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Billionaire Sprott: What are the repercussions of all this money printing?


Posted by Eric Sprott - Comments by Stephen Todd & Mark Leibovit

on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 00:00

#1 Gold Timer of the Year 2011 Stephen Todd March 6th/2012: "GOLD: Gold got clobbered along with stocks. This finally puts us on a sell."

#2 Gold Timer of the Year 2011 & #1 Gold Market timer for the 5 year period ending in 2010 Mark Leibovit March 6th/2012: GOLD - ACTION ALERT - BUY (And Take Delivery Of The Physical Metals)

Billionaire Sprott: What are the repercussions of all this money printing?

2012 is proving to be the ‘Year of the Central Bank’. It is an exciting celebration of all the wonderful maneuvers central banks can employ to keep the system from falling apart. Western central banks have gone into complete overdrive since last November, convening, colluding and printing their way out of the mess that is the Eurozone. The scale and frequency of their maneuvering seems to increase with every passing week, and speaks to the desperate fragility that continues to define much of the financial system today.

The first major maneuver took place on November 30, 2011, when the world’s G6 central banks (the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank [ECB], the Swiss National Bank, and the Bank of Canada) announced “coordinated actions to enhance their capacity to provide liquidity support to the global financial system”. Long story short, in an effort to avert a total collapse in the European banking system, the US Fed agreed to offer unlimited US dollar swap agreements with the other central banks. These US dollar swaps allow the other central banks, most notably the ECB, to borrow US dollars from the Federal Reserve and lend them to their respective national banks to meet withdrawals and make debt payments. The best part about these swaps is that they are limitless in scope — meaning that until February 1, 2013, the Federal Reserve is, and will be, prepared to lend as many US dollars as it takes to keep the financial system from imploding. It sounds absolutely great, and the Europeans should be nothing but thankful, except for the tiny little fact that to supply these unlimited US dollars, the Federal Reserve will have to print them out of thin air.

Don’t worry, it gets better. Since unlimited US swap lines weren’t enough to solve the problem, roughly three weeks later, on December 21, 2011, the European Central Bank launched the first tranche of its lauded Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO). This is the program where the ECB flooded 523 separate European banks with 489 billion euros worth of 3-year loans to keep them going through Christmas. A second tranche of LTRO loans is planned to launch at the end of February, with expectations for size ranging from 300 billion to more than 1 trillion euros of uptake. The good news is that Italian, Portuguese and Spanish bond yields have dropped since the first LTRO went through, which suggests that at least some of the initial LTRO funds have been reinvested back into sovereign debt auctions. The bad news is that the Eurozone banks may now be hooked on what is clearly a back-door quantitative easing (QE) program, and as the warning goes for addictive drugs — once you start, it can be very hard to stop.

Britain is definitely hooked. On February 9, 2012, the Bank of England announced another QE extension for 50 billion pounds, raising their total QE print to £325 billion since March 2009. Japan’s hooked as well. On February 14, 2012, the Bank of Japan announced a ¥10 trillion ($129 billion) expansion to its own QE program, raising its total QE program to ¥65 trillion ($825 billion). Not to be outdone, in the most recent Fed news conference, US Fed Chairman Bernanke signaled that the Fed will keep interest rates near zero until late 2014, which is 18 months later than he had promised in Fed meetings last year. If Bernanke keeps his word, by the end of 2014 the US government will have enjoyed near zero interest rates for six years in a row. Granted, extended zero percent interest rates is not nearly as satisfying as a proper QE program, but who needs traditional QE when the Fed already buys 91 percent of all 20-30 year maturity US Treasury bonds? Perhaps they’re saving traditional QE for the upcoming election.

All of this pervasive intervention most likely explains more than 90 percent of the market’s positive performance this past January. Had the G6 NOT convened on swaps, had the ECB NOT launched the LTRO programs, and had Bernanke NOT expressed a continuation of zero interest rates, one wonders where the equity indices would trade today. One also wonders if the European banking system would have made it through December. Thank goodness for “coordinated action”. It does work in the short-term.

But what about the long-term? What are the unintended consequences of repeatedly juicing the system? What are the repercussions of all this money printing? We can think of a few.

First and foremost, without continued central bank support, interbank liquidity may cease to function entirely in the coming year. Consider the implications of the ECB’s LTRO program: when you create a loan program to save the EU banks and make its participation voluntary, every one of those 523 banks that participates is essentially admitting that they have a problem. How will they ever lend money to each other again? If you’re a bank that participated in the LTRO program because you were on the verge of bankruptcy, how can you possibly trust other banks that took advantage of the same program? The ECB’s LTRO program has the potential to be very dangerous, because if the EU banks start to rely on the loans too heavily, the ECB may find itself inadvertently attached to the broken EU banking system forever.

The second unintended consequence is the impact that interventions have had on the non-G6 countries’ perception of western solvency. If you’re a foreign lender to the United States, Britain, Europe or Japan today, how comfortable can you possibly be in lending them money? How do you lend to countries whose sole basis as a going concern rests in their ability to wrangle cash injections printed by their respective central banks? Going further, what happens when the rest of the world, the non-G6 world, starts to question the G6 Central Banks themselves? What entity exists to bailout the financial system if the market moves against the Fed or the ECB?

The fact remains that there are few rungs left in the financial confidence chain in 2012, and central banks may end up pushing their printing schemes too far. In 2008-2009, it was the banks that lost credibility and required massive bailouts by their respective sovereign states. In 2010-2011, it was the sovereigns, most notably those in Europe, that lost credibility and required massive bailouts by their respective central banks. But there is no lender of last resort for the central banks themselves. That the IMF is now trying to raise another $600 billion as a security buffer doesn’t go unnoticed, but do they honestly think that’s going to make any difference?

When reviewing today’s macro environment, we keep coming back to the same conclusion. The non-G6 world isn’t blind to the efforts of the Fed and the ECB. When the Fed openly targets a 2 percent inflation rate, foreign lenders know that means they will lose, at a minimum, at least 2 percent of purchasing power on their US loans in 2012. It therefore shouldn’t surprise anyone to see those lenders piling into alternative assets that have a better chance at protecting their wealth, long-term.

This is likely why China reduced its US Treasury exposure by $32 billion in the month of December (See Figure 1). This is also why China, which produced 360 tonnes of gold internally last year, also imported an additional 428 tonnes in 2011, up from 119 tonnes in 2010. This may also be why China’s copper imports hit a record high of 508,942 tonnes in December 2011, up 47.7 percent from the previous year, despite the fact that their GDP declined at year-end. Same goes for their crude oil imports, which hit a record high of 23.41 million metric tons this past January, up 7.4 percent year- over-year. The so-called experts have a habit of downplaying these numbers, but it seems pretty clear to us: China isn’t waiting around for next QE program. They are accelerating their move away from paper currencies and into hard assets.

2012 is proving to be the ‘Year of the Central Bank’. It is an exciting celebration of all the wonderful maneuvers central banks can employ to keep the system from falling apart. Western central banks have gone into complete overdrive since last November, convening, colluding and printing their way out of the mess that is the Eurozone. The scale and frequency of their maneuvering seems to increase with every passing week, and speaks to the desperate fragility that continues to define much of the financial system today.

The first major maneuver took place on November 30, 2011, when the world’s G6 central banks (the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank [ECB], the Swiss National Bank, and the Bank of Canada) announced “coordinated actions to enhance their capacity to provide liquidity support to the global financial system”. Long story short, in an effort to avert a total collapse in the European banking system, the US Fed agreed to offer unlimited US dollar swap agreements with the other central banks. These US dollar swaps allow the other central banks, most notably the ECB, to borrow US dollars from the Federal Reserve and lend them to their respective national banks to meet withdrawals and make debt payments. The best part about these swaps is that they are limitless in scope — meaning that until February 1, 2013, the Federal Reserve is, and will be, prepared to lend as many US dollars as it takes to keep the financial system from imploding. It sounds absolutely great, and the Europeans should be nothing but thankful, except for the tiny little fact that to supply these unlimited US dollars, the Federal Reserve will have to print them out of thin air.

Don’t worry, it gets better. Since unlimited US swap lines weren’t enough to solve the problem, roughly three weeks later, on December 21, 2011, the European Central Bank launched the first tranche of its lauded Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO). This is the program where the ECB flooded 523 separate European banks with 489 billion euros worth of 3-year loans to keep them going through Christmas. A second tranche of LTRO loans is planned to launch at the end of February, with expectations for size ranging from 300 billion to more than 1 trillion euros of uptake. The good news is that Italian, Portuguese and Spanish bond yields have dropped since the first LTRO went through, which suggests that at least some of the initial LTRO funds have been reinvested back into sovereign debt auctions. The bad news is that the Eurozone banks may now be hooked on what is clearly a back-door quantitative easing (QE) program, and as the warning goes for addictive drugs — once you start, it can be very hard to stop.

Britain is definitely hooked. On February 9, 2012, the Bank of England announced another QE extension for 50 billion pounds, raising their total QE print to £325 billion since March 2009. Japan’s hooked as well. On February 14, 2012, the Bank of Japan announced a ¥10 trillion ($129 billion) expansion to its own QE program, raising its total QE program to ¥65 trillion ($825 billion). Not to be outdone, in the most recent Fed news conference, US Fed Chairman Bernanke signaled that the Fed will keep interest rates near zero until late 2014, which is 18 months later than he had promised in Fed meetings last year. If Bernanke keeps his word, by the end of 2014 the US government will have enjoyed near zero interest rates for six years in a row. Granted, extended zero percent interest rates is not nearly as satisfying as a proper QE program, but who needs traditional QE when the Fed already buys 91 percent of all 20-30 year maturity US Treasury bonds? Perhaps they’re saving traditional QE for the upcoming election.

All of this pervasive intervention most likely explains more than 90 percent of the market’s positive performance this past January. Had the G6 NOT convened on swaps, had the ECB NOT launched the LTRO programs, and had Bernanke NOT expressed a continuation of zero interest rates, one wonders where the equity indices would trade today. One also wonders if the European banking system would have made it through December. Thank goodness for “coordinated action”. It does work in the short-term.

But what about the long-term? What are the unintended consequences of repeatedly juicing the system? What are the repercussions of all this money printing? We can think of a few.

First and foremost, without continued central bank support, interbank liquidity may cease to function entirely in the coming year. Consider the implications of the ECB’s LTRO program: when you create a loan program to save the EU banks and make its participation voluntary, every one of those 523 banks that participates is essentially admitting that they have a problem. How will they ever lend money to each other again? If you’re a bank that participated in the LTRO program because you were on the verge of bankruptcy, how can you possibly trust other banks that took advantage of the same program? The ECB’s LTRO program has the potential to be very dangerous, because if the EU banks start to rely on the loans too heavily, the ECB may find itself inadvertently attached to the broken EU banking system forever.

The second unintended consequence is the impact that interventions have had on the non-G6 countries’ perception of western solvency. If you’re a foreign lender to the United States, Britain, Europe or Japan today, how comfortable can you possibly be in lending them money? How do you lend to countries whose sole basis as a going concern rests in their ability to wrangle cash injections printed by their respective central banks? Going further, what happens when the rest of the world, the non-G6 world, starts to question the G6 Central Banks themselves? What entity exists to bailout the financial system if the market moves against the Fed or the ECB?

The fact remains that there are few rungs left in the financial confidence chain in 2012, and central banks may end up pushing their printing schemes too far. In 2008-2009, it was the banks that lost credibility and required massive bailouts by their respective sovereign states. In 2010-2011, it was the sovereigns, most notably those in Europe, that lost credibility and required massive bailouts by their respective central banks. But there is no lender of last resort for the central banks themselves. That the IMF is now trying to raise another $600 billion as a security buffer doesn’t go unnoticed, but do they honestly think that’s going to make any difference?

When reviewing today’s macro environment, we keep coming back to the same conclusion. The non-G6 world isn’t blind to the efforts of the Fed and the ECB. When the Fed openly targets a 2 percent inflation rate, foreign lenders know that means they will lose, at a minimum, at least 2 percent of purchasing power on their US loans in 2012. It therefore shouldn’t surprise anyone to see those lenders piling into alternative assets that have a better chance at protecting their wealth, long-term.

This is likely why China reduced its US Treasury exposure by $32 billion in the month of December (See Figure 1). This is also why China, which produced 360 tonnes of gold internally last year, also imported an additional 428 tonnes in 2011, up from 119 tonnes in 2010. This may also be why China’s copper imports hit a record high of 508,942 tonnes in December 2011, up 47.7 percent from the previous year, despite the fact that their GDP declined at year-end. Same goes for their crude oil imports, which hit a record high of 23.41 million metric tons this past January, up 7.4 percent year- over-year. The so-called experts have a habit of downplaying these numbers, but it seems pretty clear to us: China isn’t waiting around for next QE program. They are accelerating their move away from paper currencies and into hard assets.

DRUS03-06-12-3

China is not alone in this trend either. Russia has reportedly cut its US Treasury exposure by half since October 2010. Not surprisingly, Russia was also a big buyer of gold in 2011, adding approximately 95 tonnes to its gold reserves, with 33 tonnes added in the fourth quarter alone. It’s not hard to envision higher gold prices if the rest of the non-G6 countries follow-suit.

DRUS03-06-12-4

The problem with central bank intervention is that it never works out as planned. The unintended consequences end up cancelling out the short-term benefits. Back in 2008, when the Fed introduced zero percent interest rates, everyone thought it was a great policy. Four years later, however, and we’re finally beginning to appreciate the complete destruction it has wreaked on savers. Just look at the horror show that is the pension industry today: According to Credit Suisse, of the 341 companies in the S&P 500 index with defined benefit pension plans, 97 percent are underfunded today. According to a recent pension study by Seattle-based Milliman Inc., the combined deficit of the 100 largest defined-benefit plans in the US increased by $236.4 billion in 2011 alone. The main culprit for the increase? Depressed interest rates on government bonds.

Let’s also not forget the public sector pension shortfalls, which are outright frightening. In Europe, unfunded state pension obligations are estimated to total $39 trillion dollars, which is approximately five times higher than Europe’s combined gross debt. In the United States, unfunded pension obligations increased by $2.9 trillion in 2011. If the US actually acknowledged these costs in their deficit calculations, their official 2011 fiscal deficit would have risen from the reported $1.3 trillion to $4.2 trillion. Written the long way, that’s a deficit of $4,200,000,000,000,... in one year.

There is unfortunately no economic textbook to guide us through these strange times, but common sense suggests we should be extremely wary of the continued maneuvering by central banks. The more central banks print to save the system, the more the system will rely on their printing to stay solvent — and you cannot solve a debt problem with more debt, and you cannot print money without serious repercussions. The central banks are fueling a growing distrust among the creditor nations that is forcing them to take pre-emptive actions with their currency reserves. Individual investors should take note and follow-suit, because it will be a lot easier to enjoy the “Year of the Central Bank” if you own things that can actually benefit from all their printing, as opposed to things that can only be destroyed by it.

Regards,

Eric Sprott and David Baker
for The Daily Reckoning



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Energy & Commodities

The Wonders of Science: Capitalizing on the Energy Revolution


Posted by The Energy Report

on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 00:00

For investors seeking high potential returns and the thrill of participating in market innovation, the smallcap energy space is where it's at. Managing Director and Co-Founder Laird Cagan of merchant bank Cagan McAfee Capital Partners has built his career by backing companies that are both filling current demand and creating new markets. In this exclusive interview with The Energy Report, Cagan shares his experiences and discusses several companies at the forefront of the energy revolution.

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The Energy Report: Laird, you and your partner are active investors. You are company founders, you sit on the boards and you actually run the businesses in some cases. What kind of advantage does that give you?

Laird Cagan: We are involved with fewer portfolio companies compared to a private equity or larger firm. Because we take a very active role and are starting companies at early stages, our preference is to create a new platform company and a new business opportunity. So the benefit is that we can be very close to the company and try to launch it quickly to take advantage of whatever market opportunity we see. We have a lot of skin in the game, a lot of ownership, and we try to help guide companies in the right direction. But like private equity investors, we generally have professional managers from the industry who were either co-founders or who were brought in to lead the company on a day-to-day basis. One exception is the case of my partner Eric McAfee, who has been running Aemetis Inc. (AMTX:OTCPK) since 2005, when we started that company.

TER: What kinds of companies interest you most?

LC: For the last 10 years or so we've been focused on building companies in the microcap public space. We have found that this has given us better, faster access to capital for the right opportunities. Public investors don't want to take the three, six, nine or 12 months that venture capitalists and private equity firms take to investigate opportunities before making an investment decision. Public investors want to see something faster and want an opportunity that they can understand. Typically, that means we stay away from pure-play technologies, but we do look for technologies that are creating new markets. For example, we founded Evolution Petroleum Corporation (EPM:NYSE) in 2002, when oil was $25 per barrel (/bbl). We created that company to do enhanced oil recovery using technologies like lateral drilling, which was not very prevalent back then. We could take mature oil and gas fields and extract additional reserves using new technologies. But we also benefited greatly from having oil prices go from $25–100/bbl. We founded Pacific Ethanol Inc. (PEIX:NAS) to replace gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), which was outlawed in 2004 in California and many other states. Ethanol was the only known oxygenate that would burn gasoline cleanly enough to meet the clean air act. So, it was less of an alternative energy play than a replacement-commodity play with a West Coast focus. Those companies, Evolution Petroleum and Pacific Ethanol, got us into the energy space. With rising energy prices and a multitrillion-dollar marketplace, all sorts of new opportunities began to arise because of technology. Aemetis, originally called AE Biofuels, was focused on next-generation biofuel moving from corn to other feedstocks that would be more plentiful, more predictable and would not be in the food chain.

TER: Was horizontal drilling technology more capital-intensive at the time, with oil at $25/bbl?

LC: Not particularly. There were thousands and thousands of wells around the United States that had been drilled and shut-in or were at a trickle of their former production. Some were getting ready to shut down. People would practically give them away because it costs money from an environmental standpoint to close them. For us, Evolution was an opportunity to create an early-stage platform company to produce oil using enhanced oil recovery. We were fortunate that by 2006 oil prices were at $40–50/bbl.

TER: What's the technique?

LC: The technique used is called CO2 (carbon dioxide) flooding, where you inject CO2 into the ground and it releases the trapped extra oil, which then bubbles up. The CO2 adds pressure, just as it does in a carbonated beverage. When you drill an oil well for the first time and release the virgin pressure by traditional means, you might get 40% of the oil. This means somewhere between 50% and 60% of the original oil in place is still there. With the CO2 floods, you can typically get between 15% and 20% of the original oil in place, and that's a meaningful well.

TER: As a pioneer of this technology, where did you incur the most extensive costs?

LC: You have to have a pipeline to get your source CO2, and that's a challenge. If you're close to a source, the cost of injecting it can be around $10/bbl. But a project's viability depends a lot on the fixed cost of getting the CO2 to the site. At the Delhi Field in Northern Louisiana, Evolution Petroleum formed a very effective partnership with the leading CO2 player in the industry, Denbury Resources Inc. (DNR:NYSE). Together we've done very well. The Delhi Field was 14,000 acres and is estimated to be capable of releasing an additional 60 million barrels (MMbbl) of oil. And with oil now over $100/bbl, that's $6B worth of oil, and you can afford to spend a lot to go after that. 

TER: Great foresight.

LC: I would say yes, it was foresight and some luck. We didn't anticipate $100/bbl oil at the time. But, we really do focus on trying to get a play at the beginning of a growth cycle. Of course for any investor, being at the beginning of a rising tide is one of the keys to success and having superior returns.

TER: You're not as actively involved in Camac Energy Inc. (CAK:NYSE) as you are in some of your portfolio companies, but starting the company has been an interesting saga. Can you tell us about that?

LC: In 2006, after having had some success with both Evolution Petroleum and Pacific Ethanol, I was introduced to Frank Ingriselli, the former head of Texaco International. He developed some important relationships in China and he had a lot of very high-level experience with majors in that region. After Chevron Corporation (CVX:NYSE) bought Texaco in 2001, he wanted to start a new oil and gas company and needed capital to grow, for which I was approached. We ended up funding a $21M offering and creating a new public entity, Pacific Asia Petroleum. Frank went to China to visit as a long-time contact and was granted a concession of 175,000 acres in the prime coal-bed-methane region of China. Without any upfront money, we got a hold of a major resource that launched the company. The Chinese government's goal was to bring in people that had expertise and ability and who could bring capital for projects, because the country needs energy. Over time we ended up acquiring Camac, which owned a large property in offshore Nigeria that was just beginning production. In a sense it was a reverse merger for Camac because it became the majority shareholder and ended up taking control by its Chairman and CEO Kase Lawal. I dropped off the board around that period of time.

TER: Camac shares have been flat over the past six months, but down about 50% from a year ago. What accounts for the lag in the stock price?

LC: Its first production well started out at 20 thousand barrels per day (Mbbl/d) and it has gone down to about 4 Mbbl/d, but there's still a huge reserve there, which is estimated to be between 600 MMbbl–2.2 billion (B) bbl of recoverable oil in the entire field. Camac is working on getting a new partner to come in and develop that. I'm bullish on the long-term. It's going to take time, but it should be very exciting. I'm still a big shareholder and waiting, watching and hoping for the best.

TER: Were there any other companies you wanted to mention briefly?

LC: I recently became chairman of Blue Earth Inc. (BBLU:OTC), which is in the energy efficiency space. This is a very important new category, and it is frankly the lowest-hanging fruit of energy conservation by reducing energy consumption. Commercial real estate uses about 20% of our nation's energy. Making those buildings more efficient is very important, and provides quick returns. For example, replacing old motors and with energy-efficient motors produces a one- to two-year payback. Blue Earth is geared toward doing that. 

TER: Is the company actually manufacturing new technology?

LC: It's not a technology company, but it's using the latest improvements in energy efficiency to retrofit commercial real estate. It will also do energy audits for clients' buildings and recommend an energy-generation project, be it solar, fuel cell, etc. that fits the client's needs. This is called distributed generation: Instead of going into the grid and selling power back to the utility, the company sells directly to the customer. It therefore has none of the energy losses of going through the grid, nor any of the capex issues. Retrofitting to localize energy at a site is a tremendous innovation that needs to happen in order to reduce national and even global energy consumption. I'm very bullish on the energy efficiency and distributed generation space for the next 50 years. It has the power to replace and transform our energy production. We are not going to get rid of utilities because we need them, but we can chip away at our use of fossil fuels from our insatiable appetite for energy in a way that is cost effective. It also reduces carbon emissions.

TER: Is Blue Earth a consulting company?

LC: No. It's more of a contractor, or a construction company. In other words, it does the work. In the solar world it's called Engineering Procurement Construction or EPC. After the energy audit, the company does the engineering, including procurement of parts and construction. As we move on and migrate this business model, the company will also provide the financing and effectively become the developer. There are some good tax incentives involved in alternative energy, both in solar and fuel cells. Depreciation is also available, and that adds to the return.

TER: Solar systems would be on the roof or on land, but how far away would a generating fuel cell typically be from the building?

LC: Adjacent to the building. There's no sound, and there are no moving parts. You need a footprint about the size of a tractor trailer. There are a few significant fuel cell manufacturers in the U.S., and they are growing nicely. Fuel cells are significantly more cost effective than solar if you can use energy 24 hours a day such as in a data center and can have net paybacks in 5–10 years at most, whereas it might take solar 10–20-years to payback.

TER: What are the fuel cell companies?

LC: One of the companies to look at is Bloom Energy (private). It has the larger units, and Google Inc. (GOOG:NASDAQ) put Bloom units into its building in Silicon Valley with a lot of publicity a year or so ago. Bloom is different from the other three manufacturers, as there is no waste heat, which is interesting. So, if you have large, consistent needs, Bloom is good. The data centers that Google runs are 24-hour operations. So, it would not be quite as suitable for a company that shuts down at night because you can't amortize 24 hours, and perhaps solar would be better for a company that needs mostly peak daytime energy. That's why an energy audit is so important, so clients can understand what's most appropriate for their business. 

Other companies include FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL:NASDAQ) and ClearEdge Power (private), the latter of which makes a variety of units, including small residential-size fuel cells. ClearEdge is blitzing homes. It's the SolarCity (private) equivalent. SolarCity is trying to put solar on your roof, and ClearEdge is trying to put a fuel cell next to your house, and it makes systems all the way down to 5 kilowatts, which is appropriate for a midsize house.

TER: It has been a pleasure meeting you, Laird. 

LC: Thank you.

Laird Cagan is managing director and co-founder of Cagan McAfee Capital Partners LLC, a merchant bank in Cupertino, CA. Cagan McAfee has founded, funded and taken public 10 companies in a variety of industries including energy, computing, healthcare and environmental. The company has helped raise over $500M for these companies, which achieved a combined market capitalization of over $2B. Mr. Cagan was the founder/chairman of Evolution Petroleum Corporation (AMEX: EPM), a company established to develop mature oil and gas fields with advanced technologies, and he is a former director of American Ethanol (AEB) and Pacific Asia Petroleum (PFAP). 

Want to read more exclusive Energy Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Exclusive Interviews page.

DISCLOSURE:
1) George Mack of The Energy Report conducted this interview. He personally and/or his family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Energy Report: None. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for services.
3) Laird Cagan: I personally and/or my family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: Evolution Petroleum Corporation, Camac Energy, Aemetis Inc. and Blue Earth Inc. I personally and/or my family are paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: Evolution Petroleum Corporation, Aemetis Inc. and Blue Earth Inc. I was not paid by Streetwise for this interview.



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Timing & trends

Another Golden Triangle: The reason there's still big money to be made in Precious Metals


Posted by ChartWorks - Ross Clark via Bob Hoye's Institutional Advisors

on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 00:00

"The most bullish examples would see the pattern develop into a series of lows around $1690 or an A-B-C correction, as experienced in 2010, which holds around $1660 (50% retracement from the December lows). A close above $1775 would be the catalyst for a challenge of $1900 to $2155. At the other extreme, a failure to hold $1625 (62% retracement from $1523) would imply that the December lows will be taken out."

....read and view all charts HERE



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Gold & Precious Metals

It Ain’t Over Until I Say It’s Over – Gold $1,665 Silver $32.50


Posted by Peter Grandich - Grandich.com

on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 17:08

The “mother” of all gold bull market lives and it “ain’t over until I say its over”.

I received this email from a 40-yr. Wall Street trader right after the “flash crash” in gold last week:

Hey Peter

Funny thing happened the other day, Nadler went bullish on gold.

I said,  “I’M DEAD”

LANCE JORDAN

While I suspect I’m not the only one in the world who wishes Crocodile Dundee wasn’t just kidding, it was funny that the “Tokyo Rose” of gold had once again thrown out a hedge to cover his decade-long horrifically wrong forecasting record like he does every once and awhile when gold gets far away from his usual dribble, only to see the flash crash occur. Sure enough, he is back to his only usually reliable anti-gold self so take comfort in the fact that the greatest contrarian gold signal of all-time is back where he belongs.

I’ve played this video for quite some time now to remind the very small army of us who have enjoyed virtually the entire ride up in gold that we’re at war with most of the financial industry and the media that follows it. They hate gold and what it stands for and come out of their foxholes every so often during these nasty, but rather short-lived corrections. They did so late last year when gold was more than $100 below where it is now, only to see it rally $200+ in just two months.

Nothing has changed (not even their spiel) fundamentally and I plan on using the cash I’ve built up of late to go back into several positions and new ones.

For me, I shall remember this belief each time the airwaves are filled in the near-term with yet another wave of anti-gold rhetoric:

GOLD IS GOING TO AN INFLATED-ADJUSTED ALL-TIME HIGH BEFORE IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE!

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Timing & trends

Four Cycle Turns Warn of a Stock Market Top in March 2012


Posted by Robert McHugh_PhD - Comment by Mark Leibovit

on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 07:24

Mark Leibovit  - STOCKS - ACTION ALERT - SELL (Looking to Buy In A Month or Two)

What's interesting is that the year to date has been the best start in stock indices since 1998 according to Dow Jones Newswires. As of the close today this is the 45th consecutive day without a triple digit decline. A canary in the coal mine? Today is 'Turnaround Tuesday', so with markets down a bit yesterday perhaps we can stage a rally today. But wait! Tomorrow is 'Weird Wollie Wednesday' and often either tomorrow or Thursday, according to the lore, there should be a shakeout ahead of a week from Friday's Options Expiration. Is all of this just noise? Well, maybe not. We're approaching that time of year when the markets often experience some form of indigestion. Yesterday, though the volume was NOT excessive, nevertheless we did volume increase to the downside. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke last night (covered sole on Fox News) before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and warned that time is running out for Iran. Folks, brace yourself. Sometime before now and the end of May, we're likely to see a full scale confrontation unfold as the Mayans watch from the heavens. Would this be a good time to be in the marketplace? Markets don't like uncertainty. I think the answer is no. The 50 and 200 day moving averages in the S&P 500 current sit at roughly 1323 and 1270. These are the next two potential downside targets if the S&P 500 cannot post a new high between now and the first of April. Apple, Inc. took a bit of a nosedive today. If Apple can't rally (and it was about the only big stock doing so), the writing may be on the wall. Think about it. I can't imagine one mutual fund, one institution, one endowment or one growth portfolio not owning Apple. Everyone now owns it, but where are the buyers should these folks decide to sell? I have avoided Apple because it is technically way, way too, extended and would only arouse my interest if it sold off back into the low to mid 400s - maybe lower. I've changed my mind. Time to flip to a SELL signal. Let's see where the market is come the beginning of April or even perhaps the end of May. If the market rallies a bit higher first and you decide not to sell here, I would use that strength to lighten up. Now is a time to step aside and watch from the sidelines. I still believe there could be another big rally, but let's revisit this market in a month or two. I am going to cash! - Mark Leibovit - for a VRTrader TRIAL SIGNUP go HERE

Four Cycle Turns Warn of a Stock Market Top in March 2012

There is a lot of cycle evidence that suggests a top is coming in March 2012. How significant a top is hard to say, but the odds are the coming decline will be at least in the 10 percent area. If this coming top is the top of Grand Supercycle degree wave {III}, then stocks will begin a decline that could retrace 50 percent or more of the market over the next several years, with large chunks of decline occurring incrementally, followed by normal 40 to 60 percent retracements as stocks work toward significantly lower levels. This weekend we will present this cycle evidence, which we believe is compelling.

First of all, the last phi mate turn date was in December, which led to a two month rally of significance. It was a major phi mate turn. March 7th is the next phi mate date, and the only phi mate turn date since that December turn. It also is a major phi mate turn, meaning its phi mate, its partner date, was also a major turn.

stock-market-cycle-top-march-2012-1

....read & view more charts HERE



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