may be prohibited by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and may be reportable to the Bureau.
The penalties for taking part in the boycott range from fines of tens of thousands of dollars to multiple years in prison.
The Export Admnistration Act (EAA) specifies penalties for violations of the Antiboycott Regulations as well as export control violations. These can include: 
The penalties imposed for each "knowing" violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years.  
During periods when the EAR are continued in effect by an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the criminal penalties for each "willful" violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years. 
For each violation of the EAR any or all of the following may be imposed:
  • General denial of export privileges;
  • The imposition of fines of up to $11,000 per violation; and/or
  • Exclusion from practice.
Boycott agreements under the TRA involve the denial of all or part of the foreign tax benefits discussed above. 
When the EAA is in lapse, penalties for violation of the Antiboycott Regulations are governed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).  
The IEEPA Enhancement Act provides for penalties of up to the greater of $250,000 per violation or twice the value of the transaction for administrative violations of Antiboycott Regulations, and up to $1 million and 20 years imprisonment per violation for criminal antiboycott violations. (Source)
This law essentially makes supporting a boycott on Israel a federal crime. Despite the numerous atrocities committed by the Israeli regime, we're now forced to buy their imports at the barrel of a gun.

Fearlessness Grows From the Grass Roots: US Protest Movement against the Banksters

As more people see that the government represents Wall Street and concentrated wealth, instead of them; that the government continues to give the banksters who crashed the economy a break while cutting access to basic necessities, that the government continues to put big energy profits ahead of protecting the planet – more people are becoming fearless.
Last week, front-line environmental groups including climate justice activists, opponents of tar sands, mountaintop renewal and many others who oppose the extraction economy that poisons our land, water and air while risking climate change, announced “Fearless Summer.”  They announced a week of actions from June 24 to 29 to begin “an epic summer of actions.” The rising tide of courage in the environmental justice movement is one we also see growing in many communities on many issues.
When people stand up against the destructive extraction industries of big energy interests, we gain community support and sometimes we win. This week in New York communities got a lot of power when a court upheld their right to ban fracking. This happened because people stood up for their communities.
Long-time activist, George Lakey, describes how he and 17 colleagues protested Mountaintop Removal at the PNC Bank shareholder meeting. They broke all the middle class rules, gave a mocking-award to the outgoing CEO and sang songs. Efforts to drown them out failed and in the end, the meeting was adjourned – and the protest was covered in the media, forcing the bank to respond for the first time. Now, their accountability campaign focused on bank board members will escalate. There are lots of lessons for all of us in this experience.
Another group that has awakened in the last year has been members of the first nations. Ever since the Idle No More campaign began last December, native Indians have been standing up across the continent. One issue that Indians are focused on is the extraction economy and the KXL pipeline in particular which will cross hundreds of indigenous sacred spiritual sites and burial grounds, as well as two major sources of drinking water, the Ogallala aquifer and the Mni Wiconi water line for the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.

Buena Vista, Mich. school district goes broke, lays off all teachers

The Board of Education in Buena Vista, Mich., has declared a financial emergency. The school district lacks the funds to pay teachers for the rest of the school year, reports.
Students from the Buena Vista School District have not attended classes in a week, according to The district laid off all its teachers earlier this week.
The financial problems stem from three months of withheld state aid payments from the Michigan Department of Education. reports that "the district took $401,962.51 to educate students from the Wolverine Secure Treatment Center who no longer attend the district."
The district also is suffering from declining enrollment, which has led to a loss in state funding, according to

Mike Santoli: Market Partying Like It’s 1995; Marc Faber: I’ve Never Seen Such A Disconnect Between The Asset Market and The Economic Reality. Something

Market Partying Like It’s 1995: Santoli
Stocks have been posting gains in a manner reminiscent of a no-correction bull market in the mid-1990s, Mike Santoli of Yahoo! Finance said Friday.
“Not only did it gain 34 percent, but it did it in probably the most gentle, low-drama way you could imagine going up 34 percent,” he said. “You never had a 4 percent pullback.”
Stocks ended the week higher with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closing at new record highs.

Marc Faber: “Something Will Break Very Badly”
During an interview with The Globe and Mail, ‘Gloom, Boom, and Doom’s Marc Faber unleashed some awful truthiness about gold “I buy gold every month”, real estate “bubble territory”, and the likelihood of a crash in smoke-and-mirrors-like asset markets.
Q: Is it a good time to buy gold?
Faber: Nobody knows whether it’s a good time to buy gold or not…as I have repeatedly said in my reports, I buy gold every month and on the recent decline I bought more at $1,400 and I have an order at $1,300 and one at $1,200 and one at $1,100 an ounce. But they were not filled, just the $1,400.

I will never sell my gold, as I repeatedly told people. …. My maximum allocation to gold at present time is 25 per cent of assets.”
Q: Mr. Faber, you have indicated you believe there will be a market crash this summer. Can you tell us what might precede such an event?
Faber: “What was the trigger of the ‘87 crash when markets fell 21 per cent in one day? What was the trigger of the Nasdaq crash in 2000? What was the trigger of Japanese crash of 1989? What was trigger of 2007 crash that brought global stocks down 50 per cent?

We don’t know these things ahead of time, but something will always move markets up and something will always move them down.

I would guess at the present time, given markets from the 2009 lows have in many cases increased by as much as 100 per cent, that they are no longer very cheap. …. Something could come along, geopolitically or otherwise. I would be very careful being overweight equities.

In the 40 years I’ve been working as an economist and investor, I have never seen such a disconnect between the asset market and the economic reality… Asset markets are in the sky and the economy of the ordinary people is in the dumps, where their real incomes adjusted for inflation are going down and asset markets are going up…

Something will break very bad.”

Druckenmiller: “When You Get This Kind Of Rigging, It Will End Badly”
When even Home Depot’s Ken Langone is questioning the reality of this rally (CEO of one of the best performing stocks since the Dow last traded here), you have to be a little concerned. However, it is Duquesne’s Stanley Druckenmiller’s point that with QE4EVA it is impossible to know when this will end but warns that “all the lobsters are in the pot” now as he notes that “if you print enough money, everything is subsidized – bonds, stocks, real estate.” He dismisses the notion of any sell-off in bonds for the same reason as the Fed is buying $85 bn per month (75-80% all off Treasury issuance). The Fed has cancelled all market signals (whether these are to Congress or market participants) and just as we did in the 1970s, we will find out about all the mal-investments sooner or later. “This is a big, big gamble,” he notes, “manipulating the most important price in all of free markets,” that ends one of only two ways, a mal-investment bust (as we saw in 2007-8) or full debt monetization and “off we go into inflation.”

Bill Gross: Bull Market in Bonds Is Over
Bill Gross said the three-decade bull run in bonds ended last week when the 10-year Treasury yield hit 1.67%, in his latest attempt to call the top in a market whose buoyancy has been aided by central-bank policy and long questioned by skeptical investors.
The manager of the world’s largest bond fund stressed that a bear market in bonds won’t start until economic growth and inflation pick up — an arrangement that he doesn’t expect to see immediately.
Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. and manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, made the comments Friday on his Twitter account and in a subsequent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Gross: The secular 30-yr bull market in bonds likely ended 4/29/2013. PIMCO can help you navigate a likely lower return 2 – 3% future.

World Bank Insider: Western Power Structures Collapse

“Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with one of the most courageous and astute women in the western world: By Karin Hudes, Ex Senior Advisor at the World Bank – which now appears as a whistleblower. It was a very important debate, because Karin Hudes worked 20 years at the World Bank as an economist and lawyer before she reported on the internal fraud and corruption in World Bank and was “Gone”.
World Bank Whistleblower Karin said: “I am now struggling for years to make the Americans realize what is happening. I’m not penetrated, because this finance group has bought the press and systematically engaged in disinformation. This undermines the core of democracy. How citizens can vote without informed opinion without the information to which they are entitled? And so this stranglehold to offer the information is ending very soon.”…
Here you can download the interview: Interview with Karen Hudes (mp3):
World Bank Whistleblower: “Precious Metals To Serve As An Underpinning For Paper Currencies”
I had the opportunity to speak with one of the bravest and most astute women in the Western world today: With Karin Hudes, führere Senior Advisor at the World Bank - which now appears as a whistleblower.
It was a very important debate, because Karin Hudes worked 20 years at the World Bank as an economist and lawyer before they reported on the internal fraud and corruption in World Bankand “Gone” was.

During the interview, Karin suggested that the world rapidly alters and the Western power structure would collapse, and the economic and political influence is shifting towards the BRICS nations and all done in the midst of an impending currency the transfer, will strongly be in favor of precious metals.
We had our discussion with the shocking centralized power structures started they witness was at the World Bank and Karin had declared that “a study of three Swiss system analysts using mathematical models have shown how the 43,000 transantionalen Konzeren the world intertwined on the Group’s business guides are. There is a group of 147 companies, most of them from the financial sector who control 40% of the net assets of 43,000 companies through these links and also 60% of the revenue …… so this group chaired by the World Bank as a kind of puppet post for the domination of the world took advantage … which is [now] to end. ”

This ties in PERFECTLY with this video.
If only we had people in our government who would speak out like this.


Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank, told Tom Keene and Sara Eisen on “Bloomberg Surveillance” today that “we’ve dug ourselves a very large hole” and that “when I’ve weighed the costs and benefits of this [quantitative easing] policy, I’ve decided that the costs outweigh the benefits.”
Plosser also said that it is “disturbing” to him that “more and more is being expected of central banks.” He said, “We are expected to solve all the world’s problems. Our fiscal authorities are not doing a very good job in any country.”

Plosser on what his confidence is that Bill Dudley and Janet Yellen will get the exit of quantitative easing right:
“Oh I think it’s pretty clear we know and have the tools of what to do. The question is, will we be able to execute them and will the markets be patient enough with us to be able to do it in a smooth way?”

On whether the issue is market reaction or fear of an exogenous shock:
“Well either one of those things. Clearly shocks are always present and sometimes they’re good shocks, sometimes they’re bad shocks. But they’re shocks and we can’t always predict them.”

On whether he still believes it’s time to look at an exit sooner rather than later:
“Well I’ve never felt that our asset purchase have been that effective in addressing what seems to, what’s the biggest problem we face in this country, which is the employment market and labor market. It’s very, it has its impacts in the financial sector. We’ve seen a lot of restructuring of financial deals and debt restructuring and so forth. But its transition and transmission into the labor market has been much more dubious.”

On whether he sees QE as potentially more risky than beneficial at this point:
“Well I’ve argued for some time now that I thought there are great risks with this policy. And that those risks are high. And when I’ve weighed the costs and benefits of this policy, I’ve decided that the costs outweigh the benefits.”
On whether there’s anything that has happened historically that the Fed can use as a guideline:
“We’ve already been breaking new ground in many ways. So no, there’s not much historical evidence for us to go on or even academic theory for us to go on in this instance. Obviously there are episodes in Japan and other places where they’ve tried sort of Quantitative Easing but not on the scale that we’ve been doing it. And so it’s, it’s really uncharted territory.”

On whether the Fed is buying time for the fiscal authorities not getting their job done in fighting the debt problem:
“I don’t think of it that way. I think that’s potentially a very dangerous way to think about the role of monetary policy.”

On why we’re not seeing the kind of traction we need in the labor market:

“I think that’s really the big $64 trillion question if you will. It’s very difficult. The labor market has changed in many ways. You’ve got demographic factors at work, you’ve got technology at work, you’ve got international trade at work. You’ve got a lot of things going on. And notice none of those things have anything to do with monetary policy.”

On whether it’s structural or cyclical:
“I don’t like those two words. It is in transition I should say. And it’s in a transition which is not going to go very quickly unfortunately. As much as we may like it to.”
On countries around the world going the opposite way of the U.S. and stepping on the gas:
“I think for monetary policy, each country is going to be somewhat different, they have different pressures, they have different challenges, they have different shocks that hit them. So I don’t think all countries have to do the same thing. What is disturbing to me and has been for a long time is that in many ways central banks, more and more is being expected of central banks. We are expected to solve all the world’s problems. Our fiscal authorities are not doing a very good job in any country.”

On whether he is overstretching:
“All central bankers around the world are. They’re making up for the fact that their political systems are dysfunctional. When governments don’t work, people are out of work, economies aren’t growing, easy money turns out to be the easy thing to do. It’s the one thing that governments can do because they can’t simply do what they’re expected to do. And it’s dangerous. In a funny sort of way, and you’re not going to like this, central banks around the world have become something of enablers of dysfunctional democratic systems. And the day of reckoning will come and all of you have got to think about it. And that’s the great unwinding. It will happen here, it will happen around the world…It’s easier to print money than it is to raise taxes or cut spending. And when that happens, we know that that usually ends in a not very pretty place. And I think that it’s very dangerous for us to think that monetary policy is a solution.”

On those who say record highs in the stock market are fueled by Fed liquidity and central bank liquidity around the world:
“Well, you know, different people have different takes on that. I think maybe some of it is. I don’t think anybody knows the answer for true or for certain. But I do think there is a lot of evidence in the United States for example, people have pointed to the fact that profits are very high. P/E ratios and other metrics are not that far out of line. So I think it’s a judgment call and people are going to have different judgments about that. But I don’t think that to the extent that it is monetary policy, that’s just another symbol of the kind of risks that lay out there for us.”

On whether he worries about the Fed’s credibility:

“Of course I do. If we continue to take actions that people, that we tell people and people think are going to solve our problems and they don’t work, that risks our credibility.”

On whether he worries about a spike in interest rates:
“I think we’ve dug ourselves a very large hole here. And I think the trick is going to be climbing our way out. And how that is going to play out when there are so many things that may be beyond our control. I’d like to stop. But I would particularly like to see us begin to slow the pace down, gradually ease ourselves out of this, if we possibly can.”

Japanese Government Bonds Halted Limit Down; Yields Spike To 10 Week High; Worst Day In 5 Years

It appears things are getting a little out of control around the world. Between the collapse in JGB implied volatilities in recent days, today's melt-down in JPY (+255 pips from pre-open US levels), the last few days melt-up in the Nikkei (+6.8% in 3 days), and now the quadrillion Yen Japanese government bond market is halted limit down as yields smash higher by 11bps to 70bps in 10Y - the highest yield since mid-February. For context, this is the worst day in JGBs in five years (and 5Y yields are back near 13 month highs). So much for controlling the domestic bond market while ratcheting up inflation expectations - remember what happens as Japan's cost of debt rises! And just to add some more fun, Japan's economy watchers see the current economic climate dropping for the first time in six months (and household expectations also fell for the first time in six months).

JGB Futures halted limit down...(from 12:39 Tokyo to 12:50) due to rapid price moves... exaggerated soon after the BoJ's buyback efforts on JPY130bn

Yields jump their most in 5 years...

To 10 week highs in 10Y...

and near 13 month highs in 5Y...

2% inflation or bust! or maybe 2% inflation and bust
Japanese Econ Watchers Current Index turns down for first time in six months...

Charts: Bloomberg

President Obama Declares Economy ‘Poised for Progress’

President Obama today said today the innovation and persistence of the American people has fostered an economy that is “poised for progress.”
“A lot of sectors of our economy are doing better,” Obama told students and teachers at Manor New Tech High School near Austin, Texas. “The American auto industry is thriving, American energy is booming, American ingenuity in our tech sector continues to be the best in the world and has the potential to change almost everything that we do. And thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, we’ve cleared the way, the rubble of the worst economic crisis in our lifetime. So we’re poised for progress.”
The president was in Texas to begin his “middle class jobs and opportunity tours,” a new series he is beginning as he looks outside Washington, D.C., for models of job creation and innovation.
“This is the first stop that I’m making on a tour of the Austin area today. And I chose Austin partly because I just love Austin, but also because there’s some terrific things going on in this area in communities like Manor,” the president said.  “Folks around here are doing something right, and I think the rest of the country can learn from what you’re doing because I’ve always believed that the best ideas usually don’t  start in Washington, they trickle up to Washington.”
Earlier in the day, the White House announced two executive orders aimed at bolstering the nation’s manufacturing sector.  The first launched competitions for three “manufacturing innovation institutes” and pushed Congress to dedicate $1 billion to the creation of 15 such centers.  The second required new government data be made available in “open, machine-readable formats” to help technology entrepreneurs and researchers.
Upon his arrival in Texas, Obama was greeted on the tarmac by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said conservative “red states” like Texas have shown they are better capable of creating jobs and strengthening the economy.
“If you’re interested in creating jobs, if you’re interested in creating an environment where people are freer … these red states are the ones that are doing a better job of that,” Perry said. “He came here because we are a success story and, whether you’re playing for the red team or whether you’re playing for the blue team, you like to hang out with a winner – and Texas is a winner.”
Prior to his speech at Manor New Tech High School, President Obama met with students of the varsity and junior varsity robotics teams.
“These look like some serious engineers here,” he said as he walked into a classroom.
As he spoke with various students about their robotics projects, one group’s  robot, which is capable of shooting Frisbees, had a technical glitch and wouldn’t work, at first.  When the robot finally started functioning, the president said told the group their robot, with the word “YOLOTRON” emblazoned across its side, was “fantastic.” He gave the students a fist bump after hearing they took the project to the “world championships.”
After his speech, the president sat down for lunch with four local Austin residents at Stubb’s BBQ, a popular restaurant in downtown Austin, to discuss jobs and the economy.
Later this afternoon, the president will continue his tour through Austin when he speaks at Applied Materials, Inc., a high-tech company in the city.

Chancellor accused of celebrating pension pain that will force millions to work until they drop

  • Campaigners accuse the Chancellor of 'living in a fantasy land'
  • He said that raising the state pension age was one of the least controversial things the government had done
'Fantasy land': George Osborne came under fire yesterday for celebrating the 'absolutely enormous savings' from his controversial increases to the State pension age
'Fantasy land': George Osborne came under fire yesterday for celebrating the 'absolutely enormous savings' from his controversial increases to the State pension age
George Osborne came under fire yesterday for celebrating the ‘absolutely enormous savings’ from his controversial increases to the State pension age which are forcing millions to work till they drop.

Campaigners accused the Chancellor of ‘living in a fantasy land’ after he said that raising the state pension age, forcing millions to delay their retirement was one of the least controversial things the government had done.

Pensioners’ groups said the comments were insensitive to hard-working Britons who were being forced to work well into their 60s as a result of the State pension age increases.

Speaking at the Global Investment Conference in London, Mr Osborne admitted he is delighted with the money saved by the move, which particularly penalises women.

But he did not express any regret over the fact that millions of Britons had been hit with repeated increases in the age at which they can retire.

Mr Osborne said: ‘The savings dwarf almost everything else you do. They are absolutely enormous savings.

‘I found it actually one of the less controversial things we have done, and yet probably has saved more money than anything else we have done.’

Official figures reveal the saving from increasing the State pension age to 67 is more than £100billion.

It represents a financial hit for millions of Britons who face a long wait before they get a single penny from their State pension.

Mr Osborne also courted controversy by appearing to agree with one delegate who suggested the State pension age should be increased ‘by six months a year for the next 20 years'.

This would be equal to an explosive 10-year hike, which could raise the State pension age from 67 to 77.

Mr Osborne said he ‘agreed with the premise of the question’, adding: ‘Tackling entitlement costs and the costs of an ageing society is a real challenge for Western democratic societies.’
Neil Duncan-Jordan, from the National Pensioners’ Convention said: ‘I think George Osborne is living in a fantasy land.
‘Politicians can work way beyond their mid-60s and they have got a home for them called the House of Lords.

‘You compare that lifestyle with people who have worked all their life doing manual labour on low pay in a care home or digging up the roads.

‘And then ask them to keep on going. It is just not right.’
Since 1948, women have been entitled to get their State pension from the age of 60 until the rules were changed three years ago. A man can claim his State pension at the age of 65.

The coalition Government has ripped up the timetable, forcing people to work for far longer before they are entitled to finally start claiming their pension.

Women’s State pension age is currently being increased every few months, reaching 65 in 2018. It will then rise for both men and women to 66 in 2020, jumping again to 67 by 2028 and will continue to rise.

Pensioners' groups said the Chancellor's comments were insensitive to hard-working Britons who were being forced to work well into their 60s as a result of the State pension age increases
Pensioners' groups said the Chancellor's comments were insensitive to hard-working Britons who were being forced to work well into their 60s as a result of the State pension age increases. Posed by models
Under the new system, the State pension age will continue to be increased in line with life expectancy, with experts warning babies born today will not retire until they reach the age of 77.

The Government will review the State pension age every five years, and has promised to give a minimum of ten years’ notice before any change is introduced.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of the charity Age UK, said: ‘For some people working longer is a positive experience and provides an opportunity to increase savings for retirement.

‘However, others find it difficult to remain in the workforce because of caring responsibilities or health problems, yet are compelled to try to continue working for financial reasons.’

Mr Osborne’s express of delight at the money that is being saved suggests the Treasury will be keen for it to rise as fast as possible.

The State pension age increases, which Labour had also revealed plans to implement but the coalition Government sped up, is already having a dramatic impact.

Nearly 30,000 women in their 60s have been forced to keep on working due to the Government’s increase in the State pension age, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said recently.

Half of women aged 60 are working, the first time in history that the employment rate of women in this age group has tipped over the 50 per cent mark.

Dr Ros Altmann, a leading independent pension expert, said: ‘Many of those worst affected by the delay in State pension age are already ill or caring for others and have taken early retirement.

‘They cannot now go back to work so delaying taking their State pension even further is not a realistic option for them.

‘They had made financial plans to cover themselves up to the old State pension age but that goalpost was then moved after they retired or became ill.’

Iceland: Where you let the Banks fail.

China Loading Up On Gold

china-map-with-flagLiberty Gold and Silver
As we reported a little over a week ago, deliverable gold has been literally pouring out of the vaults of the COMEX and major New York bullion banks. The biggest question in the industry has been where exactly is this gold going? One possible clue as to where a sizable portion of this gold may be heading is contained in just released reports by the Chinese government regarding their central bank’s recent gold accumulations.  
Although China’s 2013 gold purchases got off to somewhat of a slow start, it has since gone parabolic. After a record high 114 metric tons imported in December 2012, January’s figures showed only 51 tons for the Asian giant. However, February imports nearly doubled to 97 tons, well above 2012’s average monthly import numbers.
DRH_ChinasImports_050913As robust as China’s February gold stats were, they were completely blown out the door by March’s numbers. Those numbers revealed that during March, China imported a whopping 223 tons of gold in just ONE MONTH! That was an all time monthly high and eclipsed the total imported tonnage for the first three months of 2012 combined.
Just to put this into perspective, the amount of gold imported by China during March surpassed the total holdings of many central banks including Mexico, South Africa, Greece, Singapore, and many others. China’s 223 tons was nearly half of the entire gold holdings of the European Central Bank!
The recent tsunami in China’s gold imports should absolutely not be ignored. China’s gold tally is surging and by the end of the month could be well in excess of 7,000 metric tons – placing it second in the world to the United States.
It seems beyond doubt that China is making a major move to build the basis for its foreign traded currency, the renminbi, upon precious metals. Three summers ago, China quarantined all gold and silver being mined domestically in partnership with foreign mining companies, requiring these companies to sell the entirety of their production to the Chinese government.
Simultaneously, China has been working overtime to establish currency swap deals and trade exchanges that bypass the current world reserve currency, the US dollar. As reported on March 26th this year, China’s Central Bank concluded its first bilateral currency swap with its South Korean counterpart. This was the nineteenth such foreign trade/currency agreement that China has executed since it started this program in 2008. These agreements span the entire globe and include such diverse countries as Russia, Malaysia, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. China’s direct trade with these nineteen nations in 2012 totaled US $320 billion and NOT a single dollar of that amount was conducted in US funds.
China has a very long memory. Its history is thousands of years old and the Chinese have always held gold in the highest regard. China also remembers the humiliating and devastating Opium Wars and despotic, punitive trade tariffs waged against it by England, the United States, and other European colonial powers during the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. The Opium Wars and the unequal treaties forced on China by the West robbed millions and millions of ounces of silver from the Chinese Treasury and contributed to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty – the country’s last imperial dynasty – in the early years of the Twentieth Century.
People, we are watching a powerful and dynamic direct confrontation with the not so mighty US dollar world reserve currency. While our nation works overtime on bankrupting its Treasury and its citizens with untold trillions of unrepayable debt, China forges ahead relentlessly to build a solid economic foundation underpinned by precious metals. We suggest, dear readers, that you do the same.
To learn more about the rewards of precious metals investing, including how to fund your existing IRA with gold or silver, call Liberty Gold and Silver seven days a week at 888.751.3330. To learn about the most generous referral program in the precious metals industry, please visit the Liberty Gold and Silver Referral Program. We’re happy to spend as much time as you need to discuss the details with you.

Abenomics Brings Currency Wars to G7 Talks

by GoldCore

Today’s AM fix was USD 1,449.25, EUR 1,114.12 and GBP 941.62 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,469.50, EUR 1,118.68 and GBP 944.59 per ounce.

Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg)

Gold fell $16.40 or 1.11% yesterday to $1,456.20/oz and silver finished down 0.92%.
As the global economic slump continues central bankers, such as Mario Draghi, and politicians have vowed “to do whatever it takes” to get economies back on track. Such policies while having near term benefits are considered extremely risky in the longer run by many commentators as they could beckon runaway inflation or stagflation, with ruinous results.
Shinzo Abe unleashed his plan with the blessing of the Bank of Japan to begin aggressive government bond purchases. This has led to a massive growth of 60% on the Nikkei and is deflating the yen and boosting their exports.
Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital, a strong gold bullion supporter, previously described the country’s combination of; the highest Debt-to-GDP ratio, its large trade deficit, low FDI and a declining population as a “vicious cocktail”.

Gold in Japanese Yen, 5 Year – (Bloomberg)

Abenomics in simple terms allows the nation’s Prime Minister to push its supportive Central Bank to increase the money supply by ramping up government printing presses, resulting in the yen dollar to break the ¥100 barrier.
Not un-expectantly this, aggressive and potentially calamitous, policy has caused other countries like South Korea & New Zealand to cut interest rates, noting the damaging effects the deflated yen has on its exporters.
This environment continues to be bullish for precious metals. JP Morgan’s analyst said on May 8th, “Continued central-bank stimulus from the U.S. to Japan to Europe will support gold, with prices rebounding to $1,700 by the end of this year.”

Gold in USD, 5 Year – (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg surveyed analysts asking if they expect prices to rise next week, 10 were bearish and 5 were neutral.  With the recent drop in gold backed ETF’s traders are nervous as to whether the physical demand from bullion coins and jewellery will sustain the rally in prices.

Sentiment in the yellow metal has waned as hope increases that the U.S. economy is recovering and inflation remains in check.
Bloomberg estimates an average of 38 analysts feel gold will finish the year at $1,550, 7.5% less than at the end of 2012. Goldman Sachs reported on April 23 bullion may slide to $1,390 in 12 months, and Deutsche Bank AG predicts a fall to as low as $1,050. Societe Generale SA, Barclays Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG and Morgan Stanley are also among those forecasting lower prices.
As global economies, such as Japan, start to experiment with unilaterally focused policies, it will become an enormous challenge to contain the underling risks building in the “system”.
Gold, sometimes referred to as a barbaric relic, is considered a safe haven asset.
Gold is largely immune from the actions of Central Bankers.  A modest allocation of gold is essential in a globally diversified economy. The old Wall Street adage ……put 10% of your money in gold, and hopes it does not work… has never been more apt.

Gold “Could Retest $1322 Low”, G7 Meeting “A Chance to Consider More Monetary Activism”

London Gold Market Report
from Ben Traynor, BullionVault
Friday 10 May 2013, 07:30 EDT

Gold “Could Retest $1322 Low”, G7 Meeting “A Chance to Consider More Monetary Activism”

SPOT MARKET gold bullion prices fell to two-week lows Friday, drifting lower towards $1440 an ounce during this morning’s London session before dropping sharply through that level, as stocks gained and most commodities fell as the Dollar strengthened against major currencies.

Silver fell to $23.34 an ounce, while copper prices ticked higher.

“The risk [for gold] is a break through support [will] test the $1322 low,” say technical analysts at bullion bank Scotia Mocatta, who cited $1440 an ounce as a key support level.

Heading into the weekend, gold looked set for a 2.2% weekly drop by lunchtime in London, with silver down 2.6% on the week.

The world’s biggest gold exchange traded fund SPDR Gold Trust (ticker GLD) meantime saw the volume of bullion held to back its shares climb to 1054.2 tonnes yesterday, the first daily addition mid-March. The GLD has seen its holdings fall by more than a fifth since the start of the year, taking them down to four-year lows.

Deutsche Bank became the latest investment bank to cut its gold forecast Friday, with its analysts now projecting a 2013 average gold price of $1533 per ounce, down from the previous forecast of $1637. The 2014 forecast was cut from $1810 an ounce to $1500, with the 2015 forecast down from $1930 to $1450.

On the currency markets, the US Dollar rose above the 100 Japanese Yen mark for the first time in four years Friday. The Dollar also added to gains made against the Euro Thursday, which followed the release of the lowest weekly US initial jobless claims figure since January 2008.

“Gold’s been put a little bit under pressure because of the Dollar move,” says Afshin Nabavi, senior vice president at Swiss bullion refiner MKS.

“Physical-related demand had been very strong up to yesterday. The lower gold goes, the more physical demand will come in.”

“People in Hong Kong are still complaining about tight supply,” one dealer in Singapore told newswire Reuters Friday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock market meantime closed up nearly 3% Friday, hitting a five-and-a-half-year high as the Yen weakened against the Dollar.

The Bank of Japan last month announced that it will double the monetary base over the next two years, buying between ¥60-70 trillion of assets a year, after prime minister Shinzo Abe said policymakers will do “everything possible” to achieve an inflation target of 2%.

“In general, if you ease monetary policy, your currency will weaken,” International Monetary Fund deputy managing director Naoyuki Shinohara told an audience in Tokyo Friday, adding that poor fiscal discipline from the government risks giving the impression that is being financed by the central bank.

“Most central banks…still have a bias to ease,” says a note from Morgan Stanley.

“Given this disposition, it doesn’t take much in terms of downside surprises in growth or inflation to tip the balance for more central banks to pull the trigger for more easing.”

Today’s meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors near London is “an opportunity to consider what more monetary activism can do to support the recovery,” said UK chancellor
George Osborne yesterday, “while ensuring medium-term inflation expectations remain anchored”.

“Central banks are our best friends,” Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of world’s largest bond fund Pimco, said earlier this week.

“Not because they like markets, but because they can only get to their macro objectives by going through the markets…the hope is that improving fundamentals will validate what central banks have done.”

Gold mining companies meantime reduced their gold hedge positions during the last three months of 2012, according to the latest analysis from precious metals consultancy Thomson Reuters GFMS.

Ben Traynor