83 Tons Of Fake Gold Bars: Gold Market Rocked By Massive China Counterfeiting Scandal

83-tons-of-fake-gold-bars:-gold-market-rocked-by-massive-china-counterfeiting-scandal

29-06-20 04:37:00,

Over the years, we have periodically reported of the occasional gold bar discovered as counterfeit in Manhattan’s Diamond District which instead of containing the yellow precious metal would be filled with gold-plated tungsten or in some cases copper. The news would spark a brief wave of outrage, prompting physical gold holders to run ultrasound spot checks of their inventory, at which point interest would wane and why not: buyer, after all, beware in gold as in every other market, and if someone is spending thousands to buy fake gold, well that’s Darwinism in action.

Yet one market which seemed stubbornly immune to any counterfeiting was that of physical gold in China, which was odd considering that over the past decade China had emerged as the world’s biggest counterfeiter of various, mostly industrial metals used to secure bank loans, better known as “ghost collateral“, and which adding insult to injury, would frequently  be rehypothecated meaning often several banks would have claims to the same (fake) asset.

All that is about to change with the discovery of what may be one of the biggest gold counterfeiting scandal in recent history. And yes, not only does it involve China, but it emerges from a city that has become synonymous for all that is scandalous about China: Wuhan itself.

With that preamble in mind, we introduce readers to Wuhan Kingold Jewelry Inc., a company which as the name implies was founded and operates out of Wuhan, and which describes itself on its website as “A Company with a Golden future.”

In retrospect, it probably meant “copper” future, because as a remarkable expose by Caixin has found, more than a dozen Chinese financial institutions, mainly trust companies (i.e., shadow banks) loaned 20 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) over the past five years to Wuhan Kingold Jewelry with pure gold as collateral and insurance policies to cover any losses. There was just one problem: the “gold” turned out to be gold-plated copper.

Some more background: Kingold – whose name was probably stolen from Kinross Gold, one of the world’s largest gold miners –

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A “Market” That Needs $1 Trillion in Panic-Money-Printing by the Fed to Stave Off Implosion Is Not a Market – Activist Post

a-“market”-that-needs-$1-trillion-in-panic-money-printing-by-the-fed-to-stave-off-implosion-is-not-a-market-–-activist-post

16-12-19 07:55:00,

By Charles Hugh Smith

It was all fun and games enriching the super-wealthy but now the karmic cost of the Fed’s manipulation and propaganda is about to come due.

A “market” that needs $1 trillion in panic-money-printing by the Fed to stave off a karmic-overdue implosion is not a market: a legitimate market enables price discovery. What is price discovery? The decisions and actions of buyers and sellers set the price of everything: assets, goods, services, risk and the price of borrowing money, i.e. interest rates and the availability of credit.

The U.S. has not had legitimate market in 12 years. What we call “the market” is a crude simulation that obscures the Federal Reserve’s Socialism for the Super-Wealthy: the vast majority of the income-producing assets are owned by the super-wealthy, and so all the Fed money-printing that’s been needed to inflate asset bubbles to new extremes only serves to further enrich the already-super-wealthy.

The apologists claim the bubbles must be inflated to “help” the average American, but that claim is absurdly specious. The majority of Americans “own” near-zero assets that earn income; at best they own rapidly-depreciating vehicles, a home that doesn’t generate any income and a life insurance policy that pays off only when they pass away.

The average American uses the family home for shelter, and so its currently inflated price does nothing to improve the household income: it’s paper wealth, and we’ve already seen how rapidly that paper wealth can vanish when Housing Bubble #1 popped. (Housing Bubble #2 is currently sliding toward the edge of the abyss.)

Were legitimate price discovery allowed, the asset bubbles would pop, and the real-world impact on the average household that owns essentially zero income-producing assets would be minimal. Their overvalued house would fall in half, but since it still functions as shelter, the actual economic impact is minimal. As for the life insurance company’s losses–where’s the benefit today of an “asset” that only pays out when you die?

Meanwhile, the super-wealthy own stocks, bonds, companies and commercial real estate, all of which generate income. The rich get richer in two ways: their assets generate small fortunes in income (unearned income is what separates “the rich” from everyone else) and thanks to the Fed’s constant goosing of asset prices,

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Stock Market Cheerleading: Why Do We Celebrate The Super-Rich Getting Richer?

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13-11-19 05:08:00,

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

It’s not too difficult to predict a political rebellion against the machinery of soaring wealth and income inequality.

The one constant across the media-political spectrum is an unblinking focus on the stock market as a barometer of the national economy: every major media outlet from the New York Times to Fox News prominently displays stock market action, and TV news anchors’ expressions reflect the media’s emotional promotion of the market as the end all to be all: if stocks rose, the anchors are smiling and chirpy, and if the market fell then their expressions are downcast and dour.

This cheerleading of the stock market is based on an implicit assumption that the rising stock market raises all boats: a rising market is assumed to reflect an expansion of sales and profits that trickle down to the masses in higher wages, more jobs and rising 401K retirement accounts.

The reality is starkly different: the vast majority of the gains generated by a rising stock market flow to the top 10% households who own 93% of all financial assets, and the gains within the top 10% are highly concentrated in the top .01% of financiers, super-wealthy families and corporate managers who have reaped the vast majority of the past decade of stock market gains.

The 1% grabbed 82% of all wealth created in 2017 (and 2018 and 2019…)

America’s Richest 1% Now Own As Much Wealth As The Middle And Lower Classes Combined

As my friend Adam T. recently observed: when we cheer the rising stock market, we’re celebrating the super-rich getting even richer. Why are we celebrating an unprecedented widening of wealth inequality that erodes democracy (because the super-wealthy buy political influence) and the social contract (as the vast majority of wealth and power flow to the top .01%)?

Soaring wealth inequality is extremely destabilizing politically, socially and economically: much of the social unrest breaking out around the world can be traced to the political, social and financial disenfranchisement of the masses by super-wealthy elites.

Economically, soaring inequality concentrates and capital and power in the hands of the few, 

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The $22 Trillion Market Keeping Coal Afloat

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12-11-19 07:38:00,

Authored by Vanand Meliksetian via OilPrice.com,

The global economy has been going through a remarkable period of growth especially due to China’s open-door policy since the late seventies. Also, other major Asian economies have contributed to what some analysts believe will become the ‘Asian Century’. The region is about to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) treaty which is the largest free trade agreement in the world comprising 3.5 billion people and a combined GDP of $22.6 trillion.

At the center lies Southeast Asia which is going through a rapid process of modernization and industrialization. The region is quickly becoming a manufacturing hub due to the low costs of labor and external factors such as the U.S.-China trade war. Two underlying factors of economic expansion are pushing energy consumption: a growing population and higher levels of welfare.

Some of the region’s massive energy demand is met by wind and solar power. Until 2040 renewables will triple. Despite the dramatic drop in prices of wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, Southeast Asia is set for a much dirtier future than some were hoping for. Approximately 100 GW of coal-fired power plants is planned of which 30 GW is already under construction. 

The region is a major market for coal producers due to the significant number of planned power plants. Asia in general accounts for 85 percent of the word’s top 20 coal-producing countries of which Indonesia is the largest net exporter globally. However, the Asian country will be overtaken by Russia until 2040 due to rising domestic consumption, which will reduce exports.

Beijing has taken an interest in Southeast Asia’s energy requirements because of rising consumption and the need for investments. Although China is the world’s largest investor in renewables, the country is also a big exporter of coal-fired power plants. The China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank last year invested $25.6 billion in energy projects abroad of which a big share went to coal-fired power plants in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

The IEA expects demand for coal in Southeast Asia to double to almost 400 million tons by 2040. Its estimate is 2.5 percent higher than two years ago. 

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Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?

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13-01-19 11:19:00,

Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?

Richard MOSER

I’ve been hearing about neoliberalism for a long time now and never could make much sense of it. It turns out the story we tell about neoliberalism is as contradictory as neoliberalism itself. Two currents within the critique of neoliberalism offer different analyses of the current economy and suggest different strategies for dealing with the gross exploitation, wealth inequality, climate destruction and dictatorial governance of the modern corporate order.

These opposing currents are not just different schools of thought represented by divergent thinkers. Rather they appear as contradictions within the critiques of neoliberalism leveled by some of the most influential writers on the subject. These different interpretations are often the result of focus. Look at neoliberal doctrine and intellectuals and the free market comes to the fore. Look at the history and practice of the largest corporations and the most powerful political actors and corporate power takes center stage.

The most influential strain of thought places “free market fundamentalism” (FMF) at the center of a critical analysis of neoliberalism. The term was coined by Nobel Prize winner and former chief economist of the World Bank itself – Joseph Stigliz. FMF is usually how neoliberalism is understood by progressives and conservatives alike. In this view, an unregulated free market is the culprit and the oft cited formula — de-regulation, austerity, privatization, tax cuts — is the means used to undermine the public commons.

David Harvey’s, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, is perhaps the single most influential book and the author begins with the free market. Harvey sets it up like this:

And it is with this doctrine…that I am here primarily concerned. Neoliberalism is…a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human wellbeing can be best advanced by liberating individual entreprenaurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade. The role of the state is to create… an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. [1]

Not a mention of the massive modern corporation just those 19th century individuals and institutions that are the stock characters of FMF. But to be fair, Harvey moves on to the “paradox:” neoliberalism is a political project that needs state power.

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