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9/1/14

Screwtape on gold

GM Jenkins over at the Screwtape Files is one of those rare birds; a smart and thoughtful technical analyst. We get two calls on gold from him today:

1) Gold is about to make its move after a long consolidation period
2) On balance, he thinks the move is going to be down.

God news: Voice meets hand

Today saw the "Match For Peace" get together in the Vatican that's all about sporting people getting smiley with The Pope and promoting good things for humanity. And that's fine by me. 

It also included this moment:


Or as Twitterpal RickB aptly put it:

Things that don't get talked about that you don't talk about in South America

After a while in LatAm you begin to notice the gaps in the noise, rather than the noise itself. An example of this is the lack of protests about freedom of speech and right to protest in Colombia, compared to Venezuela where you'll get marches and student rallies on a regular basis. Colombia doesn't have a militant political ideology split driving public opinion and opposition to the consensus view is most definitely not funded by overseas slush money. What Colombia has in the militarized areas is a population that won't protest, march or kick up a fuss because the people who do tend to be shot dead straight afterwards. That's not fakey fear, that's a wholly understandable silence in the face of real danger.

Another is the drugs trade in Peru. Now, over time there have been a couple of occasions when I've been gently informed by the outside world (not going into details) that it really would be best not to get interested in the cocaine business in Peru, start poking around, investigating and asking questions, sticking a post or two up here on this humble corner of cyberspace. The hints and advice has always been gentle and friendly, but you also know that behind the soft words there are harder ones waiting if necessary. What's more I have no problem at all with ignoring the subject because a) I'm a coward b) I'm a married coward with two small kids c) I have enough to fill my limited mental capacity already without complicating things for no apparent reason. As a result I generally ignore the subject and its coverage gap, there are better and easier things to do.

But I will say one thing about Peru and cocaine in the 21st century today, only because it's on my mind and it won't cause a fuss: The small-time narco-biz gets normal coverage, but when it comes to the big-time action, the multi-million dollar business of manufacturing and moving white powders from A to B, the Peruvian press and polite society will always, but always blame either foreign nationals or the terrorist remnant organization left over from Shining Path for the big trafficking action. Colombians, Mexicans, Bolivians, whoever else. It's never the fault or responsibility of Peruvian nationals and that's not a coincidence. It's just another one of those holes in the noise.

Here endeth the post.

UPDATE: To back up the point made about Colombia, this news today.

Bolivia knowledge test

Your pro-tip of the day is to read the comments sections of posts in high traffic economics blogs in order to gauge the level of public ignorance about the subject in question. Today's example is Marginal Revolution on Bolivia, right here (h/t drunkeynsian). Tyler Cowen gets most things right-ish inside the boundaries of fair opinion (the only thing he really misses is how Bolivia's gas exports to Brazil and Argentina are covered by long-term contracts, so Brazil's apparent near recession isn't Bolivia's) but the people lining up to give their two cents are already cringeworthy.

PS: There's another thing. If you notice the previous post on MR, it's a fair guess that Cowen has just picked up a book on Bolivia and managed to put together a pretty cogent post on the country's outlook (again, within a margin of error and taking into account personal views and tastes) in a short period of time and without being any sort of deeply read expert. The hallmark of smart scholar is to be able to do that sort of thing.

Fe erratum

I've waited until Sunday evening to run  this correction because weekend traffic for the financial-mining things is always light. In this way it gets to been seen at the top of the page Monday morning, and in the Monday email digests. 

On Thursday 28th August in this post I stated that Geologic Resource Partners was owned by Klaus Zeitler, CEO of Amerigo Resources (ARG.to) and as such, the implication was that he owned 22m shares of his company ARG.to via that holding company.

That was incorrect information. In fact Zeitler has no connection to Geologic Resource Partners and is not the person who has been buying the stock recently, either directly or indirectly. Although the post was written in good faith I got my wires crossed and apologize for the error.

The IKN Weekly, out now


IKN277 has just been sent to subscribers. River Plate is now one point clear at the top of the league after tonight's excellent 3-1 win at San Lorenzo. And the Weekly has 12,000 words. Purple prose. Nailbiting stuff.

8/31/14

The rise of Marina Silva

The Graun has a good and in-depth profile of Marina Silva, who's currently shaking up the Brazilian Presidential election in no uncertain manner. Here's the sample:
Following a strong performance in the first TV debate between candidates, polls suggest she will come second in the first-round vote on 5 October and then beat the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, in the runoff three weeks later. 
This is a spectacular turnaround for a candidate who did not even have a party a year ago, when the electoral court ruled that she had failed to collect enough signatures to mount a campaign. It was also the latest in a series of remarkable steps for a mixed-race woman who grew up in a poor family in the Amazon, and went on to become her country's most prominent advocate of sustainable development.
Read it here. Meanwhile, subbers get your humble scribe's view on this suddenly interesting race, who'll likely win it and what it all means in IKN277, out tonight.

8/30/14

Road deaths in Bolivia

In the six years of 2008 to 2013, according to official Bolivian government figures there were 8,730 deaths in road accidents in the country. That's an average of 1,455 per year and a bad record indeed for a country with a population of just over 10.6m people. It's even worse on a per capita basis than the infamously bad regional countries such as Peru (2,430 deaths in 2013, population 30.1m) or Argentina (5,094 deaths in 2013, pop. ~43m).

Of course you remember all those accidents in Bolivia being reported not, but now I'm afraid it's serious because today some whiteys on vacay in the country died. Here's AP, immediately picked up by WaPo, with the breaking news.
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivian police say eight foreign tourists are among the 10 people killed when a bus returning to La Paz from the Salar de Uyuni salt flats ran off the highway and crashed. 
Police Capt. Gonzalo Carrasco said that another 24 people, most of them foreigners, were injured and being treated in hospitals in Oruro, the closest big city. 
Carrasco said the continues here