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The Friday OT: X-Press 2 Featuring David Byrne; Lazy

From 2002:

The tech looks a bit generational, but the vid is fun and they picked the right voice for the words. And the song's been in my head all week for some reason.

Argonaut Gold ( trading today

Fat finger, or something up?

Argonaut won itself an IIROC trading halt under the circuit breaker rule thanks to this. Back trading now.

You Can't Make Up Your Own Metrics

This links to a smart little article (only a short read, don't be afraid) by Tim Hanson of The Motley Fool, that tells you to be leery of companies that make up their own metrics. Quite right too, here's an extract to prove it:
Just a few weeks ago, Latin American McDonald's franchisee ( Arcos Dorados told investors that "organic adjusted EBITDA" was only 4.4% lower in the first quarter of 2014 and that, excluding Venezuela, adjusted EBITDA was up 18.5%! 
What does that all mean? I've read the footnotes, and I'm not really sure. All I was able to discern is that performance was a lot worse if one looked at less adjusted metrics.

After all, your author had just finished reading the Aurcana (AUN.v) quarterly fubar that had this to say about its earnings in the NR:
The Company had earnings (losses) from mining operations at La Negra for the quarter ended June 30, 2014 in the amount of ($1.4) million (2013: $2.6 million), and $2.0 million for the first six months of 2014 (2013: $7.3 million). The decrease in earnings from mining operations at La Negra for the current period against the same period of the previous year was mainly related to the decrease in metal prices, lower silver grade at the La Negra mine and lower mill through-put as a result of mill downtime due to mechanical problems. 
You see how they did that? Start your sentence with "The company" and then slip quietly into "mining operations at La Negra" as seamlessly as possible? That was the whole lot, and you know they're BSsing you backwards by selecting one part of the P+L, rather than telling you about corporate earnings. The 'La Negra' losses are one thing, the Aurcana (AUN.v) loss happened to be $7,439,537, or 11c per share. The $1.4m they lost just by running their mine, tip of the proverbial iceberg stuff.

Galt's Gulch Chile news

While reading in a fascinated and enrapt manner on how Jeff Berwick and the people who 'invested' (term used loosely) in the Libertarian paradise in the making, Galt's Gulch Chile, have been taken to the cleaners by a U.S real estate wideboy and scamster, it occurred to your humble scribe that ripping off Libertarians is in fact the perfect scam. After all these are the people who want no rules, no laws and no government to run and whine to if things go's all fair in the frictionless world of market forces, right guys? So if you're both a true Libertarian and stupid enough to be ripped off like this (which I'd also guess is a combo you find quite regularly) you just blame yourself and move on, leaving your hard-earned cash in somebody else's pocket. This must be why Doug Casey loves them so.

Anyway, go read the story of how Galt's Gulch turned into a Randian dystopian nightmare of moneyloss and tears right here.

UPDATE: IKN Nerve Centre™ is enjoying your Twitter comments already:


The Friday OT on a Thursday: Pizzaman; Sex On The Streets

Oh wow, found it.

Once upon a time, post Housemartins and pre-Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook was Pizzaman, he did this, it was good, I danced a lot to the music.

And happy to say it's held up pretty well to the test of time (19 years !!), especially considering the genre. So enjoy a slice of oldskool with your Thursday evening, you deserve it.

The middle class in Latin America

Greg Weeks over at his blog Two Weeks Notice today features the CEPAL/United Nations data that's been published on the economic strata of Latin America, featuring two of the main charts as well. As is often the case people focus in on the poverty figures and that's normal, but today I got to thinking about the numbers CEPAL has supplied on the middle class in LatAm. For sure we concentrate on the poor, but what about the middle class numbers, just for a change? They have their own story to tell as well.

In order to understand context, here's how CEPAL and many others categorize the economic levels:

1) Poor. Says what it means, standard definitions apply.
2) Vulnerable. This is the sector of the population that has either a) risen out of poverty but is at risk of falling back in if things don't go well or b) dropped away from the secure middle class category and runs the risk of becoming poor. For what it's worth, in LatAm this is usually the a) group.
3) Middle class. Says what it means, standard definitions apply. People just like your author who are fortunate enough to have disposible income and the trappings thereof.
4) Residual. I like that word, much cooler than the rich or the one percent. For example people who live in Peru, run the country's media and tell you how wonderful Peru is. For another example people who live in Venezuela, run the country's media and tell you how crappy Venezuela is.

So with those out the way, the charts that follow zoom in on the middle class sector, those people established in the comfort zone of each country. They're not sweating over the next paycheck, but neither are they wondering which colour their next Ferrari should be. If you want more on the other sectors, including the percentage figures, check out the Greg Weeks post, it's on this link.

This first chart shows the percentage of each country's population that's safely ensconsed in that gossamer cocoon of ennui and neuroses we know as "middle class life". As you can see, we have the figures from the year 2000 lurking in the background and then the latest ones for 2012 as main feature. That's because CEPAL provides both sets of figures, too.

Uruguay is top of the bunch because it's always had a large section in the middle class (being a small population country helps in these things, as does its long-standing reputation as a tax haven in the region). Then many of you out there may be surprised to see Argentina in a clear second place, but that's only because you've been reading too many stupid and unbalanced articles on the country, rather than ever visiting the place. Chile's good for this metric, as are Costa Rica and Panama. Down at the bottom, four Central American countries with a reputation for poverty and instability.

This second chart is perhaps more interesting for the context it shines on chart one. Here we see the difference in percentage scores between the two sets of figures for 2000 and 2012, which gives us a good idea of how many people have managed to make the move up to middle class status in the first part of this century:

Peru is up and thrusting and has added the most in percentage terms to its middle class, so well done indeed. Then come two supposedly pariah states (if you believe the MSM bullshit on LatAm) in Argentina (scoring well again) and Bolivia. Then come a bunch that have added the rough average of 11% or 12% to their scores, all good and laudable (and hey, including Venezuela). Also rans include Uruguay (at or close to a saturation point, so no worries there) and then four countries that have the shame of seeing their percentage of middle class drop.

So, tell me how Argentina is this economic disaster area again?

Tommy Humphreys and Lawrence Roulston, playing nicely together

Here's what's being sent over to my mailbox this morning, from a couple of you. Well, I might have adjusted the text slightly. Here and there. Y'know, just for fun.

(PS: Yes, I'm at a loose end this morning. How did you know?)

Good morning members of our free list,
This is Tommy Humphreys for Lawrence Roulston (Some of you may know me from my appearances in the daytime series, Nurses In Love).
Lawrence brought me on board a couple of months ago to help revive his rapidly fading newsletter, Resource Opportunities, established in 1998. We are both very excited by the chance to pretend there's an improving outlook for junior mining equities, as well as what's in store for our newsletter.
We just published a report on an R&D stage company that I believe has the potential to change my life, and possibly yours, but this one isn't Lowell Copper so don't worry I'm not going to make the mistake of toadying out of my league this time.
Yes, some luck will be involved, but you have to make your own luck in this world and if I sell enough of these subscriptions, my back will be covered and I'll be running no risk at all. That part's up to you, suckers.
The company our report covers has arguably the best possible management team and financial backers for what they have set out to do and if you get to the end of this sentence and still read on then you're exactly the type of person I'm looking for. The team has created billions in wealth for shareholders and themselves in this particular commodity over the past twenty years.
The roughly $20 million enterprise value company is not at all followed by the investment community, the same way my grammar fails to follow the basic rules of English language.
Under normal circumstances, I would be willing to pay the current enterprise value for an empty shell with a management team of this calibre because I'm a complete twat, but this company is not a shell. It has several potentially significant projects, and success at any one of them could add zeroes to the company's valuation. You still reading? Oh, you're the one, just go the bottom, hit the subscription button and sign on now.
I thought I would have to wait a long time to have the stars align on a story like this one, and there are very exciting things happening at this company over the next six months. Very exciting, as adjectives and modifiers make all the difference to a no-brainer winning trade.
To learn more about our idea please sign up at the Resource Opportunities site, which we are in the process of re-designing and we need more money to pay the web designer so don't delay.
The report is the culmination of over two months of research on the company, and its yours with a $299 annual subscription. You see, PT Barnum was right.
And if you change your mind you may cancel within 30 days of signing up for a full refund.
We look forward to having you aboard!
Tommy Humphreys for Lawrence Roulston
Toll Free: 1-XXX-773-XXX 

Amerigo Resources ( insider trades

Not that many interesting insider buys or sells recently, but this one catches the eye:

Herr Zeitler suddenly likes his own (and fave) company again. He now owns over 22m of these papers.

But hey, maybe it's because I recently bought a few (a.k.a. Aaaaargh!!! to) myself that this one caught my eye. Yup, that was your full disclosure.