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Showing posts from May, 2006

James Turk interview

For any one who hasn't seen it, James Turk was interviewed in the latest Barron's.

I see that someone has posted it to the Stockhouse Bullboards forum, so you can go there to read it. Or you can buy/borrow/steal a copy of the latest Barron's and see it in newsprint with the gold/oil chart included.

Either way, give it a read because Turk makes more sense in two pages of print than most "economic commentators" will make in a lifetime.

Update: new link to Barrons' May 29, 2006 interview with James Turk.

Commodity bull over?

Is the commodity bull market over? Or will the recent drop in prices result in a months-long consolidation phase that sets up the next advance of a secular bull move?

It seems a lot of attention has been focused on the overheated metals sector and the recent drop in prices. The precious metals, gold and silver, have pulled back from their recent highs(from around $730 gold & $15 an ounce silver). Palladium has pulled back from its recent move up to $400 and even Platinum's recent strength has ebbed slightly.

The base metals seem to be the real focus of attention, as observers debate over the possibility of a "commodity bubble" in the wake of copper's recent surge. Now that some prices are starting to drop, a large number of commentators are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim the end of "the commodity bubble". Forgetting, for a moment, the fact that there are other commodities outside of the precious metals and base metals sectors, and that some of t…

Gee, I missed this one

But then, I don't think we were supposed to notice it. Toni Straka of the Prudent Investor blog pointed out a recent Business Week story that I'd like to include here. It says that John Negroponte, the "White House's top spymaster", has been given broad authority to excuse publicly traded companies from reporting certain disclosure obligations.

Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.

Securities-law experts said they were unfamiliar with the May 5 memo and the underlying Presidential authority at issue.

Pretty under-the-radar stuff, no? Even the experts are faced. See the article link for the full story.

Words of the Mogambo Guru

Just finished reading some of the interesting comments (maniacal ravings?) put down to electronic paper by Richard Daughty, aka the Mogambo Guru. Daughty, the self described "angriest guy in economics", is a bit unsettled at the prospect of our having to rely on the inflationary machinations of the world's central banks/financial institutions to keep the world financial system afloat. Here's a taste of the Mogambo's ire:

we have an economic system where the definition of debt = money, then thus less debt= less money. This is not so chilling until you realize that less money = losses.

But the decline in the value of the dollar is currently being met with an equal, and off-setting, infusion of credit into the banking system. The idea is (and follow along closely here), that this new credit will be borrowed, used to buy stocks and bonds and dollars, which drives their prices higher (thanks to the new demand), and this increase in money-wealth offsets your losses in r…

This week's financial innovations

There's been some interesting news lately of innovations in the financial markets. A number of new and previously unseen products were released onto the markets over the course of the past year, and during the week the just ended.

The rise of exchange traded funds, coinciding with the accelerating popularity of commodities, has brought about the creation of several new ETFs based on assets once relegated to the futures exchange. Market particpants can now take positions in gold, silver or oil as though they were buying a stock, but that is not all. Soon it may be possible for some intrepid souls to speculate in an asset class new to financial exchanges: residential homes.

Flipping houses, bacon

Just one of the week's recently launched products, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange housing futures began trading May 22. The CME housing contracts are based on ten different city markets and a composite housing index.

So far the market has been slow to take off; a total of 52 contracts tr…

Demand for gold and silver

Financial Times looks at demand for gold and silver in two seperate articles found at FT.com.

Chris Flood's report, "Investment demand for gold soars", takes a look at the latest numbers from World Gold Council's Tuesday update. While higher prices sent jewelry demand down, the increased popularity of gold ETFs helped fuel an increase in investment demand. Excerpt:

Investment inflows into gold ETFs rose by 23 per cent to the equivalent of 496 tonnes at the end of the first quarter as long-term investors such as pension funds bought bullion to aid portfolio diversification.

For a couple related items, see this post on jewelry demand from Asia and the role played by investment demand in fueling the gold price rise. This year's investment demand was also raised in April's post, "Recent gold action".

The topic of recent silver price action, as raised by FT's Chris Flood and Kevin Morrison, also touched on the investment demand brought about (largely) …

Insanity is prevalent

I happened to be reading an editorial by Sol Palha written in 2003 for Financialsense.com. The name of the piece is "Insanity is Prevalent" and it contains some interesting points regarding gold, fiat money, savings, and the value of what we are commonly taught in our "learning" institutions. Here is an excerpt:

The modern education system is slowly but surely stripping our self-identity. We don’t know who we are, what we are capable of doing and what it is we really want. All we know now are values that are being force fed through subtle means via so-called higher-level education systems. It's truly sad that very few young people have any idea about the concept of money management. It is even sadder to find out that "saving" is an alien term to them.

I've read some of Sol's articles in the past, and while I don't always agree with his arguments, I find that he makes some very interesting observations about the markets and the human conditi…

Euronext shareholders vote against merger with Deutsche Bourse

New developments in the arena of exchange mergers. This news just in from Euronews.net:

Euronext investors have voted against backing a merger with Germany's Deutsche Boerse.The vote, at the AGM in Amsterdam, came hours after the Frankfurt exchange had unveiled a merger bid worth more than the one from the New York Stock Exchange.

Euronext CEO Jean-Francis Theodore has referred to the offer from NYSE as, "the most attractive combination". NYSE chief John Thain would also like to pursue a merger with Euronext, as the deal would give the NYSE entry into the European derivatives market (via Euronext-owned Liffe) and European share listings. It would also create a trans-atlantic market, solidifying the New York Stock Exchange's position as the world's preeminent financial exchange.

The above report noted that although the latest investor's vote makes NYSE the leading candidate to merge with Euronext, it is not binding. At some point a general meeting will have to f…

For "G-Rock", who liked to bet the ponies.

Some of you speculators out there may have read, or at some point seen reference to the book, Secrets of Professional Turf Betting, by Robert Bacon.

Steve Saville gives an overview for those of us who have never read it. In a discussion entitled, "Secrets of Professional Speculation", Saville comments on the book and the parallels drawn between the methods of professional horse gamblers and succesful market speculators. Very insightful bit on the role of data/information spread in the markets and the principle of ever-changing cycles, as well.

More on exchange merger front

They were talking like the NYSE deal for Euronext was a done deal earlier today; let's check the latest news to add to what's been said so far. From the ABC News site:

Euronext and the New York Stock Exchange are set to announce a merger that will create the world's first trans-Atlantic bourse, a British newspaper reported Sunday.

The all-stock merger will create the biggest trading platform in the world, valued at $20 billion, the Sunday Times reported.

So that latest story seems to be consistent with what's out there from Bloomberg, Reuters and the like. Euronext will choose its suitor: either NYSE or Deutsche Bourse, which proposed a merger with Euronext on Friday.

I know that NYSE's John Thain has remarked on his desireto get a foothold in the derivatives business and Euronext is sure to provide that entry. Meanwhile Nasdaq is floundering, having spent quite a bit to acquire a stake in LSE, a strategy that seems to be going nowhere at the moment. Nasdaq's rec…

Sometime the joke reveals the truth

For some reason, I was thinking of that offensive and patronizing brokerage commercial that ran on TV a few years ago. You know, the one where Charles Schwab tells investors to take a deep breath and relax as they face worries about the plunge in their investment portfolios.

Well, that led me to remember the Saturday Night Live sketch based off that commercial, and lo and behold, I just happened to come across that link today while glancing through Bill Cara's blog. Here is the link to that sketch, for a laugh.

Buying resource shares

I wanted to include a link to an article that I read the other day. It's by Steve Saville and the subject is buying resource shares on foreign stock exchanges. Saville examines the supposed added benefit of a "currency kicker", the notion that buying shares of a company trading on a non-US exchange will provide the shareholder with the means to profit from a strengthening foreign currency.

In the article entitled, "Can you profit from a falling US$ by buying resource shares on non-US exchanges?", Saville offers his own analysis regarding this idea and any weight it may hold.

I thought the piece made an interesting argument, well thought-out and to the point. This material would be especially interesting and useful for anyone speculating or investing in resource shares listed on non-US exchanges.

Marc Faber's latest

Marc Faber's latest post for AMEinfo.com is a take on Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke's options as economic overseer. Faber sees Bernanke following in the footsteps of Alan Greenspan, inflating the money supply wildly at any hint of crisis. Only now, the rate of money printing and credit creation is to proceed at an accelerated rate, leading purchasing power of the US dollar to erode at a similarly increased pace.

As Mr. Faber points out, official reports of "low inflation" may have fooled many up to now, but these claims will fall apart when the value of the dollar and dollar denominated asset prices are measured in terms of gold:

Whereas Mr. Bernanke can print as much money as he likes and, therefore, support the inflated US stock and housing market, he cannot prevent US assets from declining against gold, and over the last one and five years, gold has significantly out-performed US equities.

By the way, I love that he referred to the Bureau of Labor Statistics …

LME and Platts to develop steel contracts?

Also saw this in an article in the May 17th Financial Times print edition. Word is that LME has appointed Platts to develop reference prices for the development of a possible steel contract. Here's an excerpt from that article:

Meanwhile, LME has appointed Platts, the energy and commodity information provider, to develop reference prices for a possible steel futures contract. The LME hopes that a new steel reference price will be established by the end of the year. If it is adopted by the industry, the LME would look to launch a steel futures contract some time next year.

Steel, which is a $500bn a year industry, is the largest commodity market still dominated by producer pricing, but has no successful futures contract.

With recent news of iron ore price hikes, which China is now balking at, I wonder if a contract for ore is possible as well or is it too tied up by those three main suppliers (CVRD, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton)? Here's a couple of links I found on the subject for a…

Trouble down South America way

From FT: a pair of stories regarding Ecuador's decision to revoke Occidental Petroleum's operating contracts and assign another company to take control of its operations. Article 1 and companion article 2 can be read in full at the links provided.

It seems that this President Palacio was given a very strong signal that he must go forward with the actions against Occidental. From the second article, "Palacio bows to populism in confiscating oil assets:

Several factors appear to have influenced the Ecuadorean authorities to take a hard line. First, Occidental has become a cause célèbre for radical trade unions and indigenous organisations that have attached almost as much weight to their campaign against the company as to their opposition to the country's pursuit of a trade agreement with the US.

Second, Occidental's presence has become a controversial issue in the run-up to October's presidential elections, and Ecuadorean politicians are more than willing to…

Nasdaq credit rating junked.

S&P cut Nasdaq's credit rating to junk status citing debt burdens and its questionable strategy to buy a controlling interest in the London Stock Exchange. Financial Times reported that the exchange's counterparty credit & bank loan rating were lowered fromm BBB- (lowest investment grade rating) to BB+. The change will increase Nasdaq's borrowing costs should it wish to pursue aquisition targets.

For an earlier look at the exchange consolidation trend that brought about Nasdaq's push for a stake in the LSE, please see "Exchange fever".

A more defensive stance

Paul Van Eeden takes a defensive stance on gold and gold related investments. Van Eeden writes about his decision to reduce his exposure to junior exploration shares, an area in which he has long held a considerable proportion of his money. In "A More Defensive Stance", Paul gives a brief summation of his reasoning for doing so.

Paul can also be heard discussing this subject in a recent Korelin Economic Report interview. See segment 4 of the May 13th program for Paul's comments.

Two energy articles from FT

I came across two alternative-energy related articles today that I wanted to share. Both from the May 16th Financial Times. Alan Beattie writes about Brazil's successful ethanol program and how the export of this fuel and adoption of its production methods abroad might help the country regain political influence. No comments on how the crop raising program might be directed away from exacerbating Amazon deforestation though, unfortunately.

The second article, by James Altucher, focuses on opportunities in alternative energy investment. James attended an energy investment conference in New York which centered around the release of the Next Generation Energy Index, which has recently begun trading on NYSE Archipelago (symbol: NGE.X). Incidentally, I couldn't find the proper symbol to look it up on Yahoo! Finance, but I did manage to get a quote from Excite Finance (symbol: ^NGE.X).

Getting back to the subject of the article, all of which can be read here, James shares some of wh…

That booming art market

The contemporary art market boom continues unabated, as a wave of liquidity washes over the globe, lifting prices of assets and collectibles along the way. Last week, as a series of contemporary art auctions were set to hit New York, Barron's featured another article by Suzanne McGee chronicling the rising tide of art prices that has helped fuel some artists' rising stars.

How did the action unfold? Artnet reports, "The day sale of contemporary art at Sotheby’s New York on May 11, 2006, totaled $56,348,201, almost double the $23.8 million presale high estimate."

In fact, Sotheby's was not the only auction house that fared well in recent days. Phillips capped off the week with a crowded contemporary sale that collected $29.5 million dollars. High prices were also seen at Christie's, where works by contemporary artists such as Mike Kelly and Damien Hirst achieved noteworthy prices. According to the International Herald Tribune, Christie's Tuesday evening sale…

TSX to create new gold index

The Toronto Stock Exchange, home to many of North America's publicly traded mining companies, will introduce a new gold index by the end of the year. From Reuters:

The TSX and Standard & Poor's, which manages the indexes for the TSX, said the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index will be launched by the end of the year amid hopes it will be a "leading global benchmark for gold portfolios."

Once established, the index will be the first real-time global gold index and will track the top gold mining companies from around the world.

The exchange hopes to attract attention to its position as a premier listing spot for resource companies. Globeandmail.com reports the index "will pave the way for the development of index-linked investment vehicles", possibly an index-based ETF.

It seems the TSX could be looking to increase its standing among global companies, positioning themselves as an alternative to the London Stock Exchange, maybe? LSE's AIM market has been a des…

From Freedom to Fascism - interview

Jim Puplava interviews movie maker Aaron Russo, creator of the new movie From Freedom to Fascism during hour 2 of the Financial Sense Newshour.

Russo started out making a movie about the federal Income Tax system and ended up making a film with a larger theme - America's alarming descent into something resembling a police state, with all its accompanying madness.

Check it out and hear what he has to say.

Commodities update: Soybean, Wheat, Corn

Quick update on agricultural commodities. News of possible land nationalization/reorganizing in Bolivia has me wondering what impact there might be on soybeans. Tensions still exist over Brazilian/Bolivian land disputes and may affect farmers working land in Bolivian lowlands bordering Brazil. From Bloomberg:

Brazilian farmers in Bolivia are concerned they may be the next target of a campaign by President Evo Morales to seize foreign assets. ``I'm very apprehensive,'' said Brazilian-born Ener Sanches, 46, who has 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) planted with soybeans and owns a fertilizer company in the southern city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. ``They are trying to pit one group against the other.'' There is a great deal of concern over gas disputes between Bolivia and its largest consumer of natural gas, Brazil. Now, a new source of tensions could emerge:

The second concern is illegal or undocumented occupation of Bolivian land, especially land within 50 kilometers (31 …

Spying on American (Idols)

One of the leading news stories today on Google News was the USA Today report regarding the government's continued support for NSA phone monitoring. See full story at Forbes.

Shocking example of just how far these "terror-fighting" efforts will spread throughout Americans' lives. Not as shocking, though, as a recent American Idol upset. Apparently that story is dominating the minds of Americans, as this Columbia Journalism Review article relates. Thanks to the Magpie blog for that entry and article link.

I checked out Technorati throughout the day and "American Idol" has consistently turned up in the top of the search rankings. I see Qwest, one of the phone companies who did not turn over records to the NSA, is now popping up #15 in their keyword search ranking. Fear not, Founding Fathers, the Republic is safe!

The silver question: an update.

The purpose of this entry is to provide an update for the recent post regarding Warren Buffet's silver position and the silver ETF. I thought I'd do that by including links to the latest commentaries from Ted Butler and David Morgan, since I cited their some of their earlier ruminations in the last Buffett silver post. Readers interested in the Barclays silver ETF or the matter of Berkshire Hathaway's recently closed-out silver position should read on.

First, we'll start with an excerpt from Ted Butler's May 8 commentary, the first part of which is titled, "Buffett Loses His Silver".

The recent revelation that the renowned investor Warren Buffett sold his silver was a mega-event. It was big news when Mr. Buffett bought silver some 8 or 9 years ago, and its sale is also big news. Let me state the facts as I know them, and then I’ll speculate.

Mr. Buffett always said he would make it known when he sold his silver and he kept his word, using the occasion of hi…

Gold crosses $700

June gold contracts on the COMEX rose $21.60 to close at $701.50 an ounce. One of the big fundamental stories for the metal is the possibility that China may significantly increase its gold reserves. Full story at Reuters.

And in the "you must be joking" file, CNN Money has dusted off its negatively slanted gold story, "$600 gold: Want in? Think twice" and replaced it with a fresh new title: "$700 gold: Want in? Think twice". I think we've seen this film before. There's mention of that earlier article (published only last month) in a $600 gold piece I wrote for Financial Sense April 7th.

Recent writings from Marc Faber

Marc Faber, writing in the Whiskey & Gunpowder letter, recently set down his thoughts on a few major, often interrelated, economic themes. In "A Simpleton's Guide to Economics and Investment Markets, part I", Faber gives us his two cents on the worldwide economic expansion, debt and money growth, economic imbalances, the commodities boom and the shifting of wealth from developed economies to emerging nations.

Part two of "A Simpleton's Guide" can be read here.

Bolivia looks to mining nationalization

Bolivian president Evo Morales wants to follow up last week's nationalization of the gas industry with a similar grab for control over the mining sector. Morales said that if he did not enact the nationalization by August, members of an assembly to rewrite the constitution would be charged with doing so. From the Financial Times:

Mr Morales's comments have exposed the divisions within government ranks. "Some on the left want to nationalise mining, while others are just pushing for tax increases," said Carlos Arze of Cedla, a La Paz think-tank.

Vice-President Alváro García and Walter Villaroel, the mining minister, have both ruled out expropriating foreign-owned mining assets, although Mr Villaroel said last week: "It would be irresponsible not to make the most of the rise in the price of minerals."

The following excerpts come from a Mineweb article entitled, "Is Bolivian seizure a resource nationalism trend?":

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Li…

Guantanamo Bay to close?

An article in the Hindustan Times Monday declares "Bush wants Guantanamo closed, detainees tried." Excerpt:

Unites States President George W Bush said he wanted to see the camp at Guanatamo Bay in Cuba closed and the prisoners held there put on trial.

"I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court," Bush said in an interview on the German television channel ARD on Sunday.


US Attorney General Gonzales had recently maintained that the detention camp was essential, despite widespread calls for its closure.

Britain's Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, has recently made public his view that the Guantanamo Bay center violates international standards of law and should be shuttered.

The end of cheap energy

Jim Puplava interviews Matthew Simmons, energy investor and author of the book, Twilight in the Desert, on the Financial Sense Newshour. Their talk centers on the current state of energy use and demand in the world, and the mistaken notions held by many regarding cheap, abundant hydrocarbon energy. Audio interview and transcript available at the above link.

Buffett sees speculation in commodities

Warren Buffett says speculation is evident in commodities such as copper and that he no longer holds a position in silver. From Reuters:

"We had a lot of silver at one time but we don't have it now," Buffett said, speaking at Berkshire Hathaway's (BRKa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) (BRKb.N: Quote, Profile, Research) annual meeting.

Berkshire Hathaway has apparently disposed of its once formidable position in physical silver. Although the company's investment in silver was quoted at 129 million ounces and represented a significant percentage of all above ground supply, it represented only 2% of Berkshire Hathaway's investment portfolio. Interestingly, 129 million ounces is exactly the amount of physical silver that was required to launch the new silver ETF (SLV).

It would seem that Buffett & Co. have found, in this recent upsurge in demand, an opportunity to unload the remainder of their silver position. At the very least they have selected an appropriate ti…

Rumsfeld confronted by former CIA analyst

Donald Rumsfeld's speech before a pre-screened audience in Atlanta was punctuated by protests Thursday. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern apparently decided to call Rumsfeld out during a question and answer session, accusing him of lying to build support for a war in Iraq.

Video is available from CNN, although Rumsfeld's questioner is not shown for most of the segment. Accounts of the event describe security officials moving in to remove McGovern from the conference room, only to be waved off at the last moment by Rumsfeld. From CNN.com:

When security guards tried removing McGovern, the analyst, during his persistent questioning of Rumsfeld, the defense secretary told them to let him stay. The two continued to spar.

"You're getting plenty of play," Rumsfeld told McGovern, who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.

Apparently Rumsfeld is so charming and truth so elusive a concept that some mainstream reporters have accepted his claim that he did not lie, despite al…

A valuable look at IRA accounts

I would like to include a link to what I consider to be a very valuable article. Paul Paulson has written an article about the limitations inherent to popular savings/investment vehicles such as the IRA and 401k. His article, entitled, " 'It Depends' A Problem With An IRA Account", focuses on the limited choice of investment options & strategies available to people investing through these vehicles.

Given the expectation of continuing (and underreported) inflation, Paulson examines the toll of eroding purchasing power on cash held in these "tax-deferred" accounts. Specific attention is focused on the options available to investors looking to draw cash out of their accounts in order to invest in physical precious metals.

I read the news today (oh boy...)

Taking a glance at some of the news stories today, we've got celebrities, nationalization and human rights as some of today's themes. We'll let Google News sell Tom Cruise above the fold, I want to take a look at some of the stories further down the page.

Does Democracy ensure peace, human rights?

Here's one from the VOA News site headlined, "US Vice-President Criticizes Russia's Human Rights Record". Cheney has taken the now widely recognized idea that Russia is using its energy supplies as a political weapon and used it as the fulcrum for his attack on Russia's turn towards authoritarianism. Quite right, but I'd say that's more than a little ironic coming from a man who has stood behind our country's relentless march to war against enemies real or imagined, helping to ensure the resulting decay in liberty.

Illegal detentions of suspected terrorists or "enemy combatants", secret courts and prisons, a widely publicized disregard fo…

Hydrogen and Solar

Today's renewable energy articles, pulled from the 321energy site. Great source of information and news on a variety of energy sources, by the way.

Here we go, one on hydrogen, entitled, "Hydrogen fuel far from ready for prime time" and an article about a proposed solar plant in New Mexico that if completed, will be the world's biggest in terms of size and generation capacity.

Hopefully, solar will one day become efficient enough that the headlines will read, "World's smallest solar plant planned", but that is a story for another day!

Fleckenstein on the Fed

An article from Bill Fleckenstein's MSN Money column, entitled, "Does the Fed really 'know' what's going on?". Here's a taste:

Current Fed members have left an enormous paper trail of their thoughts, almost none of which inspires confidence. Yet, confidence has been conferred on them. It's confidence in the Fed that underpins the stock market, the economy and the dollar. That confidence is going to be shattered at some point, unleashing enormous damage to all three. The clock is ticking. We just don't know exactly when the end-game will start.

Read the whole article (and some of his past articles) to find out why Bill feels the way he does. By the way, the above article link came from Safehaven.com.

Despite Bolivian gas nationalization, oil & gas shares trade higher

President Evo Morales has instituted nationalization of Bolivia's natural gas resources, making good on earlier promises to increase state control over the country's natural resources. From a CTV.ca article:

Soldiers guarded natural gas fields and refineries after Bolivia's leftist president ordered the nationalization of the sector, threatening to evict foreign companies unless they give Bolivia control over production within six months.

President Evo Morales announcement Monday fulfils an election promise to increase state control over Bolivia's natural resources, which he says have been "looted'' by foreign companies.


The action, announced Monday, is the latest sign of a Latin American backlash against foreign companies profiting off the region's resource sector. As a wave of protectionism sweeps the globe, countries are beginning to strive for increasing control over "strategic assets" such as energy.

In order to solidify control over resou…

Oil & Gas shares trading up.

Shares of Major Integrated Oil & Gas companies are up about 1.86% on the day, according to data from Yahoo! Finance. Repsol and Petrobras had opened lower in European trading on news of Bolivian gas nationalization. Repsol, the company most exposed to the Bolivian gas sector, closed down 0.63%.

Shares of companies with slight Bolivian exposure managed to shake off the news of nationalization, and powered higher on news of $74 a barrel oil. Shares of Petrobras are up 1.87% currently in American trading. France's Total SA is up $1.96 or 1.41%. Shares of BP also up on the day, with a 2.34% advance so far. Exxon Mobil and Britian's BG Group are also included among the firms higher today despite the nationalization.

Bolivia nationalizes natural gas, assets

President Evo Morales has instituted nationalization of Bolivia's natural gas resources, making good on earlier promises to increase state control over the country's natural resources. From a CTV.ca article:

Soldiers guarded natural gas fields and refineries after Bolivia's leftist president ordered the nationalization of the sector, threatening to evict foreign companies unless they give Bolivia control over production within six months.

President Evo Morales announcement Monday fulfils an election promise to increase state control over Bolivia's natural resources, which he says have been "looted'' by foreign companies.


The action, announced Monday, is the latest sign of a Latin American backlash against foreign companies profiting off the region's resource sector. As a wave of protectionism sweeps the globe, countries are beginning to strive for increasing control over "strategic assets" such as energy.

In order to solidify control over resou…

Asia's search for fuel crops

Just wanted to quickly add this article from MSNBC.com. Asian countries are searching for an alternative fuel source to meet growing demand for diesel & gasoline. Will they find a ready supplement in the fuel producing properties of palm oil and jatropha plants? Or will the large scale efforts towards growing these fuel crops put stress on native environments and food production capabilities?