Saturday, July 10, 2010

Warning! Poisons!!!

7/10/10 Warning! Poisons!!!

Elana Schor with the New York Times’s Greenwire reports that BP has said 20% of the cleanup crew members responding to the Gulf of Mexico displayed high levels of exposure to 2-butoxyethanol, a chemical dispersant that created chronic health problems in those who worked on ExxonMobil’s Valdez oil clean-up effort.
Schor quotes scientists as saying the announcement by BP is “worrisome” and that “Gulf air quality, if anything, seems to be deteriorating.” How about telling like it is: arsenic, benzene, glycol---POISON!
James C. Fox: "Oil and water samples were taken from both the Shores of Grand Isle and from 20 miles out. The preliminary analysis was done at an academic analytical chemistry laboratory. Looking for the likely pollutants from the deep water Horizon Oil spill. It was focused on the detection of benzene and propylene glycol. Benzene and other highly toxic contaminants were very low however the concentration of propylene glycol was between 360 and 440 parts per million. Just 25 parts per million is know to kill most fish and propylene glycol is just one of many ingredients found in Corexit. In short, the Gulf is being poisoned by BP's usage of the dispersants even after the EPA asked them to stop back in May. We are willing to provide ANY respected/known laboratory these samples or provide them with more. This is very serious to all people and marine life in and around the Gulf."
Corexit 9500 and 9527A are both being applied daily, with little to no intervention by the EPA. Samples have shown high concentrations of Propylene Glycol, between 360 and 440 parts per million. Keep in mind that 25 parts per million is the excepted toxic limit for fish. This would indicate that some of the samples were 150 times the toxic limit!
Have or will the toxic chemicals reach our water supply? The answer is not the containment cap.

Washington’s Blog
"As I have previously noted, Corexit is toxic, is less effective than other dispersants, and is actually worsening the damage caused by the oil spill.
Now, two toxicologists are saying that Corexit is much more harmful to human health and marine life than we’ve been told.
Specifically Gulf toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw – Founder and Director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute – dove into the oil spill to examine the chemicals present.
Dr. Shaw told CNN [I can't post videos here, so either click on the link or go to my blog to read version with embedded videos]:
If I can tell you what happens — because I was in the oil — to people…
Shrimpers throwing their nets into water… [then] water from the nets splashed on his skin. …
[He experienced a] headache that lasted 3 weeks… heart palpitations… muscle spasms… bleeding from the rectum…
And that’s what that Corexit does, it ruptures red blood cells, causes internal bleeding, and liver and kidney damage. …
This stuff is so toxic combined… not the oil or dispersants alone. …
Very, very toxic and goes right through skin.
The reason this is so toxic is because of these solvents [from dispersant] that penetrate the skin of anything that’s going through the dispersed oil takes the oil into the cells — takes the oil into the organs… and this stuff is toxic to every organ system in the body. …
Similarly, marine biologist and toxicologist Dr. Chris Pincetich – who has an extensive background in testing the affects of chemicals on fish – says [click or see my blog] that Corexit disrupts cell membranes.
He also explains that EPA toxicity testing for Corexit is woefully inadequate, since EPA testing for mortality usually only requires a 96-hour time frame. His doctoral research found that fish that were alive at 96 hours after exposure to pesticide were dead at two weeks, so the chemicals were considered non-lethal for the purposes of the test.
Drs. Shaw and Pincetich are wildlife conservationists. But even industry scientists working for Exxon and the manufacturer of Corexit itself admit that the stuff is toxic."

The Oil Drum: "For the first time Friday, the Coast Guard and BP acknowledged that a mysterious second pipe, wedged next to the drill pipe in what remains of the Deepwater Horizon's riser, is fouling up the works where the well is spewing hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
...The idea that a loose pipe shot up from deeper in the well and prevented the shear ram from closing has been espoused by such experts as oil industry investment banker Matt Simmons and Bob Bea, a University of California at Berkeley engineer leading a scientific investigation into the blowout. But others have wondered if the mystery pipe isn't just a section of the same drill pipe that came loose, or even a pipe that fell down the riser from the rig 5,000 feet above."

To expand its business in the auto industry, Automatic Data Processing is buying Seattle technology company Cobalt in a cash deal worth $400 million.
ADP, a publicly traded company based in Roseland, N.J., made the announcement Friday. The outsourcing company, which handles services such as payroll and human resources for clients, will add Cobalt's products to what it already offers the auto industry.
Cobalt, a privately held company, provides digital marketing services to automakers and dealers. The company helps car dealers and makers reach customers online, including building websites, running search and display-ad campaigns online, and handling e-mail marketing.
It also operates a division called Dealix, which runs the website
About 1,000 people work at Cobalt, 750 of them in the Puget Sound region.

China's customs agency on Saturday said exports were up 35 percent in June from a year ago, while imports rose almost 53 percent. China’s trade surplus widened to the highest this year and exports climbed more than estimated to a record in June, adding pressure on the government to let the currency gain after the U.S. said the yuan “remains undervalued.” “Exports may maintain relatively fast growth this quarter but downside risks may increase in the last quarter as the government gradually exits its export aid policies and shipments are more affected by the yuan’s appreciation and the European debt crisis,” said Jinny Yan, a Shanghai-based economist at Standard Chartered Plc.
Imports climbed to $117.4 billion in June, the third highest this year, the customs bureau said. The 34.1 percent gain compares with the median forecast of 35.4 percent in the Bloomberg survey.
“Lower-than-expected import growth is a reflection of lower import volume amid weakening domestic demand as well as falling import prices,” Goldman Sachs’ Song said.

Doug Noland: "Back in 2007, I found it ironic that the eruption of the subprime crisis was a catalyst for big rallies in agency debt and MBS. As the great mortgage finance Bubble burst, the market flocked to fundamentally vulnerable mortgage-related debt instruments. These securities, with their implicit or explicit federal guarantees, enjoyed safe haven status. On the surface, much of the debt marketplace benefited, which seemed to suggest the underlying Credit foundation was sound. Today, the Treasury, agency debt and MBS marketplaces lend support to the view that the U.S. is immune to global debt fears. However, I would caution that, similar to 2007, dynamics below the market’s surface are creating systemic fissures....I’m content to stick with my view that the current “terminal phase” of Chinese Bubble excess can be expected to – as they tend to do – surprise both on duration and the scope of excesses. Moreover, the global crisis may prove an impetus for Beijing erring on the side of further stimulus and Bubble accommodation.
There is, indeed, another bearish Scenario possibility outside of deflationary collapse. At least in the short-term, festering U.S. debt problems and a vulnerable dollar could create a backdrop conducive to a surprising counteroffensive from (thought dead and buried) global reflationary forces. Stranger things have happened. "

Bank of America says six trades that incorrectly hid from investors billions of dollars of its debt were originally made in a bid to cut the size of a unit's balance sheet and meet internal financial targets.

Diamond Offshore announced Friday that its Ocean Endeavor drilling rig will leave the Gulf of Mexico and move to Egyptian waters immediately — making it the first to abandon the United States in the wake of the BP oil spill and a ban on deep-water drilling.
And the Ocean Endeavor's exodus probably won't be the last, according to oil industry officials and Gulf Coast leaders who warn that other companies eager to find work for the now-idled rigs are considering moving them outside the U.S.

A decade ago, the PT Cruiser roared onto the road with trendsetting looks and Al Capone swagger. In a sea of bland Honda Civics and Toyota Camrys, it was a retro hit. Chrysler could barely keep up with demand.
On Friday morning, the last Cruiser rolled off the assembly line in Mexico, finally killed off after years of falling popularity. Chrysler sold just 18,000 last year, compared with nearly 145,000 in 2001.

U.S. Cooling Demand Next 7 Days 21.0% above normal.

According to BP, installing the new cap is expected to take five to eight days. During part of that time, the the flow of hydrocarbons is expected to increase.

China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, increased net crude-oil imports to a record in June as demand rose and costs fell.
Net purchases climbed to 22.14 million metric tons, or about 5.39 million barrels a day, from 17.65 million tons a month earlier, according to preliminary data released by the General Administration of Customs today. This was more than the previous record of 20.98 million tons in April.

Tim W. Wood: "I continue to believe that the advance out of the 2009 low is a bear market rally that will ultimately prove to separate Phase I from Phase II of the ongoing secular bear market. I continue to believe that this bear market rally will peak in accordance with the DNA Markers that I have found have occurred at every other major top since 1896. I continue to believe that the Phase II decline will be the most devastating portion of the bear market. I continue to believe that the deflationary forces of K-wave winter will impact most all asset classes. I continue to believe that the powers that be will not be able to save the markets. I also believe that a proper Dow theory trend change will eventually occur, but this has not yet been the case."

Friday, July 09, 2010

Bank Failures

7/9/10 Bank Failures

Anadarko Petroleum tells BP that it won't be paying for costs related to the Macondo well spill, reiterating it was BP's actions that "likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct." BP asked Anadarko to pay $272M, but Anadarko has declined to say how much it's withholding.

BP could begin removing the containment cap over its gushing well Saturday kicking off a process to replace it with a stronger device that could take several days.

Cash-strapped Americans in search of liquidity will turn to stocks as a source of funds, triggering another market selloff similar to the 2008 crash, Damon Vickers, managing director of Nine Points Capital Partners told CNBC on Thursday. "The trend, the trade of declining real estate prices and lack of liquidity that is available for consumers to consume, which is the access to credit, debt, is not present," Vickers said. "The only thing that they have access to, to access credit, to consume and to be addictive consumers, which we are, are their stock portfolios. They can't sell their real estate and they can't tap the equity in their homes."

The ECRI index dropped to a fresh low of -8.3%.

BP and the government say that the idea to transfer crude oil by pipeline running along the floor of the Gulf of Mexico to non-performing wells is being considered as a Plan B. U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said that the pipeline idea would push back the time frame to stop the leaking oil to the end of August. The U.S. Coast Guard expects BP's third containment vessel, the Helix Producer, to be siphoning oil by Sunday, which could raise the level of oil capture from roughly 25,000 barrels of oil per day to 53,000 barrels of oil daily.

Two bank failures in New York and Oklahoma on Friday brought the U.S. total for the year so far to 90. Port Chester, N.Y.-based USA Bank, which had roughly $189.9 million in deposits as of March 31, was closed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said in a statement. Blackwell, Okla.-based Home National Bank, which had $560.7 million in deposits as of March 31, was also closed, the FDIC said. The bank failures will cost the federal deposit insurance fund a total of $140.4 million, the FDIC said.

Ideal Federal Savings Bank of Baltimore was closed by the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was named receiver, the FDIC said late Friday. The closure marks the 88th U.S. bank failure for this year. All insured non-brokered deposit accounts have been received by Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co. of Baltimore.

Bay National Bank of Baltimore was closed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was named receiver, the FDIC said late Friday. The closure marks the 87th U.S. bank failure of 2010. All deposit accounts have been transferred to Bay Bank of Lutherville, Md.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 58.73 points, or 0.6%, to 10,197.72. The S&P 500 index rose 7.68 points, or 0.7%, to 1,077.93. The Nasdaq Composite rose 21.05 points, or 1%, to 2,196.45. For the week, the Dow gained 5.3%, the S&P 500 gained 5.4%, and the Nasdaq advanced 5%, marking the best weekly performance for all three measures since July 2009.

Batter Up

7/9/10 Batter Up

Airgas Inc. said late Thursday that its board will review the revised offer of $63.50 a share from Air Products & Chemicals Inc. Airgas had previously rejected offers of $62 and $60 a share offers from Air Products.

The European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. said Thursday it will resubmit its proposal to replace the aging U.S. fleet of aerial-refueling tankers a day ahead of the Pentagon deadline. Boeing said it would submit it request Friday morning. The $35 billion contract for 179 jets has the potential to dovetail into replacing the entire fleet of 500 planes, used for hauling cargo and refueling other aircraft in flight. For that reason it has been hotly contested. The contract was awarded to EADS and a U.S. partner in 2008, but a formal protest by Boeing led to the military revoking the offer and launching a third proposal request earlier this year. Boeing lost the contract in 2004 following a procurement scandal. .

A federal judge in Massachusetts on Thursday found that a law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Reuters: A U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected the Obama administration's request to put on hold a ruling that lifted a temporary moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the wake of the BP Plc oil spill. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, ruled about an hour after hearing arguments over the administration's request to put on hold a lower court ruling that lifted the six-month moratorium.

FT: "The Swiss National Bank may have suffered paper losses of up to SFr10bn (€7.5bn) from huge interventions in the currency markets to restrain the value of the franc."

The Baltic Dry Index posted its 31st consecutive decline. Mathematically, what are the chances this could occur? What is this immense drop telling us? Forget the bullshit from the talking heads. The BDI is speaking volumes. There is big trouble coming our way. If you get up to the plate and intend to swing away, I suggest wearing a steel helmet. It's tough avoiding a 103mph fastball.

May Wholesale Inventories: +0.5% vs. +0.4% expected, and +0.2% prior (revised from +0.4%). Wholesale sales -0.3% M/M to $350.65B.
wholesale sales have plunged from a revised 0.9% to -0.3%. Lumber went from +8.6% to -8.7%, automotive from 1.8% to 0.6%, computers dropped from 3.5% to 1.8%, electrical goods from 3.1% to 0.6%, and hardware from 3.1% to 1.0%.

Charles Hugh Smith: "The entire key to the U.S. tax code is to tax earned income heavily but tax unearned income (the majority of the Plutocracy's income is of course unearned) not at all or very lightly....The 1% T-Bill rates were just part of the con to convince the peasantry that trillions of dollars could be borrowed "with no consequences." Those rates will steadily rise once the financial Power Elites own enough of the Treasury debt. Then the game plan will be to lock in handsome returns on long-term Treasuries, and command the toady politicos to support "austerity."
The austerity will not extend to the financial Elites, of course. That's the whole purpose of the con. "Some are more equal than others," indeed.

Mortgage default rates are highest among plus million dollar properties.

Rob Hanna: "One thing traders need to keep in mind in the current environment is that when the market is bouncing off of intermediate-term lows it is more likely to get overbought and STAY overbought than when it’s simply consolidating in a downtrend. Shorting bounces off lows typically carries an extra level of risk because of this."

Russian-owned submersibles would be able to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the captain of one of the vessels has said.

Canadian employment rose by 93,000 in June, pushing the unemployment rate down by 0.2 percentage points to 7.9%, according to data released by Statistics Canada Friday. That's the first sub 8% unemployment rate since January 2009. Economists were expecting 20,000 jobs created and an 8.1% unemployment rate.

Google has renewed its China license, Reuters reported from Shanghai, citing a company spokeswoman.

China's foreign exchange regulator on Friday said the process of balancing international payments was "complex" and warned that large current-account surpluses were unsustainable. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a statement that it struggled to balance international payments and the rapid growth in foreign exchange reserves, particularly as China's current-account-surplus-to-gross-domestic-product ratio swelled above 5% since 2005 and jumped to a record 11% in 2007. "In the long run, both large surplus or deficit is unsustainable large scale," the agency, which is also known as SAFE, said in a statement. The regular said it could handle the mounting surpluses, but noted that China's trade fortunes reversed dramatically in a number of years, a transformation that historically is achieved over decades.

Total debt of consumers is declining at an annual rate of 4.5%.

In the week ending July 7, Lipper reported equity outflows of $11.6 billion!

Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one. -- President Thomas Jefferson. .

The Bank of Korea raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time since the global crisis, joining counterparts across Asia in removing monetary stimulus as the region leads world growth. The won climbed.
Governor Kim Choong Soo boosted the seven-day repurchase rate to 2.25 percent from a record low 2 percent, the bank said in a statement in Seoul today. An increase was forecast by just four of 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Investors are already boosting bets on another move.

The Automatic Earth: "In 2009, state and local government debt rose 14.5 percent. U.S. states are likely to face $140 billion in cumulative budget gaps in the coming year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Last year, 187 tax-exempt issuers defaulted on $6.4 billion of securities, the most since 1992, according to data from Distressed Debt Securities in Miami Lakes, Florida.
“It’s a market where it’s clear that the underlying fundamentals are lousy,” said Michael Aronstein, chief investment strategist at Oscar Gruss & Son Inc.[..]. “People can say fundamentals don’t matter but I’ve been doing this for 32 years. They do.”

Reuters: Lloyd's of London will not insure or reinsure petroleum shipments going into Iran, the insurance market said on Friday. U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law last week far-reaching new sanctions that aim to squeeze the Islamic Republic's fuel imports and increase its international isolation.
"The U.S. is an important market for Lloyd's and, in recognition of this, the market will not insure or reinsure refined petroleum going into Iran," Lloyd's General Counsel Sean McGovern told Reuters in a statement.
"Lloyd's will always comply with applicable sanctions," McGovern added.

Starting on January 1st in 2012, U.S. federal law will require coin and bullion dealers to report to the Internal Revenue Service all gold and silver coin purchases and sales greater than $600

Obama made his third trip to Nevada to campaign for Harry Reid. I guess that's more important than the jobless economy and the poisoned water in the Gulf etc etc.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) crude oil production output averaged 29.12 million barrels per day (b/d) in June, down 160,000 b/d from an estimated 29.28 million b/d in May, according to a just-released Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts.
Lower volumes from Iraq and Nigeria accounted for 110,000 b/d of the 160,000 b/d overall drop.

Thomas Jefferson: "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

Consumer borrowing in the U.S. dropped in May more than forecast, a sign Americans are less willing to take on debt without an improvement in the labor market. Consumer credit has fallen an unprecedented 7 consecutive quarters.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Consumer Debt

7/8/10 Consumer Debt

U.S. consumers shed some of their debt for the fourth month in a row in May, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. Total seasonally adjusted consumer debt fell $9.15 billion, or a 4.5% annualized rate, in May to $2.42 trillion. Economists expected a decline. The series is very volatile. April consumer credit was revised sharply lower to a decline of $14.86 billion compared with the initial estimate of a gain of $1 billion. The decline in May was led by revolving credit-card debt, which fell $7.32 billion or 10.5%. This is the 20th straight monthly decline in credit card balances. Non-revolving debt such as auto loans, personal loans and student loans, fell $1.82 billion or 1.4%. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, consumer credit has declined in 18 out of 20 months.

Initial claims dropped to 454k from 475k. Continuing claims drop by 224,000 to 4,413,000. Also, Not Seasonally Adjusted Claims Rise by 22,560.

The Baltic Dry Index continues to plunge, and is now below 2000, hitting fresh 14 month lows, at 1940.

Damon Vickers of Nine Points Capital : "unless the plunge protection team comes in over the next couple of days, the markets are looking very dicey here."

James C. Fox via ZeroHedge: "Oil and water samples were taken from both the Shores of Grand Isle and from 20 miles out. The preliminary analysis was done at an academic analytical chemistry laboratory. Looking for the likely pollutants from the deep water Horizon Oil spill. It was focused on the detection of benzene and propylene glycol. Benzene and other highly toxic contaminants were very low however the concentration of propylene glycol was between 360 and 440 parts per million. Just 25 parts per million is know to kill most fish and propylene glycol is just one of many ingredients found in Corexit. In short, the Gulf is being poisoned by BP's usage of the dispersants even after the EPA asked them to stop back in May. We are willing to provide ANY respected/known laboratory these samples or provide them with more. This is very serious to all people and marine life in and around the Gulf."

Working gas in storage was 2,762 Bcf as of Friday, July 2, 2010, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 78 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 23 Bcf less than last year at this time and 285 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,477 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 64 Bcf above the 5-year average following net injections of 48 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 128 Bcf above the 5-year average of 834 Bcf after a net injection of 19 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 93 Bcf above the 5-year average after a net addition of 11 Bcf. At 2,762 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.
The consensus was a gain of 73 and natgas declined 15 cents.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 120.71 points, or 1.2%, to end at 10,138.99.The S&P 500 index gained 9.98 points, or 0.9%, to 1,070.25, lifted by a 1.3% advance in both the industrials and energy sectors. The Nasdaq Composite rose 15.93 points, or 0.7%, to 2,175.4

Merck to lay off 16,000 workers.

Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. is aiming to acquire at least a 20% stake in a U.S. bank with a robust wholesale operation in a bid to strengthen its position in the world's leading economy, according to a top executive.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


7/7/10 Debt

US Ends June with $13.2 Trillion in Debt, Adds $210 Billion in Total Debt, On Track to Breach Debt Ceiling in Under Six Months. In case one is wondering why the House Democrats attached a document to the emergency war supplemental bill that "deemed as passed" a non-existent $1.12 trillion budget, which basically allows the ruling party to start spending money for Fiscal Year 2011 without the constraint of an actual budget, here is the answer: on June 30, the US closed the books with just over $13.2 trillion in total debt, an increase of $210 billion in one month, or $2.5 trillion annualized. There is just $1.1 trillion left on the ceiling. As we have long been warning, at the current run rate, the ceiling will be breached in under six months, or just around November 2.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange ruled out increasing the proportion of gold already held in its reserves. "China has increased its gold holdings by more than 400 tonnes in the past few years to 1,054 tonnes," said Pradeep Unni of Richcomm Global in a note. "Buying more gold would not help much in diversifying China's reserves." China on Wednesday ruled out the "nuclear" option of dumping its vast holdings of U.S. Treasury securities but called on Washington to be a responsible guardian of the dollar.

BP's CEO Tony Hayward is in Abu Dhabi, Zawya Dow Jones reported, citing a person familiar with his timetable. BP shares have gained around 11% this week amid speculation that the oil giant is looking for an investor, possibly from the Middle East, and were up another 3.6% in London on Wednesday. Tony Hayward, BP's embattled chief executive, met with Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince and would be open to seeing the oil-rich sheikdom buy a stake of up to 10% stake in the U.K. oil giant.

Investors should sell bonds and buy commodities like silver and rice as a “refuge” as the world economy may continue having problems, Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings said.

“Bonds are not a good place to invest in,” Rogers said at a conference in Kuala Lumpur today. “You should own commodities because that’s your only refuge” whether it’s silver or rice, said Rogers, who predicted the start of the global commodities rally in 1999.

China's Property Market Braces for 30% Drop. Standard Chartered has told clients to prepare for a fall in property prices of up to 30pc in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzen, and other large cities in China as the delayed effects of monetary tightening begin to bite. Stephen Green, the bank's China economist, said a glut of newly built homes were hitting the market just as buyers are restrained by higher down-payments and curbs on speculation. "We believe developers will be forced to cut prices," he said.

SEMissourian: "THE feds finally allowed four Dutch skimmers into the Gulf capable of scooping up 36,500 barrels of oil each day, or 146,000 barrels per day for all four. The Obama administration would not let these ships sail to the Gulf, even though they were offered four days after the blowout, because the sailors would not be U.S. union workers. Now, after millions of barrels of oil have nearly destroyed our beaches and wildlife sanctuaries, President Obama has somewhat covertly allowed the four ships and a huge skimmer named the Whale (which has not yet passed Coast Guard muster) into the Gulf. The Dutch skimmers take in oil, which floats to the top of containers, pump the floating oil to a sister ship and dispel the water back into the ocean (99 percent clean.) The EPA originally cited regulations against pumping any water with oil, irrespective of the amount or how dirty it was to start with, into the ocean. Makes no difference what environmental gain was accomplished in the process. Folks, our government at work."

Thirty-eight percent of independents approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, the first time independent approval of Obama has dropped below 40% in a Gallup Daily tracking weekly aggregate. Meanwhile, Obama maintains the support of 81% of Democrats, and his job approval among Republicans remains low, at 12%.

There are now 9.2 million unemployed Americans who don’t get a penny in financial help, says Jeff Weniger at Harris Private Bank.

For U.S. strip centers, the vacancy rate in the second quarter rose 0.10 percentage point from the first quarter to 10.9 percent, slightly below the 11 percent in 1991 during the prior real estate bust, according to the Reis quarterly report, released on Wednesday.

Retailers gave up 1.85 million square feet of occupied space in the second quarter at neighborhood shopping centers, while developers opened less than 400,000 square feet of new strip mall space.

That compares with an average of about 7 million to 8 million square feet of shopping centers built each year from about 2001, according to Reis.

The Baltic Exchange Dry Index (BDI), which gauges the cost of shipping commodities including iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, fell 5.12 percent, or 109 points, to 2,018 points in its 30th consecutive decline to remain at its lowest since May 5 last year when it fell below the key 2,000 point level.

Family Dollar Stores forecast profit for the fourth quarter below analysts estimates, as the uncertain U.S. economy pressured consumer spending.

The Oil Drum: "Weather over the Gulf of Mexico remains unsettled. The remnants of the tropical low that crossed the northern Gulf (tracked as AL95) is now inland. Another tropical low (being tracked as AL96) has just exited the Yucatan peninsula, and may develop in to a tropical storm in the next day or so. It is already producing waves and winds over the central gulf and Deepwater Horizon response area. Winds will remain over 25 knots at least through tomorrow. Models show AL96 moving along a similar track to Alex, making landfall in northern Mexico or Southern Texas. Therefore, it is highly likely that winds and waves will interfere with cleanup and capture operations through the weekend, but should not interfere with relief well drilling. On the plus side, although low level winds will continue to blow oil on to previously oiled areas in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, they should keep the oil from spreading further in to Florida. Down side: western Louisiana and Texas may start seeing more oil."

Gary North: "China is not an accident waiting to happen. It is a government-engineered disaster waiting to happen. It is not threatened by a black swan event. It is threatened by the Austrian theory of the business cycle."

Via ZeroHedge: "Historical market data that suggest our current situation resembles very scary periods in times past (i.e., the 1929 crash to be specific) is beginning to pile up. Let's look at the set up from the perspective of charts. Most notably, historically, the value of the S&P500 relative to the price of gold reaches a bottom at roughly 28% (all-time low = 19%). The ratio is currently 94%. Either gold is 3x underpriced, or stocks have 75% downside. - Brandon Ferro, Managing Member, Hevea Partners"

Via Yves Smith: "Recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister said that the well casing below the sea floor may have been compromised, which could render success from the relief wells less certain:

[Question] What are the chances that the well casing below the sea floor has been compromised, and that gas and oil are coming up the outside of the well casing, eroding the surrounding soft rock. Could this lead to a catastrophic geological failure, unstoppable even by the relief wells?

John Hofmeister: This is what some people fear has occurred. It is also why the “top kill” process was halted. If the casing is compromised the well is that much more difficult to shut down, including the risk that the relief wells may not be enough. If the relief wells do not result in stopping the flow, the next and drastic step is to implode the well on top of itself, which carries other risks as well.

Hofmeister subsequently told MSNBC:

The question is whether there is enough mechanical structure left at the base of the reservoir to hold the cement when they start pouring cement in [from the relief well]."

China has significantly increased its purchases of Japanese govt bonds as it diversifies its foreign-currency reserves.

China plans new resource tax on coal, oil, gas in Western areas.

Wells Fargo to eliminate 3,800 positions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 10,000 for the first time since June 29 on a broad market rally Wednesday. The Dow rose 260 points, or 2.7%, to 10,002 in recent activity. Other major indices joined the rally with the S&P 500 up 2.9% to 1,058, and the Nasdaq up 2.9% to 2,154.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


7/6/10 Arsenic

ANI: "A new research has found that oil spills can increase levels of toxic arsenic in the ocean, creating an additional long-term threat to the marine ecosystem.
Arsenic is a poisonous chemical element found in minerals and it is present in oil. High levels of arsenic in seawater can enable the toxin to enter the food chain.
It can disrupt the photosynthesis process in marine plants and increase the chances of genetic alterations that can cause birth defects and behavioural changes in aquatic life.
It can also kill animals such as birds that feed on sea creatures affected by arsenic.
A team from Imperial College London has discovered that oil spills can partially block the ocean's natural filtration system and prevent this from cleaning arsenic out of the seawater.
The researchers say their study sheds light on a new toxic threat from the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.
Arsenic occurs naturally in the ocean, but sediments on the sea floor filter it out of seawater, which keeps the levels of naturally occurring arsenic low.
However, arsenic is also flushed into the ocean in wastewater from oil rigs and from accidental oil spills and leakages from underground oil reservoirs.
In the study, the researchers discovered that oil spills and leakages clog up sediments on the ocean floor with oil, which prevents the sediments from bonding with arsenic and burying it safely underground with subsequent layers of sediment.
The scientists say this shutdown of the natural filtration system causes arsenic levels in seawater to rise, which means that it can enter the marine ecosystem, where it becomes more concentrated and poisonous the further it moves up the food chain.
The scientists say their work demonstrates how the chemistry of sediments in the Gulf of Mexico may be affected by the current oil leak.
"We can't accurately measure how much arsenic is in the Gulf at the moment because the spill is ongoing. However, the real danger lies in arsenic's ability to accumulate, which means that each subsequent spill raises the levels of this pollutant in seawater. Our study is a timely reminder that oil spills could create a toxic ticking time bomb, which could threaten the fabric of the marine ecosystem in the future," Professor Mark Sephton, from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, said.
The study has been published in the journal Water Research. (ANI)"

Ronald Barnes: "I have been following the BP oil spill and have got some disturbing information: There are gases escaping with the oil that the major media are not mentioning.

The gases are benzene, hydrogen sulfide and methylene chloride, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has measured to be way above safe levels for humans. That people working in the area are getting very sick seems to be ignored by the media, too.

Nalco, a company with close ties to BP, is providing Corexit 9500 – a chemical that contains cyanide, arsenic, mercury, cadmium and chromium – as a dispersant in the amount of a million gallons.

The EPA has suggested much safer chemicals to use, but BP refuses, and it seems no one can do anything about it. This chemical has been banned in Britain.

John Hussman: "As of last week, the Market Climate for stocks remained characterized by unfavorable valuations and unfavorable market action. The stock market is certainly oversold on a short term basis, but we're also seeing a tendency toward accelerating volatility at 10-minute intervals, which I've previously noted can be associated with abrupt episodes of illiquidity. Technicians are very attentive here to a large "head-and-shoulders" pattern which has now completed a (predictably) truncated right shoulder. While we don't put any weight on such patterns, it is often helpful to monitor levels that a large number of traders might consider to be support or resistance. To that end, the area about 1040 on the S&P 500 was the previous widely observed level of "support." Having broken below a major support level, it is somewhat obligatory, if not entirely reliable, for the market to advance back to that prior level of support if only briefly. It would not be surprising to observe that attempt, but beyond that, it is asking rather much to expect investors to drive the market substantially higher simply to clear an oversold condition, when the economic evidence is souring so rapidly at the same time. Suffice it to say that we're not trying to "trade a rebound" or "buy the dip."

The overwhelming risk at present is that we are in what I've called the "recognition phase" where economic reality and earnings guidance deviates substantially from the expectations that have been priced into stocks. Two phases of a market downturn are generally the most hostile. The recognition phase and the capitulation (or "revulsion") phase. This market is nowhere near completing the shift in psychology that one would expect in a recognition phase, much less a capitulation phase. At worst, we see reports like "A few naysayers are worried about a double dip, but this can be ignored because double dips are rare." We will be fine, and even willing to shift to a moderately constructive position if we observe a sufficient reversal in market internals and economic statistics. But here and now, the strongest indications are highly defensive, and the required shift in evidence - at least at present - would have to be so broad that it appears unlikely."

Total Eclipse Sunday July 11 Will Fall on Easter Island


Leading shipping lines are warning of an acute shortage of steel containers that carry cargo on ships, which could damage the industry's fragile recovery.

Demand for containers fell during the economic downturn with even the largest carriers failing to order more.

Default speculation drove municipal bond yields to a 13- month high relative to U.S. Treasuries in the first half of the year. Now, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has asked analysts to look into the issue, according to spokeswoman Michele Heller.

China's property market is beginning a "collapse" that will hit the nation's banking system, said Kenneth Rogoff, the Harvard University professor and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.

June ISM Non-Manufacturing Index: 53.8 vs. 54.9 expected and 55.4 prior (>50 denotes expansion). Prices index fell to 53.8 from 60.6. Employment fell to 49.7 from 50.4. New orders fell to 54.4 from 57.1.

Tar balls on a Texas beach are the first sign that the oil spill has reached all five Gulf states.

The EURUSD surges to another fresh intraday high of 1.2629.

ZeroHedge: "The Baltic Dry index paints a far more dire picture: the BDIY plunged 4% overnight to 2,127, posting the longest consecutive decline in 6 years at 28 days. Despite the optimism from the conflicted money printers, those whose livelihood actually depends on a ceaseless influx of goods into China and broader commodity trading in general, are not nearly quite so happy, having seen a drop in their margins by almost 50% in just over a month."

"Forecasters at the hurricane center were also keeping close watch over an area of disturbed weather in the southeastern Gulf that could strengthen into a tropical depression later this week, potentially hampering oil spill clean-up efforts."

The federal government is suing to stop Arizona's new immigration law, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and state over the nation's toughest immigration crackdown.

After rising 171 points, the Dow gave up all but 57 points of the gain. The Nasdaq finished up 2 and the S&P plus 5.

Agricultural Bank of China priced its Hong Kong and Shanghai dual listing on Tuesday, a deal that would break all IPO records by raising more than $22 billion when adding in over-allotment shares.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Robert Prechter

7/5/10 Robert Prechter

Robert Prechter is convinced that we have entered a market decline of staggering proportions, perhaps the biggest of the last 300 years, the NY Times reports.

Steve Keen via Yves Smith: "Firstly, the contribution to demand from rising private debt was far greater during the recent boom than during the Roaring Twenties—accounting for over 22% of aggregate demand versus a mere 8.7% in 1928. Secondly, the fall-off in debt-financed demand since the date of Peak Debt has been far sharper now than in the 1930s: in the 2 1/2 years since it began, we have gone from a positive 22% contribution to negative 20%; the comparable figure in 1931 (the equivalent date back then) was minus 12%.5 Thirdly, the rate of decline in debt-financed demand shows no signs of abating: deleveraging appears unlikely to stabilize any time soon.

Finally, the addition of government debt to the picture emphasizes the crucial role that fiscal policy has played in attenuating the decline in private sector demand (reducing the net impact of changing debt to minus 8%), and the speed with which the Government reacted to this crisis, compared to the 1930s. But even with the Government’s contribution, we are still on a similar trajectory to the Great Depression.

What we haven’t yet experienced—at least in a sustained manner—is deflation. That, combined with the enormous fiscal stimulus, may explain why unemployment has stabilized to some degree now despite sustained private sector deleveraging, whereas it rose consistently in the 1930s…."

Libya should buy a stake in oil giant BP, according to the country's top oil official, Dow Jones Newswires reported. Shokri Ghanem, Chairman of Libya's Nation Oil Co., told the news service that he will recommend buying a stake in BP to the Libyan Investment Authority to take advantage of BP's weak share price. BP shares were up 4.8% in London.

China upwardly revised its current account surplus for the first quarter to $53.6 billion, an increase of 31% from its earlier estimate of $40.9 billion, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the nation's foreign exchange regulator, said in a statement on its website Monday. The figure, though higher than earlier thought, was still down 32% from a year earlier, Safe said.

BP said Monday that the cost of the response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reached $3.12 billion and that so far it has received 95,000 claims and made around 47,000 payments. BP, which collected or flared 25,198 barrels of oil from the spill on Saturday, said preparations are continuing for the next step in the containment operations. Shareholders in British oil company BP balked at reports it would seek urgent investment from a wealthy Middle East or Asian country as clean-up costs for its U.S. oil spill topped $3 billion.

Robert McHugh: "Major markets worldwide are plunging, with downside targets suggesting many indices could eventually approach zero, believe it or not. We are starting the second leg of one of the worst Bear Markets ever. The second leg of Bear markets sees the worst. This is a Grand Supercycle degree Bear Market, correcting a wave {III} rally from the 1,700's. It will be one for the ages, and will likely usher in major political changes. What those political changes are is anyone's guess, however we would not be surprised if one change involves a powerful attempt, which could be successful, in uniting western nations into a new super-sovereign nation-state. America's founding fathers must be turning in their graves. This economy is in deep trouble. Why? Because the Central Planners forgot about the American Household, forgot about their need for cash, failed to pass a massive income tax rebate, failed to repeal property taxes, failed to grease the primary spending pump, the American Consumer. Now we are getting the second and most dangerous phase of the Bear Market, catastrophic wave (C) down. It is just starting."

Robert Prechter: “I’m saying: ‘Winter is coming. Buy a coat,’ ” he said. “Other people are advising people to stay naked. If I’m wrong, you’re not hurt. If they’re wrong, you’re dead. It’s pretty benign advice to opt for safety for a while.”

The Oil Drum: "Premier Wen Jiabao has promised to use an “iron hand” this summer to make his nation more energy efficient. The central government has ordered cities to close inefficient factories by September, like the vast Guangzhou Steel mill here, where most of the 6,000 workers will be laid off or pushed into early retirement.

Already, in the last three years, China has shut down more than a thousand older coal-fired power plants that used technology of the sort still common in the United States. China has also surpassed the rest of the world as the biggest investor in wind turbines and other clean energy technology. And it has dictated tough new energy standards for lighting and gas mileage for cars.

But even as Beijing imposes the world’s most rigorous national energy campaign, the effort is being overwhelmed by the billionfold demands of Chinese consumers.

Chinese and Western energy experts worry that China’s energy challenge could become the world’s problem — possibly dooming any international efforts to place meaningful limits on global warming.

If China cannot meet its own energy-efficiency targets, the chances of avoiding widespread environmental damage from rising temperatures “are very close to zero,” said Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris."

Naked Capitalism: "Professor Mark Sephton, from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says:

"We can't accurately measure how much arsenic is in the Gulf at the moment because the spill is ongoing. However, the real danger lies in arsenic's ability to accumulate, which means that each subsequent spill raises the levels of this pollutant in seawater. Our study is a timely reminder that oil spills could create a toxic ticking time bomb, which could threaten the fabric of the marine ecosystem in the future."

Wimolporn Wainipee, postgraduate and lead author of the study from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, adds:

"We carried out our study before the leak in the Gulf of Mexico occurred, but it gives us a big insight into a potential new environmental danger in the region. Thousands of gallons of oil are leaked into the world's oceans every year from big spills, offshore drilling and routine maintenance of rigs, which means many places may be at risk from rising arsenic levels, which could in the long run affect aquatic life, plants and the people who rely on the oceans for their livelihoods."

"Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at . last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America," Mehdi Aliyari, Secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, told Iran's ISNA news agency.

World stocks measured by MSCI All-Country World Index dipped 0.2 percent after losing nearly 4 percent last week. The index has lost 16.2 percent since mid-April, and is down 11 percent for the year.

The index carried a one-year forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.9, a level last seen in April 2009 and well below its 10-year average of 15.42, according to Thomson Reuters DataStream.

By comparison, MSCI emerging equities index had a one-year forward P/E of 10.76, in line with its 10-year average of 10.8, DataStream showed.

U.S. crude oil futures fostered losses Monday, with crude for August delivery down 62 cents to $71.52 a barrel. The commodity continued trading Monday as the rest of the New York Stock Exchange took a hiatus for Independence Day. Monday's and Tuesday's trading sessions will be combined into a single settlement price on July 6. Crude-oil futures on Friday fell to their lowest level in nearly a month, a lackluster end of a week that brought oil down 8.5%. It was the biggest drop in eight weeks.