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USA to invade Andorra

Nobody tells me these things exist. It's been around for a year apparently, but reader ID just mailed it over today.

Maria Belen Shapur: The photo of Mark Sanford's Argentine lover

Maria Belen (for it is she)
click to enlarge

By way of stooping low and indulging in a bit of shameless, superficial weekend tittle-tattle, here's a shot of Maria Belen Shapur, the Argentine lover of South Carolina dude Mark Stanford, as taken from a TV report she did from NYC in 2001 when reporting on the aftermath of Twin Towers/911. Her fledging career as a Teevee talkinghead never took off, apparently. Anyway, you can see the whole video with her head and her lips moving and all that jazz by clicking through here and scrolling to the bottom.

At the time her last name was reported as 'Chapur', not Shapur. Now is it just me, or is it a bit suspect to have an Argentine resident in the USA with an accidentally mis-spelled last name?

UPDATE: It's all so obvious now! Thanks to the insight offered by Cheryl Williams, the Love & Marriage expert at The Charlotte Examiner, we finally understand the reason why Mark Stanford was cheating on his wife and lying to everyone else. The dude was in fact nailing his piece of Latina floozey BECAUSE HE IS A CHRISTIAN. Here's Cheryl with the enlightenment:
"Governor Stanford has discovered ...... being a Christian does not mean that you will never fall from grace. On the contrary, people of faith are just as vulnerable as anyone else when it comes to affairs of the heart. In a way, they may be even more vulnerable…due to their level of compassion, understanding and desire to help others."

UPDATE 2: Oh how boring....turns out that photo might not be her after all. So much for my weekend gossip sleaze...

Forget update 2...that's her

Honduras News

1. Prez Zelaya has thanked the OAS (head honcho Insulza), Mercosur (head honcho Lula I suppose, but don't tell the Argentines) and ALBA (head honcho Hugo, I suppose) for the support offered. The OAS has also resolved to send an overseeing mission to the country immediately. Right now the calls are for tomorrow's vote to be suspended, but there's still no clear resolution.

2. Boz has a couple of good posts that sum up the situation nicely-concisely. Read part one here and part two here. And methinks we'll get a further update later today so maybe just going to Boz's main page is the best idea.

3. The Mex Files also puts in a very informative post (RG wrote it...normal high standard), giving background to Zelaya and the people that oppose him.

The South America Swine Flu Sweepstakes Update 27th June

Here's the updated chart.

Click to enlarge

Chile stretches its lead again, to 6211 cases. Argentina zooming up towards 2,000 now and already has 26 deaths from the disease...plenty of McDs in Buenos Aires, folks. Peru has just put on a spurt and added 100 cases in the last 24 hours, but still can't peg back Brazil for third place.

Meanwhile, down at the foot of the table Colombia has added just 3 cases in the last few days and sinks to the bottom. No winter + no addiction to fast food = living la vida loca. Frankly you have more chance of dying from false positiveness than you do from the pandemic.


The Friday OT: The Whizzo Chocolate Company by Monty Python's Flying Circus

I thought about embedding a Michael Jackson tune, but as Ten Percent beat me to it with the best MJ track of all time (the awesome 'Blame It On The Boogie', go watch it on this link) there was little point.

So here goes with a triple bill of top Python taken from 'Live at the Hollywood Bowl'. First up is 'Whizzo Chocolates' (one of the finest sketches ever and often overlooked), then the wonderfully wonderful 'Albatross' (dedicated as always to Paddy Anderson...bless him) and finished off with 'Nudge Nudge'.

Remember; if we took the bones out it wouldn't be crunchy. Enjoy.

Honduras: "Coup in Progress"

Thanks Bina; you knew I'd steal it one day

An update on yesterday's post. The Honduras delgation to the United Nations has just declared there is "A coup d'etat in progress" in the country. The delegation says that "there is an attempt by some sector of Honduras society to overthrow President José Manuel Zelaya."

Meanwhile, the man in the centre of the supposed revolt, the head of the joint armed forces General Romeo Vásquez, told reporters today that the political situation in the country "is still difficult, but can be resolved through dialogue". He also explained the continuing presene of troops on the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa were due to said "difficulties". This, for me, is the kind of talk used by military chiefs that suddenly smell the political balance of power tipping their way.

It also fits in with Honduran opposition congressional moves to try and force the president to resign, all with the backdrop of Sunday's constitutional referendum that (if it goes ahead) will decide whether presidents will be allowed a re-election. Congress was apparently about to vote in favour of the destitution of its president but then both opposition and government members of parliament "received calls" and the final vote did not take place.

All in all, it seems that the death of Michael Jackson may be useful to the USA after all, carpe diem and all that. Also it seems like a step back in time to when Thriller was number one and military coups were all the rage this side of the Rio Grande. I mean, what would the US gain from having a Central American nation controlled by a military junta surrounded by countries with leftist governments, anyway.....?

UPDATE: Here's a comment from someone on the ground in Honduras that was just left in the comments section...worth adding here, I reckon. Thanks for the words, Wendy.
Wendy M Flood in Honduras said...

I am a Canadian expat living in Honduras.... I just wanted to clarify what Sunday's you say "if it takes place" is really about... I notice you have stated it's "to decide whether Honduran President's will be allowed a re-election"... This isn't exactly the's actually to decide whether the country will give the President the right to be able to change the constitution in any way he sees fit. ie to give him a "carte blache" to rewrite the Honduran constitution....many believe this means he will seek to remain in power perpetually, as his cohorts Chavez and Castro have done. This is what all the protests are about. None of the people want this. The Supreme Court has ruled the referendum illegal, has told the military not to comply with President Zelaya's attempt at a referendum on Sunday.
We'll see what happens.... He was able to push thru the ALBA agreement against the wishes of the people of Honduras...... Unfortunately many people here, will vote for whoever pays them the most.... I believe the going rate for Sunday's referendum is the equivalent of $26US.


Trading Post (outpouring of grief edition)

Ecometals (EC.v) up 55% at $0.155 on the news that it's going to do some drilling in the Zarza region of Ecuador. One way or another, I reckon buyers today are in for a religious experience. Betcha 99% of them don't know what terms like "reverse stock split" or "re-pricing of options" really mean. Totally untouchable by anyone with an idea of how microdot junior gold miners often try to separate you from your moolah, which means that 10% of the Canadian retail public will not be interested in this company. Caveat emptor writ large.

Dynasty ( up 1.4% at $3.75 and a bit of volume this week in this genuine value Ecuador mining stock. There have been some rumblings on the local and national political front, but almost exclusively from people that don't know what they're talking about. I'll be going into more detail in IKN9 out Sunday.

Crystallex (KRY) down a point at $0.21. I'll be talking a little about this stock in Sunday's IKN Weekly, too. Should be fun.

Fortuna Silver (FVI.v) UNCH at $0.91 on low volumes. Y'know, I really, strongly suggest that you buy some of the stock in this company as soon as you possibly can.

Caerus Resource (CA.v) down 8% at $0.46. Did you know the verb "caer" in spanish means "to fall"? DYODD, suckaz.

Appleton Exploration (AEX.v) down 8.3% at $0.165. My oh my, wasn't Karl lucky with the timing of his sales?

IKN makes Vanity Fair

To print our poems, the propulsive cause,
Is fame; the breath of popular applause.
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Thanks to reader GMR for the headsup on this.

Well blow me down and call me Ethel, this humble corner of cyberspace has made Vanity Fair! Check out this article on that dude Allen Stanford (it's really quite good indeed), but here below is the excerpt that has the author Bryan Burrough mistakenly calling IKN "popular" (but why he thinks it's snarky round here is beyond me......). I'm glad to say that Alex Dalmady get far more mention (cos he's the guy that really deserves the laurels, in the end). Anyway, here's the text:

"...Dalmady found himself returning to the Stanford Web site. In the interim, the Madoff scandal had hit, and his curiosity soon turned to suspicion. “It became obvious,” Dalmady wrote. “No one was looking at stuff like this. The S.E.C. had its head up its butt. So I dug deeper and put some numbers on a spreadsheet—took me about 30 minutes. It just got worse. Where was the portfolio? What were they invested in? [Twenty percent plus] returns on their hedge funds? No way. Outperforming the S&P in stocks? No way. With 30 percent deposit growth [i.e., money constantly coming in]? No way.”

"Stanford Financial, Dalmady judged, had to be a fraud. He decided to write up his conclusions in an article and offered it to an old friend who edited a Venezuelan financial magazine called Veneconomy, which published it at the end of January. At first, the piece caused little stir. Titled “Duck Tales,” it was front-loaded with complex financial analysis; Stanford Financial wasn’t even mentioned until page 4. But on February 9, a financial blog called the Devil’s Excrement republished it, at which point it was picked up by a popular Latin-American blog, the snarky Inca Kola News. The Inca Kola item, in turn, immediately became the focus of intense interest.

“So far today,” a post on the blog read, “this humble blog has had several visits from major newswires, three visits from the US Federal Reserve and one from the SEC, all using [the terms] ‘Alex Dalmady,’ ‘Stanford,’ ‘Madoff’ etc as keyword entries. Not to mention all those people from an island called Antigua and plenty from a company called ‘Stanford Eagle’ in Houston. Hi guys, having a nice day?

Regular reader 'Ward' wins with this comment left below:

Now that IKN has made it into mainstream media I'm expecting to see posts such as:

- Peru on track to meet GDP growth projections
- South America needs US economic stimulus
- Evo suspected of inciting separationist movement in Texas

Argentina's weekend election

"The famous arrogance of the Argentines does have
its ups and down, of course. Sometimes they believe
themselves to be the most important in Latin America
and sometimes merely the most important in the world."
Les Luthiers*

Argentina goes to the polls this weekend in its parliamentary elections. Up for grabs are about half the seats in the Deputies chamber (lower house) and about a third in the Senate (upper house). I haven't mentioned much about the election on the blog in the build-up to the big day. The decision not to cover the hoo-hah has been deliberate, even though I've been following the media coverage closely. The reason is that although it's a stern test for the Kirchner wing of the Peronist PJ party and there are some (for Argentina) semi-important to not-so-important side issues such as the battle for the left (Solanas vs Carrio) and the rise of the right in Buenos Aires Capital (Macri and Co)'s really not that important a vote.

This despite what they might believe in Argentina, of course. Today we have this report quoting one of the leading "Mothers of Plaza de Mayo" (the mothers of the disappeared association) Hebe de Bonafini as she calls on people to vote pro-Kirchner:
"This Sunday we cannot make a mistake. Our future and the future of our children depends on what happens over the next few days in the country, but also the direction that Latin America will take depends on it."
This is the typical Argentine bullshit, of course. It's very tough to make them believe that they don't matter in the great scheme of things, so rather than report all the claptrap these last weeks (the above is pretty typical, by the way) I've just ignored it. Let 'em vote, get it done, goodbye.

*If you don't know who 'Les Luthiers' are, you don't know what you're missing.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

One country, two worlds. Every so often, those silly little things known as statistics offer a little window of perspective to places unknown and lives unseen. And so it is with chicken consumption in Peru. Here's the chart...

...that shows people in the capital Lima eat an average of 58 kilos a year of the stuff (that works out at roughly half a chicken per week, man woman child). But then the national consumption of chicken, according to the Peru poultry people, stands at 28kg per capita, which includes Lima. So by assuming Lima holds 1/3 of the country's population (approx 9m to approx 27m is close enough for our purposes), that means Peruvians outside Lima get to eat around 10kg per capita in a year. Nearly six times less.

But maybe the funniest thing is that in its press release this morning, the Peru chicken association people are actually proud of all this. The Republic of Lima strikes again. Still wonder why there's social unrest in provincial Peru?

Chart of the day is....


Justify FullAs well as all the usual metallic mess on my radar, this chart has become a regular part of my screen. It's been real wild week for sugar, as you can see...that's a 10% move in a commod. Just imagine gold going from 900 to 990 in four days.


Possible coup d'etat going down in Honduras

Things are a bit confused in Honduras right now, but the basic story is that:
  • President Manuel Zelaya is trying to push through a change to the constitution to allow the president (i.e. him) to be re-elected.
  • A few days ago army general and armed forces head Romeo Vasquez refused to support the move for a referendum on the issue (claiming it was illegal) and was dismissed by his President last night.
  • His defence minister resigned, apparently in protest at the presidential decision.
  • This afternoon, the country's supreme court has annuled the presidential decree that sacked Vasquez.
  • Right now troops are moving through the capital Tegucigalpa and quelling disturbances, supposedly instigated by Zeyala supporters.
  • The President has asked the Organization of American States (OAS) for support.

Like I say, things are not clear as yet but there does seem to be a military move to block the President's greater ambitions. Whether this is a fully fledged coup right now, or the beginnings of one, or merely a show of strength to chastize Zelaya remains to be seen. It's worth mentioning that Zelaya has been polling very low in approval ratings in 2009, normally in the low 20s.

"Mel" Zelaya has a moustache

UPDATE: The region is calling out against "an attempted coup d'etat" at the moment.

UPDATE 2 SUNDAY MORNING: Latest news here

Cocaine: Good article in The Economist

Y'know sometimes The Economist talks crap on LatAm, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't it's a good place to go to get a snappy, concise view of issues down here and I'm glad to say that this report on the cocaine business is one of The Economist's better efforts. In not-so-many words it manages to get the nuanced view (not black'n'white like the normal dumbass reporting on LatAm in English) and also add up figures correctly (more than others bother to do).

Meanwhile, to emphasize that Bolivia really is doing a good job in cracking down on smugglers, another story hit today which tells how its FELCN drug enforcement agents took days to stake out a gang and then finally moved in, arresting an Italian, a Peruvian and ten Bolivians along with 232 kilos of marching powder. All without the aid of a safety net or the US DEA (often involved with the smuggling, not the arresting).

Finally, although clearly biased in favour of Evo's team I do like this headline from BoliviaSol today. "The Allies of the USA are the World's Biggest Producers of Cocaine". I like it cos it's true and it cuts to the chase.

Colombian Coffee: IKN leads, the rest follow

On May 27th
(nearly a month ago, gawdarnit), IKN featured a post entitled "You sure that Colombian coffee is from Colombia, Señor Valdez?" which pointed out the bad harvest in Colombian coffee this year and growing trade of Colombians buying coffee from other countries and passing it off as "100% pure Colombian" to its customers (you suckaz, for example).

This week Reuters has finally caught up with this humble corner of cyberspace in a report that includes:
While the shortage has been a boon for Brazil, whose beans some buyers had traditionally shunned but are now beginning to hold in higher esteem, the dearth of Colombia product has been more of a mixed blessing for other origins in the region.
Due to its quality, Colombian exporters have been paying large premiums for coffee grown on the lower slopes of the Peruvian Andes, carting it back over the border to ship it as local product, Peruvian producers say, disrupting local trade.

Toldya so.

Caerus Resource Corp (CA.v): Another day, another bunch of scammy, self-serving managers

Thanks to a headsup from reader NK (thanks dude), here comes another story of how the greenhorn is parted from the contents of his wallet by those who care about buying SUVs more than looking after their investors. Caerus Resources (CA.v) has recently sprang out of the nothing by performing a quick reverse merger. It added a few names to the BoD roster while keeping things under the radar. Then one day after putting its head above water and consolidating (Feb 25th 2009) a guy called Jon Lehmann joins the board of directors. Lehmann is the VP Exploration at Ventana Gold (, the rocket hotstock that's proving up its Colombian property and making cool headlines thanks to the drill results.

So then, in true Vancouver scamster style, come the quiet low priced financing, the sweetheart deals and the general inside "friends-only-at-this-price" carve-ups done at pennies. Also comes the classic "we'll allow directors on board that are owed money to swap debt for shares at 10 cents". After that, suddenly CA.v announces to the world the following headline

And hey! wow! surprise! These "gold interests" that the company has "acquired" are scattered around the very same area that Ventana Gold is currently working. Now how the devil did they manage to find out the places worth staking, Mr Lehmann? As the area is currently getting plenty of publicity, this kind of headline catches the imagination as a neighbour play...then when people see that CA.v has 220,000 hectares around the hotzone, the wallets are unleashed and the stock flies.

BUT! If you actually read the PR and not just the headline, what we have is a company that doesn't have a single area to its name in Colombia. All it has is a letter of intent (a LOI, those famous mining documents that may as well be written on toilet paper) to take over a local company called "White Gold" that has a subsidiary called "Oro Barracuda" that has applied for the right to explore some 220,000 hectares up in that corner of Colombia. Or in other words, CA.v has acquired nothing. Zip. Squat. Nada. What it has is a piece of paper that says it'll take over a company that owns another company, as long as that company manages to secure the concessions it has applied for with the government of Colombia.

Not exactly "acquires gold interests", is it? And especially when just last week the Colombian government passed a new mining code specifically designed to stop "concession squatters", meaning that it will stop small miners like CA.v from claiming extra-large concessions unless they can prove they have the wherewithall to be able to move exploration forward the case of CA.v, the staff involved here couldn't even hike the area they want to claim, let alone explore its geological assets in any reasonable timespan. This brand new law is made to stop scamster speculators like Caerus in their tracks.

So anyway, the company fanfares this bullshit about acquiring 220,000 hectares and as the headless chickens that populate the stock market never bother to read small print, up she goes on the pump scam PR.

Reaction of management? Yep, you guessed it, they take da munneh and run. So far only Drummond (ex-minera andes) has filed....

Jun 23/09 Jun 18/09 Drummond, Arthur Darryl Indirect Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -11,666 $0.580
Jun 23/09 Jun 18/09 Drummond, Arthur Darryl Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -7,499 $0.580
Jun 23/09 Jun 18/09 Drummond, Arthur Darryl Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -5,000 $0.590

....but it's dollars to donuts that there are more to come. No wonder McEwen chucked him out of the head chair at recently...would you buy a used gold mine from this man?

And as for our pal Lehmann, who joined the BoD at Caerus to get his hands on some cheapo shares and options in exchange for telling the other self-serving pondslime which parts of Colombia to stake, he suddenly resigned due to "potential conflict of interest". Laughable. This is the calibre of staff that Ventana Gold is using to move forward its multisquillion ounce gold project? When it comes to Colombian gold juniors, caveat emptor should be front'n'centre.

Karl Kottmeier, Appleton Exploration and another story of Canadian cover-ups, corruption and impunity

Once upon a time there was a student of history named Karl Kottmeier at UBC, Canada. While finishing up his studies, he was embroiled in a rather shady and unsavoury affair when C$8,000 was "borrowed without permission" by Kottmeier from a students' society of which he was treasurer. The graduate's body (overseeing the affair) voted that the matter should be passed on to the RCMP, but in the end Kottmeier escaped wider punishment as those around felt he had suffered enough.

As befits a graduate of history, he became an investment advisor for stocks (!) and such in Vancouver (certainly fits the part). After one turn and another, he found himself at the entrepreneurial end of the junior mining business and heading up a couple of microcap miners.

Late last year his company, Rockgate Capital (RGT.v), bought out Delta Explorations. One of Delta's assets was the Manalo Gold project in Mali, West Africa. Then early this year RGT managed to option out said property to Appleton Exploration (AEX.v), the deal involving AEX.v moving forward with a drill program on the site. As part of the deal, Kottmeier beame a director of AEX.v and found himself holding 155,000 shares of the company and cheapo options to boot.

All very nice. So now we cut to June 15th, 2009. This because AEX.v published a NR that screamed it had hit an intersection of 192g/t Au (6.17 ounces of gold per tonne) over 10 metres at the Manalo site. The share price rocketed from the 20c-or-so level to 60c and beyond, even though the NR was "rather vaguely worded"....and that's being generous.

So what did our hero and newly-minted director at AEX.v, Karl Kottmeier, do when he heard his new company had hit paydirt and the stock was rising fast Very easy; he sold all his shares.........

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -30,000 $0.300

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -22,000 $0.330

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -3,000 $0.335

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -15,000 $0.350

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -25,000 $0.350

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -10,000 $0.370

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -10,000 $0.400

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -20,000 $0.490

Jun 16/09 Jun 15/09 Kottmeier, Karl Eric Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -20,000 $0.540

....for the sum total of $59,610 and made himself a very nice profit. He then immedataely resigned from AEX.v on the very same day that his share sale happened. to be filed Why so? Because having had the Manalo property as part of Rockgate, he knew that the asset was a total piece of shit and that the press release from AEX.v was a made-for-greenhorns scam in true Vancouver bullshit style. So he took the money and ran. And sure enough, when the NR hit the wires yesterday to explain that the drill interception was less 10m at 192g/t and more one single metre that hit lucky on the same band that had been discovered previously the stock dropped like a stone.

There are many petty and not-so-petty thieves like Karl Kottmeier that populate the backwaters of Vancouver's capital markets and do what they want with total impunity. A guy with a track record of "borrowing" money from student societies while studying history....and then becomes a stockbroker? Who then becomes becomes head honcho of a junior miner? Gimme a freakin' break here!!! And the funniest thing is that there are always a whole bunch of idiots that throw their cash at a scamster operation such as this without doing the slightest bit of DD on the people or the companies. PT Barnum was right about one being born every minute.

As for Kottmeier, as usual expect nothing from the OSC or other Canadian regulatory bodies, spineless creatures that they are. But even worse, expect no word from the wider junior mining community, as the very people that should ostracize scum like Kottmeier will keep their lips buttoned tightly...for fear of being investigated themselves.

Canada: The world's most corrupt capital market, populated by thieves and funded by suckers.

Mark Sanford, Maria Belen Shapur and Bunge (BG)

It turns out that this South Carolina dude Sanford was doing things with a certain Maria Belen Shapur, who works for soybean people Bunge (BG) in their Buenos Aires office. The good news for Argentina is that right now its GDP is clicking up a notch or two thanks to the number of gringo journalists suddenly swarming round the Palermo barrio of town. A friend lives a couple of doors away from the alleged lair of Shapur and says the road is currently blocked due to linguistically challenged hacks and their photographers.

Meanwhile, sombrero tip to RG over at mexfiles for this screenshot photo of Sanford on Fox News yesterday....subliminal advertising, anyone?

God Bless the moral leadership you guys up there example to us all.


Last night in Brazil, the Argentine soccer player Maxi López (white skinned) called one of the Brazilians in the opposing side "a monkey". He was detained by police and not allowed to leave the country until he'd made an official declaration.

Meanwhile, the white-skinned Bolivian opposition can call Evo Morales "a monkey" any time they feel like it, even during public speeches, and if Morales seeks retribution he's accused of authoritanianism. Seems to me Brazil has evolved more quickly than Bolivia.

I applaud Brazilian authorities for stamping down hard on the merest hint of disgusting racist behaviour and I laugh in the face of ridiculous white gringo hacks like John Enders (stringer for the Herald) that use the racism card when clearly bigoted themselves.

Chart of the day is

...the Gold / Silver ratio, year to date.

The last time i put up the GSR, a mailer asked me to explain a bit more as to why it's an interesting chart to follow (for me at least); here we go.

Watching the GSR is a good way of noting fear versus a certain extent that is. Basically, the more nervous people get, the more they'll prefer to hold gold over silver. This is because gold is money, gold is the long-standing store of wealth, gold is the safe haven metal etc etc.

And silver is......well, it's silver. The pretend precious metal. The one that claims brotherhood with gold but is mostly produced as a by-product of base metals (zinc and lead, usually). Neither fish nor fowl, silver maintains a positive beta relationship to gold.

When times are good, silver will appreciate faster than gold as people buy into the precious metals side of the metal. When times are nervy, silver exasperates its fan club (the dreaded silverbugs; people that make goldbugs look normal) and sells off at a faster rate than gold (supposedly due to Goldman Sachs using massive put positions on Comex and despite being the metal about to be used in the new Mexican currency, or the Amero, or whatever other tinfoilhat theory is fashionable).

All this can be summed up in one simple phrase: People trust gold more than silver.

So due to all that, we can use the GSR to gauge market sentiment. Right now the GSR is rising from a recent 62X (one ounce of gold buys 62 ounces of silver) and stands at 67-and-bitsX. However, the 200dma is flat and the 50dma still points lower, so the trend is still downwards.

Mixed signals between the very short term and the short term, then. Further fear will send that line up, more greed will send it down. DYODD


Ira Rennert buys Twobreakfasts a present

The thought of caving in to his own people must be far too much to bear, so Twobreakfasts has decided to drop his trousers and prostrate himself at the altar of gringo capitalism....again. Rather than do what any prez with cojones would do, i.e. kick the scamster Rennert out of the country and seize his assets until he comes up with the cash Ira's siphoned from Doe Run Peru (DRP) all these years, Twobreakfasts is going to give Ira and his messy pals yet another extension to the timeline for cleaning up DRP at La Oroya (one of the ten most polluted places on earth according to the Blackstone Institute). Ira won't give a damn about the new deadline either...he just wants the money. Here Reuters;

LIMA, June 23 (Reuters) - Peru's government said on Tuesday it may give troubled Doe Run Peru more time to complete an environmental clean up of its La Oroya smelter as it tries to persuade the company to meet the terms of a financial bailout plan.

Banks canceled the company's credit lines about four months ago after metals prices fell. In April, a group of mining companies that sell concentrates to Doe Run Peru agreed to give it a $175 million credit line if its parent company, U.S.-based Renco Group, met two conditions.

The stipulations were that Renco had to fill a $156 million financial shortfall in its Peruvian unit and pledge its shares to the Peruvian government as a way of promising that its unit would finish an environmental cleanup project at one of the world's most polluted sites.

So far, the conditions haven't been met.

"The government has said that we could evaluate the environmental issue, which appears reasonable, but we won't extend it for five years or three years, we will reach for something more adequate," Labor Minister Jorge Villasante said on yada yada continues here

Revolutionary Rubles

The funniest thing is that North America is still under the impression that LatAm owes it a great favour and that we humble souls down here just can't get anything done without their magnificent presence. Why do I get the feeling that Rusoro won't need to go through the Canadian rip-off brokerages to get its next round of financing....?

Hat tip reader 'TL'
Russia and Venezuela signed a deal Tuesday to set up a new bank with starting capital of four billion dollars (2.9 billion euros) to fund joint projects as Moscow ramps up its role in South America.

The agreement was signed at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's residence near Moscow by the deputy finance ministers of the two countries.

"We are moving to a high level of political and economic co-operation," Putin said as he greeted Venezuela's Vice President Ramon Carrizalez, who told Putin there was now a "strategic" partnership between yada yada continues here

Still on the road

Or in the words of Jack....

Well....nearly. At least the bed was comfy last night.

Chart of the day is.....

...the Venezuela Bolivar Fuerte (VEF) to US Dollar (USD) parallel exchange rate, 2009 to date.

With PdVSA reportedly upping its July dollar bonds offer to U$3Bn (we'll find out for sure Thursday) we may see a bit of improvement in the permuta....or we may not. On a more general note, ever since that Miami slush house closed its parallel exchange business back in March (note spike), the bid/ask gap has been wider than a house....good business to be in, methinks....


The South America Swine Flu Sweepstakes Update June 23

Here's the new chart, folks.

Click to enlarge

Uruguay finally released its figures and has jumped right up the chart with 195 cases. But biggest mover is Brazil, scoring 94 cases in just one day (Monday) and snatching third place from Peru.

Runaway leader Chile hasn't updated its numbers for a few days, so that 4,315 is surely higher by now. UPDATE; 10 minutes after publishing Chile came out with its new number, 5,186 cases....the chart above has been updated. Reports in Chilean media now talk about "collapsed health services" with the number of cases (and suspected cases) swamping hospital staff. Happy days.

Social tensions rising in Peru again

After listening to PM and dumbass Yehude Simon say last night that Peru's gov't was "not weak" in the face of protests, this morning we have news that the Armed Forces have been given authorization to intervene in troublespots, such as Cusco, Andahuaylas (11 day protest and counting) and of course the Doe Run Peru (DRP) roadblock at La Oroya, which happens to be on a strategically important highway. The measure is by decree and lasts for the next 10 days in the Cusco, Apurimac and Junin regions.

Also, Gran Combo Club made a very sharp observation over the weekend when comparing El Comercio (Peru's lapdog newspaper of record) and its current coverage of Peru's social troubles with Chile's El Mercurio in the 1970's and 1980's when Pinochet was in power. Here are the two examples shown in GranCombo for those of you versed in the local language.

The similarities of blaming "infiltrators" for any social problem is say the least.

Now I gotta run. Have a cool day, people.

On the road

Your humble correspondent is off on a trip that starts in about 20 minutes. Posting will be light but not non-existent as I should have chance to blog this evening and tomorrow morning, but won't get the luxury of drinking coffee in the office until Wednesday evening.

Troy Resources ( We like this, oh yes we do

Where it's at.

Check out this Reuters note from yesterday (HT MontyHigh from Worldofwallstreet) about Troy Resources' ( new Casposo project in Argentina. Here's how it starts, click thru for the rest;

BUENOS AIRES, June 22 (Reuters) - Casposo, an Argentine mine operated by Australia's Troy Resources TRY.V, will begin to produce gold and silver next year after an $87 million investment in the project, an executive from the company told Reuters on Monday.

Construction at the mine in San Juan Province, some 785 miles (1,265 km) northwest of Buenos Aires, should be complete this year and the mine will employ at least 200 people when it is operational.

"What we have said is that we could start the construction before the end of the year, now I quite clearly see we are probably going to do it faster than that," Ken Nilsson, operations director for Troy Resources said in an interview in Buenos Aires.

"And the planning (for production) is for 12 months after starting the construction but again I'm hoping to do it quicker than that. My personal target is the beginning of July (of 2010)........."


Meanwhile, for those of you who think that Argentina isn't the right place to be if you're a mining company, I say to you "wrongo", cos you really need to know what part of Argentina you're in. Here's a small extract from the latest issue of The IKN Weekly that subscribers (i hope) have already read and digested.
"On Friday the governor of San Juan, José Luis Gioja, defended the development of mining activity in the province and stated that thanks to this sector they “now have a important productive trajectory”. Gioja spoke in favour of of mining development during the presentation of regulations for suppliers to the Pascua Lama project being developed by the Barrick mining company.

"The presentation was held in the Civic Centre of the capital of San Juan. According to the governor, “the people of San Juan had national laws that promoted the local economy, such as agricultural and industrial promotions. Now we no longer have those tools of promotion and we have suffered somewhat (due to this). But now we are getting back on our feet again; we have found an important productive trajectory and the State is not the only entity that is creating employment, even though there are those who attack us and dont tell the truth.” He also assured the audience that “mining activity represents progress and growth for San Juan” and that “miners will be made to respect environmental impact studies and strict rules and controls to avoid pollution........”

There's plenty more where that came from. Moral of the story; know your region. The other moral is ; Buy the other other moral is subscribe to the IKN Weekly, cos if you did you'll already know this and a lot more.

Chart of the day is.... copper, the 60 day chart.

nuff said.


Happy New Year

Photo taken at yesterday's Andean New Year (June 21st) ceremony at the Kalasasaya* ceremonial grounds in Tiahuanco, Bolivia. This year is marked down as number 5,517 but all involved admit that's a guess. The number is taken by adding five millenia to the 517 years since Colombus 'discovered' the Americas. The above shot is of one of the main Yatiri (priest, shaman, wise man if you choose) in full ceremony, burning what looks like the aromatic wood 'palo santo'.

*Sounds impressive, but in its original Aymara language simply means "place of the upright standing stones". However a visit to Tiuhuanaco is by no means mundane; a very special place and well worth putting on your wish list.

Bagua: International Extremist Terrorist Spotted in Peruvian Amazon

My stars, the Peru government was right all along. There are extreme left-wing foreign agent provocateurs infiltrating their lands and causing uprising amongst those little brown people after all. El Comercio reports that Interpol listed commiepinko gunrunner subversive OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN was spotted attending the Shipibo People's conference in Ucayali, Amazonia this weekend. The good news for locals is that she voiced support for their cause and was named "cultural ambassador" by her indigenous hosts by way of honour.

The bad news for the locals was she sang a song.

Trading Post (I like a laugh edition)

Well, two choices here. I can give it the "OW! OW! OWWW!!! Mommy stop it moving I wanna get off" blow by masochistic, navel-gazing blow to our favoured stocks or I can just ignore all the bad stuff and laugh at the dogs that are also getting beaten to a pulp.

I choose laughter.

ECU Silver ( down 6.5% at $0.58...HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA! Remember that $0.90 printed on June 2nd?? What dumbass bought that block???

Nadagold (NG) down 8.4% at $4.24...that's a mere 14% in three trading sides hurt, stoppit stoppit!

Oroco Resource (OCO.v) down 17.5% at 0.165. Was it you that bought this PoS at 25c on the advice of that German IR pusher getting paid thousands by the company to write BS about this dog? How you feeling now, stooopid?

Colossus Minerals ( down 6.5% at $2.46. HEHEHEHEEHHEEEEEEEEEE!!! 24% since last week!! HAHAHAHAAHHAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA..

Jeesh, waddya want from me, neutrality?

Explaining basic concepts to financial journalists: Part One, the word "Growth"

Journalistic dumbassery surrounds us poor souls trying to sort the wheat from the chaff in LatAm, but it gets a bit tiresome when you even have to explain to local hacks what phrases like "trade growth" mean. Take for example this headline from Reuters about cocaine production in Bolivia, "Drug trade grows in Bolivia, Peru - U.N"

It comes from the UN report that Bolivia's cocaine production grew by an estimated 9% to stand at 113 metric tonnes (MT) in 2008. But what is conveniently forgotten by the gringo agenda-laden hacks is that production might have gone up 9MT but the amount of cocaine confiscated by drugs officers in Bolivia rose by 10.4MT to 28MT in the same period (winning praise from the UN in the very same report).

Soooooooooo....86MT of cocaine trade in 2007 and 85MT of cocaine trade in 2008...and Bolivia's cocaine trade "grew"?


Doe Run Peru: Peru's main central highway now blocked

As explained on IKN last night, workers at Doe Run Peru, La Oroya are now on indefinite strike. Same people have also blocked the main "carretera central" highway that runs inland from Lima and is an important trunk road for the country's mining activity.

According to reports, police are turning back all traffic before it gets to the site of the block, thus isolating the protest (from view?....nasty feeling in pit of stomach about the near future, anyone?). And although there are 2,900 fed up DRP workers present and on strike the gov't is already spinning the protest as the work of "extremists" in its usual "blame anyone but the culprits" manner.

That same "extremists" argument is also being used to explain the protests today in Cusco that threaten the annual "Inti Raymi" festival that's always popular with foreign tourists. In fact, the protest has been rumbling on for months on end and is all about how local tour guides are under threat from new gov't plans to make the job of tourguiding available to anyone, thus making a mockery of the three to five year studies that current guides went through to get their qualified positions. But markets always favour quantity over's progress, ya knowz...

UPDATE: Good Spanish language coverage, with original on-the-spot photos and all that jazz, can be found at Huanca York Times.

US To Trade Gold Reserves For Cash Through

Thank you Trend&Value for the headsup. This is as good as it gets.

US To Trade Gold Reserves For Cash Through

Gracias La Cebolla...que grande!

Aaaaahhh... BOHICA*

Are we having fun today, mineheads?

HUI down 5% this morning...oh yummy

Now here comes the strange thing; all I see all around the biznews outlets are the same headlined stories from Bloomie, AP and suchlike screaming about the World Bank dropping world GDP estimates from -1.7% to -2.9% in 2009.

"Stocks Fall on World Bank Forecast; Dollar, Yen Rise", says Bloomie

"US stock market declines as World Bank reduces 2009 forecast for global economy", says AP

But the World Bank announced this revision plenty time ago, as Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism correctly points out (before the G8 meeting, in fact). So what makes it move markets today, oh journalistic world? Smells veeery fishy to me.

*Bend Over Here It Comes Again

Peruvian electricity demand; the canary in the coalmine

One of the main problems I have with Peruvian economic statisticians is the amount of bullshit they feed to the market. Today's example is from the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) that trumpeted this morning about its +1.7% YoY rise in electricity production in May 2009.

Production? Why should we care about production when the real important figure is the level of demand? So once again your humble correspondent is forced to wade through the headlines (that are picked up by the lazy journalistic world and spewed out to the tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear brigade) and go a huntin' and a snufflin' for the truly important numbers. And what do we find? Yes indeedy, electricity demand is flat...0.0% YoY, which follows on from the 0.8% drop in demand in April.

Justify FullThe thing with electricity demand is that you can't stockpile it so it really shows what's going on in a country. For sure you can oversupply the market. Pretty simple really; just leave the hydroelectric turbines running overnight on one weekend and you have a +1.7% oversupply. But you can't hide the fact that industry is running dead flat, so once again we get a bullshit headline trying to paper over a simple truth; Peru isn't growing and it matters not one jot what FinMin Liar Carranza forecasts or pontificates about his pie-in-the-sky 3.5% GDP growth. By the look of his recent 19% approval rating it seems the general population can smell his BS, too.

Chart of the day....

...comes with a corny joke. Crude oil futures daily candle again.

Oil's well that ends well.


Doe Run Peru: Showtime

Workers at Doe Run Peru (DRP) are going on indefinite strike at La Oroya, Peru as of 10pm tonight.

This represents a significant acceleration in the ongoing dispute at the plant which is already closed due to lack of funds. What's happening is, in a nutshell, the workers fed up with the patsy patsy game of negotiation going on between owners Renco (owned by Ira Rennert) the Peruvian government and clients of the smelter (i.e. regional metals miners) and demanding action. They don't want to be laid off for the next 90 days as is the current plan. They want their jobs back.

This isn't a case of protestors stopping industry; au contraire, it's a case of a workers' movement sick to death with the intransigence of the suited brigade and getting busy to force them into a deal. But it also means that the strike could get nasty, as if the protestors get militant and start blocking the main central highway that runs through La Oroya (well, just next to it in fact) there are (according to reports) already anti-riot police on hand to make sure this vital link road is kept open.

IKN8 is out now....

...and subscribers should have received their copy. Any glitches and send me a mail, guys (though last week it all happened smoothly). As for contents, this below is the intro section to give you all an idea of what this 22 page, 13,000+ word edition of The IKN Weekly holds:

Welcome to the eighth edition of The IKN Weekly. The NOBS report this week looks at Dynasty Metals ( ‘Regional Politics’ covers Colombia, Peru and Argentina. The ‘Market Watching’ section has a list of five pennyplay miners that might fit the bill if you’re looking for a high risk addition to your portfolio and also has a third-party lowdown on one of my fave microcaps. All that and lots more, so let’s get on with it.

Not on board yet? Feel free to mail me to find out more or just use the subscription button over there on the right. A month will cost you just U$25 and is easy to unsub if you decide it isn't for you. Risk/Reward ratio in your favour :-)

Twobreakfasts approval rating drops 9 points to 21%

The thing about populations is that they've consistently proven themselves to be much smarter than either politicians or media outlets give them credit. Today's opinion poll published by IPSOS Apoyo is the regular monthly roundup of approval ratings in Peru, but is also the first one to be published since the Bagua massacre. Here are some of the choicer details, but you should click through and look for yourself; there's a lot of info and even basic Spanish should see you through (numbers are numbers, y'see);

  • Twobreakfasts' approval rating drops 9% to stand at 21%
  • His disapproval rating rises 15% to stand at 78%
  • Prime Minister Yehude Simon's approval rating drops 10% to stand at 25%
  • His disapproval rating rises 17% to stand at 61%
  • Finance Minister Luis Carranza's approval rating drops 7% to stand at 19%
  • His disapproval rating rises 9% to stand at 60%

Also, 63% of those polled said Yehude Simon sould resign, and a full 73% said Interior Minister Mercedes "nothing to do with me" Cabanillas should also resign. As for "who's to blame" for the Bagua massacre, here's how the percentages line up (more than one answer sometimes given)

  • Twobreakfasts 57%
  • Cabanillas 39%
  • Simon 24%
  • Alberto Pizango 17%
  • National Police 17%
  • Extremist Infiltrators 11%
  • Foreign Infiltrators 11%
  • Native Communities 7%
  • NGOs 5%
  • other/no answer 6%

So much for Evo Morales getting the blame, eh? As my personal favourite stat, 92% of Peruvians think that Amazon natives should be been consulted before the "law of the jungle" decrees (DL1064, DL1090) were passed. It makes the Peruvian embassy's argument last week look as stupid as it is and shows that Peruvians aren't going to settle for anything less than democracy.

All in all, it's good to note that the people of Peru weren't led up the garden path by the heinous propaganda spewed by Twobreakfasts and his lapdog press corps this month. The country of Peru really does deserve far better leaders than the dross it has to put up with.