April 24, 2013
- Hotheaded robbers foiled by high-tech: A tale that could lead to a (totally legal) haul for you
- The Eagles have fled: U.S. Mint suspends sales of one coin, sets monthly record with another
- China joins a game of currency musical chairs: Who gets left out?
- Ron Paul on Bitcoins… the shrinking dollar becomes a court case… opposing views on the house-to-house searches in the “Cradle of Liberty”… and more!
“If it had nicked a main artery, it could have been fatal, there is no doubt about that,” said the police detective.
It’s bad enough when you’re confronted by robbers. It’s worse when you do everything the robbers demand and they shoot you anyway. But the thigh injury suffered by Imran Aslam could lead to a far bigger payout in your pocket than the robbers ever got.
Let’s follow the breadcrumbs…
For all the digital transactions that take place these days, “cash-in-transit” (CIT) is still big business.
In one large developed country alone — the United Kingdom — $2.1 billion in cash is transported every day between bank branches, ATMs, cash centers and large retailers. And it’s in the U.K., where thieves targeting cash in transit have been practically stopped cold.
Which brings us back to Imran Aslam. He was loading up an ATM in Blackburn, England, with $30,000 when he had this misfortune of running into a robber with the Dickensian name of Colin McCash.
McCash was an ex-boxer with a losing record, a drug habit and a rap sheet as long as your arm. And he was the ringleader among five people who did the job.
Aslam handed over the cash as demanded. “Then,” explained Lancashire Police Superintendent Neil Hunter, “quite callously and unnecessarily, he was shot in the leg because they were demanding he open the door to the estate agents to get more cash. He couldn’t do that. As a result of their frustration, they shot him.”
The following month, McCash paid for gasoline using some of the stolen notes. “The money had been sprayed with a purple dye, mixed with a unique DNA marker,” the BBC reported. “The notes had been washed several times, fading the dye. But the DNA, extracted from plants and modified, remained in place and could have lasted 350 years. Using the DNA, the notes were traced back to the cash box involved in the robbery.”
McCash is now doing 10 years; his accomplices are serving lesser sentences.
In the year after the McCash case was solved, CIT customers adopting the DNA technology reported a 55% drop in robberies… and a 72% drop in cash losses. And 35 robberies that did take place were solved with the DNA, leading to 57 criminal convictions.
All because of technology developed by a tiny U.S.-based company. And the applications go far beyond the cash-in-transit business.
No less a client than the United States Missile Defense Agency is turning to this company.
The aim — to keep counterfeit parts out of the Pentagon’s assorted Star Wars-type programs.
And that’s on top of a requirement issued by another Pentagon branch. The Defense Logistics Agency set out last year to develop anti-counterfeiting standards for defense contractors to meet. This affects Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin — all the big guys.
In the end, only one method met the agency’s standards — the DNA method.
“In my 30-odd years in this business,” says our high-tech and biotech specialist Patrick Cox, “I can’t recall the last time, if ever, that the largest purchaser of military equipment in the world has, intentionally or inadvertently, placed a de facto strong buy recommendation on a publicly traded company.”
Please note: Patrick’s exclusive presentation on this government-granted monopoly will expire at midnight tomorrow. Give it a look now while there’s still time.
Major U.S. stock indexes are in the red this morning, but not by much. The Dow sits three points below 14,700.
For a 10-minute span yesterday, an outfit called the Syrian Electronic Army — hackers loyal to the Assad regime in Syria — threw markets into a tizzy with this.
The AP’s Twitter account was hacked. Whether the Syrian Electronic Army is actually responsible as it claims, we don’t yet know. But the effects were immediate…
Treasury yields moved the other way at the same moment.
“It’s becoming more clear,” says The Rude Awakening’s Greg Guenthner, “that Twitter and other social media outlets are starting to have a profound effect on the markets — and how we distribute and digest news events. Everything’s happening faster — and there’s little chance it will slow down anytime soon.”
[Ed. Note: With earnings season in full swing, you might be surprised — nay, shocked — by the stock idea in today’s 5 Min. Forecast PRO. Actually, we were too, when we saw it. But Dan Amoss makes a compelling case — especially compared with the stodgy consumer staples and utility stocks that have led the market this year. If you haven’t gone PRO yet, here’s where to do so.]
Gold — which curiously had no reaction to the bogus tweet yesterday — is drifting up today. At last check, the bid was $1,424.
Silver’s made a couple of runs past $23 in the last 12 hours, but for naught: As we write, an ounce fetches $22.90.
“What would make me bearish on gold?” asks Currency Wars author Jim Rickards rhetorically. “What would make me want to sell gold?”
“Well,” he tells Business Insider, “if the president and the chairman of the Fed came out and said, ‘We’re going to raise interest rates, we’re going to stop quantitative easing — in fact, we’re going to reverse it a little bit — we’re going to cut corporate taxes to zero, we’re going to eliminate the capital gains tax, we’re going to reduce regulation, and we’re going to make America a magnet for savings and investment. We’re going to have an investment-driven model, rather than a debt- and consumption-driven model, and we’re going to have positive real rates.’
“I would say, ‘Great. Sell your gold, or put it to one side, because gold is over.’
“But none of those things is true. Not one of those policies that I just mentioned is on the table.
“In fact, the opposite is true. We’re getting higher taxes, more regulation, more quantitative easing and zero interest rates as far as the eye can see.”
As noted yesterday, Mr. Rickards has graciously agreed to speak at this year’s Agora Financial Investment Symposium in Vancouver. Seats are filling up fast — best grab discounted registration while it’s still available.
The U.S. Mint has been cleaned out of 1/10th-ounce Gold Eagles. So far this month, 85,000 of the coins have exited the Mint’s doors. Now sales are temporarily suspended.
“While the 1-ounce gold bullion coins remain the most popular,” says a Mint statement, “demand for the 1/10th-ounce coins has remained strong too, with year-to-date demand for these coins up over 118% compared to the same period last year.”
Overall Gold Eagle sales this month now total 183,500 ounces. At this rate, April will almost surely end with the second-highest sales on record… and an all-time high is within reach.
Silver Eagle sales for April now total 3,232,000 — the highest April on record.
Supply remains tight, and the Mint continues to ration sales to its dealer network — as it has since a temporary suspension of sales in January.
One of those authorized purchasers says the wholesale premium for Silver Eagles has doubled this month, to around $4.50 each — not that it’s dented sales a bit. “There’s no cheap silver out there,” says Jim Hausman of The Gold Center in Springfield, Ill.
The Mint says it’s trying to find another supplier of blanks — so far, with no luck. “Currently,” according to Coin World, “the Mint secures finished planchets from Sunshine Mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Vennerbeck Stern-Leach in Lincoln, R.I.; and GSM Metals in Cranston, R.I.”
Australia is getting even cozier with China.
A few days ago, the two countries announced they would soon trade in each other’s currency, bypassing the U.S. dollar. Now Australia’s central bank is committing to plunk down 5% of its foreign exchange reserves on Chinese government bonds.
The decision “provides greater diversification of our investments and will help with our understanding of the Chinese financial markets,” says Reserve Bank of Australia deputy governor Philip Lowe.
At present, the RBA allocates 45% of its forex reserves to the U.S., 45% to Europe, 5% to Canada and 5% to Japan. Whose portion gets trimmed and by how much, no one’s saying yet.
“I’ll tell you the truth, it’s little bit too complicated,” says Ron Paul — offering up his first assessment of Bitcoins.
“If I can’t put it in my pocket, I have some reservations about that,” he tells Bloomberg. “But it’s been designed in the free market, and if it’s a means of exchange, it would not ever be illegal. And you shouldn’t regulate it in the free market. But I do not think it fits the definition of money, which has been around for 6,000 years.”
Then again, “I admit I don’t fully understand exactly what is going on with it.”
Hey, it’s complicated — especially if you’re not a computer nerd. That’s why we’ve taken our time putting together our Bitcoin Bible and ignored the wild swings Bitcoin has made relative to the dollar this month.
This plain-English guide will be ready for release tomorrow. And you can claim a free copy. Learn how at this link.
Liu Hua is trying to make a point — however feebly.
In 2006, the woman from Kunming, China, opened a bank account denominated in U.S. dollars. She deposited $250.
Liu has now filed suit against the Federal Reserve in the Kunming Intermediate People’s Court — because the value of her account has shrunk 30%.
“She claims it was a result of the Federal Reserve issuing too much money,” reports the South China Morning Post.
Liu’s lawyer son, Li Zhen, is representing her. “Since the Fed is a private institution which enjoys a monopoly over the issuing of currency,” he says, “U.S. dollar holders can sue it for printing too much money.”
The court has yet to decide whether it will take the case. But Li is already thinking bigger. “He said he was looking for more ‘victims’ like his mother,” the paper says, “and expected to bring a class action in a U.S. court.”
Heh… We can think of at least 315,655,265 potential members of that class…
“I have to disagree,” a reader writes, “with the comments of John Whitehead about the actions of the police in Massachusetts after the bombing at the marathon. I, for one, was damn glad to see them in action.
“That there were so many from so many different agencies surprised me, but I was not upset. Far as I am concerned, this is one kind of time they should be doing just what they did — swarm the area and give the perps no room to maneuver.
“And while I might agree with James Bovard that there are plenty of examples of government going overboard, this was not one of those times. When some nutcase comes into my neighborhood with the sole intent and purpose to kill or maim innocent bystanders, possibly my wife or children, I will give no quarter and think that law enforcement shouldn’t either. Whitehead and Bovard may well have a different viewpoint if the bombs had gone off on their front porches.”
“What happened in Watertown, Mass., should shock and outrage every American,” writes a reader on the other side.
“The state of Massachusetts and the federal government have committed a crime against the American people. The right of the people to be secure in their home and free from unreasonable search and seizure has been tyrannically violated. This right is inalienable. This precedent should not go unchallenged or unpunished. The Massachusetts and federal governments should be sued for crimes against the American people.
“If the government can act with tyrannical impunity, then we do not have a Constitution.”
The 5: The Massachusetts ACLU says it wants to hear from people seen in some of the viral videos — folks rousted from their homes while heavily armed cops searched inside. “We need to get more facts to find out what happened,” says executive director Carol Rose, “so we can get a better handle on what exactly went down.”
There’s a lot that has yet to come out. Could it really be, for instance, that no one’s dog ended up getting shot last Friday in the name of “officer safety”?
“Just so I understand,” writes a reader in reply to the gentleman who complained about our ‘coma-inducing’ and ‘sleazy’ marketing, “when someone makes a purchase based on some type of marketing, which all purchases are, that person considers him or herself to be a smart, enlightened shopper?
“Yet when one does not like a particular marketing approach, it suddenly becomes sleaze, even if other smart, enlightened shoppers buy the same product?
“The crabby, cranky reader that took you to task must not realize that absolutely no one is held hostage to one of your solicitations for 10 seconds, let alone half an hour. It seems as if more and more of our population spends time looking for something about which to complain, or maybe our society has always been full of chronic moaners and groaners, with the WWW only providing a more public option to vent.
“Regardless, great job as always with The 5 and the rest of your publications, which none of us would know about if your solicitations were to go away.”
The 5: Someone who gets it. Thank you.
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. I still can’t get anything out of Addison as far as the “big changes” in store for The Daily Reckoning. “Friday” is when he promises all will be revealed.
He did, however, share some of the survey responses we solicited yesterday. (There’s still time to respond if you haven’t already.) In fact, he plugged the responses into a word cloud generator to find out exactly what’s on your mind. The bigger the word, the more often it’s cited by readers like you.
So… “government” appears twice, depending on whether it’s capitalized or not. Clearly, that’s the biggest threat readers see on the horizon.
We’re still compiling the numbers on the second question, covering the solutions you want us to deliver. Stay tuned. Addison assures me that whatever comes out in the wash will figure big into the changes that are coming to The Daily Reckoning.