Jim’s Mailbox

Posted at 10:45 AM (CST) by & filed under Jim's Mailbox.

Jim,

I brought this up on Saturday.

Dave

American Farm Debt Reaches 1980s Crisis Levels: Agriculture Secretary
March 3, 2019

Debt among American farmers has increased to $409 billion, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue warned Wednesday. That is up from $385 billion last year and is currently at levels not seen since the agricultural recession (farm crisis) of the 1980s, reported Reuters.

“Farm debt has been rising more rapidly over the last five years, increasing by 30% since 2013 – up from $315 billion to $409 billion, according to USDA data, and up from $385 billion in just the last year – to levels seen in the 1980s,” Perdue said in his testimony to the House Agriculture Committee.

Purdue told lawmakers: “Relatively firm land values have kept farmer debt-to-asset levels low by historical standards at 13.5%, and continued low-interest rates have kept the cost of borrowing relatively affordable.”

“But those average values mask areas of greater vulnerability,” he added.

The agricultural sector has experienced tremendous headwinds in the last five years amid deflationary trends in commodity prices, storms damaging crops, and more recent – supply chain disruptions into China due to President Donald Trump’s trade war.

“As producers are not able to cover year to year expenses with operating loans, they are forced into transforming operating loans into term debt which erodes their creditworthiness,” said Luis Ribera, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University.

“On top of all that then we have the trade war which reduces the demand of US commodities given that tariffs make them more expensive and then depress the prices even more.”

More…

 

Jim,

Do you ever feel like you are talking to the wall? Another point you brought up on Saturday.

Dave

The Arms Race Between Gold Counterfeiters and Bullion Testers Is Heating Up
March 1, 2019

By SilverBullionSG

In late February 2019, we came across the first sample of fake bullion that was optimized to pass testing using electrical conductivity measurements (ECM).

ECM testing machines are one of the most effective retail testing tools for high purity gold or silver bullion as they are affordable, easy to use and allow for testing of packaged bars in blister packs without opening the packaging.

The bar in question was successfully sold to a pawn shop in Singapore after passing the ECM tests.

Fake gold bars are usually made of gold-plated tungsten because the density of tungsten, which is 19.25 times that of water, is very similar to gold’s density of 19.30. This makes tungsten the most suitable metal to create counterfeit gold bars whose dimensions and weight are very close to gold.

ECM testing machines have been very effective testing tools in detecting such tungsten bars because tungsten has a much lower conductivity compared to gold (18.52 vs 44.7 MS/m).  Thus, as ECM testing machines have become more mainstream, it became easy to detect gold-plated tungsten bars. 

With the prevalence of ECM testing machines, counterfeiters are now optimizing fake gold bars to fool testers. These bars were made of about 90% copper which has a theoretical conductivity of 59.1 MS/m which is one of the few metals that has a higher conductivity than gold. By carefully mixing copper with other lower conductivity metals and impurities, it is easy to reproduce gold’s theoretical conductivity of around 44.7 and pass the ECM test.

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Jim,

Another point you make over and over. I hope people act on your advice.

Dave

The Fourth Turning & The Case Against Cities
March 3, 2019

Via HardScrabbleFarmer.com

. . .

Nothing lasts forever and the accelerating pace of domestic instability demonstrates just how fragile our social fabric is. As we enter the maelstrom of the Fourth Turning anything can happen. The Empire and its narrative struggle to maintain legitimacy in a time of universal corruption. All declines follow a similar path and once the collapse occurs events pick up speed leaving everyone who has failed to prepare caught unaware. The cities are the least secure location during such periods and only those who manage to find a place out of the reach of those who tear down the walls of our civilization will be safe.

Take everything into consideration, but prepare for anything. Your life may depend upon it.

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Jim,

Dollar death by a thousand cuts.

Dave

BRICS Is Creating A Common Payment System
March 1, 2019

The BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are working on a common payment system BRICS Pay.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which coordinates Moscow’s working group on financial services of the BRICS Business Council, has shared the news with Izvestia.

A probable outcome of the project is creation of an online wallet that would combine the payment systems of all BRICS members.

The common wallet will work in the same way as the existing payment services such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. A cloud platform created specifically for this project will connect the national payment systems of BRICS countries.

Payment itself is expected to be made via a mobile application regardless of the national currency of the buyer. Countries without membership in BRICS will also be able to use the platform. The pilot project kicks off in South Africa in early April.

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Jim,

We saw this happen in Libya.

Dave

Video: US Forces Steal Tons of Gold Captured by ISIS in Syria, Iraq
March 2, 2019

US forces are reportedly transferring tons of gold from ISIS-held areas in Syria to the US.

According to Kurdish Bas News Agency, the US transferred about 50 tons of gold from areas seized from ISIS in Deir Ezzor province. The report says that the gold was withdrawn from Syria through the US military base in Ayn al-Arab. A part of it was allegedly shared with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Separately, the Syrian state-run SANA news agency claimed that US forces relocated large boxes containing ISIS gold treasure from al-Dashisheh region in southern Hasakah.

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