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[World] The Evolution of Charter School Quality

The role of charter schools in improving academic achievement is controversial, and existing evidence has led to contrasting conclusions about appropriate future policies. Past incongruous findings provide support for both advocates and opponents of charter schools.  New research by Patrick Baude, Marcus Casey, Eric A. Hanushek, and Steven G. Rivkin on charter school quality in Texas brings new evidence to bear on these important issues.  Their analysis clearly indicates that charter school quality has improved over time.

Published:12/17/2014 11:57:52 AM
[Switzerland] 7 Questions Gold Bears Haven't Answered

Submitted by Jeff Clark via Casey Research,

A glance at any gold price chart reveals the severity of the bear mauling it has endured over the last three years.

More alarming, even for die-hard gold investors, is that some of the fundamental drivers that would normally push gold higher, like a weak US dollar, have reversed.

Throw in a correction-defying Wall Street stock market and the never-ending rain of disdain for gold from the mainstream, and it may seem that there’s no reason to buy gold; the bear is here to stay.

If so, then I have a question. Actually, a whole bunch of questions.

If we’re in a bear market, then…

 

1. Why Is China Accumulating Record Amounts of Gold?

Mainstream reports will tell you Chinese imports through Hong Kong are down. They are.

But total gold imports are up. Most journalists continue to overlook the fact that China imports gold directly into Beijing and Shanghai now. There are at least 12 importing banks—that we know of.

Counting these “unreported” sources, imports have risen sharply. How do we know? From other countries’ export data. Take Switzerland, for example:

So far in 2014, Switzerland has shipped 153 tonnes (4.9 million ounces) to China directly. This represents over 50% of what it sent through Hong Kong (299 tonnes).

The UK has also exported £15 billion in gold so far in 2014, according to customs data. In fact, London has shipped so much gold to China (and other parts of Asia) that its domestic market has “tightened significantly” according to bullion analysts there.

 

2. Why Is China Working to Accelerate Its Accumulation?

This is a growing trend. The People’s Bank of China released a plan just last Wednesday to open up gold imports to qualified miners, as well as all banks that are members of the Shanghai Gold Exchange. Even commemorative gold maker China Gold Coin could qualify to import bullion. Not only will this further increase imports, but it will serve to lower premiums for Chinese buyers, making purchases more affordable.

As evidence of burgeoning demand, gold trading on China’s largest physical exchange has already exceeded last year’s record volume. Year-todatevolume on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, including the city’s free-trade zone, was 12,077 tonnes through October vs. 11,614 tonnes in all of 2013.

The Chinese wave has reached tidal proportions—and it’s still growing.

 

3. Why Are Other Countries Hoarding Gold?

The World Gold Council (WGC) reports that for the 12 months ending September 2014, gold demand outside of China and India was 1,566 tonnes (50.3 million ounces). The problem is that demand from China and India already equals global production!

India and China currently account for approximately 3,100 tonnes of gold demand, and the WGC says new mine production was 3,115 tonnes during the same period.

And in spite of all the government attempts to limit gold imports, India just recorded the highest level of imports in 41 months: the country imported over 39 tonnes in November alone, the most since May 2011.

Let’s not forget Russia. Not only does the Russian central bank continue to buy aggressively on the international market, Moscow now buys directly from Russian miners. This is largely because banks and brokers are blocked from using international markets by US sanctions. Despite this, and the fact that Russia doesn’t have to buy gold but keeps doing so anyway.

Global gold demand now eats up more than miners around the world can produce. Do all these countries see something we don’t?

 

4. Why Are Retail Investors NOT Selling SLV?

SPDR Gold ETF (GLD) holdings continue to largely track the price of gold—but not the iShares Silver ETF (SLV). The latter has more retail investors than GLD, and they’re not selling. In fact, while GLD holdings continue to decline, SLV holdings have shot higher.

While the silver price has fallen 16.5% so far this year, SLV holdings have risen 9.5%.

Why are so many silver investors not only holding on to their ETF shares, but buying more?

 

5. Why Are Bullion Sales Setting New Records?

2013 was a record-setting year for gold and silver purchases from the US Mint. Pretty bullish when you consider the price crashed and headlines were universally negative.

And yet 2014 is on track to exceed last year’s record-setting pace, particularly with silver…

  • November silver Eagle sales from the US Mint totaled 3,426,000 ounces, 49% more than the previous year. If December sales surpass 1.1 million coins—a near certainty at this point—2014 will be another record-breaking year.
  • Silver sales at the Perth Mint last month also hit their highest level since January. Silver coin sales jumped to 851,836 ounces in November. That was also substantially higher than the 655,881 ounces in October.
  • And India’s silver imports rose 14% for the first 10 months of the year and set a record for that period. Silver imports totaled a massive 169 million ounces, draining many vaults in the UK, similar to the drain for gold I mentioned above.

To be fair, the Royal Canadian Mint reported lower gold and silver bullion sales for Q3. But volumes are still historically high.

 

6. Why Are Some Mainstream Investors Buying Gold?

The negative headlines we all see about gold come from the mainstream. Yet some in that group are buyers…

Ray Dalio runs the world’s largest hedge fund, with approximately $150 billion in assets under management. As my colleague Marin Katusa puts it, “When Ray talks, you listen.”

And Ray currently allocates 7.5% of his portfolio to gold.

He’s not alone. Joe Wickwire, portfolio manager of Fidelity Investments, said last week, “I believe now is a good time to take advantage of negative short-term trading sentiment in gold.”

Then there are Japanese pension funds, which as recently as 2011 did not invest in gold at all. Today, several hundred Japanese pension funds actively invest in the metal. Consider that Japan is the second-largest pension market in the world. Demand is also reportedly growing from defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

And just last Friday, Credit Suisse sold $24 million of US notes tied to an index of gold stocks, the largest offering in 14 months. That’s a bet that producers will rebound from near six-year lows.

These (and other) mainstream investors are clearly not expecting gold and gold stocks to keep declining.

 

7. Why Are Countries Repatriating Gold?

I mean, it’s not as if the New York depository is unsafe. It and Ft. Knox rank as among the most secure storage facilities in the world. That makes the following developments very curious:

  • Netherlands repatriated 122 tonnes (3.9 million ounces) last month.
  • France’s National Front leader urged the Bank of France last month to repatriate all its gold from overseas vaults and to increase its bullion assets by 20%.
  • The Swiss Gold Initiative, which did not pass a popular vote, would’ve required all overseas gold be repatriated, as well as gold to comprise 20% of Swiss assets.
  • Germany announced a repatriation program last year, though the plan has since fizzled.
  • And this just in: there are reports that the Belgian central bank is investigating repatriation of its gold reserves.

What’s so important about gold right now that’s spurred a new trend to store it closer to home and increase reserves?

 These strong signs of demand don’t normally correlate with an asset in a bear market. Do you know of any bear market in any asset that’s seen this kind of demand?

Neither do I.

My friends, there’s only one explanation: all these parties see the bear soon yielding to the bull. You and I aren’t the only ones who see it on the horizon.








Published:12/9/2014 6:55:36 PM
[World] No Matter How Much Tom Steyer Spends, Florida Isn’t Buying Climate Disaster

Patrick J. Michaels

The legendary bank robber Willie Sutton apparently did not say that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is,” even though everyone thinks he did. And, apparently, rich donors also don’t identify issues that are “where the voters are,” at least in Florida.

Billionaire Tom Steyer has spent $12 million trying to make Floridians scared of global warming — an issue Gallup recently found ranks dead last among voter priorities. Other research indicates that the more people are harangued about it, the more they turn off, making this money not well spent.

Blame the information age, where people can easily see for themselves that we are in our 18th year without a global-warming trend. They can also go the National Climatic Data Center’s website and plot out Florida’s yearly temperature; there is no overall significant warming trend in the entire record, which covers 118 years.

Voters are suffering from apocalypse fatigue, something well-heeled political donors would do well to recognize.”

A little advance work could have saved a ton of money. The most popular climate change website in the world, Anthony Watts’s www.wattsupwiththat.com, now has well over 200 million views. It is decidedly nonapocalyptic. The most prominent scare site, RealClimate.org, has a hundred times fewer views.

Watts’s site is run on a shoestring. While some of Steyer’s ads blame the Koch Brothers for skepticism about the end of the world, Watts has never seen a dollar of their support — or, for that matter, many dollars of anyone’s support, as it is mostly run with a tip jar.

Here’s the cool part: According to the model the Environmental Protection Agency uses to assess the climatic effects of various policies, if the emissions from the entire state of Florida dropped immediately to zero, the amount of global warming that would be saved by the year 2100 would be a grand total of seven thousandths of a degree Celsius (0.007°C). Such action would cost the Florida economy a fortune — even more money down the climate rat hole.

And thanks in no small part to the nearly two decades without any warming, it looks as though the amount the EPA assumes will occur this century was substantially exaggerated.

Some of Steyer’s ad footage clearly conflates warming and tidal inundations caused by hurricane winds. The fact is a lot of people in Florida don’t remember the last big (Category 3 or higher) one, Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. In fact, Wilma was the last such Category 3 to strike in the entire U.S., 3,292 days ago. This is the longest that the country has gone without such a storm since the Civil War era, and 23 days from now, we will be in the longest major hurricane drought in our recorded history.

The truth of the matter is, the planet is warmer than it was, and there’s some evidence that people have something to do with it. It just doesn’t have anything to do with hurricanes and their brethren around the entire planet, nor is it strong enough to even induce a significant warming trend in the overall Florida record.

Incidentally, the hallmark of warming from carbon dioxide (recent years notwithstanding) is that the coldest air masses of the winter are what warm the most. These are what freeze Florida’s orange crop. One notorious 1977 freeze, dubbed The Siberian Express, actually put down snow in Miami, for the first and only time since good weather records have been kept.

As Casey Stengel would have said, “you could look it up,” which is precisely what people do when hectored about the upcoming climate apocalypse. People my age have lived through about nine such apocalypses. “Acid rain” seems so quaint now, doesn’t it?

The reason voters rank global warming dead last is because they are tired of these false apocalypses. They are suffering from apocalypse fatigue, something well-heeled political donors would do well to recognize. Throwing money at exaggerated disasters may cost more votes than it buys.

Patrick J. Michaels is director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute.
Published:11/3/2014 8:28:17 AM
[Entertainment] Marry Me Premiere: Are You in for the Long Haul or a Quickie Divorce? Casey Wilson, Ken Marino, Marry MeMarry Me is not Happy Endings 2.0, but if you liked Happy Endings, you'll want to watch Marry Me. If you didn't like Happy Endings, you'll probably still want to watch Marry...
Published:10/14/2014 7:00:17 PM
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