North Korean Defectors Show Signs Of Radiation Exposure

South Korean scientists and doctors who have been examining North Korean defectors have stumbled upon yet another horrifying discovery: At least four of the defectors have shown signs of radiation exposure, the South Korean government said on Wednesday – although researchers could not confirm if the radiation was related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Earlier today, we noted that one of the defectors had also tested positive for Anthrax antibodies, suggesting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has continued his chemical weapons program despite signing an international chemical weapons treaty. Of course, the North Korean government has denied that chemical weapons are being used.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Satellite Images Show North Korea Building New Tunnel At Nuclear-Test Site

Despite earlier hope amid Tillerson’s comments on diplomacy with North Korea, a new batch of satellite images suggests that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is ignoring warnings from Chinese (as well as American and South Korean) scientists and instead pressing ahead with the country’s nuclear testing regimen at Punggye-ri, a facility situated in the country’s mountainous northeast.
As scientist from several countries have tried to explain, satellite images suggest Punggye-ri is suffering from ‘Tired Mountain Syndrome’ – a phenomenon first documented by spy satellites examining Soviet nuclear test sites. After being warned by Chinese scientists about the dangers, two tunnels collapsed near the testing chamber back in October, killing 200 North Korean workers.
According to 38North, a blog that closely tracks North Korea related news, work on what appears to be a new tunnel near the site’s West Portal is progressing, leaving the North Portal – where the last five tests were conducted – mostly dormant and likely abandoned, at least for the time being.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

Time Reveals Its “Person Of The Year” Finalists

Time Magazine has released its list of finalists for 2017’s “Person of the Year” issue – and what a list it is.
After Trump criticized Time for informing him that he was in the running to win “Person of the Year” for the second year in a row – an honor last achieved by former President Richard Nixon, who was named man of the year in 1972 and 1973 – it appears Trump was right once again: He is one of 10 contenders for the honor released to MSNBC – even though editors at Time claimed the phone call never happened (though how else would Trump have known he was in the running, other than a lucky guess?).
The other names on the list are: Amazon CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, the #MeToo movement, Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Colin Kaepernick, the dreamers, Robert Mueller and Patty Jenkins (Jenkins directed the Hollywood blockbuster “Wonder Woman”).
Of the names on this year’s list, only Trump and Bezos have won the honor before (Bezos won it in 1999 at the height of the tech bubble.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 4, 2017.

Bank Stocks, Dollar Slide Hit By Fresh Tax Reform Doubts

U. S. equity futures are little changed as European and Asian shares retreated, led by sliding bank stocks and a drop in the dollar as doubts over republican tax cuts and ongoing bond curve flattening hurt sentiment and prompted fresh questions over the viability of the US expansion.
Investor concerns also returned to geopolitics as Trump continued his tour of Asia with a mission of rallying the world to stand up to the North Korean threat. Calling out by name Russia and China, he said Wednesday that all responsible nations must join forces to deny Kim Jong Un’s regime any form of support. As Bloomberg reports, Trump is also expected to discuss trade with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. But the biggest overnight catalyst was a renewed fear about the fate of GOP tax cuts, as fresh doubts emerged about tax reform progress after the Washington Post reported Senate Republican leaders were considering holding cuts back by a year, while they are also said to be considering repealing deductions for state and local taxes.
Derek Halpenny, head of research at Mitsubishi UFJ in London told Reuters he was dubious over the progress of the tax cuts program being urged by U. S. President Donald Trump’s campaign. ‘The initial phases of discussions within the House (of Representatives) have brought up a lot of divisions and problems … If the story is true that they’re considering a delay of one year to the corporate tax cut, those big differences will need to be sorted,’ he said. Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Prime Partners, said the doubts over the tax issue reinforce the case for some consolidation in the market, which has been fully priced for good news. ‘It’s something that would impact the domestic stocks in the U. S. and would be a setback for the market in general (and) it’s more than stock specific as people would reassess earnings growth expectations to the downside,’ he said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 8, 2017.

It Has Never Been Cheaper To Hedge A Market Crash Using This One Trade

In mid-August, at the height of the North Korea geopolitical turbulence, and amid uncertainty about the Fed balance sheet unwind, fears of a government shutdown and the US debt ceiling, as well as the fate of Trump tax reform and Obamacare repeal, when the VIX soared following a series of missile launches by Kim Jong Un only to crash right back to near all time lows, we used an analysis from BofA’s derivatives analyst Benjamin Bowler to show “How To Hedge A Near-Term Market Shock: Here Are The Best Trades”
As we said then “if the events from last week demonstrated something, it is that just when there appears to be virtually no risk, is when the likelihood of a historic surge in volatility is greatest, as many experienced first hand last Thursday. Hence the need to hedge. But what? And using which product?” As Bowler explained “the decision about whether it’s rational to hedge is really a matter of looking at the price of tail insurance embedded into option markets and asking if the probabilities they assign are ‘fair’ or not.” As he further wrote, when it comes to predicting what the next “severe tail event” could look like, “we find that not only are some markets like Gold pricing in a very low probability of Korean risk escalation, there are significant differences across assets in terms of what they imply about potential risks.”
He then presented the chart below which shows how historical worst 3M drawdowns since 2006 are priced by 3M 25- delta options across asset classes; hedges that are most underpricing their historical drawdowns are at the top and those most overpricing their tails are at the bottom. What the chart shows is that gold call options imply less than a 1 in 100 chance of a severe tail event over the next month, despite being among the most reactive assets to rising Korean tensions last week. With record low Gold vol slaved to record low real rates vol, this represents a loose anchor which likely won’t hold in any significant geopolitical risk escalation. In contrast to gold, Nikkei is at the other end of the spectrum with options assigning over a 5% chance of a near term tail-event.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

The Truth About Nuclear Proliferation And North Korea

The U. S. is communicating with North Korea about its nuclear program and testing Pyongyang’s appetite for negotiations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in the first public acknowledgment by a senior administration official of direct contact on the matter. As Bloomberg reports, Tillerson, speaking to reporters on Saturday after meeting Chinese officials in Beijing, insisted that the U. S. would never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.
His remarks offered the clearest glimpse so far into U. S. strategy, and suggested a willingness to get to the negotiating table with Kim Jong Un’s regime — even after President Donald Trump tweeted in August that ‘talking is not the answer!’
‘We are probing, so stay tuned,’ Tillerson said.
‘We can talk to them, we do talk to them directly, through our own channels,’ adding that the U. S. has ‘a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang.’
All of which was ‘good’ news in a time when we need some. However, a few hours later, the State Department commented that…
“North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 30, 2017.

North Korea Said To Seek Help From Republicans “To Figure Out Trump”

In what may be the most bizarre development of the day, the WaPo reports that in their ongoing feud with President Trump, the North Korean government has quietly sought the help of an unlikely counterparty: Republicans.
As the WaPo details, officials in Pyongyang have been quietly trying to arrange talks with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, “in an apparent attempt to make sense of President Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime.” The outreach is said to have begun before the current eruption of threats between the two leaders, but will likely become only more urgent “as Trump and Kim have descended into name-calling that sharply increases the chances of potentially catastrophic misunderstandings.”
‘Their No. 1 concern is Trump. They can’t figure him out,’ a source with direct knowledge of North Korea’s approach to Asia experts with Republican connections told the WaPo.
While the North Koreans do not appear to be interested in negotiations about their nuclear program, they want forums for insisting on being recognized as a nuclear state, something the Trump administration has made clear it is not interested in. At a multilateral meeting here in Switzerland earlier this month, North Korea’s representatives were adamant about being recognized as a nuclear weapons state and showed no willingness to even talk about denuclearization.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 26, 2017.

Technical Scoop – Weekend Update Sep 24

Weekly Update
It is the Kim and Donald show. As in Kim Jong Un the North Korean Supreme Leader, and Donald Trump the US President. Donald Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea and made fun of Kim as the ‘Rocket Man.’ Kim responded by calling Donald Trump a ‘mentally deranged U. S. dotard.’ For those not in the know, a dotard is someone who is old, useless, and demented. Also refers to someone who is lethargic and dull. The two have been exchanging colourful threats and insults back and forth now for some time. North Korea followed the latest one up by suggesting they might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific. Trump called Kim a ‘madman.’
If this were the WWE, we suppose this might pass as entertainment. Instead, these are two world leaders threatening to blow the world to smithereens. While the ongoing ‘tit for tat’ threats passed back and forth between North Korea’s testing of missiles into the ocean and sometimes over Japan have at times negatively impacted markets, the markets now seem to be ignoring the two with their ongoing spat. Except it is difficult to ignore Donald Trump’s threats to destroy North Korea and then realizing that North Korea has the capability to do a lot of destruction as well.
Lost in the shuffle is that China, and to a lesser extent Russia, have said that if the US were to attack North Korea then they would have to get involved and support North Korea. Recall that during the Korean War 1950 – 53 the Americans had pushed deep into North Korea and appeared to be on the cusp of seizing the entire peninsula. China responded by sending in 500,000 troops to assist the North Koreans and they successfully pushed the Americans back to the DMZ zone where the war ended in a stalemate and armistice.
Also lost in the shuffle was the Fed meeting this past week. The Fed announced that they will be starting to cut its $4.5 trillion balance sheet starting in October. Initially it will be $10 billion a month. Fed chair Janet Yellen said that it will be gradual and predictable. The Fed left interest rates unchanged at 1.25% to 1.50%; however, they expect to raise interest rates one more time this year, probably in December and then three hikes in 2018. The somewhat more hawkish tone sent interest rates slightly higher, steadied the stock markets that merely inched their way higher, caused the US$ to jump higher and gold sold off.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 24 September 2017.

Undun: US Treasury 30Y-5Y Curve Slope Falls To Lowest Level Since November 2007

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
The US Treasury yield curve slope for the 5Y-30Y segment is now at the lowest level since mid-November 2007.

The US Treasury curve is coming undun.
And that is pronouced UN-dun, not as is Kim Jong Un-dun.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ September 22, 2017.


GOLD: $1294.45 UP $1.70
Silver: $16.95 DOWN 5 CENT(S)
Closing access prices:
Gold $1297.50
silver: $17.02
PREMIUM FIRST FIX: $7.87 (premiums getting larger)
Premium of Shanghai 2nd fix/NY:$9.81 (premiums getting larger)

This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on September 22, 2017.

Global Markets Spooked By North Korea H-Bomb Threat; Focus Turns To Brexit Speech

S&P futures retreated along with European and Asian shares with tech, and Apple supplier shares leading the drop while safe havens such as gold and the yen rose, as the war of words between U. S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un escalated and North Korea threatened to launch a hydrogen bomb, leading to a prompt return of geopolitical concerns. Trade focus now turns to a planned speech by Theresa May on Brexit (full preview here).
As reported last night, the key overnight event was the latest threat by North Korea that its counter-measure may mean testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific, according to reports in Yonhap citing North Korea’s Foreign Minister. North Korea’s leader Kim said North Korea will consider “corresponding, highest level of hard-line measure in history” against US, while he also stated that President Trump’s UN speech was rude nonsense and demonstrated insanity and inhumanity which confirmed North Korea’s nuclear and missile advances are on right path and will continue to the end. There was more on the geopolitical front with the Iranian President
informing armed forces that the nation will bolster its missile
capabilities, according to local TV.
As a result, treasury yields pulled back and the dollar slid the most in two weeks following North Korea’s threat it could test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index edged lower as a rout in base metals deepened, weighing on mining shares. WTI crude halted its rally above $50 a barrel as OPEC members gathered in Vienna.
US stock futures pulled back 0.1% though markets were showing growing signs of fatigue over the belligerent U. S.-North Korea rhetoric. ‘North Korea poses such a binary risk that it’s very hard to price, and at the moment investors just have to look through it,’ said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management. Despite the latest jitters, MSCI’s world equity index remained on track for another weekly gain, holding near its latest record high hit on Wednesday as investors’ enthusiasm for stocks showed few signs of waning.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.

“Appeasement Will Not Work”: Trump Responds To North Korea “Hydrogen Bomb” Test

Following remarks from the leaders of South Korea and Japan, President Donald Trump has responded to North Korea’s latest “perfect” nuclear test, emphasizing that South Korea’s “talk of appeasement will not work,” and that Kim Jong Un and his government “only understand one thing!” He added that the nuclear test is an embarrassment…to China.
In both tone and substance, Trump’s response echoed his tweet from last week when he said that the US’s policy of paying the North “extortion money” wasn’t working, and that “talking is not the answer” to the North’s nuclear threat, although it is unclear if the latest provocation will prompt the US president to do anything more than just jawbone again.
North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 3, 2017.

Gold Surges 2.6% After Jackson Hole and N. Korean Missile

– Gold surges as N. Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan
– Safe haven buying sees gold break out to 10-month high after Jackson Hole and rising North Korea risk of attack on Guam
– South Korea’s air force dropped eight MK 84 bombs near Seoul; simulating the destruction of North Korea’s leadership
– Gold rises from $1,291 to $1,325; Silver surges 3.2% from $17.05 to $17.60
– Volatility as seen in VIX surges as stocks fall; FTSE -1.1%
– Yen rises in short term but no safe haven in long term with gold haven risen 9.8% per annum in JPY (see chart)
– Gold was moving higher after Jackson Hole and had broken through crucial $1,300/oz level
– Asian geopolitical risk allied to U. S. political instability increasing safe haven bid
– $20 trillion U. S. debt ceiling storm looms
Editor: Mark O’Byrne
This morning the price of gold has rallied to its highest point since the Trump’s election. North Korea’s firing of a missile over Northern Japan which landed in waters off Hokkaido in the Pacific, has sharply escalated tensions in the Korean peninsula and in Asia.
This latest move by Kim Jong Un was intended to show that an attack on Guam is possible at any time, according to North Korea’s Mun-hwan.

This post was published at Gold Core on August 29, 2017.

This Silver Price Prediction Shows 3 New Bullish Targets in 2017

Two weeks ago, the price of silver rallied to one-month highs above the $17 level, as U. S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged direct threats. Trump notably said the small Asian country would be met with ‘fire and fury,’ which pushed Kim Jong Un to threaten Guam with missile strikes.
But silver prices saw a modest decline last week despite a 1.4% bounce after the divisive Fed minutes on Wednesday, which indicated half of Fed officials are dovish while the other half are hawkish. The metal ultimately saw a weekly drop of 0.4% from Friday, Aug. 11, to Friday, Aug. 18.
Oh and wait, there’s the debt ceiling as well. The federal U. S. debt now sits at more than $19 trillion – more than the total 2015 GDP of $17.9 trillion – and that’s without accounting for unfunded liabilities like Medicare and Social Security.
Congress has until late September to get a deal done. The debt ceiling has been raised 78 separate times since 1960. But as we’ve seen over the last seven months, this is no typical administration, and if the debt ceiling isn’t raised on time, a ‘technical default’ could tank markets and boost flight-to-safety investments like silver.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on August 21, 2017.

Why the Gold Price Can Rally Higher in 2017 Thanks to the Dollar

After a strong 2.3% gain for the gold price last week, investors shifted back into selling mode on Monday and Tuesday. However, gold prices are still on track to end this week on a high note. Right now, they’re set for a weekly gain of 0.6%.
The price of gold’s rally last week mostly came on the back of a heated exchange between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After Trump said on Aug. 8 that North Korea would be met with ‘fire and fury’ if it kept threatening the United States, North Korea threatened to launch missiles at Guam.
But as this new trading week began, the news faded and those tensions abated after Kim Jong Un rescinded the threat. This dragged gold 1.1% lower over the first two days of the week.
The minutes from the July FOMC meeting were released Wednesday and hung in the foreground as gold prices got a bump up to $1,284. This mostly came from sharp division among Fed members.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on August 18, 2017.

Gold Prices ‘Shed Crisis Premium’ as N.Korea’s Kim ‘Backs Down’ to ‘Foolish Yankees’

Gold prices fell 1.4% in Asian and London trade Tuesday, erasing all of August’s prior gains as world stock markets rose for a second day amid reports of easing tensions between the US and North Korea after last week’s threats of nuclear missile strikes.
As Washington’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis said it would be “game on” if Pyongyang attacked, the pariah state’s regime said it would wait and watch the next move from “the foolish Yankees” before sending “enveloping fire” at the US island and military base of Guam.
“We are very…I’d say almost ecstatic that Kim Jong Un has backed off,” said Guam Homeland Security Advisor George Charfauros.
Listen to Jeff Christian on Metals, Lithium, and Electric Vehicles
“The yellow metal continued to see some of its recent risk premium wiped away during Asian hours today,” said Tuesday morning’s note from Swiss refiners and finance group MKS Pamp.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 08/15/2017.

Better Investor Risk Appetite Fuels World Stock Markets Rallies

World stock markets were mostly higher again Tuesday, on a further apparent de-escalation of the U. S. and North Korea stand-off regarding its nuclear missiles. North Korean news reports Tuesday said President Kim Jong Un has decided not to fire missiles at Guam. The U. S. secretary of defense and secretary of state, as well as other Trump administration officials, in recent days said they are trying to achieve denuclearization of North Korea through diplomacy. U. S. stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings when the New York day session begins.
The safe-haven assets gold and U. S. Treasury bonds are seeing price pressure from the better risk appetite in the world marketplace so far this week. Gold prices are down about $11.00 an ounce in pre-U. S.-session trading Tuesday.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on August 15, 2017.

Technical Scoop – Weekly Update: August 13, 2017

It hardly seems much of a contest: the world’s most powerful nation both economically and militarily vs. one of the poorest nations on earth but with a strong, or at least large, military. So far, the war has been rhetorical as both sides though their respective leaders hurl superlatives at each other that usually end in one of them being engulfed in a ring of fire. The words, however, have unnerved global markets.
This past week saw upwards of $1 trillion shaved from global stock markets triggered by Donald Trump’s and Kim Jong Un’s ongoing war of words. The last word has so far gone to Donald Trump who did his usual tweet, asserting that ‘military solutions are now in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.’ Earlier, North Korea had threatened to land a missile near the US Pacific territory of Guam in response to Trump’s promise to unleash ‘fire and fury.’ The world can only shudder at the thought of a nuclear exchange. But words are having an impact as stock markets ‘hurled’ and safe havens of Japanese Yen, Swiss Francs, US Treasuries, and German Bunds and gold jumped higher.
US and global stock markets had been hurtling ever higher and valuations are near record. A correction was most likely overdue. The war of words and tensions over North Korea was the trigger. How deep the correction goes is anybody’s guess at the moment. Numerous pundits believe that the odds of actual war between the verbal combatants is low, but that a correction was probably overdue and this could result in a buying opportunity.
The likelihood is that the rhetoric and war of words is liable to continue for some time. Even if North Korea were to launch more missiles into the sea, it most likely would up the ante and rattle markets further. An overvalued market and sabre rattling is a recipe for the correction. Inflation numbers released this past week were benign. As a result, the combination of the sabre rattling and a stumbling market could keep the Fed on the sidelines through the rest of the year. And that is not even getting into the looming fight over the budget, tax reform and the debt ceiling. Also, let’s not forget the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and the Russians being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 13 August 2017.

Pat Buchanan Asks “Is The American Empire Worth The Price?”

‘When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight,’ Samuel Johnson observed, ‘it concentrates his mind wonderfully.’
And the prospect of a future where Kim Jong Un can put a nuclear weapon on a U. S. city is going to cause this nation to reassess the risks and rewards of the American Imperium.
First, some history.
‘Why should Americans be first to die in any second Korean war?’ this writer asked in 1999 in ‘A Republic, Not an Empire.’
‘With twice the population of the North and twenty times its economic power, South Korea … is capable of manning its own defense. American troops on the DMZ should be replaced by South Koreans.’
This was denounced as neo-isolationism.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 11, 2017.

China Warns Trump: “We Will Prevent A North Korea Regime Change”

In a troubling repudiation of President Donald Trump’s demands that Beijing do more to rein in its bellicose neighbor, Beijing, through the state-owned media, cautioned the US president on Friday that it would intervene (militarily) on North Korea’s behalf if the US and South Korea launch a preemptive strike to ‘overthrow the North Korean regime,’ according to a statement in the influential state-run newspaper Global Times.
“If the U. S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” it said.
At the same time, the Chinese regime made it clear that its preferred outcome would be a continuation of the status quo, warning Kim Jong Un that it would “remain neutral if North Korea were to strike first.” The article, cited by Rueters, reiterated calls for a diplomatic solution. However, the possibility of talks between the two sides was looking increasingly remote as both Trump and Kim continued to exchange threats of nuclear annihilation, with Trump clarifying Thursday that his earlier promise to respond with ‘fire and fury’ should the North continue to threaten the US may not have gone far enough.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 11, 2017.