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News and advice from Haiti

A blog friend and fine fellow (he much prefers to keep his name off the public record, so not even initials this time) is currently helping out the relief effort on the border of Dom Rep and Haiti. He's just sent over some news and advice and allowed me to re-print it here (slightly edited to protect ID):

I am working with the Dominican Civil Defense helping to coordinate convoys participating in relief efforts from Jimani, the closest town to Port au Prince where trips are being staged twice daily (6:30AM, 2PM). If you know any individuals or organizations wanting to send aid, this is the best route to avoid the problems being caused by the US military at the Haitian airport.

If anyone plans on personally traveling to Haiti, it would be best to come with an organization that has a vehicle. We can send people by bus, but space is limited. It would be nice if people would really think about whether their skills are truly needed at the moment so they do not just become another mouth to feed.

Medics, translators (Haitian Creole, French), etc. are particularly needed.

Anyone coming to Haiti needs to bring a tent and whatever else they need for sleeping. I have been surprised by how many have shown up without such essentials. Keep in mind there was another earthquake Wednesday and aftershocks continue to rattle the area. Last night we felt brief shaking in Jimani, but it was not enough to knock anything over. Volunteers need to consider the psychological effects of these tremors before heading to the island.

The Civil Defense has long been underfunded, so even basic office supplies are lacking. If you want to donate toward relief efforts, Partners in Health and MPP (a member of Via Campesina) are the only organizations I would personally recommend, as they work at the grassroots level, with the big picture in mind. Un abrazo

Stay safe dude, and more power to you: You know who you are. Un abrazo pa' vos.

Presidential Approval in the Americas at end 2009

Those nice people over at the reliable Mitofsky ratings agency in Mexico have put together their regular "poll of polls" for leaders in the Americas (I'd say 'Presidents', but Harpo is there) as at the end of 2009. Here's the chart (click it to make it bigger), below some comments:
  • Martinelli and Funes top the bill, but both are still early into their terms and enjoying that honeymoon period.
  • Lula is Yoda.
  • 'Chelle (Chile) and Tabby (Uruguay) are now wrapping up their very successful terms and both should be congratulated on good jobs done.
  • Uribe (Colombia) is still popular but has been dropping all through the year, his attempt to muscle in on the May elections largely to blame.
  • Evo (Bolivia) and Felipe (Mexico) batting well enough and Lugo (Paraguay) at 50% doing just enough to get a green.
  • The Hawaiian (USA) under 50% already? That didn't take long, did it?
  • Studmuffin (Ecuador) has seen a sharp drop in 2009, a lot due to the electricity crisis late year but the unemployment inertia is to blame too.
  • The ones in red? Yep, totally agree. All of them "ugh".

Finally, you'll note that Hugo Chávez doesn't make the list. Mitofsky doesn't cover him in its poll of polls, probably because they like to be accurate and the polls that come out of Venezuela show wild differences. For example, the latest December numbers for Chávez from pro-gov't pollsters IVAD have him at 60.3% while the pro-oppo Datanalisis guys have him as low as 46.3% for exactly the same time period. I wonder why.........


The Friday OT: Conan O'Brien and the Bugatti Veyron Mouse

He's ok I suppose, but I'm no wild fan of Conan (or Leno for that matter, before you start commenting). However, I know when a guy is getting screwed by BigCorpWorld and I love it when revenge is taken sweetly.

Especially appreciated is the backing music. Enjoy.

Note to sellers: Thanks

My absolute favourite moments in the stock market are those times when a whole row of people line up in front of you and say, "Please take my money".

As subscribers already know, this humble scribe added 30 minutes after the bell this morning. Some subscribers did the same, for example 'BT' who wrote in with (excerpted):

"Thanks much for the heads-up on Fortuna...... didn't notice the large drop until your email. Picked up a bunch at 2.21."

Was today the absolute bottom in (and silver/gold stocks in general)? I dunno, but what I do know is that Barry Ritholtz is a smart guy. For more, see Monkey Time post below.

Monkey Time

On a day like today it's worth revisiting and pasting up the smartest words concerning investment I read in 2009. The quote comes from the esteemed Barry Ritholtz (sidebar for IKN Weekly subscribers; this ties in nicely with the Flash update sent out this morning) and should be memorized by anyone who trades the markets. Essential reading. Enjoy:

What is the greatest financial lesson you’ve ever learned?

You’re a monkey. It all comes down to that. You are a slightly clever, pants-wearing primate. If you forget that you’re nothing more than a monkey who has been fashioned by eons on the plains, being chased by tigers, you shouldn’t invest. You have to be aware of how your own psychology effects what you do. This is why we as investors sell at the bottom, get panicked. All the other lessons I’ve learned have come out of that. As has the field of behavioral economics.

Wall Street clichés, like “cut your losses and let your winners run” come back to prevent the monkey part of your brain from doing what it does. There’s a banana–I want it. That’s how chimps behave. Us humans react to greed and fear in predictable ways. We are predictably irrational. If you understand that you can take steps to prevent that–we don’t own anything in the office that doesn’t have a stop-loss on it. In 2008, we watched the market go down 40%. We figured out we’re chimps, and don’t let the chimp inside us make those chimp-like decisions.

Every good financial decision I’ve made comes from, “Wait a second, monkey boy, step back, don’t do that.” Once you realize how your own brain chemistry works against you, it gives you a chance to not panic at the bottom.

full article here

Evo got a new job (just the same as the old job)

Yesterday, Dr. Evo Morales was sworn in for his second term as President of Bolivia. Just like the first time around, the ceremony took place at Tiahuanaco (or Tiwanaku if you like...same place) and a jolly fine time was had by all.

Here's the man...

...and here's a shot of the dozen or so supporters who showed up at the gig.

Mate de coca served. The end.

Taseko Mines ( (TGB): Not lucky but naughty

Hi Trevor!

On Wednesday this humble corner of cyberspace noted that those lucky lucky directors at Taskeo Mines ( managed to squeeze themselves a multimillion dollar options handout on the day they received a vital permit and the very day before they published the news of that permit to the market (and added 25% or so to the stock price).

Yep, better born lucky than rich, boyz.

However, it's not so good when they go on and just plain straight break the rules on options payouts. The latest filing over at shows that Trevor Thomas (the corporate secretary and a man that should know better, being all legal beagle and that) got handed out 27,000 options on Jan 18th:

Taseko Mines Limited (TKO)

As of January 21st, 2010
Filing Date Transaction Date Insider Name Ownership Type Securities Nature of transaction # or value acquired or disposed of Unit Price
Jan 21/10 Jan 18/10 Thomas, Trevor Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 27,000 $4.770

The problem with this isn't the size of the award. It's not the eligibility of Thomas, either. The problem is that a company cannot legally award options at any price lower than the day's trading range (in fact, normally they go for the closing price of that day). As we see Trevor Thomas got his priced at $4.77, which is as strange as strange can be, cos the low for that day was the right at the opening bell $5.10 and the close was a whopping $5.83, over a dollar higher (and by the way, he can't even claim the options are at the US price, cos the 18th was MLK day and the US markets were closed).

The thing is, Trevor is a busy busy dude, being corp sec at Taseko and also working at Hunter Dickenson and Arooraq and Amarc Resources and Continental Minerals and Farallon Resources and Northern Dynasty and Rockwell Diamonds...PHEW!! What a busy boy! So it's my guess that busy busy all over the place that Trev, being busy and that, wasn't hanging at the office on the right day and just got forgotten on that round of options handouts. So he sees the filings and gets his "Hey! Waddabout me?" message through to the board who then go "Oh Crap! We forgot Trev in the rush to dole out the cheapo goodies in time.....sorry Trev!" and try to repair the damage. The only problem is that they have tried to do it by illegal means.

You really gotta wonder if this board at have their own back pockets as the main agenda at the company...........

Chart of the day is....., futures daily candle.

We like higher lows.


The Next IKN Weekly, Out Sunday 24th January

Over at The IKN Weekly we know how to say 'goodbye' to stocks not just 'hello' and we don't just recommend buys and then leave you hanging there wondering whether it's time to book profits. Amid the banging and clattering of the market we've recently sold two of our 15 positions*. One has just nailed us a book profit of nearly 140% (and nearly everyone who bought into the stock will have cleared over 120%). The other gave us a 68% profit in almost exactly two months, from 1st reco date to sale time (and is now 16% lower than our sale price).

As for this weekend, we are featuring a NOBS fundamental analysis report on a junior exploration gold miner that's flying under everyone's radars and looks good for a speculative trade. We're going to go through the story of the stock, point out its pros and cons and make a call that allows you to decide whether or not it's right for your own risk profile. As well as this new coverage, there'll be all the usual fun and frolics as we catch up with market happenings, political developments and coverage of our new feature, The Copper Basket. And lots more as usual.

So why not give our subscription service, The IKN Weekly, a spin for a month? At U$25 a month it won't break the bank and if you decide it's not for you the subscription is easily and quickly cancelled with no quibbles and no fuss. The button is over there on the top right of the blog.

Blatant promo pump over. Have a nice day y'all.

*Another thing we don't do is recommend 183 stocks and then claim victory on those that go up while conveniently forgetting those that fail. We recommend a maximum of 15 stocks at any given time and follow them all, the good and the bad.

Trading Post (all you need to know edition)

No further comment necessary.

UPDATE: Well come to think of it, there is one more thing worth noting. If gold holds U$1,080/oz in the next couple of trading days, we're currently putting together yet another higher low. In the words of Douglas Adams, 'Don't Panic' (not yet, anyway).

Colossus Minerals ( Just lucky I guess......

click to enlarge

It has to be luck.
I can't think of a single other reason.
Can you?

Affinity (79F.f) and Constitution (CMIN.ob): Catching up on the Peruvian alluvial gold scams

First up is the Peruvian alluvial gold stupidity known as Affinity Gold (AFYG.ob) (79F.f) and ever since this post that noted the stock was trading at 24X asset value, things just haven't been the same for the scamsters.
So far it's 57.7% down and there's still an awful lot of dropping left to do, folks. Cue owl:

Now let's drop in on Constitution Mining (CMIN.ob)
, the other joke gold miner currently trying to pretend it's worth multiples more than its asset value by pumping an alluvial gold project that has all the same hallmarks as Affinity. The chart has also been looking weak....
.....but the real fun here are the latest regulatory filings. Here we see how the main insider is milking the company for all its worth by contracting out the social relations side of the scam to his own company for the cool sum of U$10,000 per month (and a whole bunch of expenses on top of that fee). Here below is part of the filing and the company referred to is 'The Stocker Group', run by a certain Michael Stocker. Amazingly, this deal was struck just before the latest 'management realignment' that made the new President and CEO for CMIN.ob.....yeah you guessed it already....Michael Stocker! :

The “Company” shall receive a fee based on work load for its services rendered during 1 (one) year (Oct. 2009 to Oct. 2010). The following fees will apply and be invoiced monthly.
(a) Hourly time charge: For meetings, telephone conferences/calls, etc. of less than half a day fee is USD 200/hour.
(b) Daily time charge international consultants: For periods equal in duration to, or exceeding, half a day fee is USD 1300/day. Between 0.5 and 1.0 day the charge is pro-rata. Local consultants in Peru will be charged at a day/fee of USD 600/day. The compensation rate has a cap of $1300 payable in any business day.
(c) Travel time is charged at the same daily rate.
(d) Consulting services provided by Dr. MICHAEL JOHANN STOCKER pursuant to this agreement will be limited to USD 10,000/month.
(e) Reasonable, proven expenses (travel, accommodation, meals, major ‘phone charges, etc.) are charged at cost with no mark up. Receipts are provided for all charges.
(f) Flights, and combinations of flights, of 3 hours or more in duration are in business class.
(g) The company may terminate the contract with 3 month’s written notice.

This milking isn't something new, though. As the filings show, in 2009 Stocker managed to cream off $90,000 directly for himself and another a cool $257,130 went to his other company, 'Stocker International Inc', all for the line items known as 'consulting services' (my, those overheads, eh?). All this from a company with a 7X ratio of market cap to NAV and on a current 18 month exploration program that according to the same filings needs even more money thrown at it else be curtailed.

Yes indeed, PT Barnum is alive and well and living in Santiago, Chile.

Holy Crap! The Canadian regulators actually do something worthwhile for a change

Did you catch this on Tuesday? I wasn't around, but a kind e-mail pal gave me the headsup this morning. The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) has actually done something about cleaning up the cruddy, shady image of scamster junior miners it quotes on its boards as one of the very worst of the lot, Copper Mesa ( has just been de-listed after review. Here's the PR from the 19th:

TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - DELISTING REVIEW - Copper Mesa Mining Corporation (the "Company") - Further to TSX Bulletin No. 2009-1680 dated December 14, 2009, TSX has determined to delist the common shares (Symbol: CUX) and the transferable share purchase warrants (Symbol: CUX.WT) of the Company at the close of market on February 19, 2010 for failure to meet the continued listing requirements of TSX.

As you may (or not) know, Copper Mesa was once upon a time known as Ascendant Copper and used terrorist tactics (not joking, check out the youtubes parts 1 to 5), attempted kidnappings of protestors etc etc to try and force forwards its project in the Intag region of Ecuador. After getting kicked out of Ecuador by Studmuffin, Ascendant changed its name to Copper Mesa and tried to hoodwink the world again (and even got pinetree to buy in recently), but now here we are with a de-listed company, thanks to the TSX.

Canadian regulators have always been notoriously toothless in the face of the scamster companies they host, so in my little Utopian dreams I'd like to imagine this week as a turning point and the TSX/OSC and all their pals saying 'no more mister nice guy' to the dozens and dozens of scamster companies out there. Call me naïve at your own leisure at a later date, if required.

Understanding South America through soccer; part 562

Legendary football manager Bill Shankley once famously said "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that" so on that subject here's a short note from AP that made its way here via the NYT this morning.
A soccer player who acknowledged killing a heckling fan last year played Tuesday for the Colombian club Atletico Junior. Javier Flórez said heckling fans challenged him to a fight after Atletico Junior lost a Colombian league match July 5. Flórez said he was drunk and pulled a gun. He said a fan tried to take the gun away and it went off several times. He said he did not intend to kill anyone. Flórez was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years’ probation.
European soccer players = total whusses. Mojitos served, the end.

Peru's distorted economy

Farid Matuk has been in fine fettle these last few days, whacking into the hypocritical Twobreakfasts government by using the facts on offer, not the simple bluff and bluster served up by this most pathetic and unpopular of governments.

First up, via this Matuk post we see how Peru's economy is in fact two different economies; there's the one that the dumbasses at Moody's and S&P fawn about which is based on the 1/3rd of the population living in its capital, Lima. This chart taken from this report in La Republica (and re-labelled in English for your viewing pleasure) shows clearly the continued concentration of wealth in the capital, this despite all the silly lies proferred by Twobreakfasts about spreading the love around thew whole country:
(click to enlarge)

For the record, that's 53.3% of all employment in the country centred in one spot.

Next up from Matuk was this, separate but relate, subject. It seems that Peru's official lapdog INEI stats office, second in the continent only to Argentina's as manipulative bullshitters, want to measure the country's economy, GDP growth etc by ignoring those parts of the economy that haven't been performing so well! Yes indeed, all you need to do to get a positive GDP figure these days is to ignore the whole of the agricultural sector in your official census figures and make shit up later.

But Peru can get away with all this, y'see. Peru got da AmerikaFriend lurve. Peru not got da Hugo bad mojo. Peru got da media coverage that will never, ever question the substance and always go for the style.

Viva investment grade. Viva, viva, viva.

Chart of the day is.....

.....the US Dollar index, futures contract daily candle:

The recent move seen this week sure looks similar to the first few days of December. At least to these eyes.


Exeter Resources ( Count me in on the spin

I 100% agree with the fine-eyed Toby Shute over at TMF and his call on Exeter Resources ( as regards the spin out of the Cerro Moro gold asset in Argentina (apart from a small quibble over numbers, as the 646k oz Au is bound to go up while the 16g/t grade is bound to go down and Shute makes no mention that the current inferred resource is still in early days......check the maps, Toby).

Anyway, here's the link to Toby Shute's article on Exeter published today; it does the heavy lifting for me and I like his call, here so go read over at his house. A good, succinct report.

And by the way, If you're wondering where you heard the spin out story first, it was here at IKN on November 18th, 2009. Pip pip!

Trading Post (you sure pick your days to come back edition)

And the market is bathed in the pretty shade of red. So be it. Ten minutes before the bell, just time to squeeze in a Trading Post.

Fortuna Silver ( down 4.1% at $2.57. Congrats to the FVI crew on getting dot tee oh after its ticker (at last) but even that's not saving Fortuna from the bathhouse today.

Taseko mines ( UNCH at $5.47. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Radius Gold (RDU.v) down 7% at $0.4o and slightly stuffed today but still a great recent run. Subscribers received a Flash update concerning this stock just after the opening bell today (and subber 'TS', your mailbox bounced again, sir).

Ecometals (EC.v) down 2.1% at $0.92. What's that, 42c off its recent high? The year-to-date chart sure is nasty whatever that recent high was, so waddya say owly?
Still got plenty to drop, though. Horrid.

Caerus (CA.v) down 2.2% at $0.225. Tell me; since the obvious happened, has that shameless shiller Thom Calandra stopped pumping this bullshit to you?

Taseko Mines ( (TGB): Lucky timing, boyz

As the old saying goes, Better born lucky than rich, proven once again by those lucky lucky directors over at Taseko Mines ( (TGB) and their lucky lucky timing. On Jan 15th, this news release hit the wires that started....

VANCOUVER, Jan. 15 /CNW/ - Taseko Mines Limited (TSX: TKO; NYSE Amex: TGB) ("Taseko" or the "Company") received the environmental assessment certificate for its proposed Prosperity Gold-Copper Project from the BC Provincial Ministry of Environment on January 14, 2010.

"Obviously we are tremendously pleased with the Provincial Government's decision. We put considerable effort and Company resources into the documentation and process and to have now received this approval is both gratifying and rewarding," says Taseko President & CEO Russell Hallbauer.

.....and saw the stock shoot from sub $4.50 to over $5 instantly.

And by total, utter chance, look who awarded a whole bunch of options to themselves the day before that NR came out:

Taseko Mines Limited (TKO)

As of January 19th, 2010
Filing Date Transaction Date Insider Name Ownership Type Securities Nature of transaction # or value acquired or disposed of Unit Price
Jan 19/10 Jan 14/10 Mundie, Richard Direct Ownership Options 00 - Opening Balance-Initial SEDI Report

Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 Mitchell, Peter Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 200,000 $4.460
Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 Armstrong, William Paul Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 100,000 $4.460
Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 Coughlan, Terrance Barry Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 100,000 $4.460
Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 Battison, Brian Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 150,000 $4.460
Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 Jones, Scott Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 150,000 $4.460
Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 McManus, John Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 200,000 $4.460
Jan 18/10 Jan 14/10 Hallbauer, Russell Edward Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 300,000 $4.460
Jan 17/10 Jan 15/10 Kirk, Harry Wayne Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -50,000 $5.140
Jan 15/10 Jan 14/10 Dickinson, Robert Allan Direct Ownership Options 50 - Grant of options 100,000 $4.460

"Gratifying and rewarding" indeed. Monty Python sums it up:

Charts of the day are....

....all about minimum salaries in South America. While catching up on some reading I should have done months ago, these datasets hit my eyeballs and they're worth sharing. This first chart....

....shows the minimum wages in the South American countries mentioned in 2008 (we don't have the 2009 data yet, apparently the CEDLA study will be updated in March this year).

Then this chart......

.... shows the PPP of the same countries (or if you like, the number of dollars you'd need to buy the same amount of stuff in the USA).

I was surprised to see the PPP of Paraguay so high. Venezuela's PPP has just taken a big hit from the deval of course, but I also read that Hugo is hiking said minimum wage by 25% this year which will ease the drop for sure. And yes, Bolivia is a poor country. We knew that. Argentina's low wage bracket does relatively well even under its high inflation scenario. We knew that, too.

It's nice to be back, by the way. Nice vacation and batteries replenished. According to that nice mister google I have 3,294 mails, so that'll keep me occupied for a while