Sunday, November 28, 2010


Unlike gold, silver production is consumed to a very high degree!

From Wikipedia:

(a silver iodide generator for cloud seeding)
Silver ... has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal.


Today, silver metal is also used in electrical contacts and conductors, in mirrors and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Its compounds are used in photographic film and dilute silver nitrate solutions and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides. While many medical antimicrobial uses of silver have been supplanted by antibiotics, further research into clinical potential continues.




The name of the United Kingdom monetary unit "pound" (£) reflects the fact that it originally represented the value of one troy pound of sterling silver. In the 1800s, many nations, such as the United States and Great Britain, switched from silver to a gold standard of monetary value, then in the 20th century to fiat currency.


Photography and electronics

Photography used 30.98% of the silver consumed in 1998 in the form of silver nitrate and silver halides. In 2001, 23.47% was used for photography, while 20.03% was used in jewelry, 38.51% for industrial uses, and only 3.5% for coins and medals. The use of silver in photography has rapidly declined, due to the lower demand for consumer color film from the advent of digital technology, since in 2007 of the 894.5 million ounces of silver in supply, just 128.3 million ounces (14.3%) were consumed by the photographic sector, and the total amount of silver consumed in 2007 by the photographic sector compared to 1998 is just 50%.

Some electrical and electronic products use silver for its superior conductivity, even when tarnished. For example, printed circuits can be made using silver paints,[6] and computer keyboards use silver electrical contacts. Some high-end audio hardware (DACs, preamplifiers, etc.) are fully silver-wired, which is believed to cause the least loss of quality in the signal. Silver cadmium oxide is used in high voltage contacts because it can withstand arcing.

Mirrors and optics

Mirrors which need superior reflectivity for visible light are made with silver as the reflecting material in a process called silvering, though common mirrors are backed with aluminium. Using a process called sputtering, silver (and sometimes gold) can be applied to glass at various thicknesses, allowing different amounts of light to penetrate. Silver is usually reserved for coatings of specialized optics, and the silvering most often seen in architectural glass and tinted windows on vehicles is produced by sputtered aluminium, which is cheaper and less susceptible to tarnishing and corrosion. Silver is the reflective coating of choice for solar reflectors.


Small devices such as hearing aids and watches commonly use Silver oxide batteries due to their long life and high energy/weight ratio. Another usage is high-capacity silver-zinc and silver-cadmium batteries.
Furthermore from the Amalgam Wikipedia page, "Silver-mercury amalgams are important in dentistry".


Saturday, November 27, 2010


Liechtenstein, Vaduz
Bank Assets under Management,

LGT CHF 86.8 bn
LLB CHF 46.4 bn
VPB CHF 40.5 bn
Total CHF 173.7 bn

 1. 2.
 3. 4.
 5. 6.
 7. 8.
 9. 10.
 11. 12.
 13. 14.
 15. 16.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Purchasing Power

Nice graphic from DollarDaze!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Germany's Gold

The German Gold treasury is actually hosted in New York, London, and Paris. Ein Schelm, wer Böses dabei denkt.

manager magazin (in German): 3440 Tonnen mythische Fracht
Nach Angaben des "World Gold Council" betragen die offiziellen Goldreserven Deutschlands derzeit 3439,5 Tonnen. Dies entspricht 45,6 Prozent der Gesamtreserven oder einem Wert von rund 36,5 Milliarden Euro. Das Edelmetall ist in Barren à 12,5 Kilo gegossen und wird überwiegend in einem Tresor in Manhattan gelagert. Dort betreibt die US-Notenbank für 60 Nationen das mit 550.000 Barren größte Goldlager der Welt.

"Der größte Teil unserer Goldreserven wird außerhalb deutscher Grenzen, wo er entstanden ist, gehalten: bei der Fed in New York, bei der Bank of England in London und der Banque de France in Paris. In dieser Reihenfolge", sagte Kotz dem Stern.

In den 50er und 60er Jahren waren der Bundesbank dort aufgrund außenwirtschaftlicher Überschüsse Deutschlands die Goldreserven von anderen Nationen übertragen worden. Wegen der hohen Kosten für Transport und Bau neuer Tresore lehnt es die Bundesbank aus betriebswirtschaftlichen Gründen ab, die Goldbarren nach Deutschland zu schaffen.
Prof. Hans-Helmut Kotz was a member of the executive board of the Bundesbank from 2002 till 2010. The stern interview was in 2004.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Pocket change currently in use:

NoFractional CurrencyCountries
15.New Pence / Pence2
21.Aurar (inactive)1
35.Ghana Pesewas1
52.New Pence1

Source: SIX Telekurs

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Assets under Management (in German)

UBS bleibt zweitgrösster Vermögensverwalter

1 Bank of America: 1,740.51 Milliarden Dollar

2 UBS: 1,593.74 Milliarden Dollar

3 Morgan Stanley: 1,508.00 Milliarden Dollar

4 Wells Fargo: 1,218.00 Milliarden Dollar

5 Credit Suisse: 775.43 Milliarden Dollar

6 JP Morgan: 636.00 Milliarden Dollar

7 Royal Bank of Canada: 379.00 Milliarden Dollar

8 HSBC: 367.00 Milliarden Dollar

9 Deutsche Bank: 272.38 Milliarden Dollar

10 Pictet: 243.21 Milliarden Dollar

Quelle: Scorpio Partnership 2010 Global Private Banking

Monday, August 02, 2010

ISO Codes

Country and currency ISO codes:

English country names and code elements


ISO 4217 currency and funds name and code elements

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Forced Investment

See this video of Brady Dougan (in English), Credit Suisse CEO, best earning banker in the world (71 USD million bonus?!):

The record bonus was "a forced investment", people have to see the context.

He is sweating ... at least.

Yes, really, I am curious, why are you leading C. Suisse, and where?

Where did Ospel lead the U. B. of Switzerland? At least we know why:).

Monday, June 28, 2010

BP Gossip

From the Mad Hedge Fund Trader: The Value Play on BP
Some of the chatter that came back was amazing. BP has discovered the largest and most powerful well in history, and control of it may be outside existing technology. The previous record gusher was Union Oil Co.’s Lakeview well in Maricopa, California, which spewed out a staggering 100,000 barrels a day at its peak in 1910, and created an enormous oil lake in the central part of the state. My grandfather worked there for Standard Oil during the Great Depression, and 2o years later, oil was still everywhere.

Estimates for the BP well now range up to 50% more than that. The pressures at 18,000 feet are so enormous, that drilling two more relief wells might only result in creating two more oil spills. If Obama doesn’t want to take the nuclear option, (click here for my piece at ), then there will be no other alternative but for the spill to continue until the field exhausts itself or becomes capable, possibly some time next year.

This is not the end of the world. Less than 1% of the spilled oil is ending up on the beaches. Watch TV, and that is not 150,000 barrels on the beach in Pensacola, Florida. Most of the crude is being moved parallel to the coast by the current and will eventually end up in the mid-Atlantic, where it will break down or dissipate. Tropical sunlight, salt water, and crude are all highly corrosive, and the three don’t last together long.

Using the high end estimates, and assuming that it takes a year to run out, possibly 36 million barrels will end up in the sea (pressure is declining). This is the same amount of oil that was dumped into the Atlantic during WWII, when 452 tankers were sunk by German U-boats, mostly along the US east coast, and when tar balls on the beach were a daily occurrence. This is on top of the 1.5 million barrels a year that leak into the Gulf through natural seepage, which no one ever notices.

One way or the other, this will end, and Western civilization will survive. And by the way, the crude price rise brought by the spill also marked up the value of BP’s reserves, easily allowing it to cover the cost of the clean up, no matter how big it is. This is how profitable this company is, and why they were so generous with a $20 billion contingency fund.

No sooner did I put out the call the buy the pariah stock at $29, than I hear Whitney Tilson of T2 Partners, one of the giants of the value corner in the hedge fund universe, is doing the same. Whitney has come up with a few more arguments which I haven’t thought of, which I will happily pass on.

For a start, no company has ever made more mistakes than BP, and panic is rife. Great time to buy. BP has the fourth largest revenue of any company in the world after, guess what, three other energy companies, Gazprom (GZPFY.PK), Exxon Mobile (XOM), and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS/A). Pre crisis Q1 operating profit estimates were at a staggering $34 billion, and the net at $22 billion.

While the environmental damage is substantial, it is nowhere near as bad as when 11 million barrels of crude poured into the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm in 1991, which is one sixth the size of the Gulf of Mexico.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

BP Reporting

This is all that is mentioned in the BP first quarter of 2010 report:
On 20 April 2010, the semi-submersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon owned and operated by Transocean Limited caught fire in the US Gulf of Mexico and subsequently sank. The rig was drilling an exploration well on a BP deepwater lease. BP is committed to doing everything in its power to contain the environmental consequences of the incident.
Not even the death of the 11 people is mentioned.

What is also very interesting from the 2009 annual report:
Total exploration expense in 2009 of $1,116 million (2008 $882 million and 2007 $756 million) included the write-off of expenses related to unsuccessful drilling activities in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico ($391 million), India ($31 million), Angola ($28 million), Egypt ($27 million), and others ($31 million).
Put this in relation to this quote from a Deepwater Horizon witness:
[Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon, and one of the last workers to leave the doomed rig] said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks.

With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace.

"And he requested to the driller, 'Hey, let's bump it up. Let's bump it up.' And what he was talking about there is he's bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down," Williams said.

Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called "mud."

"We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe," Williams explained.

That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.

"We were informed of this during one of the safety meetings, that somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million was lost in bottom hole assembly and 'mud.' And you always kind of knew that in the back of your mind when they start throwing these big numbers around that there was gonna be a push coming, you know? A push to pick up production and pick up the pace," Williams said.

Asked if there was pressure on the crew after this happened, Williams told Pelley, "There's always pressure, but yes, the pressure was increased."
Now, how much is actually produced by BP down there in different fields in the Gulf every day?
Field                 2009
Thunder Horse 133'000 bpd
Atlantis 54'000 bpd
Mad Dog 35'000 bpd
Mars 29'000 bpd
Na Kika 27'000 bpd
Horn Mountain 25'000 bpd
King 22'000 bpd
Other 62'000 bpd
Total 387'000 bpd
So make your own guess, how much is coming out there free flowing every day!

Here is what Mad Hedge is worried about:
All of BP’s efforts to date have really been “Hail Mary’s” doomed to failure. The only real chance is to relieve the pressure by drilling several adjacent wells, and that will take months. If BP has discovered the mother of all fields with pressures so enormous, they can’t be controlled with modern technology, a possibility which some geologists admit, then more huge leaks will spring and the nuclear option will be the only one left. In the meantime, if a serious hurricane hits the region, a mathematical probability, then we will see the environmental equivalent of Chernobyl meets Katrina. In this scenario, you can kiss BP goodbye.
So how big could the field be, how much oil is down there that could potentially come up?

From Bloomberg: Anadarko Says BP Should Pay After Being Reckless
1 Billion Barrels?

The ruptured well may hold as much as 1 billion barrels, the Times reported, citing Rick Mueller, an analyst at Energy Security Analysis in Massachusetts. BP previously estimated the field contained 50 million to 100 million barrels of oil, the U.K. newspaper said.
For comparison, Exxon Valdez spilled 0.27 million barrels into the sea. Around a million is estimated to have come already out of the current leak. BTW, BP has total net proved crude oil reserves (not considering natural gas reserves) of 10.5 billion barrels.

Not that there isn't already enough oil out there in the sea (NYTimes graphic via The Big Picture):

Last not least, zero hedge has lots of interesting topographical sea maps of the area around spill:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Palladium Production

Source: "Platinum 2010" by David Jollie (from Johnson Matthey)
1'000 oz20052006200720082009
South Africa2'6052'7752'7652'4302'370
  Stock Sales1'4857001'490960960
North America910985990910755
Total Supply8'4057'9508'5807'3107'100
Total Production6'9207'2507'0906'3506'140
Gross Demand     
Total Gross Demand8'3457'8458'3958'2907'770
Total Recycling-990-1'230-1'565-1'615-1'430
Total Net Demand7'3556'6156'8306'6756'340 
Movements in Stocks-435635260-325-200
1 t = 32'150.75 oz
South Africa81.0286.3186.0075.5873.72
  Stock Sales46.1921.7746.3429.8629.86
North America28.3030.6430.7928.3023.48
Total Supply261.42247.27266.87227.37220.83
Total Production215.24225.50220.52197.51190.98
Gross Demand     
Total Gross Demand259.56244.01261.11257.85241.67
Total Recycling-30.79-38.26-48.68-50.23-44.48
Total Net Demand228.77205.75212.44207.62197.20
Movements in Stocks-13.5319.758.09-10.11-6.22

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Vehicle Productions

World cars and commercial vehicle production statistics according to OICA:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Platinum Investment

Reuters: Redemption possible for platinum group ETFs
Physical investment demand for platinum rose 19 percent in 2009 to 660,000 ounces, boosted by strong growth of platinum and palladium ETFs, Johnson Matthey said.

Rhind said that investment alone, which represented less than 5 percent of total demand, was not enough to keep driving prices higher.


Autocatalytic converter demand traditionally accounts for half of the world's total platinum consumption. Last year, auto-sector buying fell to just 32 percent, JM said.
Businessweek: Chinese Platinum Jewelry Demand to Weaken, Johnson Matthey Says
Platinum investment demand rose 19 percent to 660,000 ounces last year, while palladium investment advanced 49 percent to an all-time high 625,000 ounces. ETF Securities Ltd. started exchange-traded funds backed by both metals in the U.S. at the beginning of the year.


Palladium may climb to a nine-year high of $700 an ounce in the next six months as the metal’s 2009 surplus of 760,000 ounces narrows, Johnson Matthey said. Palladium more than doubled in 2009, the best performance since at least 1993, and is up 26 percent this year at $514. The metal is unlikely to fall below $475 in the next six months, Johnson Matthey said.
Well, that is funny, because the free fall of the Palladium price before 2009 was just as stunning as its recent come back. The drop this week wasn't bad either, and now 475 looks already distant and sky high. Well, just show's that reading any predictions of people who don't show a track record is just a waste of time (and people who do have a respectable track record seem to make no specific predictions).
Total rhodium demand fell 21 percent last year to a 10-year low of 529,000 ounces, widening the metal’s surplus to 241,000 ounces, and Johnson Matthey said it expects another “large” surplus this year. The metal has gained 12 percent this year to $2,800 an ounce. Rhodium is mainly used in auto catalysts and also in the chemical and glass industries.


Ruthenium demand fell 18 percent to 574,000 ounces last year, and iridium consumption slipped 11 percent to 91,000 ounces, Johnson Matthey said. Ruthenium is mostly used for coating computer hard disks and iridium is used in spark plugs and for growing metal oxide crystals.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pandemic Palladium

From Kitco:

Platinum, Palladium Suffer Serious Technical Damage This Week - Kitco News, May 20 2010 10:22AM

Palladium Has Biggest Two-Day Drop in 12 Years; Platinum Falls - Businessweek, May 20 2010 3:45PM
Europe’s debt crisis and slowing growth in China may erode consumption of the metals used mostly for pollution-control devices in cars. Ford Motor Co.’s deliveries in main European markets fell 17 percent in April, the first drop in 11 months. In two days, palladium dropped 19 percent, the most since May 1998. Before this month, the price surged 36 percent in 2010.


“People should make sure they’re the first out of the exit and not the last,” Sorrentino said.

Prices gained for 12 straight months through April. The introduction of an exchange-traded fund backed by the metal in January boosted demand, Selkin of National Securities said. An ETF for platinum was also launched in New York this year.

“There’s very high speculative interest” in the metals, said Walter de Wet, an analyst at Standard Bank Plc in London. “With risk as high as it has been, we expect to see some liquidation.”
Last not least, Jesse on Gold options/futures:
Gold and silver spot was holding the exact levels where I would have expected them to find something to hang on. Let's see stocks go into option expiration tomorrow. There are a lot of calls that are going to be expiring worthless. I wonder if they will try and jam the puts for a little whipsaw action.

I will be a little surprised if they let gold up for air before its own expiration next week.
The market is rallying sharply now, and if it can retake the old support, now resistance, around 1105 it has a good chance of setting a new uptrend back to the top of the channel. This could just be a bounce. I was looking at some of the indicators last night, and they were at record oversold levels going back at least four years, including the crash.

Was all this a trading gambit mixed with petulance over the financial reform package? In a normal market I would say "nonsense." But this market is thin, like a Ponzi scheme, driven by high frequency trading and artificial liquidity. The few genuine investors are being chased and shot down like the human beings in The Planet of the Apes. The Wall Street gorillas have all the horses, nets and rifles, courtesy of the government, the regulators, and the Fed.

The smackdown in gold and silver ahead of option expiration next week, and the miners' option expiration today, was some of the most blatant and heavy handed market manipulation I have seen in a long time.

The Open Interest on the June Gold contract on May 20 increased from 216,811 to a whopping 273,541 contracts on a sharp decrease in price. This was some viciously aggressive short selling intended solely to drive down price, taking the miners down and out of the hands of the public, and weakening the resolve of the Comex gold bulls. There were roughly 18,000 call options sitting at Gold 1200 earlier this week representing 18 million ounces of gold.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gold Benchmark

Indeed, it grows very little each year, very little is consumed each year. Difficult to fake, popular and appreciated not only by woman... What better benchmark do you know?

So instead of stating the price of gold in different currencies, it makes much more sense to state everything else in gold units.

So did Robert Rethfeld: Bezugsgröße Gold

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Financial Fraud System

Some years ago when starting to work at a bank, I was wondering what could be the maximum amount possible to steal from a bank. After a certain threshold, a whole army would come after them, wouldn't they? Of course, unless everything gets stolen, then the thiefs are the one with the army anyway?! And that's how it turned out. The whole western capitalistic system has been subverted. And as every banker has become a bankster, it is even impossible to pinpoint any individuals. Coup d'etat. Let's see what will follow. Europe has just capitulated too. Yes, why rob a bank when you can work for one (Mr. Dougan)?! And BTW, as the final name of this crisis is still out, my pick would be "Accounting Crisis". But then, maybe just a matter of time to attach the word Catastrophe onto it.

James K. Galbraith via Jesse's Cafe Americain: The US Intelligentsia and Middle Class Are In the Firm Grip of Fear, Fraud and Denial
Thus the study of financial fraud received little attention. Practically no research institutes exist; collaboration between economists and criminologists is rare; in the leading departments there are few specialists and very few students. Economists have soft-pedaled the role of fraud in every crisis they examined, including the Savings & Loan debacle, the Russian transition, the Asian meltdown and the bubble. They continue to do so now. ...

There are exceptions. A famous 1993 article entitled "Looting: Bankruptcy for Profit," by George Akerlof and Paul Romer, drew exceptionally on the experience of regulators who understood fraud. The criminologist-economist William K. Black of the University of Missouri-Kansas City is our leading systematic analyst of the relationship between financial crime and financial crisis. Black points out that accounting fraud is a sure thing when you can control the institution engaging in it: "the best way to rob a bank is to own one." The experience of the Savings and Loan crisis was of businesses taken over for the explicit purpose of stripping them, of bleeding them dry. This was established in court: there were over one thousand felony convictions in the wake of that debacle. Other useful chronicles of modern financial fraud include James Stewart's Den of Thieves on the Boesky-Milken era and Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of Fools, on the Enron scandal. Yet a large gap between this history and formal analysis remains.


The complexity of the mortgage finance sector before the crisis highlights another characteristic marker of fraud. In the system that developed, the original mortgage documents lay buried – where they remain – in the records of the loan originators, many of them since defunct or taken over. Those records, if examined, would reveal the extent of missing documentation, of abusive practices, and of fraud. So far, we have only very limited evidence on this, notably a 2007 Fitch Ratings study of a very small sample of highly-rated RMBS, which found "fraud, abuse or missing documentation in virtually every file."


Latter-day financial economics is blind to all of this. It necessarily treats stocks, bonds, options, derivatives and so forth as securities whose properties can be accepted largely at face value, and quantified in terms of return and risk. That quantification permits the calculation of price, using standard formulae. But everything in the formulae depends on the instruments being as they are represented to be. For if they are not, then what formula could possibly apply?

An older strand of institutional economics understood that a security is a contract in law. It can only be as good as the legal system that stands behind it. Some fraud is inevitable, but in a functioning system it must be rare. It must be considered – and rightly – a minor problem. If fraud – or even the perception of fraud – comes to dominate the system, then there is no foundation for a market in the securities. They become trash. And more deeply, so do the institutions responsible for creating, rating and selling them. Including, so long as it fails to respond with appropriate force, the legal system itself.

Control frauds always fail in the end. But the failure of the firm does not mean the fraud fails: the perpetrators often walk away rich. At some point, this requires subverting, suborning or defeating the law. This is where crime and politics intersect. At its heart, therefore, the financial crisis was a breakdown in the rule of law in America.

Ask yourselves: is it possible for mortgage originators, ratings agencies, underwriters, insurers and supervising agencies NOT to have known that the system of housing finance had become infested with fraud? Every statistical indicator of fraudulent practice – growth and profitability – suggests otherwise. Every examination of the record so far suggests otherwise. The very language in use: "liars' loans," "ninja loans," "neutron loans," and "toxic waste," tells you that people knew. I have also heard the expression, "IBG,YBG;" the meaning of that bit of code was: "I'll be gone, you'll be gone."


But you have to act. The true alternative is a failure extending over time from the economic to the political system. Just as too few predicted the financial crisis, it may be that too few are today speaking frankly about where a failure to deal with the aftermath may lead.

In this situation, let me suggest, the country faces an existential threat. Either the legal system must do its work. Or the market system cannot be restored. There must be a thorough, transparent, effective, radical cleaning of the financial sector and also of those public officials who failed the public trust. The financiers must be made to feel, in their bones, the power of the law. And the public, which lives by the law, must see very clearly and unambiguously that this is the case.

Swiss Private Assets

Private Household Assets in Switzerland 2008

Source: SN, 2009 (via B2B magazine)
43.4%  1315 Mia CHF  Immobilien
24.7% 748 Mia CHF Versicherungen/
15.9% 481 Mia CHF Bargeld/Einlagen
5.6% 169 Mia CHF Aktien
5.3% 161 Mia CHF Anteile an
4.3% 130 Mia CHF Schuldtitel
0.9% 28 Mia CHF Strukturierte
3032 Mia CHF

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Off-Shore Centers

Here are some off-shore assets under management numbers from the Swiss Bilanz magazin:
Location        AUM (CHF bia)
Luxemburg 3'916
Cayman Island/Caribic 3'200
Switzerland 2'655
London 1'426
Singapore 1'222
Jersey 420

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Steve Cohen

The Washington Post:

How hedge fund manager Steve Cohen averaged 30% returns for 18 years
Cohen maintains the temperature on the trading floor at 69 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure no one dozes. If a portfolio manager or analyst can't answer a question about a stock, Cohen is likely to lash out. "Do you even know how to do this . . . -ing job?" is a standard barb, current and former employees say. Portfolio managers make money, or they're fired.


Cohen has since returned his focus to what he has done for most of his career: buying stocks and selling them short. He typically holds positions for two to 30 days, according to a document sent to potential investors in early 2009.

Unlike many hedge funds, which tend to have a handful of executives making investment decisions, SAC runs what amounts to 100 small funds. SAC borrows as much as $4 for every $1 of its own from prime brokers, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase, then distributes the hoard to various teams.

Managers' contracts have "down-and-out" clauses: Lose 5 percent from your peak assets, and SAC can take away half of what remains. Suffer a 10 percent loss, and you could be out.

In 2008, 12 portfolio managers and their teams were fired or resigned, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Cohen, a Long Island, N.Y., native and graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, taught himself to trade stocks at an early age. He is a master "tape reader," according to people who know him, able to predict the direction of a stock by watching each tick of the price and the volume of shares traded.

In addition to trading his own stocks and overseeing 300 managers, analysts and traders globally, Cohen buys and sells "minis," says one former employee. "Mini" is short for a security called the S&P 500 E-mini future, an electronically traded derivative that rises and falls with the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index and is sold in smaller units than other index futures.

"He does that all day, every day, completely intuitively," the former employee says.

Betting on a bubble

Cohen demonstrated his investing prowess during the dot-com and investing boom of the late 1990s. In 1999, at the height of the Internet bubble, the firm's biggest fund returned 69.7 percent, after fees, betting that technology shares would soar.

Then SAC turned around and bet that the Internet and tech bubble would pop, which it did. The fund earned 71.8 percent in 2000.


Working at SAC is tough, even as hedge funds go. One of the worst aspects, at least for people who like weekends, is Sunday "homework." Every week from 5 to 9 p.m., Cohen has his portfolio managers and analysts call in to tell him what's coming up that week for the companies they follow.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Charlie Munger:
But you can argue that if you are not willing to react with equanimity to a market price decline of 50% two or three times a century, you are not fit to be a common shareholder and you deserve the mediocre result you are going to get compared to the people who do have the temperament, who can be more philosophical about these market fluctuations.

BBC NEWS Business Charlie Munger Boom and Bust Is Normal

Palladium & Rhodium

From Johnson Matthey's 1h2009 report regarding palladium and rhodium in general:
The palladium market is expected to remain in fundamental surplus in 2009. Net demand is forecast to be down by 4%, although autocatalyst demand will fall less than for platinum as scrappage schemes introduced in many countries have favoured sales of small engined, gasoline powered vehicles which use palladium based technology. The booming automobile market in China is also supportive of palladium demand due to the dominance of gasoline engines. Industrial demand is expected to fall, with soft consumer demand leading to a downturn in the use of palladium in electronic applications. Although total demand will exceed mine supplies, significant sales of metal from Russian state stocks will keep the market in surplus. The average price for the first half of Johnson Matthey’s financial year
was $255/oz, down 35% compared to the same period last year.
In general, platinum can also be used in diesel catalysts, palladium is so far mostly used in standard gasoline engines. For this purposes, palladium and current levels is much cheaper and therefore preferred by manufacturers, however more palladium is needed per catalyst than when platinum is used.
The rhodium market has been relatively calm in comparison to 2008 when a record price in excess of $10,000/oz was recorded in the first half of the year before collapsing to less than $1,000/oz by November. With demand subdued due to falling car production, rhodium is expected to be in surplus in 2009. The price is nonetheless trending modestly higher in what is a small and often volatile market. The average price in the first half was $1,509/oz, substantially lower than an average in excess of $8,000/oz recorded in the same period last year.
Rhodium is also used in the jewelery business, bought in grams, and then fumed over other white precious metals to make it even more shining!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pharmacy Sales

The biggest pharmacy companies ranked by sales - half a trillion USD in total. To put it in perspective, all sales of Wal-Mart are at USD 405 bia. The company price to sales ratio for the big pharma sector is 2.65 (0.5 for Wal-Mart, just to give the number).

Sources: SIX Telekurs, FactSet, theScreener

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pharmacy Stocks

Pharmacy for USD 1.1 trillion.

Sources: SIX Telekurs, theScreener

Oil Companies


Market Cap 
USD Bia Company Dom. Market Cur.

333.07 PetroChina CN HKG HKD
323.40 Exxon Mobil US NYX USD
189.13 Royal Dutch Shell GB LSS GBP
186.75 BP GB LSS GBP
185.24 Petroleo Bras Pfd BR SAO BRL
161.83 Chevron US NYX USD
139.22 Total FR EPA EUR
132.70 Sinopec CN HKG HKD
96.93 Eni IT MCI EUR
91.62 Rosneft Oil RU RTD USD
86.87 ConocoPhillips US NYX USD
77.96 Statoil NO OSL NOK
69.98 Occid.Petrol Corp US NYX USD
51.25 Lukoil RU RTD USD
36.39 Apache US NYX USD
30.68 Repsol YPF ES MCE EUR
29.99 Devon Energy US NYX USD
23.28 Marathon Oil US NYX USD
Sources: SIX Telekurs, theScreener

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nickel Nurser

In English: Penny Pincher

In German: Pfennigfuchser

In Swiss-German: Rappenspalter

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Money, Money, Money

ABBA - Money Money Money (Abba-dabba-doo)
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad
In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn't have to work at all, I'd fool around and have a ball

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

A man like that is hard to find but I can't get him off my mind
Ain't it sad
And if he happens to be free I bet he wouldn't fancy me
That's too bad
So I must leave, I'll have to go
To Las Vegas or Monaco
And win a fortune in a game, my life will never be the same

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

It's a rich man's world

Thursday, March 18, 2010


In Swiss German, but it is soo funny (if you happen(ed) to live (and work) around here):

UBS Mitarbeiter 2008

And, still relevant...

Giacobbo Müller - Die Achse Kosovo-Lichtenstein

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Joke

Jon Stewart: In Dodd We Trust

Viao naked capitalism.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Euro STOXX 50 in Gold OZ

With talk recently about Gold being on an all time high denominated in Euro, let's have a look at the most important European index, the Euro STOXX 50: in Gold troy ounces!

(click on image for a bigger version)

What a wonderful downward trend for the Euro STOXX 50 in Gold. Or could we call it deflation?! And maybe it's inflation for Gold in terms of Euro!? Inflation - Deflation: is it just a matter of perspective?

Source Telekurs iD.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Swiss Statistic

This attention-grabbing article (Unterhalt des SBB-Schienennetzes massiv teurer - OMG: CHF 850 mio!) about the cost of the Swiss railway tracks in the Swiss "Tagi" calls for looking up of the latest Swiss population statistic:

Bundesamt für Statistik: Bevölkerung - Die wichtigsten Zahlen

Wichtigste Kennzahlen

Ständige Wohnbevölkerung am Jahresende (in 1000)7701.9
 65 Jahre und älter16.6
Ausländische Staatsangehörige (in %)21.7
Bevölkerungswachstum (in %)1.4
Anzahl Kinder je Frau1.48
Lebenserwartung bei der Geburt (Jahre) 
Scheidungen je 100 Heiraten47
 Einpersonenhaushalte (in 1000)1246.7
 Familienhaushalte mit Kindern (in 1000)1086.3
 Durchschnittliche Anzahl Personen je Privathaushalt2.20
Turns out CHF 110 for each Swissi (per year)! Seems to be a good deal and cheap for top notch infrastructure.

P.S. according to the BAV, the CHF 850 mio are additional costs! If the Tagi is right and this is 60% of the initially planned cost, that amounts to maintenance cost of CHF 2.3 bia for the track system. This comes down to a total annual amount of CHF 294 per Swiss resident.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


From the World Gold Council (a bunch of gold mining corporations):
How much gold has been mined?
The best estimates available suggest that the total volume of gold ever mined up to the end of 2009 was approximately 165'000 tonnes, of which around 65% has been mined since 1950.

How much gold is still underground?
The major gold producers increased their reported reserves to 719.7 million oz or over 22,000 tonnes at the end of 2005, according to Metals Economics Group. Assuming a 10% recovery loss when the ore is extracted, this would amount to 14 years of gold production at 2005's level. In practice the amount of known resources remains fairly constant over time since the results of new exploration finds replace those resources that are exploited.

What is the average cost of mining per ounce?
The average cost of replacing and producing an ounce of gold rose to $428/oz in 2005, a ten-year high, according to Metals Economics Group, based on a study of 18 major gold producing companies. However, costs vary widely between companies and the mines themselves.

How big is a tonne of gold?
Gold is traditionally weighed in Troy Ounces (31.1035 grammes). With the density of gold at 19.32 g/cm3, a troy ounce of gold would have a volume of 1.61 cm3. A metric tonne (equals 1,000kg = 32,150.72 troy ounces) of gold would therefore have a volume of 51,762 cm3 (i.e. 1.61 x 32,150.72), which would be equivalent to a cube of side 37.27cm (Approx. 1' 3'').

Where does the word Gold come from?
The word gold appears to be derived from the Indo-European root 'yellow', reflecting one of the most obvious properties of gold. This is reflected in the similarities of the word gold in various languages: Gold (English), Gold(German), Guld (Danish), Gulden (Dutch), Goud (Afrikaans), Gull (Norwegian) and Kulta (Finnish).
With today's gold price of USD 1082.00 the total "market capitalization" of gold is:

USD 5'739'872'784'897.15

USD 5.7 trillion - 9.5% of 2008 world GDP or half of the currently estimated US bailout amount:-)

And what's the annual mining production?

The CRB Commoditiy Yearbook 2008 states for 2005:
2'470 t (record high was actually 1999/2000 with 2'570 t)
= 79.41 million ozt (82.6 million ozt)
= USD 85'924'156'234.52
= USD 85.9 billion (USD 89.4 billion)
So total world gold amount is equivalent of 66.8 years of 2008 world gold production.
P.S. 1 ozt = 31.1034768 g

And how much gold is there for any human being?

165'000'000'000 g / 6'692'030'277 people = 24.66 g / person (or 80% of a single troy once)

Here is an interesting back of the envelope calculation (thought they estimate double the amount of the WGC number and maybe make a too low assumption of today's gold production, nevertheless interesting):

If you took all of the gold in the world and put it in one place how much would there be?

And a National Geographic article about gold, mining, and its social impact:
In 2007 demand outstripped mine production by 59 percent.
According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), there are between 10 million and 15 million so-called artisanal miners around the world, from Mongolia to Brazil. Employing crude methods that have hardly changed in centuries, they produce about 25 percent of the world's gold and support a total of 100 million people. It's a vital activity for these people—and deadly too.
So annually: 80 mio ozt * 25% = 20 mio ozt; for lets say 10 mio workers this results in 2 ozt per worker, average per worker USD 2'000 market value - thought not what they get:
On school holidays, Rosemery sometimes helps her mother on the mountain. It is child labor, perhaps, but for a girl whose family is living hand to mouth, it also qualifies as her proudest achievement. "Last year I found two grams of gold," Rosemery says, almost giddily. "It was enough to buy my schoolbooks and uniform.
And furthermore:
The deadly effects of mercury are equally hazardous to small-scale miners. Most use mercury to separate gold from rock, spreading poison in both gas and liquid forms. UNIDO estimates that one-third of all mercury released by humans into the environment comes from artisanal gold mining.

View Mine Sites in a larger map
At the other end of the spectrum are vast, open-pit mines run by the world's largest mining companies. Using armadas of supersize machines, these big-footprint mines produce three-quarters of the world's gold. They can also bring jobs, technologies, and development to forgotten frontiers. Gold mining, however, generates more waste per ounce than any other metal, and the mines' mind-bending disparities of scale show why: These gashes in the Earth are so massive they can be seen from space, yet the particles being mined in them are so microscopic that, in many cases, more than 200 could fit on the head of a pin. Even at showcase mines, such as Newmont Mining Corporation's Batu Hijau operation in eastern Indonesia, where $600 million has been spent to mitigate the environmental impact, there is no avoiding the brutal calculus of gold mining. Extracting a single ounce of gold there—the amount in a typical wedding ring—requires the removal of more than 250 tons of rock and ore.
Up the road there is a basketball gymnasium that Newmont staffers jokingly refer to as "the second home of the Denver Nuggets."

The name is fitting for a Colorado-based gold-mining company, though there are no nuggets here. And therein lies the problem. Higher prices and advanced techniques enable companies to profitably mine microscopic flecks of gold; to separate gold and copper from rock at Batu Hijau, Newmont uses a finely tuned flotation technology that is nontoxic, unlike the potentially toxic cyanide "heap leaching" the company uses in some of its other mines. Even so, no technology can make the massive waste generated by mining magically disappear. It takes less than 16 hours to accumulate more tons of waste here than all of the tons of gold mined in human history. The waste comes in two forms: discarded rock, which is piled into flat-topped mountains spread across what used to be pristine rain forest, and tailings, the effluent from chemical processing that Newmont pipes to the bottom of the sea.

This method of "submarine tailings disposal" is effectively banned in most developed countries because of the damage the metal-heavy waste can do to the ocean environment, and Newmont practices it nowhere but in Indonesia. Four years ago an Indonesian court brought criminal charges against a Newmont subsidiary—even jailing five of its employees for a month—for pumping pollutants into the sea near its now defunct Buyat Bay mine on the island of Sulawesi. Newmont was acquitted of all charges in 2007. Despite critics' claims that the court caved in to the mining industry, Newmont defends its reliance on ocean dumping at Batu Hijau. "Land disposal would be cheaper but more damaging to the environment," argues Rachmat Makkasau, Batu Hijau's senior process manager. The tailings at Batu Hijau are released 2.1 miles offshore at a depth of 400 feet, above a steep drop-off that carries the waste down more than 10,000 feet. "We closely monitor the quality of the tailings, pipes, and seabed," says Makkasau. "At that depth, we are only affecting some 'sea insects.'"
Nowhere is the gold obsession more culturally entrenched than it is in India. Per capita income in this country of a billion people is $2,700, but it has been the world's runaway leader in gold demand for several decades. In 2007, India consumed 773.6 tons of gold, about 20 percent of the world gold market and more than double that purchased by either of its closest followers, China (363.3 tons) and the U.S. (278.1 tons). India produces very little gold of its own, but its citizens have hoarded up to 18,000 tons of the yellow metal—more than 40 times the amount held in the country's central bank.

India's fixation stems not simply from a love of extravagance or the rising prosperity of an emerging middle class. For Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians alike, gold plays a central role at nearly every turning point in life—most of all when a couple marries. There are some ten million weddings in India every year, and in all but a few, gold is crucial both to the spectacle and to the culturally freighted transaction between families and generations. "It's written into our DNA," says K. A. Babu, a manager at the Alapatt jewelry store in the southwestern city of Cochin. "Gold equals good fortune."

This equation manifests itself most palpably during the springtime festival of Akshaya Tritiya, considered the most auspicious day to buy gold on the Hindu calendar. The quantity of gold jewelry Indians purchase on this day—49 tons in 2008—so exceeds the amount bought on any other day of the year throughout the world that it often nudges gold prices higher.

View Larger Map
Throughout the year, though, the epicenter of gold consumption is Kerala, a relatively prosperous state on India's southern tip that claims just 3 percent of the country's population but 7 to 8 percent of its gold market. It's an unusual distinction for a region that has one of the world's only democratically elected Marxist governments, but it is rooted in history. A key port in the global spice trade, Kerala gained an early exposure to gold, from the Romans who offered coins in exchange for pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon to subsequent waves of colonizers, the Portuguese, Dutch, English. But local historians say it was the region's revolt against the Hindu caste system (before which the lowest castes were allowed to adorn themselves only with polished stones and bones), and the mass conversion to Christianity and Islam that followed, that turned gold into something more than commerce: a powerful symbol of independence and upward mobility.
By themselves, none of these ceremonies captures how deeply gold is ingrained in the Indian economy. "Gold is the basis of our financial system," says Babu, the jewelry store manager. "People see it as the best form of security, and nothing else lets you get cash as quickly." Hoarding gold as an intergenerational family nest egg is an ancient tradition in India. So, too, is pawning gold jewelry for emergency loans—and then buying it back. Commercial banks still offer the service, after their attempt to stop it in the 1990s resulted in riots and suicides by debt-laden clients and a government command to continue the practice.

Many farmers in Kerala, however, prefer the speed and easy access of "private financiers" like George Varghese, who operates out of his home three hours south of Cochin. A balding man in his 70s, Varghese says he handles around half a million dollars in pawned gold a month, even more during harvest and wedding seasons. It's almost a perfect business, for even with interest rates that can reach one percent a day on short-term loans, very few people default. No Indian wants to let go of their gold. "Even when gold hit $1,000 an ounce, nobody sold their jewelry or coins," says Varghese. "This is their nest egg, and they trust it to keep growing."
In small-scale gold mining, UNIDO estimates, two to five grams of mercury are released into the environment for every gram of gold recovered—a staggering statistic, given that mercury poisoning can cause severe damage to the nervous system and all major organs. According to Peru­vian environmentalists, the mercury released at La Rinconada and the nearby mining town of Ananea is contaminating rivers and lakes down to the coast of Lake Titicaca, more than a hundred miles away.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


VET.SWX chart
Some quick observations on the Vetropack 2008 annual report:

Average sales price per bottle or glass: CHF 0.18

Ukrainian currency fell in 4th quarter by 60%!
At the end of 2008, Vetropack's capacity totals 4'250 tons of glass per day in its 16 furnaces across seven locations.
Family owned business, holding is in Bülach, Swiss factory in St-Prex.
Content and Method of Determining Remuneration. The level of remuneration to members of
the BoD is determined by the BoD as a whole. Only cash benefits are paid. No share or option
plans exist. The level of remuneration to the members of the MB is determined by the Chairman of the BoD. In addition to a basic level of remuneration that reflects the responsibility borne by an individual, there is a variable performance related component based on the results of the business unit and/or the Group.
In 2007, glass recycling quotas reached 95% in Switzerland, 80% in Austria and 59% in Croatia. Recycling accounted for 34% in Slovakia, 50% in the Czech Republic and 23% in Ukraine.
Sales by Market Segments (4.27 billion units, 1.3 million tons of glass)

33% Beer
24% Wine
17% Food
11% Spirits
09% Mineral waters / carbonated beverages
06% Juice