Friday, January 29, 2016

Turning Our Backs

With the winter winds of January came a flurry of reports that several states were moving to cut thousands of people from their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamp”) rolls.
In New Jersey, for example, Governor Chris Christie pulled the plug on benefits to 11,000 unemployed state residents.
By this spring, an estimated 500,000 people nationwide could be cut off. For most of them, the maximum benefit of less than $200 a month is all the federal aid they get. For some, it’s their entire income.
These people live in states that have chosen to reinstate work requirements on able-bodied adults without children, which had been suspended since the 2008 economic downturn. It means that single adults who aren’t working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job-training program may only get three months of nutrition assistance in a three-year period. After that, they’re on their own.
Paul Sableman / Flickr
Some people call this a successful example of welfare reform at work. But to experts like Joe Soss, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the drive to “end welfare as we know it” that started in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton, it’s the latest chapter in a misguided ideological campaign.
This drive is a consequence, he told me, of political rhetoric suggesting that low-income people are poor because of their inability to exercise self-discipline and make good choices.
“It’s a modern update of longstanding prejudices,” Soss explained. These “get-tough policies are cast as benefiting the poor in the long run,” he added, while their hardline supporters claim to shield taxpayers from “criminal thugs, undocumented immigrants, and those who live off the welfare system.”
His 2011 book, Disciplining the Poor, chronicles the rise of what Soss calls “poverty governance” over the past 40 years. “Efforts to get tough with the poor have often been a bipartisan affair,” Soss said. “But Republican-controlled states have generally been at the forefront of efforts to restrict social supports — from cash aid to nutrition, housing, and health care — and to use poor people’s behaviors as a litmus test for government help.”
That approach was evident earlier this year, when six of the Republican presidential candidates attended an antipoverty forum in South Carolina inspired by the late “bleeding-heart conservative” politician Jack Kemp. Christie took part. But the way his policies have played out is less bleeding-heart than cold-blooded.
Under Christie’s leadership, New Jersey has sharply reduced the share of federal block grant money it spends on direct cash assistance to needy families, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. But as the number of people getting help has fallen, the percentage of the state’s residents living in poverty actually went up — from 9 percent to 11 percent — between 2009 and 2012.
Now, community servants worry that more stringent work rules for food assistance are being imposed when there isn’t enough job and education assistance for people who need it. “I don’t know where these work programs are. And I know we are not ready for this,” Diane Riley of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey told
It’s a story that’s being repeated across the country. The trend is also fueling a debate — not over whether people should be working instead of receiving welfare, but whether we get there by investing more in education, training, and job creation, or by slashing budgets, shaming the poor, and turning our backs.
The post Turning Our Backs appeared first on OtherWords.
This piece was reprinted from Other Words by RINF Alternative News with permission.

Europe Disintegrates. France declares economic state of emergency Germany in total meltdown.

EU on brink: France declares ‘state of economic emergency’ as Germany faces financial ruin
FRANCE is in a state of economic emergency, President Francois Hollande announced today, amid fears the worsening financial situation in Germany could topple the entire eurozone.

Investor sentiment plunged as the socialist leader announced unemployment in France has surged to an 18-year high of 10.6 per cent – plunging the country into a new economic crisis.
It comes as Germany faces the most difficult start to a year in recent memory. Its own industrial production growth has slipped to ZERO per cent and customer confidence has plummeted in a catalogue of disasters for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
An increasingly desperate Mr Hollande has now said he will PAY French employers to hire people in a bid to boost jobs as he sought to restore confidence and said that it was time to address the country’s “broken” economic model.
He said: “Our country has been faced with structural unemployment for two to three decades and this requires that creating jobs becomes our one and only fight.”
France was facing an “uncertain economic climate and persistent unemployment” and there was an “economic and social emergency”, he said.
Firms will get €2,000 (£1,500) when they employ young, unemployed people for at least six months.

WHEN will Socialists learn that you cannot pay Companies to employ people. They are not real jobs. In 6 months the Companies will be paid more by their Government than it gets back in income tax from the low paid employee in two years. And this from an ailing economy. “….and the 35 hour week will be safeguarded…”

Laffer: Growth in homelessness mainly due to a bad economy, economic policies

Former Reagan Economic Advisor Art Laffer on the economy and homelessness in the U.S.

The Biggest Scam In The History Of Mankind - Who Owns The Federal Reserv...

Grocery Chain Aldi Expanding Organics to Meet Consumer Demand

(Julie Fidler)  Aldi Inc., a German grocery chain that is rapidly expanding in the United States, is making great strides to offer healthy foods at an affordable price.
The discount grocer plans to introduce Healthier Checklanes in select stores. Instead of candy and chocolate, Aldi will offer an assortment of nuts, trail mixes, dried fruits, and granola bars at its registers. The company says it will roll out the program to its nearly 1,500 stores by year’s end.
By introducing Healthier Checklanes and through a number of other initiatives, we are doing our part to remove temptation at checkout and stocking stores with even more nutritious options,” said Jason Hart, chief executive officer of Aldi. “At Aldi, we truly care about our customers, and we’re responding with guilt-free checkout zones and increased food options they can feel good about.”
Aldi says it has also removed certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils and added MSG from its exclusive food brands, which account for more than 90% of its products. In addition, it will offer milk free of artificial growth hormones, and its yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese will be made with milk containing none of the hormones. [1]
The stores will expand its selection of fresh and organic meat and produce, and will offer a wider variety of gluten-free products under the liveGfree brand. [2]
Other initiatives include highlighting nutritional facts on the front of exclusive brand food packages and partnering with registered dieticians to offer consumers tips, recipes, and meal-planning suggestions.
The news comes near the company’s similar announcement that it will be banning bee-killing pesticides on produce.
Aldi has become one of the world’s biggest food retailers by offering quality products at prices approximately 30% lower than Walmart’s, threatening Whole Foods and 365 by Whole Foods Market, which is set to launch this year.
And for those with more upscale tastes, Aldi offers a number of artisanal cheeses, smoked salmon, quinoa and coconut oil.
The chain plans to spend $3 billion to open roughly 500 more stores in the U.S. over the next 2 years.
If you’ve never experienced the magic of Aldi, you should go prepared to make a few impulse buys. I know of whence I speak. You can find everything from artificial Christmas trees, to rose bushes, to yoga mats.
Aldi also makes a decent wheel of brie.
[1] Food Business News
[2] Business Insider

Silver market in disarray after benchmark price fixed far below spot rate

(Adds comment from CME and market participants, background on changes to fixing system)
London 28/01/2016 – The silver market was thrown into disarray on Thursday after the LBMA Silver Price was set 84 cents below the spot and futures price this morning.
The LBMA Silver Price – the crucial daily benchmark used by producers and traders around the world to settle silver products and derivatives contracts – was set at $13.58 per ounce.
At the time of the auction, which begins at 12 noon London time, the spot price was at $14.42 per ounce while the futures price on the CME was at $14.415, leaving a number of market participants extremely confused as to what has happened.
“The LBMA Silver Price is established through a transparent electronic auction mechanism designed to adjust the price until there is equilibrium between buy and sell orders,” a CME spokesman said.
CME and Thomson Reuters won the battle to provide the methodology and price platform for the daily process back in July 2014, replacing the 117-year old fix in August that year under sweeping reforms of the entire precious metals complex.
“Given the orders placed in the auction today by five participants, the buy and sell orders became balanced after 29 rounds and the LBMA Silver price was established at a price of $13.58,” CME added.
The difference between silver price and futures prices was nearly six percent but the benchmark cannot be changed, a second person familiar with proceedings told FastMarkets.
“Unfortunately, it’s not [a mistake],” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy for Saxo Bank, told FastMarkets. “This could be the end of the fix. It took 14 minutes to find a fix – they obviously found a fix way off of the market.”
Another source also suggested that the continued existence of the fix has been put in jeopardy by the huge discrepancy in today’s price, adding that many producers – who still use the price as their daily reference – may have lost significant amounts of money if any contracts have been settled according to the fix.
“A huge number of contracts are still settled on that price,” another said. “This will no doubt cause significant problems.”
The ‘fix’ or ‘benchmark’, as it is now known, is still the global benchmark reference price used by central banks, miners, refiners, jewellers and the surrounding financial industry to settle silver-based contracts.
While some traders continue to use the 24-hourly traded spot price, larger players prefer the snapshot-style daily benchmark to settle bulkier contracts on a traditionally over-the-counter (OTC) market.
The price is set every day by six participants – HSBC, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Mitsui & Co Precious Metals, The Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto Dominion Bank and UBS – using a system run by CME and Thomson Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Tom Jennemann, editing by Mark Shaw)

About Ian Walker

Ian joined FastMarkets in 2014 after three years working as a personal finance journalist. He is now based in our London office as a Correspondent, reporting on both base and precious metals.

Mass layoffs as mining company warns of 32,000 job cuts

(Kevin Krowley)  Mining companies in South Africa, the world’s biggest platinum and manganese producer, have informed the nation’s mines ministry of intentions to cut about 32,000 jobs as prices decline, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said.
“Commodity prices have fallen for quite some time and that is causing problems in term of jobs and restructuring,” he told reporters Thursday in the capital, Pretoria. “We are engaging with companies to try and see how best we can deal with that situation in a responsible way.”
Anglo American Plc’s Kumba Iron Ore unit is the latest producer to announce potential job cuts, saying it plans to reduce its staff and contractors by about 3,900 after prices for the steelmaking ingredient dropped almost 40 percent last year. Plunging commodity prices are adding to pressure on an industry struggling with regulatory changes and unreliable power supplies, and some of the country’s biggest mining companies are threatening to cut jobs.

Mitigation Efforts

Mining accounts for more than half of the nation’s exports and employs about 440,000 people, a critical source of jobs in a nation with a 25 percent unemployment rate.
The department will seek to mitigate job cuts by transferring workers to other mines, re-skilling employees and asking companies if they can cut costs in other ways, Zwane said.
“Where there are job losses, we’ll put in mechanisms to deal with that situation,” he said. “We’re going to do everything possible in our power to try and control the situation until the price of commodities improves.”
Section 52 of the country’s mineral resources law obliges companies to inform the minister if 10 percent of a workforce or more than 500 people are likely to lose their jobs in a year.



In hard times, it’s important to remember your times tables

10 x 10 is 100, 10 x 100 is 1000, 1000 x 1000 is a million, a million x a million is a billion, and a million times a billion is a trillion.

One of the more bizarre aspects of contemporary life in the West is how we’ve all become blasé about massive amounts of market intervention monies being used to combat ‘valitillydee’ in stock markets, currency values and so forth….but the experience for most of us is of living on smaller and smaller amounts every year.
The 3% (who have allegedly now become the 1%) measure their incomes in millions, and the intervention they need when things go wrong in billions. Governments then being forced to bail them out and/or defend their currencies against the speculators (who earn millions and cost billions) cost these exercises in trillions. This is because a million x a billion is a trillion. It’s all quite simple, really.
When, towards every year end, multinational companies set their tax accountancy dogs onto the HMRC bill, the amount starts out in billions and then winds up in the very low monetary base level rarely heard about these days, thousands. So if the original bill was £1.5billion, and the dogs of whore get it down to £200,000 (such is not unusual) this too makes mathematical business sense for almost everybody: if a thousand tax accountants earn £100,000 each on the job, the globalists win because they save billions, the accountants win because they make millions, and the shareholders win because the dividend gets bigger by thousands. This too is because a thousand x a thousand is a million. Innit brirrant how, like, it all squares off?
It works, in fact, for everyone except the Treasury….and we the ordinary law-abiding taxpayers, who wind up losing our health and welfare packages to pay for it all. Take my situation: Zirp has cost me on average £1,500 a year since 2010, and there are just a gnat’s under 30 million taxpayers in the UK. My case is atypical because I have (or rather had) some capital, but actually it’s pretty much the same for everyone: a real average ‘wage’ of £5,000 a year (including all unemployed, retired, full time housewives and those in further education) is now worth 30% less than it was twenty years ago….or £1,500. The tax rate we, the peasants, pay on that will be circa 15%….or £225.
We are, by now, aware of being down here in the base dregs of society, because we’re measuring things in hundreds. But fifteen hundred pounds more earned by us comes to £45billion… so you see, if next year we don’t do just, say, nine tax-evasion deals with fat globalists, we can all have our salary values restored to where they were in 1995, and the Treasury would get £6.75bn in tax off us, plus £40-50billion more off the piggies.
Result, happiness.
But not from the neoliberal viewpoint. Because you see, the shareholders would lose and lots of them are institutions. Pensions would be in danger. Without Zirp and QE, the banks would collapse and the stock markets tumble, and then the Treasuries would be emptied (once we’d been dragged screaming to be bailed in) and government as we know it would cease and would all that really be such a bad thing?
Anyway – although all those things could easily happen come what may – it will be (perhaps literally) over the dead bodies of the 1%. So very large numbers of worthless fiat notes will continue to be thrown at lost causes.
Here’s today’s eye-watering example: despite intervening to the tune of £47billion during last night’s trading, the People’s Bank of China looked on in horror as the Shanghai composite index fell another 2.9% anyway. It fell because Yellen’s Fed speech said there’d likely be another rate rise in March. Now the European markets are wobbly because the Shanghai fell, and New York didn’t react well to Yellen and so S&P futures are uncertain and….here we go round the mulberry bush.

Kalashnikov cranking up AK-47 factory in Florida

(Aaron Smith)  The famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles have been made in frigidMoscow since their inception 69 years ago. Soon, they’ll be made in sunny Florida, too.
Kalashnikov USA has been approved by the city of Pompano Beach to assemble guns there.
Kalashnikov USA of Tullytown, Pa., was importing rifles made by Kalashnikov Concern, the original AK-47 manufacturer in Moscow, until 2014 when President Obama imposed sanctions against Russia following its annexation of Crimea. At that point, Kalashnikov USA severed all ties with the Russian company.
The company started making the guns in Pennsylvania last year, but is shifting manufacturing to Florida. Kalashnikov hasn’t said why they are moving or how big the Pompano Beach operation will be.
Kalashnikov USA has recast itself as an American manufacturer of Kalashnikov-brand guns. It launched new lines of rifles and shotguns last week at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the annual conference of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
This included its new Alpha line of rifles with high capacity magazines holding 30 rounds.
The company obtained “light manufacturing” approval in July 2015 from Pompano Beach, which is located on the Atlantic coast between Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.
The company also has licenses from Pompano Beach and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to import, but the licenses don’t specify what it would be importing, or from where.
The licenses do not allow the company to sell guns in Pompano Beach, or to make ammunition, so the Pompano Beach factory will be selling to retailers elsewhere.
The Kalashnikov brand dates back to the Stalin era of the Soviet Union. Based in Moscow,Kalashnikov Concern makes the AK-47 assault rifle, named after its designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and the year it went into production, 1947.
AK knock-offs are widespread, produced in many countries including China, former Soviet countries and also the U.S. But the true Kalashnikov brand is seen as something special by American collectors, and prices for the weapon have spiked since Obama’s sanctions on Russia halted imports.
The Kalashnikov is one of the most popular assault rifles in the world, prized for its durability and reliability. In the current Afghan war, U.S. Marines captured a Kalashnikov from the Taliban that had been in use since it was produced in the Soviet Union in 1954.
The gun will now also be produced in Florida, a gun friendly state with relatively loose gun laws.
Military style rifles with their high capacity magazines are permitted in Florida. But they’re restricted in other states, including New York, Connecticut and Colorado.
Kalashnikov USA plans to produce 10-round magazines for its rifles and shotguns to make them legal in states with more restrictive gun laws.

Survey: 63 percent of American families can’t afford $1,000 ER visit

by: J. D. Heyes
Obama economy
(NaturalNews) Things are better today in America than they were during the first few years of the Obama presidency, when the Great Recession was in full swing, and unemployment was high.
Or so we’re told.
While the employment rate is certainly lower today than at its peak of 10 percent, what isalso true is that the overall quality of employment is nowhere near as good as it was prior to Obama’s two terms in office. In fact, the president’s policies have done more to harm employment and depress wages than to build them up.
There is ancillary evidence of this everywhere you look:
— The current rate of economic expansion is the worst it’s been since World War II. In fact, it is worse than economists had believed. As noted by The Wall Street Journal:
Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has advanced at a 2.2% annual pace through the end of last year. That’s more than a half-percentage point worse than the next-weakest expansion of the past 70 years, the one from 2001 through 2007. While there have been highs and lows in individual quarters, overall the economy has failed to break out of its roughly 2% pattern for six years.

Poor economic policies lead to less growth and fewer opportunities

So yes, Obama may have been correct to criticize “the Bush economy,” but it’s performed even worse under his “leadership.”
— Indeed, Obama’s economic record is the worst in 80 years. As reported by The Daily Caller:
No other president since the Great Depression has presided over such a steadily poor rate of economic growth during his first five years in office. This slow growth should not be a surprise in light of the policies this administration has pursued.
— The Obama economy has been so hard on Americans that nearly two-thirds of Americans – 63 percent – can’t even afford a $500 automobile repair or a $1,000 emergency room visit.
According to a recent analysis by, and cited by, though most families will experience some kind of unexpected expense in the coming weeks and months, a majority are not saving for them:
Unexpected expenses are almost guaranteed to occur, but few Americans are budgeting for them by stashing money in savings each week or month, the latest Money Pulse survey from has found.
“The survey shows that a very significant minority of American households apparently don’t have the resources to pay for an unexpected expense of around $1,000,” Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, told
The survey found that fewer than 4 in 10 Americans – 37 percent – would pay for an unexpected expense out of savings.

Other costs are increasing

Gasoline and diesel fuel prices are falling – finally – and that should eventually translate into additional savings, as reductions in transport and processing costs lead to lower prices for food and other necessities. But at the same time, these reductions, which most likely will be temporary, are being offset by price increases in other sectors of the economy – again, thanks to Obama’s policies:
His EPA just issued massive new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants that, according to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., co-chair of the House Coal Caucus, will lead to higher electric rates.
“This rule will penalize consumers by jeopardizing energy reliability and increasing utility costs to families and businesses” in his state and around the country, Shimkus wrote in an op-ed co-authored with Rep. Rodney Davis, another Illinois Republican.
In reality, even as the price of oil, gasoline and natural gas fall, electricity rates are already rising.
— Obamacare has created dramatically higher out-of-pocket expenses for more American families. As noted in a new study of health insurance rate increases by Freedom Partners – a group advocating for smaller government and free markets – all but one state, Mississippi, are seeing insurance rate increases this year due to the Affordable Care Act.
Four of those states – Minnesota, Alaska, Tennessee and Hawaii – will see increases on average of 30 percent, while 17 others will average 20 percent increases.
“We need to get government regulations out of the way,” Freedom Partners official Nathan Nascimento said.

Germany now has half of its gold in Frankfort

by Smaulgld

German Gold Repatriation.

German gold repatriation begun in 2013, continues.
Germany is the owner of the second largest central bank gold hoard, much of it held at the New York Federal Reserve.
The majority of Germany’s gold is held abroad. The Bundesbank plan is to repatriate gold in sufficient amounts to have at least half of their gold in Germany by 2020.
Germany and other countries repatriating their gold are emptying the New York Federal Reserve’s vault.
Update May 5, 2015: Another 10 tons of gold left the NY Fed vaults in March 2015. (see chart below)
Update January 27, 2016: Frankfort becomes Bundesbank’s largest gold storage location- (see below)
German flag

Why Germany Has Much of its Gold Abroad

According to the World Gold Council Germany has 3,384.2 tons of gold, the second largest central bank gold holdings*.
Until recently, Germany stored 69% of its gold abroad in London, Paris and New York. By 2020 the German Bundesbank claims they will have half of their gold in Germany, 37% at the New York Federal Reserve and 13% in London at the Bank of England.
Jens Weidman, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank explains in this video from the Deutsche Bundesbank the historic reasons (Cold War concerns) for storing Germany’s gold abroad and the changed circumstances. He notes there is no need to have gold in France since Germany and France share the same currency, the Euro. London and New York provide geographic diversity and dollar and pound exchange capabilities.
Germany Requests Its Gold Back – A Slow Start
In January 2013, Germany made a gold repatriation request to United States Federal Reserve in New York and Banque de France in Paris regarding a portion of the gold they held on deposit at those entities. At the time, Germany cited the potential of a currency crisis and the need to have its gold close by.
Germany requested repatriation of a total of 674 tons of gold from the New York Fed and the Banque de France. The Fed notified Germany their gold would be delivered over a period of eight years, raising eyebrows as to why it would take so long to make the requested repatriation.
In January 2014, it was reported that just 37 tons of gold had been returned to Germany, with 32 tons coming from Paris and just five tons from New York.
The Pace Picks Up
In January 2015, however, the German central bank the Bundesbank announced that it had received 120 tons of gold in 2014; 35 tons from Paris and 85 tons from New York.
In March of 2015, Henner Asche, deputy head of markets for the Bundesbank noted that 67 tons of gold had been transferred from Paris to Frankfurt and 90 tons from New York to Frankfort, reflecting an increase in the amounts reported at year end 2014 and bringing the total received to 157 tons.
Herr Asche also reported that 1,447 tons of the Bundesbank’s gold were held in New York, 438 tons in London and 307 tons in Paris.
On January 27, 2016, the Bundesbank announced that in 2015 210 tonnes of gold were transferred to Frankfurt from Paris (110 tonnes) and New York (about 100 tonnes).
With approximately 1,403 tonnes of gold, Frankfurt has been our largest storage location, ahead of New York, since the end of last year,” said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank.
Germany Kicks off a Repatriation Craze
Germany’s request in January 2013 to have its gold repatriated set off a slew of interest in gold repatriation from other central banks including those in the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. Gold repatriation requests have continued to drain the New York Federal Reserve’s gold vault.

U.S. Federal Reserve Gold Holdings

The charts below (click to enlarge) by Nick Laird of Sharelynx show the most current Federal Reserve gold holdings.
Federal Reserve gold holdings chart since 1913
The Fed’s gold holdings have declined steadily since the early 1960’s.
In January 2015 19.891 tons of gold left the NY Fed and another 9.5571 tons were shipped out the door in February.
U.S. Federal Reserve Gold Held on Behalf of Other Nations
Fed earmarked gold holdings for foreign central banks chart 2015
As countries repatriate their gold, the Fed’s vaults get emptier.
In March 2015, the NY Fed shipped out more than ten tons of gold.
Federal Resere earmarked foreign gold holdings

Another ten tons of gold left the NY Fed in March. Nearly 200 tons of gold have been removed over the past twelve months.

*For a list of the top twenty gold holding nations and commentary click here.

The Shipping News Says the World Economy Is Toast

In October 2008, as the repercussions of the financial crisis were starting to ripple through the global economy, I noticed a press release from Swedish truckmaker Volvo saying that its European order book had fallen by more than 99 percent between the third quarters of 2007 and 2008 -- to just 155 from 41,970. That prompted me to study various other real-world activity measures ranging from shipping to air freight, and to conclude that "the news is all bad and getting worse, fast." The same exercise today, I'm afraid to say, leads me to a similar conclusion about the growth outlook.
Here's a chart showing what's happening to the cost of shipping containers from China's ports, one for the country and one for Shanghai. Both indexes are compiled by the Shanghai Shipping Exchange and cover shipments to the rest of the world including Europe, the U.S. and Africa; the broader China index is down more than 40 percent from its peak in mid-2012:
China Freight
Source: Shanghai Shipping Exchange via Bloomberg
The traditional global shipping measure is called the Baltic Dry Index. Shipping purists (who rival gold bugs in their dedication to minutiae) will tell you it mostly reflects how many vessels are afloat on the world's oceans; a glut of shipbuilding means more boats available, which drives down the cost of shipping bulk raw materials such as iron ore, steel and coal. But given the fragile state of the global economy, it's hard to shake the feeling that the index has been trying to tell us something important about global demand in recent years:
Baltic Dry
Source: Bloomberg
There's a similarly contractionary pattern in the available data on air freight. Here's a chart showing tons of goods shipped per mile across U.S. skies since the start of the decade:
Cargo US
And here's the equivalent chart for Europe, this time in tons per kilometer:
CArgo Europe
While neither chart shows the volume of airborne freight falling off a cliff, both are drifting lower -- which is not what you want to see at this point in what is supposed to be a nascent global economic recovery.
So what about Volvo's order book? In the third quarter of 2015, the company had orders for just 42,648 trucks, a 30 percent slump from the end of 2014 and the lowest level in three years:
While that's nowhere near as dramatic as the 2008 decline, it does suggest that companies who are in the business of moving goods by road from A to B aren't investing in any expansion of their fleets.
There's a scene in the film adaptation of Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Shipping News": An old newshound explains to newbie journalist Kevin Spacey how dark clouds on the horizon justify the hyperbolic headline "Imminent Storm Threatens Village."
"But what if no storm comes?" Spacey asks. The veteran replies with a second-day headline: "Village Spared From Deadly Storm." Unfortunately, having survived the storm fanned by subprime mortgages and the credit crisis, the clouds are gathering again over the global village we live in; they are getting darker every day.
(Corrects description of shipping price indexes in second paragraph, and time reference in seventh paragraph to three years.)
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Mark Gilbert at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Therese Raphael at

Bill Gates Foundation Favours Businesses, Not The Poor

by Carol Adl
Gates foundation
A U.K.-based campaign group Global Justice Now have just released a report which says the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding strategies that promote multinational corporate interests at the expense of social and economic justice.
The activists for social-justice accuse the Microsoft billionaire of distorting global-development priorities through the immense wealth and influence of his Seattle-based foundation.
The Seattle Times reports:
With assets of $44 billion, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is not only the world’s biggest philanthropy, but it also spends more on international aid and global-health programs than most nations.
That financial clout gives the foundation an outsized role in shaping global-health and agriculture programs, says a new report titled “Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?”
Yet the foundation’s emphasis on vaccines, technological solutions and specific diseases undermines support for basic health systems in poor nations, argues the report’s publisher, Global Justice Now, a U.K. group with 60,000 members that advocates for more just policies around trade, food and energy. At the same time, the foundation both invests in and collaborates with pharmaceutical and agricultural corporations, creating “a corporate merry-go-round where the (foundation) consistently acts in the interests of corporations,” the report says.
“The world is being sold a myth that private philanthropy holds many of the solutions to the world’s problems, when in fact it is pushing the world in many wrong directions,” the report adds.
In a written response, the Gates Foundation said the report “misrepresents the foundation, our work and our partnerships.”
In order to improve the quality of life for the world’s poorest people, government, NGOs and for-profit companies must collaborate, the response says.
“The private sector has access to innovations — for example, in science, medicine and technology — that can save lives. And we believe that the role of philanthropy is to take risks where others can’t or won’t,” the foundation said.
The foundation also pointed out that its staff has no control over the finances and investments of the Gates Foundation Trust.
The U.K. report is the first to assemble in one document the entire litany of concerns raised about the Gates Foundation, from alarm over its funding of genetically modified crops in Africa to criticism of its support for charter schools in the United States.
“By collecting all this information and analyses in one place, we hope to make it easier for other actors to challenge the Gates Foundation’s approach to aid work,” said Polly Jones, head of campaigns and policy for Global Justice Now.
Criticism of the foundation is stifled, simply because it funds so many NGOs, universities and media organizations, Jones pointed out.
“We were surprised at how few critical voices there were, which made us want to dig further.”
(The Seattle Times receives a Gates Foundation grant to help fund Education Lab, a Times’ project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education.)
While governments must answer to their citizens and demonstrate the effectiveness of international-aid programs, the Gates Foundation enjoys unprecedented power with no accountability, Jones added.
“Just because you have a lot of money, and you’re being generous in giving some of it away, is that enough to allow you to influence global health and agriculture policies?” she asked.
In Africa, for example, the foundation is promoting a more industrialized version of agriculture, where small farmers might boost their harvests by using fertilizer and high-tech seeds. But given the cost of those seeds and chemicals, it’s not clear whether the farmers themselves will benefit, or just the businesses involved.
“You don’t change a system by providing somebody with a smartphone or climate-resistant crop,” Jones said. “Creating a more just system requires more than a technological fix.”
The group is calling for an independent, international evaluation of the Gates Foundation by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as an inquiry by the U.K. government into the relationship between that country’s development arm and the foundation.
However, the Paris-based OECD has no authority over the Gates Foundation.

Gold Dilution Hits Record 542 Oz For Every Ounce Of Physical, Liquefaction of Current Global Debt & Derivatives Might Require $50,000.00 Gold

The Coming Revaluation of Gold – Hugo Salinas Price

Liquefaction of current Global Debt & Derivatives might require $50,000.00 Gold
For a visual appreciation of the coming conditions, we have provided a few graphs. The first column illustrates the present condition, with present CB Reserves at $11.025 Trillion dollars, plus an estimate of CB Reserves of 31,110 tons of gold at $1,100 Dollars an ounce (according to an authoritative calculation of 183.000 tons of gold in existence at present, of which 17% are calculated to be held as Reserves by Central Banks around the world). The second column presents the present CB Dollar Reserves, below CB reserve gold revalued at $22,000 Dollars an ounce. The third column presents the present CB Dollar Reserves, below 50,000 tons of reserve gold revalued at $50,000 Dollars an ounce. We use the larger figure for CB gold, because some analysts think that China, and also Russia, have far larger gold reserves than they disclose publicly.

Why do we use $22,000 and $50,000 Dollars an ounce? Because other thinkers have estimated a necessary revaluation of gold, with various figures between a low price of $10,000 Dollars and ounce and a high price of $50,000 Dollars an ounce. So we arbitrarily selected $22,000 Dollars an ounce and $50,000 Dollars an ounce. Take your pick. The price and the quantity of gold in Central Bank vaults are really immaterial; the facts will be known eventually, and the result will be what we have pointed out above: the restoration ofbalanced trade and balanced budgets in our present highly disorderly world.
Once the world’s currencies are “gold-backed”, then the gold held by individuals, trusts or corporations will cease to lie lifeless in stocks of gold. All gold will have become money and will spring to life in furthering economic activity: the revaluation of gold by Central Banks will also revalue, simultaneously, the 151,890 tons of gold which are thought to be in private hands at present – 183,000 tons total, minus 31,110 tons held by Central Banks = 151,890 tons in private hands.

COMEX SNAP: Gold Dilution Hits Record 542 Oz For Every Ounce Of Physical

physical-to-paper gold dilution – just exploded. “We are going to need a bigger dilution chart.”
There had been an eerie silence at the Comex in recent weeks, where after registered gold tumbled to a record 120K ounces in early December nothing much had changed, an in fact the total amount of physical deliverable aka “registered” gold, had stayed practically unchanged at 275K ounces all throughout January.
Until today, when in the latest update from the Comex vault, we learn that a whopping 201,345 ounces of Registered gold had been de-warranted at the owner’s request, and shifted into the Eligible category, reducing the total mount of Comex Registered gold by 73%, from 275K to just 74K overnight.
BREAKING NEWS – COMEX Registered Gold Inventories Plummet 73% In One Day
This is the lowest level of Registered Gold inventories on the Comex for more than 20 years & the most surprising movements of Comex Registered Gold inventories ever.

Gold Is In a ‘Flight To Safety’

the strong upward correlation of the US Dollar & Gold of late are evidence of a strong flight to safety trade

‘This time is different’: Gold

RBC Capital Markets, reckons ?this time is different? for gold. In its words, gold is ?building a fundamental base that should lead to higher prices