April 26, 2019
The Miles Franklin Newsletter
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From The Desk Of David Schectman
David's Commentary (In Blue):

I was born in March 1942. The world was in flames and soon, things were about to change. I lived with my parents in the upper floor of a duplex in north Minneapolis. I was only 3 years old but I remember the black outs and I remember walking onto our screened-in porch and listening for the sound of bombs exploding. After the war, my father bought me a bike that had solid aluminum wheels. I was very proud of that bike. Radio was a big deal.  We didn’t have a TV (very few families did in the mid-40s). I would walk a few blocks to the community center and stare in amazement at a 6” square TV screen. There was very little programing in those days, but we didn’t care. We could watch the Test Pattern. 
My dad loved to fish and there are a lot of lakes in and around Minneapolis. He loved to take me, but it wasn’t my thing. I was too antsy to sit around all day in a boat. I made him promise that the fish would bite. He couldn’t always keep his promise. By the time I was in junior high school, my fishing days were behind me. I had new interests; discovered sports and girls. 
In 1951 Willie Mays played for the Minneapolis Millers, our Triple-A baseball team. He took me to see him play once. The Millers were the New York Giants top minor league farm team. The Giants promoted him to the Major Leagues after just two months. It upset my father so much that he never went to another Millers game.
We also had the NBA. My father’s brother was wealthy, at least by 1950 standards. He had courtside seats for the Minneapolis Lakers and in the early 50s I got to see George Mikan play. When I was in high school in 1958-59, I got to see Elgin Baylor play. As I recall, the New York Knicks offered to trade their entire starting five for Baylor but Bob Short, the owner of the Lakers refused. If you wanted to see blacks play professional basketball, there was always the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1948 the Globetrotters played the Lakers in Chicago and they won. They won a year later too, before losing the final four games played between the two teams. 
The world was changing fast, but you don’t notice when you are in the middle of it. 
In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The New York Knicks signed Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton, who became the first black man to play in the NBA. 
I lived at home until I graduated college in 1964. We never had a color TV, or a car with an automatic transmission, or more than one small window air conditioner in our home. It was the typical Midwest, middle-class life - meaning we were closer to “poor” than we were to “rich.”   But I didn’t know it. All of my friends had the same life style that I did. During high school and college, people who I thought were “wealthy” were, by today’s standards, upper middle-class. Materialism was not “in your face,” like it is now. Life was much simpler. I didn’t own my first car until I was in college and it cost me only $60. I got by. I was driving that car when I first met my wife. At the time, she was dating boys who drove expensive new cars – but lucky for me, love won out. They never had a chance. Susan lived in St. Paul. Her father was an insurance salesman (so was mine). It was Easter vacation and he happened to have an appointment in downtown Minneapolis. He took his wife and Susan along with him so they could do some shopping while he met his client. I was a senior in college, working at Bert’s shoe store, part time, and happened to be working that day. I waited on her, got her phone number, called her the next day, and we’ve been together ever since. I used the money that I made selling shoes to pay my college tuition. It cost around $250 a year to attend the University of Minnesota in the early 60s. I was making around $25 a week, and at least $100 a week working full time during the summer break. I could afford to pay for my college education without taking out bank loans or going massively into debt, like the kids today do. How the times have changed. In state resident tuition is now up to $14,000 a year. It’s up 56-times what I had to pay. As Backwoods Jack would say: “Sumdingwong.”
In 1964 after I graduated college and landed my first job with Helene Curtis, I bought a new sports car. (I’ve had one ever since) It was a Triumph TR4 convertible that cost me $3,500. From that day until today, I have always had a convertible sports car. It was a bit pricey for my salary from Helene Curtis which was only $4,800 (plus a company car and expenses). Everything is relative. Our first apartment rent was only $90 a month.
When I enrolled in college in 1959 I signed up for ROTC. I could use the extra income. Then one of those “what did I just do” moments hit me. The following week I went back and I told them I changed my mind because of a knee injury I suffered playing football. The let me out of my commitment. This was a wise decision on my part, because had I stayed in the ROTC, when I graduated in 1964, I would have been immediately shipped off to Vietnam as a Second Lieutenant. They were the first ones off of a chopper and their life expectancy was measured in hours or days. 
Susan and I were married in August 1964, the same month that two U.S. destroyers stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam radioed that they had been fired upon by North Vietnamese forces. That is when the Vietnam War escalated. Instead of being thrown into that mess, I was home, learning the ins and outs of being married and getting ready to start a family.
Life in 1964 was the same as it was in the mid 1950s. But the Vietnam War would change everything. 
Everything changed in the late 60s and the 70s.
By the late 1960s the post-1945 “Baby Boomers” were graduating from college and many of them were ready for a change. The war and a liberal education were molding new attitudes.  I was part of the first generation that turned their back on the values and life style of their parents and their grandparents. At the time, most of my friends were 25 going on 40. They all had short hair, wore three-piece suits, had a lifetime job with a corporation, a home in the suburbs, a two-car garage and most likely two kids. Then in 1967 the play Hair stormed the country, and suddenly, long hair was the rage, and the mantra was drugs, sex and rock and roll. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were writing popular anti-war songs (“Ohio” about Kent State) and the Beatles were singing about cocaine, (she came in through the bathroom window, protected by a silver spoon) about uppers and downers (I get by with a little help from my friends). John Lennon wrote “Give Peace A Chance” and “Imagine”. Bob Dylan penned the most famous of all the anti-war songs (Blowin’ in the wind). Susan marched with a large group of women who burned their bras and men who burned their draft cards.
All the old values flew out the window. The problem was - my generation failed to replace the old values with new ideas and values. For the first time in my life, materialism was in and wealth was something to strive for. Wall Street and the big money central banks moved center stage. They are still here. But truth be told, things have only gotten worse for the average person ever since. The wealth gap has increased to a point where it is causing anger and resentment.
In 1968 Lyndon Johnson decided that he had to increase military spending for the war - in addition to his Great Society spending programs. This fueled the inflation of the 1970s. To make things worse, Nixon’s decided it was necessary to remove the gold backing for the U.S. dollar (in August, 1973). As the dollar lost value, inflation roared. With all of the world’s currencies no longer linked to gold, currency inflation became the new norm. And from this, sprung a new industry, the retail precious metals industry. Before the late 70s, there were only small local coin dealers and a few coin collectors, but regular folks wouldn’t even consider “investing” in gold or silver. We all assumed there was no need to. Most people knew absolutely nothing about gold or silver.
Most of our clients are baby boomers - or older. They are old enough to have heard the stories about the Great Depression from their parents and grandparents. They experienced the inflation of the 1970s. They were there for the first bull market in gold and silver. That was some bull market. It made the headlines and even if you didn’t participate, you new about it. I mean - $50 an ounce silver and $850 an ounce gold. Coins were on the covers of major magazines. 
In the 80s, when I started working in this industry, we made it a point to develop personal relationships with our clients, based on phone calls, long conversations and physical mailings. Nowadays, business is very impersonal. No phone calls. No conversations. Younger people use the Internet. Gold and silver can be bought with a keystroke on a home computer or an IPhone.  
Our industries business model changed from hands-on, personal broker based relationships to impersonal Internet ordering. I’m not talking about our clients, many who have been with us for decades, I’m talking about the under 50 crowd. They know nothing about gold or silver except they don’t need it. But that will change. The same could have been said for the first wave of buyers who arrived, checkbook in hand, in the early 80s. Just wait until the stock market kicks them in the ass, the economy heads South and inflation roars back to life. They will figure it out and quickly. These will be the people we can sell some of our metals to. We will have what they want.
Yes, Miles Franklin has changed with the times. We were one of the first firms to prioritize educating our clients, and to send out information on a weekly and daily basis. When the Internet arrived, we were one of the first companies to adopt a more competitive discount-type pricing. I would call us a “hybrid” firm, one who offers information, personal relationships with very experienced brokers, and yet is competitive with the bare-bones firms who do no more than process an order. We are in the right industry at the right time. And so are our clients. Now all we have to do is be patient and wait for the next bull market in precious metals, which should accompany the next collapse of the stock market. Both are a given. It’s just a matter of time and time is running out.
The first article I have for you today discusses inflation, which is something all of you have experienced in your adult life. It is everywhere, except in the government’s bogus CPI numbers. How about taxes, education and housing? Duh! Never lose sight of the fact that inflation ultimately is about increasing the money supply, not about rising prices. The former is the CAUSE and the latter is the EFFECT.
Monetary Metals.
The Two Faces of Inflation, Report 22 Apr
We have a postscript to last week’s article . We said that rising prices today are not due to the dollar going down. It’s not that the dollar buys less. It’s that producers are forced to include more and more ingredients, which are not only useless to the consumer. But even invisible to the consumer. For example, dairy producers must provide ADA-compliant bathrooms to their employees. The producer may give you less milk for your dollar, but now they’re giving you ADA-bathroom’ed-employees. You may not value it, but it’s in the milk.
On Twitter, one guy defended the Quantity Theory of Money this way: inflation (i.e. monetary debasement) is offset by going to China, where they don’t have an Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, the Chinese government does not force manufacturers to put so many useless ingredients into their products as the US government does.
He thought this comment disproved our argument. But actually it reinforces it.
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In part II of Keith’s theory of interest and prices, he talks about buying a pair of Levis jeans in 2013 for $5 less than he paid for the same jeans thirty years previously, in 1983. Those who push the inflation theory often assert that the official government inflation number is a lie. The real rate, they tell us, is much higher.
OK, suppose the true rate of monetary debasement were running at 10% per year. If that were true, then a $50 pair of jeans in 1983 should have sold for $872 in 2013 (and $1,545 today). Obviously, the price of jeans is nowhere near this high.
The gold commenter guy asserts that the price is not so high, because of regulatory arbitrage.
But is it plausible that regulatory arbitrage can turn a 17-fold increase into a 10% cut in price? That you can get $872 worth of product for $45? Obviously not.
His comment actually proves our point that the US government is forcing manufacturers to put in useless ingredients. If you can find a jurisdiction where the list of useless ingredients isn’t too big, you can manufacture, warehouse, distribute, and retail jeans for 10% less than you could thirty years earlier.
The prevailing view of economics is arguably the neoclassical school. This school attempts to marry supply and demand with Keynesian ideas. In money, the consensus is clear. It is entirely uncontroversial (except for our merry little band). The Quantity Theory of Money holds that the value of a currency is inversely proportional to the number of units of it. Value = 1/N.
This idea is based on the supply and demand model. If the supply of a currency goes up (without regard to how, by what mechanism), then its price goes down. And the price of the money is set in terms of consumer goods. So the price of the dollar is 1/milk for example.
This model presumes a chain of logic like this:
•    If the total quantity of dollars goes up, then people have more dollars
                       Yes, there are quibbles such as first access to newly created dollars
                       And what if the dollar go into X goods or Y goods
•    If people have more dollars than they want, they buy more goods
•    If the same goods are bought by more people, then prices go up
•    Institutions buy consumer goods if their portfolio allocation to dollars is too high

Whole essays could be written to debunk each of these premises. But our point today is that everyone from the rabid apologists for the Fed, to the strident enemies of the Fed accepts the basic idea (perhaps with some quibbles).
The second-hardest thing to do is question the prevailing wisdom. One is not going to make lots of new friends (at least at first), if one stands up and says the “emperor has no clothes”. One will face a barrage of criticism, some of it from well-respected persons in the field. One will find that prospective members of one’s audience have closed their minds to one’s ideas, even if they don’t understand the issues under debate. They know that the consensus and well-respected persons are against, and that is enough for them.
But this is only the second-hardest thing, regarding challenging the Quantity Theory of Money. The hardest thing is to change a paradigm of thought. This is why people sometimes work so hard not to see the glaringly evident. Notwithstanding the vast increase in quantity of dollars, prices have not followed.
What has occurred in the economy is tension between falling interest rates and increasing useless ingredients.
The combination of falling interest, and increasing useless ingredients, combine to push something else down. Profit margins.
It is so hard to see that falling interest rates is the way to look at monetary policy, for a simple reason. The quantity approach is the prevailing paradigm. It is so ingrained, that considering another paradigm takes both great courage and great cognitive effort. It is far easier to keep looking harder and harder for signs of the predicted inflation. And to seek excuses for why the predictions have failed to come true.
A reader pointed out that rising costs imposed on producers do not directly lead to rising prices. He is absolutely right. Anyone who doubts this should go out and buy an expensive new car, and then ask his boss for a raise, to cover the higher monthly cost of living.
However, most businesses cannot long sustain selling a product at a loss. So what will happen is the marginal producer will exit the business. For example, a hot downtown area in a major city strikes businesses with a three pronged approach: (1) higher minimum wages, (2) restrictions on when they can unload trucks, and (3) mandatory double-time pay after midnight, plus mandatory three-worker shifts for four hours.
Before the regulation, one employee was on site to unload the daily delivery for 2 hours at $10/hr = $20. After, it’s three employees at $15/hr times double-time = 3 X $30 X 4 = $360. The cost went up by $350 a day. That’s over $125,000 a year.
The marginal coffee shop is not generating that much profit. So it closes forever. If there is extra capacity in the market, even after this closure, then the remaining coffee shops still cannot raise their prices, lest they experience a decline in sales volume. In a competitive market, no one wants to send his customers to competing stores.
So the government strikes again. They say that climate change will kill the Earth, unless all business owners upgrade to more efficient heating and air conditioning, and restaurants must upgrade to more efficient refrigerators and cooking appliances such as coffee makers. Suppose this forces the small coffee shops to spend $100,000 to comply. Another marginal store closes its doors forever.
This goes on and on, until there are more customers than the remaining businesses can serve. Then, those survivors can raise their prices, as there is a real shortage. Raising prices is the way to ration coffee capacity, to those who want coffee the most. Everyone else will do without.
Of course, whether this insidious process is due to monetary policy (i.e. rising interest rates, as 1947-1981) or whether it is due to useless ingredient policy (as today), consumers are harmed. Everyone is impoverished, rendered (much) poorer than we would be if the government did not intrude in either the market for money and credit, or the markets for labor, coffee machines, and HVAC systems.
However, the difference is important to anyone who wishes to advocate policy change. In that case, we need to know what monetary policy is doing, and what tax and regulatory policy is doing. Then we know not to bemoan the falling purchasing power of the dollar. The dollar is not, in fact, buying less than it was. It’s buying just as much, if not more. The catch is that it’s buying lots of things that coffee drinkers don’t know about, and don’t want.
We know enough not to blame the Fed. And we know that the Fed cannot and should not adopt a policy to counter truck loading ordinances and green new deal legislation.
And we also know that monetary policy is putting downward pressure on prices, by offering the perverse incentive to borrow more, to open more coffee shops. At the same time, regulation is putting upward pressure on prices, by snuffing out marginal coffee shops.
Even in the gold standard, if cities pass all kinds of ordinances and labor laws, they would cause prices to rise and deprive the poor of the affected goods and services. Gold will fix many problems, but not all problems. Including the problem of mandatory useless ingredients.
Supply and Demand Fundamentals
Last week was holiday-shorted due to Good Friday (it’s not an official holiday in the US, but it is in the UK. And this week’s report is a day later due to Easter Monday).
The price of gold dropped $15, but the price of silver rose ¢4. Perhaps silver traders got word that we are paying interest on silver, which gives people reason to hold silver?
The discussion above (in the opening essay) is germane to the topic of the gold price. It should be clear that—whatever its virtues—gold will not protect you from the second cause of rising prices (i.e. regulation that destroys productive businesses, and thus supply of goods, and hence causes prices to rise). The price of gold does not go up, just because the city bankrupts another coffee shop.
It is tempting to cling to the idea of the Quantity Theory of Money, the neoclassical notion that the price of money is inverse to its quantity. This sets the expectation of rapidly rising prices, due to monetary policy. It is convenient to see rising prices due to the ever-increasing mandate to put useless ingredients in everything from coffee to the milk that goes in it.
Mainstream economics has one word to refer to rising prices, due to either cause. Inflation. And this biases gold analysis. If inflation is affecting the price of coffee in Seattle, then why isn’t it affecting the price of gold? The answer is simple, now that we have two clear concepts.
Inflation in this falling-interest rate cycle is not monetary. Monetary forces are pushing prices down (due to falling interest rates). So if prices are rising, they are rising due to the increasing burden of useless ingredients.
But all the gold ever mind in human history is still in human hands. No one has the power to add useless ingredients to gold. So the price of gold does not go up from this cause.
This is one more reason why gold is the best way to measure declines in the dollar, and why the consumer price index fails. From the above discussion, we can see that coffee and milk are wholly inadequate measures.
Anyways, let’s look at the supply and demand picture of silver (and gold too). But, first, here is the chart of the prices of gold and silver.
Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise known as the gold to silver ratio (see here for an explanation of bid and offer prices for the ratio). The ratio fell.
Here is the gold graph showing gold basis , cobasis and the price of the dollar in terms of gold price.

The scarcity (i.e. cobasis) continues to rise, but not that much (especially the gold basis continuous ).
The Monetary Metals Gold Fundamental Price is down $33, to $1,426.
Now let’s look at silver

The scarcity of silver (i.e. cobasis) fell a bit. But the price did not change that much.
The Monetary Metals Silver Fundamental Price was down another 25 cents to $15.84.
I brought this up in my Wednesday commentary. This was my number one Black Swan event, which could send gold and silver to the moon – which is where we may have to re-settle after the carnage of such a major miscalculation.

Zero Hedge
Pepe Escobar: War On Iran & Calling America's Bluff
Vast swathes of the West seem not to realize that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut down a global depression will follow...
The Trump administration once again has graphically demonstrated that in the young, turbulent 21st century, “international law” and “national sovereignty” already belong to the Realm of the Walking Dead.
As if a deluge of sanctions against a great deal of the planet was not enough, the latest “offer you can’t refuse” conveyed by a gangster posing as diplomat, Consul Minimus Mike Pompeo, now essentially orders the whole planet to submit to the one and only arbiter of world trade: Washington.
First the Trump administration unilaterally smashed a multinational, UN-endorsed agreement, the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. Now the waivers that magnanimously allowed eight nations to import oil from Iran without incurring imperial wrath in the form of sanctions will expire on May 2 and won’t be renewed.
The eight nations are a mix of Eurasian powers: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
Apart from the trademark toxic cocktail of hubris, illegality, arrogance/ignorance and geopolitical/geo economic infantilism inbuilt in this foreign policy decision, the notion that Washington can decide who’s allowed to be an energy provider to emerging superpower China does not even qualify as laughable. Much more alarming is the fact that imposing a total embargo of Iranian oil exports is no less than an act of war.
Ultimate Neocon Wet Dream 
Those subscribing to the ultimate U.S, neocon and Zionist wet dream – regime change in Iran – may rejoice at this declaration of war. But as  Professor Mohammad Marandi  of the University of Tehran has elegantly argued, “If the Trump regime miscalculates, the house can easily come crashing down on its head.”
Reflecting the fact Tehran seems to have no illusions regarding the utter folly ahead, the Iranian leadership  —  if provoked to a point of no return, Marandi additionally told me  —  can get as far as “destroying everything on the other side of the Persian Gulf and chasing the U . S out of Iraq and Afghanistan. When the U . S escalates, Iran escalates. Now it depends on the U . S how far things go.”
This red alert from a sensible academic perfectly dovetails with what’s happening with the structure of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — recently branded a “terrorist organization” by the United States. In perfect symmetry, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also branded the U.S. Central Command  —  CENTCOM  —  and “all the forces connected to it” as a terrorist group .
The new IRGC commander-in-chief is Brigadier General Hossein Salami, 58. Since 2009 he was the deputy of previous commander Mohamamd al-Jafari, a soft spoken but tough as nails gentleman I met in Tehran two years ago. Salami, as well as Jafari, is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war; that is, he has actual combat experience. And Tehran sources assure me that he can be even tougher than Jafari.
In tandem, IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral  Alireza Tangsiri  has evoked the unthinkable in terms of what might develop out of the U.S. total embargo on Iran oil exports; Tehran could block the Strait of Hormuz.
Western Oblivion 
Vast swathes of the ruling classes across the West seem to be oblivious to the reality that if Hormuz is shut down, the result will be an absolutely cataclysmic global economic depression.
Warren Buffett, among other investors, has routinely qualified the 2.5 quadrillion derivatives market as a weapon of financial mass destruction. As it stands, these derivatives are used — illegally — to drain no less than a trillion U . S. dollars a year out of the market in manipulated profits.
Considering historical precedents, Washington may eventually be able to set up a Persian Gulf of Tonkin false flag. But what next?
If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrel to even $1000 a barrel. The 2.5 quadrillion of derivatives would start a chain reaction of destruction.
Unlike the shortage of credit during the 2008 financial crisis, the shortage of oil could not be made up by fiat instruments. Simply because the oil is not there. Not even Russia would be able to re-stabilize the market.
The market is LOADED with opportunities for savvy investors to make a fortune in marijuana! And thanks to an increased push towards legalization in many states, there’s a LOT of untapped potential.

It’s an open secret in private conversations at the Harvard Club – or at Pentagon war-games for that matter – that in case of a war on Iran, the U . S Navy would not be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open.  
Russian  SS-NX-26 Yakhont  missiles  —  with a top speed of Mach 2.9   are lining up the Iranian northern shore of the Strait of Hormuz. There’s no way U . S aircraft carriers can defend a barrage of Yakhont missiles.
Then there are the  SS-N-22 Sunburn  supersonic anti-ship missiles  —  already exported to China and India  —  flying ultra-low at 1,500 miles an hour with dodging capacity, and extremely mobile; they can be fired from a flatbed truck, and were designed to defeat the U . S Aegis radar defense system.
What Will China Do?
The full–frontal attack on Iran reveals how the Trump administration bets on breaking Eurasia integration via what would be its weakest node; the three key nodes are China, Russia and Iran. These three actors interconnect the whole spectrum; Belt and Road Initiative; the Eurasia Economic Union; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; the International North-South Transportation Corridor; the expansion of  BRICS  Plus.
So there’s no question the Russia-China strategic partnership will be watching Iran’s back. It’s no accident that the trio is among the top existential “threats” to the U . S . , according to the Pentagon. Beijing knows how the U . S Navy is able to cut it off from its energy sources. And that’s why Beijing is strategically increasing imports of oil and natural gas from Russia; engineering the “escape from Malacca” also must take into account a hypothetical U.S. takeover of the Strait of Hormuz.
Night view of coast of Oman, including Strait of Hormuz. (Intl Space Station photo via Wikimedia)
A plausible scenario involves Moscow acting to defuse the extremely volatile U . S . -Iran confrontation, with the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense trying to persuade President Donald Trump and the Pentagon from any direct attack against the IRGC. The inevitable counterpart is the rise of covert ops, the possible staging of false flags and all manner of shady Hybrid War techniques deployed not only against the IRGC, directly and indirectly, but against Iranian interests everywhere. For all practical purposes, the U . S and Iran are at war.
Within the framework of the larger Eurasia break-up scenario, the Trump administration does profit from Wahhabi and Zionist psychopathic hatred of Shi’ites. The “maximum pressure” on Iran counts on Jared of Arabia Kushner’s close WhatsApp pal Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) in Riyadh and MbS’s mentor in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed, to replace the shortfall of Iranian oil in the market. Bu that’s nonsense  —  as quite a few wily Persian Gulf traders are adamant Riyadh won’t “absorb Iran’s market share” because the extra oil is not there.
Much of what lies ahead in the oil embargo saga depends on the reaction of assorted vassals and semi-vassals. Japan won’t have the guts to go against Washington. Turkey will put up a fight. Italy, via Salvini, will lobby for a waiver. India is very complicated; New Delhi is investing in Iran’s Chabahar port as the key hub of its own Silk Road, and closely cooperates with Tehran within the INSTC framework. Would a shameful betrayal be in the cards?
China, it goes without saying, will simply ignore Washington.
Iran will find ways to get the oil flowing because the demand won’t simply vanish with a magic wave of an American hand. It’s time for creative solutions. Why not, for instance, refuel ships in international waters, accepting gold, all sorts of cash, debit cards, bank transfers in rubles, yuan, rupees and rials —  and everything bookable on a website?
Now that’s a way Iran can use its tanker fleet to make a killing. Some of the tankers could be parked in —  you got it  —  the Strait of Hormuz, with an eye on the price at Jebel Ali in the UAE to make sure this is the real deal. Add to it a duty free for the ships crews. What’s not to like? Ship owners will save fortunes on fuel bills, and crews will get all sorts of stuff at 90 percent discount in the duty free.
And let’s see whether the EU has grown a spine — and really turbo-charge their  Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)  alternative payment network conceived after the Trump administration ditched the JCPOA. Because more than breaking up Eurasia integration and implementing neocon regime change, this is about the ultimate anathema; Iran is being mercilessly punished because it has bypassed the U . S dollar on energy trade.
Here are four worthwhile articles that I snatched from Ed Steer’s excellent newsletter.

Ed Steer

Why The United States Needs to Encourage Americans to Hold Gold – Sean Fieler

Foreign central banks are acquiring gold at the fastest pace in 50 years, and their purchases are not driven by investment considerations alone. The Central Bank of Russia, 2018's largest official sector buyer of gold, wants to reduce Russia's dependence on the dollar, while the Hungarian National Bank noted gold's increasing strategic importance as underlying their recent purchases.

America cannot stop foreign central banks from buying gold or reintroducing gold into the international monetary order. We can, however, adopt policies that will attract more of the world's gold to the United States and position ourselves to deal with the remonetization of gold from a position of strength.
At the end of the Second World War, the U.S. Treasury owned more than 30 percent of the world's gold. Today, that same figure is less than 5 percent. America's diminished share of the world's gold is a result of our defense of the Bretton Woods System prior to its collapse in 1971 and subsequent failure to increase our gold reserves. The U.S. Treasury has not added to its gold reserves since 1969, and the Federal Reserve has not owned physical gold since the passage of the Gold Reserve Act in 1934.
American investors have also been largely absent from the physical gold market in recent years. In 2018, Americans purchased just 28 tonnes of gold coin and bars, less than 1 percent of global mine production. Americans' lack of investment appetite for physical gold reflects more than our collective faith in the dollar. It also reflects American tax policy that subjects physical gold, even gold coined by the U.S. Mint, to a higher tax rate than many other investments, including some gold derivatives.
This  very worthwhile  commentary from GATA's good friend Sean Fieler was posted on  thefederalist.com  Internet site on Thursday morning sometime -- and I found it embedded in a  GATA  dispatch yesterday. Another link to it is  here .

We’re Raising the Crash Flag – Bill Bonner
Take off your shoes. Walk on tiptoe. Be quiet.
In front of us lies inflation. It hasn't moved for years - rising only about 1.5%-2% - despite all the prodding from the feds.
The Fed tried to shock it awake with $3.6 trillion in stimulus money. And Congress hit it with more than $10 trillion in deficit spending stimulus over the last 10 years.
But... nothing. Not a whimper. Not a twitch.
And the authorities are deeply concerned. Here's Peter Coy, at Bloomberg, explaining why:
" While five-digit, Venezuelan-grade inflation is destructive, a little bit greases the wheels of commerce. It makes it easier for companies to give stealth pay cuts to underperformers, because keeping their pay flat is tantamount to a reduction in real wages. Some inflation is also useful to central banks because it helps them fight recessions. To spur borrowing, they like to cut their policy rates to well below the rate of inflation. But they have no room to do so if the rate is barely above zero. A surprise decline in inflation also punishes borrowers by making their debts more burdensome ."
Yes, the feds, the professors, the politicians (including Donald Trump), and the business elite all think the same thing - that a little inflation is a good thing. They worry now that there may not be enough of it.
This commentary by Bill appeared on the  bonnerandpartners.com  Internet site early on Wednesday morning EDT -- and another link to it is  here .

Word on the street yesterday was that stocks were going up to record highs "on earnings."
The casual listener was invited to believe that corporate America was earning more money; therefore, it should be worth more. Why else would people pay more for stocks?
Earnings come from Main Street. With hard work and luck, products and services are made and delivered. Wages are paid. Profits are what you have left over. If profits are rising, the economy must be doing well.
But where are the earnings?
This  worthwhile  commentary from Bill, filed from  Youghal  in Ireland, was posted on the  bonnerandpartners.com  Internet site early on Thursday morning EDT -- and another link to it is  here .

World’s Central Banks Want More Gold, as India Prepares to Buy More
India's central bank is likely to join counterparts in Russia and China scooping up gold this year, adding to its record holdings and lending support to worldwide bullion demand as top economies diversify their reserves.
The Reserve Bank of India's purchases are part of a wider picture across developing economies that are looking at de-dollarizing their foreign-exchange reserves, according to Ross Strachan at Capital Economics Ltd. The RBI's buying trend can be sustained for a number of years in relatively small quantities, as part of a long-term diversification, he said.
The RBI may purchase 1.5 million ounces in 2019, or about 46.7 tons, according to Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., with an outlook based on extrapolating amounts bought in the first two months of this year.
The RBI increased its stash by about 42 tons last year, and after adding more in January and February, the country's gold reserves now stand at a record high of almost 609 tons, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. Russia bought 274 tons in 2018 and has added more this year, while China's central bank is on a renewed buying spree that began in December. Global official sector gold purchases could reach 700 tons in 2019 led by these countries as well as Kazakhstan, Iran, and Turkey, according to Citigroup Inc.
Heightened geopolitical and economic uncertainty pushed central banks to diversify their reserves and focus on investing in safe and liquid assets, with governments worldwide adding 651.5 tons of bullion last year -- the second-highest total of purchases on record, according to the World Gold Council.
This  gold-related  news item appeared on the  Bloomberg  website at 3:00 Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday afternoon -- and was updated about twenty-five hours later. I found it in a  GATA  dispatch yesterday -- and another link to it is  here .
The Market Report 4/25/2019
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