Thursday, March 11, 2010

Natural Gas Prices Continue to Decline

I'm somewhat surprised at this. If industrial use was picking up, we should see a manifestation of that in weekly storage declines and a pickup in usage. That said, the volume has already turned higher! Prices are now lower than last year's low.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gold Price Linkage to Rate Tightening, Other Macroeconomic Variables

Gold is down about $10 today.

this from Andrew Willis at Canada's The Globe and Mail:

Be wary of gold and gold mining stocks once interest rates start to rise.
With the Bank of Canada and U.S. Federal Reserve expected to beginning tightening this summer, analysts at RBC Dominion Securities are out this week with a report that looks at how bullion and gold stocks perform during economic cycles.
The investment dealer crunched the last nine periods of rising rates and concluded “on average, gold equities outperform prior to the hike and lag thereafter.”
It’s difficult, or dangerous, to focus on any one outside factor when trying to forecast bullion prices, and RBC Dominion pointed to a number of forces that will move gold, apart from monetary policy, such as central bank gold selling, heightened geopolitical risk concerns and U.S. dollar weakness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Maintaining a Positive Attitude in Trading

from Brian Tracy and Nightingale Conant:


When I was 21 years old, a friend of mine and I decided to go off to see the world. Many of our friends were going to Europe and hitchhiking around with rucksacks. We decided to be different and go to Africa instead. It never occurred to us to ask why no one else was going to Africa. We found out later, much to our great regret.
To get to our destination in Africa, we had to cross the Sahara. We started out from London, riding bicycles across France and Spain. The labor was excruciating, the progress slow, and the pleasure was nonexistent.
In Gibraltar, we sold our bicycles and invested our last few dollars in an old Land Rover. We crossed from Gibraltar to Tangier into Algeria. We were on our way in Africa. Still, there was one obstacle between us and the greenery we were anxious to see. It was that darn old desert. We had no idea how serious and how difficult this adventure was to be.
As we moved south across the desert, we encountered endless problems, any one of which could have ended our trip and, probably, our lives. Yet, it was during this desert crossing that I learned one of the most important lessons in my life about attitude.
The French, who had controlled Algeria for many years, had marked a path across the desert with black 55- gallon oil drums. The drums were spaced exactly five kilometers apart. As we drove and came to an oil drum, the next drum, which was five kilometers ahead, would pop up on the horizon, and the last oil drum, which was five kilometers behind, would fall off the horizon. Wherever we were, we could always see two oil drums at a time — the one we had just left and the one we were headed toward. To cross one of the greatest deserts in the world, all we had to do was take it "one oil barrel at a time." We did not have to cross the entire desert at once. For me, crossing the Sahara was a metaphor for life. In order to maintain a positive attitude under all circumstances, all you have to do is take it one step, one oil barrel, at a time. As Thomas Carlyle said, "Our great business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."
In any endeavor we can choose to be positive and constructive, sit down and think through the situation, and then begin to deal with it one oil barrel — one small achievement — at a time. Of course, this isn't always as easy as it sounds. We all must overcome the four obstacles that tend to get in the way of our maintaining a positive attitude.
These obstacles are fear, worry, anger, and doubt. When things are not working out the way we had expected, our immediate response is to become fearful and uneasy. We are afraid that we will lose our money, waste our effort, or forfeit our emotional or physical investment in what we have done. If we are not careful, we start thinking of our potential losses rather than focusing on our potential gains.
Fear triggers worry, and we begin to use our power of imagination to create all sorts of negative images that cause us unhappiness and insomnia, and make us unable to perform efficiently. Fear and worry create anger, or what has been called the "victim complex." Instead of moving constantly forward in the direction of our dreams, we begin to react and respond, and to blame other people and other situations for our problems and challenges at hand.
Surrounding these negative emotions is the mental quality of doubt. Doubt is a fertile breeding ground for the other three negative emotions. Therefore, to eliminate these obstacles to positive thinking, you need to systematically eradicate the weakening emotion of doubt.
How do you do this? It's simple. The only real antidote to fear, worry, anger, and doubt is positive action toward the achievement of some worthwhile ideal.
Psychologists tell us that the key to dealing effectively with life is what they call "cognitive control." This is the assumption that you can think about, and concentrate on, only one thing at a time, either positive or negative. Successful people consciously choose to think about what they want, rather than what they don't want. As a result, they are continuously taking action toward their goals, rather than spending their time thinking and worrying about the current difficulties or the inevitable challenges that are sure to face them.
People who never achieve success do so because they fall in love with their excuses. It isn't the actual truth about yourself and your abilities that hurts you; it is the things you consider to be true but have no basis in truth that hold you back.
We naturally fall in love with our reasons for not moving ahead. Even if someone challenges those reasons, or tells us that we have the capacity to accomplish so much more, we will often argue with them.
We attempt to prove to ourselves and others that our limitations are real, and the less justification these ideals or beliefs have, the more adamant we become in attempting to prove them to others. Richard Bach wrote this beautiful line: "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours."
So how do you change your beliefs? The starting point is to get up the courage to question these self-limiting beliefs seriously. Question your basic premises. Check your assumptions. Ask yourself, What assumptions am I making about myself or my situation that might not be true? Think about them. Remember, most of our self-limiting beliefs have no basis whatsoever in fact. They are based on information and ideas that we have accepted as true, sometimes in early childhood, and to the degree we accept them as true, they become true for us.
You can always tell what your true values and beliefs are by looking at your actions. It isn't what you say or wish or hope or intend that demonstrates what you really believe. It is only what you do. It is only the behaviors that you engage in. It is only the actions you choose to undertake. And out of your actions come all the elements of your life. You are where you are and what you are because of what you have done in the past. But the wonderful news is, the past doesn't have to hold you back. That's because we are in a perpetual state of becoming.
The clearer you are about your ideal result or future vision, the easier it is for you to alter your actions and behaviors in the short term to assure that you get where you want to be in the long term. You have no limitations on your potential except for those you believe you have. As Walter D. Wintle wrote:
The Man Who Thinks He Can
If you think you're beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you would like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
Thinking like a winner is the first step to living like a winner. You will become that which you think about most of the time. You are the architect of your personality and character. Your goal, your desire, is to be as successful, happy, and prosperous as you possibly can be in every aspect of your life. Therefore, the systematic development of a positive attitude is something that you need to work on every hour of every day. Continue to work on yourself and your thinking until you reach the point where you absolutely, positively believe yourself capable of winning in anything you sincerely want to accomplish.
People succeed not because they have remarkable characteristics or qualities. The most successful people are quite ordinary, just like you and me. Most of us start off poor and confused. We spend many years getting some sort of direction in our lives. But the turning point comes when we begin to believe that we have within us that divine spark that can lead us onward and upward to the accomplishment of anything that we really want in life. So, become the man or woman who thinks, I can. And when you reach the point where you feel unshakable confidence in yourself and your abilities, nothing will be able to stop you, not even the Sahara. Just stay your course and take each challenge ... one oil barrel at a time.

THE 3 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OPTIMISTS & PESSIMISTS In his book Learned Optimism, Dr. Seligman claims there are three fundamental differences between optimists and pessimists.

  1. The optimist sees a setback as temporary, while the pessimist sees it as permanent. The optimist sees an unfortunate event — something limited in time and that has no real impact on the future. The pessimist sees a negative event as permanent, as part of life, as destiny, as an indication of more to come.
  2. The optimist sees difficulties as specific, while the pessimist sees them as pervasive. When things go wrong for the optimist, he or she looks at the event as an isolated incident largely disconnected from other things that are going on in his or her life. An optimist perceives an unfortunate business incident as just that — a business incident. The pessimist would question the validity of the entire business or business direction. The pessimist would tend to feel helpless, unable to make a difference to correct the issue.
  3. The optimist sees events as external, while the pessimist tends to interpret events as personal. When things go wrong, the optimist will tend to see the setback as resulting from external forces over which one has little control but which one can overcome. The pessimist takes negative events personally and as an indication of a larger pervasive personal shortcoming.

Picture your Future Success — and Get It!

Take every opportunity to surround yourself with images of what success means to you: Get brochures on new cars you desire; get magazines containing pictures of beautiful homes, beautiful clothes, well-toned bodies, and other things you will obtain as a result of achieving the success that you are aiming for. Each time you see or visualize those images, you trigger the thoughts, feelings, and actions that make them materialize in your life. But, don't wish for them ... that is day dreaming. Think about them as absolute certainties in your future and focus on who you must be today to achieve these icons of your future success.

6 STEPS TO ASSURE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE There are six things you can do to assure that your attitude is the very best it can be under all circumstances.

  1. Whatever challenges you face, focus on the future rather than the past. Instead of worrying about who did what or who is to blame, focus on where you want to be and what you want to do. Get a clear mental image of your ideal successful future, and then take whatever action you can to begin moving in that direction. As the New Testament says, "Let the dead bury the dead." Let the past take care of itself, and get your mind, your thoughts, your mental images on the future.
  2. Whenever you're faced with a difficulty, focus on the solution rather than on the problem. Think and talk about the ideal solution to the obstacle or setback, rather than wasting time rehashing and reflecting on the problem. Solutions are inherently positive, whereas problems are inherently negative. The instant that you begin thinking in terms of solutions, you become more positive and constructive.
  3. Assume that something good is hidden within each difficulty or challenge. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale used to say, "Whenever God wants to give us a gift, he wraps it up in a problem." Lloyd Conant said it this way: "You don't earn the right to solve big problems until you have solved the small ones." In other words, the bigger the gift, the greater the success you have coming, the bigger the problem you will receive and must surmount.
  4. Assume that whatever situation you are facing at the moment is exactly the right situation you need to ultimately be successful. The situation has been sent to you to help you learn something, to help you become better, to help you expand and grow. What good is it to think anything else?
  5. In every challenge, look for a valuable lesson. Assume that every setback contains a lesson that is essential for you to learn. Only when you learn this lesson will you be smart enough and wise enough to go on and achieve the big goals that you have set for yourself. Again, since you can think about only one thing at a time, if you are busy looking for the lesson, you cannot simultaneously think about the difficulty or the obstacle. You will always find the lesson if you look for it.
  6. Whenever you have a goal that is unachieved, a difficulty that is unresolved, or a problem that is blocking you from getting where you want to go, sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of every single thing that you could possibly do to resolve the situation. Write down every idea, ridiculous or not. The more you think on paper, the more you will take control over your conscious mind and focus it where you want — on the solution. (Don't miss The Greatest Problem Solving Tool by Earl Nightingale in the next issue of AdvantEdge).

With Crude Oil at $82.50 Now, What Will Summer Bring?

I'm worried that the US economy could take another oil-related hit this summer. With prices reaching about $82.50 yesterday, and the summer driving season ahead of us, what will happen when peak gasoline consumption hits this summer? Typically, oil/gas prices rise beginning in late March, in anticipation of the higher demand during summer months. If this happens, then we could see crude oil prices of $100+ per barrel this summer, and this type of price rise in 2008 was a significant contributing factor to the collapse of the US economy in late summer 2008.
This is also particularly striking this year because the Dollar has been rising due to concerns about burdensome debt in the Eurozone, especially in Greece. If the price of crude is strong, even in the face of a strong Dollar and winter usage, what will happen in summer, and what will be the economic effects?

Natural Gas Seasonal Factors

This year, natural gas prices peaked on 12/29/09, but only drifted marginally lower. Prices started to fall significantly on 2/18/10, and have been dropping ever since. In looking at past years, there is also typically a rise in prices in early September, with another dip around Thanksgiving, with prices rising again in late December. This could all be, and may even likely be, a response to weather forecasts showing colder or warmer winters.

Obama to "Cull" Jobs in Recreational Fishing, Curtail Fishing?

The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.
This announcement comes at the time when the situation supposedly still is "fluid" and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force still hasn't issued its final report on zoning uses of these waters. That's a disappointment, but not really a surprise for fishing industry insiders who have negotiated for months with officials at the Council on Environmental Quality and bureaucrats on the task force. These angling advocates have come to suspect that public input into the process was a charade from the beginning.

"When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) completed their successful campaign to convince the Ontario government to end one of the best scientifically managed big game hunts in North America (spring bear), the results of their agenda had severe economic impacts on small family businesses and the tourism economy of communities across northern and central Ontario," said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano. "Now we see NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the administration planning the future of recreational fishing access in America based on a similar agenda of these same groups and other Big Green anti-use organizations, through an Executive Order by the President. The current U.S. direction with fishing is a direct parallel to what happened in Canada with hunting: The negative economic impacts on hard working American families and small businesses are being ignored. "In spite of what we hear daily in the press about the President's concern for jobs and the economy and contrary to what he stated in the June order creating this process, we have seen no evidence from NOAA or the task force that recreational fishing and related jobs are receiving any priority." Consequently, unless anglers speak up and convince their Congressional representatives to stop this bureaucratic freight train, it appears that the task force will issue a final report for "marine spatial planning" by late March, with President Barack Obama then issuing an Executive Order to implement its recommendations — whatever they may be. Led by NOAA's Jane Lubchenco, the task force has shown no overt dislike of recreational angling, but its indifference to the economic, social and biological value of the sport has been deafening. Additionally, Lubchenco and others in the administration have close ties to environmental groups who would like nothing better than to ban recreational angling. And evidence suggests that these organizations have been the engine behind the task force since before Obama issued a memo creating it last June.
Anglering for access united we fish rally capitol washington 
One sign at the rally of recreational and commercial fishermen summed up the feelings.
As ESPN previously reported, WWF, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, Pew Environment Group and others produced a document entitled "Transition Green" shortly after Obama was elected in 2008. What has happened since suggests that the task force has been in lockstep with that position paper. Then in late summer, just after he created the task force, these groups produced "Recommendations for the Adoption and Implementation of an Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes National Policy." This document makes repeated references to "overfishing," but doesn't once reference recreational angling, its importance, and its benefits, both to participants and the resource. Additionally, some of these same organizations have revealed their anti-fishing bias by playing fast and loose with "facts," in attempts to ban tackle containing lead in the United States and Canada. That same tunnel vision, in which recreational angling and commercial fishing are indiscriminately lumped together as harmful to the resource, has persisted with the task force, despite protests by the angling industry. As more evidence of collusion, the green groups began clamoring for an Executive Order to implement the task force's recommendations even before the public comment period ended in February. Fishing advocates had no idea that this was coming. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the New York Times reported on Feb. 12 that "President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities." Morlock fears that "what we're seeing coming at us is an attempted dismantling of the science-based fish and wildlife model that has served us so well. There's no basis in science for the agendas of these groups who are trying to push the public out of being able to fish and recreate. "Conflicts (user) are overstated and problems are manufactured. It's all just an excuse to put us off the water." In the wake of the task force's framework document, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) and its partners in the U.S. Recreational Fishing & Boating Coalition against voiced their concerns to the administration. "Some of the potential policy implications of this interim framework have the potential to be a real threat to recreational anglers who not only contribute billions of dollars to the economy and millions of dollars in tax revenues to support fisheries conservation, but who are also the backbone of the American fish and wildlife conservation ethic," said CSF President Jeff Crane. Morlock, a member of the CSF board, added, "There are over one million jobs in America supported coast to coast by recreational fishing. The task force has not included any accountability requirements in their reports for evaluating or mitigating how the new policies they are drafting will impact the fishing industry or related economies. "Given that the scope of this process appears to include a new set of policies for all coastal and inland waters of the United States, the omission of economic considerations is inexcusable." This is not the only access issue threatening the public's right to fish, but it definitely is the most serious, according to Chris Horton, national conservation director for BASS. "With what's being created, the same principles could apply inland as apply to the oceans," he said. "Under the guise of 'marine spatial planning' entire watersheds could be shut down, even 2,000 miles up a river drainage from the ocean. "Every angler needs to be aware because if it's not happening in your backyard today or tomorrow, it will be eventually. "We have one of the largest voting blocks in the country and we need to use it. We must not sit idly by."

Monday, March 8, 2010

U.S. Risks Trade War With Brazil Over Cotton

Brazil moved on Monday to raise tariffs on a wide range of American goods, potentially igniting a trade war with the US over cotton subsidies after eight years of litigation at the World Trade Organisation.
The decision takes effect next month, starting a 30-day period during which US and Brazilian officials will attempt to negotiate a solution to the dispute..
Under the Brazilian plan, duties would rise most steeply on cotton products. Many that are currently taxed at between 6 per cent and 35 per cent would be taxed at 100 per cent. The tariffs on beauty products would double, from 18 per cent to 36 per cent. Duties on household goods such as cookers, refrigerators, TVs and video cameras would also double, from 20 per cent to 40 per cent. Duties on cars would rise from 35 per cent to 50 per cent.
Brazil is allowed to impose the tariff increases – worth $560m – after winning a case at the WTO last year. Brazil challenged the legality of direct subsidies to US cotton farmers to protect them against fluctuations in global prices and a loan guarantee programme for international buyers of US cotton.
Brazil could also impose further penalties – known as “cross-retaliation” – on US intellectual property rights, potentially breaking patents in the pharmaceuticals, technology and media industries.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dollar Unhinged - China Considering Severing Renminbi From Dollar

China’s central bank chief laid the groundwork for an appreciation of the renminbi at the weekend when he described the current dollar peg as temporary, striking a more emollient tone after months of tough opposition in Beijing to a shift in exchange rate policy.
Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, gave the strongest hint yet from a senior official that China would abandon the unofficial dollar peg, in place since mid-2008. He said it was a “special” policy to weather the financial crisis.
“This is a part of our package of policies for dealing with the global financial crisis. Sooner or later, we will exit the policies.”
Mr Zhou’s comments contrasted with recent Chinese comments on its currency policy in the face of international criticism that the renminbi was undervalued. In December, premier Wen Jiabao said: “We will not yield to any pressure of any form forcing us to appreciate.” Chinese officials have repeatedly emphasised the need for a stable exchange rate.
However, while the recent increase in consumer prices in China has strengthened the hand of those officials who think the currency should now rise, it is not clear that this argument has yet won over the country’s senior leaders.
Indeed, Mr Zhou gave no hint about the possible timing of a shift in policy.