Corneal blindness among poor people is difficult to be treated as they cannot afford the…
I am indebted to Mineweb reader Dr. Fraser Murrell from Melbourne for some thought provoking comments on how the world’s futures markets – notably COMEX and NYMEX – are instrumental in keeping commodity prices down to the advantage of first world nations at the expense of their poorer brethren who provide most of the world’s supplies.
The views are particularly apposite with regard to the principal precious metals, gold and silver, and perhaps even more so in the platinum market where prices are currently being kept below the true cost of production.
The premise, according to Murrell, is as follows: “The West (America & Europe) produces very little of the commodities that they need and consume, but have managed to more than compensate for this by having both a printing press (to print trillions of paper dollars on demand) and a futures market with which they can set the price of the commodities that they want, in the currencies that they print.
“On the other hand the producing countries, which actually own the resources, are forced to sell their commodities to the West at the prices – and on the terms – dictated by the futures markets. In other words, since the inception of futures markets in the West, the poor producing countries have been forced to sell their scarce and valuable commodities in exchange for the West’s freshly printed paper.”
This, in some specific cases, may be backed up by the threat of force and/or sanctions if the producing nations do not comply, although this is perhaps not the case in respect of the precious metals, but certainly has been seen with respect to oil and gas producing nations.
Murrell goes much further in his treatise, some of which we find hard to agree with, but the basic futures market scenario certainly strikes a chord. He thus notes further: “The price of these commodities contracts is predominantly set by the CME group on COMEX and NYMEX in America, which in turn are only rarely settled by physical delivery, with most contracts being rolled over from month to month.
“Daily trading in paper futures often exceeds a full year of physical mine supply and so, by sheer volume of trading, the futures market dominates the physical market, rather than vice versa. Furthermore, the futures markets act as an additional source of supply, because they can create ‘out of thin air’ and sell into the market commodity futures contracts to satisfy demand. This enables the futures market to set any price that it likes, almost regardless of supply and demand fundamentals.”
Taking this scenario further, Murrell comments that it is in the interest of the Western consuming nations to set these commodity prices as low as possible and, by virtue of their usage of the futures markets, to do this they are in effect corrupting market supply/demand and pricing basics. They can thus acquire the supplies they need, while setting a price that suits them through the futures markets and print out of thin air all the currency needed to pay for them.
Meanwhile, the actual producing countries are thus forced to accept prices for their products that may even be below the cost of production due to the ‘market price’ set by the futures markets and then in exchange just receive potentially worthless paper which they will warehouse as currency reserves.
Murrell takes the overall West-favouring scenario a step further by pointing out that these currency reserves are necessary for these countries to protect their own currencies in the light of ever continuing attacks on product pricing via the same futures markets. This does not only keep commodity prices low for the consuming nations, but also reduces developing world tax revenues thus perpetuating poverty in those countries.
Now maybe some of this is a little over the top, but there has to be a strong element of truth in the impact of the futures markets on commodity pricing – whether this is one of the less-appetising facets of the capitalist system as practiced by the bankers and financial institutions, or whether this is an ongoing result of great game politics whereby the strong continue to dominate the weak, is perhaps rather more open to question.
Murrell goes on to cite South Africa’s platinum industry as a great example of how this all pans out. As the producer of around 70% or more of the world’s platinum – a vital metal in catalysis and in environmental pollution control – it thus has a virtual monopoly of the metal’s production and should thus perhaps, in theory, be able to set the price it sells at. Yet at a current platinum price of around $1 250 an ounce, many of South Africa’s platinum mines are producing and selling metal at below the true cost of production – which Murrell puts at nearer $2 000 an ounce.
Murrell reckons that the annual demand for platinum is around 8 million ounces (and increasing), while the annual mine supply is only around 6 million ounces (and decreasing), thus suggesting a severe deficit (supposedly) made up from stockpiles and recycling.
But despite this he comments that by virtue of its use of the futures markets NYMEX has ‘manipulated’ the price down to the current $1 250 an ounce. This means, Murrell says, that the West gets its platinum far cheaper than if it owned and mined the platinum resources itself, but without having to invest in risky and difficult mining operations nor having to do any of the actual mining work itself
Even more incredibly, Murrell avers, “NYMEX controls the platinum price with paper futures that only create the appearance of a fair and active market, because there are currently zero contracts either trading or standing in either of the spot (November 13) or next month (December 13). No trading and no open interest means there is no physical delivery. Nor does it appear that there has ever been physical delivery in this market!”
Thus, in his opinion, quoted platinum prices are actually meaningless because the market is thus no way a two-way affair needed for market balance – a process which he describes as an ‘outrageous scam’.
Looking at the market for physical platinum the amount registered for sale on NYMEX is only around 50 000 ounces, thus around 1/160th of global annual demand meaning that the price is controlled by the ‘manipulators’ on the basis of a minimal amount of physical metal, and at virtually no cost.
Of course, there are huge parallels in terms of futures prices driving the physical price markets for both gold and silver with virtually no relation to market fundamentals. Murrell reckons that US government policy is at the root of the ‘manipulation’ and the body set up to regulate the commodities markets, the CFTC, is thus complicit.
While some of Murrell’s arguments are perhaps open to question and some of the points he makes in a long communication to Mineweb are perhaps prone to some exaggeration in our view, his basic premise that commodity prices are driven by the futures markets and massive paper transactions, all to the advantage of the consuming nations and with no relation to physical supply and demand, do stand out as being wholly plausible.
Technical innovation maintains a steady forward pace when it comes to developing new products. Some products aren’t brand new, but are reaching a new set of clientele. Hosted IP PBX is one of the products that was adopted by small businesses early on and has now started to reach into larger companies. This is a common trend for small businesses to be the early adopters for newer products, then the larger companies begin to pick it up.
For most businesses, the idea of investing in a brand new product seems risky, especially for large businesses. But this risk level lowers once the technology has been used for a bit by smaller companies. The product starts to gain more traction once the technology has developed and the bugs have been worked out. The larger businesses decide it’s time to make a change when there are studies and data to back up the effectiveness of the product. Agents, this progression from small to larger businesses is a great opportunity for you to expand your client reach when it comes to Hosted IP PBX.
Overcoming the new technology hump
When Hosted IP PBX first came out, it got the same reaction as other new products: Companies were interested but larger businesses weren’t ready to switch. After the product was used for a while, larger companies started accepting Hosted IP PBX as an option for their business. I was selling hosted mostly to small businesses (10-20 people). Now that larger businesses have seen it work for the smaller companies they have taken on the system. This has helped broaden my scope of selling because larger companies are more receptive to hearing about how Hosted IP PBX has worked for small businesses as well as other large businesses.
One of the reasons Hosted IP PBX has caught on is because the telecommunication companies are able to provide these new solutions at reasonable prices. One study done by Info-track estimates that, “U.S. spending on unified communications technologies will increase by an average of 10% per year, led by spending on Hosted IP telephony services, which will almost triple between 2011 and 2016.” This is good news for anyone selling Hosted IP PBX because the market is there and companies of all sizes are ready to buy.
With Hosted IP PBX on the rise and the product continuing to evolve, it’s a good time for companies to look into updating their systems. This means even more good news for agents because large and small businesses are both looking at how Hosted could work for their company with so many others upgrading. With businesses big and small looking into Hosted IP PBX, there’s ample opportunity to increase sales; and as an agent, that’s all you can really ask for!
Despite all the uproar over its most recent changes and with Google+ making more improvements and getting more popular by the day, Facebook is poised to make an announcement that could change the face (no pun intended) of social media.
One person who has already seen the changes, which will be announced today at 12:30PM EST is Ben Parr from Mashable and in his words “…developers will be elated, users will be shellshocked and the competition will look ancient. On Thursday, Facebook will be reborn. Prepare yourselves for the evolution of social networking.”
Now those are some very powerful words but apparently what Ben saw was quite impressive and mind-blowing because he went on to say…
“The Facebook you know and (don’t) love will be forever transformed. The news that will come out of Facebook during the next few weeks will be the biggest things to come out of the company since the launch of the Facebook Platform.”
“These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.”
You can watch the live announcement from f8, Facebook’s annual conference for developers, entrepreneurs and innovators right here from the video player below:
For Facebook’s sake, I hope these changes, which according to Parr are only the beginning with more to come, appease their fans because judging from some of the comments users are leaving on Facebook’s Help Page, many are none too happy with the most recent round of updates:
“HEY GOOGLE MORONS WE DON’T WANT TOP STORIES! NOBODY SETS THEIR PAGE TO TOP STORIES. … HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME FACEBOOK? CAN YOU READ OUR MINDS?”
“Please turn the homepage back to the way it was!!!! I don’t like seeing status out of time order!!!! Thanks and have a good day!!!”
“Why in the world would you think that we would want an algorithm no matter how good, or well researched, deciding which friends stories pop up in our news feeds?”
A fusion of unique architecture, breathtaking nature and exciting nightlife describes some of Thailand’s appeal. The ancient temples or the buildings with centuries of history behind enchant the eyes of the visitors. Natural parks accommodate a great number of wild animals. There’s no need to mention Thai food — everybody is familiar with the local cuisine, a harmony between spices, meat, vegetables and sauces. Thailand’s entertainment industry gained some recognition for the past decades. Horror movies especially became a national product.
A rather official tour of the country would include Phucket, Ayuthaya, Wat Arun, Phra Chedi Sisuriyothai, Phi Phi, Wat Pha Sorn, Khao Khor, the golden Buddha or Ko Rang. Don’t forget though to enjoy some of the less popular things. Thailand has the largest crocodile farm in the entire world. The smallest mammal in the world, the bumblebee bat, measures 2 grams and lives only in Thailand. A fish in this country can survive on the ground and even climb trees. Forget the Night Bazaar (maybe not, it can be quite fun too) and shop from a floating market. When you’re visiting the Grand Palace, don’t miss the Queen Sirikit Museum, which is dedicated to textiles, especially Thai silk. You can experience the tribe lifestyle, cook in the wilderness or ride the elephants. Thailand has a Medical Museum where you can get disgusted all you want by all kinds of atrocities.
Thailand has become the epitome of sex tourism. While the government banned prostitution, red light districts don’t have much problem operating. Thailand is considered a good place for transvestites or transsexuals, though it’s hard to tell how much freedom they enjoy outside fetishization and sex trade. Some bars and restaurants are brothels in disguise, so stick to clubs and ask for recommendations. Thai people are friendly, respectful and will lend you a hand even if they don’t like you. They believe rejecting someone or letting down a friend in need will turn against them.
If the winter blues are setting in and the warm days of summer still seem far off, why not plan a leisurely February getaway? February offers multiple options that can bring you closer to the winter snows or farther away to tropical climates.
Beach and Resort Style
It’s pretty hard to refuse a trip to the Hawaiian Islands any time of year and in February the temperature ranges from the mid 70s to low 80s. Other good tropical destinations for February include Belize and the Caribbean.
Hanging in the U.S.A.
If you are looking to explore the continental United States, stick to areas less likely to get walloped in a rain or snow storm. San Diego enjoys mild temperatures year round, while nearby Arizona boasts relaxing spa getaways like the relaxing Sedona Retreat. Check out Florida to avoid the worst of the humidity.
Want to Get Far Away
Get globe-trotting to places like New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. The seasons are much more mild this time of year, with New Zealand and Australia enjoying a warm, summer climate and Thailand having dry and cooler (85 to 90 F) weather for the region.
Practice your ski and snowboard skills in popular mountainside resorts like Lake Tahoe in California, Aspen, Colorado or the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.
Save For Another Time
Locations that you can check off of your February “to do” list include New England, which is likely to get thrashed by cold winter storms during this time and Europe, which might be less crowded, but the bitter wind will keep you holed up inside for most of your trip.
Think social media is only for the non-affluent consumer? Think the wealthy are not affected and swayed by the court of public social media opinion Think again…
A while ago I answered the question Why Do Luxury Consumers Engage With Brands On Social Media? In doing so I explained that luxury consumers engage with brands via social media because of an affinity they have with a given brand(s), as opposed to most people who do so to get deals. I referenced an eMarketer article which spoke to this point.
Today, however, it would appear that the luxury consumer, while showing off his or her brand affinity, is also impacted directly, just as many others are – by what transpires in the social media space.
According to a recent survey from Unity Marketing, of those individuals classified with a high-net worth, as defined by having more than $1 million in investible assets, indicated that comments, tweets, Facebook posts and so on directly influenced what websites they visited (59%), what retail stores they patronized (56%) and also what designer brand they purchased (57%).
As for those classified as ultra-affluent – those who earn $250,000 or more per year, the numbers were very similar with 54% responding social media influenced website visits, 49% saying social media influenced their retail shopping and 47% stating social media affected their choice of designer brand.
Now in terms of age breakdowns, the younger crowd, those ages 24-44 were more influenced via social media than their older counterparts with 52% saying social media impacted their website choices, 45% saying social media impacted their retail store selections and 44% stating social media affected their designer brand of choice. Compare that to the 45+ crowd where the numbers were cut in half or more with 25%, 19%, and 13%, respectively, among affluents ages 45+.
So, now we know that if you’re a luxury marketer or the keeper of a luxury brand flame, particularly in the retail world, you need to be very pro-active in the social media space; you need to get yourself some brand ambassadors who will go the social media mountaintops and sing your praises because it would appear the luxury consumer is listening and is reacting to what they are hearing, er, reading.
The Statue of Liberty. People hurriedly going through Wall Street. Times Square, Madison Square Garden, Grand Central Park. Rude people and bored cab drivers. Broadway shows’ extravaganza. The Empire State Building. Manhattan. Mets and Yankees Fans. The most exciting nightlife. Crowded streets, insufferable traffic and perpetually busy people filling their bodies with tobacco and coffee. The universe of New York looks astonishingly diverse, ranging from homeless people struggling for their basic rights to rich celebrities driving in limousines.
New York is famous for its chaotic lifestyle and the skyscrapers invading the skyline. It’s one of the favorite locations for movies or TV shows, with about 250 television pictures being made each year in the Empire State. Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Sesame Street, Sex and the City and many others speak about the life in the New York City. The rudeness of its people is so famous that New-Yorkers get scared if a person is nice to them. Everything costs more in New York, starting with outrageous prices for rent or fortunes spent during a night at the club. Locals seem to already know affordable places for shopping or hanging out and leave the pricey spots for clueless tourists.
Besides the globally-renowned landmarks, try finding out more about the state. Fort Ticonderoga, for example, has passed its 2000th birthday. The Clinton Castle was built two centuries ago. Don’t forget the Apollo Theater, Grand Central Terminal, the Vanderbilt Mansion, the Boldt Castle, the Brooklyn Bridge or the State Capitol. Many tours offer you the chance to get acquainted with the artistic scene here or the historic sites. The Metropolitan Museum and MoMa represent two of the most famous museums worldwide. Don’t forget the Guggenheim Museum, with its large collection of modern art and splendid architecture. For some fresh air, go to Brooklyn’s Botanical Garden or to Riverside Park. If you’re religious, you must go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the US.
Ayurvedic medicine represents the knowledge of thousands of years of Indian practitioners, preserved and passed on by yogis. Ayurvedic spas offer treatments that not only pamper the flesh but also revitalize the mind and spirit and are very popular in spa and destination travel.
Shirodhara is designed to calm the nervous system, and accordingly the body, integrating mind and body as one. The treatment consists of a stream of a warm liquid being poured on the forehead, or the third eye. Liquids used can include coconut water, oil or milk. This treatment is designed to treat many head afflictions, including sinus pain, memory loss and hearing impairment.
Known as the royal massage, pizzichilli was once reserved for Maharajahs alone. The treatment consists of a massage, followed by the drizzling of a stream of warm, herbalized oil onto the skin, while the massage continues. This treatment is particularly useful for physical complaints such as aches and pain, but it also serves to integrate the mind and the body, as well as promoting flexibility and ease of movement.
Gandharva combines elements from several other therapies. One such therapy is called Marma, which is a form of massage designed to realign the body’s energies, and involves light touches at various centers of the body. A full body massage is also included in Gandharva treatment. Marma all takes place under the harmony-promoting sounds of a crystal “singing” bowl.
Udvartna consists of an herbal body paste, generously applied to the whole person. The application encourages blood flow, and draws out extra fluid, as well as exfoliation, leaving skin soft and fresh.
Abhyanga is a type of friction massage, generally performed by two therapists in tandem. Warm oil is massaged into the body, which encourages the flow of blood and the release of toxins stored in the body. This massage is followed by a hot towel treatment, leaving the body very relaxed.
Oshadhi is an herbal body wrap. First, the therapist applies specific oils to the body, depending on an individual’s particular needs. Then the client is left wrapped in a warm herbal cocoon, for a relaxing and calming experience.
Known by Seattle residents as one of the only “real” beaches area in the city, Alki beach is often compared to Southern California for its rollerblading, bicycling and jogging activities along the waterfront. Reminiscent also of European seaside towns, its narrow strip of sand accents the bustling cafes along the boardwalk. Outdoor activities abound, and cultural opportunities are present within walking distance of the waterfront.
Alki Beach Park
Stretching for 2 1/2 miles along the coastline of the Puget Sound, from Alki Point to Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay, the Alki Beach Park runs parallel with Beach Drive in West Seattle. It is public land, teeming with life year-round. In the summers, the people-watching is reason enough to be there, with rollerbladers, bicyclers, volleyball games, boarders and more. Stay into the evening for a bonfire right on the beach; Alki is one of only two public beaches in Seattle that allow them.
Whether you want to join a guided tour or strike out on your own, kayaks are available from Alki Kayak Tours. The guided tours include an Alki Lighthouse Sea Kayak Tour, one on the Duwamish River, Elliott Bay, Blake Island, and a sunset tour. No experience is necessary and the guides teach you all you need to know on the spot. Hourly rentals are also offered to those who are confident in their abilities already and wish to explore the Seattle waters in their own way. Singles and doubles are available, and a three-seater, which provides an opportunity to take your kids out in a kayak.
Known all over the Puget Sound region for its baked breads, coffee and desserts, the Alki Bakery is as much a tradition on Alki Avenue as the boardwalk. Start the day early with a lavish breakfast, at outdoor tables if the weather is nice, and take a picnic with you to the beach or a nearby park. Watch ferryboats, sailboats and the expansive downtown Seattle skyline from your cozy spot at the local favorite.
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation known for a vibrant culture, island beauty, and production of great Major League baseball players. Read on to learn more about the history and culture of this unique country.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispanola with the nation of Haiti. The D.R. occupies about two-thirds of the island and sits between the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea.
The island of Hispanola has been inhabited since 800 A.D. Columbus’ arrival in 1492 wiped out the native population, leading to a colonizing by the Spanish. The country’s official language is still Spanish; although, the country has been occupied by the French and Americans as well as the Spanish.
Since 1978, the country has moved away from dictatorships and toward a more American-style representative government. Currently, Leonel Fernández is serving his second term as the country’s president.
Modern Dominican Culture
Merengue music was created in the Dominican Republic, as well as Bachata, a form of dance centered on love and stories of romance. Ethnic groups in the country include people of African, European and mixed descent, as well as some Asian immigrants. Baseball is the most popular sport in the country, followed by boxing.
The Dominican Republic sends many players to the American Major Leagues. In fact, many all-stars and future hall of famers hail from the country, including Manny Ramirez, Cy-Young award winning pitcher Pedro Martinez and two-time league MVP Albert Pujols.