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Archive for January, 2008

Is Gold correcting?

Posted by Adrian on January 31, 2008

Gold being the solid hedge investment is currently trading at $925.00 and ounce, you could attribute that price to the ongoing problems in the financial markets, an unstable, fluctuating (bear market looming) stock market – which include the earning downgrades from both Google and yahoo, the recent huge writedowns ($4 billion) from investment bank UBS. You could also throw in for good measure the massive problems unwinding in the bond insurance sector with FGIC losing it’s AAA credit rating, and MBIA about too disclose possible massive writedowns on CDO (collartized debt obligations) insurance.

Plus, inflation is high in the global economy – despite some countries such as New Zealand and Australia increasing interest rates, even some Asian countries such as the Philippines. Inflation may become runaway, with food (wheat) and oil becoming scarce commodities. If by some point the world suffers a huge deflationary recession, I am curious how much oil and wheat and even gold will be effected.

In the mean time, it was suggested that Gold could still correct (substantial % drop) early or mid year, this hasn’t materialized – yet. Despite the Fed cutting rates in a short period of time by 125 points, there have been no real serious rallies on Wall Street and investors were still reluctant to dump gold to go back into the stock market.

This is what I currently see, unfortunately I cannot cut and past my trading platform graph onto wordpress. So, gold is currently trading over the 5 day average, sitting at $923.00, at this point a support line is draw from that price. The 20, 2 Bollinger band shows gold sitting just under the upper band. The 50 day average is showing support at $868.00.

Locked in option at $930 against the USD.

At this point in time Gold does not look overbought on a 1 day trading platform.

*please note morbius glass does not give investment advice. The following information is for reference only. Trade at your own risk.

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | 2 Comments »

Overview on ‘Punisher’ #54 – “LONG COLD DARK,” PART 5. Writer Garth Ennis. Art Goran Parlov (Max Comics)

Posted by Adrian on January 31, 2008

punmax054.jpg

‘Punisher’ #54 – “LONG COLD DARK,” PART 5 (MAX/MARVEL)

Barracuda is dead.

Garth Ennis created one of the most interesting and unique psychopaths that has been seen in popular culture, as far as comics book characters go. A complex, psychopathic character who happens to be an African American. What makes the character unique is that he defies racial stereotyping, yet reflects aspects of the the African American stereotype. Make sense? Ok, a character that after a while even with the ‘ghetto’ slang, the hip hop culture references ends up being stand alone human monster (whether black or white). A creation of society, a society that has ‘flicked on’ his psycho genes, a damaged and deranged human, that wants too take it out on the world – and he does. Ennis writing Punisher #54 reveals the full dark scope of Barracuda’s mind. Remember, Ennis wrote up a amazing mini series of Barracuda; please check out my review on morbius glass titled Punisher presents Barracuda 1# and 2# (MAX Comics). The short Barracuda run on Max comics, was essentially Ennis’s homage to ‘blax exploitation’ cinema of the 70’s, with some grind house influence and general tongue and cheek (with extreme graphic violence). But as I mentioned earlier with Barracuda retuning in Punisher #54, the darker, psychotic and obsessive side of a deranged character comes to the boil.

A scheming killer who is planning to kill, humiliate and destroy the Punisher, and all connected to him. Which is nobody really, since he is solitary vigilante. Until we discover that the Punisher has a daughter. The daughter is from a encounter with a great character called Kathrine O’brien, who is killed in Afghanistan.

Punisher #54, is by far the most disturbing Punisher I have read to date, the insanity of the villain Barracuda, the sheer violence in the comic – the fact there is a little child bearing witness to it all. It’s a challenging comic to read. The art is just so good, Goran Parlov in my opinion has defined popular culture icons in the 20 Century and 21st century and drawn them into a story, almost with a glossy vulgarity about them. I mean you look at the absurdity of mainstream pop culture icons, say for example the rapper 50 cent, the pornesque influenced celebs of America – with all the gloss and bravado of a consumer culture. Parlov portrays that onto a comic with an ugly reminder of a pre-fabricated pop culture society that utilizes icons, that in reality underneath is a shitty, sleazy, bloody world. He has an incredible skill in caricature.

In saying that, in regards to Parlov’s art. Ennis is able to write into a story, the cold reality of violence in a modern society. The Punisher stands as the justice, that in some ways doesn’t exist in a corrupt world. Is the world corrupt? Of course it is. The Punisher , or Ennis’s version of the Punisher combats that corruption, from the sex slave trade industry, corporate crime, organized crime, drugs, you name it the Punisher has covered it, in a bloody trail of Punishment and a protection of the innocent, bystanders and everyday person.

Punisher #54 is a dark read, we see the Punisher pushed to the mental and physical limit with Barracuda. With Barracuda using Frank Castle’s (The Punisher) child as leverage, trying to find a opening to kill the Punisher. It’s a bloody, violent, and intense ending to the Barracuda and Punisher meet up; we learn a little more about Barracuda’s past, albeit when he (Barracuda) is under stress (tortured and bound by the Punisher) – flash backs to a time when he was a boy, teenager and soldier in Vietnam; we see the structure of a deranged human and the reasons behind that cold blooded, ruthless and insane mental makeup.

A brutal ending, with a baby in a carrier, the Barracuda becoming more deranged by the minute, the Punisher beaten and bleeding. Frantic violence, violence when survival is at stake, violence too protect your child. Suffice to say, the Punisher kills Barracuda, Barracuda almost showing invincibility through out his confrontations with the Punisher – finally meets his demise, and what a demise. With both arms chopped off (via fire axe found in a empty high school), axe left embedded in chest, the Punisher then taking the AK47, which was intended to kill the Punisher, and shooting Barracuda’s head into a pile of meat, brains and blood. Horrendous ending, all this with a baby in the same room.

The end of Barracuda, the end of the arc. Rumour has circulated that Garth Ennis will write one more arc, then quit writing the Punisher series. There could be truth in that with #54, towards the end of the comic, we get a glimpse of an exhausted, weathered and tired Punisher. If Ennis does wrap up he Punisher, will the Punisher finish on MAX comics? Since Garth Ennis Punisher pretty much held the MAX label together.

Remains to be seen.

Posted in Books, Comic Reviews | 3 Comments »

World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Worldwide economic depression. (update 10)

Posted by Adrian on January 29, 2008

World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Worldwide economic depression. (update 10)

With economists forecasting the global economy to slow between 3% and 4%, some economies may drop further or fall into a harsh recession. The decoupling (countries detaching from the US recession and avoiding a spill over effect) theory is holding little validity as the world may fall into a global recession, in someways started by the massive credit bubble in the US (primely from Subprime mortgages) that has become a crisis for the world financial and credit markets. The shudders in the credit markets that have reverberating around world and has effected economies that are more leveraged with debt as they have used credit for manufacturing productivity and expansion.

The one economy that comes to mind is Spain, problems with the Spanish economy have been discussed on morbius glass in Dramatic economic downturn in the works for Spain and Spain’s contracting property market (with detailed links regarding the Spanish markets). The Northern Rock banking crisis in the UK is a prelude to the dangers of a financial system under strain, by shrinking accounts, foreclosures, debt and trouble refinancing to stay liquid. Interbank lending froze last year, due to the credit crisis that swept the world from the massive write downs and losses from Wall Street banks, big retail banks like Citigroup and Countrywide. Another serious indicator is all the major world reserve banks from the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England all offering to buy up debt from banks in trouble and allow banks that are in trouble to borrow from reserve bank discount windows. According to a report from the Telegraph online ECB aid to Spanish banks matches Rock rescue, the Spanish banking sector has placed mortgage backed securities with the ECB, so they can borrow to raise capital.

from the telegraph.co.uk ECB aid to Spanish banks matches Rock rescue,

“The market has shut down,” said Sandie Arlene Fernandez, the author of the report.

“Few, if any, of the transactions in the RBMS market (mortgage securities) have been placed since September. Some of the banks are hoping that the market will open up again but most are just preparing these deals to use as repos, which they can do since the ECB accepts AAA-rated securities,” she said.

The total volume of securities issued since the credit crunch began to bite in July has reached €63bn.”

Remember, these mortgage securities from the Spanish housing market are to be expected to be trading on the market, but instead are now kept with the ECB; it also is noted that the ‘securities’ are AAA rated, which means they are relatively stable. Where have we heard that before?

It is appears that this operation, which was essentially to keep Spanish banks from becoming insolvent or going bankrupt, was done covertly. From the telegraph.co.uk ECB aid to Spanish banks matches Rock rescue;

“The data appear to confirm suspicions that the EU authorities have carried out a covert rescue of the Spanish mortgage banking system.

It may equal the taxpayer rescue of Northern Rock in Britain, and possibly exceed it in proportion to the overall size of Spain’s economy.

The key difference is that the ECB rescue operation in Spain has been disguised. A veiled method is necessary since the eurozone lacks a clear-cut lender of last resort.”

Is Spain, which was one of the booming economies in Europe as far as manufacturing and housing, an indicator to what happens when highly leveraged economies go bust. Like Spain highly leveraged economies are a global phenomenon, as the economic boom, excess liquidity and credit expansion was global. So if Spain is in a lot of trouble with a housing market ready to go bust, massive amounts of business debt; could Spain be a prelude to a greater economic bust globally? With America in a recession, will Europe’s downturn fuel a greater dire economic predicament?

“Moody’s said the total issuance of securities by Spanish banks last year reached €143bn, up 55pc on the 2006. Over €62bn were mortgage securities. The agency said the default rate was likely to rise, with mounting concerns among participants over a possible “housing crash”. Some of the mortgage securities have already begun to draw on their reserve funds.

David Owen, Europe of Dresdner Kleinwort, said Spain could face serious difficulties this year as the excesses of a decade-long boom finally catch up with the country.

“The size of the Spanish corporate sectors financial deficit is truly is really scary. It rose to 14.5pc of GDP in the third quarter of 2007 from 10pc in the first quarter. This must be a record for a relatively large economy. Clearly this is not sustainable. Cost imbalances have a nasty habit of unwinding, quickly and very painfully,” he said.

 

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | 1 Comment »

Japan, Singapore already in recession? Spain, UK rest of Europe next?

Posted by Adrian on January 29, 2008

The global recession could already be in the works, with main global economies such as Japan, Singapore, UK and Spain either close to recession or in recession.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, it is suggested that Singapore could already be in a recession. Since the banking sector is a traditional indicator too the health of the Singapore economy, banking stocks have edging lower, with the overall Straits Times Index dropping sharply from it’s high on the January 9th 2008 of 3,359.42 points.

refer to chart:

_sti.png

from Bloomberg article,

” Singapore may already be in a recession. Its economy contracted for the first time in 4 1/2 years in the fourth quarter as factory output slowed and electronics exports dropped. The cooling local real estate market worsened the slowdown for financial services firms.”

After years of a deflationary economy, Japan is now faced with a stagflation style economy, wages, productivity and consumer spending is lower, yet prices are rising for food such as what based products. Also the obligatory higher oil costs, which is also a global concern too, have risen significantly in Japan.

From Bloomberg article:

“Other businesses are trying to bear cost increases themselves instead of jeopardizing their market share. Aeon Co. and Seven & I Holdings Co., Japan’s two biggest retailers, announced price reductions on some products last year. Earlier this month, Izumiya Co., an Osaka-based supermarket chain, cut prices on 100 items ranging from cheese to detergent.

“Consumers are hopping around stores to find bargains,” said Katsutoshi Shimokawa, an Izumiya spokesman. “Foisting higher costs onto them would only discourage consumption because wages haven’t risen.”

Europe needs to watched closely, amidst the recent Societe Generale rogue trader losses of 4.9 billion euros – the whole EU is under strain by the credit, and liquidity crisis stemmed from the US sub prime market collapse. Northern Rock was prime example to the seriousness of a financial sector unable to finance it’s self, hence it needed bailouts by the central banks. In Northern Rocks case, the Bank of England pulled Northern Rock out of insolvency. Whether all not the Federal Reserve officials, politicians, some economists believe the US can be saved from a recession (call it denial if you will) – it won’t matter, as the US is already in one. Europe appears to be sliding into a collective recession, from the UK, Italy (possible depression), Spain and Germany. Are bellwether indicators for a recession Spain and the UK? Both countries had massive property booms, heavily leveraged businesses, indebted consumers – overall extremely inflated economies, vulnerable to any credit tightening, or contracting.

regarding Spain, from Bloomberg:

“Spain is also grappling with a housing boom gone bust. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s No. 2 lender, predicts property prices will fall this year and building permits will drop 25 percent.

With more than 18 percent of gross domestic product coming from construction, Spain’s economy is particularly susceptible to weakness in real estate.

Spanish Construction “The main problem lies in construction but it has already spread to other sectors,” says Gilles Moec, senior economist at Bank of America in London.”

regarding UK, from Bloomberg,

`Gloomy Picture’

“It’s a gloomy picture for the consumer,” says James Knightley, an economist at ING Financial Markets in London. “The prospect of recession is becoming more realistic.”

Retailers Tesco Plc and Marks & Spencer Plc this month called for interest-rate cuts to help consumers, who have 1.4 trillion pounds ($2.76 trillion) of debt. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict the Bank of England will lower its main rate a quarter percentage point, to 5.25 percent, on Feb. 7.”

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | 2 Comments »

Japan and China CPI up – inflation

Posted by Adrian on January 25, 2008

“Japan’s core consumer price index rose 0.8 percent in December from a year earlier, more than the consensus forecast, because of higher prices of gasoline and food, government data released Friday show. The increase was the biggest since March 1998, when the core CPI rose 1.8 percent.

The core CPI excludes volatile prices of fresh food but includes energy prices.”

“Chinas economy expanded by 11.4% in 2007,

the fastest in 13 years, while year-average consumer inflation hit an 11-year

high of 4.8%, prompting increasing concern among policy makers”

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | Leave a Comment »

DVD Reviews – Kaiju Big Battel: Shocking Truth DVD

Posted by Adrian on January 24, 2008

shockingtruth.gif

pic from: Kaiju Big Battel: Shocking Truth DVD

How can I describe this DVD? Think Power Rangers TV show , the Beastie Boys Intergalactic clip, Japanese Godzilla movies (where 5 foot plus guys in monster costumes are filmed to look like 50 story buildings), you know the fight scenes in the cityscape (model fake style) – refer to the Beastie Boys link as they paid homage to Kaiju, lastly the theatrical metal band GWAR.

The Kaiju Big Battel crew have taken the whole Japanese Kaiju homage to a new level – insert WWE style wrestling! Ok, this is pretty geeky stuff, but fun, these guys and girls have written up a whole story around the Americana style Kaiju; villains, characters (in fact there are more characters than you can poke a stick at), comedy, monster blood, goo, bizarre monster get ups. The live shows would be a blast I reckon, kids would love it, fun for the whole family. The Kaiju Big Battel crew obviously get a kick out of the live performances. Shocking Truth DVD has a slew of live action inserts from the wrestling gigs. Actually the Kaiju Big Battel wrestlers are good at what they do, it’s amateurish to a point, but the production and design is all top notch. I mean seeing guys in foam and latex monster unfits throw each other around a cage, you gotta see the humour in that.

Kaiju Big Battel: Shocking Truth DVD is a fun ride, good to see a ‘not’ mainstream production doing an entertaining and competent job. Like I said earlier the kids would love this DVD, maybe it might inspire them to make a costume and jump off the couch onto their brother or sister. But I don’t know how much your wife, girlfriend or otherwise would be into this; I mean if they can withstand the huge amounts of geekness you might be ok.

All and all fun. Check it out:

Posted in DVD reviews | Leave a Comment »

World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Bird Flu (H5N1) and other pandemic Virus concerns (update 5)

Posted by Adrian on January 24, 2008

World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Bird Flu (H5N1) and other pandemic Virus concerns (update 5)

W Bengal bird flu outbreak

The H5N1 strain of bird flu is regarded as highly pathogenic and can also cause disease and death in humans.  However, most human victims have contracted the disease through close contact with affected birds.  There is little evidence that the virus can be transmitted easily between humans.”

BBC W Bengal bird flu ‘is spreading’

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | Leave a Comment »

Australia entering into hyperinflation? (update 3) – Hyperinflation here?

Posted by Adrian on January 23, 2008

CPI figures just released indicate the weighted median has increased to a massive 3.8% (annual), from Australian Bureau of Statistics:

BA Consumer Price Measures(a), Percentage changes(b)

Weighted median
Trimmed mean

Percentage Change (from Corresponding Previous Year)

2007
September
3.1
2.9
December
3.8
3.4

Percentage Change (from Previous Quarter)

2007
September
1.0
0.9
December
1.1
1.0

Reserve Bank of Australia target range for inflation is 2-3%.

Will the Reserve Bank of Australia hike in February 2008? In some ways if the RBA was serious about tacking inflation in Australia, they would of raised rates in December 2007, instead they held the cash rate at 6.75%. In my opinion Australia is already in hyperinflation, what the RBA does may be irrelevant as far as slowing the economy down, what may happen with the current credit and stock-market turmoil may cause a sharp decline in the Australian economy regardless, I am penciling in 6-8 months – for options anyway.

The All Ords (^AORD) will continue to fall.

Interesting points to note that the AUD didn’t rally on the CPI figures, instead it’s fallen to :

AUD / USD 0.86715
-0.16
   

This could be a market consensus (in regards to a falling AUD), or feeling that the Glen Stephen’s and the RBA may not lift rates in Feb 2008, there could be a waiting out game; after the trillion plus losses from global stock declines on the 21st January 2008. Undoubtedly global stock market losses will continue despite the US Federal reserve massive 0.75% emergency cut (the benchmark rate now at 3.50%).

Please no more late news economist saying that China will help pull Australia out of any spill over global recession, it is just so misleading. The Australian China bet, was most likely the reason inflation was allowed to fester. Greed does the rest.

relating to this entry:

Australia entering into hyperinflation? (update 2) – retail figures up

Australia entering into hyperinflation? (update1) – America’s recession, Australia and South America’s China bet.

Australia’s trade deficit widens, hyperinflation on the way?

Australia entering into hyperinflation? CPI figures released October 2007, core inflation 16 yr high.

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | 1 Comment »

All global stock markets decline, reinforced by the global Liquidity and Credit crisis.

Posted by Adrian on January 22, 2008

All major stock indices are being sold off, as investors leave financial stocks, industry and pretty much any company that may have debt, refinance issues or just a general fear of the credit and liquidity crisis spreading further into the manufacturing sector. Combined with a recession in America, which in all reports, will be a severe one, the banks contracting to stay liquid; which may end up becoming illiquid – a major problem as that could cause the money exchange or global interbank markets too decline rapidly.

refer to close of trading (21st Jan 2008) for the FTSE 100, DAX, CAc40 – Nasdaq, and Dow Jones closed for trading (Martin Luther King birthday)

FTSE 100

3bbc-narrow_thick-lineintraday.png
DAX

1bbc-thumbnail_thick-lineintraday.png

Cac 40
18bbc-thumbnail_thick-lineintraday.png

Also refer to the commodity export markets, that if the decoupling theory (countries avoiding a recession spillover from America) was correct, would stay somewhat resilient in market turmoil. The main commodity (resource) market players that export to China, are Argentina, Brazil and Australia. According to reports from the Wall Street Journal reports Bank of China “may have to write off a fourth of the nearly $8 billion it holds in securities backed by U.S. subprime mortgages”, linked to the US subprime market.

A concern would be that not only would China slow down, although may not become recession base, the stock market could tumble from fear selling. With connections that the Chinese financial market could be deeply effected by global credit and liquidity crisis.

refer to graph for the Brazilian BVSP index (3mths) close of trading 21st Jan 2008, down 3797.29 points (6.60%):

_bvsp.png

refer to the Argentinian Merval index (3mths) close of trading 21st Jan 2008, down 125.59 points (6.27%):

_merv.png

The Australian AORD index (now trading), currently at:

Index Value: 5,331.000
Trade Time: 11:59AM AEST
Change: Down 299.900 (5.33%)
Prev Close: 5,630.900
Open: 5,630.900

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | 1 Comment »

Bauhaus – The Passion of Lovers clip

Posted by Adrian on January 21, 2008

This was in my head last Sat night…

Posted in Popular Culture/Culture | Leave a Comment »