Friday, January 28, 2011

U.S. Commodities: Grains Rise as Food Protests in Africa Mount

We are seeing a lot of articles written about the shortages of commodities which has happened all of a sudden. There are think tanks that have been created to show that the world is heading to a food shortage. Why? So that as farm land prices rise because hedge funds are buying the land they will then lobby US govt to provide subsidy's to provide the funds so they can exit with hefty profits.

Thanks Tim for the article Aivars Lode

U.S. Commodities: Grains Rise as Food Protests in Africa Mount
By Jeff Wilson and Whitney McFerron - Jan 26, 2011 6:15 PM ET

Wheat rose, capping the longest rally since November 2009, while corn and soybeans climbed as countries increase purchases from the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter, to cut food inflation and quell civil unrest.

Food-exporting countries are “strongly advised” not to restrict shipments to prevent “more uncertainty and disruption” in world markets, the United Nations said. Governments in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Yemen have faced protests amid rising costs and high unemployment, and a revolt toppled Tunisia’s leader.

“Sovereign nations are beginning to stockpile food to prevent unrest, and that will help to boost demand for U.S. grains,” said Jim Gerlach, the president of A/C Trading Inc. in Fowler, Indiana. “You artificially stimulate much higher demand when nations start to increase stockpiles.”

In other markets, hog futures surged to the highest in more than 14 years as prospects improved for U.S. pork exports to Asia. Sugar jumped more than 4 percent. The UBS Bloomberg Constant Maturity Commodity Index advanced 1.7 percent, the most this month, to 1,661.31.

Wheat futures for March delivery rose 18.25 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $8.565 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, capping a seven-day advance of 11 percent. Earlier, the price reached $8.6125, the highest for a most-active contract since Aug. 6. The grain has jumped 73 percent in the past 12 months.

Corn futures for March delivery climbed 13.75 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $6.5775 a bushel. The price has surged 82 percent in the past 12 months.

Soybean futures for March delivery advanced 11 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $13.855 a bushel. The oilseed has gained 46 percent in the past year.


Hog futures for April settlement rose the exchange limit of 3 cents, or 3.4 percent, to 90.125 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the highest since May 1996. The price has advanced 31 percent in the past year.

South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance said yesterday that import tariffs will be removed on frozen pork through June to help stabilize local prices. The nation is culling livestock to combat its worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Wholesale pork, a gauge of demand, yesterday rose to the highest since Oct. 4, government data show.

“We had the news out of South Korea that was more friendly,” said Christian Mayer, a market adviser at Northstar Commodity Investments Co. in Minneapolis. “That should bring some more demand to the U.S.”


Sugar futures jumped the most in two weeks on signs that rising demand in Russia, the world’s largest importer, will compound a global production deficit.

Russia may reduce its import tax on raw sugar in March, two months earlier than planned, a unit of the Economy Ministry said. A proposal by the government in India, the world’s second- biggest producer, to allow exports of 500,000 metric tons was put on review this month amid rising food-price inflation. Sugar futures have doubled since the end of June.

“The market is being helped by expectations that demand from Russia will rise,” said Michael McDougall, a senior vice president at Newedge USA in New York. “Also, there is no news from India as yet.”

Raw sugar for March delivery rose 1.29 cents, or 4.1 percent, to settle at 33.13 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Jan. 7. On Dec. 29, the commodity reached 34.77 cents, the highest since November 1980.

Commodities settled as follows:

Precious metals: April gold up 70 cents to $1,334.50 an ounce March silver up 32.3 cents to $27.128 an ounce April platinum up $9.60 to $1,796.90 an ounce March palladium up $19.85 to $804.60 an ounce

Livestock: April live cattle up 1.125 cents to $1.12275 a pound March feeder cattle up 1 cent to $1.26125 a pound April lean hogs up 3 cents to 90.125 cents a pound February pork bellies up 1.5 cents to $1.08 a pound

Grains: March soybeans up 11 cents to $13.855 a bushel March corn up 13.75 cents to $6.5775 a bushel March wheat up 18.25 cents to $8.565 a bushel March oats up 7 cents to $3.88 a bushel

Food and Fiber: March coffee up 6.25 cents to $2.375 a pound March cocoa up $17 to $3,352 a metric ton March cotton up 5 cents to $1.6683 a pound March sugar up 1.29 cents to 33.13 cents a pound March orange juice down 3.5 cents to $1.6715 a pound

Energy: March crude oil up $1.14 to $87.33 a barrel February natural gas up 1.8 cents to $4.491 per million British thermal units February heating oil up 7.69 cents to $2.6698 a gallon February gasoline up 8.79 cents to $2.4306 a gallon

Others: March copper up 4.1 cents to $4.267 a pound March lumber down $3 to $308 per 1,000 board feet

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at; Whitney McFerron in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change

What can I say?

Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds
Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating, claims the first major study since a controversial UN report said they would be melted within quarter of a century.
Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds
The key factor affecting the advance or retreat of the Karakoram glaciers is the amount of debris strewn on their surface. The Passu glacier in the Karakorum region of Pakistan.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Richard Alleyne 6:00AM GMT 27 Jan 2011

Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

The discovery adds a new twist to the row over whether global warming is causing the world's highest mountain range to lose its ice cover.

It further challenges claims made in a 2007 report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the glaciers would be gone by 2035.

Although the head of the panel Dr Rajendra Pachauri later admitted the claim was an error gleaned from unchecked research, he maintained that global warming was melting the glaciers at "a rapid rate", threatening floods throughout north India.

The new study by scientists at the Universities of California and Potsdam has found that half of the glaciers in the Karakoram range, in the northwestern Himlaya, are in fact advancing and that global warming is not the deciding factor in whether a glacier survives or melts.

Dr Bodo Bookhagen, Dirk Scherler and Manfred Strecker studied 286 glaciers between the Hindu Kush on the Afghan-Pakistan border to Bhutan, taking in six areas.

Their report, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the key factor affecting their advance or retreat is the amount of debris – rocks and mud – strewn on their surface, not the general nature of climate change.

Glaciers surrounded by high mountains and covered with more than two centimetres of debris are protected from melting.

Debris-covered glaciers are common in the rugged central Himalaya, but they are almost absent in subdued landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau, where retreat rates are higher.

In contrast, more than 50 per cent of observed glaciers in the Karakoram region in the northwestern Himalaya are advancing or stable.

"Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability or global sea level," the authors concluded.

Dr Bookhagen said their report had shown "there is no stereotypical Himalayan glacier" in contrast to the UN's climate change report which, he said, "lumps all Himalayan glaciers together."

Dr Pachauri, head of the Nobel prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has remained silent on the matter since he was forced to admit his report's claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was an error and had not been sourced from a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It came from a World Wildlife Fund report.

He angered India's environment minister and the country's leading glaciologist when he attacked those who questioned his claim as purveyors of "voodoo science".

The environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had cited research indicating some Himalayan glaciers were advancing in the face of the UN's claim.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wall Street's new lie to Main Street - Asset Allocation from Mark Cuban' BLOG

Wall Street's new lie to Main Street - Asset Allocation

markcuban | January 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

Mark is right on the money this ties to a lot of what I have been Blogging about from the start. Aivars Lode.

The greatest lie ever told used to be Wall Street telling main street to "buy and hold".  Of course thats what they told you every chance they got. It's not what they did.  The holding period for stocks dropped from 8 years in 1960s to 2 years in the 1990s and 8 months in the 2000s.   Today, stocks are bought and sold in milliseconds.  Which is one of the big reasons you don't hear much about buy and hold any more. That and the fact it didn't work.  I think individual owners of stocks  finally came to understand that old saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for 50 years, shame on me. "
But Wall Street needs a marketing slogan doesn't it ? How else are they going to get all the suckers back into the market ? (Great article on the Stock market is for Suckers from So what's the new mantra that all those brokers, mutual funds and ETFs want you to buy in to ?
Asset Allocation (Aka diversification) is the best approach to investing.  Everyone is talking about asset allocation.  It's not a surprise given all the new funds, REITs and ETFs that have popped up in the last couple years. The more diversification sold to individuals, the more money to buy them all.  Wall Street has to sell what it has doesn't it   ? It's just good business for them. But not for you.
No longer does Wall Street  even want you to consider buying what you know. Remember Peter Lynch describing how buyers of stocks should pay attention to what they see in the mall and elsewhere and use that as a source  of ideas and information ? Or Warren Buffet suggesting that we should actually invest in things we know and look for the value there ?  Well you can forget about that kind of investing.
Today, your investment advisors want you invest in things you have absolutely no fricking clue about and have pretty much absolutely no fricking ability to learn about.
They want you to diversify into Emerging Markets, Commodities, International Bonds, Munis, Real Estate Investment Trusts, ....and.. well, a lot of different "stuff". Here is an excerpt from an article from a Sarasota  paper today:
"For context, I will provide the performance of my "moderate investor's asset allocation" for both 2010 and with its predecessors for the period since 2000. For the previous 10 years, its predecessors were up about a cumulative 104 percent.
Last year's version of the allocation was:
Fifteen percent in an S&P 500 index fund (IVV).
Five percent in a small-capitalization value fund (VBR).
Twenty percent in a diversified international stock fund (VEU).
Five percent in an emerging markets international fund (VWO).
Five percent in Real Estate Investment Trusts (VNQ).
Ten percent in large and mid-capitalization stocks with a history of paying competitive and increasing dividends (VIG).
Ten percent in a diversified portfolio of convertible securities (ACHIX).
Five percent in a U.S. Treasury inflation-indexed bonds and notes (VIPSX).
Fifteen percent in an international bond fund with traditional fixed coupon bonds (GIM).
Five percent in an international bond fund for inflation-indexed bonds (WIP).
Five percent in cash equivalents."

That is a suggestion for a "moderate investor" . Let me translate this all for you. "I want you to invest 5pct in cash and the rest in 10 different funds about which you know absolutely nothing. I want you to make this investment knowing that even if there were 128 hours in a day and you had a year long vacation, you could not possibly begin to understand all of these products. In fact, I don't understand them either, but because I know it sounds good and everyone is making the same kind of recommendations, we all can pretend we are smart and going to make a lot of money. Until we don't"
Asset allocation is about making you a sucker.  Do you seriously want to put a significant percentage of the money you will need for your future in funds that put your money into things you have absolutely no idea about? Will you have any clue about when to change your asset allocation ?  Will you change it based on changes in the dollar ? Changes in domestic inflation ? Changes in European inflation ? Inflation in China ? Changes in tax laws in Italy and Greece ? Changes in interest rates ? Trade balances ?
It comes down to this. Do you want to invest in something you know, or in something Wall Street wants you to believe ?
Do you really think your broker, his boss and the analysts at their firm really are being completely honest with you about how much they know about these investments they want you to make ?  Ask them if they are making the exact same investment with their money. Ask them if they would make the same investment if they were not allowed to look at a quote screen all day long like you aren't able to - which tells you if they trust the investment or want to watch it second by second knowing they may have to pull the trigger and get out on a moments notice.
Ask your broker for the names of people they have had to call or get a call from and let them know that their investment has  been wiped out. Talk to those people to understand what the ramifications of making in an investment in something you know nothing about might be.
Don't be a sucker. Remember this. It's better to make less, or next to nothing than to lose everything. Don't get greedy.  Don;t get desperate. The stock market can't save your financial future, but it can end it .

Diners want quality at that price point

Florida Life

What does this have to do with
Global economies? After the
financial crash of the 90's,
Australia's focus went to
reducing costs, increasing
dividends and eating higher
quality food. We are seeing
these same trends yet again
here in the States.

Aivars Lode

Partnerships and Collaborations: Winning Recipes
for Restaurateurs

Burger 21’s Tex-Mex Haystack
The new suburban spot called Burger 21 is full of surprises
that lift it above the new "better burger" places — treats
like po'boy shrimp burgers, bananas foster shakes and toasted
marshmallow sauce for the sweet potato fries.
Even more amazing is Mark Johnston's answer to the question,
how many Burger 21s would you like to open in, say,
five years? "1,000."
That's right, one thousand. A remarkable goal in this economy
for any business, let alone a Florida restaurant.
Ponte & Johnstons
From left: Executive chef Chris Ponte, Front Burner
Brands CEO Mark Johnston and wife Arlene Johnston [Photo: Lara Cern/St. Petersburg Times]
It's not just exuberant bragging, for Johnston comes from a
very practical restaurant background. The Johnston family
started the Melting Pot fondue chain and now presides over
146 Pots in the U.S. and abroad, plus six GrillSmiths in
Tampa Bay. In starting GrillSmith, the Johnstons made their
first collaboration with an independent chef, and now they
have one as a full partner in their expansion into burgers
and, yes, pizza.
He is Chris Ponte, a local hero of Tampa Bay culinarians
and a graduate of the Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Ponte worked at Taillevent and Payard, and then opened Café
Ponte in Clearwater, a Golden Spoon regular. Ponte is the one
who made the molten marshmallow dip for the crispy seasoned
fries as carefully as he makes truffled mushroom bisque at his
gourmet establishment.
Johnston's new Front Burner Brands also includes Peels, Ponte
pizzerias still in development.
Such partnerships are becoming more common as both diners and
restaurateurs adjust to a new reality of changing tastes, hours
and formats that demand foodie-quality, at lower prices, in
both stand-alone restaurants and chains.
"We see it in all our restaurants, ours and his. People we saw
at least four times a year, now we see once or two," Johnston
concedes. "I think the new sweet spot is between $7 and $12."
Diners want quality at that price point, even in a burger.
Johnston, his wife, Arlene, and Ponte went through at least
20 tasting sessions to find the right mix and grind for the
basic burger. Then there's chicken, turkey, tuna and black
bean burgers — hand-pressed fresh and gently formed into
regulation burgers and slider four-packs, then trimmed with
onion jam, bacon and cheeses on a shiny brioche bun.
All this is chef-inspired food without the chef price and
carefully plotted to be repeated at least 400 to 500 times, ideally 1,000.

A Mediterranean Collaboration

Steve Cook & Terry Ryan
Chef Steve Cook (left) runs Carmel Café's kitchen, and
Terry Ryan is company president [Photo: Rod Millington]
Catering to a new decade a different way is Carmel Café and
Wine Bar, a stylish, 140-seat Mediterranean restaurant in
the Northwood Plaza area of Clearwater. Here too, chain
veterans are collaborating with creative independent chefs.
In this case, the man at the door and chatting diners up at
tableside is no less than a laid-back Chris Sullivan, better
known as the founder of Outback.
Times have changed, but he clearly enjoys it. The economy may
be tough, but "people aren't going to stop eating and drinking,
" he says, "and they still want to go out somewhere."
They are eating differently, in smaller bits and pieces,
healthily and less formally, Sullivan says. His favorite
dish on the menu is the mezze platter — three kinds of hummus
and baba ganoush, starring muhamarra, the smoky Syrian dip of
red peppers pomegranate, molasses and ground walnuts.
Lamb lollipops
Carmel Café's lamb lollipops
There's steak frites for die-hard beef eaters, veal sliders
and lollipops of lamb chops and meatballs, too. But the menu
takes a broad tour of the Mediterranean through the Middle
East and North Africa as well southern Europe. So the shrimp
can be stuffed with Greek skordalia potatoes or grilled with
Spanish romesco; saffron-pine nut chicken is served with
olives and quinoa couscous; and fries are made of chickpea
flour.  The menu came together from an honor roll of
local chefs and is now in the hands of Steve Cook, formerly
of Mise en Place in Tampa. Most sides of fries, soups and
dips run from $2 to $4. And most pastas and entrees come in
small and large portions (none over $13). Likewise for wine:
Three-ounce pours start at $3, and a long list of "interesting"
whites and reds can be had for $29 to $82 a bottle.
Sullivan isn't talking about big numbers — yet. "I just want to
get this one right and maybe a second." However, he and
former Outbacker Nancy Schneid have assembled a team of
top restaurant veterans. Just in case.