Saturday, February 7, 2009

Venezuelans turn out in the thousands to protest Chavez reelection

Caracas was lined with people this Saturday as thousands of Venezuelans turned out ahead of the February 15th referendum to protest against the potential end to presidential term limits.

Venezuelan society remains polarized down the middle in terms of those who support Chavez and those who oppose him. However, past attempts by Chavez to change the constitution in order for him to be allowed to run for reelection in 2012 and beyond have failed.

Manifestantes participaron en marcha contra la aprobación de la enmienda
constitucional del presidente Hugo Chávez en Caracas, 7 feb 2009.
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (VENEZUELA)

If one thing is certain, Latin Americans have had their share of "leaders for life." Even some ardent Chavistas think it's taking things a bit too far.

This is where it seems the opposition, particularly from the Universities are focusing their campaign, passing out pamphlets of a very interesting quote by Chavez's ideological buddy Simon Bolivar.

"Nothing is as dangerous as letting the same citizen remain in power for a long time."

~ Simon
Bolivar-- 19th century leader of Latin America's struggle for independence against Spain

Click here if you can read Spanish for the Reuters story this picture came from
Click here for a article in English about this weekends protests from AP

Latin America in the news

Good readings from the end of the week on Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia

1) Argentina Said to Change Loan Swap Terms for Overseas Investors - Bloomberg

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Argentina plans to offer international investors terms in an exchange of government debt that differ from those given to domestic holders, a government official said.

The Economy Ministry is still developing the terms of the debt swap for foreign investors, according to the official, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. Overseas creditors will get a different bond than locals got in exchange for the so-called guaranteed loans they hold, the official said. The bonds will be denominated in foreign currency and will be subject to international law, the official said.

2) Chavez to Tap Into Development Fund for Spending (Update1) - Bloomberg

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will spend $1.65 billion from its National Development Fund in the first quarter, as the oil-exporting country maintains public spending after a drop in crude prices, President Hugo Chavez said.

Venezuela plans to invest $225 billion in oil and non-oil projects over the next four years, Chavez said today in comments broadcast by state television. Venezuela’s socialist economic policies will help shield it from the effects of the global recession, he said.

3) Brazil to Cut Growth Forecast on Economic Slowdown (Update3) - Bloomberg

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil will reduce its growth forecast because of the global credit crunch and economic slowdown, Energy Minister Edison Lobao said.

Before recessions in the world’s largest economies, Brazil had expected average annual economic growth of 4.9 percent between 2008 and 2017, Lobao said today during public hearings on a revised 10-year energy plan. Revisions to the annual figures are expected in March or April.

4) Bolivia’s Gas Investors to Spend $530 Million in 2009 (Update1) - Bloomberg

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Bolivia’s energy minister said the country expects to boost oil and natural-gas investment to $530 million this year as ventures with Russia and Venezuela fill a void left by private investors.

Gazprom OAO, Russia’s natural-gas exporter, agreed to develop deposits in Bolivia’s gas-rich eastern lowlands, Bolivian Hydrocarbon and Energy Minister Saul Avalos said in an interview Feb. 4 at his La Paz office. Venezuela and Bolivia’s state oil companies plan to invest $240 million to explore in Bolivia.

“The amount of investment this year is higher than before the nationalization,” Avalos said.

Made in Japan ponzi scheme anyone?

The Straits Times of Singapore reported this morning a Japanese business executive has been accused of defrauding thousands of investors of at least $1.4 billion usd.

Kazutsugi Nami, 75-year-old chairman of now bankrupt bedding supplier L&G K.K., was arrested last week for allegedly swindling at least $1.4 billion by promising 36 per cent annual returns.

Kazutsugi Nami, chairman of now bankrupt bedding supplier L&G K.K. of Tokyo,
speaks to the press before being arrested by police. -- PHOTO: AFP

Nami was able to fool investors by building first gaining their confidence, and then proceeding to introduce his own version of electronic money called 'enten'. Nami was able to manage to get his clients to use the company money to purchase products at bazaars and online shopping centers.

According to the Sports Nippon tabloid in Japan, Nama had hopes to extend his scheme abroad. In Japan many of Nami's victims are elderly people who where happy to see their savings
remain at the same level, even if they where spending 'enten.'

"Because of the financial crisis, countries will adopt the enten in three years' time,' he told reporters before his arrest last week. 'I will start shining and become world famous. I will certainly move the world."
Said Nami.

Japanese launch job hunt rallies - Reuters

Feb 5 - Cheerleaders are being used to drum up enthusiasm among students poised to enter the jobs market in Tokyo.

Such pep rallies are more traditionally held to drum up enthusiasm and support for political causes and sports teams but several colleges and vocational schools in Tokyo are using them to build up job hunting momentum among their students.

Paul Chapman reports. -- Reuters

Jim Rogers comments about China at the Asian Financial Forum interview 20 Jan 09

"But I do invest in China, yes China is a communist country or so they say, but they are among the best capitalists in the world, if not the best capitalists in the world. They are moving away from state ownership to more and more private ownership. In my view that is going to continue as China continues to develop towards becoming the next great country in the world."

Jim Rogers Asian Financial Forum interview 20 Jan 09

Deal Announced on Stimulus; Weekend Vote Likely - AP Press

With job losses soaring nationwide, Senate Democrats reached agreement with a small group of Republicans on an economic stimulus measure at the heart of President Obama's plan for combating the worst recession in decades. (Feb. 6)

Friday, February 6, 2009

The twisted and evil actions of Monterrico Metals (MNA.L)

For quite some now IncaKolaNews has been following the developments behind the very obvious abuse of power and torture conducted by Monterrico Metals and it's security company, Forza (part of the Swiss Securitas Group) against poor communities in the Peruvian Andes.

Check out this article from Reuters published today.

"A Peruvian security company that works for some major international mining firms faces a congressional investigation after human rights groups accused it of beating and abusing protesters in 2005 at a site it guarded.

Recently published photos of alleged beatings of protesters caused an uproar in Peru, a leading metals exporter, where remote mines guarded by private security firms are often targets for demonstrations over the social and environmental impacts of mining.

~ Reuters article via Mineweb

And these posts from IncaKolaNews to get the full story.

- Dear shareholder: Are your investment dollars paying for torture and thuggery in Peru?
- The Monterrico Torturers: Peru's Congress will lay the blame on the company
- Monterrico Metals (MNA.L): Seems like Peru is trying to kick the torturers out
- Monterrico Metals Torture: The Peru gov't opens its official enquiry

Point of this post --> Monterrico Metals and its security company Forza, are corrupt companies full of thugs who deserve to be punished for torturing and yes... killing innocent Peruvians. Warning the pictures below are bit graphic. They are from IncaKolaNews, so if you're planning on reading those posts you'll see them anyway.


Hong Kong in focus -- Signs of recovery

As the work came to a close the major news agencies (websites) of Asia was busy reporting about U.S unemployment reaching the highest levels since 1974. Check out the following articles from major news sites of Singapore, Australia and China to read more.

US axed 598,000 jobs -- The Strait Times (Singapore)
US job losses biggest since 1974 -- The Australian
US unemployment rates rises to highest level 16 years -- Xinhua (China)

However there was good news to go around at the end of the week for Hong Kong. For starters home sales in the luxury property market in Hong Kong are rising.

Big deal you might say? Well, in major cities of the world that have the ability to attract global talent like Hong Kong does (NY, London, Paris, Tokyo, etc), prices in the luxury property market are a pretty good gauge of both a over-heating economy and also for an economy “getting back on its feet.”
If people are starting to buy again, it means the perception is prices have bottomed to a level where demand and confidence is returning.

“Sales of Hong Kong luxury homes rose to their highest in six months in January, indicating that prices may have stabilized as buyers seek bargains, according to data by Centaline Property Agency Ltd.” Yes a good sign indeed. Click here to read a more comprehensive story on this development from Bloomberg.

Hong Kong stocks also finished the week off higher, rising the most in over a week on speculation the U.S will announce a stimulus plan and help to alleviate the financial crisis.

“The Hang Seng Index added 476.14, or 3.6 percent, to close at 13,655.04, its biggest jump since Jan. 29, and bringing its advance this week to 2.8 percent. The gauge has dropped 5.1 percent this year, extending 2008’s slump of 48 percent, the biggest annual drop since 1974. It’s valued at 11 times estimated earnings, down from 18.7 times at the beginning of last year.” Reported by Bloomberg
in this article.

Here's a view of how the Hang Seng (Hong Kong's major stock index) has preformed this past week. Not too bad right?

If anything has been learned from this financial crisis it is that news can turn ugly as quickly as it turns good. More updates to come after we see how the markets play out next week.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

China-Mexico: Sinopec competes against Schlumberger Ltd and Halliburton Co. for drilling contracts in Mexico

China's Sinopec Group has become the first Chinese oil company to venture into Mexico's energy industry. Sinopec is competing for two large drilling contracts in Mexico's Chicontepec oil basin according to Compranet, the procurement website of the Mexican Government.

According to this article from the Dow Jones Newswires you can access via Rigzone, "Even if Sinopec loses the upcoming tenders, the Chinese heavyweight appears to be taking a long-term approach in Mexico. Next week, Sinopec executives will give a presentation to state-run Petróleos Mexicanos on the company's land and offshore drilling equipment, said an industry executive familiar with the meeting."

has already expanded into markets in Africa, South America and Russia in order to ensure Chinese refining capacity and oil supplies. If Sinopec wins the bidding process this will be China's first major energy investments in Central America.

Officially Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the state oil company of Mexico maintains a monopoly on oil sales, thus Sinopec can only be hired as a service contractor. This means, Sinopec must see winning these bids as a sound investment.

PEMEX will in effect be paying the winner cash to develop and drill for oil on behalf of PEMEX. Recent reforms in the oil industry entitle PEMEX to offer incentives to contractors who finish their work ahead of schedule. All in all, Sinopec is hoping to generate a nice chunk of cash from pursuing this deal.

It also doesn't hurt Sinopec's image if it can win the bidding at a fair market price for a assets that both Schlumberger and Halliburton would like to get their hands on.

Video perspective -- Marc Faber "get rid of your cash buy commodities while they are still cheap"

Not sure exactly where Mr. Faber gave these comments, or to whom he was giving them to but this no less seemed like a interesting video to post. I don't love the way Marc Faber chooses to express himself in some situations, and I definitely do not agree with a lot of what he says.

None the less, he is a guru or sorts in the commodity world and when his comments to some random Belgian reporter (I think at least) get posted on YouTube I think it falls to news blog sites like this one to share.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

South-South Cooperation: Arab-Americas-Asia-Africa Business Summit 2009

The 2009 AAAA Business Summit builds on the inaugural program organized in March 2007 in Cape Town with the Government of South Africa, and 2008 Summit hosted by the Government of Mauritius which examined South-South Cooperation for Greater Economic Growth. This impressive business forum focuses on the role of new economic actors in emerging economies in driving forward global economic development and wealth creation.

The Summit will bring together 500 delegates from all over the world to explore increased collaboration between the Southern economies in Africa, Asia and the Americas in order to promote global economic development. It also maps shifting patterns of cooperation between these economies and those of the mature industrialized countries.

The Summit will address how emerging nations can increase investment inflows, trade and also capacity in sectors that allow them to create a sustainable competitive advantage. It will also address the subject of financing for infrastructure development, as well as key issues or resource mobilisation, managing food price rises and the role of business in supporting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) Call to Action.

Click here to access the official site of the summit to read more

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao gets shoe thrown at him in UK -- Reuters

President Bush isn't the only one getting shoes tossed his way. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was in Europe yesterday giving a speech at Cambridge University in the UK when a protester in the audience threw a show at him, calling Wed a "dictator."

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman denounced the actions of the protester and hailed the Prime Minister trip to Europe as a important step forward in Sino-European relations.

Seems like throwing shows is becoming a popular way to express your anger and discontent towards an individual. It becomes all the more meaningful considering a great many cultures and people in the world also think of it as the "ultimate insult."

Leaders be ware...

South-South Cooperation in focus: Chinese President to visit 5 Asian, African countries

BEIJING, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to Saudi Arabia, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius from Feb. 10 to 17, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu announced Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman -- Jiang Yu

Jiang told a regular press conference that Hu's visit is aimed at further consolidating China's friendship and cooperation with these countries, strengthening China's cooperation with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and promoting the implementation of the measures announced at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation...

Click here to access the full article from Xinhua, also of interest might be this piece -->

Chinese, Sudanese presidents exchange congratulatory messages marking establishment of diplomatic ties -- Xinhua

The end of China's boom years -- perspective from Reuters Melbourne, Australia office

Ending China boom to boost BHP, Rio profit but big writedowns expected

Author: Sonali Paul
Tuesday , 03 Feb 2009

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -

Global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto should post solid six-month earnings growth, but results will feature hefty writedowns and mark the end of a China-powered boom.

Brokers have cut their forecasts for the world's biggest and third-biggest diversified miners following their production reports, and investors are now focused on how cost reductions and spot sales of iron ore might have helped them shore up profits.

Rising costs had been a major problem over the past two years, in face of labor shortages and soaring energy and steel prices, but those have now eased...

Click here to access the full article from Reuters via Mineweb

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some nice stocks that pay dividends

I'm aware, investment advice and stock analysis is something I have not focused to heavily on in the past 5 months on this site. With stocks at very tempting, cheap prices I thought I'd share one direction I'd like to take my portfolio at the moment.

That is towards stocks with pretty solid balance sheets that pay dividends. Check out these bad boys, all reported on in this Fortune Investor Daily Article.

Johnson & Johnson [JNJ] -- Div yield 3.2%

Kraft [KFT] = Div yield 4.2%

Microsoft [MSFT] = Div yield 3.0%

Phillip Morris Intl [PM] = Div yield 5.8%

UK to double exports to China - Reuters

Feb 2. - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown seeks to strengthen economic ties with China during a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Brown says both leaders have agreed to resist trade protectionism in the face of the economic slump, while China prepares to send delegations to Europe to buy commodities, goods and technologies.

Peter Parker, Reuters

Vandals target Venezuelan synagogue - Reuters

Feb 1 - Authorities say an armed gang destroyed sacred objects and sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti in an attack lasting several hours.

The Israeli Association of Venezuela believes there has been an increase in anti-Semitic sentiment in the country whose president Hugo Chavez has described Israel's Gaza offensive as a holocaust.

Paul Chapman reports. -- Reuters

Asian stocks advance as Japan and Australia widen efforts to combat recession

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose for the first time in three days, led by bank and technology shares, as Japan and Australia widened efforts to revive economic growth and memory- chip prices surged.

Click here to access the full article

Korea to exchange its Internet Protocol Television technology for natural gas from Peru

In the deal, Korea will export IPTV technology, a system that broadcasts television content using Internet protocol, in return for natural gas from the South American country.

Click here to access the full article

Monday, February 2, 2009

Metals Outlook: Will Gold Return to $1000? -- Bloomberg

Investors Flock to Gold - Analysis and Discussion with GFMS CEO Paul Walker

News line: commodities in focus

China looks to African metals and minerals for the long term -- Mineweb
Chinese investment is replacing that from the West in many key sectors, especially with regard to metals. Minerals and energy and Chinese businesses are prepared to take the long term view.

Sharp decrease in copper, moly prices result in 4Q08 loss for Southern Copper -- Mineweb
A sharp decline in metals prices and a tough economy has prompted Arizona's Southern Copper Corporation to put all capital expenditures on hold for this year

January gold jewellery sales off 70% in Abu Dhabi -- Mineweb
Sales of gold jewelery in Abu Dhabi have fallen some 70 percent in January compared with a year ago as high prices, coupled with the global economic situation, have combined to keep buyers away.

Copper falls to one-week low on signs global slump is deepening -- Bloomberg
Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Copper fell to the lowest price in more than a week on signs the global economic slump is deepening, reviving concern that metal demand will decline further.

Corn, Soybeans decline as deepening recession cuts global use -- Bloomberg
Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Corn and soybeans fell to the lowest prices in more than two weeks on speculation that the deepening global recession will reduce demand for U.S. crops used in making food, animal feed and alternative fuel.

Peru mining unions call for nationwide strike -- Mining Journal Online
Peru's largest federation of mining unions said over the weekend it has agreed to call a nationwide strike starting on March 15, to protest mounting job cuts and to pressure Congress to lift caps on profit sharing.

Brazil's 8th Oil auction suspended until petroleum laws change -- Dow Jones New Wires via Rigzone
No decision will be made on restarting Brazil's suspended eighth-round oil and natural gas concession auction until likely changes are made to the country's petroleum laws, Brazil's National Energy Policy Board said Monday.

Horizon Oil, partners to deliver China oil project Development Plan in May - Dow Jones New Wires via Rigzone
Australia's Horizon Oil Ltd. said Monday that partners in an oil project in the South China Sea will submit a revised development plan to China National Offshore Oil Corp. in May.

Oilex joins ranks of international oil producers with Cambay start-up -- Oilex Ltd via Rigzone
Australian-based oil & gas group Oilex has formally marked its transition to cash flow and production by delivering a strong December Quarter performance by starting up oil production from its Cambay Oil Field in October in India with 16,800 barrels of oil produced during the December 2008 quarter from two wells.

Japan discovers new source of mineral wealth -- Reuters via Mineweb
Resource-poor Japan just discovered a new source of mineral wealth -- sewage. The country's sewage yields more gold than top mines.

Chavez bonds not doing so well before yet another upcoming vote on extending term limits

Venezuela has a huge debt about $46 billion according to Standard & Poor's. Venezuela also has about $29 billion in foreign reserves that it can use for paying the debt. So what's the problem and why has Bloomberg compiled this huge article quoting people from both sides?

It is clear Chavez wants to stay in power, and he's pushing yet another vote to see if the population will approve. Well, because the reality of the matter lies somewhere in between the pessimists who think Chavez is the Anti-Christ and will never pay back the country's debt and is slowly turning the nation into a communist, rouge state and the Chavistas who praise him and listen to every word he says like it's fact.

Foreign investors need to realize there is always an inherent risk when you buy up bonds that where yielding more than US treasuries from a Latin American country. Like... honestly, if there's anything the Madoff scandal should teach us is to not be blinded by greed.

"The average yield on the government’s dollar bonds rose to 17.40 percentage points more than Treasuries, from 14.74 points when he took office a decade ago, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co."

Furthermore, as you saw with Ecuador which recently said it will have to re-examine some of its own foreign denominated bonds, it is conveniently not doing so with bonds held by the Venezuelan government. All those foreign bond holders out there should check to see if there are any buddy's of Chavez who own the ones you do. If they do, I think you'll be safe, hehe.

Click here to read a more factual and comprehensive story about this from Bloomberg

Re-shuffling global assets from North to South – Vale do Rio Doce, Brazilian goes shopping for Rio Tinto's assets

The Ango-Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto Group is selling mining assets in Argentina, Brazil and Canada to Brazilian competitor Vale do Rio Doce for $1.6 billion Rio Tinto is facing tough times as it desperately tried to reduce its $39 billion debt.

Rio Tinto has reportedly already sold over $3 billion of assets. The company said “the latest sales represent a major step towards meeting its goal to reduce debt from $39 billion to $10 billion.

Did a bit of research and Vale do Rio Doce doesn't seem to have much debt. Which is a really good thing for miners right now! With commodity prices as low as they are, servicing debt is a dangerous thing. .

Vale however, because it saved it's penny's during the good times has managed to scoop up two of Rio's prized operations in Argentina and Brazil for pretty good price. Vale do Rio Doce paid $850 million for Rio's major potash operation in Argentina; and in Brazil it paid $750 million for the Corumba iron ore mine.

Citigroup analyst Clarke Wilkins said “the sale highlights good prices for assets can still be achieved in the current market. Indication that the assets are still perceived as viable long term investments even though commodity prices are so low. It may take time for them to recover, but when they do Vale do Rio Doce will make money from this purchase.

Check out what the stock has been doing recently. Good buy? Hmmmm.