Posts from Thursday Feb 13 2014

The Closer


- A dose of humility from the central banks. Read more

Robots won’t make you rich (for long)

We commented yesterday on a column by Martin Wolf that considers how the economy will change as robots become ever more intelligent. The rise of the machines will indeed present society with multifaceted challenges; super-rich robot owners, however, are unlikely to represent one of them.

The fear of exploding inequality from robots is widespread. Wolf writes: Read more

Crowdsurfing the finnovation wave

FT Alphaville tasted the future of financial innovation this week, or at least the parts of it pitching for business at the Finnovate conference in London’s Billingsgate market.

It had the buzzy feel of a corporate hospitality tent at a music festival — ties off, iPads out, lets do business in close proximity to what the kids are up to. In this case though the stage was given over to seven minute presentations for aps, websites and, er, innovation platforms. Read more

Markets Live: Thursday, 13th February, 2014

Live markets commentary from 

From inventory denial to inventory acceptance in aluminium

From Rio Tinto’s Alcan performance statement on Thursday (our emphasis):

Rio Tinto Alcan’s underlying earnings of $557 million were $503 million higher than in 2012, and EBITDA margins improved, despite a nine per cent decline in LME prices over the period. Growing momentum from the cost reduction initiatives, increased volumes and a rise in market premia were the main drivers.

Market premia on aluminium shipments have continued to perform strongly during 2013. This has been supported by a balanced physical supply/demand picture, despite significant LME inventories, much of which remains tied up in financing deals due to higher forward prices and low interest rates. Cash cost improvements lifted earnings by $392 million ($574 million pre-tax). The savings included greater production efficiencies and lower prices of raw materials, lower functional costs and increased production from Yarwun and Alma. These were partly offset by heavy rainfall in Queensland earlier in the year, which reduced earnings by around $40 million.

 Read more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Lloyds back in profit as it prepares for private sector return || BNP Paribas hit by $1.1bn provision || Apple to name-and-shame suppliers of ‘conflict minerals’ || Rolls-Royce warns of flat profits as US defence spending cuts hit || Nestlé downbeat on prospects for global growth || Homeserve hit with record £31m fine || Comcast agrees $45bn bid for smaller rival Time Warner Cable || Markets Read more

The real reason the Chinese are mad for gold

It’s not an easy concept for some gold lovers to grasp, but… a nation importing huge amounts of gold into its economy doesn’t necessarily reflect prosperity on its part. In fact, it can imply economic weakness around the corner.

Prosperous countries, after all, don’t need gold (or huge amounts of foreign reserves for that matter either) to back their fiat currency. They don’t need them because they are so mighty, productive, knowledgable, powerful and desirable to live in that they have seigniorage power all of their own accord. You know. Like Bitcoin. But not because they are artificially scarce, but because they are managed well.

Also, even if you go with the goldbug logic that fiat ‘money printing’ equals debasement, it must then also imply that mass gold importation equals the opposite: purposeful rebasement. Someone is trying to bolster what would otherwise be a naturally weak currency. Read more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Thursday,

- Pension politics.

- Why Comcast is buying Time Warner Cable, charted.

- Nuclear fusion reactions mark a ‘milestone’.

- Xi Jinping wants you to memorize “The Analects” of ConfuciusRead more

The 6am London Cut

Markets: The loss of momentum on Wall Street and another weak jobs report in Australia sent equities falling across Asia-Pacific. In New York the S&P 500 ended marginally lower, ending a four-day string of gains and setting a weak tone for the Asia session. (FT’s Global Markets OverviewRead more