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Monday April 24, 2006 - 10:20:26 GMT
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Party on dude!

“To be fair, the commodity world has diversified its stories from China and India to other factors. When I talk to oil bulls, their pitch usually resembles a rap song — “Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran!” Everyone is supposed to be terrified and pay up for oil. But, the horror story is not raising risk premiums on risky assets such as emerging market bonds. Nobody seems bothered by the inconsistency.”

Andy Xie

FX Trading
There is a palpable difference between those who have cut their teeth in leveraged markets, and those that pretend—the real players have a visceral understanding of risk. They know the definition of fleeting.

fleet•ing 1. To move or pass swiftly 2. To fade out; vanish

…as in “fleeting fortune”

The commodities crowd is riding high. Stories abound and rationales continue to flourish about Chinese demand and world crisis; metals and crude prices “must” be headed higher.

Forgive us, but we can’t help thinking “dot.coms” when we hear that stuff. Granted, there is a difference. Dot.coms were only paper—commodities are real. But the problem comes when paper becomes the underlying driver—not real demand; please record into evidence the following for the court’s consideration:

Recent comment from Morgan Stanley’s Andy Xie:


“The copper price is up by 41%. In contrast, China’s copper imports fell by 19.4% and copper scrap by 5.4% in the first quarter from last year. The usual argument to square the circle is that China will have to buy later.”

“The average price of Brent crude price surged 42.7% last year. It is up by 25.2% this year so far. However, the US oil inventory, which used to drive oil prices, is near an all-time high.

“China’s crude imports were up 3.5% while refined products fell 16.9% last year. Crude imports did rise by 25.3% in 1Q06 on a low base, but refined products fell by 1.8% from last year.”

“The gold price is up by 21.5% this year, following an 8.8% increase on average last year. India is normally considered the driver for the gold price. However, its imports fell by 38% in 4Q05 in response to the surging price. When 1Q06 data become available, they are likely to tell the same tale.

“According to the World Gold Council, global investment demand for gold rose by 26% to 600 tons, jewelry demand by 5% to 2,736 tons, and industrial demand by 2% to 419 tons in 2005. It is quite clear in this case that investment demand (i.e., inventory demand) is the real driver.”

“Silver is up by 58.1% this year. Nobody has come up with a story to explain it. The race is on to see who can come up with a plausible story quickest.”

Speculation is about money. People motivated by greedy expectations use money to move prices. In this game, the trend is your friend until it’s not. But because no one knows when or where the trend ends, there is a motivation to stay in the game despite the apparent and growing risk.

As it is a game of money and/or credit, logically one has to think as long as credit remains abundant the trend lives. Back to Mr. Xie: “The key to the success of self-fulfilling prophesies is herd mentality…Without the proliferation of hedge funds and proprietary trading on Wall Street, self-fulfilling prophecies would be few. In today’s world, potential self-fulfilling prophecies tend to happen, as long as they are good for the profit of the institutions behind such trades.”

If it’s working for Goldman, why can’t I ride this puppy?

“One can never be sure whether it is the expectation that corresponds to the subsequent event or the subsequent event that conforms to expectations. The segregation between thoughts and events that prevails in natural science is simply missing.”

George Soros

Hey there’s a party going on—let’s not worry about little things like that.

Jack Crooks
Black Swan Capital

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