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No better way to round off 2011

Reader, IKN Weekly subscriber and all-round good egg 'JMD' sent a great mail to both your humble scribe and Gary over at Biiwii yesterday. It included the video you see below and it would be great if you took five minutes out of your life and watched it, too.

100% agreement here. Thanks JMD, you made my day.

Aca hay lo mismo pero con subtítulos en Castellano, para que todos puedan verlo (y no hay excusas).

The most viewed IKN post of 2011

Amongst all the guff, nonsense and throwaway tat you get on this blog it was kind of gratifying (for me at least) to have checked the back stats this morning and see that of all the posts this year 2011, the one that has received the most hits of all was actually quite a useful one.
"Portage Resources (, a pump and dump scam" written on June 17th got more individual look-ups than any other post this year (modesty forbids naming the number, but we can say that in scientific terms it was a veritable shitload), so if this humble corner of cyberspace stopped just one market greenhorn from being sucked into that scam it gives a nice, happy, warm and fuzzy thought with which to end the year.

Wishing all reader a happy and healthy 2012.


The Friday OT: ZZ Top; La Grange (live)

Rocking out the year

Ohhhh, Mercy

The only "2011 Year In Review" type thingy that's really worth your time... that of Tom Tomorrow at This Modern World. It's a two-parter this year as well, so double your fun.

Guaranteed enjoyment.

Happy! Happeeeeeeeeee!

The WIN/Gallup end of year survey that goes by the name of "Global Barometer of Happiness" hit the streets yesterday, with 58 countries questioned about general levels of happiness. Here below is the chart with the main payoff and, being LatAm obsessed as we are, those countries we care about most deeply get arrows.

click to enlarge

We note:
  • All five regional countries score pretty well, with the relaxed dudettes and dudes in Colombia topping LatAm at 71% net happiness and even the notoriously grumpy Peru making the top 20 worldwide.
  • Strange that Mexico wasn't included, too big a country not to be listed, methinks.
  • Seriously, what do they put in the water in Nigeria?
  • Oh look, The world's richest country languishes at 33%. What's that saying about money and happiness again?
Shortcut to the poll results and presentation here (pt 1) and here (pt 2)

Soros calling bear on gold

Via Ritholtz, this Bloomie segment with George Soros. Ritholtz notes in his post that:

1) Gold is closing up again this year
2) Soros cut 99% of his exposure to gold in 1q11
3) Here he says that gold is "on the brink of a bear market"

Fair enough, and as history suggests Soros is pretty good at this investment thing plenty of people will take notice of his call. As for me, I'll stay long gold. Call me stupid if you like.

Chart of the day is...

...the U.S Dollar (USD) index:

Because it's still the centre of the universe.


Catching up with Portage Resources (

Starting on June 17th with this post and running thru July, August and beyond (eg here and here and here and here and here if you need more evidence) we tried our very hardest on these humble pages to warn you about the pump'n'dump scam Portage Resources ( So let's see how things have panned out since then:

It closed at three point one US cents this that good or bad?...hmmmm...

Anyway, expect all the OTC junior scam thingies, including the latest toadstool North Springs (NSRS.ob), to do exactly the same. They always do.

So what's the reason behind Sunward Resources' (SWD.v) comparative strength right now?

That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 
The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot 
As your humble scribe surveys the wasteland left by December's mauling of his juniors portfolio, only a couple of stocks stand out from the rest due to their resilience. So what is it that's made Sunward Resources (SWD.v) move up when most all around, including the gold price, have sunk?

This chart shows near neighbours to SWD.v at Titiribi in Colombia, namely Bellhaven (BHV.v) and Batero (BAT.v), as well as the gold ETF (GLD) as a decent proxy to gold over the last ten days.

Kid Dynamite's "Douchebag of the Year" competition is now open

The annual "Douchebag of the Year" award, 2011 version, is now up for grabs so go over to KD's post and leave your nomination in the comments section. I've put in mine.

The Where's Waldo?™ World Championship Final was held in North Korea earlier today

And here's the result:

Congrats to the winner, thanks for playing to all the finalists

Chart of the day is... that tracks the year-to-date share price performance of the "Cardero Group" companies:

Please note that we include Cardero Group companies that Henk & Co have apparently disowned and refuse to advertise on the Cardero Group corporate website any longer. Oh man, it beats me why they'd want to turn their back on Dorato Resources (DRI.v), after all it's only 96% down on the year.

Wishing all you loyal Henk Van Alphen followers a happier 2012...which isn't going to be too difficult.


Big power outage in South Peru

As at 3pm local time (3pm EST), basically the whole of the South of Peru was blacked out with zero electricity supply. The blacked out regions include the departments of Arequipa, Cusco, Puno, Moquegua and Tacna and authorities are looking to get electricity supply back again "as soon as possible" (aka between 15 minutes and a couple of days).

And yes, this probably means that Southern Copper (SCCO) isn't performing as well as it normally does...amongst many others.

UPDATE: Aaaaaaaaaand, we're back. It took just over an hour but supply is now being restored, region by region. Not so bad and definitely at the "15 minutes" end of our estimated time window. By the way, the apparent reason for the mass outage was a lightning bolt direct hit on the San Gaban power station in the mountains of the Puno region, which is understandable as the sierra rainy season is now upon us and in Puno the rains invariably come via electrical storms. All well that ends well, though.

Full Suriname via a blog post

Amongst the depressive guff the market and the world news flow is throwing upon us all today, your humble scribe would like to take time out and cheer you all up no end. This is done by heartily recommending the new post over at Bear Shaped Sphere that Eileen has written about her recent trip to Suriname (part four of a series).

Let it be clearly stated: Eileen is an excellent travel writer and what's on show at this link is ample proof. Go read now and see for yourself and once you're done, check the Bear Shaped Sphere front page and look up parts one, two and three of her series, too.

North Springs Resources (NSRS.ob) is a scam

It gets boring watching these obvious, 100% bullshit scams pop up like fetid toadstools and in the end the best advice we can possibly offer is that if a company is a junior exploration miner that's quoted only on the US OTC market, it's almost certainly a scam, but to illustrate the point let's note the recent move in North Springs Resources (NSRS.ob) as it's showing the classic modus operandi of the scumball-driven scam vehicle.
  • Silly optioning-in deal on some precious metals project somewhere (often in US or Mexico, in this case the USA).
  • Recent change of sector for the company (in this case NSRS.ob was an O&G play, now suddenly into hard rock mining).
  • Pitifully small staff roster (in this case, the only listed manager or director is a scumbag named Harry Lappa).
  • No assets and a negative working capital (in this case for example, as at the last quarterly NSRS had $16 in cash at the bank...yes, that says sixteen dollars and zero cents).
  • Recent share count swindle (in this case, NSRS decided that having 348m shares outstanding just wasn't enough and decided to double the count to 696m shares).
  • Bullshit debt facility, in this case an eventual $1m drawdown (that will never happen) with a Panama registered front for some band of scammers called Kazuo.

I could go on and on. And let's note the last couple of days in NSRS.ob share price action, because its current 32c share price gives the stock a silly market cap of $222m (in fact it's worth less than nothing), sees the price closing in on double that of yesterday morning and in the process has traded over 100m shares, 99.9% of which are certainly bullshit swaps from one hand of the scamrunners to the others as they wait for the suckers to turn up and feed their beast.

On a scale of one to stupid, you score stupid if you even consider getting involved with scams like this. They are built for suckers and so don't be one...just avoid this crap and true pieces of market shit like Harry Lappa. And as mentioned above, this advice goes for all OTC-only mining stocks. This IKN public service announcement is now over, have a nice day.

UPDATE: The moment this post was published marked the day's high price in NSRS.ob, with the stock now (about 45 minutes later) trading at 28c. Almost certainly a coincidence....

disclosure: no position of any sort in this worthless junk and it'll definitely stay that way.

The day of the innocents

Up in the North you have April 1st, normally known as April Fool's Day (or you can be an April Fish in France if you like) but down here, the day for pulling jolly japes and precious pranks is today, December 28th, and is known as "Día de los inocentes" (day of the innocents). The system is pretty much the same as April 1st up there, as you play your joke and then cry "¡INOCENTE! ¡INOCENTE!" when the other falls for it.

But the best, by a mile, I've seen today is the front page of Venezuela's satirical site El Chigüire Bipolar. which has this up as an obligatory front page (you then get to click thru to the normal front page). Your author translates underneath:

For us the other 364 days are for jokes, today we get serious.

In 2011, there have been more than 18,000 violent deaths in Venezuela.

El Chigüire Bipolar wishes you a Happy Innocent's Day

IKN back and, sadly, it's not a joke.

Cancer in South American Presidents and a very large tinfoil hat

  • Fernando Lugo of Paraguay is a left wing President in South America. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.
  • Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is a left wing President in South America. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.
  • Lula da Silva of Brazil was until last year a left wing President in South America. He was recently diagnosed with cancer.
  • Dilma Rousseff of Brazil is a left wing President in South America. She went through a bout of cancer recently and is currently in remission.
  • Cristina Fernandez is a left wing President in South America. She was very recently (i.e. it came to light yesterday) diagnosed with cancer.
  • Cristina's husband, Nestor, was a left wing President in South America and died of a heart attack less than a year before most analysts and commentators in Argentina were confidently predicting his return to the Presidency this year. On his death, Cristina stepped up and was re-elected.

And before we go any further, let's remember (thanks to a brain-nudge from reader 'JC' this morning) that Evita Peron was also a cancer victim, so the similarities between Evita and Cristina just keep on mounting up. So with the scene set, I direct you to this link and below sample the first sentences in the top three paragraphs to set the scene:

"In 1975, during the Church Committee hearings, the existence of a secret assassination weapon came to light."

"Can you give a person cancer"

"The answer to the question - Can you give a person cancer - is yes. After nearly 80 years of research and development there is now a way to simulate a real heart attack and to give a healthy person cancer"
And thus ends your humble scribe's blogerial duty to spread tinfoilhat conspiracy theories and scare the bejeepers out of you by shining the light on ThePowersThatBe and the Bilderberg lizard people (is that right?). The rest is up to you.

UPDATE: Reader 'JM' reminds your author that Jack Layton, charismatic head of Canada's left wing NDP party, died of cancer on August 22nd this year.

UPDATE 2: Thank you to those who have sent in links to today's story about Chávez suggesting that the US is behind the cancer outbreak in local Presidents. Four things to say:
1) You can stop sending me those links, guys. Fact is I read it in Spanish before you read it in English, ok?
2) It's true that this post was up before Chávez said his thing. However, this does not mean that Hugo is a regular reader round here. Fun thought, though.
3) Here's the link to the CNN EngLang version, which is now getting repeated in other places.
4) This is the answer I sent to the first five people who sent me the link. I wrote it to the first one and then just pasted it to the others.
Well yeah, CNN's note is par for the course for outsiders looking in. Y'know, it might be a little less Pavlovian to reflect that Chavez hasn't survived as long as he has by being a stupid politico. And perhaps....hey just perhaps....there's a deeper reason why he says the things he says sometimes (not just this example). Oooh, i dunno, maybe such as keeping his core support intact for a date he has with the ballot box on October 7th. Fact is, he doesn't care two hoots what foreign chatter or the Venezuelan middle/upper class say about him when he comes out with these things. His mind is on other matters.

Menem, Chavez, Fujimori, Uribe, Clinton. It doesn't matter what you think of their different brands of politics but they have one thing in common: all political animals. But hey, maybe I'm wrong and Chavez is just an idiot that's been lucky to stay in power all this time.

Chart of the day is... that shows the amount of trust that countries in The Americas place in their armed forces:
1) Interesting to note that in The USA, the public is as well-trained as its army.
2) Mexico surprises me, frankly.
3) Chile trusts something that uses guns and gets heaps of metals generated cash to work with. This does not surprise.
4) At least Peru is true to form on this question. They trust nobody.
5) And what on earth could Argentines have against State run armed forces? Oh yeah...that small matter of 30,000 disappeared in the 70s...


GDP growth in The Americas, 2011: The Top Five

The benchmark macro stats people in LatAm, CEPAL/ECLAC of Chile (and by appointment to the UN) have called the following for the top five GDP growers in the region for 2011:

Top spot for Panama (and we hear that canal is bursting at the seams, too), so hats off and three cheers for Supermarket Man Martinelli

Number two is Argentina and number three is Ecuador, which is why you won't hear much about this list in the biased northern media. After all, we can hardly talk about left wing success stories, can we?

Number four comes Peru and five is Chile with both of those keeping inflation in check as the growth kicked in as well (though Chile did benefit slightly artificially in year-over-year terms thanks to the very big 2010 earthquake that 1) dampened the 2010 figures and 2) brought extra (re)construction work online in 2011.

Data from here (the PDF is free, though you have to register).

Breaking: Argentina's President has cancer

First there was Lugo of Paraguay, then came Chávez of Venezuela, followed by Lula of Brazil. Now comes number four as Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, recently re-elected President of Argentina, has today been diagnosed with cancer of the right thyroid gland and will be operated upon to remove the cancerous tissue on January 4th 2012.

We also know from official reports that the cancer has (apparently) not spread to other parts of her body, that CFK will be  hospitalized for between 48 and 72 hours, though she will be taking medical leave until January 24th. In that time, Veep Amado Boudou will replace her as Head of State.

So what is it with being President of a South American nation that makes you susceptible to cancer all of a sudden? Four in one year is just bizarre.

UPDATE: Official Presidential communique here

I want a job at The Motley Dumbass pumping Great Panther Silver ( (GPL) too...

...because over there, you get the Never Wrong fairydust sprinkled all over you.

We've been laughing at the incessant pumping of Great Panther Silver ( (GPL) by The Motley Dumbass all year and, lo and behold, it's a helluvalot lower now than when 2011 began. However, the Foolish Ones have now slipped smoothly into "yeah, but just wait til 2012!!!!!!!!" mode on their pisspoor reco, as seen in this note today.

The article is in itself slightly revelatory because we finally...after all this time...get some sort of admission by the shameless pumpers that 2011 didn't turn out quite the way expected. This was because TMF decided to parrot the crap spewed out by GPR management about the low cash cost (proven false) and superduper production forecasts (also blown out the water) offered up at the beginning of the year. but that doesn't stop the bullshit and sleight of hand from continuing unabated. We note, for example, that the Motley Dumbass line nowadays is "Well, it's not GPR's fault, cos it was bad for the whole sector", as we quote:
"But it's been a difficult year for a number of silver and gold miners; even Coeur D'Alene Mines (NYSE: CDE) which has held up reasonably well, is still trading lower now than where it started the year."
Whereas this chart shows the reality:

Yes indeed, direct peers comparisons of small silver producers see plenty of them doing much better than GPR and returning a net profit to investment during 2011. And even the one that The Fools decide to use as in the article does much better than GPR because their favoured BS vehicle has lost a cool 30% on the year. But course TMF has never worried about facts getting in the way of a good pump-job.

So if you're looking for decent, level-headed advice on silver stocks, steer yourself a thousand miles clear of The Motley Dumbass because over there, all you need to do is find yourself a decent lie and just keep pumping on it. Your bosses will never notice, either. So if there are any jobs going over there I'd appreciate the heads up, because there must be easier ways of making a living as an equities analyst but right now, I can't think of any.

PS: Yes, GPL is the same stock pumped non-stop by arch scumbag Thom Calandra and hired by GPL to do so, understandably
PPS: Yes, GPL is the same company that tries legalistic bullyboy schemes to try and stop facts from coming to light about its operations. And by the way, since standing up to the bullies we still haven't heard a peep out of them...missing ya already, Kaare :-)

Bolivia: Evo Morales ends the year with a 35% approval rate

The last time we checked, back in October, President Evo Morales had just polled the worst number since the end-2010 snafu attempt to raise taxes on fuel (the gasolinazo). Since then we saw November creep up a bit to 38% but this month's numbers, released just before Christmas, see approval back down at 35%. However, active disapproval remained at the same 53% level (undecideds up to 12% from 9% make the difference), so it's probably fair to say that inside the margin of error of these things, Evo's remaining steady.

Still, hardly the type of popular support the country's first ever indigenous President would be looking for, even this far into his mandate. By the way, the main complaint in the last quarter of 2011 is the way his government handled the Tipnis protest march, with accusations of heavy-handed repression "of his own people" the main bone of contention.

Chart of the day is...

...The Euro, weeklies.
Much has been made of the technical support/barrier/ceiling/floorpan/whatever it's called by the charties 1.30 level for the Euro. And of course mucho mucho was made of it when we saw the Euro briefly dip under the technically/psychologically/we-all-gonna-die important 1.30 just before Christmas.

One thing that your humble scribe can guarantee is that the same shrill voices won't make as much noise about the rebound to above 1.30....cos it's all squigglyline bullshit, y'see. But as long as these charlatans are given an audience (that's where you come in) they'll just keep on squawking at the next random walk of a pattern that comes their way.


Looks like The Reverend James Ussher was right after all

I wasn't going to post today but the below, nabbed from Felix Salmon's Tumblr, has seen me cave in. It must be shared, so shared it will be.

Authored by Patrick. And if you read his other stuff it quickly becomes abundantly clear he didn't mean it as a joke.


The IKN Weekly, out now

IKN138 has just been sent to subscribers. A shortened edition this week, as I have a turkey to cook. Ho ho ho.


The Friday OT: Robert Earl Keen; Merry Christmas from the family

It's that time of year and, of course, IKN again features the world's number one best ever Christmas song ever but ever on its pages:

If you know it already, sit back and enjoy. If it's your first time, get ready for a festive treat.

Wishing all readers a very merry Christmas.

Moral: Don't get thrown out of windows by married men when their wives come home unexpectedly

Story here, translation below.

Buenos Aires (Agencies): A woman suffered various injuries and traumas after falling from the second floor window of a building located in the Argentine province of Salta.

The injured person, identified as Yesica Tarifa, 23, was found injured and unable to move on the sidewalk. Paramedics took her to a nearby hospital where she was admitted with a fractured tibia and collar bone.

According to reports, before falling from the window the young woman was having sexual relations with Sebastián Alberto Madrazo, 27, lead singer of the folklore group Los Teuco, in an apartment in the building. Apparently when he heard his wife open the door to the apartment, and to avoid his infidelity being discovered, Madrazo grabbed the girl and threw her half naked out the window.

Argentine Police later detained the singer, who admitted that she was the girl he threw out the window due to his desperation about not being discovered by his wife, who is also a friend of the girl.

Catalyst Copper (CCY.v) insider buys

Right here on this six month chart ripped from the relevant Canadian Insider page.

As for one line on the backlground, CCY.v is a Greenslade ( thing with an optioning-in deal with Teck on a Mexico copper gig.

The Peru Nuevo Sol (PEN) versus the Chilean Peso (CLP), 12 month chart

This one for Peter K:

Thoughts arising:
1) Sorry, but wasn't the Piñera gov't the right wing one and the Humala gov't the bunch of raging lefties?
2) Gold is an asset class, copper isn't.
3) So tell me again, Mister Chilean Central Banker, how free-floating of a currency is the only possible way and that managing a country forex never works.

The Economist's "Democracy Index 2011: Democracy under stress" report

Via the excellent Aguachile blog, your humble scribe hears about this report from EIU (The Economist's Intelligence Unit) which is a free download, you just need to fill in a simple form. House opinion here at IKN is that The Economist can be a bit hit-or-miss, with its LatAm coverage particularly patchy (to name two countries as examples, it does Peru well but is full of ideological claptrap on Bolivia). Aguachile likes the 48 page report and for sure it has some decent insight, but your author, simply by noting where the LatAm countries are (or are not) featured in the general ranking of the 167 countries has his doubts. Here's that list, with local ranking to the left, where the country sits in the overall EIU ranking and then the country name:

For a start, countries such as Uruguay and Costa Rica simply aren't featured. Then we note that those old Brit colonies Jamaica and Trin/Tob get higher scores....a bit of wistfulness about Blighty's grand past showing through at The Economist, perchance. But more significant is the way Chile (yawn) tops the local rankings again, despite routine police brutality and close government control of its press....or how Ecuador is marked down....or how Venezuela (you know that one) or how Colombia is higher than the "Axis of Evo" countries despite being (you know that one, too). 

Summing up, the ranking smacks of samo samo, strong flavours of "nothing ever changes down there" (wrong, it does) and nuanced undertone hints of white man's burden. Still, the greater report is detailed, up to date and is worth your time to download. After all, deciding for yourself is far smarter than listening to the opinions of a loudmouth blogger.

Chart of the day is...

...copper, futures chart showing the last five days.
A bit better, with a 1% move today that, according to this report at least, is down to a combo of "hopes for US economy" (ugh, seeing hope in US context makes me cringe about the way I actually fell for all that Obama campaign hokey) along with year-end close-out short covering moves from instos...which sounds far more like a decent reason to me.


Wake me up when 2011 is over

Isn't this fun?

Disclosure: long BCM, position opened Nov '11 at $4.40. Staying long til this silliness is over, too.

More on Casey Research's serial hoodwinking

After yesterday's post outlining Louis James' stellar performance in junior mining stocks during 2011, your author receives the following mail from reader 'G' concerning the Casey Research energy letter service run by Casey's liar-in-chief, Marin Katusa (which is fortunately outside normal interests round here, so no need to read it):
Maybe you can get your head wrapped around this, but it makes my head hurt!

Casey's Energy letter had an end of year wrap-up, and some of the percentage losses seemed a bit suspect.  Let's pick an easy target out of the many losers: RPG.

Recommended a couple years ago at 3.00, so, of course, it's about a 90% loss.  But wait!  A few months ago they re-recommend it at 0.55.  So anybody who bought that second tranche lost about 50% of that investment as well.  But for Casey, there's a silver lining - by combining those two losses, they get to report a 64% loss on the total position.

I can just imagine Casey subscribers thinking, "Boy, it's a good thing I averaged down on RPG - I only lost 64% of my money instead of 93%!"

Maybe that's a legitimate way to report the outcome of a couple trades, but it sure doesn't seem to accurately reflect the consequences of the RPG recommendations.  What do you think - shady reporting or just one of the ways math can be counter-intuitive?
IKN back. What do I think? I think when it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and has a track record of sophistry, obfuscation and outright bullshit lies,'s a duck. Keep waddling, Marin.

Chart of the day is...

...the revision of growth forecasts for the LatAm region in 2012, according to local UN approved beancounters ECLAC/CEPAL

The region-wide average forecast was 4%, it's now 3.7%


Rio Alto (RIO.v): A roll on the drums, please...

Time for a resource update or two.

Scotia is still copper bullish

A segment of today's Mining Scoop out of Scotia below, that shows the house is still bullish on the outlook for copper. Your humble scribe credits them for being persistent, obstinate or perhaps even deluded. But most of all because we agree with the Scotia call and 2012 will be a good one for copper...and what could possibly go wrong? Here's the excerpt (no link, it's an e-mail thingy):
Copper Cancelled Warrants Up in Asia +7300t Overnight.  Yesterday we noted that copper inventories in Asia (particularly LME Asia) are nearing 5 year lows and the boost to cancelled warrants indicates LME Asia inventories are heading even lower.  Note there is only 36,825t in LME Asia at present.  Copper Premiums in China continue to hold up ($110 to $135/t) despite we are on the forefront of a long Holiday period.  China always slows down before the Chinese New Year and in 2012 it is the earliest it has been/or will be for the next decade.  So the slowness you would normally see in January is happening this year around now.  Very interesting to see Copper fundamentals hold up despite this - Scotia Mining Sales thinks February will prove to be a key month that should translate to a pick-up in seasonal copper demand and given the low inventories - a looming supply squeeze should translate to higher copper prices.  

Congratulations, Louis James of Casey Research!

Two great winners in your International Speculator 2011 editions, Lobito!

And hey, not just two great winners but you also have another one of your 14 selections in the green as well. 

Keep up the great work, dude!


Chart of the day is...

...the six month price chart for Regulus Resources (REG.v)

Today I learned a new (well, new for me anyway) expression and it comes from Japan, apparently.

"One should not tie one's shoelaces while crossing the neighbour's rice paddy."

Which according to the reader who sent it in is useful for those moments when "...even if what we do is above board we will still be lumped in with the thieves if we look like thieves and be hated or even get our asses kicked". I think that's a really nice expression. I also think I have some pretty wonderful readers. Thus endeth the puerility.


Bizarre suicide at the Mercosur summit

This morning the body of Iván Heyn, under-secretary of foreign commerce in the Argentina government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was found hanged in his hotel room at the Radisson in Montevideo, Uruguay. Heyn was in Uruguay with the rest of the government team attending the Mercosur summit. At this moment, no third party foul play is suspected and the death is being treated as suicide. On hearing the news, Cristina was overcome and retired from the main meeting, seeking medical help from her team of doctors.

Heyn came from the youth wing of Kirchner sympathizers known as 'La Cámpora', an organization headed up by Cristina's son and of growing political power in Argentina. He was only given his job as under-secretary of foreign commerce two weeks ago.

UPDATE: The death of Heyn, aged just 33, has apparently brought the Mercosur summit to a premature close. The official agenda has just been changed to "no further business".

UPDATE 2: The lightning fast Argentina media is now supplying heaps of background on Heyn. Amongst other things, we know he was a member of the board of directors of Alu maker Aluar, lived with his girlfriend in Buenos Aires, was a fitness/jogging fan, had a reputation for hard-work and job dedication, was considered one of the brightest lights of  the 'La Cámpora' Kirchner youth movement...and that his father attempted suicide 10 years ago due to depression after seeing his manufacturing business fall apart during the crisis at that time. For Spanish language coverage of this breaking story, here's as good a link as any.

UPDATE 3: He was hanged by his own belt, found by hotel staff on opening his room after calls from fellow delegates that morning were left unanswered, the mandatory autopsy has found no signs of violence on the body, no reason to suspect any foul play and the body has now been released "to the disposition of family members" which means as far as the police are concerned it's case closed.

Bad news for Santa Claus

According to US new home starts numbers today, he's going to have even more chimneys to do this time next year.

Apart from that, all good. Bejeepers this market was due a little light relief. Ho ho ho.

Andean growth end year sad reality check thingy

Hey man slow down, slow down
Idiot slow down, slow down
The Tourist, Radiohead, 1997

Chile's Central Bank today announced a downward revision of 2012 GDP growth, cutting the forecast from 4.25%-5.25%  (made in Sep'11) to 3.75%-4.75%. It's worth noting that Chile's CenBank people are usually 1) first in the region to spot macro headwinds and 2) conservative in their approach.

Meanwhile in Peru, while official government propaganda claptrap says that country will see 6% growth next year, head of the PUCP University Economics team Waldo Mendoza brings a dose of reality to affairs in this interview. Here's one Q&A excerpted and translated:
Q: But government projections indicated growth of between 5% and 6% for 2012 and the years that follow. What's your opinion?
Walter Mendoza: "Even in an optimistic scenario those projections will have to be cut back, I'd say to between 3% and 4% for the years 2011 to 2015.  Meanwhile it's more difficult to estimate in a pessimistic scenario, but I'd say between 1% and 3%. Therefore I see a complicated period for President Humala because when growth rates drop, various problems appear."

Argentina: Non-Banana Republic

The price of bananas in Argentina is suddenly over 100% higher than it was mere days ago. This is because the latest consignment of bananas from Ecuador imported by Argenfruit (a company that reportedly accounts for 30% of total country supply) has been blocked at the Chile/Argentina border by customs officials. 

According to the national AFIP customs office, those sneaky deaky Argenfruit dudes were trying to import top quality bananas (that are taxed at U$6.90 a case) but telling the world they were second-class fruit (taxed at U$4.44 a case). Thus trucks are not let in and Buenos Aires is bananaless for Christmas

And now for the important yuletide stuff, as all this is just a good excuse for more Swedish Chef.


Attention Kinross ( (KGC) Middle Management

You've been wondering all this time how to nail that key promotion? And your loving, caring IKN supplies the answer today. Get Tye Burt one of these for Christmas (a snip at just U$8,080 apiece):

Finest silk – purest gold
Size: 40 KB

True luxury has only one color – gold. A nanometer-thin layer of pure gold now lends ties and pocket handkerchiefs that authentic gold sheen, thanks to a new Empa-developed process. The yarn, which is coated using a high-tech plasma process, is soft and easy to weave. It is also washing machine compatible. A limited number of gold ties will be placed on the market before Christmas, making a truly exclusive present. Further fashion accessories will follow in 2012.
Caption: Tie, bow-tie and pocket handkerchief made of high-tech gold fabric. Plating: 24 carat pure gold.
Gold radiates with a violet hue, at least when it is sprayed onto a surface atom by atom, as can be seen by looking into a plasma coating plant when in operation. This particular plant, which is about as large as a household refrigerator, can be found on the premises of the Tersuisse spinning mill in Emmen. Inside the apparatus a piece of gold is bombarded with fast moving argon ions which knock atoms off the metal surface. These gold atoms fly off and land on a polyester fiber which is slowly pulled through the machine. This is the beginning of the production process which for the first time in the world creates a textile material permanently coated with a durable layer of gold. The precious metal remains attached to the fiber even when it is rolled, kinked, woven in a loom and given a final wash.
The culmination of 10 years of research workThe textile specialists at Empa in St Gallen had been researching for ten years to find a method of finely dividing titanium, aluminium, steel, copper and silver and then allowing these powdered metals in atomic form to rain onto polyester fibers. Originally the project aimed to create silver coated fibers, for which there were ready markets. Silver coated fibers possess an antibacterial effect, something which is of interest to sock manufacturers. In addition fashion designers were seeking durable silver coated textiles. And furthermore, silver conducts electricity extremely well, making the Empa-developed fiber eminently suitable for use in various sensors and as an antistatic filter material for industrial applications.
Sooner or later the project partners had the idea that what was possible with silver might also work with gold, so in January 2010 they began work on the "Gold Fiber Project". Nowadays production in the coating plant has reached a stable level. The first kilometer was generated in the summer of 2011 and in 2012 production is expected to increase further. Further processing of the fiber is completed by two project partners, the Weisbrod-Zuerrer AG spinning mill in Hausen am Albis and the embroidery firm Jakob Schlaepfer in St. Gallen.

Size: 40 KB
Exclusive: 2011, the tie has been manufactured in a first limited edition of a dozen.

The cost of exclusivity: 7500 Swiss francsOne of the first customers for the gold fiber was Weisbrod-Zürrer AG, a spinning mill which specializes in exclusive decorative textiles, ties and accessories and which has also partnered Empa projects in the past. Attempts had already been made previously to create a gold tie using conventional techniques. A textile fiber was wound with the finest gold wire in the same way a guitar string is made. However material woven from the fiber had a rough, metallic feel to it and it was also not durable enough for commercial use. As a result it was only possible to make the freestanding front face of the tie in gold thread – those parts which were mechanically stressed, the knot and the neck piece, had to remain black.
The new gold tie made using the Empa plasma coating process boasts a much more stylish appearance. The golden material, woven from gold fiber and black silk thread, covers the surface of the entire tie and is very soft to the touch. Other exclusive items of clothing from the same material are also imaginable, for example decorative pocket handkerchiefs, bow-ties, scarves, lace decorative work and even handbags. To date material enough for three ties has been manufactured, but a dozen more should be ready in time for Christmas. The first, worldwide exclusive series, tailored in the Zürich tie manufactory Hofmann und Co AG will be on offer to gentlemen with an exclusive sense of style at Swiss francs 7500 apiece.

continues here, thanks to LR for the headsup

Chart of the day is...

...the US Dollar (USD) index, dailies.

Quite simply it's the centre of the universe right now.


Jonathan Fiorello and Baja Mining (

Baja Mining ( is worth watching today. Here's the link, here's how the NR starts.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire -12/19/11)- Baja Mining Corp. ("Baja") (TSX: BAJ.TO - News)(OTCQX: BAJFF.PK - News) today announced that it has received a letter dated December 16, 2011 from Mount Kellett Master Fund II A LP of New York ("Mt. Kellett"), described as a registered shareholder of 19.9% of Baja's shares.
Mt. Kellett says it is requisitioning a special meeting at which shareholders will be asked to approve the appointment of two Mt. Kellett nominees to the Board, either by replacing two incumbent Baja directors or by increasing the number of Baja directors to nine from seven. The requisition letter also proposes to put before the meeting certain non-binding resolutions.
The Company is considering this correspondence and yada yada continues here

And if you're wondering about that name in the title, Fiorello is the dude behind the fund and has been adding to his position all year.

Nobody does a parade like North Korea

What with the country being in the news today, site friend drunkeynesian found this video of a State vist to North Korea by then Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu.

There is a bit of confusion on the date, as the title of the youtube says 1978 but it seems to be from a visit made in 1971. No matter, what you really need to do here is watch this thing as it's truly impressive stuff (it starts well and just gets better, too). It'll be interesting to see what kind of show they put on for Kim's send-off.

Chart of the day is...

...silver versus gold, 2011 year to date, using the proxies SLV and GLD.

A visual presentation of great usefulness in order for the considered meditation on financial matters and affairs.


The IKN Weekly, out now

IKN137 was sent out a little earlier. Since then been sending stocking fillers, ho ho ho.

Yet more gold sector M&A, as Eldorado ( (EGO) buys European Goldfields (

A basically-all-paper deal that values at tad over 10% higher than Friday's close. Here's the link, here's how it starts

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Dec 18, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Eldorado Gold Corporation (the "Company" or "Eldorado")today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement (the "Arrangement Agreement") with European Goldfields Limited ("European Goldfields")   pursuant to which Eldorado has agreed to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of European Goldfields by way of a plan of arrangement (the "Arrangement") under the Yukon Business Corporations Act.
European Goldfields is a precious metals development company with attributable gold reserves of 9.2 million ounces and multi-stage assets located in Greece, Romania and Turkey. The company currently operates the Stratoni mine in Greece and is developing the Skouries and Olympias projects in Greece and the Certej project in Romania. European Goldfields is also partnered with Aktor SA, the largest construction company in Greece.
Under the Arrangement, shareholders of European Goldfields will receive 0.85 Eldorado shares and C$0.0001 in cash per European Goldfields share (the "Exchange Ratio"). Each outstanding option of European Goldfields shall be exchanged for options of Eldorado that will entitle the holder to receive, upon the exercise thereof, Eldorado shares based upon the Exchange Ratio and otherwise on the same terms and conditions as in the original European Goldfields option. The total transaction value is approximately C$2.5 billion.
Eldorado's offer represents continues here  

I betcha Centerra will have things to say about this one....a $75m break fee on a supposed $2.5Bn deal isn't setting the bar too high.

Why IKN is on Blogger

1) It's basically unhackable (which is a very good thing as far as your humble scribe is concerned)
2) I don't give two hoots about having some cool URL (dot blogspot dot com does me quite nicely, thank you)
3) According to Royal Pingdom's annual blogs report just published, Blogger is still the most reliable blogging service available.

IKN is a happy Blogger user.

Peru: Ollanta's approval rating drops to 47%

Here's the chart that shows how Ollanta Humala's approval rating has fared in the monthly survey conducted by local pollster Ipsos/Apoyo. Latest data from here:

Seen the pattern yet? Yeah, me too...

Welcome To The New Peru! (just the same as the old Peru)


The Friday OT: U2; Ultraviolet (light my way)

Because of the sumptuous key chord (wrote post too quickly) changes in this song which remind me of riding a motorbike fast down long straight roads...

...and the way U2 rocks a hall like no other band.

Random musings from a backwater

I spend many hours online every single working day (which is nearly all of them) and had to ask myself  "So wtf is Zynga?" this morning. Then I realized that I never use facebook....and that I live in a backwater....and that I'm a very lucky guy.

Christopher Hitchens on his experience of being waterboarded right here, as it's a far better tribute to the man to read his words, not mine. Rest In Peace, sir. 

According to the goldbug community, if CPI were up it would have shown inflation and gold would have zoomed, but if CPI were flat Bernanke would have more room for QE3 and gold would have zoomed. According to reality, when the CPI came out gold hardly budged...funny dat, innit?

Despite a slowing economy and corruption scandals, President Dilma Roussef nails a 72% approval rating at the end of her first year in office....that's strong and good for her.

The official papers needed to ask for a Presidential pardon for Alberto Fujimori (due to terminal illness, apparently) were filed last night. A key piece in the "welcome to the new peru (just the same as the old peru)" jigsaw puzzle about to be slotted into place.

Oh yeah, one more random thing on my mind this morning to mention. This 3 month chart comparing RIO.v to GLD. 

Real copper news

Much noise in the market, from the wailing of the hurt longs to the shrilling of the "buy more!" brigade. However, buried under all the inconsequential claptrap your author has managed to uncover some real, interesting and fundamentally significant news on copper metals and mining. It's from Reuters and the first part is pasted right here:

HAMBURG Dec 16 (Reuters) - Germany's Aurubis , Europe's biggest copper producer, has agreed long-term copper treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) for 2012 of $63.50 a tonne and 6.35 cents a pound, up 12.4 percent on 2011 deals, sources close to the company said on Friday.
This means Aurubis has matched the higher TC/RCs for 2012 reached in early December by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold .
TC/RCs are paid by miners to smelters to refine concentrate into metal and are a key part of the global copper industry's income. Increases are being sought as smelters believe demand for metal and mining output will continue to rise in 2012.
There was still doubt in past days whether the Freeport level would be accepted as a benchmark for 2012.
Chinese copper smelters were still seeking to convince BHP Billiton , the majority owner of the world's biggest copper mine, to (continues here)
And if you don't think that's important, your humble scribe humbly suggests that you just continue reacting to the market instead of acting upon you've always done.

Chart of the day is...

The gold/Silver ratio, three year timescale:

Zeroing in on the right-hand side of the squiggly line, it's interesting to note how the gold/silver rato has kept pretty steady these last couple of months, not moving out of the 50X to 55X band while gold has dropped hard (gold has seen London Fix  highs of $1795/oz and lows of  $1574/oz in November and December). Potential conclusions to draw from the steadiness of the ratio:
  • The influences have been strictly monetary, with the pure asset metal and the asset/industrial metal affected more or less equally.
  • It's been a waste of time following this ratio chart recently.

But hey, WTFDIK anyway?


Mining PRs and the Ottotrans™, Part 52

It's that series again, with the latest well-after-hours NR from Jaguar Mining (JAG) ( the object of our affection.

This is what they said:

CONCORD, NH, Dec. 15, 2011 /CNW/ - Jaguar Mining Inc. ("Jaguar" or the "Company") (TSX: JAG) (NYSE: JAG) today provided an update on the strategic review process that it previously announced was initiated by its Board of Directors on November 16, 2011.
The Board has appointed a Special Committee comprised solely of independent directors to review and evaluate any proposals received as part of the strategic review process and to assess whether any such proposal may be more desirable than the continued operation of the Company on a stand-alone basis, and to make recommendations to the Board thereon.  The Special Committee is chaired by Gil Clausen and is comprised of Mr. Clausen, Gary German and John Andrews.
The Company has retained JP Morgan Securities LLC as its financial advisor and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP as legal counsel to assist the Board and the Special Committee.
Over the past several weeks, through JP Morgan, the Company has solicited interest regarding a potential change of control or merger transaction with the Company.
Any proposal that may be received will be assessed relative to the inherent value of the Company's unique asset portfolio in order to determine the most effective means of delivering value to the shareholders of Jaguar. There is no assurance that this strategic review process will result in a change of control or merger transaction.
"For a number of months Jaguar's share price has been disconnected from the inherent value of the Company's unique asset portfolio," said Gary German, Chairman of the Board. "The Special Committee has been formed to explore alternatives.  Our Board will not support a transaction that does not deliver adequate value to our shareholders."
The Board intends to provide a further update to shareholders as circumstances warrant, likely in early 2012.

And this is what it means:

There's no offer.

Today posting at IKN will be light due to illness

I'm sick of watching the market. It happens sometimes.

Instead, your author will catch up with a bit of reading (The Seduction of Unreason, been meaning to re-read it for months, Ari) and cook some lentils for lunch. Served with white rice. Hasta mañana, damas y caballeros.

Scorpio Mining ( One less to worry about

You are what you eat, they say.

Don't get me wrong about this, it isn't some sort of personal grudge and for all I know Mr Stonehouse may well be the nicest person around, always willing to help old ladies across the street, do fine things for charity and be the life and soul of any Christmas party. But when a VP Expl...
  • was at the centre of the clustafark called Ascendant Copper in Ecuador
  • and then at the centre of the clustafark called Mercer Gold in Colombia
  • and is then hired by a company that makes a point of NOT mentioning the names of companies in Mr Stonehouse's background in the NR, preferring to talk in general terms about his years of experience in The Americas and his fluent Spanish makes his new employer, Scorpio Mining ( a very easy avoid. And in the end this is good for your humble scribe, as the "one less to worry about" principle is a good one, cuts down on workload and frees up time for other things like eating food or playing chess. Anyway, here's the NR from this morning:

TORONTO, Dec. 15, 2011 /CNW/ - Scorpio Mining Corporation (TSX: SPM) ("Scorpio" or the "Corporation") has appointed James M. Stonehouse as the Corporation's Vice President of Exploration, based in Mexico, effective January 3, 2012.
Mr. Stonehouse holds an M.A. in Geology from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. He is a professional and highly skilled geologist with over 30 years of experience in exploration, primarily focused in the Americas and on precious and base metal deposits. He is fluent in Spanish and has successfully led multiple teams through grass roots exploration to discovery stage, resource evaluation, feasibility study and development. His ability to recognize and re-evaluate geological settings and design successful exploration programs has resulted in significant discoveries that have increased resources and added satellite ore deposits to existing operations. Mr. Stonehouse is experienced in managing all aspects of exploration and resource development, including turnaround projects that brought sub-valued assets to economic status and production.
Mr. Stonehouse is a registered member of SME and a registered Geoscientist in the State of California, and is a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101.
Parviz Farsangi, President and CEO of the Corporation, commented: "We are delighted to have James as part our dedicated team as Scorpio moves forward with its plans for growth. His extensive experience and expertise will be of great value to the Corporation as we continue to explore, develop and expand our portfolio of projects in the Cosalá and Parral Districts of Mexico.

The Toromocho copper mine project suffers an unexpected delay in construction

Moral of the story: Don't let a miner cook you lunch. From RPP news this morning (your author translates):

A total of 140 employees working for the mining services company JJC, contracted to the Chinalco mining company in the city of La Oroya, province of Yauli (Junín region), were poisoned after eating a communal lunch* accompanied by strawberry juice.

Due to stomach pains and vomiting, the employees were evacuated at first to the local health outpost in Morococha, but the severity of some cases caused their transfer to the hospital (45 people) and health centre (10 people) at La Oroya.

Pedro Rau Lavado, director of the Essalud Hospital, said that the condition of all patients was stable and the nauseas, colic and vomiting was caused by food poisoning.

"Many of them are on intravenous saline drip, but fortunately everything is now under control. The discharge of each patient depends on their individual evolution", he said.

*called "pachamanca" and consisting of meats cooked in an underground pit covered in earth, much the same style as a Hawaiian luau.

Chart of the day is... update on our 2011 Small Silvers Sweepstakes with just two weeks to go:

click chart to enlarge

I've actually been asked for this halfway-thru-final-month update so it's not just me that's obsessed (sad though that may be). Anyway, still leads, there are now just three issues in positive territory for the year, six stocks are doing worse than the metal itself and overall the sector still sucks. Official finish line result on Sunday Jan 1st 2012, the other side of Santa.

By the way, apparently some problems with Google Mail this morning, just so you know.


OT: New Banksy

I like. I share.

from here (four more new ones on the link, too)