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5/9/09

Half a kilo of C4 in Caracas, anyone?


Some French dude named Laurent Bocquet (above, from his 'feibu' page, as we say down here) got arrested trying to escape Caracas, Venezuela, and get to Isla Margarita on Friday. He was nabbed along with Omar Campusano, Diomedis Campusano and Edgar Florián Sánchez (all from The Dominican Republic). All four are supposedly members of the criminal gang known as "The Internationals" (oh how subtle). So when police checked out the arrested Frenchie's house in Caracas they found:

  • half a kilo of C4 explosive
  • flame throwers
  • 5,000 (yeah, five thousand) shotgun cartridges
  • bullet-proof vests
  • military uniforms
  • foreign licence plates
  • 3 FAL weapons
  • 2 machine guns
  • 3 shotguns
  • telescopic sights
  • etc etc

Expect Venezuelan police to be called human rights offenders for daring to arrest foreign nationals like this on their soil. I mean, the impertinence...what's half a kilo of C4 between friends anyway?

UPDATE: Venezuela's Interior Minister has given a presser this afternoon to name the group as a "terrorist organization". Minister Tareck Al Aissami also said that Bocquet is known as an expert in military matters and a sharpshooter/sniper who saw action in Europe (the exact country wasn't mentioned). Here's a quote from Al Aissami:

"We can testify that the type of armaments used by these military terrorist organizations are for actions of destabilization. With this find we have no doubt in telling the country that we have dealt a severe blow to terrorism and to those groups that try to drag Venezuela into scenes of blood and confrontation."

Major Phil Packer


It's nigh on impossible to put the bravery of Major Phil Packer into words. The only thing I can do is re-publish this report in Today's Times and hopefully get it to reach a few more eyeballs. Hey guys, kiss your loved ones and remember just how lucky you are tonight, yeah?

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A SOLDIER who defied doctors to complete the London marathon crossed the finish line today, 13 days after he started the 26.2-mile course.

Major Phil Packer was told by medics that he would never walk again after being badly injured in a rocket attack in Basra last February.

Today the 36-year-old, who is a paraplegic after suffering heart and spinal injuries, completed the race.

He walked two miles a day on crutches after starting with other competitors on April 26.

His marathon walk comes just a month after Major Packer started using crutches.

The soldier, who served in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland hopes to raise £1m for the soldiers’ charity, Help for Heroes and has £370,000 more to raise to hit his charity target.

Still undergoing physical rehabilitation at Headley Court in Epsom, this afternoon Maj Packer was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers who lined the final mile of the course.

As he crossed the finishing line, at St James’s Park on the Mall, he said the feeling was “bittersweet” coming so soon after more serving soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan.

Yesterday the soldier dedicated his long walk to all his comrades who have lost their lives or suffered disabling injuries in conflicts across the world and thanked medical staff who helped him achieve his mammoth task.

He wrote on his website: “A year ago I never thought this would be possible and there are so many to thank, Stanmore Hospital and the MoD/the Armed Forces have been outstanding to me; I am walking because of them – I know I am very lucky to have this mobility so many others are not. This is for those who cannot be there tomorrow.”

He was presented with his London marathon finisher’s medal by Sir Steve Redgrave after completing the course.

On crossing the finish line he thanked the public for all their support.

He said: “I’ve walked 52,400 steps and somebody has walked with me every step of the way, be it a dinner lady, a London taxi driver or a Metropolitan Police officer.

“I’ve had time to talk to people and have conversations, people have really opened up about their feelings about the Services and it has been humbling.

He added: “I wouldn’t be standing here now if it wasn’t for the staff at Headley Court.

I feel that I am very lucky so many people I met along the way are more injured than I am.”

Next month Major Packer will attempt to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California, and he intends to complete 4,000 pull-ups over a series of days in order to reach his fundraising target.

Major Packer has already rowed the English Channel in just over 15 hours and completed a sky-dive as part of his fundraising efforts.

Videogame news from Peru

This hurt my head when I read it.

A screenshot

It's been a while since I had a real wild thing about videogames. Back in the 18th century I was pretty good at the arcade version of Centipede (remember that zippy ball control, guys?) but if the game mentioned underneath turns out to be a hit then I'll know that I'm now old, old, and three times old. I think I'll just translate the start of this review of the game and leave it without further comment (except that this is a faithful translation .....and I'm not on drugs):

""Inka Games" is the Peruvian company of businessman Aldo Mujica that has just launched a videogame in which President Obama joins forces with tennis star Rafael Nadal and Argentine footballer Lionel Messi to save the last surviving family of panda bears that has been kidnapped by aliens........"


The IKN Weekly: Issue Two Out Tomorrow (Sunday)

Nice pitch

Here's what you're about to miss if you don't subscribe to The IKN Weekly, as issue two hits inboxes tomorrow afternoon (yes, this is another boring pitch to try and get you on board).

  • A NOBS bespoke fundamental report on Minera Andes (MAI.to)
  • A "stocks to follow" list (already in the green)
  • Detailed comments on political risk in Peru and Argentina (and how to benefit, of course)
  • Hot news on Fronteer (FRG), Rusoro (RML.v) and Fortuna (FVI.v) that you won't find anywhere else, guaranteed.
  • Plenty of other stuff too, as the whole report runs to 17 pages.

Also, I'm still throwing in Issue One as the free kicker to new subscribers, but be clear that those not on board before the bell Monday morning won't get to see Issue Two. After all, subscribers is as subscribers does. I hope you decide to try out the service; at $25 a month and with easy unsubscribe there's very little to lose and plenty of intel to gain. More information can be found on this link and the subscription buttons are over there on the right. Any further queries or doubts? Just send me a mail at...

otto.rock1 (AT) gmail.com

...and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks for suffering through this pitch and enjoy the weekend. As for already-on-board subscribers, expect Issue Two of The IKN Weekly right on time Sunday afternoon. The ETA looks good from this end ;-)

Good weekend reading from respected sistasites*


Women bloggers outnumber the men again this week. Real quality stuff and only Dalmady to defend us blokes.

Bina has the latest on the unravelling of the Bolivian mercenary cell and the people behind them. A great post.

Vitoria Saddi has a great Brazil econoblog building itself. Real quality info available all the way down the page, so pull up a chair, make yourself something warm to drink, read the whole thing and learn a bunch about LatAm's economic giant.

Alex Dalmady updates us on the Allen Stanford ponzi scheme and has all the info on the sale of the Venezuelan Stanford Bank this week.

Machetera gives us the flipside of "Cuba's blog heroine" Yoani Sanchez. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense now she points out all the evidence. And now there's a very cool update post. Unmissable!

Memory in Latin America has the fascinating story of how the sole survivor of Peru's Fronton prison massacre (during Twobreakfasts' first administration) has just been arrested again even though he's paid his judicial debt. Also by all accounts he's turned his back on Sendero and has been living the quiet life out of the way of everybody.

*and bruddasite, of course

5/8/09

The Friday OT: Monty Python's Fish Slapping Dance

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It's 16 seconds long, it's two people, it's fish, it's perfect.




There are so many Python moments to choose from, but as this is John Cleese's favourite ever MPFC sketch it's good enough for this humble corner of cyberspace, too.

Go on, hit that play button. Give yourself a good laugh. I bet that if you do you won't be able to resist pressing 'replay',
x

Venezuela: I'm confused


News from Venezuela is that the Supreme Court has denied a restraining order action on RCTV and Globovision (two rampant opposition TV channels) brought against them by The Latin American Foundation for the Development of Equity (Fundaequidad). The Supreme Court upheld the TV channels' right to free speech under article 58 of the Venezuelan constitution.

And thus the opposition media, via the most important judicial chamber in the land, upholds its constitutional right of unfettered opinion and is free to continue with its accusations that the government of Venezuela is gagging free speech and owns its puppet judiciary.

Is that right? Am I missing something here?

Argentina: Anti-mining feeling is now reaching into the most pro-mining of regions


Jujuy, up in the northern reaches of Argentina, has been mining country for generations. But even in the most traditional corner of miner-friendly communites the rejection of bad mining operations is gathering speed.

Yesterday 2,000 people (a lot for that sparsely populated neck of the woods, be in no doubt) marched to the small town of Tilcara to protest the ongoing pollution to water supply and land. Notable was the lack of protest about economic development that mining brings, as you're talking to families of generational miners here that know all the pros and cons of living around, with and for the mining industry. They're just fed up with the poisoning, folks. The arguments were dominated by complaints about land contamination (as just one example, Google "Minera El Aguilar" to find out what they're talking about) water pollution and health problems (plenty of witnesses saying that loved ones have died from classic mining-related illnesses).

So be warned, mining investment community; if you want to make a fair profit from the extraction industry, the just treatment of local peoples is not an optional extra any more, not even in the most miner-friendly parts of the world. "DYODD, dude" applies to a prospective company's environmental track record. Ignore it at your own peril.

Cardero (CDY) (CDU.to) and Elmer Fudd

Be vewy vewy qwiet.


'Am huntin' wabbit.

May 17th is the limit date folks, remember? Faites vos jeux..

Peru macro news

This time of the month there's always a swathe of macro econ news from LatAm countries. When it comes to Peru, there are plenty of ingredients to throw in the cake mix.

1. Trade Balance: The March trade balance came in positive, with $1.56Bn in imports and $1.9Bn in exports. The export figure has benefitted directly from the rebound in metals prices. Here's the chart.
Looks like things have picked up a touch month-over-month, which is good. However there's still that very large year-over-year gap in activity, which isn't so good.

2. Tax Revenues: Unsurprisingly, taxes levied on external trade traffic are down. However as this WSJ report notes, income tax revenues are also sharply down (21%) for April YoY. This points to a significant slowdown in internal demand. Overall, tax collection was down 17.8% YoY....not funny.

3. The Nuevo Sol (PEN) is now trading at S/2.96 to the dollar, having moved from the 3.10 mark very quickly. This stronger PEN is now affecting export trade competitivity and the Central Bank is moving to stop the melt-up. It bought into the market to the tune of U$7m yesterday , which isn't so very much but should send a signal. With currency reserves back at U$31Bn, Velarde has plenty of ammunition to stop the PEN from strengthening too far.

4. Interest rates: The reason for the stronger currency is likely the interest rates on offer in (what they insist is) an investment grade country attracting overseas money (it can hardly be called 'hot money' these days...maybe lukewarm?). It is a bit pachakuti to think that Peru is considered a safe haven these days, isn't it? So yesterday we saw the CenBank drop rates to 4% and you can bet decent cash that the trend will continue in the months to come.

As for the conclusion to all this, I'll be writing up my views in The IKN Weekly. It's called "another pitch", but it's also about preferring the paying subcribers. Life's like that.

Things wot caught my eye


I agree with Salmon's take on the US unemployment figures. He picks one sub-category to highlight (i.e. male unemployment) but there are others. Basically, away from the headline number things are far worse than they seem (yes, we know about the lagging indicator theory of unemployment figures). I also noted with a nod of the head the commenter on the post, who pointed out the US Bank stress test model called for US unemployment to top out at 8.9%...we're already there, folks! 10.5% here we come.

This Bloomie headline about Vale (VALE) made me smile. "Vale "Ready to Explore" Alternative Iron Ore Pricing". I mean, do you really need me to translate that into real English?

Chile's CenBank drops rates 0.5% to 1.25%...a record low.

Peru's CenBank drops rates 1% to 4%...plenty more to come, too.

But it's not all bad, folks. Brazil's telco Vivo (VIV) posted strong results. Notice that VIV is now managing to feed the bottom line from its revenue pile..the sign of a maturing telecoms market in Brazil. Basically, the major investment period is over and its payback time...we've seen this pattern many times before (Argentina, Mexico) and now Brazil, a country that has (somewhat surprisingly) lagged other regional telco markets is getting its turn at bat.

Charts of the day are....

.....the main regional stock markets 12 month charts.

It's easy to do this because this bloomie page is a nice way of keeping up with indices in the Americas. Nice on the eye and quick reference stuff. But put next to each other, we notice the shape of each index:

Brazil

Argentina

Mexico

Peru

Colombia

Chile

There are variations of course, but the general shared theme of "big sell off, consolidation, recent rebound" holds true for them all. As for differences, the bigger markets featured in the top three, (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil) seem to have lagged the smaller markets at the bottom (Peru, Chile, Colombia). As for the quickest to recover, it's not much of a surprise to see Chile at the top but Colombia is right there with Chile, too. Considering the structural weaknesses in the Colombian economy that's quite surprising.

5/7/09

The Bank Stress Test Report Official Results and Link

I persnally don't care, neither does the dude who sent me the link (thanks 'R') But I know some of you do out there, so by way of public service here's the link to the official Federal Reserve Board PDF report on the bank stress tests, as published a couple of minutes ago.

enjoy

Intriguing: Buenaventura (BVN) wants to buy into Argentine junior exposure

So which projects? It would likely be gold target, but BVN produces plenty of silver too, so a silver/gold of plain old silver would be possible.

That Mansfield Minerals (MDR.v) Lindero property strikes me as being the right kind of fit; 2m oz Au and MDR has things in Peru, too. Mind you, I'm just throwing out an educated guess....anyone else have an idea?

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LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian precious metals miner Buenaventura (BUEv.LM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) (BVN.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is in talks to buy controlling stakes in two Argentine junior miners, the company's top official said on Thursday.

"The idea in these specific projects is that we'd have a majority participation, or 100 percent control," Chief Executive Roque Benavides said at the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit in Lima.

"We are in conversations. There is nothing concrete to report yet."

Operations at the company's La Zanja gold project in Peru, which is expected to produce some 100,000 ounces of gold per year, could start as early as the first quarter of 2010, said Benavides.

He forecast the company's gold output for the year, excluding its share of production from the Yanacocha mine, at a bit above 450,000 ounces, which is more than the 422,732 ounces reported for 2008.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Dana Ford)

Beauty Queen Poker: I'll see your Miss California and raise you a Miss Panama

Sorry guys, you lose....we be holding nuts.



This 25 second youtube (seen by 350,000 people so far) is best appreciated by Spanish speakers and has Giosue Cozzarelli, a candidate for Miss Panama 2009, answering her question about the venerable Confucius. Apparently he was a "Chinese Japanese" person and "one of the people that invented confusion".

I am not making this up

UPDATE: In the comments section, reader Jimmy left this link to a youtube version with English subtitles. Kind of you Jimmy, thank you.

Trading Post (epic fail edition)


Cosan (CZZ) up 1.8% at $4.57 and I didn't get on board cos I tried to be fancysmart and fish for something $3.50ish when CZZ stood at $3.80ish last week. Moral of the story is "don't play cute with the market, cos the market slaps faces". Epic fail chez Otto.

Fronteer (FRG) down 4.6% at $2.50 and I shudda known it was going to happen after reading this contrary indicator at sinkingalpha today (err..."thanks" to the three people who sent the link..very funny, guys). Mindnumbingly awful piece of analysis, so remember this goden rule, folks: Exclamation mark in title of finance article = SEVERE DANGER. Oh My! Epic Fail!

Vale (VALE) down 5.15% at $18.08. Mgmt put on a brave face about it when asked and told us all that the company was solid. But a $300m net revenue miss is a $300m net revenue miss. Epic fail, and guidance on iron ore demand sucks.

Mercado Libre (MELI) down 17.5% at $23.89. First quarter results! Sales missed expectations! Epic Fail!

Capella Resources (KPS.v) down 6.7% at $0.42. This one goes out to the foulmouthed dumbass who commented (anonymously, of course) on the original exposé post about KPS, telling me all about the past sexual history of my mother and how he'd "load the f****** boat at eighty!" at the time (it was bouncing around 85c). Well dude, both my mother and I hope you took out a second mortgage on that trade. An epic, epic, epic, EPIC fail. Please write again if you want 10 bucks via PayPal.

Regarding Press Freedom: Mexico teaches 'em how to really gag the press

Carlos Ortega Melo Samper, QEPD

After my rant about the BS lies being perpetrated by rank amateur journalists serving up cherrypicked "facts" and one-sided crap in Bolivia yesterday, today it's worth checking out real tales of high-order press gagging in Latin America. It's called "kill the reporter" and it does tend to keep them quiet afterwards.

Carlos Ortega Melo Samper was shot to death on Monday in the northern Durango region of Mexico. He had recently published a report outlining corruption in the local municipality in question. Furthermore, he clearly feared for his life, as on April 29th he wrote a letter to his newspaper, Tiempo (de Durango), in which he wrote that he had been threatened by the municipal President of Durango, Martín Silvestre Herrera, and two other local government associates of the municipal president, Juan Manuel Calderón Herrera and Salvador Flores Triana. The letter was not published in the newspaper, perhaps under instructions from the now dead journalist. The newspaper editor has been quick to point out that the case is not connected to organized crime, but political corruption and graft.

Meanwhile, Prensa Latina has published the list of 11 journalists murdered in Latin America in the first three months of 2009. The 11 unfortunates now joined by Carlos Ortega Melo Samper include three from Mexico, two from Colombia, two from Venezuela, two from Honduras, one from Guatemala and one from Paraguay......and none in Bolivia.

Be prepared


You can't fault the US Army on anticipating the future. In its current War Games conference named 'Unified Quest 2009' (wow...sexy) the officer class of the great and the good is considering the future of world conflict and situations they might face in the next 10 years or so, including this totally hypothetical...repeat totally hypothetical...I mean whatever would make you imagine it to be anything except totally hypothetical....... situation:

"In South America, Bolivia is divided between left and right wings after the failure of a leftist regime and the U.S. Army is providing medical aid and building roads, while fighting foreign and domestic terrorists and drug gangs at home."

So nice of them to be thinking of us down here. Makes me feel all warm inside.

Businessy things


The big LatAm company story is Vale (VALE) who missed on earnings, with revenues of $1.36Bn to an analyst expected $1.66Bn. Here's the bloomie report that sums up the most interesting numbers and the necessary reactions (you'll note from the report that VALE is slightly up in European tradign this morning...bull is as bull does, y'know).

Meanwhile, for once I feel like dipping in my toe to the bigger paddling pool that you guys splash around in up there. It's more fun to watch the spin you get, cos it's on a whole other level to the stuff we get. It's like comparing Monty Python to people falling over.

I liked the starting line to this note in the Austraian Daily Reckoning: "Happy days are here again. It’s like someone turned back the clock to 2007. You’re a crank and a nutjob if you think there are serious problems in the financial system". Yep.

That Daily Reckoning article sure makes juxtaposition to this one from AP yesterday. "Stocks jump as fears ebb about bank stress tests' is a neat chronicle of how the US bank-Feddy people pulled a cute number on the market by drip leaking the necessary info with perfect timing and planning. It really was a masterful use of financial media yesterday.

Also, note how businesses have managed to bring great relief with their "smaller sales declines in April". Phew! For a minute there I thought they'd sold less!

Finally, for traders getting carried away by the rush of market love, Lucas has a very interesting post that might help you home in on a method of playing the bull. Logically he's found an interesting way of screening for stock trading opportunities and his comments are smart, too....well, that's expected from the dude. Go have a look, traderypeople.

Chart of the day is.....

....this, which shows the number of part-time workers in the USA.

I'd like to know who's in charge of the charts corner at Casey, because whoever it is does a 10X better job than the company average. It does feel weird reco'ing a Casey chart for the second time in the last few weeks but credit where credit is due, this is an astute observation. Here's the original link for the charty notes and it's worth reading the few words...just don't go down that rabbit hole they offer, please. It'll be the most expensive free offer of your life.

5/6/09

"So how was the reaction to 'The IKN Weekly', Otto?"

I've had that question quite a lot over the last 48 hours. The answer is "pretty darned good", in fact and it's been pleasing for me to hear that people really have extracted value from the first issue. Overall it's been general positive noises (even outright praise) and importantly some solid, constructive comments from subscribers that should help me add more value going forward (if any subscribers would like to add a word in the comments section of this post, don't let me stop you :-).

This week's issue is just starting to take shape (in my brain at least, which is why it occurred to me to write this post) and I've started to put together the political comments section for Issue Two which goes out Sunday. Also part of this week's issue will be a NOBS report on Minera Andes (MAI.to) and to give the 99.9999996% of the human race that hasn't signed up a further reason to join, if you get on board now I'll send Issue One of 'The IKN Weekly' over as well. Hey....just trying a pitch...gimme a break, yeah?

For further details of the service, what it contains, how it can benefit you as a mining sector investor and how to sign up, please check this link to the original announcement post. At $25 per month and with easy unsubscription if you don't like the service, there's not much in the way of risk.

Down and Out in Paris and London and Quito

MEV doing her thing today

Maria Elsa Viteri is a busy lady. Ecuador's FinMin has today presented her 2008 fiscal transparency report which has lots of bits and bobs and technical stuffs (here's her full presentation, and it's pretty good in fact...Spanish language of course) but the one to take away for outsiders looking in is that the country's fiscal revenues are forecast to come up short by some U$1.34Bn to meet the U$14.1Bn 2009 expenditure budget. But not to worry, sez Viteri, cos loans from the Latin American Reserve Fund (FLR), the Interamerican Development Bank (BID), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and some tips thrown in from China and Iran will cover the gap.

Then MEV is off on a jolly jaunt to Europe (DJNW link) in the last two weeks of this month as she visits Paris and London to talk face-to-face with the holders of the defaulted bonds. She mentioned as a presser yesterday that Ecuador might be able to pay a tad over the 30c on the dollar that's the basline offer for the debt retirement, but there wasn't much cash around and any extra would be small. This has been taken as a softening of position by Studmuffin, as he's clearly given his right-hand-lady in all things economy a bit of room...not much, just a bit. However she also specifically said the payments would be on the principal only and no interest gets paid.

If you recall, Ecuador bondholders protesters-holder-outers made their first move last week, demanding full payment and interest. Let's see if MEV wins hearts and minds in Europe and heads those pesky vulture funds off at the pass. Watch this space.

Trading Post (think zinc edition)


Upmoves in most everything metallic, but a massive upmove in zinc. Here's the three month chart:


Breakwater Resources (BWR.to) up 15% at $0.23. Remember this one? We used to follow it last year and I've always looked to it as a good way of leveraging Zn. It was bouncing around 8c at the end of last year, and here we are back at a price that finally...finally drags me away from my Latam-centric viewpoint and catches my attention again. If this Zn move is really for real (which I doubt..saying it again), BWR.to will go higher, be in no doubt. Check the 24 month chart on the stock to see where it came from.

Vena Resources (VEM.to) up 9.2% at $0.295. Vena also has significant zinc exposure via its Azulcocha mine in Peru. It's in good position to move forward quickly, too, as all the government permit are now in place. I like this stock for all sorts of reasons, though, not just the Zn angle.

Fortuna Silver (FVI.v) up a penny at $0.89, which will be a great relief to the Bob Moriarty's flock as he's now climbed back to UNCH on his reco. C'mon Blowhard...buy few more and let's get you back in the green. The 1q09 report is due May 15th and we're looking for good numbers, remember. However further down the line watch out for mark-to-markets in 2q09.

Fronteer (FRG) up 2.6% at $2.63 and can't seem to break out from this level. Those wishing to buy (and it's still cheap) sould be able to get in in the $2.50s if they wait around. I own, I like, I got long-term (one of the very few stocks I'm prepared to hold through...all depends on my resolve).

Bolivia: Stop Stupidity

Well waddya know? Enders is a blue-eyed-whitey. Hoodathunkit...

When The Miami Herald starts a report with.....

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With some newspapers and broadcast outlets relentlessly exposing the government's shortcomings, President Evo Morales and his supporters say the privately-owned media have sided with his opponents yada yada continues here
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....you just know you're in for a deception-filled feast of fun about Bolivia. What follows those opening lines is pretty much as you'd expect, laying heavily on anti-Evo BS, slipping cute words like 'autocrat' in there and trying to make out that all the opposition press has been doing in Bolivia is highlighting cases of government corruption. No mention about the racism or support for illegal separatists, or revisionist histories about the Pando Massacre or the innocent chats Ruben Costas enjoyed with then US ambassador Goldberg. All those squeaky-clean reporters have have doing is fighting the good fight against graft.

But the name of the journalist caught my eye, John Enders. It rang a bell so I Googled it. It turns out it rang a bell for a different reason (another John Enders was involved with developing the polio vaccine), but I did chance upon our John Enders' sparse little blog. In it we find out just how little he knows about Bolivia when he opines:

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In Bolivia, socialist Evo Morales is a smart fellow and, like most Latin American radicals, doesn’t necessarily believe all of his own rhetoric. He is caught between those who want to return the country to the statist ways of the 1950s and those eastern Bolivia business interests who seek to create a capitalist mecca. Evo already has learned he cannot dictate radical change to his people without widespread and violent opposition. Washington should give him limited support for social reforms, continue to maintain contacts with the opposition and wait for a more moderate, transitional figure in Bolivia to surface as Morales’ successor.
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Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Let's do a bit of deconstruction on his views about Bolivia and Evo:

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In Bolivia, socialist Evo Morales is a smart fellow

Well, yes he is

and, like most Latin American radicals, doesn’t necessarily believe all of his own rhetoric.

Got some proof of that, John? I'd say he's come to power calling the same tune all the way and has kept his promises, too. What makes you think Evo says one thing and believes another? An example, please.

He is caught between those who want to return the country to the statist ways of the 1950s

Errr, no. He has the democratic majority vote support of people who are fed up with being ripped off by big business. We're talking about the country that made collecting rainwater illegal to make sure Bechtel's concession on the privatized water supply got maximum bang-per-buck. We're talking about the country that has put eight point five billion dollars in its currency reserves since nationalizing the oil&gas industry. Previously that cash just left the country in its abject poverty. The Morales government's "statist ways" include giving an old age pension to its senior citizens for the first time ever. Get that? EVER.

.........and those eastern Bolivia business interests who seek to create a capitalist mecca.

ROFL! Create a capitalist mecca? OH MY GOD! Don't you mean "create a new Kosovo"? The eastern Bolivians of which you speak have majority control over one city, not a whole region. They are racist, fascist, nazi-worshipping thugs that use indigenous populations as slave labour (that's not my opinion, that's The United Nations' opinion). That your idea of capitalism around Oregon way, John?

Evo already has learned he cannot dictate radical change to his people without widespread and violent opposition.

Evo has learned that to finally reach a level of emancipation for ALL Bolivians, the 10% of people that have hoarded 90% of the pie for generations kick and scream. As for "widespread", you make it sound like all the country hates his reforms. Errr....check every single national vote again, Johnnyboy.

Washington should give him limited support for social reforms, continue to maintain contacts with the opposition and wait for a more moderate, transitional figure in Bolivia to surface as Morales’ successor.

...and why the devil should they do that, Enders? Come on, why not elaborate on why the USA should keep its nose stuck in other country's affairs?

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Enders' journalism and opinions, after "30 years of covering Latin America", show the insight of a fruitfly. And thus, John, you receive this week's coveted award. Enjoy it, dumbass:


That Sinking Feeling

Let's find out if they can take a joke, shall we?

These last few days I've been contacted several times by a dude at SeekingAlpha, cos what they want to do is, with my permission of course, to slurp my feed and automatically put my posts up on their site. It's supposed to be an honour. Uff.

  • I ignored the first mail, but they couldn't take a hint
  • I sent a terse one-liner as a reply to the second mail, which earned me a reply I ignored again (don't worry mother, I didn't use any bad words).
  • I got another mail yesterday morning (they don't give up easily) asking me to think it over. This is why I'm posting here.

People that have read this humble corner of cyberspace for a while should know by now what I think about SinkingAlpha; it's kinda ok for big picture stuff, the ConfCall transcript service is very good but the metals, mining, gold section (or sections?) totally suck and are best used as a contrary indicators (e.g. too many bullish posts from the dumbasses and you sell like yesterday, or abject depression amongst the tinfoilhats = pick a few shares up). The tech corner might be good, as might the banking articles but I wouldn't have the first clue. Not my scene.

So anyway, they want me to be "a partner" with them. Well great, whoopdedoo. The only difference is that if I agreed to their offer, instead of submitting manually they'd just read my feed, decide if they like this-or-that article and bang!, up it goes on their site. So for the record my issues about contributing to SinkingAlpha are varied:

1) You're providing your original content for free. They don't pay, not a bean. What they offer you (apart from some books I'd never read and free tickets to conferences I'd never attend anyway) is that vague concept of "exposure". Because they get 84 quadsquillion eyeballs per day and this humble corner gets a few thousand I get to be famous and stuff. But I fail to see why somebody who reads my story over there would click through to this blog to read it again.......but hey, that's me, y'know. Meanwhile they add value to their own pockets via advertising (although they swear they're making an overall loss) and asset appreciation (one day they'll sell the site and go live in the tropics and sip margaritas all day or summink). I get the fun of watching how badly I do against Peter Schiff on their popularity leaderboard....all very exciting and competitive, I'm sure.

2) They make up their own title to put on your article. When I used to contribute there (stopped ages ago) that would really get on my nerves. It's like "my script is good enough for them but my title sucks? WTF?". They also demand editorial control. PAY ME DUDES! Then I'm an employee and you have the right to boss me around...until then I'm this "partner" who'd get a real rump end of the partnership.

3) The neighbours are crappy. The quality of articles on offer at the place most of my stuff would land (i.e. the mining posts, as I doubt they'd care about Lugo's latest lovechild or Evo's police forces putting holes in Irishmen) is mediocre. For every one good one (eg Gary throws 'em a bone sometimes, as does Cam Hui who I enjoy reading) there are three dozen articles that seem to be written by undergrads who've read up on the concept of fiat currency then landed on the GATA site and think they've discovered the Holy Grail or something. Either that or some dude who promotes company X or company Y for a living (i.e. gets paid by them) will hammer the same stocks at you month after month after month.

4) etc

So when the SinkingAlpha dude couldn't take the hint and wrote me again yesterday asking if I'd thought further about their offer, I sent him a longer reply. Here it is reprinted in full below (with the spelling and grammar brushed up a bit and one or two words added to make the context clear). Any further questions on SinkingAlpha?

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Dear XXXX

I'd like you to know where I'm coming from here, so this might ramble a little.

The basic point i'm trying to make is that i feel, rightly or wrongly, that a partnership (or whatever you'd like to call it, it's just a label) with seekingalpha will certainly favour you guys more than I. But this is only part of the problem that i see, because if i think like this then many others will think the same way, too.

I'm really not a high'n'mighty arrogant type (despite the façade :-). Not trying to tell you what to do. Not trying to impose my will or my viewpoint on you guys. However, what i do see in the gold , metals and mining articles of seekingalpha (the part i'd imagine ending up more often than not if a contributor) are boring, thin and intellectually unstimulating articles that don't do much more than either a) preach to the goldbug choir or b) use polemic against the goldbug viewpoint to start an argument.

It's bullshit. Maybe one in 30 articles there are worth my time...and i just can't be bothered to wade through the crud to find the goodstuff when i can visit/RSS the blog of Cam Hui, Gary Tanashian etc directly and get their smarter brains condensed on one page of a dozen articles.

So why is there so much mediocrity on SeekingAlpha (in my view of course...at this point i'd expect you to defend your publication and then we can play batball with the theme all morning---ho hum)? I think it's because better quality bloggers don't want to dilute themselves for very little or no return while adding free content to your site. Or in other words, there's a problem with your business model....in my opinion.

I don't want to be lumped in with the crowd that appears in SeekingAlpha metals/mining right now. It's not just a question of money. I'd much prefer to build value (both financial and energetic) separately via my own blog and get 100 readers a day than get 100,000 or whatever-it-is eyeballs on the article that then read moronic comments underneath. SeekingAlpha metals&mining used to be much better than it is, but is being dragged down by the lowest common denominators of the Marc Courtneys of this world who'll write any old crap as a pure ego trip (sold FCX at U$18 late last year and told your audience that he was lucky cos it sunk to $17 the next day.....classic stuff, dude..he nailed the bottom). I don't want to read self-promoters like Mike Niehuser telling me about Minefinders and Novagold and Minefinders and Novagold and Minefinders and freaking Novagold ad infinitum.

To sum up, i think you need to attract decent contributors (and yes, i count myself in that pile, but i know my place and that's really way down on the long list of quality possibles) and more importantly keep them. This is a set of people that respond to capitalist button-pushing, not altruistic and vague offers of "exposure". I think you guys need to re-think the model else face a serious problem down the line. Try offering something far more solid than tickets to NYC conferences for people that live hundreds or thousands of miles away from WallSt. It's not my problem...repeat not my problem... that you're running at a loss. Your model is build, build, build then sell to a big boy and that's fine by me. Good luck to you, seriously. But WTF does that have to do with me and others if you hoard the pie for yourselves?

My, you guys take me back to the web 1.0 and what Patagon dot com did to its non shareholding staff the day it sold out to Banco Santander! There was nothing offered and nothing given to the somewhat naive experts that spent hours building the finest financial bullboard forum in the Spanish language...the forum that accounted for 90% of the site's traffic. Then when the naives woke up and saw the site owners get a multimillion dollar payday they went and said "where's mine?...i built this for you" but it was too late. Not even a crumb offered. Why don't you do some DD and find out what happened to patagon dot com afterwards? I guarantee that any potential buyer of Seekingalpha will know that story and a dozen others like it backwards by now.

Bottom line: I and many others will not accept your current terms. Quality financial bloggers that accept them will, in my opinion, quickly become disenchanted. Meanwhile very little of the content supplied by current contributors is worth reading (talking about the mining/metals sectors and talking in my opinion...i don't feel like arguing the point because you won't change my mind on that...let's just take it that you disagree and be done). I suggest you re-think you model before it's too late.

Eat my shorts, Canada

The top Canadian short positions as at April 30th. Thank you reader BF for the headsup.

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Short positions outstanding at Apr. 30/09 (with changes from Apr. 15/09).




Largest Short Positions




Security Ticker Total Short Change
Teck Resources TCK.B 30907028 -1130592
New Gold NGD 18332450 2929019
Eldorado Gold ELD 17111120 30392
Ivanhoe Mines IVN 15783677 615801
Kinross Gold K 14581462 -1976018
Red Back Mining RBI 13137941 -383640
Lundin Mining LUN 12971093 -2821133
Thompson Creek Metals TCM 12107626 1716210
Mercator Minerals ML 8114369 6441664
Sherritt International S 7948535 -2632410
Osisko Mining OSK 7791480 -655745
Uranium One UUU 7763558 -518240
FNX Mining FNX 5792100 -636781
Agnico-Eagle Mines AEM 5420162 177736
Silver Wheaton SLW 4514178 241178




Largest Increase in Short Position




Security Ticker Total Short Change
Mercator Minerals ML 8114369 6441664
New Gold NGD 18332450 2929019
Anvil Mining AVM 2885600 2705347
Capstone Mining CS 2522166 2359757
Thompson Creek Metals TCM 12107626 1716210




Largest Decrease in Short Position




Security Ticker Total Short Change
Equinox Minerals EQN 1973347 -5704853
Lundin Mining LUN 12971093 -2821133
Sherritt International S 7948535 -2632410
Central Fund Of Canada CEF.A 12437 -2222596
Quadra Mining QUA 835170 -2118314




TSX Venture Short Positions




Short positions outstanding at Apr. 30/09 (with changes from Apr. 15/09).




Largest Short Positions






Security Ticker Total Short Change
Romarco Minerals R 1550000 48500
San Gold SGR 1328400 453800
Alturas Minerals ALT 733333 0
Verena Minerals VML 536500 536500
Iberian Minerals IZN 535500 535500
Andean American Mining AAG 467686 467686
Alix Resources AIX 350000 350000
Azteca Gold AZG 300000 290000
New Guinea Gold NGG 225000 25000
Whitemud Resources WMK 215932 -620
Forum Uranium FDC 192000 192000
Columbus Gold CGT 186500 186500
Evolving Gold EVG 184500 184500
Constellation Copper CCU.H 170000 0
Metanor Resources MTO 160641 -222




Largest Increase in Short Position




Security Ticker Total Short Change
Verena Minerals VML 536500 536500
Iberian Minerals IZN 535500 535500
Andean American Mining AAG 467686 467686
San Gold SGR 1328400 453800
Alix Resources AIX 350000 350000




Largest Decrease in Short Position




Security Ticker Total Short Change
Hawthorne Gold HGC 91900 -609000
Full Metal Minerals FMM 66000 -497500
African Gold Group AGG 0 -473814
Gold Wheaton Gold Corp. GLW.WT 0 -430000
NWT Uranium NWT 1000 -242000