Nigeria, Venezuela, & USA – “We’re Worse Off Today Than 50 Years Ago”

Fifty years ago, the world was a very different place.
PCs and smartphones were the stuff of Sci-Fi and numerous nations found themselves at crucial crossroads in their evolution.
While Russia and US could arguably be back in another Cold War, Pew Research asked 43,000 around the world whether life is better (or worse) now than 50 years ago.
The results may surprise you…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.

After Losing Millions To Nigerian Scammers, A Bankrupt Boris Becker Is Liquidating His Assets

It has already been one of the most remarkable rags to riches and then back to rags – with a bankruptcy on top – stories ever, and it is getting more bizarre by the day.
Three months ago, we reported that while Boris Becker was a legend on the tennis court, when it comes to investing, he appears to have shared an advisor with Johnny Depp.
Becker shot to fame when he won Wimbledon aged just 17 and went on to win a total of six Grand Slam titles, including a further two Wimbledon titles, two Australian Opens, and a US Open crown, before retiring in 1999 aged just 31 and moving into business. Alas, here the fairy tale ends, and according to claims in the German media, Boris Becker may have lost a substantial portion of his roughly 50 million fortune in part because of questionable investments in the Nigerian oil industry.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 7, 2017.

Africa’s Richest Man: Oil Is Not The Way Forward

The richest man in Africa says crude oil prices would do Nigeria a favor if they stay lower for longer.
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Last week at the UN General Assembly, Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, whose main business is in cement but also holds interests in agricultural commodities and petrochemicals, said that agriculture – not crude oil – is the way forward for Nigeria, and that Africa ‘will become the food basket of the world.’
The latest economic data from Dangote’s home country tend to support his view. GDP grew by 0.55 percent in the second quarter of the year, which, although a meager growth rate, was welcomed because it signaled Nigeria’s exit from the recession that it plunged into due to the oil price crash.

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

Global Stocks Rise Amid Strong Economic Data; Yen Drops To 2 Month Low As Oil Resumes Slide

In a quiet overnight session, S&P 500 futures are fractionally in the green (2,426, +0.2%) with European and Asian stocks as oil drops second day after an initial ramp higher amid speculation that LIbya and Nigeria may be asked to cap their production. Nasdaq 100 Index are again higher, following the biggest daily advance in more than a week, up 0.4% as of 6:20 a.m. in New York.
With Friday’s jobs data seen as largely favorable, and the lack of wage growth expected to keep the Fed subdued, focus is turning to Janet Yellen’s semi-annual testimony on monetary policy and a meeting of Canada’s central bank on Wednesday for the latest policy signals from the world’s major central banks. Over the past two weeks, markets have reassessed the outlook for tighter monetary policies from major central banks following a string of hawkish remarks. “We’ll see just how much substance there is to these comments on Wednesday, when the Bank of Canada announces its latest decision, with investors now expecting a 25 basis point increase,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. A rate rise from Canada’s central would be its first interest rate rise in nearly seven years
Global macro markets have traded with a cautiously positive tone as weekend’s G-20 meeting ended without market-moving surprises, while continued hawkish sentiment has pushed benchmark yields modestly higher. The yen slipped to fresh 2-month low against the dollar, trading at 114.22, after trade deficit data and BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterated that policy could be adjusted as needed. In Asia, stocks rose in Tokyo and Sydney, with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rising 0.3% after hitting a five-week low Friday. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.4 percent while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.8 percent to a one-week high helped by weakness in the Japanese currency; the Topix Index added 0.5% . Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.7 percent, while shares on the mainland declined 0.2% after the PBOC drained net 30 billion yuan in liquidity after withholding open market operations for the 12th consecutive day even as the yuan strengthens for first time in six days. Dalian iron ore reverses early loss to gain for fourth day.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 10, 2017.

What’s The Real Story on The NY ‘Doctor’?

Hmmm.…
A doctor who killed another physician at a New York City medical center and wounded six other people before taking his own life had sent an email to a newspaper blaming hospital officials for wrecking his career, the New York Daily News reported on Saturday.
Yes, it was all the hospital’s fault.
Let’s see what we know. The “doctor” was an immigrant; from Nigeria, it appears. Reuters “mentions” that he obtained a medical degree from Dominica, but doesn’t mention a few other things.
Like, for example, that his name is a muslim northern Nigerian name. He apparently threatened to kill his co-workers, if this source is to be believed, and then carried out that threat. Oh, and he has three prior arrests, all involving allegations of various improprieties with women, dating back to 2003.
It appears that he came to New York for the explicit purpose of carrying out this act; CBS New York says he was living in California, which certainly implies he went to a hell of a lot of trouble and this was no “random” incident.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-01.

Revenge: Watch As Programmer Floods IRS Phone Scam Hotline With Thousands Of Calls

You’ve no doubt received calls from luxury vacation hotlines, an Internal Revenue Service representative seeking money, and perhaps even gotten an email or two from a twice-removed, long-lost cousin who happens to be a Nigerian prince looking to park money in your bank account.
With advancements in technology, scammers these days have been successful in separating their targets from millions of dollars by targeting thousands upon thousands of victims daily.
One programmer decided enough is enough and found a novel way to fight back.
After receiving a call from someone with a foreign access claiming to be an IRS agent collecting back taxes, the founder of the Project Mayhem Youtube channel decided that payback was in order. So, he wrote a short auto-dialing script designed to flood the scammers’ phone number with so many calls – 28 calls per second – that they were no longer able to make calls to potential victims, get voice mails or even receive calls from ‘marks’ trying to contact the company to pay their supposed debts.
The results are hilarious, with the scammers getting so frustrated that they start cussing up a storm and admitting they are scammers.

This post was published at shtfplan on June 26th, 2017.

Meet The Money-Laundering, Nigerian Oil Magnate Behind New York’s $50MM Condo Foreclosure

Last night we noted that yet another luxury condo at Manhattan’s One57 tower, a member of ‘Billionaire’s Row,’ a group of high-end towers clustered along the southern edge of Central Park, had gone into foreclosure – the second in the span of a month. The 6,240-square-foot, full-floor penthouse in question, One57’s Apartment 79, sold for $50.9 million in December 2014, making it the eighth-priciest in the building and likely the largest residential foreclosure in Manhattan’s history.
According to Bloomberg, the owner of the apartment attempted to conceal his/her identity by using a shell company (you know how those kooky billionaires can be) but was able to obtain an ‘unusually large’ mortgage with an even more unusual term: one-year.
In September 2015, the company took out a $35.3 million mortgage from lender Banque Havilland SA, based in Luxembourg. The full payment of the loan was due one year later, according to court documents filed in connection with the foreclosure. The borrower failed to repay, and now Banque Havilland is forcing a sale to recoup the funds, plus interest.
Of course, it was only a matter of time until the mystery man behind Manhattan’s most recent luxury real estate epic fail was exposed. As such, meet Nigerian oil magnate, Kola Aluko.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 24, 2017.

Germany Faces Wave Of Muslim Honor Killings

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,
The court heard how Amer K. stabbed the mother of his three children in the chest and neck more than twenty times with a large kitchen knife, because he thought she wanted to divorce him. “Then he takes the knife and plunges it into her chest, [penetrating] the pericardium and heart muscle. A second stab opens the left abdominal cavity. Nurettin B. then pulls out the ax. With the blunt side he hits her head, cracking her skull. Then he grabs the rope. On one end he ties a gibbet knot around her neck, then he ties the other end to the trailer hitch on [his car]… He races through the streets at 80 km/h [until] the rope breaks.” – State Prosecutor Ann-Kristin Frhlich, reconstructing the husband’s actions. In Ahaus, a 27-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker stabbed to death a 22-year-old woman after she seemingly offended his honor by rejecting his romantic advances. The trial of a Kurdish man who tied one of his three wives to the back of a car and dragged her through the streets of a town in Lower Saxony has drawn attention to an outbreak of Muslim honor violence in Germany.
Honor violence – ranging from emotional abuse to physical and sexual violence to murder – is usually carried out by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought shame upon a family or clan.
Offenses include refusing to agree to an arranged marriage, entering into a relationship with a non-Muslim or someone not approved by the family, refusing to stay in an abusive marriage or living an excessively Western lifestyle. In practice, however, the lines between crimes of honor and crimes of passion are often blurred and any challenge to male authority can elicit retribution, which is sometimes staggeringly brutal.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 2, 2017.

Trump Meets Trudeau: Key Events In Washington Today

Here’s a look at scheduled events of interest today in Washington, courtesy of Bloomberg. All times Eastern.
President Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Senate votes on Trump’s Treasury, Veterans Affairs nominees White House
9:45am: Trump speaks with Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari by phone 10:10am: Trump speaks with South Africa President Jacob Zuma by phone 11:00am: Trump meets with Trudeau 11:25am: Trump, Trudeau hold bilateral meeting 12:15pm: Trump, Trudeau participate in roundtable discussion on the advancement of women entrepreneurs, business leaders 12:50pm: Trump, Trudeau have working luncheon 2:00pm: Trump, Trudeau participate in joint press conference 3:00pm: Trump meets with the Republican National Cmte Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, co-chairman Bob Paduchik 3:45pm: Trump participates in pinning ceremony for Major Ricardo Turner 4:15pm: Trump speaks with Maureen Scalia, widow of late Justice Antonin Scalia, by phone

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 13, 2017.

“We’re Way Past Humpty Dumpty”

The most basic link in finance is that between risk and reward. Just like alchemists who once sought a path to gold from lead, a great deal of modern finance was built around finding a shortcut between them. Discovering the great asymmetry where risks would be low but rewards sky high was the Holy Grail of later 20th century mathematics. If you studied advanced math or economics (same thing, unfortunately) at an Ivy League school at that time chances were that at the end of your college career was one on Wall Street.
It was almost like a series of Nigerian princes had descended upon the financial districts of each of the world’s great money centers, promising each and every bank (really ‘banks’) as much wealth as they could possibly want should they only take a small risk. The most famous of them was Robert Merton and Myron Scholes, who got involved with LTCM, and though they nearly brought down the financial world in 1997 and 1998, that was merely the re-imposition of risk/reward that had never really been altered.
That was one of the great ironies about LTCM. It introduced math in a way that actually preyed upon biases. The allure of math is its scientific senses, the way in which it is pitched under objectivity, as if great formulas and complex equations can see the future because there they have no emotion or individuality. In truth, this financial math is sleight of hand, a magic trick performed by the best of illusionists.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 5, 2017.

Oil Slumps As Nigeria Production Jumps, Kuwait Hints At OPEC Deal “Non-Compliance”, SPR Sale

Having already traded heavy much of the Monday despite pressure on the dollar index which is trading near session lows, oil took out session lows moments ago on what appear to be three most recent catalysts.
First, Kuwait’s oil minister shook some of the market’s conviction that the Vienna OPEC oil production cut is being adhered to, when we said that the announced cuts so far make up just 60-70% of the total decrease pledged by OPEC and other major producers.
Trying to put a positive spin on the news, Kuwait’s Essam Al-Marzouk told reporters in joint conference with OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo in Kuwait City, that he is confident the remaining countries will comply with promises to cut oil production, even though as he admitted “not all producers have to cut output from Jan. 1” and that one should look at the cut as a phase in process to “average over 6 months.” We can only assume he was referring (mostly) to Russia, which repeatedly warned it will need months to catch up to its promised quota. It would be troubling if other OPEC nations are having “problems” complying with the cuts. Recall that Iraq has already accused its semi-autonomous Kurdish region of oil production that was roughly double what it was afforded per the Vienna quota.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 9, 2017.

Turkey’s “Long Arm” In Europe

Submitted by Burak Begdil via The Gatestone Institute,
Turkey has finally won the title of having the world’s first spook-imams. Turkey is exporting its political wars and tensions to Europe. That is not a good sign for the Old Continent. Officially, Turkey’s General Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet in Turkish) has a mission about offering institutional religious services independent of all political ideologies. In practice, Diyanet’s understanding of “offering institutional religious services” can be different from what the term should mean. Recently, the office of Istanbul’s mufti, an official of Diyanet, described the location of a mosque as “… it was [in the past] a filthy Jewish and Christian neighbourhood.” After press coverage, the depiction was removed from the web page.
Diyanet’s “institutional religious services” may sometimes even overlap with what in other countries people call intelligence. In a briefing for a parliamentary commission, Diyanet admitted that it gathered intelligence via imams from 38 countries on the activities of suspected followers of the US-based preacher Fetullah Glen, whom the Turkish government accused of being the mastermind of the attempted coup on July 15. As if it is the most normal thing in the world, Diyanet said its imams gathered intelligence and prepared reports from Abkhazia, Germany, Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 1, 2017.

Markets In 2016: Winners & Losers

As 2016 comes to a close, Reuters has compiled a list of the biggest winners and losers of the year from across the globe. Of course, after global equities started out the year on a weak note, in the closing weeks of 2016 computer algos investing professionals have rarely seen a stock they didn’t want to buy more of. That said, currency traders with exposure to the Egyptian pound or Nigerian naira didn’t make out quite so well. And then there were the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde trades of 2016 that, after gyrating wildly throughout the year and giving a bunch of high-strung traders heart attacks, ended up the year, righly or wrongly, roughly where they started.
First, the WINNERS:
Glencore: After losing 70% of it value in 2015, the outlook for Glencore at the start of this year couldn’t have been bleaker. But those who had the intestinal fortitude to invest in the beginning of 2016 were handsomely rewarded for their efforts. After initially shedding another 20% of it’s value in January 2016, Glencore bottomed-out along with oil and, after a successful $8 billion debt refinancing, rallied more than 200% this year, with a trough-to-peak rise closer to 300%. Anglo American: After posting a 2015 similar to Glencore (down ~80%), Anglo American , the world’s fifth-largest diversified mining company, took drastic action in the new year as the commodity rout deepened. In February, the company announced it would retain only 16 of its 45 core assets (dumping its coal, nickel and iron ore businesses, among others) and shed around 60% of its 128,000-strong workforce. Those who lived through the restructuring efforts enjoyed a 290% rise in 2016, and a trough-to-peak rise closer to 500%.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 30, 2016.

New OPEC Production Limits Yield Winners – But Will They Last?

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has imposed production limits that will bring many states economic gains – but are they likely to last?
As the core international group of oil exporters, OPEC announced last Wednesday the first production limits since the 2008 financial crisis. Cuts had long been debated but unrealized given Saudi Arabia’s apprehension at losing global market share to alternative sources, particularly the growth of shale oil production in the United States.
While high production and export levels in recent years have slowed the growth of competition from the United States, it came at a significant cost to several member states who have realized economic turmoil and exploding debt levels as a consequence of a global oil glut and subsequent low prices. Leading advocates for the announcement to limit output were Nigeria and Venezuela who rely on higher prices per barrel for economic vitality. In the end, these production limits will bring about a clear set of economic winners.
The US Shale Oil Industry
Shale oil producers in the United States have struggled under globally depressed oil prices in recent years. US shale oil production has fallen from 9.6 million barrels per day (BPD) in April of 2015 to 8.58 million BPD in September. Rising oil prices will once again encourage additional rigs to break ground given improving economic viability.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/09/2016.

Here Is OPEC Production Cut Table, And It Has An “Error”

Shortly after the conclusion of today’s Vienna meeting, OPEC released the following table which lays out the breakdown of what the current reference production level is by nation, as well as the proposed adjustment to get to a 1.2 million barrel per day reduction, as well as the “pro forma” production number that will be effective on January 2017.
Two quick observations.
As noted previously, Indonesia is no longer in OPEC after it “suspended” its membership, effectively giving it full right to pump as much as it wants relative to its most recent October baseline production level of 722K per the OPEC monthly book. The reason for Indonesia’s departure, according to the Nigeria oil minister, is that it was “unable to contribute a large enough cut.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 30, 2016.

S&P Set To Open At All Time High, Boosted By Rising Crude On More “OPEC Deal Optimism”

European and Asian stocks rose after the early scare from the latest Fukushima quake dissipated when all Tsunami warnings were cancelled. The global risk on mood was spurred by another jump in crude, which was up 1% in early trading, with the commodity complex now enjoying its biggest three-day rally since May, after Nigeria signaled optimism that OPEC will agree a supply-cut deal next week in Vienna. S&P futures are up 0.3%, with the cash index set to open at new record highs.
With OPEC jawboning having become a daily fixture ahead of the cartel’s now almost monthly summits, today was no exception, and earlier in the session, a Nigerian OPEC delegate said he expects details of the Vienna accord to be finalized Tuesday (and if they are not, this will just serve as a basis for a similar headline tomorrow, and then day after, and so on).
‘Everyone is on board,’ delegate Ibrahim Waya said in Vienna, where OPEC members are meeting to discuss output quotas ahead of the November 30 summit. Brent and WTI both extended gains following the headlines, pushing index futures higher with them.
The commodity story – on hopes of a global fiscal stimulus push – dominated as miners led the MSCI All-Country World Index higher while S&P500 futures on the S&P 500 Index advanced 0.3 percent. On Monday, the American gauge reached a record for the first time since Aug. 15, just as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Russell 2000 Index and Nasdaq Composite Index hit fresh all-time highs.
Oil reached the strongest level in more than three weeks. Copper headed for its highest close since July 2015. Euro-area bonds rose on optimism the region’s central bank will extend stimulus.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 22, 2016.

IMF Warns: Oil Economies Won’t Break Even Anytime Soon

A report from the IMF has warned that the ‘new normal’ in oil will delay the economic recovery in oil-dependent countries. Few would be surprised by this, except perhaps policy-makers in some of these countries who still believe the solution to their problems is an increase in crude oil production, at a time when OPEC is desperately trying to get its members to agree to a freeze.
The report, cited by Nigeria’s Guardian, notes that the factors contributing to the prolonged depression among those who depend on oil for their budgets include not just the persistent glut, but also the constant output from shale in the US, the notable decline in crude oil consumption in developed countries, and the strong greenback, in which international oil futures are priced. Also, demand for crude, although growing, is not growing fast enough to offset the combined effect of the headwinds, the IMF noted.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 11/08/2016.

Nigeria Slashes Oil Prices, Admits There Is A “Huge” Cargo Glut

Something ironic happened on the way to OPEC’s alleged production cut: the world finds itself drowning in excess oil.
We touched on this first last week when we observed that according to the latest OPEC monthly production numbers, OPEC had produced a record 33.4mmbpd, with some expectations that by the time the November Vinna OPEC summit takes place, there will be another million barrels in output. And while the market, or at least the marginal price setting algos have been reluctant to admit the excess supply reality and adjust prices accordingly, OPEC member Nigeria has found the hard way that when there is a glut, the only way to gain market share is to underprice the competition.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 20, 2016.

Wearing blinders when analysing China

Some analysts who are usually astute and show a good understanding of economics seem to put on blinders before looking at China. It’s as if, when considering China’s prospects, they forget everything they know about economics and refuse to see beyond the superficial. A recent example is Doug Casey’s article titled ‘Chung Kuo’.
Here’s an excerpt from the Casey article:
‘I can give you a dozen credible scenarios describing what might happen in China over the next couple of decades. But the trend that seems certain to continue is the rapid rate of wealth increase there. I don’t credit official figures with any great accuracy, but if we take them as being approximately right, then the U. S. economy is growing at 2%, and China’s at about 7% – but with a base of about four times the population. What this means is that the largest economy on the planet will soon no longer be America’s – but China’s.’
There are two big problems with the above paragraph. First, after saying that he doesn’t credit official figures with any great accuracy he takes these figures as being approximately right. The reality, however, is that China’s reported growth figures are completed fabricated. It’s not that China’s government reports growth of 7.0% when the actual rate of growth is 6.5%; it’s that China’s government reports growth in the 6.5%-7.5% range every year regardless of what’s happening. If the economy were shrinking rapidly the government would still report growth in the 6.5%-7.5% range. Based on other measures of economic activity there have almost certainly been 12-month periods over the past 10 years when China’s economy shrank in real terms, but during these periods China’s government still reported growth of around 7%.
The second problem is that the monetary size of an economy is irrelevant to the people living in it. What matters is per-capita wealth, not aggregate wealth and certainly not aggregate spending (which is what GDP attempts to measure). For example, it’s quite possible that in size terms Nigeria’s economy will overtake Switzerland’s economy within the next few years, but so what? Nobody in their right mind is saying that if this happens then the average Swiss will be worse off than the average Nigerian, because it obviously must be taken into account that there are 175M people in Nigeria and only 8M in Switzerland.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 5 October 2016.

The Hunt for Taxes is Unleashed in Africa

Nigeria has begun the hunt for taxes as they target 700,000 firms as the country is desperate to look for more revenue as its income from oil has collapsed. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and it has entered its first recession in more than 20 years as overspending produces only higher taxes, not economic reform. The current President is Muhammadu Buhari, since 29 May 2015. Politics began to change in Nigeria also going into 2015.75 turning point for government worldwide. The 2015 election marked the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president actually ever lost to an opposition candidate in a general election. So the ECM is truly a global model and not based solely upon a single country or trend.
Africa was the fastest-growing continental economy on the planet going into 2015. However, the one thing that was growing faster than the economy was of all is debt in every category from personal and corporate in the private sector to government. In 2015 Africa’s debt reach an untenable level and not the hunt for taxes has begun. In 2014 countries such as Senegal, Cte d’Ivoire (less than five years after a previous government-debt default), and Zambia all placed bonds worth as much as $1 billion into the market and these issues were oversubscribed because of the collapsing interest rates in developed countries. Kenya’s record-breaking sale of $2 billion in debt back in 2014 was also oversubscribed four times over.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Sep 24, 2016.