Iraq’s crude oil exports in March rose to the highest level since 1980, a year after former President Saddam Hussein came to power, an Oil Ministry spokesman said.
The Middle East country exported 71.827 million barrels, or 2.317 million barrels a day, in March, Asim Jihad said in an e-mailed statement. The exports generated $8.475 billion, with an average price of $118 a barrel, he said.
“The exported quantities in March reached a level that Iraq hadn’t seen since 1980,” Jihad said, adding shipments were boosted by a new offshore terminal started operating in February.
Iraq holds the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, according to data from BP Plc (BP/) that include Canadian oil sands. The Arab nation depends on crude exports for money to rebuild the economy after decades of war and sanctions. Iraq has awarded 15 licenses for oil- and gas-drilling rights to foreign companies in the post-Saddam Hussein era, and it plans a new licensing auction in May.
An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246
Now that the Supreme Court has mercifully completed its three days of oral arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, we can pause for a moment and take stock -- not of the statute, but of the justices and our attitude toward them.
Let me put the point succinctly: Our court-worship has gotten ridiculous.
Predictions abound about whether the court will hold the statute’s individual mandate unconstitutional. The week before oral arguments, a survey of former law clerks and lawyers who have argued before the court put the likelihood at 35 percent. (Why anyone would dignify such a question with an answer remains the more intriguing mystery.) The day after oral arguments, participants in Intrade’s prediction market had it at about 63 percent.
Some of these predictions undoubtedly rest on the vulgar assumption that the justices are mere political hacks, doing the bidding of party...
Clashes between two Libyan tribes in the south of the country have left 147 people dead in the past week, the health minister said, highlighting the security challenges confronting the interim government.
Another 395 people were wounded in fighting between the al-Tibu tribe and another group in Sebha, the country’s fourth largest city, Health Minister Fatma al-Hamroush said in a press conference in Tripoli aired on state television late yesterday.
The National Transitional Council, the interim government running the country following the toppling and killing of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, moved more than 1,500 soldiers into the town to try to end the fighting that erupted after members of al-Tibu reportedly kidnapped a member of another group. The official Libya News Agency cited the country’s military chief of staff as saying that the security situation was stable.
A “military governor” has been appointed for Libya’s southern region after a reconciliation agreement was reached and resulted in a cease-fire, the agency said, citing NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil. It called the region a “military area.”...
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/30/2012 - 16:44
When it comes to markets, the following clip, as well as memories of recent market collapses, highlights that it is usually brightest just before it's pitch black.
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/31/2012 - 10:36
"Even Wile E. Coyote had to come back down to earth sooner or later", says Charles Biderman, founder of TrimTabs Investment Research. In his opinion, the prices of stocks and bonds - enabled by excessive financialization of our economy and central bank money printing - have been defying gravity for a dangerously long time. If we continue to do all we can to preserve the status quo -- to maintain "phony" asset price levels as Charles calls them -- at best we will restrict overall growth and handicap the economy. The problem isn't so much the unfairness and malinvestment evident in a rigged market. As Charles shrewdly asks: what happens when the market becomes un-rigged? We've never experienced the unwinding of an entirely manipulated financial system, so we can't predict for sure. But at this point, a painful collapse of our markets and loss of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency seem entirely plausible.
Spain's honeymoon with its new government is over.
Following months of hope that Spain will somehow tiptoe around the sensitive topic of austerity, despite promises of such and slow leaking of bond yields wider, yesterday the government promised to generate savings of €27 billion of about $36 billion (Spanish GDP is less than one tenth of America's, so an equivalent US cut would be about $400 billion), as demanded by Europe, but which will leave a harsh aftertaste with the general population. As Reuters notes: "The central government could meet its target but there's still a risk from the regions and the social security budget," economist at Madrid-based think tank Funcas Angel Laborda said. "I get the impression the central government has created a budget it can meet but has left everyone else in a rather difficult situation."
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/31/2012 - 14:59
A core piece of last week's European newsflow was that following much pushback, Angela Merkel, who understands the underlying math all too well, finally dropped her opposition to expanding the European "firewall" in the form of a combined EFSF and ESM rescue mechanisms, to bring the total "firepower" to €800 billion (ignoring for a moment that when the true dry powder of the combined vehicle is just about €500 billion net as explained here, hardly enough to rescue Spain, let alone Italy). Yet as has been explained here repeatedly, and as Merkel has figured out, this is easily the most symbolic expansion of a rescue facility ever. Because while the ECB's agreement to allow Eurobanks to abuse its €1 trillion discount window for three years (which is what the LTRO is), following the replacement of JC Trichet with a Goldman apparatchik, at least infused the system with $1.3 trillion in new fungible liquidity (and resulted in a stock market performance boost for the ages, one which is now unwinding), the 'firewall" does not represent new money, nor is a "firewall" to begin with - it is merely one massive contingent liability which will remain unfunded in perpetuity. Slowly the German media is waking up, and in an article in Der Spiegel, the authors observe that "Even a 1-Trillion Euro Firewall wouldn't be enough."
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/01/2012 - 09:22
It appears that these days a EUR1 trillion hot liquidity injection (such as that from the ECB's LTRO 1+2) will buy you about 3 months of breathing room. Then the ostriches have no choice but to pull their head out of the sand, especially in Europe, where after three months of spread tightening, and hence the belief that "all is fixed", things are starting to turn ugly again: sovereign government spreads are beginning to widen, Europe is demanding more money from the IMF (i.e. America, even as the BRIC countries are starting to consider a world without the USD as a reserve currency, and are now forming their own bank) to boost its firewall, strikes are promptly converting to riots, Italian bank stocks are being halted due to rapid moves lower, the LTRO stigma trade is at 2012 wides, in short everything we grew to know and love in Q3 and Q4 of 2011. Ironically, having papered over the symptoms courtesy of fresh new money, the underlying causes were never addressed, and only got worse as the deteriorating European economic data suggests. What is scary, as UBS shows, is that this is just the delayed carryover from 2011! Just like the US which had the benefit of abnormally warm weather to mask a "bounce" in the economy which was never structural, so Europe had a relatively quiet quarter in terms of newsflow. Things are about to change: read the following for why the eye of the hurricane is about to pass over Europe and why this time around there is $1.3 trillion less in firepower to delay the onset of reality.
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/01/2012 - 14:18 Goldman Sachs
Overnight, the NYT's Nicholas Kristof penned an article which exposes Goldman, already deeply embroiled in muppetgate damage control, as being a 16% indirect owner in Backpage, an "emporium for girls and women - some under age or forced into prostitution... which has 70 percent of the market for prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a trade organization." " Yet some may be surprised to learn that this is not the firm's only expansion into the world of monetized prostitution. As the chart below shows, as of Q4, 2011, the firm also happens to be the top ten owner of Adult Friend Finder (Nasdaq: FFN), a company which recently went public, and which is nothing more than a porn portal for women, who can sell their "assets" to the highest bidder.
As we have pointed out before, the ongoing market tension is so palpable it can be cut with a knife. As a reminder, institutional investors are now about as "all in" as they can be, spinning narratives about economic growth, housing bottom, and general improvement (despite all facts to the contrary), while waiting for one simple thing: to get retail investors buying again. Because unless the Fed or ECB pumps another trillion or so in new liquidity there is simply no new purchasing money. However, as we have shown time and again, retail investors have had it with stocks, and are dumping domestic equity funds hand over fist despite the near vertical equity ramp fest, while money going into ETFs, that traditional straw man used by fund flow apologists, has been going almost exclusively into bond-related vehicles. Yet one group of investors has not been waiting to find out which way this temporary stalemate will end (because either the buyers' money will end first, or retail will throw in the towel and after a 20% artificial, liquidity-driven move to the upside will capitulate and become the latest bagholder). That group is corporate insiders: the people who know the fundamental prospects of their companies better than anyone, and certainly better than the propaganda media or the always wrong Wall Street sell side analyst brigade. And as the chart below demonstrates, insiders are now out and selling in record quantities.
By David Blair, Istanbul
8:30PM BST 01 Apr 2012
The Foreign Secretary said the “reality” was that some governments - although not Britain's - would supply weapons to Mr Assad’s enemies if this “best hope” for peace failed.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Mr Assad's leading Arab critics, have publicly favoured arming the opposition. They joined 82 countries and international organisations in Istanbul for the second meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group.
The aim of the gathering, convened by Turkey's government, was to escalate the pressure on Mr Assad and rally support for a six-point peace plan devised by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general.
This proposes a ceasefire monitored by UN observers followed by "Syrian-led" negotiations to settle the crisis, with free access for aid agencies and the media. Crucially, Mr Annan's plan stops short of demanding Mr Assad's resignation.
Syria's regime accepted the proposals last Tuesday, but Mr Assad has yet to order a ceasefire or withdraw troops and tanks from urban areas. On the contrary, the bloodshed has continued with dozens more reported to have been killed yesterday...
By James Quinn
9:30PM BST 31 Mar 2012
In what amounts to the start of a new trade war between the UK and Argentina, the banks - understood to include the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Capital and Goldman Sachs - have been warned they face criminal and civil action in the Argentine courts.
The threats were made in a series of letters sent to as many as 15 banks by the Argentine embassy in London over the last ten days.
The letter, a copy of which has been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, warns the institutions that even merely writing research notes on exploration companies involved in the Falklands constitutes “a violation of the applicable domestic and international rules”.
The news - coming a day ahead of the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands which sparked the 1982 conflict - is likely to worsen tensions between the two countries. The Argentine government is continuing to push for sovereignty...
By Lord Wolfson
Last September, as Europe grappled with the sovereign debt crisis in Greece, I launched a £250,000 economics prize.
Contributors were challenged to chart the course Europe should take in the event the euro fell apart. In the eye of that economic storm some asked, was I too late? Surely it would all be over before the entrants’ ink had time to dry?
Now financial waters are calmer, people wonder whether it all wasn’t just a bad dream. Perhaps things will quietly sort themselves out? Perhaps the prize was a waste of money? I sincerely hope it was. No one wants the chaos and hardship that would follow in the wake of the euro’s demise.
But financial crises are like tsunami – deceptively quiet one moment, devastating the next. Sadly, it is likely we will see more turmoil in the eurozone. The underlying problems of high unemployment and low growth are still as bad today in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy as they were four months ago. And therein lies the problem.
Spain is weighed down with staggering 21pc unemployment. You would expect, with joblessness so high, that the international price of Spanish labour would be low. Yet quite the reverse is true....
The Sunday demonstration organized by the Belgian Association Action for Peace was called to protest NATO intervention in Afghanistan and Libya, and nuclear arming.
The activists crossed fields and sought to climb over fences leading to the NATO compound but were stopped by the five to six hundred police officers who were deployed to counter the protesters.
"We neither want the anti-missile shield, nor intervention by NATO in Libya or Afghanistan, nor nuclear bombs that are illegal in our country," a spokesman for Action for Peace, Benoit Calvi said.
Demonstrators most of them in their twenties, came from 10 European countries including Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden.
"A military alliance that intervenes all over the world and has nuclear weapons is a threat to world peace," Action for Peace said.
The protest came ahead of next month’s NATO summit in Chicago.
The rebels announced in a statement that they have "control of the entire region" of Timbuktu, and have ended what they call the Malian "occupation."
Tuareg rebels added that they would now begin their "mission of defending and securing the territory of the Azawad, for the happiness of its people."
The rebels, based in the north of the country, also seized control of the town of Kidal on Friday. Their advance continued on Saturday and they reportedly forced army soldiers out of the main bases in the town of Gao.
On March 22, renegade Malian soldiers led by Amadou Haya Sanogo toppled Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure in a military coup and took control of government institutions.
The coup leaders said they mounted the coup out of anger at the government's inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in north of the country....
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will respond decisively and suitably and in proportion to any measure that is against its national interests,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying on Sunday.
The lawmaker, who heads Iran Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, was alluding to new US proposal for the establishment of a missile defense shield in the Middle East to protect regional countries against the so-called Iran threat.
“For many years, the US has been tricking regional countries and blackmailing them by depicting Iran as a threat to the Middle East and has established many military bases in the region [using this method],” he said.
Boroujerdi stated that instead of giving military bases to the US, Arab states in the Persian Gulf should think about security arrangements involving regional states without any foreign intervention.
BEIJING - China's central bank said Saturday it will ensure a reasonable level of social financing, a measure of funds raised by entities in the real economy, as it maintains a prudent monetary policy this year.
The People's Bank of China said it will balance efforts on ensuring stable and relatively fast economic growth, maintaining the overall stability of prices and preventing financial risks.
It will continue moving forward to enhance the pertinence and flexibility of its monetary policy, according to a statement issued after its first-quarter monetary policy report.
Although uncertainties remain, the country's economic development and financial system are both in line with the expectations of macro-economic regulation, it added.
The central bank said it will gradually promote the liberalization reform of interest rates and improve the formation mechanism of the yuan's exchange rate to promote greater two-way flexibility and ensure its stability.
Thai security personnel investigate the site of a bomb attack in southern Thailand's Yala province March 31, 2012. 11 people died and 127 were injured in a series of bomb explosions on Saturday in Thailand's Muslim south, the latest in a wave of violence blamed on separatists in a region bordering Malaysia, police and officials said. Three bombs went off in the business area of the city of Yala around lunchtime, they said, adding the devices may have been placed in a car and a motorcycle. [Photo/Agencies]
BANGKOK - Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri on Sunday unveiled updated casualties of the southern Yala province's bombs, saying a total of 11 people, six men and five women, were killed and 127 wounded.
Of the total injured, 10 were in serious conditions, most of them from burns and bomb shrapnel, he said.
The three deadly bomb blasts took place at a hotel in a busy area of Yala city Saturday noon. The first batch of explosives which was planted in a parked pickup truck exploded 20 minutes before the second and third bombs hidden in motorcycles were detonated.
It was when onlookers were gathering at the first blast site and the authorities rushing to check the incident that the two later bombs went off...
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate's top Republican called on his party to unite behind leading presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday as rival Rick Santorum vowed to stay in the race beyond a likely defeat in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary.