• Sprott Money
    03/27/2015 - 04:54
    At first glance, the title to this commentary seems facile, especially to those readers in higher income brackets. The reality, however, is that “investing in food” is a risk-free means of generating...

Wall Street Journal

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Meet IETA: Greece's "State Of The Art" Euro Printing Facility





While the ECB is responsible for determining the euro-zone's supply of bank notes, it doesn't actually print them; instead it outsources the work to central banks of a few euro-zone countries (one of which is Greece). As WSJ reports, the Greek central bank's bank-note printing facility is called IETA. Built in 1941, the Attica plant today is outfitted with "state-of-the-art machinery," and has been responsible for printing batches of €10 notes, according to the ECB. One wonders how tempted the Greeks will be to take matters into their own ink-stained hands, should the ECB/Germany/Eurogroup pull the plug without acquiescing to their non-ultimatum "take it or leave it" offer...

 
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If "Everything Is Awesome", Why The Alarms Over A Slight Rate Hike?





The fact that there is a debate about a quarter-point rate hike tells us that extraordinarily low interest rates have mostly failed to deliver a robust recovery. That people opposed to even the tiniest increase in rates are resorting to hyperbole tells us that they too know this. The thinking seems to be that six years into near-zero policy, the only reason it hasn’t worked is because it hasn’t been tried long enough. Meanwhile, the dangerous side effects of year after year of artificially low rates continue to grow.

 
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Operation Choke-Point Is Worse Than We Thought





Operation Choke Point is an initiative of the DoJ that was announced in 2013 which investigates bank interactions with certain businesses believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering. When first disclosed it was heavily criticised for bypassing due process with critics warning that "it's a thinly veiled ideological attack on industries the Obama administration doesn't like, such as gun sellers," and precious metals dealers. However, as Mike Maloney explains, it is far worse than that... "it violates the most fundamental principles of the rule of law and accountable, transparent government."

 
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For Brazilians, Miami Real Estate Is All About Re-location, Re-location, Re-location





As London is to Moscow, so Miami is to Rio... Following the re-election of Dilma Rousseff - the center-left president that is generally loathed by Brazil's elites - the WSJ reports, rich Brazilians are relocating to South Florida en masse. As one attorney notes, "mainly they feel concerned about the instability of Brazil’s political environment; they don’t want to be the last ones to leave,” with Brazilians among Miami’s top three foreign buyers of high-price real estate, along with Argentines and Venezuelans, two other troubled economies. As one Rio broker exclaims, "Miami is the biggest Brazilian city outside of Brazil right now."

 
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First Genetically Modified "Browning-Resistant" Apple Approved For US Consumption





With only 37% of the public believing that genetically-modified foods are 'safe', The Arctic apple - which resists browning when cut open or sliced - faces an uphill battle for 'success'. But as WSJ reports, the non-browing trait makes it particularly attractive for restaurants, grocery stores, airlines and other companies that offer pre-sliced fruit, and since The Agriculture Department on Friday approved it as the first genetically modified apple for sale in the U.S., the debate over the safety (and labelling) of modified foods reignites. While "getting the consumer to buy in to the product has to be the priority," notes Okanagan, environmentalists warn "there is no place in the U.S. or global market for genetically engineered apples."

 
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ISIS Breaches US Military Advisers' Iraqi Base





Just as we warned hours ago, it appears the capture of a nearby town was not the endgame and, as The Wall Street Journal reports, A group of Islamic State militants penetrated an Iraqi air base where U.S. military advisers are training Iraqi forces, the first time attackers have gotten beyond the outer perimeter of an Iraqi base being used by American trainers.

 
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Is Russia Planning A Gold-Based Currency?





The “perfect-storm” of geopolitical instability, diplomatic isolation, severe currency depreciation, and economic decline now confronting Russia has profoundly damaged Moscow's international standing, and possibly for the long-term. Yet, it is precisely such conditions that may push the country’s leadership into taking the radical step that will secure its world-player status once and for all: the adoption of a gold-exchange standard.

 
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"Independent" Fed Lobbies GOP Against Audit





Because nothing says "independence" like snuggling up to the newly Republican-controlled Congress. Having, in recent years, been accused of being too closely aligned with Democrats, WSJ reports that the Fed's "Liaison Office" - which lobbies for the bank's interest on Capitol Hill - has begun cultivatinmg relationships with the GOP in a desperate bid to evade Rand Paul's "Audit The Fed" Bill.

 
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Why We Won't See An Oil Price Rebound Yet





The front page of The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, February 10 proclaimed “Oil-Price Rebound Predicted” according to the IEA (International Energy Agency).

Not true.

 
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Dollar & Bond Yields Are Plunging





US equity markets are quietly doing what they do - go up and stay up. But in the biggest markets in the world - US Treasury, Japanese bonds, and foreign exchange - something turmoily is happening. Yields are cratering today.. The USDollar is getting hammered on the back of JPY gapping dramatically stronger and EUR surging.

 
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Bank Of America Used Government-Backed Funds For "Reckless, Extremely Levered" Tax Avoiding Trades





A current Bank of America employee has made a number of whistleblower submissions to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about the role played by the U.S. banking subsidiary in financing dividend-arbitrage trades: trades which used taxpayer-backed funds to allow hedge funds to avoid paying taxes. The employee’s submissions allege that Bank of America’s London-based Merrill Lynch International unit has extended “extreme levels of BANA leverage” to fund “increasingly aggressive and reckless” tax-avoidance trades. The submissions said the practices risked causing the bank “serious financial and reputational damage.”

 
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Too Big To Sail? Container Ship Cost-Cutting Creates Potential Of "Nightmare" Catastrophe





We remarked on the first notable casualty of the collapse of global trade and with it the cost of shipping freight last week when the first of the bulk shipping bankruptcies occurred, but as The South China Morning Post reports, over the past 10 years, shipping lines have endlessly invested in newer, larger vessels - flooding the market with additional capacity - yet the industry's profitability and return on capital have remained pitiful. This supply-demand imbalance has lowered the cost of ocean shipping, but has raised concerns among vessel operators, insurers and regulators about the potential for catastrophic accidents, as "cost cutting measures such as reducing crew numbers, overworking and lack of training” have exacerbated the risks.

 
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