Eco-Friendly BioCoin Cleans up Initial Phase of Crowdsale by Raising $2.5 Million

The steady rise of cryptocurrency, as well as the public’s increasing awareness of eco-farming and sustainability, has inspired LavkaLavka’s initiative, BioCoin.  This Russia-based platform aims to support and develop local farming communities through their innovative crypto loyalty program. BioCoin’s popularity is already quite evident as they managed to raise an impressive $2.5 million during the … Continue reading Eco-Friendly BioCoin Cleans up Initial Phase of Crowdsale by Raising $2.5 Million

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Gold Tumbles in Asia as U.S. Senate Rallies the Dollar

Gold tumbles as the U.S. Senate causes yields and the dollar to rise across the board.

Gold has fallen 0.50% or some six dollars from its close in New York as Asia erases almost all of the gains it made yesterday. Gold is wilting as the U.S. dollar surges in Asia after the U.S. Senate adopted an FY18 budget resolution. It has seen Treasury yields edge higher pushing the dollar up across most currencies with the US Dollar Index higher by 0.40% in Asia. Along with the odds of the new Federal Reserve Chairmen shortening to make a more hawkish Jerome Powell the frontrunner, none of this is good news for gold.

Having closed at 1289.00 gold is now trading at 1283.50 with double top resistance at 1291.30 followed by the 1296.00 area. Significant support, however, is just below at 1276.00, a double bottom from Wednesday and Thursday and also the 100-day moving average. A break would open up further falls to the 1260.00 regions and the nearby 200-day moving average at 1258.00. It would most likely a significant rush for the exit door by traders if it were to give way.

Gold Daily

The key to the remainder of the session is whether the U.S. dollar gains and higher Treasury yields are sustained into Europe and New York. If the moves correct then gold may get a reprieve, if Europe continues to run with this baton, it could be a long day for bullish gold traders.

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ScotiaMocatta Put For Sale After Multibillion Money-Laundering Scandal

The world's oldest gold trader is for sale after a massive money laundering scandal may terminally crippled one of the most iconic names in the business.

Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia is exploring options for its gold business ScotiaMocatta, the Financial Times reported, which include a possible sale of Canada's most popular precious metals trader. Scotiabank made a decision to sell ScotiaMocatta following a massive money laundering scandal centered on a U.S. refinery that involved smuggled gold from South America. The ScotiaMocatta business, a mainstay in PM trading, is one of London’s main gold trading banks and is being sold by JPMorgan.

According to the FT sources, ScotiaMocatta’s future had been underway for several months, with ScotiaBank allegedly seeking a buyer for up to a year and was likely to shrink the business if a sale is not completed, although according to the article Chinese buyers - the world's dumbest money these days - are rumoured to be the key targets of the sale.

While gold trading has been in a cyclical decline in recent years, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in prompting the sale was Scotiabank’s lending to Elemetal, a precious metals refinery in Dallas. Scotiabank was one of its biggest lenders, they said. The problem emerged in March, when US prosecutors accused workers at a subsidiary of Elemetal, NTR Metals in Florida, of a money laundering scheme using “billions of dollars of criminally derived gold” mostly from Peru.

Here the story take a turn into a slightly surreal detour:

NTR imported more than $3.6bn of gold from Latin America between 2012 and 2015, the court documents allege. Two of the accused, Samer Barrage and Juan Granda, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of money laundering in plea deals.

 

After the story came to light in March, Elemetal was kicked off the London Bullion Market Association’s “Good Delivery List” of gold refiners;

This was an almost instant death sentence for the company as buyers will usually only buy gold from a refiner on the list. Indeed, in the same month, New York’s Comex futures exchange said it was no longer taking gold from Elemetal for delivery against futures contracts in the world’s biggest gold futures market.

And this is where the scourge of gold rehypothecation emerged, as in the scandal surrounding Elemetal, it became impossible for holders of Elemetal gold to sell the gold bars on, leaving them sitting in bank vaults, according to traders quoted by the FT. Buyers are reluctant to take the gold, given the investigations.

This means that hundreds of millions in loans made to Elemetal by ScotiaMocatta are suddenly stuck in limbo. It also means that one of five bullion banks that settle gold trades in the London market, the world’s largest, has effectively been blackballed. It was built on the 1997 purchase by Scotiabank of Mocatta Bullion, which traces its roots back to 1671. And with Mocatta crippled, Scotiabank, which has the biggest foreign presence of any Canadian bank, is focusing its international strategy on the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc comprising Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia. It will also hope to find a willing Chinese buyer for the gold trading operation.

Mocatta's exit will be good news for HSBC and JPMorgan, which dominate the London market; their large balance sheets enable them to provide credit to clients and refiners around the world. Additionally, and unlike Scotiabank, they also have vaults in London. Gold trading in London is estimated to be worth more than $5tn a year, although as the FT notes, there are no precise figures on how much gold is traded there every day.

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Gold Recovery Likely Short-Lived as Indian Buying in Festival Weakens

Gold price gained for the first time in 4 days on hopes that Diwali, India's festival beginning on October 18/19 this year, would boost demand for the yellow metal. However, gold's rally based on this hope would be short-lived as data suggested that buying this year is markedly lower than the same period in 2016.

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Senate Passes 2018 Budget Paving Way For $1.5 Trillion In Tax Cuts, Sending Yields, Dollar Sharply Higher

Senate republicans took a major, if relatively easy, step toward passing Trump's tax plan on Thursday night with the critical passage of a budget blueprint that would protect a $1.5 trillion tax cut from a Democratic filibuster. Senators narrowly voted 51-49 to pass the fiscal year 2018 budget after a several hour-long marathon on the Senate floor. The budget resolution could also pave the way for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration by ensuring that drilling legislation can pass with only Republican votes according to the NYT.

With a 52-seat majority, Mitch McConnell had a narrow path to getting the 50 votes needed to clear the budget through the upper chamber. But GOP leadership caught a break this week when Sen. John McCain, a holdout over defense spending, announced he would vote yes, and Sen. Thad Cochran, recovering from health issues, returned early to Washington.

The budget’s passage could keep Republicans on track to pass a tax package late this year or early in 2018. That said, there are still plenty of possible complications, not least of all bickering within the GOP over the final shape of the tax package - where the fate of state and local tax exemptions has still to be decided - as the following Goldman flowchart shows: the steps that were successfully passed tonight are shown in green.

The House could pick up the Senate-passed budget as early as next week and give final approval to parliamentary language protecting the Republicans’ coveted tax effort. If House Republicans instead insist on negotiating a compromise that melds the Senate and House budget plans, tax legislation could be delayed.

“Passing this budget is critical to getting tax reform done, so we can strengthen our economy after years of stagnation under the previous administration,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The Senate gave its approval to the budget blueprint on Thursday night after considering a flurry of amendments, a tedious process that gives the minority party an opportunity to force the majority to endure politically difficult votes. One Democratic amendment that was rejected sought to stop tax cuts from going to the top 1 percent; another would have restored cuts to Medicare.

The Senate approved the budget after the previously discussed so-called vote-a-rama, a legislative whirlwind in which amendments are considered one after another

Giving tonight events an aura of fatalistic determinism, Senator Lindsey Graham, and a member of the Budget Committee, said "this is the last, best chance we will have to cut taxes,” and warned that the consequences would be ruinous if the party failed. “That will be the end of us as a party,” he said, “because if you’re a Republican and you don’t want to simplify the tax code and cut taxes, what good are you to anybody?”

Where things get laughable is when one considers the context of what just happened: In Congress, the annual budget resolution provides an outline of federal spending and revenues. The Senate’s blueprint, for the 2018 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, claims to achieve a balanced budget within a decade, assuming greater economic growth and using an accounting method that excludes Social Security. In order to erase projected deficits, it calls for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the coming decade.But the cuts exist only on paper, without legislation to achieve them.

And as the GOP predicts that by 2028 US government spending will equal revenues, here is what will really happen:

 

Meanwhile, as Republicans played with excel's "goalseek" function, Democrats sounded the alarm, warning that the aspirational cuts in the budget plan called for slicing more than $1 trillion from Medicaid and about $470 billion from Medicare over a decade. Unfortunately for Democrats, they have exactly zero say in the matter: Though Democrats have pleaded to have more say in the tax overhaul, parliamentary language in the budget resolution would allow Republicans to pass a tax bill without any cooperation from the minority party.

“Passing this budget is not a requirement for passing tax reform,” said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan. “Passing this budget is only a requirement to pass a tax bill with as few votes as possible, without input or buy-in from members of the minority.”

For Republicans, the budget debate provided a moment to showcase their main goal in the coming months, which according to the NYT is approving an overhaul of the tax code for the first time in decades, which they hope will lead to greater economic growth. But before they can move ahead with a tax bill, the House and Senate need to agree on the same budget resolution. The House approved its budget resolution, which had long been stalled, on Oct. 5. The House budget also lays the groundwork for a tax bill, but, unlike the Senate’s approach, it calls for the legislation to not add to the deficit.

The House budget resolution also seeks more concrete action when it comes to cutting spending, instructing committees to come up with legislation that would produce at least about $200 billion in savings.

However, according to The Hill, a House GOP source says the amendment seems sufficient to avoid a conference committee between the two chambers, and allow the House to simply pass the Senate resolution.

Ultimately, however, the only reason why the vote passed so easily is because as the Hill explained, it doesn't matter, and was merely viewed as a mere vehicle for passing tax reform

"This is the biggest hoax cast upon the American people ever that this budget process even exists. The only thing about this that matters is in preparation for tax reform," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who voted for the budget.  Corker noted bluntly that he believes the budget doesn't have a real-world impact and if he was chairman of the Budget Committee he would disband it. When a staffer told him he was about to miss an amendment vote, he shot back: "yeah, on a vote that doesn't matter."

McCain, explaining why he would support the budget, added: “At the end of the day, we all know that the Senate budget resolution will not impact final appropriations.”

Then again, all of these nuances were lost on the shotgun headline scanning algos, which read that Trump's tax plan is one step closer to passage and sent both the USDJPY...

... and 10Y yields surging...

 

With gold lower...

 

With Dow Futs up over 100 points...

... and the Fed cursing their fate, because as Dudley explained yesterday, the last thing the feed needs right now as it is desperate to avoid tightening fast, is a burst of wage inflation, something which Trump's tax proposal, if it passes, will promptly lead to, crushing the Fed's carefully laid plan to take years and years in unwinding it balance sheet and rising rates.

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Be Afraid America – DHS Warns ISIS, Al Qaeda Are Planning ‘9/11-Style’ Attack

Nothing distracts like fear. And today, former DHS chief Elaine Duke invoked one of the most traumatic episodes in US history to remind complacent Americans that Al Qaeda and ISIS are still out there, plotting deadly terror attacks meant to kill as many American civilians as possible.

With the Islamic State in retreat following the surrender of its de facto capital to US-backed Arab and Kurdish fighters, Duke told reporters that remnants of the group have partnered with a resurgent Al Qaeda to plot a devastating terror attack on the scale of a 9/11 - thus generating a headline seemingly tailor made to make pulses quicken.

“The terrorist organizations, be it ISIS or Al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that,” the acting US secretary of homeland security said during a visit to the UK, as cited by British media.

 

“The threat is still severe,” she stated on Wednesday in London following her meeting with UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, according to Russia Today.

Duke warned that groups have carried out several relatively small-scale terror attacks (think the attacks that have rocked the UK, France and Belgium over the past year), which suggests the groups could be moving on to more ambitious targets. In the UK alone, the attacks have killed nearly 40 people.

One strategy Duke fears is a 9/11 style plane hijacking, something terrorists have not given up on despite the advances in airport security since 9/11.

“Creating terror is their goal. A bladed weapon attack causes terror and continues to disrupt the world, but that does not mean they have given up on a major aviation plot,” she said.

During her meeting with Judd, Duke parroted the UK conservatives’ push to remove terrorist content from the internet - content that has been effective at recruiting home-grown jihadists in the UK’s Muslim population.

The attacks famously prompted British Prime Minister Theresa May to ask “allied democratic governments” to “regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”

Duke said that while tech firms have been cooperative, there’s still much progress to be done.

“We will continue to push as far as we can go. I think that we have the cooperation of those companies and we just need to work on that,” she said. Social media firms joining a meeting of G7 interior ministers to discuss the issue this week “is a positive sign,” she said.

 

“There has been a shift and for us somewhat with the Charlottesville incident,” said Duke, adding that tech companies are under “social pressures” and have “to balance between keeping their user agreements and giving law enforcement what they need.”

Terror attacks have become a regular occurrence in the UK since the rise of ISIS. A bombing in the Manchester Arena last May killed 23 people and injured more than 100 others, making it the deadliest attack of its kind in the UK since 2005. The latest terrorist attack occurred on Sept. 15 at Parsons Green tube station, where a partially-exploded bomb injured 30 commuters.

Just one day before the US security chief’s warnings, Andrew Parker, director general MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, said that Britain was under unprecedented threat from Islamist terrorists.

*  *  *

Scared enough yet? Don't worry, we'll just take away a little more 'freedom' to ensure your 'security'... and remember - it's for your own good!

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USD rises as Senate takes first step on taxes

Finally, the unified Republican government is beginning to get something done. Taxes are easier to tackle than health care, which is clearly complicated. The Senate passed a budget blueprint for 2018. This prevents a filibuster by the Democrats and allows an easier passage of any tax reforms. Yet as with healthcare, the devil may be [...]

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Kuwait renews its commitment to Palestinian cause

In a speech at the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on Wednesday, Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, the Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations, said that the State of Kuwait, which is about to join the Security Council as a non-permanent state member for the period 2018-2019, would like to stress the importance of making practical progress that would be led by the concerned international authorities and the Security Council, in particular the five permanent state members as well as the Quartet on the Middle East and international partners.

He added that these efforts should focus on setting a clear timeframe to complete the negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides in order to reach a two-state solution. This would result in the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 4 June, 1967 borders.

Read More: Alleged Mossad spies arrested in Lebanon

He also mentioned that for more than 50 years ago and since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, we have only witnessed the continuous series of violations of the most basic rules of international law and Israel’s continuous non-adherence to its legal obligations that are defined by international covenants and treaties.

Al-Otaibi explained that the illegal Israeli policies and plans, which aim at judaizing the Holy City, distorting its Arabic identity, disarranging its demographic structure and isolating it from its Palestinian surroundings, are still continuing, along with the expansion of illegal and illegitimate settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Read More: France condemns Israeli settlement plans

He stressed that these violations come despite all the Security Council resolutions over the past years that condemned the Israeli practices and affirmed its illegality and illegitimacy, the latest of which is Resolution No. 2334. Al-Otaibi added that in contrast, the international community is unfortunately unable to force the occupying power to implement its resolutions. What is more troubling is the occupying power’s disrespect of the Security Council and its resolutions, which are supposed to be binding in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations.

He also stressed that the State of Kuwait rejects all the unilateral Israeli steps, which aim at changing the facts on the ground and undermining the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and insists that the desired peace must begin with the end of occupation, which has completed its 50th year. This should be based on the resolutions of international legitimacy, the principle of the land for peace, the road map and the Arab peace initiative adopted by all Arab countries at the 2002 Beirut summit.

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Chinese Capital Outflows Return As Soon As PBOC Halts FX Intervention

Since the addition of the Chinese renminbi (RMB), i.e. Yuan, to the IMF's SDR basket of reserve currencies last October, more than 60 countries and regions have added and adopted the renminbi as a new reserve currency, according to the latest report on renminbi internationalization by the People's Bank of China.

As a reminder, one year ago the International Monetary Fund included China's currency in its Special Drawing Rights basket as an international reserve currency, along with the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound. As the PBOC gloated, this inclusion further promoted the international use of RMB, which is ironic considering in the past year the Chinese central bank unleashed some of the most draconian capital controls and measures to avoid capital flight, going as far as effectively banning offshore M&A (not to mention bitcoin trading) which Beijing saw as just another way to avoid China's capital account firewall. Meanwhile, to "lead by example" the ECB invested €500MM of its reserves in renminbi-denominated assets during the first half of this year.

The PBOC also said "it will push forward with internalization of the renminbi and keep its position stable in the global monetary system."

"Looking ahead, the scope of international usage of renminbi will be further expanded in 2017 and usage channels will be further widened" the report said. 

 

"Renminbi internationalization will play a more active role in serving the real economy and facilitating trade and investment."

Supposedly that means that the next time the Yuan crashes once people remember that of China's $30 trillion in loans, roughly 20% are NPL, the PBOC will not intervene when tens of billion in capital resume fleeing every day.

Somehow we doubt it, especially since as the report itself admitted, the value of trade deals settled in the renminbi fell by 35.5% in 2016 from the previous year. Renminbi settlement accounted for 16.9% of China's total goods trade last year, while the proportion was 22.6% in 2015, 20% in 2014, and close to zero in 2009. The currency fell by 6.5% against the dollar in 2016 – the biggest annual drop since 1994, but gained about 5% this year due to dollar weakness and tighter controls on capital outflows.

And speaking of capital flight, even though the PBOC reported that in September official central bank reserves rose by $17 billion to $3.109 tn (largely due to valuation effects), according to the latest SAFE data released overnight, after the first, and only month of inflows in three years, outflows have again returned for a total of $7bn in September (vs. net inflows of +US$9bn in Aug), in light of the recently relaxed FX forward rule (recall "Yuan Tumbles After Beijing Gives Speculators Green Light To Short The Currency" from September 8)

Below are the details from Goldman:

Our usual preferred gauge of underlying flows suggests a total net FX outflow of US$7bn in Sep (US$2.4bn from net FX demand onshore plus US$4.9bn in FX outflow routed through the CNH market).

  • According to the SAFE dataset on “onshore FX settlement”, net CNY demand by non-banks onshore in Sep was -US$2.4bn (vs. +US$3.1bn in Aug). This is composed of +$5.1bn net inflows via net outright spot transactions and net outflow of US$7.5bn via net freshly-entered forward transactions. In particular, demand for short-CNY forwards rose significantly (from US$10bn in Aug to US$28bn in Sep), following the cut of reserve requirement for sales of FX derivatives to zero in early Sep, which made it less costly for onshore entities to hedge against CNY.
  • Another SAFE dataset on “cross-border RMB flows” shows that net flow of RMB from offshore to onshore was -US$4.9bn in Sep (vs. +US$5.8bn in Aug).

Exhibit 1 the usual gauge of FX flows suggests a small net outflow of US$7bn in Sep

Related, another data set called PBOC’s FX position (also released today) suggests no net FX purchases by the PBOC in Sep (in contrast with the earlier released FX reserve data that implies about $17bn in FX purchases).

Two notes in terms of flow pattern for Sep:

Foreigners' investment in domestic fixed income products remained solid, rising by US$15bn in Sep according to bond custodian data (Exhibit 2), following a $12bn increase in Aug. But similar to the previous month, a large portion of this inflow was into domestic NCDs, which could reflect short-term arbitrage activity driven by the rate spread implied by CNH cross-currency swap and domestic NCD yields.

Exhibit 2: Bond inflows were large in Aug and Sep, although a majority of these were into short-term NCDs

Trading firms repatriated a larger portion of their trade surplus back onshore, up to 84% in Sep, from 59% in Aug and the average of 40% in the last two years. The absolute amount though was roughly flat vs. Aug (at c. $24bn).

Separately, in a conference held on the sidelines of the Party Congress, Governor Zhou downplayed the pace of FX and outflow liberalization going forward. He said that the transition to CNY free convertibility is a long-term process; and that CNY band widening would signal more FX reform in future, but this is currently not a policy focus. In the near term, the authorities may continue to use a combination of daily guidance (via the fixing’s countercyclical factor) and occasional reinforcing FX intervention to manage the CNY, in our view.

In other words, capital controls are here to stay, and the moment outflows go back to double digit territory, the PBOC will unleash all hell against the Yuan short all over again.

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“Advanced Monetary Surrealism” Summarized In 60 Slides For Gold Bulls

For anyone who wasn’t included on the 1.5 million person distribution list for Incrementum AG’s latest 160-page annual tome on the gold sector, “In Gold We Trust”, the authors/portfolio managers, Ronni Stoeferle and Mark Valek, helpfully condensed the report into a chartbook containing "only" mere 60 charts. This can be viewed below, and as a courtesy for those short on time, here is our pick of the 14 best charts. 

Incrementum believes that the bull market in gold has resumed. The gold price will benefit from the Fed’s inability to normalize monetary policy. With so much debt, how can it.

The gold price has dramatically lagged creation of base money, resulting from unconventional policies of central banks. Incrementum terms this “advanced monetary surrealism” which has eliminated risk aversion.

Pressure on the long end of the Treasury yield curve threatens Fed policy and is bullish for gold.

Central banks have outdone asset bubbles that have gone before with the “Everything Bubble”  this time (except gold).

Gold has been much stronger in other currencies than the dollar. While Fed tightening has restrained the dollar price, it will be unable to “normalize” policy.

The current gold bull market since 2001 has been following a similar timeline and pattern to the great 1970s bull market.

From a risk on/risk off perspective, the bull market in equities has been one of the key negatives for gold. Now the gold/S&P ratio is bottoming out.

The Commodity sector in aggregate is trading at a 50-year low compared with the S&P 500.

Unsurprising statistic - 89 economists were surveyed by Bloomberg and none expects a GDP contraction in 2017, 2018 or 2019 (plus ca change)

…despite 16 out of the last 19 rate hiking cycles being followed by recessions. That’s 84% in case you’re wondering.

Periods of negative real interest rates (using Fed Funds) are positive for gold.

The market cap of Apple is more than 7 times that of the HUI Index, which includes the 16 largest unhedged gold producers.

In 2016, the free cash flow of the HUI stocks was superior to 2011 as managements have structurally improved operating and capital outlays.

Finally, some solace for long-suffering gold bulls: the purhasing power of gold in terms of beer at the annual Oktoberfest is comfortably above the long-term average.

Of course, metric system and all, it’s lit(re)s not pints although £5.00 per pint in the City of London is still exhorbitant.

The full slideshow is below (link)

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