The World Financial Report

World Financial Report – April 25th, 2019

Radio Show Newsletter

WORLD FINANCIAL REPORT ON RADIO APRIL 25th 2019
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CHARTS OF THE WEEK-QUOTES-QUICK HITS

-CHART OF THE WEEK: JPMorgan’s Bob Michele Says ‘Enjoy the Ride’ as Risk Assets Rally. Relax. That’s Bob Michele’s message to investors concerned a rally in risky assets will lose steam. The chief investment officer at JPMorgan Asset Management said money managers are sitting on too much cash and should be boosting their allocations to high-yield assets after the Federal Reserve’s dovish pivot. The firm is putting its weight behind emerging markets as investors from BlackRock Inc. to Fidelity International warn of a break in the rally. To Michele, they should just “enjoy the ride.” “There’s too much money in cash,” Michele told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. “It’s been going into cash the last three years waiting for the Fed to finish hiking rates. They were supposed to finish hiking at the end of this year, not last year. That money has yet to come back into the market.” Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: All the Stuff Bears Are Saying to Spoil the S&P 500 Record Party. Stocks are back, the ordeal is over, order has been restored. But as you puff on your S&P 500 victory cigar, pour out a drink for the bears, who just four months ago had everyone convinced they were right. Or lend an ear, at least, because the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 10,000-point round trip has done little to shut them up. Here are all the things they say will launch stocks back into free fall after the best start to a year since 1987. “There’s more bearish arguments this time around than you usually see,” Matt Maley, equity strategist at Miller Tabak + Co., said in an interview. “Forget about the China trade war. People have almost forgotten about that. And Brexit nobody’s even talking about that, the last two weeks. But we do have concerns.” Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: End to $1 Trillion Buyback Binge May Help ‘Uniquely Hated’ Asset. No other asset globally is as hated as European equities. But, according to Sanford C. Bernstein strategists, the region’s stocks have one big advantage that could attract U.S. investors. Over the next 12 months, U.S. stocks will lose the major support they get from buybacks as a deterioration in the quality of corporate debt and slowing economic growth put an end to a share-repurchase bonanza that reached $1 trillion in 2018, according to Bernstein. That’s where unloved European stocks enter the picture, with their low dependence on buybacks. “This would remove one advantage of U.S. equities over Europe,” said Bernstein strategists led by Inigo Fraser-Jenkins. “As the buyback support is reduced it will make a stronger relative case for Europe.” Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: Venezuela Imports Crude for the First Time in Five Years. Oil production in Venezuela has dipped so low that the owner of the world’s largest reserves is importing crude for the first time in five years. The nation’s output fell below 1 million barrels a day to a 16-year low in March, amid rolling blackouts and U.S. sanctions. As the power disruption shut oil fields, pipelines and ports, bringing oil infrastructure to a halt, state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA bought a cargo of crude from fellow OPEC member Nigeria, marking the first oil import since 2014. Almost 1 million barrels of light, sweet Agbami crude is discharging Tuesday, after loading in early April, and may help to offset falling domestic production. PDVSA can also use the lighter oil as a diluent to thin Venezuela’s sludgy crude so it can be more easily extracted from underground reservoirs. Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: Canadian Oil Stocks Get a Cash Flow ‘Windfall’ Amid Crude Rally. Crude’s rally is a boon for Canada’s integrated oil companies, and BMO Capital Markets is urging investors to increase their exposure to cash in on the dividends and buybacks the windfall may bring. “The surge in crude oil prices is creating a cash flow windfall for many companies. At a WTI price of $55/bbl and WTI-WCS differential of $20/bbl, we expect the Canadian large cap companies to collectively generate C$11 billion of surplus cash flow in 2019,” BMO said.

Additionally, at current WTI crude prices around $65 per barrel and a $10 per barrel WTI-WCS differential, the surplus cash flow “balloons” to C$17 billion, which is “well above the current consensus estimate of C$10.5 billion,” analyst Randy Ollenberger told clients in a note this week. And unlike past cash inflows, the bank isn’t expecting a boost in capital spending from a surplus, but rather dividend growth and higher levels of stock buybacks. Crude oil has gained over 45 percent this year, while Canada’s main gauge energy index has advanced more than 21 percent during the same period. One of BMO’s top picks Cenovus Energy Inc. has rallied over 44 percent. Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: America’s Big Deficits Are Solving a Big Problem for Markets. America’s budget deficits are often described by economists as a problem. In the markets right now, they look more like a solution. Even investors who worry about President Donald Trump’s loose fiscal policy are finding other things that worry them more. From China’s credit bulge to the European slowdown, warning signs are flashing globally. At home, the economy’s expansion is about to set records for longevity a reminder that it won’t last forever. When that kind of foreboding takes hold, it translates into demand for safe assets. And Trump is supplying them at a pace of about $1 trillion a year, matching the projected shortfalls in the U.S. budget. Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: Swiss Rates Can Be Lowered Further, SNB President Says. The Swiss National Bank can lower its subzero interest rates even further, President Thomas Jordan told newspaper Blick. In the interview, Jordan affirmed the ongoing need for a deposit rate of minus 0.75 percent plus a pledge to intervene in currency markets, if necessary, adding the franc remains highly valued. The SNB had the tools to act, he said, should economic conditions deteriorate. “We always have the possibility of lowering rates further. We have already gone quite far, but still we’ve got the necessary room to maneuver,” he was quoted as saying in comments published in Saturday’s Blick. “And we can, if necessary, expand the balance sheet further via interventions.” Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: Netflix to Sell $2 Billion of Bonds in Return to Junk Market. Netflix Inc. is returning to the junk-bond market to fund its content expansion as the company comes under pressure from media giants including Walt Disney Co., AT&T Inc. and Apple Inc. The streaming company is selling $2 billion of bonds in a two-part offering denominated in dollars and euros, according to a statement Tuesday. The proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes that may include investing in content, production and development, the statement said.

The notes will mature in 10.5 years and can’t be bought back, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Wells Fargo & Co. are managing the bond sale, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. The bonds are expected to price Wednesday. Netflix is coming off a quarter in which its forecast for new subscribers fell short of analysts’ estimates. It’s been raising prices in some of its largest territories, trying to shift toward profitability when the competition among other streaming services is mounting. Bloomberg

-CHART OF THE WEEK: America’s Elderly Are Twice as Likely to Work Now Than in 1985. Twenty percent of those age 65 and up haven’t retired. Many can’t afford to. Just as single-income families began to vanish in the last century, many of America’s elderly are now forgoing retirement for the same reason: They don’t have enough money. Rickety social safety nets, inadequate retirement savings plans and sky high health-care costs are all conspiring to make the concept of leaving the workforce something to be more feared than desired.

For the first time in 57 years, the participation rate in the labor force of retirement-age workers has cracked the 20 percent mark, according to a new report from money manager United Income (PDF). As of February, the ranks of people age 65 or older who are working or seeking paid work doubled from a low of 10 percent back in early 1985. The biggest spike in employment has gone to college-educated older workers; the share of all employees age 65 or older with at least an undergraduate degree is now 53 percent, up from 25 percent in 1985.

This rise of college-educated older workers has pushed the demographic’s inflation-adjusted income up to an average of $78,000, 63 percent higher than the $48,000 older folks brought home in 1985. By comparison, American workers below the age of 65 saw their average income rise by only 38 percent over the same period, to an average of $55,000. United Income’s calculations draw on recently released data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Bloomberg

-Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the bomb attacks in Sri Lanka that killed 321 people in what officials believe was retaliation for assaults on mosques in New Zealand. The claim, issued through the group’s AMAQ news agency, was made after Sri Lanka said two domestic Islamist groups with suspected links to foreign militants were suspected to have been behind the attacks at three churches and four hotels. About 500 people were also wounded in the bombings. Three sources told Reuters that Sri Lankan intelligence officials had been warned hours earlier by India that attacks by Islamists were imminent.

It was not clear what action, if any, was taken. President Maithripala Sirisena said he would change the heads of the defense forces following their failure to act on the intelligence. “I will completely restructure the police and security forces in the coming weeks. I expect to change the heads of defense establishments within the next 24 hours,” Sirisena said in an address to the nation. “The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me. I have decided to take stern action against these officials.” Read more here-https://reut.rs/2IRZkuH

-According to the latest Nikkei calculations, not only has the BOJ also become the top shareholder in 23 companies, including Nidec, Fanuc and Omron, through its ETF holdings, but as of Q1, it was among the top 10 holders for 49.7% of all Tokyo-listed enterprises. In other words, the BOJ has gone from being a Top 10 holder in 40% Japanese stocks last March, to 50% just one year later. But wait, there’s more: as the Nikkei further calculates, the Bank of Japan will overtake a state-run pension fund the world’s largest as the top shareholder in Tokyo-listed companies as early as 2020, even as concerns rise regarding the central bank’s outsize role in the nation’s capital market. Assuming that the bank maintains its current target of 6 trillion yen (just over $53BN at prevailing rates) in new purchases a year, its holdings would expand to about 40 trillion yen by the end of November 2020. This would place it above the Government Pension Investment Fund’s TSE first-section holdings of more than 6%. In other words, Japan’s central bank will soon be the biggest individual owner of Japanese stocks. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2UxzFtv

-Bank of Canada Abandons Rate-Hike Bias Amid Economic Slowdown.The Bank of Canada fully abandoned its bias toward raising interest rates as the economy grapples with a slowdown, bringing its policy in line with the Federal Reserve and other major industrial central banks. Policy makers in Ottawa left their benchmark overnight rate unchanged at 1.75 percent for a fourth straight decision Wednesday, and dropped a reference to future increases that had been in every rate statement since the end of 2017. The bank cited a series of factors from slower global growth to sluggish housing and oil sectors that brought Canada’s economy to a near halt over the past six months.

Officials also laid out a more dour growth forecast for this year than economists are expecting. “Governing Council judges that an accommodative policy interest rate continues to be warranted,” officials led by Governor Stephen Poloz said in the statement. “We will continue to evaluate the appropriate degree of monetary policy accommodation as new data arrive.” While Poloz had been reluctant to fully discard the idea that his next step is likely higher making him a bit of an outlier Wednesday’s changes indicate policy makers may now see the odds of the Bank of Canada’s next move as equally weighted between a hike and a cut, depending on how the economy unfolds. Bloomberg

-Poloz Inverts Canada’s Yield Curve by Removing Rate-Hike Bias. Stephen Poloz has inverted Canada’s yield curve. The central bank’s decision to remove a bias to higher interest rates pushed longer-term government bond yields lower, dropping them below short-term debt. The 3-month government bill yields about 1.68 percent, compared with 1.67 percent for the 10-year note, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. An inverted government yield curve is seen by some economists as a signal of a looming recession. The curve inverted in late March for the first time since 2007, before returning to normal on April 3. Bloomberg

-‘Maxed out’: 48% of Canadians on brink of insolvency, survey says. The number of Canadians who are $200 or less away from financial insolvency every month has climbed to 48 per cent, up from 46 per cent in the previous quarter, in a sign of deteriorating financial stability for many people in the country, according to a new poll. The survey, conducted by Ipsos for insolvency firm MNP Ltd. and released Monday, also found that 35 per cent of Canadians say an interest rate increase would move them towards bankruptcy, while 54 per cent said they worry about their ability to repay debts.

“Canadians appear to be maxed out with no real plan for paying back what they have borrowed,” said MNP President Grant Bazian in a release. “This raises many alarming questions about how and if consumer debt will be repaid, particularly if conditions deteriorate or interest rates rise.” Despite the uncertainty in the economy, many Canadians continue to add to their debt loads. The MNP survey found that about four in 10 respondents said they won’t be able to cover all living and family expenses in the next 12 months without taking on more debt.

This isn’t simply a matter of people living beyond their means. The reality is that too many households simply cannot make ends meet, however hard they try,” Bazian said. According to the survey, insolvency concerns rose the most among Atlantic Canadians, with 55 per cent saying they are $200 or less away from the financial brink, a jump of 10 percentage points since MNP’s December survey. Quebec residents were second at 51 per cent, up five percentage points, followed by Ontarians at 48 per cent, up two points. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2vt34ep

-A prominent Canadian economist is warning that record household debt levels in the country will hinder economic growth, and could be a problem for bank earnings. “The level of household debt is a big impediment to Canadian growth. It could be a problem I think it will be a problem or a constraint on Canadian bank earnings,” David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Monday. “Is it a question of impairing bank capital? No, I don’t see that at all.

But I would say we do have, still, a debt bubble of historical proportions in this country.” Rosenberg’s comments come on the heels of a new report from insolvency firm MNP Ltd., which revealed 48 per cent of Canadians are $200 or less away from financial insolvency, up from 46 per cent in the previous quarter. Those findings come even as the Bank of Canada has left its key interest rate on hold since October. Based on the most recent data available from Statistics Canada, a gauge of household debt showed that, on average, Canadians owed almost $1.79 for every dollar of disposable income in the fourth quarter of 2018.

There’s also been a growing chorus of prominent voices in recent weeks questioning the ability of Canada’s big banks to handle a softening in the country’s economy. Steve Eisman, the money manager of Big Short fame who predicted the collapse of the U.S. housing market, recently told BNN Bloomberg that Canada’s bank CEOs are “ill-prepared” for potential credit losses if the economy declines. Of the country’s big lenders, he is betting against Royal Bank of Canada, Laurentian Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2ISpPAa

-Home ownership elusive for young Canadians who fear going broke.Thirty-two-year-old Daniel Himmel is happy with his current living situation despite not having what many young Canadians dream of achieving: Home ownership. The Toronto-based artificial intelligence software manager has been renting most of his adult life, and while owning a home might be a goal for him someday, he says it’s not a priority or financially viable at this point in time. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2Gv3pST

-Calgary’s daunting office vacancy rate improves amid ‘reverse migration.’ Colliers International says a rising trend of “reverse migration” is starting to bring office tenants back into Calgary’s core, resulting in a decline in the downtown vacancy rate during the first three months of the year. The commercial realtor says the vacancy rate slipped to 25.23 per cent from 26.45 per cent in the last quarter of 2018, thanks to tenants moving back downtown to be closer to clients or to take advantage of aggressive terms being offered by landlords.

It says it expects the trend to continue through the year driven by numerous small transactions as most tenants needing more than 20,000 square feet with upcoming lease expiries this year and next have already completed transactions. The report is the second in two weeks to note the improvements in the market which has ballooned by more than four million square feet of new space since 2014 despite an oil price crash that year that led to thousands of oil and gas employee layoffs. Real estate firm CBRE estimates the downtown office vacancy rate improved to 26.5 per cent in the first quarter from the peak of 27.8 per cent last spring, thanks to a net gain in leasing of almost 290,000 square feet, the most since the third quarter of 2014. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2XG74Ee

-Harper tells private audience investors have lost faith in Canada. In mid-January, while addressing an audience of foreign investors and oil and gas executives in London, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper cast doubt on Canada’s business environment. “The theme of his speech was that people have lost confidence in Canada,” according to the CEO of one Calgary-based oil and gas company that presented at the conference. The chief executive declined to be identified because the event was private. For many in the audience, Harper was addressing some of their key frustrations, built off frequently mentioned industry challenges such as pipeline delays and regulatory headaches.

“Everybody there was aware of the issues facing the energy industry,” according to another person who attended, who did not want to be named. “The reality is that institutional investors have lost confidence in Canada,” according to the CEO of the oil and gas company. “Harper highlighted a list of things making us uncompetitive and things we have to do to attract investment.” Anna Tomala, a spokesperson for Harper, declined to comment on the remarks made at the TD conference. TD Securities spokesperson Lynsey Wynberg also declined to comment because the event was closed to the media. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2Guu7uD

-Caught in Political Mayhem, Canadian Farmers Cut Back on Canola. Politics are having an unusually large impact in Canada’s farming world this year as producers cut back on canola, durum wheat, soybean and lentil acres, all thanks to a host of trade spats. The biggest issue is in canola as China, usually Canada’s biggest buyer, shuns imports. Meanwhile, farmers in the Great White North are also seeing reduced exports of durum wheat to Italy, lentils are facing ongoing reduced access to India and global soybean prices are down because of the U.S.-China trade war.

As a result, Canada’s canola plantings will drop 6.6 percent from last year to 21.3 million acres, a bigger decline than analysts were forecasting, a government report showed Wednesday. Soybean and durum acres will also fall more than forecast.The political impact on farmers has never been this “bad” before, said Wayne Palmer, a senior market analyst with Exceed Grain Marketing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “This isn’t a fundamental situation. This is basically what happens when China doesn’t buy from Canada and the U.S.” Bloomberg

Warren Buffett, the man behind a print-media empire that includes the Buffalo News and Omaha World-Herald, doesn’t think most newspapers can be saved. The decline of advertising gradually turned the newspaper industry “from monopoly to franchise to competitive,” the billionaire chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. And now most newspapers are “toast.” “The world has changed hugely,” Buffett said in the interview with Yahoo Finance, which will serve as the livestream host for Berkshire’s shareholder meeting.

The bleak outlook echoes Buffett’s remarks at last year’s annual meeting, when he lamented the state of the newspaper industry. Berkshire’s BH Media, which owns papers across the country, has been cutting jobs to cope with declining advertising revenue. Berkshire struck a deal last year for Lee Enterprises Inc., which owns papers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to manage its newspapers and digital operations in 30 markets. Buffett, 88, said last year that it wasn’t of much economic consequence to Berkshire because the company bought its papers at “reasonable” prices.

Readers sought out newspapers when they were packed with ads about bargains, jobs and apartments, Buffett said. But Craigslist and other sites have taken over that role. By 2016, the newspaper industry’s ad revenue was nearly a third of what it was a decade before, falling to $18 billion from $49 billion, according to Pew Research Center. “It upsets the people in the newsroom to talk that way, but the ads were the most important editorial content from the standpoint of the reader,” Buffett said. Not all papers are doomed, though. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal will survive, he said. Bloomberg

-Like many traders, Johan Aguirre makes a daily check on his holdings’ ups and downs across an electronic spreadsheet. Aguirre, however, isn’t analyzing stocks, bonds or cryptocurrencies. He specializes in an increasingly tradable asset class sneakers on his favorite shoe reseller platform, StockX. Sometimes, he’ll pick up only one pair; at other times, he’ll buy in bulk. “If it’s a shoe that I know I can sell,” he said, “typically I’ll buy the whole inventory that’s presented to me.

And from the moment I know the sizes and the styles and the product code, I list it on StockX and it’s live right away.” Aguirre, 31, is part of the evolution of the multibillion-dollar worldwide sneaker resale market, which is looking less like a hobby these days and more like an occupation. The people who buy and sell sneakers will camp out at specialty retailers before a product drop, compulsively check Nike’s SNKRS app and haunt resale sites such as StockX, GOAT, Flight Club and Stadium Goods where sneakers are authenticated and offered for resale.

Most are small-time entrepreneurs hoping to earn some spending money on one or two pairs, maybe dreaming of snagging once-in-a-lifetime kicks that might bring five figures in the thriving secondary market for basketball-inspired shoes. But for Aguirre, this is a serious second-income business. Aguirre says he sold $50,000 in sneakers last year and estimates he cleared about $7,000 in profit. “The sales depend on the shoes I list,” Aguirre said, “but it can get to the point that I’m selling more than a hundred pairs of shoes a month. It’s almost become a full-time job.” Read more here-https://lat.ms/2XzNx8o

-Elon Musk: Any other car than a Tesla in 3 years will be like ‘owning a horse.’ “It’s financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla,” says the CEO of the electric auto maker. “It would be like owning a horse in three years. I mean, fine if you want to own a horse. But you should go into it with that expectation.” On stage at the Tesla Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California, Musk was boasting about Tesla’s self-driving technology. CNBC

-Elon Musk claims Tesla will have 1 million robotaxis on roads next year, but warns he’s missed the mark before. Tesla hosted its Autonomy Investor Day on Monday to show off technology that the company is developing to make its electric vehicles driverless. CEO Elon Musk said he is “very confident” Tesla would be able to offer robotaxis next year. Musk also predicted that in two years, Tesla will be making cars with no steering wheels or pedals. CNBC

-Cramer: Elon Musk is the P.T. Barnum of our time call him ‘P.T. Musk.’ Tesla CEO Elon Musk is just like P.T. Barnum, says CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “He’s P.T. Barnum. P.T. Barnum packed the seats.” “I just keep finding it’s a three-ring circus with the guy. It’s kind of annoying but he’s exciting,” argues Cramer. CNBC

-Samsung delays its $2,000 folding phone after test units break. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is delayed past its original April 26 launch date. The Galaxy Fold began breaking last week while reviewers were testing it. Samsung says the phones broke when some reviewers removed a screen protector on the device. Other devices broke after “substances” were found inside devices that affected performance. CNBC

-Samsung’s flawed foldable phone could serve as a cautionary tale. Samsung is delaying the release of its near-$2,000 foldable phone after reviewers flagged screen issues. Now the attention may turn to Huawei and other smartphone makers with foldable ambitions. Experts say Samsung’s rivals will need to think carefully about how they launch their own foldable devices. CNBC

-Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy celebrates landslide win in Ukraine presidential election. With nearly all the votes counted in Ukraine, television star Volodymyr Zelenskiy is projected to win the country’s presidential runoff vote in a landslide. The Central Election Commission says Monday that Zelenskiy has won 73 per cent of the vote while the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko got just 24 per cent support with more than 96 per cent of the ballots counted.

Unlike in most of the elections in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history, Zelenskiy appears to have won both in Ukraine’s west and east, areas that have been traditionally polarized. One of the campaign slogans of the popular television comedian who has no previous political experience was to unify Ukraine, which has been torn by bitter debates over its identity as well as the separatist conflict in the east that is fueled by neighbouring Russia. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2IF8uey

-The Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon GMT looked and sounded like a new candidate for Best Superwatch Of 2019 on the basis of the specs and press release alone. And in person, it’s overwhelming. We had a chance to look at it in the metal and talk about the evolution of the GMT complication at Greubel Forsey, with co-founder Stephen Forsey in Basel last week, and it’s an extraordinary and I think necessarily divisive watch. Yes, it is absolutely over the top in terms of design, and in terms of price, but it’s also over the top intentionally a megawatch with two double tourbillons, two time zones, a universal time display/worldtime function via a miniature globe, and more traditional labor-intensive fine finishing that you would find in ten vintage observatory tourbillon pocket watches put together, is an inherently expensive proposition. Bloomberg

-Tiger’s Masters-Winning Bridgestone Golf Balls Are All Sold Out. Tiger Woods’s victory at the Masters has been a boon for sponsor Bridgestone Corp., which sold out of the model of golf ball he used in his first major victory since 2008. Seven days after the historic win, Bridgestone said every Tour B XS ball it produced had been sold, either to consumers or retailers. The company, which declined to provide specifics, had to ramp up production to meet overwhelming demand. Bridgestone also produced commemorative Masters boxes of a dozen, selling out more than 10,000 sets for $44.99 in 24 hours and 36 minutes.

Those packages, plus a small additional allocation, will start shipping later this week. Woods’s victory at Augusta National is considered by some to be the greatest comeback in sports history, capping years of personal problems and injuries. The win gave him 15 major championships, three shy of the all-time record. Overall, Bridgestone Golf’s national retail customers saw a 30 percent boost in sales in the week after Woods’s win. The company says traffic on its golf website tripled and social-media impressions grew 250 percent. Woods, 43, has played with golf balls from the Japanese tire and sporting-goods maker since 2016. Bloomberg

-Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gives linemen Amazon stock that could be worth a bundle. Wilson gave $156,000 worth of Amazon stock to the 13 offensive linemen, or $12,000 each. The news comes less than a week after Wilson signed a four-year deal with the Seahawks worth $140 million. The contract makes him the highest-paid player in the league on an annual basis. CNBC

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RARECOLOREDDIAMONDS.COM

Rare large white diamond found at Western Australia’s Argyle mine. One of the largest white diamonds ever produced by the Argyle mine in the east Kimberley region of WA may be one of the final significant finds of Australia’s most famous diamond mine. The octahedral-shaped 28.84-carat stone, named Argyle Octavia, was discovered in March. “We don’t see many this shape, or colour, or that clarity, generally out of the mine,” Argyle general manager of operations Andrew Wilson said. “We’ve probably seen 20 of those in the last 36 years of operations, of the plus-20-carat size.”

Mr. Wilson said it was rare for a stone this size to even survive the mining process intact. “To find one that gets all the way through our crushers, and all the way through the sorting process, out to where we retrieve it. It’s quite unusual for it to be able to come out a fully formed diamond” he said. Diamonds may be forever, but diamond mines are not, and with the Argyle mine due to shut down in 2020, this could be the last major diamond it produces. “There’s a real buzz; there’s a lot of people on site who work really hard to be able to find these diamonds, and to have discovered this one is a real thrill for everyone,” Mr. Wilson said.

A tender process will now begin, with the stone to be whisked away to the world’s diamond trade capital of Antwerp in Belgium. The company was unwilling to attach a value to the stone ahead of the tender process. “It will go to Antwerp, and through our auction process, and the market will determine its value,” Mr. Wilson said, adding that the diamond would be sold as a rough stone. “Let’s hope there’s somebody who’s got a passion for West Australian Argyle diamonds hopefully we have that opportunity to see it on a beautiful piece of jewellery.” Read more here-https://ab.co/2IyZCao

-Botswana unveils blue diamond to rival the Hope Diamond. Botswana has unveiled a blue diamond whose value could outstrip that of the storied Hope Diamond: the 20.46-carat, close-to-flawless Okavango Blue. The diamond was presented in Gaborone, Botswana by the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. Found as a 41.11-carat rough stone in the Orapa mine operated by the producer Debswana, the jewel is the largest blue diamond ever found in Botswana. Like the Hope Diamond which likely originated in Golconda, India and now resides at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington the Okavango Blue is a Type IIb “fancy blue” diamond. (Its tint the result of boron inside the gem.)

While the Hope Diamond is larger at 45.52 carats, the Okavango Blue’s immense value lies in its clarity. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) graded the diamond as “Very, Very Slightly Included,” or VVS2, meaning inclusions internal imperfections “are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.” In comparison, the Hope Diamond received a “Very Slightly Included,” or VS1 grade, according to the Smithsonian, meaning “inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.”

Marcus ter Haar, managing director of Okavango Diamond Company, said in a statement: “It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way.” “It is little surprise blue diamonds are so sought after around the world as only a very small percentage of the world’s diamonds are classified as fancy color and, of those, only a select few can be classified as being Fancy Blue,” he said. “Only a handful of similar blue stones have come to market during the last decade, of which the Okavango Blue rightfully takes its place as one of the most significant.” Read more here-https://cnn.it/2W2YKOo

-The Real Story Behind How the World’s Largest Rough Diamond Was Cut for the Queen’s Crown Jewels. The story behind the cutting of the world’s largest gem-quality rough diamond that helped create Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Jewels has been unearthed in rare documents. The original 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which is still the largest ever discovered, was cut in Amsterdam and created an astonishing nine principal stones.

The main one, Cullinan I, is still the largest polished white diamond in the world, weighing 530.20 carats and is positioned on top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre, while Cullinan II, which weighs 317.40 carats, is set at the front of the Imperial State Crown. Now, the historic legal agreement that arranged for the cutting of the world’s largest diamond is being auctioned later this month. Bonhams is selling the original manuscript copy, dated January 29, 1908, of the “Agreement for the Inspection of the Cullinan Diamond” between the representatives of King Edward VII and London diamond brokers M.J Levy & Nephews. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2ICbJDT

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GOLD-SILVER

Gold to silver ratio at 80 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $25.00

Gold to silver ratio at 70 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $28.57

Gold to silver ratio at 60 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $33.33

Gold to silver ratio at 50 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $40.00

Gold to silver ratio at 40 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $50.00

Gold to silver ratio at 30 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $66.67

Gold to silver ratio at 20 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $100.00

Gold to silver ratio at 15 to 1 with gold at $2,000 the silver price would be $133.33

-World’s Central Banks Want More Gold. India’s central bank is likely to join counterparts in Russia and China scooping up gold this year, adding to its record holdings and lending support to worldwide bullion demand as top economies diversify their reserves. The Reserve Bank of India’s purchases are part of a wider picture across developing economies that are looking at de-dollarizing their foreign-exchange reserves, according to Ross Strachan at Capital Economics Ltd. The RBI’s buying trend can be sustained for a number of years in relatively small quantities, as part of a long-term diversification, he said. The RBI may purchase 1.5 million ounces in 2019, or about 46.7 tons, according to Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., with an outlook based on extrapolating amounts bought in the first two months of this year.

The RBI increased its stash by about 42 tons last year, and after adding more in January and February, the country’s gold reserves now stand at a record high of almost 609 tons, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. Russia bought 274 tons in 2018 and has added more this year, while China’s central bank is on a renewed buying spree that began in December. Global official sector gold purchases could reach 700 tons in 2019 led by these countries as well as Kazakhstan, Iran, and Turkey, according to Citigroup Inc. Heightened geopolitical and economic uncertainty pushed central banks to diversify their reserves and focus on investing in safe and liquid assets, with governments worldwide adding 651.5 tons of bullion last year the second-highest total of purchases on record, according to the World Gold Council.

Further inflows expected to run as high as 2018 as China, Russia, and Kazakhstan buy should also be supportive of prices, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Bloomberg

-Gold will break out of slump and test 2018 highs: Standard Chartered’s precious metals expert. One of Wall Street’s top metals expects predicts gold will breakout this year. With gold prices sinking to 2019′s lowest level last Thursday, Standard Chartered’s Suki Cooper believes they’re closing in on oversold territory. One of her key assumptions: The Federal Reserve keeps its interest rate hike policy on hold through next year. It’s a scenario, Cooper suggests, the Street hasn’t been giving serious thought to yet.

“The Fed will be on hold in 2019 [and] 2020 as it prepares its tools for the next downturn which is likely to come in 2021,” the firm’s executive director of precious metals research told CNBC’s “Futures Now.”

Investors typically view gold as safe haven asset when economic growth sputters. Plus, Cooper notes gold follows a historical pattern that leads to higher prices when the Fed puts the breaks on a hiking cycle and even went on to cut rates. “Investor positioning and prices actually were range bound for a short while before they lifted higher say six months later,” Cooper said. “The trend that we’re seeing at the moment isn’t dissimilar to what we’ve seen in the past.”

Cooper suggests central bank buying and increasing demand from China and India will also likely to support gold prices at higher levels versus 2018. “We think that upside is more likely to materialize as the year unfolds,” she said. “In Q4, we’re expecting prices to average $1325 because that’s when we expect the dollar to weaken and yields to start to ease as well.” She expects the yellow metal to test last year’s closing high of $1362 an ounce in the final three months of the year. And, her forecast gets even more bullish by 2020. “We actually think gold prices are more likely to break upside further in 2020 averaging $1375 next year,” said Cooper. Read more here-https://cnb.cx/2PvnCvJ

-Lawrie Williams: Russia keeps up the gold buying pace. The Russian central bank has announced that it added another 600,000 ounces of gold (18.7 tonnes) to its reserves making a total of over 55 tonnes already so far this year. This puts it on target for another year of plus 200 tonne gold additions to reserves for the fifth year in a row. For all of 2018 the Russian central bank accumulated an additional 274 tonnes of gold making it comfortably the world’s fifth largest gold holder as reported to the IMF. If it carries on increasing its gold reserves at, or around, its current rate it is closing the gap fast on the world’s third and fourth largest reported holders of gold Italy and France and could surpass them both within the next twelve months.

China too is continuing to build its gold reserves, but reportedly at a slower rate than Russia, although one seems to be less able to rely on the veracity of China’s figures. As reported to the IMF, China is the world’s sixth largest official gold holder at around 1,873 tonnes as compared with Russia’s 2,163 tonnes if one includes the latest figures for March accumulations for both nations. However, it is widely believed that China in reality has much larger gold holdings through holding substantial amounts of gold which it hold in accounts which it does not total with its other forex holdings, thus providing it with an excuse for not reporting these to the IMF. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2DvkbAE

-Gold worth billions smuggled out of Africa. Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond a Reuters analysis has found. Read more here-https://reut.rs/2GGNTo7

-Greg Hunter: Chris Powell Interview, This is Bigger than Gold & Silver Manipulation. Chris Powell, Treasurer and Secretary of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA), says price manipulation of all markets is a major problem the world faces. Powell explains, “This is an issue far bigger than gold and silver. Gold and silver are just minerals, atomic elements. The issue for us is much bigger than that. The issue is free and transparent markets and having an accountable government. You cannot have those things unless you have freely traded monetary metals markets and freely trading currency markets as well. We don’t worship the golden calf or the silver bull. We are pursuing a much more justice-oriented agenda here. We want government to tell us what they are doing in the markets. We want them to be open and accountable, and that requires a free and transparent monetary metals market.” Read and watch more here-http://bit.ly/2DwRzXJ

-Survey concludes Germans hold more gold than their central bank. The Germans own about 6.5 percent of the world’s gold holdings. In the past two years alone 250 tons have been added. And the interest continues to grow. But experts doubt that gold is the most lucrative savings option. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2VlUKLX

-Experts say increased demand for solar panels causes spike in silver prices. Researchers from Kent Business School published a paper this week in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research where they state that increased demand for solar panels causes silver prices to spike. After analyzing a series of datasets from the London Bullion Market, installed solar energy capacity and solar gross electricity production between 1990 and 2016, the academics noticed that silver prices have risen at the same time there has been a spike in demand for solar panels. Examples of such situations are the years following the 2008 global recession when silver prices rose to $18.99/ounce, and shortly after 2011, when there was worldwide concern oil prices were becoming too high and silver prices climbed to $48.03/ounce. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2GEg86N

-Ted Butler: The Annual Silver Surveys. This past week, the Silver Institute released the annual supply/demand report it commissions each year by GFMS from London. In about a month, the annual silver report compiled by CPM Group should be released. Over time, these two reports have become the prime source material for silver supply/demand fundamentals. First, some general comments about the reports, followed by what the Silver Institute report includes and doesn’t include. As always, data and statistics on their own are fairly meaningless, compared to interpreting and understanding the message of the data. One thing that always struck me as odd about both reports is the absolute precision implied about silver production and consumption in that there is hardly any rounding off (as I suppose I am inclined to do) all data are reported to within 100,000 ounces or less.

This strikes me as a bit odd for a market in which total production and consumption amount to one billion ounces annually. It gives the impression of precision almost to the point of infallibility. Yet in the category where one would assume the greater precision, annual mine production (as opposed to consumption), the difference between the two reports is quite wide. Last year, for example, there was a difference of 80 million oz between the two reports for world annual mine production a 10% difference. And that’s usually the case each year. We’ll see what the difference is this year in about a month when the CPM report is issued, but the first lesson to be learned is not to take the statistics offered in either report too literally, but as estimates (despite the implied precision).

Another curious aspect to the Silver Institute report is the regular use of the word “deficit”. I’m not sure why this word even appears, as there has been no real deficit in silver for years. A deficit occurs when all the silver currently produced is insufficient to meet industrial and other demand (jewelry and silverware and coins) apart from pure investment demand and world silver inventories are drawn down and depleted to meet the current demand. We did have such a structural deficit in silver for 65 years running, from the start of World War II to 2006, in which close to 10 billion ounces of world silver inventory, basically, went up in smoke. But since 2006, there has been no true structural silver deficit in silver in which total world silver inventories have been reduced. This is perhaps the most confusing feature of the survey. Read more here-http://bit.ly/2UV7iKS

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Investing In Fancy Colored Diamonds

Investing in rare colored diamonds is a long-term investment. The economic cycles of the past 15 years have seen colored diamonds reach new heights in value as price records were broken.

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1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 1980
  • Total Price: $50,000
  • Price per Carat: $50,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 1990
  • Total Price: $150,000
  • Price per Carat: $150,000
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 2000
  • Total Price: $500,000
  • Price per Carat: $500,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 2008
  • Total Price: $1,000,000
  • Price per Carat: $1,000,000
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 2009
  • Total Price: $1,090,500
  • Price per Carat: $1,090,500
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 2020
  • Total Price: $2,828,187*
  • Price per Carat: $2,828,187*

*Estimated value based on current market trend

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Pink

  • Year: 2025
  • Total Price: $4,361,506*
  • Price per Carat: $4,361,506*

*Estimated value based on current market trend

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 1980
  • Total Price: $1,000
  • Price per Carat: $1,000
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 1990
  • Total Price: $3,000
  • Price per Carat: $3,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 2000
  • Total Price: $9,000
  • Price per Carat: $9,000
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 2008
  • Total Price: $23,500
  • Price per Carat: $23,500
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 2009
  • Total Price: $26,300
  • Price per Carat: $26,300
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 2012
  • Total Price: $32,000
  • Price per Carat: $32,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 2020
  • Total Price: $53,993*
  • Price per Carat: $53,993*

*Estimated value based on current market trend

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Intense Yellow

  • Year: 2025
  • Total Price: $74,873*
  • Price per Carat: $74,873*

*Estimated value based on current market trend

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 1980
  • Total Price: $60,000
  • Price per Carat: $60,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 1990
  • Total Price: $200,000
  • Price per Carat: $200,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 2000
  • Total Price: $600,000
  • Price per Carat: $600,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 2008
  • Total Price: $1,350,000
  • Price per Carat: $1,350,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 2009
  • Total Price: $1,494,000
  • Price per Carat: $1,494,000
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 2020
  • Total Price: $4,555,497*
  • Price per Carat: $4,555,497*

*Estimated value based on current market trend

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Vivid Blue

  • Year: 2025
  • Total Price: $7,561,708*
  • Price per Carat: $7,561,708*

*Estimated value based on current market trend

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Red

  • Year: 1950
  • Total Price: $13,800
  • Price per Carat: $13,800
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Red

  • Year: 1987
  • Total Price: $927,000
  • Price per Carat: $927,000
  • Source: Auction

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Red

  • Year: 2008
  • Total Price: $2,000,000
  • Price per Carat: $2,000,000
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Red

  • Year: 2009
  • Total Price: $2,074,600
  • Price per Carat: $2,074,600
  • Source: Private Sale

1 Carat Radiant Cut Fancy Red

  • Year: 2020
  • Total Price: $3,103,720*
  • Price per Carat: $3,103,720*

*Estimated value based on current market trend