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Top Stories This Week: Inflation Data Not Telling Whole Story, Kazatomprom’s Uranium Update

Top Stories This Week: Inflation Data Not Telling Whole Story, Kazatomprom’s Uranium Update

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The gold price trended upward in the second week of the new year, nearly reaching the US$1,830 per ounce mark at some points during the period. The…

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Top Stories This Week: Inflation Data Not Telling Whole Story, Kazatomprom's Uranium Update youtu.be

The gold price trended upward in the second week of the new year, nearly reaching the US$1,830 per ounce mark at some points during the period.

The metal had slipped a little lower by Friday (January 14) afternoon to rest at about US$1,815.

New inflation data was released Wednesday (January 12), with reports indicating that the Consumer Price Index jumped 7 percent in 2021, marking the biggest 12 month increase since 1982.


I heard from Nick Barisheff of BMG Group after the news, who reminded investors that official statistics don't always tell the full story — for example, if inflation was calculated the way it was in 1980, it would be at 15 percent.

"Although 7 percent is the highest in a very long time, if you calculate inflation the way it was calculated in 1980, the inflation rate would be 15 percent. So in real life it's much higher than what the official statistics (show)" — Nick Barisheff, BMG Group

Producer Price Index information shared Thursday (January 13) shows US wholesale prices rose 0.2 percent in December, which is lower than expected; however, the index was up 9.7 percent over the course of 2021.

With gold in mind, we revisited a previous Twitter poll this week. We learned in December that most of our followers think the metal will surpass US$2,000 in 2022, so we followed up by asking when it could happen. By the time the poll closed, nearly 40 percent of respondents had voted for Q2.

We'll be asking another question on Twitter next week, so make sure to follow us @INN_Resource and follow me @Charlotte_McL to share your thoughts!

I also want to take a brief detour into uranium, which has come into the spotlight already in 2022 due to the situation in Kazakhstan. The country is the world's top producer of the commodity, and unrest has raised questions about whether supply from Kazatomprom (LSE:KAP) could be affected.

When events were first unfolding I heard from Lobo Tiggre of IndependentSpeculator.com, who as usual offered a measured take, saying that there had been no confirmation of any impact on Kazatomprom.

He also noted that he's bullish on uranium even if Kazatomprom's supply stays steady.

"(Regardless of what happens with Kazatomprom), I still think that this is the year that we start seeing new long-term contracts signed at significantly higher uranium prices, which will be a game changer" — Lobo Tiggre, IndependentSpeculator.com

This week, the partially state-owned company shared an update, confirming that its assets have indeed been operating without interruption; Kazatomprom is currently more concerned about COVID-19-related supply chain disturbances than it is about disruptions related to what's been happening in the past couple of weeks.

"Although the more serious near-term supply chain risks specifically related to recent events did not materialize, the pandemic-related supply chain challenges remain a concern, and may impact both production and cost expectations in 2022" — Kazatomprom

I want to finish with a quick note on INN's outlook content. At the end of every year, our reporters reach out to experts in the many industries we cover, from gold to lithium to cannabis and more. We then compile the information these market watchers share to give our audience a look at the year ahead.

This week we published outlooks for lithium and palladium, two very different markets. Analysts have referred to the 2020s as the "lithium decade," and so far that's proven to be accurate — in 2022, market watchers are calling for demand to outpace supply for the battery metal, helping prices stay elevated.

In terms of palladium, after seeing prices decline in 2021, commentators have suggested that the metal's path this year will be partially determined by vehicle sales, which have been dampened by the semiconductor shortage.

Want more YouTube content? Check out our YouTube playlist At Home With INN, which features interviews with experts in the resource space. If there's someone you'd like to see us interview, please send an email to cmcleod@investingnews.com.

And don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Economics

Oil Could Be The Haven Stocks Traders Need To Shelter From Fed

Oil Could Be The Haven Stocks Traders Need To Shelter From Fed

By Nour Al Ali, Bloomberg Markets Live commentator and analyst

Oil is starting to look like an unlikely haven from the stocks selloff in the run-up to anticipated Fed tightening.

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Oil Could Be The Haven Stocks Traders Need To Shelter From Fed

By Nour Al Ali, Bloomberg Markets Live commentator and analyst

Oil is starting to look like an unlikely haven from the stocks selloff in the run-up to anticipated Fed tightening.

Traders are pricing lower volatility in the commodity than in the Nasdaq and S&P 500. Barometers of market anxiety for both indexes have shot up recently, suggesting trader sentiment is souring. Meanwhile, the CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index, which measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility of crude oil prices applying the VIX methodology to USO options, shows that oil prices are expected to remain relatively muted in comparison.

With a producer cartel to support prices, the outlook for oil is more sanguine, even if the Fed raises rates. The commodity has ample support, with global oil demand expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. The U.S. administration has been pushing oil-producing nations under the OPEC+ cartel to ramp up output, while the group has stuck to a modest production-increase plan and is expected to rubber-stamp another 400k b/d output hike when they meet next week. This means that oil is likely to stay a lot more stable than in recent years.

The relatively low correlation between the asset classes provide diversification benefits. The relationship between the S&P 500 and the global oil benchmark is weak and lacks conviction; it’s even weaker between the Nasdaq 100 and Brent crude contracts. The divergence in price action this week could indicate that stocks have been tumbling in fear of a hawkish Feb, more so than geopolitical risk alone. That would perhaps offer traders an opportunity to seek shelter amid stock volatility in anticipation of the Fed’s next move.

Oil might have tracked the decline in stocks at the beginning of this week, but the commodity is back to its highs now. It’s up close to 15% this year, while the S&P 500 is struggling to reclaim its footing after plunging as much as 10%.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/26/2022 - 13:45

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Stocks

Who’s Afraid Of Jerome Powell?

Who’s Afraid Of Jerome Powell?

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

baller (ˈbɔːlə)
n
slang someone, usually a man, who lives in an extravagant and materialistic manner, tending to be something of a socialite

My wife…

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Who's Afraid Of Jerome Powell?

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

baller (ˈbɔːlə)
n
slang someone, usually a man, who lives in an extravagant and materialistic manner, tending to be something of a socialite

My wife and I got sucked into watching the Dwayne Johnson series Ballers on HBOMax over the weekend. Aside from being hilarious, it struck me how much of a microcosm of our world this seemingly alien world of twentysomething millionaires and rapacious billionaires really is.

When you drill into the details, the world of Ballers really isn’t that far from ours.

For those that don’t know the setup, broke former NFL bad boy Johnson is trying to turn a new leaf “monetizing his friendships” to help NFL players hold onto all that money they are making at an age when they have zero ability to contemplate their own mortality.

One storyline from the first season is especially relevant. A kid with a good heart, Vernon, banking on his next big contract, is out of money having spent it all on being ‘loyal’ to his friends and family, throwing parties, inviting 40 people to a business lunch, etc.

His loyalty is so out of control he has to borrow money from Johnson (who’s broke mind you) to bridge him until the contract comes through. Of course there are complications and hilarity ensues. The typical Hollywood fantasy fare. Nothing groundbreaking, eventually things work out (mostly).

Johnson has to endure a lot to get Vernon to see the truth, put limits on the situation and get Vernon to properly save his money. The pitch is the right one: put it to work and pay everyone for the long term, not just for tomorrow.

Sound familiar?

No, because that’s exactly what we don’t preach in this world of central bank issued easy money. This shouldn’t be a central conflict, it should be a given.

Because this background for this story is playing out at every level of our society, all a consequence of too much money flowing around finding ways to corrupt everything it touches.

Ballers is all about the corruption money brings to those few thousand people in the NFL and their organizations because of the millions of people who spend too much money on a passing fancy, entertainment.

The NFL, like all pro sports, is nothing but a money funnel with a Federal Reserve sized Hoover attached to it. It’s the ultimate corruption of e pluribus unum. From many to one.

Take a little bit from all of us, time and again to help us relieve the stress of the shitty world they’ve built. Give some of it to the rubes who play the game, who blow it on hookers, high end cars, and drugs, while the lion’s share gets sucked right back up into the same oligarch class that created it in the first place.

But it’s no different than you or me, buying shit we don’t need on credit, self-medicating with pro sports, alcohol, video games, day-trading cryptos on Robinhood, yelling at racists on Twitter or my personal favorite, a ridiculous board game collection.

We’re all ballers to one degree or another, spending easy money on distractions rather than facing the reality that the most unsustainable thing about our society is the money which makes it all happen.

And before anyone revokes my libertarian creds, I pass no judgment on this. It’s all voluntary exchange, mostly. At the very least it has the appearance of being voluntary.

That said, here we are waiting to hear from the philosopher kings at the FOMC and the markets are melting down around our ears.

The tantrums that have begun are no different than those pitched by Vernon’s friends over having the barest amount of fiscal discipline imposed on them.

Everywhere I look everyone is saying some version of the same thing, “Hey man, Don’t take the punch bowl away.” They’d say it a lot more colorfully on Ballers, but being white I’m not allowed to use that language.

From Chairman Xi leading off this year’s virtual Davos with a plea not to hike rates to the howls from the Financial press including some Austrians, pleading that he can’t possibly raise rates because it would cause a market meltdown and blow out the Federal budget, Powell is now off everyone’s invite list to party on the yacht.

I get the feeling that some folks would rather be right about their hyperinflation theories rather than actually figuring out what’s really going on.

But the reality is that something has changed and the markets are finally coming to that conclusion.

For months I’ve been arguing that Jerome Powell ignited a firestorm when he raised the Reverse Repo Rate by 0.05%, pulling trillions in base liquidity from overseas markets while handing U.S. banks all the collateral they needed.

It’s created a political firestorm on Capitol Hill who tried to oust him from the Chair and failed. They got three of his fellow hawks, but not the king. He was able to run out the political clock on both Build Back Better and opposition to his reappointment.

But it doesn’t happen if Powell doesn’t have the backing of the people behind him.

And who backs Powell? The New York Fed, that’s who.

That leads you to the conclusion that all is not hunky dory in Oligarchville. That, shock of shocks, narcissists only like each other when they are sucking our lives and souls away. But when they start taking from each other, that’s when the knives come out.

It seems incredible to me that many people won’t consider this idea, that these people don’t like each other, and aren’t willing to hand over their business and their wealth without a fight?

Because that’s what’s implied when everyone jumps up and down and screams at Powell to “Save them!” from deflationary forces.

And he looks down from the Marriner-Eccles building and says, “No.”

It’s time to put it all in order. With ‘Build Back Better’ dead there is no more insane new spending to monetize. There is no reason for the Fed to keep up QE or rates at the zero-bound. Savings is down, money is circulating again. Inflation isn’t transitory.

People want to work. COVID-9/11 is behind us. The anger over losing two years is just getting started but that’s a different wrinkle to this story for another day.

If the Fed isn’t intimidated by the recent weakness in stocks, in truth a healthy correction after a massive run, and raises rates on Wednesday we have our answer as to what Powell and friends are willing to do. Whatever your opinion of it is, it will not be a ‘policy error’ but a clear-eyed understanding that it’s time to rein it in, change the direction of the big boat, and begin living within our means.

If he doesn’t it won’t be the opposite signal. It will simply mean that they’ll take another couple of months to nail down the particulars, namely getting proper control over the O’Biden administration, and begin hiking on schedule per the current expectations in the Eurodollar futures market.

Has anyone looked at the ratings for pro sports? Old media? Hollywood box office receipts? All down. Netflix is getting killed because it’s growth cannot sustain its valuation, much like a lot of the NASDAQ. This is something that should have happened two or three years ago, just like Tesla.

But didn’t because of COVID-19 and the massive wealth transfer the stimulus provided to them during the absence of sanity oceans of money always produces.

That said, these are all unsustainable Ponzi scheme masquerading as viable industries based on cheap money and malinvestment in politically-motivated production.

Now I’m not suggesting for a second that Powell is some kind of saint or anything. He’s no savior sent down to redeem us sinful ballers from our excesses. No sir. He represents the very people that helped create this mess.

But at the same time, they want to remain where they are. They are not willing to hand their power and their money over to another group within the cartel.

They didn’t get where they were putting their money on the table to bail out anyone else.

And they won’t this time.

All I’m doing here is assessing what everyone’s real motivations are and who they answer to. To quote another, far more classic television show“The universe is run by the interweaving of three elements: Energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest.”

And, to me, where’s the enlightened self-interest angle for the NY Boys, represented by Powell, for turning over their business to a bunch of European and Chinese commies?

When you step back and really look at what’s happening, they have already told Europe, China and all those emerging markets currently whining, the post-COVID world you created is your mess now.

This is why I’m convinced the Fed will hike and hike aggressively this year, maybe starting on Wednesday.

There is no deal possible between Wall St., City of London and Europe. In that game, Europe loses. If China wants to play hardball and default on foreign-held property debt, fine. Have fun attracting any capital in the future.

All the fiscal projections of the U.S.’s insolvency are great (and accurate) but I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, literally, but you CAN taper a Ponzi scheme if you’re 1) the biggest Ponzi and 2) control the flow of funds into them.

And if you don’t think Powell and his backers at the NY Fed aren’t willing to sacrifice a few thousand points on the Dow or even a few points of GDP, to restructure the US’s finances for the long term while the Fed hands them all the collateral and liquidity they need to keep playing while everyone else craps out, I do believe you are terminally naïve.

It’s what they call playing hard ball.

There are two ways to reset the monetary system. The first option is printer go brrr and default by switching out the old currency for a new one. The other is collapse the old system by returning risk and rebuilding it after the malinvestment is gone.

Paul Volcker chose the latter to finally establish the Dollar Reserve Standard as the only game in town. Nixon set the process in motion, Volcker closed the deal. It’s what established today’s game.

We are at an inflection point in history, both monetary and geopolitical.

I discussed this in my latest podcast with Alex Krainer and believe the rules of the game have fundamentally changed. The next game will look a lot different than the baller one we’ve been playing.

Those who won’t adjust to that or admit it should be very afraid of what Jerome Powell does next.

*  *  *

Join my Patreon if you hate the game, not the playa.

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Tyler Durden Wed, 01/26/2022 - 12:25

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Spread & Containment

Don’t believe the claim that only 17,371 people have died from COVID in England and Wales

A freedom of information request is only useful if you know how to read the data.

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There is no doubt that the pandemic has led to many deaths; however, in the past week, new claims have emerged that the true number of people who have died from COVID in England and Wales is much lower than previously thought. These claims have been widely shared on social media and even amplified by a senior MP. Can it really be true that new data shows that COVID has killed far fewer people than we previously thought?

To arrive at an answer, we first need to delve into the various ways that COVID deaths are counted in England and Wales. There are two main sources of this data: the first, published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and featured prominently on the government’s coronavirus dashboard, is a simple count of all deaths that occur within 28 days of a positive COVID test.

The second, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is based on death certificates that list COVID as a cause of death. Being based on a medical assessment of the circumstances of each individual death, the ONS figures represent the gold standard.

The UKHSA figures will include some deaths that are clearly unrelated to COVID – for example, somebody who has a mild case of COVID and is involved in a car accident three weeks later – and exclude some COVID deaths where someone is in hospital for more than 28 days. The UKHSA data gives us a picture of what is happening now – albeit an imperfect one – while the ONS data takes several weeks to process.

We also need to understand how death certificates work in England and Wales. When somebody passes away, a medical professional completes a death certificate. This includes a field for the “disease or condition directly leading to death” – often called the “underlying cause”. It also includes the option to list one or two diseases or conditions that were not the underlying cause, but which contributed to the death (“contributory causes”).

The data that the ONS publishes shows that, in 2020 and 2021 combined, 157,889 deaths were registered where COVID was mentioned on the death certificate. Of these, 139,839 listed COVID as the underlying cause. In almost 90% of cases where COVID was a factor in somebody’s death, it was considered by medical professionals to be the primary reason they died. So where does the figure of 17,371 COVID deaths come from?

Freedom of information request

This figure originates from a freedom of information request to the Office for National Statistics that asked for the number of deaths where COVID was the only cause of death recorded. This is complicated by the fact that often COVID itself can cause complications, such as severe respiratory difficulties or organ failure, which will then be listed alongside COVID on the death certificate.

To exclude these deaths, the ONS responded by giving the number of deaths where no “pre-existing conditions” were listed on the death certificate. Which comes to 17,371 for the period up to the end of September 2021. But what is a “pre-existing condition”?

Pre-existing conditions and their International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes

Office for National Statistics

This list is extensive, including high blood pressure, asthma, COPD, diabetes and a wide range of other common conditions. The argument being made by some is that 17,371 is the true number of COVID deaths, because people with these pre-existing conditions, who make up the vast majority of deaths that list COVID on the death certificate, were already sick. But even a cursory glance at the list makes it clear that this will be incorrect for a great many people.

Over a quarter of adults have high blood pressure, 4 million people in England have diabetes and a similar number have asthma. Having one of these conditions is neither a death sentence nor a sign of being in poor health. You almost certainly know several people with one or more of them, or are living with one yourself.

The idea that people with a pre-existing condition are at death’s door is simply untrue. Over half of people aged 50 and over have at least one long-term health condition. But if someone with one of these conditions is unlucky enough to catch COVID and subsequently die, all it takes is for the condition to have some impact for it to end up being listed as a contributory cause on the death certificate.

Let’s take asthma as an example. COVID frequently attacks victims’ lungs, leading them to require ventilation. As a respiratory condition, asthma may well exacerbate these difficulties and will therefore be listed on the death certificate if the person dies. It would be bizarre to claim that the person died of asthma on this basis. Perhaps they would not have died if they didn’t have asthma, but they certainly wouldn’t have died if they hadn’t got COVID.

The vast majority of people who get seriously ill with COVID were living full, independent lives before they were hospitalised. And reasonable estimates suggest that the average number of years of life lost per COVID death is around ten. The idea that people who died from COVID are all extremely ill and would have died soon anyway is not borne out by the facts.

To argue that the deaths from COVID of people with pre-existing conditions don’t count as true COVID deaths is to say that people with pre-existing conditions don’t matter; that their lives are expendable and shouldn’t be considered when assessing the impact of the pandemic. Over 140,000 people with pre-existing conditions have died of COVID in the last two years. We should be mourning this tragic loss of life, not minimising it.

Colin Angus does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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