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Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

Gold Prices – Blip, Dip or Flip

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

After two weeks of softness in gold prices, weak players with long positions are out. Asian buying support seen. Gold prices stable for four days.

European liquidity crisis behind gold 'dumping' by Euro-banks? 2ndlook thinks its gold from deposed Arab leaders (Tunisia, Egypt & Libya) which has found its way into markets. |  Cartoonist Mike Luckovich on Nov 29 2011; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com  |  Click for larger source image.

European liquidity crisis behind gold 'dumping' by Euro-banks? 2ndlook thinks its gold from deposed Arab leaders (Tunisia, Egypt & Libya) which has found its way into markets. | Cartoonist Mike Luckovich on Nov 29 2011; source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com | Click for larger source image.

Three sides of the coin

The slide in gold prices has brought out Gold-Bust supporters and the Gold-Boom buyers in full force.

Is this US$300 drop in gold prices in the two weeks of December 2011,

Just a blip on the bull run in gold prices?

Or is it a medium term dip in gold prices?

Or is it a beginning of the end for the gold bubble?

All three sides marshall enough ‘facts’ and ‘data’ to sound convincing.

What is not told

What the mainstream media is not telling you, is being told – only on 2ndlook blogs – How Arab gold from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya that may have been dumped by European banks in the market.

As usual the market has the last laugh.

Gold for delivery in February (GC2G +0.51%) rose $8.60, or 0.5%, to $1,626.00 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange during Asian trading hours.

The rise put the metal on track for a second session of gains, after trading up 1.3% in Tuesday’s North American session.

Gold has been pressured in recent months, amid Europe’s deepening sovereign-debt crisis.

Year-end selling by funds and tight liquidity in European interbank money markets have also contributed to recent price falls.

Anne-Laure Tremblay, precious metals analyst at BNP Paribas, said increases in liquidity by central banks should support gold prices in 2012 and possible rises in inflation expectations.

“Gold should also be boosted by strong physical demand, notably in Asia and Europe,” Tremblay said.

However, she added that “with high uncertainty likely to remain a major feature of the markets, gold could be vulnerable to further episodes of price correction.”

BNP Paribas was forecasting gold to average $1,775 an ounce in 2012 and $2,150 an ounce in 2013. (via Gold futures extend gains in Asian trading – Metals Stocks – MarketWatch).

Is the US Treasury or the US Federal Reserve buying gold? This Chinese cartoonist seems to suggest that. |  Cartoonist Luojie, China Daily, China  on 9/28/2010 12:00:00 AM;  Source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com  |  Click for larger source image.

Is the US Treasury or the US Federal Reserve buying gold? This Chinese cartoonist seems to suggest that. | Cartoonist Luojie, China Daily, China on 9/28/2010 12:00:00 AM; Source & courtesy - caglecartoons.com | Click for larger source image.

Go East, young man

And here is one more take on the gold prices which seems to suggest that with Asian (read as India+China) demand strong as ever, this dip in prices is just a good buying opportunity.

2ndlook will go with that.

Paradoxically, optimism is actually bolstered by the widespread suspicion the slide was triggered by central bank selling — a once-radical idea now so generally accepted that the bullion bank UBS, usually very circumspect about official-sector activity, felt able to say on Friday that “larger moves were also likely taking place behind the scenes, judging from the considerable market chatter about official liquidation.”

The reasoning here: Once the abnormal, politically motivated selling ceases, gold will revert to a higher equilibrium.

But the most concrete reason for optimism emerged on Friday: It became apparent that the lows of Thursday had uncovered large Eastern physical demand.

UBS commented that “the physical market has now responded: Combined turnover on the [Shanghai Gold Exchange] this week has been consistently strong and is about 53% higher than the previous week’s, while demand from India is shaping up to be the strongest weekly offtake since early October.”

Over at LeMetropoleCafe, a correspondent reported very high local premiums for gold in the key gold-buying markets of China and India on Friday, suggesting strong local demand, and headlined: “Year-end gold menu: Bear Curry or Bear Chow Mein?” (via The East Is Gold? – Peter Brimelow – MarketWatch).


Arab Spring – Is the West After Gold?

December 14, 2011 1 comment

In the last 60 years, the West has lost ‘market share’ in gold from more than 50% to nearly 20% of global gold reserves!

(Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com; Cartoon by John Darkow, The Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri.).

(Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com; Cartoon by John Darkow, The Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri.).

Rivers – shallow and dry

Arab Spring protests have petered out into directionless change – and the outlook seems bleak.

The unspoken element in these regime changes is the ‘personal’ wealth of the Egyptian and Tunisian rulers.

After Ben Ali, the Tunisian leader came to France, fleeing from his own country, the French Government seized a plane reputedly containing 1.5 tons of gold – that ‘belonged’ to the Tunisian ruler.

Gaddafi’s assets have been frozen in UK, USA and Switzerland.

Mubarak’s wealth

Estimates abound.

There is a lower range estimate of US$ 2-3 billion – which most reject as too conservative. CNN’s Tom Foreman puts in an astounding figure of US$40 billion-75 billion. Based on a video transcript, ‘Mubarak is worth somewhere between $40 billion and $75 billion, CNN’s Tom Foreman estimates’. An unsubstantiated report, estimates Mubarak’s gold holdings at US$ 9 billion.

Average prices of gold in February 2011, were in the region of US$45 million per tonne of gold. That would be 2000 tons – one of the largest hoards in the world. More gold than the national reserves of any country – except the Top 5 reserves.

Just carting around 2000 tons of gold – or its cash equivalent would be inviting trouble.

More on Egyptian gold

As the legs on Mubarak’s throne wobbled, gold prices also wobbled downwards – significantly?

Now why would that happen?

Egypt is not a major producer of gold. Production from the Sukari mines (started production in Jun 2009) is now at 1 ton – expected to go up to 14 tons (500,000 oz). Miniscule in comparison to global output at more than 2000 tons.

Alexander Nubia, a Toronto-based mining operator owns gold exploration properties at Abu Marwat that is expected to start production next year – with a potential of 500,000 oz – i.e. another 14 tons.

Total production in Egypt – less than 30 tons.

Egypt is also not a major buyer of gold. Total annual consumption of gold in Egypt is around 50 tons – about 3 weeks of India’s consumption.

Is it that players in the market expected Mubarak’s gold hoard to be dumped into the market?

Libyan Treasures

Libya’s official gold holdings are in the similar range as Egypt’s – some 143 tons. International bodies have estimated Libya’s reserves higher than 143 tonnes.

In March 2011, the IMF estimated Libya’s reserves even higher but the official amount remained 144 tons that were registered by Gaddafi-controlled Libya’s Central Bank.

This apart, Gaddafi surrounded himself with some gold trinkets – pistols, golf clubs, etc. After the capture and killing of Gaddafi, it is unclear the where and what of Libyan gold.

The Fall Of USSR

Western media has been tom-toming how Xerox and fax machines were behind the Soviet collapse.

Not quite. The real story …?

A lot of Nazi and Soviet gold came into the markets, it is surmised, during the 1999-2005 Central Bank Gold Sales agreement – which was put in place to depress gold prices. These depressed gold prices, that coincided with price declines in oil, platinum and other commodities, bankrupted the Soviet economy – and not Xerox and fax machines.

Is Arab gold the reason for this mayhem of regime changes?


2ndlook posts

External posts

Looking Back At Arab Spring

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Is the Arab world going to get a better deal? Was it empty rage – or is there a road-map?

Who was toppling these puppets? | Cartoonist - Saieb Khalil; source & courtesy - doroob.com | Click for larger source image.

Who was toppling these puppets? | Cartoonist - Saieb Khalil; source & courtesy - doroob.com | Click for larger source image.

Gushing coverage

Nine months ago, the gushing coverage of Arab Spring  in the mainstream media bordered on hyperbole. Mainstream media boosted these ‘protests (which) may have now acquired a life of their own’ and ‘sweeping changes … coming to the Arab lands, where authoritarian regimes are the norm’ and how ‘present protests, could be a game-changer’.

Throwing cold water on an overjoyed world of Twitterati, Chatterati, Bloggerati, Paparazzi was in danger of being called cynical – even as they claimed credit for this ‘change.’

Egypt’s influential Al Ahram ran this column 3 months ago, pretty much confirming that the Arab Spring was another round of games between Arab puppets and their Western masters. Will Russia’s support to the Syrian regime mean anything?

It is clear now the whole Arab Spring is not as spontaneous as appeared at first glance. While the regimes across the region were indeed corrupt and dictatorial, they were all supported by the West. But so was the opposition.

The moment came when they were perceived as passed their due date, and with the neocons in office by 2000 and PNAC’s “new Pearl Harbour” on the horizon, it was possible to proceed with Yinon’s plan to create dynamic chaos in the Middle East. The Arab Spring is, in an eerie way, a natural conclusion to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A sort of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, American style.

It has taken various forms so far, with a breezy boot to Zein Al-Abidine bin Ali in Tunisia, a pair of handcuffs to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, a burnt face to Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, impending assassination to Gaddafi, and who-knows-what to Al-Assad. The only ones to escape unharmed are the Gulf sheikhs and the kings of Morocco and Jordan, who are so compliant that they need only a tap on the shoulder to do Washington’s bidding. Oh yes, Algeria’s President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika is still hanging on, but not even the neocons dare to overthrow him and reopen civil war wounds from the 1990s.

That is not to denigrate the revolutionaries across the region, nor to dismiss their heroic struggles to achieve independence in the face of the Western intriguers. Among the prominent new leaders are Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Tunisia’s Rachid Ghannouchi and Egypt’s Essam El-Erian. Their popular Renaissance and Freedom and Justice parties are projected to win the plurality of seats in upcoming elections, and they have no use for the imperialists. Then there is rebel military leader in Tunisia Abdullah Hakim Belhaj who plans to take the US to court for torturing him and then rendering him to Libya. There are few secular heroes in the region that can vie with the long-suffering Islamists. (via Al-Ahram Weekly | Region | Russia’s Middle East dilemma).

If only the Arab spring was better equipped – with ideas that mattered.

Instead of empty rage.


Can Arab Spring Be Successful?

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Was the overthrow of Mubarak another spontaneous ‘revolt’? What is the road-map? Any agenda?

It was clear then - and clear now. This is just empty rage - without any clear agenda or roadmap.  |  Cartoon by By William Warren  |  February 1, 2011  |   Image source and courtesy - libertyfeatures.com  |  COPYRIGHT 2011 LIBERTY FEATURES SYNDICATE - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

It was clear then - and clear now. This is just empty rage - without any clear agenda or roadmap. | Cartoon by By William Warren | February 1, 2011 | Image source and courtesy - libertyfeatures.com | COPYRIGHT 2011 LIBERTY FEATURES SYNDICATE - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Time and place

When people are dying and suffering, it is no time to say I told you so …

Except when the situation demands that!

Nine months ago, 2ndlook warned about the gushing coverage of Arab Spring  in the mainstream media on these ‘protests (which) may have now acquired a life of their own’ and ‘sweeping changes … coming to the Arab lands, where authoritarian regimes are the norm’ and how ‘present protests, could be a game-changer’. 2ndlook threw cold water on an overjoyed world of Twitterati, Chatterati, Bloggerati, Paparazzi went ahead and claimed credit for this ‘change’.

Aladdin’s Lamp – Old despots for new

Are Arabs talking of Western style’ democracy’ and ‘freedom‘?

Like ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith Switzerland where a third mosque with minarets was not allowed? Is it political freedom, like Europe which believes that a two-party collusive democracy is better than one-party conspiring oligarchy?

Maybe, build on ethnic-diversity like the Danes who want to pay Muslims to leave Denmark. Why not even aim for a ‘fair’ legal-system like Britain, where hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested to build a DNA data-bank – ostensibly to help in criminal identification. To be like the West today, that has the lowest levels of diversity – ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. And makes the most noise about freedom and human rights.

Is democracy a solution - or a temporary respite from malignant dictatorships  | Cartoon by Carlos Latuff; February 2011; source and courtesy - desertpeace.files.wordpress.com  |  Click for larger source image.

Is democracy a solution - or a temporary respite from malignant dictatorships | Cartoon by Carlos Latuff; February 2011; source and courtesy - desertpeace.files.wordpress.com | Click for larger source image.

How bad were these ‘despots’

Indeed, a case could be made for these stable despots who have sent packing in Tunisia and Egypt.  In both Tunisia and Egypt, people have seen economic progress, without dependence on oil – unlike most of Islāmic Middle East.

Compared to Turkey’s per-capita, or oil-inflated Oman’s US$ 25,000 or petro-daddy  Saudi’s US$ 23,300, Tunisia with US$ 9100 per capita and Egypt with US$ 5900 come out favorably. Tunisia or Egypt did not favor the beheading or amputation routine of Iran or Saudi Arabia – or mass-imprisonment regimes like USA, UK or China. Like all modern-State-nations, concentration of wealth is a ‘given’ – regardless of Europe, USA or Islāmic Middle-East.

There was neither a shining vision, nor economic necessity, or relative oppression, which triggered these revolts. Instead of an ‘elected’ Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians got Army Rule. Was that a satisfactory or a desirable outcome? Does empty rage count as a reason to expose nations to unknown rulers and uncertainty? Unknown devils instead of known devils? Does a change in government without modifying governance-model make any difference?

Without a viable ‘reason’ for revolt, what made so many people come out in the open?

I can get no satisfaction

It is no satisfaction that this outcome was forewarned in the 2ndlook post.

Egypt’s military rulers apologized Thursday for the deaths of dozens of pro-democracy protesters and vowed to prosecute those responsible in its latest attempt to appease the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets demanding that the generals immediately step down.

Police and protesters also agreed to a truce negotiated by Muslim clerics after five days of fierce street battles that have left nearly 40 dead.

The fighting around Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, which began Saturday, has been the longest spate of uninterrupted violence since the 18-day uprising that toppled longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11. It has deepened the country’s economic and security woes ahead of the first parliamentary elections since Muabrak’s regime was toppled. Voting is scheduled to begin on Monday.

The military statement came two days after Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council that assumed control of the country after Mubarak stepped down, promised in a televised address to hold a presidential election in the first half of next year but did not offer an apology for the killings. (via Truce Halts Fighting In Cairo’s Tahrir Square | Fox News).

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