Crude Oil Prices Rise On New Record Low US Rig Count

With all eyes on Doha this weekend, today's rig count data may have even less signaling power than normal. The US oil rig count has risen for only one week this entire year and continues to track lagged crude prices lower, dropping 3 to 351 (lowest since Oct 09). With gas rigs unchanged, the total rig count dropped once again to a new fresh record low at 440. The reaction in crude oil prices was a small bounce.

  • *U.S. GAS RIG COUNT UNCHANGED AT 89 , BAKER HUGHES SAYS

 

The US oil rig count is tracking lagged crude prices perfectly still…

  • *U.S. OIL RIG COUNT DOWN 3 TO 351 , BAKER HUGHES SAYS

Will rig counts rise again shortly?

 

Charts: Bloomberg

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Town Supervisor Allegedly Ripped Off His Constituents to Build Baseball Stadium

Ramapo, NY, a town about 30 miles northwest of Manhattan, Government is getting ripped off doing together.is the home to the Rockland Boulders, a minor league baseball team in the independent Can-Am League. They play home games in Provident Bank Park, a five-year-old stadium that seats a little more than 4,500 people.

In 2010, 70 percent of Ramapo voters rejected a measure to invest $16.5 million in public funds to build the ballpark, yet a year later the stadium was in operation, after local officials used $25 million in bonds issued by the private nonprofit Ramapo Local Development Corporation (RLDC). The president and chairman of the RLDC is Christopher St. Lawrence, who also happens to be Ramapo’s town supervisor.

Yesterday, St. Lawrence and N. Aaron Troodler, the former executive director of the RLDC, were arrested by the F.B.I. and charged with 22 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. The core of the federal government’s case is the “cooking of the books” relating to municipal bonds issued by the Town of Ramapo and by the RLDC. 

In a press release, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that St. Lawrence and Troodler “through lies and accounting manipulations, found a way for the town to fund more than half of the $58 million it cost to build that stadium.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez was also quoted in that same press release as saying:  

St. Lawrence and Troodler allegedly engaged in a complex securities fraud scheme so they could hide public funds being used for the construction of a stadium and other projects. The illegal activity allegedly continued even after they became aware the town and the corporation tasked with development initiatives were subjects of a federal investigation. Public corruption wastes billions in tax dollars every year. Investigating these types of crimes remains among the FBI’s top priorities.

The indictment itself states that even though the fraud was ongoing well before the stadium broke ground, “the Town’s financial problems were caused largely by the $58 million total cost of the stadium”:

The Town paid more than half of that cost, despite the rejection of the Town’s guarantee of bonds to pay for construction of the stadium in a Town-wide referendum in 2010 and ST. LAWRENCE’s public statements that no public money would be used to pay for the stadium. 

The Journal-News reports that St. Lawrence, who pled not guilty yesterday, was back at work today. Though he would not comment on the charges, St. Lawrence said, “I’m going to go in and work and do business in the town of Ramapo as I have for the last 16 years.”

Reason TV recently covered a story of another publicly-financed minor league ballpark. Watch below.

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Trump Lead Hits Record In New National Poll; Hillary Slides

A new fox poll was released yesterday, and it shows Donald Trump jumping out to a commanding 18 point lead over Ted Cruz in the Republican race for the nomination. As Fox News notes, Trump’s best numbers are coming from voters without a college degree (54%), and who describe themselves as “very conservative (50%).

This is a significant boost to the Trump campaign, as just last month he only held a 3 point lead on Cruz.

 

Trump is also beating out Cruz by a wide margin among voters when asked which Republican has the best chance to beat Hillary, should she win the Democratic nomination.

 

On the other side of things, the race for the Democratic nomination has significantly tightened. Yesterday’s poll showed Hillary Clinton holding a slight 2 point advantage over Bernie Sanders, who has a full head of steam heading into the New York primary. According to Fox, Clinton’s support has declined 11 points among women, while support for Sanders is up by 9.

The tide seems to be shifting in the Democratic race, and all eyes will be turned to New York next week as Sanders tries to ride this momentum and somehow achieve the once unthinkable – winning Hillary’s “home state.”

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Huge 7.1 Magnitude Quake Strikes Japan, Tsunami Advisory Issued

A day after yesterday’s “biggest quake since 2011’s tsunami,” Japan was just struck by a Magnitude 7.1 earthquake

 

  • *EARTHQUAKE REPORTED TO HAVE HIT AT 01:25:04 JAPAN TIME: JMA
  • *7.1 MAG. EARTHQUAKE KYUSHU JAPAN :EMSC

and officials have issued a tsunami advisory for southern Japan…

  • *JMA ISSUES TSUNAMI WARNING/ADVISORY FOR KUMAMOTO JAPAN

Today’s quake is more than 10 times stronger than yesterday’s.

 

More to come…

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Silver: One Investor Away from Implosion

 

 

 

Silver: One Investor Away from Implosion

Posted with permission and written by Rory Hall, The Daily Coin (CLICK FOR ORIGINAL)

 

 

he past three years we have seen the price of silver get beat down to new lows. We have also witnessed demand for physical silver continually escalate. During this three year run the U.S. Mint has stopped sales of American Silver Eagles, the most popular silver coin in the world, on three different occasions. The last time sales were shut down, in June 2015 and the U.S. Mint has rationed sales since production resumed in July 2015. As of this writing that would be ten months of rationed sales with no end in sight.

Louis Cammarasno and I picked up our bi-monthly silver update to review the latest numbers from both the Perth Mint and U.S. Mint. The interesting part is the Perth Mint. This time last year the Perth Mint was still a very small player and only producing approximately 500,000 silver coins, in total, per month. Since September 2015 that all changed. The Perth Mint is now averaging approximately 1.3 million silver coins per month. They are now a player in the silver market and must be taken into account when reviewing monthly physical silver coin sales. 1.3 million coins per equals 15.6 million coins annually. While that is still a small amount in comparison to the Royal Canadian Mint and U.S. Mint it represents a massive increase in the volume of silver coming to market. Which brings me back to my favorite question for the past three years – where is the silver coming from?

Louis and I take this into consideration when we begin discussing the theory of a sea-change by a small number of investors and investment dollars. Using the labor force, as generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, Louis arrived 160 million people currently in the labor force as of March 2016. Using 1% of the labor work force would equal 1.6 million people. Is it realistic to believe there are 1.6 million people in the U.S. who either acquire silver on an ongoing basis or who have acquired a small amount of physical silver in recent years? It seems to be a number within the realm of reality to me.

1.6 million is the base number of investors. The current investment dollars this group represents is not important to this exercise. What is important is a small change in their current habits. That change seems to be taking place as The Doc, has confirmed on two different occasions. That change seems to be confirmed as the U.S. Mint has not changed their current sales policy from rationing sales of 200,000 coins per day – 1 million coins per week, which are sold out every day.

 

This is what it would look like for a very small change in the 1.6 million investors – using $18 per American Silver Eagle as a baseline.



 

The numbers in the chart above would be in addition to the current sales of physical silver we are already experiencing. Can you imagine the impact this small change would have on the silver market? Even if you distribute the numbers across the “big three” – U.S. Mint, Royal Canadian Mint and now Perth Mint – you still have an enormous amount of strain added to a very strained market to begin with. Where would it come it from? The pie is only so big and we are all demanding a larger slice every day. Each additional “bite” from the pie pushes the market closer to the edge. How many bites are left in the pie? Got physical?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver: One Investor Away from Implosion

Posted with permission and written by Rory Hall, The Daily Coin (CLICK FOR ORIGINAL)


 

 

 

Rory Hall, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Coin, has written over 700 articles and produced more than 200 videos about the precious metals market, economic and monetary policies as well as geopolitical events since 1987. His articles have been published by Zerohedge, SHTFPlan, Sprott Money, GoldSilver and Silver Doctors, SGTReport, just to name a few. Rory has contributed daily to SGTReport since 2012. He has interviewed experts such as Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Dr. Marc Faber, Eric Sprott, Gerald Celente and Peter Schiff, to name but a few. Visit The Daily Coin website and The Daily Coin YouTube channels to enjoy original and some of the best economic, precious metals, geopolitical and preparedness news from around the world.

 

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U.S. Economy 2016: 3 Classic Recession Signals Are Flashing Red

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Those that were hoping for an “economic renaissance” in the United States got some more bad news this week.  It turns out that the U.S. economy is in significantly worse shape than the experts were projecting.  Retail sales unexpectedly declined in March, total business sales have fallen again, and the inventory to sales ratio has hit the highest level since the last financial crisis.  When you add these three classic recession signals to the 19 troubling numbers about the U.S. economy that I wrote about last week, it paints a very disturbing picture.  Virtually all of the signs that we would expect to pop up during the early chapters of a major economic crisis have now appeared, and yet most Americans still appear to be clueless about what is happening.

Even I was surprised when the government reported that retail sales had actually fallen in March.  Consumer spending is a very large part of our economy, and so if consumer spending is slowing down already that certainly does not bode well for the rest of 2016.  The following comes from highly respected author Jim Quinn

The Ivy League educated “expert” economists expected March retail sales to increase by 0.1%. They only missed by $6 billion, as retail sales FELL by 0.3%.

 

 

They have fallen for three straight months. At least gasoline sales were strong, as prices have risen 22% since mid-February. That should do wonders for the finances of American households. If you exclude gasoline sales, retail sales fell by 0.4%. As the chart below reveals, the year over year change in retail sales has been at or near recessionary levels for most of 2015, and into 2016.

You can view the chart that he was referring to right here.  In addition to a decline in retail sales, total business sales have also been falling, and this is another classic recession signal.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

Total business sales fell again in February, the Commerce Department reported today. They include sales by manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers of all sizes across the US economy. This measure is far broader than the aggregate sales by publicly traded companies, which too have been falling.

 

 

At $1.284 trillion in February, total business sales were down an estimated 0.4% from January, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes. And they were down 1.4% from the already beaten-down levels of February last year. They’re back where they’d first been in November 2012!

Yes, the stock market has been on quite a run for the past several weeks, but that temporary rebound is not based on the economic fundamentals.

The truth is that the real economy is definitely starting to slow down substantially.  If you want to break it down very simply, less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, and that tells us far more about what is coming in the months ahead than the temporary ups and downs of stock prices.

Another huge red flag is the fact that the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis

The crucial inventory-to-sales ratio, which tracks how long unsold inventory sits around in relationship to sales, is now at a mind-bending 1.41. That’s the level the ratio spiked to in November 2008, after the Lehman bankruptcy in September had put the freeze on the economy.

 

 

Inventories represent prior sales by suppliers. When companies try to reduce their inventories, they cut their orders. Suppliers see these orders as sales. As their sales slump, suppliers adjust by cutting their own orders, thus causing the sales slump to propagate up the supply chain. They all react by cutting their expenses. And if it lasts, they’ll cut jobs. Inventory corrections have a nasty impact on the overall economy.

Because sales have slowed down, inventories are starting to pile up to alarmingly high levels.  And when companies see that business is slowing down, they start to let people go.

In a previous article, I told my readers that Challenger, Gray & Christmas is reporting that job cut announcements at major firms in the United States are up 32 percent during the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.

Somehow, most of the talking heads on television don’t seem too alarmed by this.

But ordinary Americans are beginning to become alarmed about what is happening.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that believe that the U.S. economy is “getting worse” is now the highest it has been since last August

One of the more glaring examples of how strong pessimism has become is Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index. The measure gauges the difference between respondents who say the economy is improving or declining. The most recent results are not good.

 

 

Fully 59 percent say the economy is “getting worse” against just 37 percent who say it is “getting better.” That gap of 22 percentage points is the worst since August, according to Gallup, which polled 3,542 adults.

Personally, I thought that we would be a little further down the road by now, but without a doubt a new economic downturn has begun in America.

So far, it is less severe than what most of the rest of the planet is experiencing.  Japan’s GDP is officially shrinking, major banks are failing all over Europe, and even CNN admits that what is going on down in Brazil is an “economic collapse”.

The global economic meltdown is steaming along, even if it is moving just a little bit slower than many of us had originally anticipated.  We are moving in the exact direction that myself and many others had warned about, and the rest of 2016 is looking quite ominous for the global economy.

So hopefully everyone (including the critics) is using whatever time we have left wisely.  Because I definitely wish the very best for everyone during the exceedingly hard times that are coming.

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Elizabeth Warren Takes Swipe at Paul Krugman’s “Revisionist History”

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 9.44.28 AM

Paul Krugman made the above statement in 1998, and while I stand guilty for plenty of bad forecasts in my day, Krugman’s internet call is arguably the worst prediction in human history. Naturally, that doesn’t prevent the man from retaining his tenured position of punditry at the New York Times, a perch from which he continues expose millions of unsuspecting Americans to his incoherent, status quo coddling nonsense.

It appears Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has had enough.

The Huffington Post reports:

continue reading

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Brazil Stocks Soar After Rousseff Impeachment Vote Passes Critical Threshold

Following Monday’s decision by a special committee to commence the impeachment process against president Dilma Rousseff, all attention had been focused on the number of Congressional votes that the pro-impeachment movement would have ahead  Sunday’s critical vote. As a reminder, impeachment would require two-thirds support, or 342 of the 513 lower-house lawmakers, to send the case to the Senate.

And then, following a failed attempt to stall the impeachment process last night when Brazil’s Supreme Court allowed the impeachment process to proceed despite Rousseff’s protests, moments ago, Brazil’s Folha newspaper reported that this critical 342 threshold had been met.

  • BRAZIL PRO-IMPEACHMENT VOTE TALLY REACHES 2/3 THRESHOLD: FOLHA

The result: Brazilian stocks, which had already surged today, and were up 22% YTD not to mention up 44% from January’s lows, extended the rally of what has been this week’s best performing market ahead of this weekend’s impeachment vote.

Citing Ari Santos, a trader at brokerage H.Commcor in Sao Paulo, Bloomberg reports that “the market is anticipating the improvement of the economy with new policies,” said “That’s the main driver for Brazil’s stocks today as it has been in the past weeks.”

However, such an optimistic assessment may be premature: first, not only is Rousseff going to fight the process, which next goes to the Senate, tooth and nail, but a political crisis just 4 months ahead of the Olympics will hardly be beneficial for the Brazilian economy, which as we have been reported for the past year, is now openly in a depression.

The view that Sunday’s impeachment vote will be some sort of a denouement is wide of the mark,” Nicholas Spiro, a partner at Lauressa Advisory Ltd. and previously a consultant on sovereign-credit risk, said from London. “Irrespective of the outcome, it is bound to raise more questions than answers. Markets are far too confident that Brazilian politics is moving in the right direction as far as political stability and economic reforms are concerned.”

For now, however, as the chart below shows, traders are pushing green first, and asking questions later.

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Actually, Panama has a higher corporate tax than Denmark…

Last night I got robbed.

Not in the literal sense of the word. There weren’t armed men in masks holding me up on the sidewalk in Panama City.

(I’ve been coming here for 13 years and have never once felt unsafe…)

It was at the cashier’s cage at the Veneto Casino.

After a few hours with a friend at the roulette table where I was happy to have walked away at breakeven, I was shocked to find out that the government of Panama takes a 5.5% tax when you cash in your chips.

In other words, if you cash in $100 in chips, you receive $94.50 back.

I had no idea. And I was furious.

This really drives home a major misconception about Panama. The country is being paraded around the mainstream media right now, with protestors ignorantly mocking Panama’s ‘zero-tax’ regime.

Most of these people have no idea what they’re talking about. This casino tax is one of Panama’s many taxes.

They have transfer taxes and dividend taxes and stamp taxes and individual income taxes.

Most ironically, the Panamanian corporate tax rate is 25%.

That’s higher than socialist DENMARK, as well as the United Kingdom (which is supposedly leading the charge against global tax havens.)

The primary difference is that Panama has what’s called a territorial tax system.

This means that the Panamanian government taxes its residents only on income that’s earned within Panama.

So, if you’re running a hotdog stand on the sidewalk in Panama City, you’re going to be taxed.

And whoever owns the amazing speakeasy I went to last night will be taxed on the food and beverage sales from our dinner.

But if you live in Panama and generate your income from overseas, that money is NOT taxed by the Panamanian government.

It’s pretty simple. And sensible.

Think about it—why would any government think they have a claim to tax income earned overseas, especially when that income has already been taxed by a foreign government?

If you live in Panama and trade stocks in Germany, you’re already paying steep taxes to the German government.

What sense would it make for the Panamanian government to tax that same income a second time?

Panama’s tax system is a much more practical model for the 21st century than the way that most other governments tax their residents.

Most countries have worldwide taxes, whereby residents are taxed on every penny they earn around the world.

So if you are a Canadian tax resident but earn all your money in Ireland, the Canadian government will tax you on that income, even though the source of revenue has absolutely nothing to do with Canada.

Worldwide taxation is practically feudal.

It presumes we’re all medieval serfs tied to the land rather than intelligent professionals who can do business in a highly connected world.

And it’s absurd that this system of worldwide taxation is still so prevalent in 2016.

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Nebraska Poised to Require Convictions for Asset Forfeiture

ForfeitureNebraska may join a handful of other states in requiring that the government actually convict citizens of crimes in order to permanently seize and keep their assets or cash.

Nebraska’s legislature this week passed LB 1106 with a 38-8 vote and sent it to Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. This appears to be a particularly good reform. It would eliminate the “civil” component of asset forfeiture (at points the bill literally crosses out the word “civil” in current references to “civil asset forfeiture” in code). Asset forfeiture would continue to exist as an option only when a person has been convicted of a crime. Prosecutors would then have to prove that the property to be seized was connected to the crime in order for the state to keep it. The threshold for this proof is lower than that needed to convict somebody of a crime, but since a person would have to be convicted first, it’s still a huge improvement.

The law also addresses the state’s participation in the Department of Justice’s “equitable sharing” program. This the mechanism by which local law enforcement agencies partner with the Department of Justice for busts and then use the federal rules for forfeiture. The federal guidelines are often much laxer than state guidelines and allow law enforcement agencies to keep up to 80 percent of what they seize. Many departments have turned to the federal program in order to deliberately bypass state restrictions that may reduce the amount of money they may keep. And according to the Institute for Justice, Nebraska already does have tougher restrictions for asset forfeiture than the Department of Justice. That might be why state law enforcement agencies have brought in more than $48 million in seizures from the federal program between 2000 and 2013.

LB 1006 will end a good chunk of that, but not all of it. The law will forbid state and local law enforcement agencies from participating in the federal program unless the assets involved are worth more than $25,000 (most are much less than this), unless a federal agent is physically there taking the property,  or unless the suspect (or the suspect’s property) is subject to federal prosecution.

Now it’s up to the governor to decide whether to veto. Apparently the current version has been changed from what the state’s attorney general’s office and law enforcement representatives have recommended to make it tougher than they would like. Ricketts may want to take note of several recent polls that show that the American public overwhelmingly believes that police should not be able to seize people’s property without convicting anybody of a crime.

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