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The Friday OT on a Thursday: Pizzaman; Sex On The Streets

Oh wow, found it.

Once upon a time, post Housemartins and pre-Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook was Pizzaman, he did this, it was good, I danced a lot to the music.

And happy to say it's held up pretty well to the test of time (19 years !!), especially considering the genre. So enjoy a slice of oldskool with your Thursday evening, you deserve it.

The middle class in Latin America

Greg Weeks over at his blog Two Weeks Notice today features the CEPAL/United Nations data that's been published on the economic strata of Latin America, featuring two of the main charts as well. As is often the case people focus in on the poverty figures and that's normal, but today I got to thinking about the numbers CEPAL has supplied on the middle class in LatAm. For sure we concentrate on the poor, but what about the middle class numbers, just for a change? They have their own story to tell as well.

In order to understand context, here's how CEPAL and many others categorize the economic levels:

1) Poor. Says what it means, standard definitions apply.
2) Vulnerable. This is the sector of the population that has either a) risen out of poverty but is at risk of falling back in if things don't go well or b) dropped away from the secure middle class category and runs the risk of becoming poor. For what it's worth, in LatAm this is usually the a) group.
3) Middle class. Says what it means, standard definitions apply. People just like your author who are fortunate enough to have disposible income and the trappings thereof.
4) Residual. I like that word, much cooler than the rich or the one percent. For example people who live in Peru, run the country's media and tell you how wonderful Peru is. For another example people who live in Venezuela, run the country's media and tell you how crappy Venezuela is.

So with those out the way, the charts that follow zoom in on the middle class sector, those people established in the comfort zone of each country. They're not sweating over the next paycheck, but neither are they wondering which colour their next Ferrari should be. If you want more on the other sectors, including the percentage figures, check out the Greg Weeks post, it's on this link.

This first chart shows the percentage of each country's population that's safely ensconsed in that gossamer cocoon of ennui and neuroses we know as "middle class life". As you can see, we have the figures from the year 2000 lurking in the background and then the latest ones for 2012 as main feature. That's because CEPAL provides both sets of figures, too.

Uruguay is top of the bunch because it's always had a large section in the middle class (being a small population country helps in these things, as does its long-standing reputation as a tax haven in the region). Then many of you out there may be surprised to see Argentina in a clear second place, but that's only because you've been reading too many stupid and unbalanced articles on the country, rather than ever visiting the place. Chile's good for this metric, as are Costa Rica and Panama. Down at the bottom, four Central American countries with a reputation for poverty and instability.

This second chart is perhaps more interesting for the context it shines on chart one. Here we see the difference in percentage scores between the two sets of figures for 2000 and 2012, which gives us a good idea of how many people have managed to make the move up to middle class status in the first part of this century:

Peru is up and thrusting and has added the most in percentage terms to its middle class, so well done indeed. Then come two supposedly pariah states (if you believe the MSM bullshit on LatAm) in Argentina (scoring well again) and Bolivia. Then come a bunch that have added the rough average of 11% or 12% to their scores, all good and laudable (and hey, including Venezuela). Also rans include Uruguay (at or close to a saturation point, so no worries there) and then four countries that have the shame of seeing their percentage of middle class drop.

So, tell me how Argentina is this economic disaster area again?

Tommy Humphreys and Lawrence Roulston, playing nicely together

Here's what's being sent over to my mailbox this morning, from a couple of you. Well, I might have adjusted the text slightly. Here and there. Y'know, just for fun.

(PS: Yes, I'm at a loose end this morning. How did you know?)

Good morning members of our free list,
This is Tommy Humphreys for Lawrence Roulston (Some of you may know me from my appearances in the daytime series, Nurses In Love).
Lawrence brought me on board a couple of months ago to help revive his rapidly fading newsletter, Resource Opportunities, established in 1998. We are both very excited by the chance to pretend there's an improving outlook for junior mining equities, as well as what's in store for our newsletter.
We just published a report on an R&D stage company that I believe has the potential to change my life, and possibly yours, but this one isn't Lowell Copper so don't worry I'm not going to make the mistake of toadying out of my league this time.
Yes, some luck will be involved, but you have to make your own luck in this world and if I sell enough of these subscriptions, my back will be covered and I'll be running no risk at all. That part's up to you, suckers.
The company our report covers has arguably the best possible management team and financial backers for what they have set out to do and if you get to the end of this sentence and still read on then you're exactly the type of person I'm looking for. The team has created billions in wealth for shareholders and themselves in this particular commodity over the past twenty years.
The roughly $20 million enterprise value company is not at all followed by the investment community, the same way my grammar fails to follow the basic rules of English language.
Under normal circumstances, I would be willing to pay the current enterprise value for an empty shell with a management team of this calibre because I'm a complete twat, but this company is not a shell. It has several potentially significant projects, and success at any one of them could add zeroes to the company's valuation. You still reading? Oh, you're the one, just go the bottom, hit the subscription button and sign on now.
I thought I would have to wait a long time to have the stars align on a story like this one, and there are very exciting things happening at this company over the next six months. Very exciting, as adjectives and modifiers make all the difference to a no-brainer winning trade.
To learn more about our idea please sign up at the Resource Opportunities site, which we are in the process of re-designing and we need more money to pay the web designer so don't delay.
The report is the culmination of over two months of research on the company, and its yours with a $299 annual subscription. You see, PT Barnum was right.
And if you change your mind you may cancel within 30 days of signing up for a full refund.
We look forward to having you aboard!
Tommy Humphreys for Lawrence Roulston
Toll Free: 1-XXX-773-XXX 

Amerigo Resources ( insider trades

Not that many interesting insider buys or sells recently, but this one catches the eye:

Herr Zeitler suddenly likes his own (and fave) company again. He now owns over 22m of these papers.

But hey, maybe it's because I recently bought a few (a.k.a. Aaaaargh!!! to) myself that this one caught my eye. Yup, that was your full disclosure.


And Marin Katusa called PRD Energy (PRD.v) "The next Bakken"

Must have been some sort of oilman's joke or something. A bit like Casey Research, in fact.

 The 2q14 NR here, which doesn't tell you that PRD.v got $537k of revenue from sales of its crude in 2q14 and made a net loss of $1.23m. And it has to be said, that's slightly under the megasquillions and profits Katusa was predicting from his close pal's company by now (yup how time flies, he's been pumping this thing for over a year now). 

As Katusa put it on November 23rd 2013 while waxing lyrical over a previous set of crappy returns from PRD.v, "...we expect the initial production numbers to be somewhere between 500 and 750 barrels of oil a day". In fact, during 2q14 the well that was going to make you Casey Sheep all rich and stuff only operated for 68 days and produced 8,923 barrels of oil. Which is 131 and bits for every working day (or less than 100bbl/d if you spread that production across the whole quarter). So they've now closed that well down for optimization work, which is cute. But don't worry! They're going to take all that cash they raised from you and drill some more holes, which are bound to be paydirt and much better than the first one, right Marin?

And John Mauldin, how's your trade treating you on this thing? Your readers happy about the way you got them in at $1.20? Ah, good...

The Rio Blanco copper lobbying in Peru

Here's a good one. The Chinese company behind Rio Blanco is trying to get the project moving forward again, with the usual hilarious corporate strategies and predictable results. They've hired this Chinese woman who got the job because she's guaranteed the company that she'll get the mine into operation in four years, even though she doesn't speak a scrap of Spanish. She's going about it by lobbying (translation: bribing) the rich and powerful in Lima's mining community and media channels, which means we've already seen supremely stupid and biased new reports on the national TV channels and efforts by the mining minstry to prime public opinion for the big PR push to come. 

Thing is, Rio Blanco is also trying to keep things very secret from the people who really matter, the locals around the Rio Blanco/Majaz project who've been vehemently opposed to the development of the mine for many years. This is stupid, because they've just found out Rio Blanco has been taking secret surveys of local opinion behind their backs and are now even more pissed than they were before (and that was very, but very pissed indeed, as IKN's previous coverage on the way the company kidnappped locals, shot at least one dead, got thrown off the property and ended up being successfully sued for its bullying shows).

So to sum up: A Chinese mining company being run by an new, arrogant and zero-idea-of-anything boss that's trying to push through one of the most hated mining projects in South America by pitting locals against a national press and government lobby through payoffs and slush funding. This one's going to end well, no'

Children's fashion, Spanish style

Zara is the big clothing chain from Spain, now a worldwide brand and the base of fortune for Amancio Ortega, one of the richest people in the world. Here's a new item for children in their latest collection:

Guess what? It's just been withdrawn, under full apologies, even though you can (supposedly, difficult though) read "Sherriff" on that badge and it's not meant to suggest anything about the second world war. Can't help but wonder if Mugatu is chief designer for this year's autumn collection. Zara should also apologize for being absolute idiots, but let's take it one step at a time.

PS: Zara has 22 shops in Israel.

Chart of the day is...

...the gold/silver ratio, 12 months:

Wnat my guess? Sure you want my guess, it's worth no less (or more) than anyone else's: The GSR is rolling over again, silver's about to rally. Right on time for Labor Day, too.