Al's Insights – Wed 17 Apr, 2013

From the mining industry, Gary Cope finds this market to be non-sensical.

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Comments:
  1. On April 17, 2013 at 10:45 am,
    CFS says:

    I think this is important, but you probably won’t read it in US newspapers!

    Obama administration has SLASHED budget for domestic bombing prevention by 45 per cent, says former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary
    $20 million budget under Bush became $11 million under Obama
    Both administrations neglected domestic bombing prevention, devoting a tiny fraction of the $1 billion earmarked for IED prevention overseas
    Obama issued a lengthy ‘National Policy for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices’ in February but a spokesman won’t say if it failed
    By DAVID MARTOSKO
    PUBLISHED: 17:02 EST, 16 April 2013 | UPDATED: 18:02 EST, 16 April 2013
    Barack Obama’s administration has cut the budget nearly in half for preventing domestic bombings, MailOnline can reveal.
    Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Homeland Security had $20 million allocated for preventing the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists working inside the United States. The current White House has cut that funding down to $11 million.
    That assessment comes from Robert Liscouski, a former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 that killed three Americans and injured at least 173 others.
    He told MailOnline that the Obama-era DHS is, on the whole, about as well-positioned as it was during the Bush administration to handle the aftermath of the April 15 bombings in Boston, ‘but the Obama administration has continued to cut the budget for offices such as the Office for Bombing Prevention from $20 million started under Bush, to $11 million today.’

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2310110/Obama-administration-SLASHED-budget-domestic-bombing-prevention-45-cent-says-Homeland-Security-Assistant-Secretary.html#ixzz2QkASPX4k
    MailOnline.co.uk

    • On April 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Now, that is interesting.

      Thanks cfs,

      Big Al

  2. On April 17, 2013 at 11:12 am,
    CFS says:
    • On April 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Sure would like to see justice done here.

      Thanks for the link cfs,

      Big Al

  3. On April 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm,
    Jerry(Gator)M says:

    Slightly off topic but very instructive article. Long read but worth it.
    Essay on Market Decoupling

    Posted by Ann Barnhardt – April 14, AD 2013 8:33 PM MST

    First, a repost of a piece I wrote months ago on cash markets decoupling from the futures and derivatives markets, specifically in the context of metals. I have not changed anything, but I have bolded the key, key points.
    For all of you Bitcoin fans, you are now realizing the massive flaw in the Bitcoin paradigm. You have no cash commodity to arbitrage. All you were ever dealing with was zeroes and ones on computer servers. I am hard-pressed to think of ANYTHING more vulnerable.

    As I have been saying all along, if you can’t stand in front of it with an assault weapon and physically defend it, then it isn’t yours, and probably never was.

    (Ahem. Cough. 401ks. Cough.)

    Originally penned and posted on December 15, AD 2011, seven weeks after MF Global.
    3. Finally, a very simplistic explanation of how the cash commodity markets are soon going to decouple from the futures markets. This is a little complex, but stay with me. I think this is important to understand because none of us who have lived our whole lives in the U.S. have ever seen a market disintegrate.

    The threat (or promise) of delivery upon expiration is what keeps the futures markets tethered to the cash markets. Up until now, if an unreasonably wide spread between the futures price and the underlying physical commodity market got too out of whack, a process called “arbitrage” would kick in. Arbitrage is when a party simultaneously buys and sells on two separate but related markets in order to capture an inefficient spread between those two markets.

    I’m going to use precious metals as my example commodity because there are alot of metals guys reading this, and because the metals markets will be the big tell in term of when decoupling and thus total futures market disintegration is upon us. But these examples apply to all of the physical commodities.

    Let’s say that the physical silver market is trading far lower than the silver futures price. This is what is called a WEAK BASIS. The BASIS is the relationship between the cash market and the futures market and is very simply defined as (CASH minus FUTURES). If cash silver can be bought at $25.00 per ounce and the futures are at $30.00 per ounce, the cash is $5.00 under the futures. When cash is under the futures, this is called a WEAK basis.

    Up until now, what would a metals trader do? In very simple terms, he would buy the cash silver at $25.00 per ounce and then simultaneously sell the futures at $30.00. Because he has short-sold the futures, he could hold the contract to expiry and then deliver the $25.00 cash silver he bought to make good on the contract and receive his $30.00 price. So his simple net profit would be $5.00 per ounce. As many traders saw this spread and simultaneously executed this same strategy of buying the cash and selling the futures, what effect would this have? Right. It would cause the cash-futures spread to move back in toward convergence by pushing the futures price down (lots of sellers) and propping the cash market up (lots of buyers).

    Now the opposite scenario: a STRONG basis. Let’s say cash silver is trading at $32.00 and the futures are trading at $28.00. A trader might take physical silver that he has in inventory and sell it in the cash market, and then immediately take those proceeds and buy back and equal number of ounces in the futures market and take delivery. Since the same number of ounces in the futures market cost $4.00 per ounce LESS, he would end up with the same number of ounces in his inventory PLUS $4.00 per ounce in CASH in his pocket. If he and many other traders saw this condition and they all sold cash silver and bought the futures, this would, again, converge the spread between the cash market and the futures market.

    The lynchpin that is holding this dynamic together and keeping the futures markets tied to the underlying cash market is the fact that the futures contracts are deliverable, and a trader can either deliver or take delivery of actual physical silver via his futures position.

    Are we seeing a problem yet? The futures markets have lost their viability and trustworthiness because of the MF collapse and theft. At some point in the not-too-distant future, people everywhere are going to realize that the delivery mechanism is not reliable. Heck, just holding cash and/or positions in a futures account is no longer reliable. The the market itself is not reliable, traders will no longer attempt to arbitrage these basis spreads because the risk to the trader that the rug will be pulled out from underneath them is simply too great.

    And in the metals markets, the delivery process itself is . . . um . . . shall we say, easily corrupted? When you “take delivery” of physical metals, it doesn’t get sent to your house. All you get is a certificate saying that X number of ounces are being held in a certified vault somewhere with your name on them. After the MF collapse, that sounds like a joke, right? A CERTIFICATE with my NAME ON IT? Yeah. That really is how it works.

    When the arbitrageurs finally lose all confidence in the markets, the cash market will decouple from the futures because no one will be willing to take the risk of having their money, positions and/or physical metals stolen/confiscated. If no arbitrageurs are willing to trade these spreads – no matter how wide they may become – and thus there is no force causing the cash and futures to converge, we will see the basis spreads become extremely wide. As people flee the futures markets, the futures prices will drop, while the cash markets hold steady or even diverge and actually rise as all of the former paper players realize that physicals are the only remaining game to be played.

    Watch for this. Watch for the gold and silver futures to sell off as people walk away from paper while the online cash dealers, seeing that market demand for their physical inventory is robust, begin to ignore the futures prices and hold their prices steady or even raise them. When you see this basis decoupling and absence of arbitrage, lo, the end is nigh. A parabolic spike is coming.