Soros Reports Over $239mm In Gold Positions, Buys $25mm In Call Options On Juniors
In a 13-F release issued by the SEC after market close yesterday, it was reported that Soros Fund Management LLC, founded and chaired by billionaire financier George Soros, significantly increased its gold related holdings, most notably, through the purchase of over $25 million dollars worth of call options on the GDXJ Junior Gold Miners index.
This stunning move by one of the world’s top performing hedge funds, suggests a powerful surge ahead for gold equities. It should be noted, that in the forty years prior to 2010, the Soros Fund averaged a 20% annual rate of return.
A breakdown of the 13-F data indicates that during the first quarter, the Soros Fund:
1. Maintained a $32mm stake in individual miners.
2. Added a staggering 1.1 million shares of GDX to its holdings, at a reported price of $37.84 per share. Total Soros Fund GDX holdings now stand at 2.666 million shares, at a reported value of over $100,000,000.
3. Reduced it’s long position in the GDXJ Junior Miners Index fund, from 1.998 million shares to 1.2 million shares—only to turn around, and purchase 1.510 million call options on the same index, at a reported value of $25,200,000.
4. Lastly, the fund reduced its stake in the GLD gold fund from 600k shares to 530k shares, for a total reported value of $82,000,000.
In summary, as of May 15th, 2013, Soros Fund Management LLC reported owning over $239.2 million in gold related positioning, with over $25 million dedicated to call options on junior mining stocks.
Bottom Line: While debate continues as to how far gold and gold equities will continue to drop, the Soros Fund is lightening up on physical gold in exchange for gold mining equities and call options on the extremely volatile junior mining stocks.
There couldn’t be any stronger indication by the fund as to its beliefs about the timing of this bottom (outside of selling everything and going all-in on call options of course).
It remains to be seen whether these positions will end up in the green or not, but with a forty year track record of 20% annual returns, I’ll be betting on the Soros Fund.
To view the entire Q1 2013 13-F filing as reported by Soros Fund Management LLC, visit: SEC.gov
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Tekoa Da Silva
Bull Market Thinking
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Fri May 17, 2013 5:45 am
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Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports Firearm Homicides are Down 39% Since 1993; Continues to Severely Under-report Defensive Gun Use
Yesterday, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a special report, Firearm Violence, 1993-2011. Not surprisingly, at least for those who follow crime statistics, the report shows that firearm homicides went down 39% between 1993 and 2011. The report also reconfirms many things that gun-rights supporters have been saying for decades: that less than 2% of prison inmates in 2004 bought their firearm from a “flea market or gun show,” and that “2% of state inmates and 3% of federal inmates were armed with a military-style semiautomatic or fully automatic firearm.”
Also not surprising is that very few people know about the dramatically reduced crime rate. Also released yesterday was a Pew study on Americans’ perceptions of the crime rate. Despite cutting the murder rate nearly in half in less than twenty years, only 12% of Americans believe that gun crime has dropped in the past two decades. Fifty-six percent believe it has increased, and 26% believe it stayed the same. This is not new. People often don’t realize how much better things are getting, and this fact can push public policy in misguided directions.
Many have tried to explain this precipitous drop in crime, including one study that connected it to the decreased amount of lead in the environment. Whatever the cause, one thing is clear: there are about 50 million more guns in America now than in 1993 and crime did not go up.
Now, I will not oversell that statistic, not only because it does not prove the thesis “more guns, less crime,” but also because overselling statistics is a big problem in the gun control debate for both sides. For example, to take another statistic from the BJS report: the number of times per year people use guns to stop or curtail crime.
Despite the fact that the BJS is quite good at some things, it is uniquely bad at measuring the level of defensive gun use (DGU) in America. And despite the fact that I can easily demonstrate this to anyone with even the slightest inclination to allow their minds to be changed, I am not optimistic that the gun controllers will listen.
Gun controllers are constantly accusing gun-rights supporters of over-estimating the instances of DGU, and their primary source is the data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which they rely on unquestioningly. The disparity between the BJS statistics and other studies is stark, as much as 30x. For example, yesterday’s BJS report claims that, between 2007-2011, crime victims used guns to stop or curtail crime 235,700 times. This aligns with the general tendency for the BJS to record between 60,000 and 100,000 DGUs per year. By contrast, Florida State’s award-winning criminologist Gary Kleck has found there may be as many as 2.5 million DGU instances per year. Gun-controllers almost always dismiss Kleck’s data as wildly inaccurate, if not NRA-funded propaganda (it is neither), and instead unquestioningly accept the BJS numbers. See, for example, this study by the Violence Policy Center, which simply regurgitates the BJS numbers, and this discussion of the VPC report at Mother Jones. This New York Times post on the VPC report sneeringly offers this observation on the disparity between Kleck’s and the BJS’s numbers:
Readers can judge for themselves whether the V.P.C. or the N.R.A. is likely to have better numbers. The V.P.C. used data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The N.R.A.’s estimate is the result of a telephone survey conducted by a Florida State University criminologist.
I accept the Times’s invitation, and I will judge for myself:
Six Reasons to Distrust the NCVS on Defensive Gun Use
1) As you can see from the NCVS survey questions here, the survey is non-anonymous. Although respondents were given guarantees that the results will remain confidential, many respondents would certainly be uneasy about answering questions about gun use after giving their names and addresses. This is a well-known effect of non-anonymous surveys.
2) Respondents were told from the outset that the survey is conducted by the government, specifically the U.S. Census Bureau. Coupling this with the survey being non-anonymous and you have a perfect recipe for withholding information. This is all the more true if the respondent had reasonable concerns about whether an instance of DGU was legal, either because they themselves were not allowed to have a gun or to be carrying a gun (perhaps because of a felony conviction), because carrying a gun or having a gun is essentially illegal in their area (e.g., DC, NYC), or because of the obvious legal gray-area around the act of threatening someone with a gun, much less firing it at them. In essence, those who unquestionably trust the NCVS data on DGUs believe that the question, “hi, I’m from the government, please give me your name and address and tell me if you’ve used a gun to protect yourself in the past year” will yield accurate results.
3) Respondents were only asked about DGU after they had given the location of the crime. If the crime occurred outside the home, as did 78.1% of violent crimes between 2007-2011 (table 7), and some respondents were unauthorized to carry a gun outside the home, then they were being asked to admit to a crime.
4) But respondents were not just told that the U.S. Census Bureau is conducting the survey, they were told that the survey is sponsored by the Department of Justice. They were then asked to volunteer information about possibly illegal activities to the chief law enforcement agency of the United States.
5) Respondents were not directly asked about DGU because the NCVS is not primarily designed to uncover instances of DGU. They were first asked whether they have been victims of a crime and only then were they asked follow-up questions about the incident. But the NCVS under-reports crime, particularly domestic violence and rape, and if it under-reports crimes where DGUs are particularly common then it would of course under-report DGUs.
6) The follow-up questions are not straightforward enough to accurately capture instances of DGU. As you can see from the follow-up questionnaire given to those who report a crime (page 12), respondents must first have answered “yes” to the question, “Did you do anything with the idea of protecting YOURSELF or your PROPERTY while the incident was going on?” before they were asked about DGU. They were then asked to volunteer information about a DGU rather than being put in a position of having to lie in order to deny a DGU.
That’s what the government did. Let’s see how “the result[s] of a telephone survey conducted by a Florida State University criminologist (Gary Kleck)” were collected:
We use the most anonymous possible national survey format, the anonymous random digit dialed telephone survey. We did not know the identities of those who were interviewed, and made this fact clear to the Rs [Respondants]. We interviewed a large nationally representative sample covering all adults, age eighteen and over, in the lower forty-eight states and living in households with telephones. We asked DGU questions of all Rs in our sample, asking them separately about both their own DGU experiences and those of other members of their households. We used both a five year recall period and a one year recall period. We inquired about uses of both handguns and other types of guns, and excluded occupational uses of guns and uses against animals. Finally, we asked a long series of detailed questions designed to establish exactly what Rs did with their guns; for example, if they had confronted other humans, and how had each DGU connected to a specific crime or crimes.
Interviews were monitored at random by survey supervisors. All interviews in which an alleged DGU was reported by the R were validated by supervisors with call-backs, along with a 20% random sample of all other interviews.
Questions about the details of DGU incidents permitted us to establish whether a given DGU met all of the following qualifications for an incident to be treated as a genuine DGU: (1) the incident involved defensive action against a human rather than an animal, but not in connection with police, military, or security guard duties; (2) the incident involved actual contact with a person, rather than merely investigating suspicious circumstances, etc.; (3) the defender could state a specific crime which he thought was being committed at the time of the incident; (4) the gun was actually used in some way–at a minimum it had to be used as part of a threat against a person, either by verbally referring to the gun (e.g., “get away–I’ve got a gun”) or by pointing it at an adversary. We made no effort to assess either the lawfulness or morality of the Rs’ defensive actions.
An additional step was taken to minimize the possibility of DGU frequency being overstated. The senior author went through interview sheets on every one of the interviews in which a DGU was reported, looking for any indication that the incident might not be genuine. A case would be coded as questionable if even just one of four problems appeared: (1) it was not clear whether the R actually confronted any adversary he saw; (2) the R was a police officer, member of the military or a security guard, and thus might have been reporting, despite instructions, an incident which occurred as part of his occupational duties; (3) the interviewer did not properly record exactly what the R had done with the gun, so it was possible that he had not used it in any meaningful way; or (4) the R did not state or the interviewer did not record a specific crime that the R thought was being committed against him at the time of the incident. There were a total of twenty-six cases where at least one of these problematic indications was present. It should be emphasized that we do not know that these cases were not genuine DGUs; we only mean to indicate that we do not have as high a degree of confidence on the matter as with the rest of the cases designated as DGUs. Estimates using all of the DGU cases are labelled herein as “A” estimates, while the more conservative estimates based only on cases devoid of any problematic indications are labelled “B” estimates.
Kleck’s study (which you can read here) was done in 1993, so there is good reason to believe that the instances of DGU have gone down with the crime rate. Also, Kleck’s study, like all studies, is far from ironclad. But I’ll leave that question to the reader: which study is likely to be more reliable?
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Michigan hay supplies tighter than earlier reports due to drought
Phil Kaatz, Michigan State University Extension | Updated: 01/18/2013
The lingering effects of the early spring freeze and the hot, dry summer of 2012 in Michigan on forage supplies have been tabulated and released in the latest USDA Crop Production Report. Michigan State University Extension forage educators have been encouraging beef, dairy, sheep, goat, and horse owners to seek out forage producers and secure their winter hay needs before hay supplies all but disappear.
In response, MSU Extension is offering meetings to address this short supply of hay that some feel may linger for more than one year. There are meetings on the Forage Cost of Production for those considering planting new forage acres in 2013. There are also a series of meetings on Feeding the Beef Herd Alternative Feeds in 2013 and Beyond.
The USDA Crop Production Report shows a significant reduction in total tons available in the Michigan-Indiana-Ohio region for ending hay stocks on farms. Findings in October 2012 were pointing to lower production by approximately 8.5 percent for Michigan. However, when the December 2012 report was released, Michigan was reported to have a 43.3 percent reduction in the hay supply. This followed the reduced hay inventories of 14.3 percent coming into the growing season.
According to the USDA, the total hay supplies for the United States are down 16 percent from 2011, and there is the lowest amount of hay on farms in the United States since 1957.
What this means to producers is supply and demand is driving hay prices higher. Recent reports are that the top prices for mixed grass/alfalfa hays in Michigan are selling for $300 to $380/ton. Lower priced hays are also being sold as well. The reduced inventory and increased pressure for acres from commodity crops (corn, soybeans and wheat) will make it hard for hay producers to replenish hay stocks, even if there is a normal growing season in 2013.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:19 pm
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After Jesse Jackson Jr. quit, Sandi changed campaign reports
By Natasha Korecki Political Reporter Twitter @natashakorecki December 14, 2012 12:32AM
Updated: December 14, 2012 2:25AM
Five days after Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress, his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson, filed a series of amendments to her ward committee’s campaign fund, revealing dozens of previously undisclosed transactions that went back three years. That includes at least $13,000 in previously undisclosed transfers from her husband’s congressional account into her ward organization account, a Sun-Times review of campaign records show.
Among the undisclosed transactions shown in the amended reports were monthly transfers of $1,250 to his wife’s 7th Ward Independent Political Organization — or SWIPO. In a federal disclosure, Rep. Jackson’s campaign fund indicates a $1,250 payment to SWIPO is for rent — he and his wife share campaign office space on Chicago’s South Side. However, the 7th Ward disclosure did not list the purpose of the $1,250 transfers.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:09 pm
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Sears reports net loss of almost $500 million
Hadley Malcolm, USA TODAY
Net loss of almost $500 million
Same store sales down 3.1%
Focusing on member-based business
6:18PM EST November 15. 2012 – Sears Holdings reported a net loss of almost $500 million versus $410 million last year, showing the retailer continues to struggle to turn business around.
Revenue was also down, though mostly due to closing several Sears and Kmart stores. Sales for stores open at least a year were down 3.1%, slightly better than a 3.7% decline in the second quarter.
The retailer continues to focus energy on its rewards program, Shop Your Way, which accounts for more than half of revenue for Sears and Kmart U.S. operations, CEO Lou D’Ambrosio said in a conference call Thursday afternoon.
"We’re rapidly moving to a member-based business model," he said.
Shop Your Way members get access to personalized deals and earn points for purchases that can be redeemed at Sears, Kmart or Lands End, online or in stores. The company doesn’t disclose how many Shop Your Way members it has, but spokesman Chris Brathwaite says it’s in the "tens and tens of millions."
Online business for the company grew more than 20% in the quarter.
The Sears announcement comes on the heels of Target and Wal-Mart’s third quarter earnings out Thursday morning. Both retailers reported increases in net income heading into Black Friday next week and the subsequent holiday shopping season.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:10 am
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(CNN) — Western governments, including the United States, appear to be stepping up efforts to censor Internet search results and YouTube videos, according to a "transparency report" released by Google.
"It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — Western democracies not typically associated with censorship," Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google, wrote in a blog post on Sunday night.
"For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests."
In the last half of 2011, U.S. agencies asked Google to remove 6,192 individual pieces of content from its search results, blog posts or archives of online videos, according to the report. That’s up 718% compared with the 757 such items that U.S. agencies asked Google to remove in the six months prior.
Fighting the great firewall
Overall, Google received 187 requests from United States law enforcement agencies and courts to remove content from its Web properties from July to December, up 103% from the 92 requests the Mountain View, California, company received in the previous reporting period.
In one incident cited in the report, a U.S. law enforcement agency asked Google to take down a blog that "allegedly defamed a law enforcement official in a personal capacity." The company did not comply with that request.
In another, a separate law enforcement group asked Google to take down 1,400 YouTube videos (Google owns YouTube) because of "alleged harassment."
And in Canada, the passport office asked Google to delete a YouTube video "of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet," according to the report.
The tech company did not oblige either of those requests but did comply at least in part with 42% of the removal requests from the United States in the last half of 2011, the report says. That number is down considerably compared to previous reports; In the latter half of 2010, for example, Google said it complied with 87% of U.S. requests to remove content.
The biannual transparency report, which includes data to July 2009, also indicates a rise in world governments’ requests to take a look at the data Google collects about its users. And with those requests, Google tended to be much more likely to comply.
In the last half of 2011, Google received 6,321 requests for user data from government agencies in the United States and complied at least in part with 93% of them, according to data released in the report.
Those requests for information about Google users come as part of criminal investigations, Google says, and are not unique to the company.
Google complied more frequently with U.S.-based requests for information about users than with requests from other countries, according to the report. It complied or partially complied with only 24% of such requests from Canada, 44% from France and 64% from the United Kingdom, for example.
The number of user data requests Google received from the United States was up 6% over the previous six-month period and 37% compared with the last half of 2010.
Google says this increase "isn’t surprising, since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users." In the report, the company adds: "We review each request to make sure that it complies with both the spirit and the letter of the law, and we may refuse to produce information or try to narrow the request in some cases."
Writing at Forbes.com, tech columnist Andy Greenberg says that Google "should be applauded for taking a strong stand against censorship" but that "the government’s increasingly sticky fingers in Google’s databases comes at a sensitive time."
"Google has been criticized for failing to reveal much about its reported partnership with the National Security Agency following a Chinese attack on its systems in 2010," he writes. "And the company has yet to take a stand on the House’s recently-passed Cyber Infrastructure Security and Protection Act or its equivalents in the Senate, which are designed to give companies far more leeway to hand data over to government agencies for security purposes."
At Politico, blogger Dylan Byers says the report "will certainly challenge any notions you might have about a free and unregulated Web."
Google says it hopes the data will offer a "small window into what’s happening on the Web at large."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:50 pm
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17 Jun 2012
The U.S. State Department removed the sections covering religious freedom from the Country Reports on Human Rights that it released on May 24, three months past the statutory deadline Congress set for the release of these reports.
The new human rights reports–purged of the sections that discuss the status of religious freedom in each of the countries covered–are also the human rights reports that cover the period that covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath.
Thus, the reports do not provide in-depth coverage of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East that saw the rise of revolutionary movements in 2011 in which Islamist forces played an instrumental role.
For the first time ever, the State Department simply eliminated the section of religious freedom in its reports covering 2011 and instead referred the public to the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report – a full two years behind the times – or to the annual report of the U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which was released last September and covers events in 2010 but not 2011.
Leonard Leo, who recently completed a term as chairman of the USCIRF, says that removing the sections on religious freedom from the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Roghts is a bad idea.
Since 1998, when Congress created USCIRF, the State Department has been required to issue a separate yearly report specifically on International Religious Freedom.
But a section reporting on religious freedom has also always been included in the State Department’s legally required annual country-by-country reports on human rights–that is, until now.
And this is the first year the State Department would have needed to report on the effect the Arab Spring has had on religious freedom in the Middle East–had its reports, as always before, included a section on religious freedom.
“The commission that I served on has some real concerns about that bifurcation, because the human rights reports receive a lot of attention, and to have pulled religious freedom out of it means that fewer people will obtain information about what’s going on with that particular freedom or right.
So you don’t have the whole picture because they split it up now,” Leo told CNSNews.com.
Former U.S. diplomat Thomas Farr says it’s possible that the move to totally separate religious freedom from the human rights reports could simply be a bureaucratic maneuver.
But another possibility is much more likely.
“The other possibility is the Obama administration is downplaying international religious freedom,” Farr said.
Farr, who served in the State Department under both Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, was the first director of the Office of International Religious Freedom.
“I mean, it is important to note here that I do not know–I have no personal knowledge of the logic that went into removing religious freedom from the broader human rights report; but I also have observed during the three-and-a-half years of the Obama administration that the issue of religious freedom has been distinctly downplayed,” Farr said
Currently a visiting associate professor of religion and world affairs in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Farr directs the program on Religion and U.S.
Foreign Policy and the Project on Religious Freedom at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown.
He told CNSNews.com that far more resources have been allocated by the Obama administration to other human rights issues than have been directed toward religious freedom.
“(T)he ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, for example, who is the official charged by the law to lead U.S. religious freedom policy, did not even step foot into her office until two-and-a-half years were gone of a four-year administration,” he said.
“Whereas other human rights priorities of the administration, such as the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, were in place within months. So that tells you something.
“It tells me that this has never been a priority for the Obama administration, and it’s not now,” he said.
“So it seems to me plausible to at least question the removal of religious freedom from the human rights report, although, as I say, there could be other explanations, less insidious, if you will.”
Missing: Murdered Christians and the Aftermath of the Arab Spring
The 2010 International Religious Freedom Report is notably missing some important information–the two-year old report contains no mention of the violence, murder and mayhem directed at Christians and other minorities in Muslim nations in Africa and the Middle East since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.
However, the less well-known 2012 report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom does take note of the Arab Spring.
– In 2011, in Egypt, Coptic Christians were among 25 people massacred during a demonstration over an Islamist attack on a church.
– In the month of January 2012 alone, the Islamist group Boko Haram was responsible for 54 deaths in Nigeria – 42 of them Catholics killed at church on Christmas Day.
In 2011, it killed more than 500 people and burned down or destroyed more than 350 churches in 10 northern states of Nigeria.
Former USCIRF Chairman Leo says the fact is the administration no longer makes the proper distinction between freedom of religion and freedom of worship.
“Going all the way back to the president’s speech in Cairo, they seem to be satisfied with Arab Spring countries and Middle Eastern countries providing freedom of worship, but not pressuring them on the broader freedom of religion.
“In Saudi Arabia, and in some of these countries, you may be able to draw curtains in your home and pray–but don’t take it outside your house.
And certainly don’t imbue other aspects of your life with your religious sentiments,” Leo said.
He added: “We see in a lot of countries around the world, but particularly in the Middle East and in Pakistan and Afghanistan, that it’s not just those small non-Muslim minorities that are affected adversely by repressive policies, it’s majority Muslims as well.
Muslims who don’t necessarily want to subscribe to every jot and tittle of what the state feels is the appropriate form of Islam.”
Former diplomat Farr agreed the administration hasn’t been focused on the freedom of religion in terms of foreign relations.
“As far as I know, the administration has paid very little attention to the religion-state issues, in terms of policy effort, in terms of programs on the ground,” Farr said.
“I’m not speaking of speeches, or ‘raising the issue’–which are typical State Department platitudes for trying to change the subject–but in terms of actual programs on the ground, whether we’re talking about Libya, or Tunisia, or the most important of all, Egypt, the programs on the ground designed to advance religious freedom, as far as I know, are nonexistent.”
The State Department, meanwhile, has given no indication of when — or if — the next International Religious Freedom Report will be released.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:23 am
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