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From here.

And more specifically, here.

Look, I know I'm prone to a typo or two here and there (usually a bit of keyboard dyslexia while tapping away quickstyle), but not when doing charts. You been taking spelling lessons from Alek Boyd, dumbass?

It's all quiet in Venezuela........

Luis Herrero is very silly man that a fool from Spain has gone home.

Spanish Euro MP Luis Herrero was invited by those that run these things to be one of the official observers of the referendum vote tomorrow. To ensure free'n'fair and all that stuff, there are 1,200 (I think) neutrals shipped in to watch over things...all quite normal. Well now there's only 1,199, as Rightwinger Herrero's (member of the Spanish PP party) idea of being neutral is saying the following 36 hours before the vote starts (via Ottotrans™):

"(Let Venezuelans) vote freely, and that they must never vote under the fear that a dictator is deliberately trying to impose upon them"*.
Result, Venezuela kicked him out of the country. So for sure we'll get exactly what Herrero wanted as the result, namely a diplomatic spat and more reason to shout "police state" etc. But the thing is that Herrero deliberately broke..nay smashed into pieces...his neutrality and respect for the role he was given in a ridiculous and childish way. I mean fer crying out loud here! What about some international observer checking out the recent US elections while wearing a T-shirt with "No Darkies" splashed across the front? That's about where we are here on the subtlety stakes.

It'll be interesting to see just how much fuss the rabid right makes about this indefensible that made a mockery of neutrality and got exactly what he deserved. How anyone could put this gillipollas in as a neutral observer and expect him to remain unbiased during the election tomorrow after what he said is beyond the ken of any reasonable person.

* Original Spanish: "votar en libertad y que jamás voten dejándose llevar por el miedo que premeditadamente un dictador está tratando de imponer".

Weekend Freestuff

Here are four free report offers carefully selected by yours truly. Take a look and request the one (or ones) take your fancy. All free gratis and for nothing.......that's my kind of price.


Achieving New Efficiencies in Rapid Color 3D Modeling/Printing.

The merging of 3D printing technology with Windows-based computer-aided design represents a paradigm shift for the role prototyping will play in all product development disciplines to come. This paper explores the trend via Timberland, Black & Decker, and Continental Tire case studies.

Geographic Eligibility: USA, Canada and Selected European Countries

Publisher: Z Corporation

Other Resources from: Z Corporation


"10 Really Good Reasons To Use Predictive Analytics"

Here are 10 really good reasons predictive analytics can help your business.
Predictive analytics is a powerful tool that helps organizations solve key challenges by using business knowledge to drive efficiencies and strengthen their competitive advantage. Read this best practices paper and you'll discover ten ways predictive analytics will make it easier for your organization to:

Gain a more complete view of your business
Find hidden value in your data
Build stronger customer relationships
Reduce your exposure to risk and fraud
And much, much more...

Geographic Eligibility: USA, Canada, Selected International

Publisher: SPSS, Inc

Other Resources from: SPSS, Inc


"No Stone Unturned: Strategies for Cash Management in Hard Times"

Under challenging economic circumstances, learn how mid-size companies are modifying their short-term cash management practices to maintain competitive positions.

While many mid-size companies have healthy balance sheets and solid credit histories, the cost of funding for nearly all businesses is likely to rise in the near term.

This survey report by CFO Research Services in collaboration with American Express revealed a notable shift in focus among finance executives as their companies prepare for the changing times. Mid-size company CFOs and their teams are now paying closer attention to short-term cash management. In response, many finance executives at mid-size companies are now leading a movement to get "back to the basics." But it's not that finance executives are being called on to do less—instead, they are re-sorting their priorities to uncover every opportunity to manage expenses and bolster working capital.

Through this survey report, explore mid-size senior finance executives' short-term cash management concerns, plans, and priorities in light of current financial-market realities. Prepared by CFO Research Services; Sponsored by American Express.

Geographic Eligibility: USA

Publisher: American Express

Other Resources from: American Express


"Planning and Budgeting: Improving Effectiveness through Best Practices and Technology"

Learn the 5 Key Attributes to Effective Planning and Budgeting.

In Ventana Research's new benchmark executive summary, Robert D. Kugel, Senior VP of Research, found "an over-reliance on desktop spreadsheets and lack of consistent processes result in a lot of wasted time." Are you falling into this trap? How can you escape? Download Ventana's executive summary which uncovers five key attributes to effective planning and budgeting:

Insight - into corporate performance and the factors driving results
Accuracy - that can support smooth operational functioning
Alignment - of corporate, departmental, and individual objectives
Agility - with coordinated responses to change
Collaboration - across the enterprise

Published by: Ventana Research; Sponsored by: Infor

Geographic Eligibility: USA, Canada

Publisher: Infor

Other Resources from: Infor


Alex Dalmady guest blogs on IKN


Yes indeedy, the guy who started all the fuss has kindly allowed IKN (along with The Devil's Excrement and also here at the Devil's Excrement Wordpress version) to publish his thoughts on how the Stanford International Bank story has developed over the past week. So enough from me; here's Alex Dalmady on SIB, Allen Stanford, regulators, media and all things concerned.




It’s over. Regulatory bodies have caught on. WSJ just announced that the FBI is investigating. “Duck Tales” is in the hands of dozens of analysts who “get it”, including many with ties to the MSMs (that’s Mainstream Media for you, Toby LOL). The press is flowing more freely. The MSMs have sent guys to Antigua. It’s big. They “get” it. THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES. Stanford has no answer. “Sir Allen” has been silent since over three days ago, as that spokesman who was beginning to look a lot like Jim Carrey at the beginning of “Fun with Dick and Jane”.

Hope he gets even like Carrey did.

The Antiguan regulators are on it. They made a complete “about face” on Friday, going from “not probing Stanford” to “to quiz Stanford” and “its not a Friday afternoon cocktail anymore”. It’s obvious that someone told them to “wake up and smell the guavaberry”.

They are still in denial, however. A Mr. King says “I know Allen Stanford personally put close to half a billion dollars of his own money to beef up the capital structure of the bank.” Did you see the check, Mr. King?

NO ONE and I mean NO ONE has disputed the facts in my article. The central issue of Show me the money! has not been addressed by Stanford or anyone else. Some MSMs have asked me how I got to my figures and I’ve sent them my dinky little spreadsheet. No questions. Maybe I should pretty it up a bit.

Now comes the ugly part. The Antiguan regulators with perhaps some special “help” are going to go see about those assets. I hope for the best, but I’m afraid for the worst. There may not be much there. If there’s a broker statement showing $2-3 billion in T-bills somewhere, you can be sure it’s false. Better confirm that with the brokerage company, guys. My best guess is that those assets are going to be stuff like eLandia, which Stanford poured like $100 million into, only to lose it. HSSO, which was trying to become “something” by buying EMAG, Transwitch (TXCC), which some guy named “Peabody” on the BW blog turned up. Seems that Stanford, grasping for cash, sold $15 million of short-term notes back to the company for $9.5 million back in December. Talk about “liquidity crunch” (it works to about a very high yield, for those mathematically challenged). I guess then there are the movies, the restaurant in Memphis and other “market-beating” investments.

I can imagine the ledger now…one coffee pot: $50,000.00, one helicopter: $500,000,000…one corrupt politician: priceless!

The human part is going to hit home really quick. I already had a taste, and my blood is boiling. I’m MAD and I’m SAD. Yesterday, I get a call on my home phone from a lady in Venezuela. She was desperate. She tells me her 99-year-old aunt’s money, the income from which she uses for her medical needs, is in a Stanford CD. “Can you help me, Mr. Dalmady?” What do you say? “Should I redeem, Mr. Dalmady” Yes, “redeem” I said…broke my heart.

It’s becoming painfully obvious that this was in a death spiral anyway and the story was going to blow really soon. Matt Goldstein had plenty of research he was ready to go forward with, as was Allison Fitzgerald at Bloomberg. They were googling for Stanford regularly when my stuff came up. More stuff will come forward anyway. I’d say if not for “Duck Tales” this had maybe a week or two more to go, before it blew itself up (ran out of money) or the press blew it up.

That’s really bad if you think about it. Ponzi schemes live off liquidity. If these guys are strapped for cash, after pulling in $2 billion in fresh money in 2008 and “injecting fresh capital” in December…well.

It’s obvious that this isn’t just a product of the 2008 market crash, stuff has been going on for a while. If I had to guess, I’d say this might have been legit until 2000 or at least a “viable model”, since the markets were doing well, but somewhere back it took a bad turn and a little hole grew into a crater. They were filling it in and perhaps trying to build up a business on the side (Stanford Group?). But its just speculation here and we won’t know unless an insider talks.

So…there it is. It’s my 15 minutes. Thanks for lending me your blog (I really should get my own).

By Alex Dalmady, all rights reserved.


Related Posts
Alex Dalmady,blogger
Stanford International: BusinessWeek and MSM getting busy now
The Stanford Scandal: Alex Dalmady speaks
Mo' Stanford
More evidence that Stanford International Bank is in a tight spot
Four more on Stanford International Bank
As bad banks seem all the rage......

Mailbag and Fortuna Silver (FVI.v)

Click to enlarge

Yesterday I had this short but very gratifying exchange with reader JB. Here it is in full (with names reserved):


On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 2:19 PM, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX wrote:
Just wanted to say thanks for you blog on this day that my Fortuna investment reached 100.46% gain. All the best, XXXXXXXXXX


On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 3:47 PM, otto rock wrote: Wow XXXXXXXX, that's great! I'm very happy for you. With your permission I'll include this mail in tomorrow's mailbag post

Anyone who gets me 100% can do anything they'd like with my mail. :)


Thus permission was granted and you get to read the mails :-). I'd like to point out to JB and all readers that I didn't "get him 100%" as he got it for himself. DYODD, dude....I really mean it. It's always your money and your responsibility when you invest, so pat yourself on the back JB as the credit is yours. Still, it's great that somebody took into account my views on this humble corner of cyberspace and has managed to make good coin as a result.

So all that said, here comes the pitch for a new NOBS report on Fortuna Silver (FVI.v) available to the general public at a low, low price. I've written a latest update on the company with my views on how its earnings will develop in 2009. The report gives the necessary background, explains about its development plans, takes into account three metals prices scenarios and gives the reader a solid idea of Fortuna silver's price sensitivity to silver, zinc and lead. It rounds off with price forecasts and practical advice on how trade the stock.

This seven page report that will give you the parameters you need to trade FVI.v in 2009 costs just U$10 (yep, just ten US dollars) and is payable by PayPal. Either send straight from your own PayPal account to.....

otto.rock1 (AT) gmail (DOT) com

........or use this paypal button (it's set for $10 by default):

As you'll see behind that button, all the usual credit cards are accepted.

So get wise to Fortuna Silver by investing just U$10 (the price of one trade's commission, basically) and getting your hands on a copy of this NOBS report, created from scratch by yours truly (someone that has visited FVI's Caylloma mine not once but twice in the last couple of years). I'd venture to say that once you see how 2009 prices and market sentiment is likely to play out on this stock price, the small investment in this report will pay for itself many times over for savvy investors.

Order your copy now and it will be delivered well before the opening bell Monday. Thank you for your attention.

Venezuelan Election: your best source for information..... definitely not IncaKolaNews.

IKN could direct you to the Venezuelan media sites, but they're all BS.

IKN could direct you to the Venezuelan politicoblogs, but they're all rabid. I for one am fed up to the back teeth of the word "fraud" in context of Venezuelan elections and it's used on both sides of the equation.

But happily, there is one website that offers a sharp view of all things referendum and it's one that your humble correspondent can recommend completely. It has the correct attitude and understands just how serious all this is. So please click this link and make your way to Frustracion 2009 over at El Chiguire Bipolar. The future of Venezuela depends on your visit to the rodent.


Stanford International: BusinessWeek and MSM getting busy now

"We are the knights who say...NI!"
Hat tip felix salmon :-)

Matthew Goldstein at BusinessWeek has got his teeth into the Stanford International Bank story now and he's not letting go. As well as giving deserved props to the instigator of the investigation in this note, Goldstein has just published this excellent report that shows even more shady details emerging. It's a must read, especially about the "whistleblower lawsuit" that was settled by Stanford just before going to trial in late 2007. However the part that caught my eye was early on in the story. Here it is:

"For months now, securities regulators have interviewed dozens of former employees of Stanford Financial, trying to get to the bottom of the firm's staple investment product..."

Why do I like this little line? Well, basically because it's bullshit. The SEC had done a bit of looking around but hadn't moved on Stanford in any way. Then suddenly the Madoff affair hits and people are shouting "where was the SEC?" and now they're suddenly in danger of being upstaged by a single (albeit very smart) individual who had the guts to go public on this story which then combined with the collective power of the blogosphere (like it or not, suckaz..we're here to stay and showing the way).

So in that little quote we see the first chapter of "The SEC Get Out Clause". We're going to be told how the SEC had been carefully collecting its data over the last few months and how they were building a case and how it was only a matter of time before yada yada blah blah. Well, if their bruised egos need it that's ok by me because it's now pointing to something far more important to the greater good, namely that the SEC are going after Stanford right here and right now. And frankly I don't care how this ends and what spin is used by the guys in suits as long as justice is done.

A last word: The MSM and "serious" business publications are all over this story. Reuters has a crack guy on the scene in Antigua. Bloomberg, DJNW, WSJ, NYT, FT, all the UK dailies (to cover the cricket angle) and there are plenty of names missing from that roster for sure. The major biz media are moving and shaking. This is all good and the more we hear from the established outlets the better. Also note the scramble between bullshit analysts, bankers and financial advisors in New York, Miami, Antigua, Houston Caracas and all points between is now on to get a place in the sun and a quote on the news saying, "Yeah, well I knew there was something wrong at Stanford years ago blah blah....." like the bunch of hangers-on they were, they are and they always will be.

And so it goes. Because of all that and more this will probably be my last post on the issue, but remember where you saw it first, yeah? And whoever says whatever in the days and weeks to come, be absolutely clear that the whole thing has happened because of the momentum produced by a quality report written by a smart, independent analyst named Alex Dalmady.

Related Posts
Alex Dalmady, blogger
Alex Dalmady guest blogs on IKN (February 14th)
The Stanford Scandal: Alex Dalmady speaks
Mo' Stanford
More evidence that Stanford International Bank is in a tight spot
Four more on Stanford International Bank
As bad banks seem all the rage......

From a Porteño viewpoint: El Campo

El Porteño is making a quick return this week. This is good news as far as Otto is concerned because 1) his views are sharp and 2) it means I don't need to think, just translate a few lines and hey presto! decent and original content.

Today's missive from the heart of Buenos Aires concerns "El Campo", which can be translated as "the country / countryside" "the rural area" , "the farmers / farmworkers", "agriculture" etc etc. Before we get to El Porteño's words, I'll add that since last year's successful agro protest campaign against the Klishtina gov't the Campo has continued with its complaints, and as you'll gather from the words underneath the initial support from the general population has been waning significantly.

So on with the show, and here's El Porteño. Enjoy.


A Short Complaint Against the Campo

It's about time that small rural producers in Argentina realize they are being used by 20 or so large agro players. They send them to picket and strike while the big boys take off to Punta del Este (Ottonote: high-end beach resort in Uruguay) or Europe. The landed families don't even know what work is. They are people that haven't done a day's work in the last 150 years, they just live off their inheritances and lobby the government of the day (if it's friendly) or with the opposition (if not) or with their media buddies. Doesn't anybody realize that it's been this way in Argentina since the 19th century?

Due to the nature of my job I have quite a lot of contact with the 'Campo' and know without a single doubt that the big boys have made piles of money in the last five years. It's got to the point that they have so much ready cash they don't know what to do with it, as its also undeclared (ottonote: known in Spanish as "black") money. With the crisis that's coming they should shut their mouth and get to work. I'm fed up with them, they tire me out. They don't have the support of the population now, either.

We all have our problems, we pay our taxes and we muddle along on our own. They have to change their strategy, as more and more people are getting tired of their discourse. If their accounts don't square they don't sow, and they don't come along later with the argument of how there will be a food shortage, either. The fat cats don't sow and harvest out of love for their country, they only do it because they make a lot of money.

Enough of this hypocrisy. If any other industrial sector goes wrong, the businesspeople are screwed, they lose their investment and have to start over again. Nobody asks the government for help if things go wrong and we all pay our taxes in good times and bad. What's so special about the landed gentry of El Campo?

Firma y sello, El Porteño

Trading Post (non-mining edition)

While all around is fairly quiet, Brazil's Bovespa (+2.4%) and Argentina's Merval (+3.5%) indices are having a good day. Here's how they've done in the last three months versus the S&P500....not bad at all, really.

Both the BVSP and the MERV are benefitting from Petrobras this morning, the US ADR (PBR) climbing over $30 today. Now who was that who said that the drop to $18 and below in November was overselling and PBR was worth more? Oh yeah, that was I remember*.

Cosan (CZZ) up 1% at $3.77 and my fave Brazil play is still batting around the point where I sold half a few weeks back. There's plenty of time for this thing yet. I have $5 pencilled in as the target. DYODD, dude.

The ETF for silver (SLV) up 1% at $13.47. In November I posted this, saying silver was acting more like an industrial metal than a precious metal...totally true at the time (even though it pissed some people off). But now look at the recent action in silver compared to gold and the DJIA (using SLV and GLD as proxies).

Yep, silver has changed back from Mr. Hyde and is all peachykeen Dr. Jekyll on us again. Interesting, no? Be careful with has a split personality.

*pathetic, isn't it?

A small cog in a larger machine

Well nail me to the floor and call me Ethel, look what just popped up on the front page of Yahoo Finance (with auto-horntoot extract pasted below):


by Mick Weinstein

".............As Dalmady dug deeper, he found lots of problems with Stanford's products, documented them in a report called "Duck Tales" (if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...), then uploaded that report to the 'net for public consumption. Dalmady published the report in a Venezuelan econo-mag, but noticed that his work on Stanford only "really exploded once it hit the blogs. Miguel Octavio's The Devil's Excrement [at] took up the story on Monday the 9th, as did Caracas Gringo."

Salon's Octavio noted at the time: "For many years, I have been hearing stories about SIB. When most banks paid 3% in deposits, SIB paid 6-8%. No amount of digging or understanding would clarify what it was they were doing, much like Madoff did in the US, where he managed to trap some very smart people."

Latin American blog Inca Kola News carried the torch further on Tuesday: "I really stopped what I was doing and pulled the Stanford filings...and looked again. The fact that the bank has missed two relatively small recent payments while supposedly boasting a large liquid asset base is rather strange..."

Then Felix Salmon, blogging at, pulled together more yada yada continues here

Ventana Gold ( How placements can be done to benefit all concerned

"If it looks like a duck....."

There were plenty of readers for this post yesterday entitled "The boyz are back in town" where I had a go at the greedy and self-serving way many Canadian junior mining companies raise capital, often urged on by 'The Houses' that freeload juicy finder's fees and options deals. All this is, of course, to the detriment of the people that they have a fiduciary duty to, i.e. the shareholders.

As is often the case, along with the spike in views for a particular post there came mailbag (always welcome from strangers when swearwords aren't included). And one mailer, initials GG, asked a good question, the key quote from which was:

".....all these companies need to raise capital so the alternative is what...?"

Yep, it's a good point. Everyone and anyone that buys a Canadian junior knows (or should know) that its working capital doesn't just grow on a tree and it will have to go to market from time to time to get the money it needs to add asset (and therefore shareholder) value. Until the company actually starts producing (or is sold) that's just the way it is.

My beef isn't against placements, bought deals, dilutive rounds of capital raising etc etc. My beef is the way it's done, and to illustrate the difference between the kind of insult shareholders of Colossus Minerals ( had to suffer yesterday and the right way, here's another example from yesterday.

Ventana Gold ( is a company I've already mentioned on the blog (in this post entitled 'Ventana Got Gold'), due to its recent and very interesting drill results published earlier this month. Yesterday it announced this placement to sell 6m units (each unit is one share at $0.56 and a warrant at $0.90) to raise $3.36m in working capital. As a bonus to the PR, the company also announced it had snagged a very experienced and well-regarded geologist as its new Veep of explorations for the Colombia property. Here's the chart of yesterday's action in

Click to enlarge

What we note here is that the dilution actually added share price value. It made the stock suddenly popular (check those volumes). In a little over an hour the stock moved up 20% and everybody is happy. The new guys on board, the already-in shareholders and the CFO.

Why is this so? Simply because is being responsible. It's raising the modest amount of working capital that it needs via a placement that doesn't add massively to existing shares out (less than 10% in this case). Ventana is not adding an extra layer of fat to its coffers and screw ing the retailers the same way XRC.v or JAG or has done (to name but three recent examples). is thinking about all concerned, and it's notable that insiders at the company hold a significant percentage of those outstanding shares (over 30%) which means they're looking after their own pockets, too. Reader BF knows all about this part of the equation.

So kudos deserved by, and we get a timely example of how placements can benefit all concerned, not just a bunch of lardasses sitting up there in Vancouver or Toronto. Ventana Gold just went up another notch in my personal estimation....certainly one to watch, people.

Finally, let's take a guess at the next gluttony dilution, and by the way Canaccord (Wendell Zerb David Pescod et al) has been pumping International Tower Hill (ITH.v) (along with the track record of its BoD), I'd say that one is high up on the list. DYODD, dude.

Corrupt Peruvian police caught red-handed

Illegal logging in South America is a trade that catches plenty of attention in ecology and environmental protection circles. Much of the deserved flak is aimed at Brazil but on a per hectare basis, people such as the WWF recognize that Peru is an even bigger problem.

The Peruvian government, via its well-meaning Environment Minister Antonio Brack Egg (just the greatest name ever) has at least recognized that it has a problem on its hands. For example last year they voted a new law that raised the penalty for illegal logging from almost nothing to a mediocre deterrent. However, there's not much point in getting all legal on the gangs of illegals when the police force themselves are party to this lucrative, corrupt and extremely enviro-damaging business.

Yesterday, a plane was stopped at Pucallpa airport (East Peru jungle city) on its way to Lima. The local customs officials had previously got an anonymous tip-off that the plane was carrying contraband from the jungle, and thus it proved: the plane was carrying 9,000 m3 of virgin mahogany, lumber that is totally banned from logging, no doubts, no flim-flam, no second-guessing. But the cutest thing about it all was the plane is a Peru National Police Force (PNP) Aircraft, with PNP pilots, livery and the whole caboodle. Here's a photo of the plane itself on the tarmac at Pucallpa yesterday afternoon.

Hey boss! It's da plane!

A guy in Lima named 'Erick Arroyo' is the client for said lumber, owner of a company called Mi Sueño' (My Dream). We know the names of the aircraft crew, too (Rafael Fernando Ríos Zavala, José Bardales Rengifo, Oscar Bazalar Román, all police officers). The Commander and the General that command these officers are also now under investigation. It remains to be seen whether Peru will actually bother to prosecute its own corrupt functionaries for once, colour me sceptical and all that. As for the jungle and trees, with the law-enforcers up to their necks in this crime is it any wonder that nobody is ever punished in Peru for this environmental rape?

Chart of the day is...........

...........Venezuela's stock market index.

The lines go up, the lines go down. But the important thing to note is that the volumes for the IBC index have shrunk to virtually nothing in the last year or so (see notes at bottom of chart). This is something at least one prominent journalist who reads this blog will remember me as saying back in 2007. The reason can be summed up in five words:

Fixed currencies kill stock markets.


The Stanford Scandal: Alex Dalmady speaks

Allen Stanford looking cool, calm and relaxed.
A photograph that was not taken this week.

Over at Devil's Excrement there are two new posts up and both are required reading for all you people looking into the Allen Stanford / Stanford International Bank story (and that's a heap of you by the looks of my Google search hits).

1. This story by DiabloCaca himself that gives a pretty accurate timeline of how the story has gone from bubbling under in the Venezuelan blogosphere to hitting the world business (and sport for that matter) headines. M.O. is even kind enough to link this humble corner of cyberspace (and I hear ya MO on the H man).

2. Alex Dalmady, author of the report Duck Tales that is at the centre of the whole media turmoil, has written a post too. This is an unmissable post that shows how Alex stumbled upon the SIB story and how it moved from the Venezuelan inside biz circle to where it is today. And sincere thanks for writing a kind word about IKN, Alex. Appreciated.

Finally, there's this:
An extensive December 2008 interview with Allen Stanford in World Finance Magazine. Stanford is named "World Finance Man of the Year". The interview starts on page 32. Well worth a read.

This is the Devil's excrement owner post

This is the Alex Dalmady post

This is the Alex Dalmady post at Devil's Excrement's alternative site (just in case)

Go now.

Related Posts
Alex Dalmady, blogger
Alex Dalmady guest blogs on IKN (February 14th)
Mo' Stanford
More evidence that Stanford International Bank is in a tight spot
Four more on Stanford International Bank
As bad banks seem all the rage......
Stanford International: BusinessWeek and MSM getting busy now
PS to Alex: Any chance of a copy of that spreadsheet? otto.rock1(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Impressive advertising from Venezuela

Just as a bit of background, when I lived in Buenos Aires I used to hang out with people that worked at one of the large advertising agencies (the country branch of one of the multinational concerns). I remember well the day they told me one of the keys to any advertising campaign in South America:

"Speak to them as you speak to a five year old"*

So anyway, that memory flooded back when I saw this advert that's part of the Venezuelan government's "YES" campaign for Sunday's vote. Here's the original (and you gotta love the facial expressions on display here).....

....and here's an Ottotrans™ version I've just put together for your delectation.

Y'see, it's not just Fox News that talks to you like this.

*Translated, and with the swear words extracted

New recommended blog

I have a pal in Peru who's made a whole different set of life choices to myself. He's into surfing so much he's just started an English language blog about it all. I thoroughly recommend that you go over and visit Wave Journal of a Surfer in Peru as the writing is excellent, the love of his sport is evident in every line and he also gives plenty of snapshots of life in Lima and Peru in general.

A highly recommended antidote to the drudgery of business and the markets. Go visit today and see what I mean. Here's the link again so you have no excuse and you'll also find the link permanently on the right column from now on.

Peru: House sales down 45% in Lima

It must be really annoying for President Twobreakfasts when incontrovertible facts get in the way of his delusions. El Comercio reports that house sales in the capital Lima (by far the most sophisticated real estate market in Peru) dropped 45% in the 4th quarter of 2008 compared to the 3rd quarter. Also notable was the relatively low decrease in top-range housing (-7.4%) compared to the lower socio-economic groups (between 60% and 75% drops reported).

Slightly OT, let's add this report about how Repsol is deferring its $350m investment in the Peru oil&gas sector due to low prices. Then there's this report entitled "Peru Miners: project financing drying up on lower metal prices" from DJNW. And then there's the 8,000 mineworkers already laid off in the first two months of 2009.

All this must be part of that "strong macroeconomic framework" that the idiots at Fitch cited when they reaffirmed Peru's investment grade rating (with a stable outlook!!) in January.

Lime Slime's Brazil: Pyramids, scams and laundering

Our resident Brazil expert Lime Slime (who fills in for Otto's knowledge gap on the country so well he should take over the whole blog, frankly) is back with another dispatch from tudobemlandia. No further ado here, handing over to Lime Slime:


Pyramids, scams and laundering
by Lime Slime

Edemar having a bad day

Come over to Brazil today for a little history lesson that might be useful in the context of the L'Affaire Madoff and the teetering Stanford International Bank. A few years ago, Edemar Cid Ferreira, a Brazilian financier who overnight turned a small bank into a big commercial lender and trading house, was arrested for fraud. What was never reported in the media was that he had ties to the port operators in Santos, who are sleazy, corrupt and cut corners on everything: from paying taxes, to moving contraband, to laundering money. And his bank had all the red flags of a scam: robust deposit growth during a period of economic stagnation, crap oversight, concentrated ownership structure, a couple of poorly explained offshore units. It fit, in other words, Alex Dalmady's definition of a financial duck.

But it gets worse. Edemar, usng phony accounting and dirty cash, insinuated himself into Brazil's cultural elite, bankrolling big art shows and expositions, to make himself look legit and upstanding. The truth is, according to somebody I know who was deeply involved in the investigation, he was stealing deposits and instead of buying financial assets, was buying art. Most of the art has never been recovered because, well, you can get people to paint fake replicas of the stuff you own to hand over to the police, or just roll up paintings, stick them in a suitcase and, voila, a traceless crime.

So, I ask you, how much of owner Allen Stanford's $1 billion in personal wealth was really just, hum-hum, taken from Stanford Bank's supposed $8 billion in assets? And was the $100 million odd slush fund for garish cricket matches, and a polo-focused lifestyle, financed by him or depositors? Just askin'. Edemar and Allen have something in common, ya see, an obsession with the high-brow life and the desire to appear respectable that just doesn't fit with garbage accounting, murky management and fast money.

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Trading Post (the future is now edition)

Malaga ( up 30% at $0.17, though volumes low. is scheduled to publish its delayed 43-101 resoruce estimate of its Pasto Bueno tungsten mine in North Peru. It's one to keep an eye on here, as if it closes at $17c it'll be the first time since early October. Also i'll be an interested reader of its Year-end report when it hits, as the new power generation infrastructure is supposed to cut costs significantly. Disclosure: I don't own right now but I've traded it before at these pennycrapper levels. I also think it has more solid fundies than most imagine.

Southern Peru (PCU) up 4% at $15.20 and refuses to go away, even with the drop in copper. This is part of my LT portfolio and I've done very well on it, even though it dropped from the stratosphere last year with me on board. Hell, LT portfolios are like that. I like the Peruvian management a lot, the Mexicans less so. Proof of that is the rumour that PCU's Peruvian bosses are about to defer advancing its Tia Maria copper project against the wishes of Twobreakfasts.

Northern Freegold Resources (NFR.v) up 12% at $0.65. Not my geographical area at all, but this is getting a mention because a very good geologist that Otto can call a friend e-mailed this morning waxing lyrical about the drill results just published by the company. When people who know about rocks write what this guy wrote to me, I sit up and pay attention. DYODD, dude. Good volume today.

Nadagold down 3% at $3.42. Woof woof scratch scratch. I'm still short.

Dynasty Metals ( up 3.5% at $4.63, and along with Troy making my trading portfolio a fun thing to look at today. Low volumes are the downside.

The boyz are back in town

It's been a barren six months or so for da boyz, but it looks like they're back with a vengeance. Here are two examples of how the Canadian brokerages never lose.

Jaguar Mining (JAG) yesterday announced a $75m placement late yesterday afternoon. This is a royal pain in the behind for many people who have been lead to believe JAG didn't need to go to market this year. It's a stock this humble corner of cyberspace follows closely, and I was looking for a sub $5 number to buy back in (after selling nicely recently). Frankly, I was lucky that it didn't break 5 to the downside as I'd now be one of those swallowing this brokerage-inspired episode of greed. Luck plays its part in this game. Period.

As said before, I like JAG as a story. Also said before is that I don't like the lack of gold mining expertise and the overburden of numberheads at the director level. Gold miners are best run by gold miners, not slide-rulers. I certainly don't like this unecessary dilution, as adding 15m or so shares to the 53m oustanding isn't something to be taken lightly. Meanwhile.......

Colossus Mineral ( announced a $21.5m placement this morning. This is about as subtle as a poke in the eye with a pointed stick. Here's how it goes, folks;

1. Stick your diamond drill machine into a place where you KNOW you'll hit a beautiful return. I mean if lil' old me, in just one morning, can grab hold of this PDF dated 2002 that says the Serra Pelada zone just drilled would be hot, would you call this info a brand new discovery?

2. Announce the results with pipes and whistles, and make sure all your Canadian friends with CFA after their names hit the phones and make their client base fully aware of the numbers.

3. Don't mention anything about the very iffy local politics in Serra Pelada.

4. Watch that share price rocket on volume

5. The very next day, go to market and squeeze 'em all to the tune of $21.5m.

"Carpe Diem", or "You takin' the piss 'ere, pal?"....YOU BE THE JUDGE!

Strange coincidence to see The Albatross on the roster at Colossus, isn't it? I mean, Aurelian never tried to screw its shareholders into the ground in this way, did it? Oh, by the way, Albatross...nice timing on those options, dude.

Jan 21/09 Jan 21/09 Anderson, Patrick Fergus Neill Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 200,000 $0.480

The Canadian markets, the chummy-cosy managers of junior miners and the sleazy brokerages that have them all by the balls are a prize joke. And the funniest people of all are you retail shareholders up there who fall for these tricks every single time. Isn't it about time you got yourself a regulatory body that actually does something about the corporate criminals that ruin your investment life in quasi-legal ways? Nah...don't wanna ruin a good thing now, do we......?

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Mining Executives and The Art of Translation

Here's what they say (from yesterday's Mining Journal)


Inmet Mining will seek a strategic partner for its Petaquilla copper project in Panama, the Canadian miner's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Inmet took full control of the C$3.5 billion ($2.8 billion) project late last year after buying out the 26% stake held by Petaquilla Copper, and taking over the 26% stake abandoned by Teck Cominco as part of a cost-cutting move.

"It's very early days, but we recognise the fact that a project of this size would benefit from a strategic partner," Inmet chief executive, Richard Ross, said. "So, over the course of the next year or so, we're going to start to evaluate what our options are with respect to that."


And now here's what it means, put through the special BizEnglish-RealEnglish version of Ottotrans™:


Inmet Mining will beg for a strategic partner for its Petaquilla copper project in Panama, the Canadian miner's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Inmet got suckered into the C$3.5 billion ($2.8 billion) project right at the top of the market and just before spot copper did its swandive after paying multiples too much for the 26% stake held by Petaquilla Copper, and taking over the 26% stake abandoned by Teck Cominco because Teck knows when to cut its losses and throw its dogs aways.

"It's very early days, but we recognise the fact that we've made a right balls-up and a project of this size is way too much for us to do alone," Inmet chief executive, Richard Ross, didn't say. "So, over the course of the next five years we're going to stall and stall, not move forward in any way and pray to the market gods that either copper goes back over $3/lb or some other sucker takes it off our hands."

Mo' Stanford

Allen in happier times

Here's Felix Salmon keeping the wider world up to date with the latest down here. Excellent to see a big traffic blog caring about this story. Be sure to check out the comment underneath Salmon's post written by "anonymous" (one of the reasons I don't like that name appearing here).

Here's Bloomberg on Stanford today. Well worth a full read, but here's how it starts:

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Stanford Group Co., a Houston-based investment firm led by billionaire R. Allen Stanford, is under investigation by U.S. securities regulators over sales of certificates of deposit in its affiliated offshore bank and the consistent, above-average returns those investments pay.

Investigators from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority visited six Stanford Group offices last month, downloaded information from computer hard drives and looked through files, people familiar with the events said. Two former Stanford financial advisers were questioned last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they
yada yada continues here

BusinessWeek in on the act here, and the London FT via Alphaville here

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Chart of the day is........

.......a celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin.

Taken from this report in this week's USA Today. You developed nations make me giggle sometimes. Looks guys, even The Vatican is cool with evolution these days. As somebody somewhere wrote recently "I find it amusing that there's even debate on evolution in the USA.".


More evidence that Stanford International Bank is in a tight spot


Two stories from two sides of The World According To Allen Stanford point to the same conclusion; the dude has money issues.

Firstly, Nasdaq quoted Emageon (EMAG) was supposed to merge with Health Systems Solutions (HSSO.ob) with the (already extended) deadline being today. This is connected directly to Stanford International Bank (SIB) because it was the financial entity that had to come up with U$62m to fund the purchase. Unfortunately for all concerned, SIB has failed to deliver the cash, the dealine passed today and there's no word on reasons why as yet. Now that's strange when you consider that SIB claimed over a billion in liquid equity in its last client update at end December. Can't find $62m when you're supposed to have $1,000m lying around? Hmmmmmmmmmm. Here's how the news crossed the wires this morning:

9:02AM Emageon provides update regarding merger transaction; has been informed that Stanford Intl Bank will likely not provide financing necessary (EMAG) 2.51 : Co announces that it has been informed by Health Systems Solutions (HSSO:OB) that it does not expect that Stanford International Bank will provide the funding necessary to consummate the parties' merger transaction today. The merger was scheduled to close today, Feb 11, 2009, in accordance with the terms of the parties' amended merger agreement. EMAG is evaluating its options in response to this development.

And the result is that EMAG is today down 47%, the day's worst performing stock on the Nasdaq. The other story that points the "got cash?" finger at Allen Stanford is the imminent decision to drastically cut back his headline-making personal sponsorship of international cricket (his beloved and preferred pastime). The UK Daily Telegraph today reports that


"Stanford and the England & Wales Cricket Board are keen to make an announcement on the match's future before the start of Friday's second Test in Antigua.

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, arrived in Antigua on Tuesday evening. Antigua is Stanford's home island and it is there that he closed his cricket office at the end of last year.

Stanford's company have also laid construction workers off on the island and with the credit crunch squeezing the financial markets, he looks set to trim down his lavish outlay on cricket yada yada continues here"


All this at a time when his bank is reneging on deals and the SEC is renewing its scrutiny of SIB. Gotta make you wonder, hasn't it?

If I were one of the Latinos with part of the U$3Bn apparently held by people in SIB down here (there's over $7Bn in total deposits from 131 countries, apparently), I'd be thinking long and hard about what I really want to do with my life savings right now. Not only that, but if I were part of the Colombian Stock Exchange I'd be worried about suddenly losing the volumes created by the 4th biggest player in that market. Just thinking out loud, y'know.....personal opinion and all that......

UPDATE: Check out this no-beating-around-the-bush quote from the author of the excellent original analysis that set off interest in SIB these last few days. English language blog Caracas Gringo has interviewed Alex Dalmady and has him as saying the following:

“It took me less than 30 minutes to confirm that Stanford International Bank is a scam,” financial adviser Alex Dalmady tells Caracas Gringo. “All the data I needed was posted in plain view on Stanford’s web site,” he adds.

“I have only one question for Stanford’s owner,” Dalmady says. “Where is Stanford’s $8 billion portfolio? Where are the $8 billion hidden? Nowhere; they don’t exist.”

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