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Sunday, December 21, 2014 4:10 AM

Europe in Wonderland

If you don't have the money, spend it anyway, says the Ukrainian government.

Of course, that's no different than the philosophy of any other country, including the US.

In this case, however, Ukraine borders on default.

Please consider Ukraine Can’t Scrimp on Military Spending as S&P Rating Cut.

Ukraine’s president, speaking a day after the nation’s junk credit rating was cut further, said next year’s budget mustn’t cut corners on military spending and should account for the possibility of an invasion.

The war made us stronger, but has crushed the economy,” Poroshenko said. “There’s one article of spending that we won’t save on and that’s security.

Ukraine is finalizing next year’s fiscal plan amid a new cease-fire in the conflict that’s ravaged its industrial heartland near Russia’s border. As its economy shrinks and reserves languish at a more than 10-year low, it’s also racing to secure more international aid to top up a $17 billion rescue. Standard & Poor’s said Dec. 19 that a default may become inevitable, downgrading Ukraine’s credit score one step to CCC-.

With official forecasts putting this year’s contraction at 7 percent, the government needs $15 billion on top of its bailout to stay afloat, according to the European Union.

The European Union and the U.S. are discussing $12 billion to $15 billion in aid to Ukraine and “there needs to be a Russian contribution to the package,” Pierre Moscovici, the 28-nation bloc’s economy commissioner, said at a Bloomberg Government event this week in Washington. A decision is needed in January, he said.
War Has Made Us Stronger

Ukraine president says "War has made us stronger".

That lie is so stupid my dead grandmother knows it from the grave. The evidence is a CCC- debt rating, a step or so above above default, with default imminent.

The story gets even stranger.

To avoid default, Ukraine needs a "Russian contribution to the package” according to Pierre Moscovici, the economic policy commissioner for the European Commission.

Amazing Irony

Europe and the US have crippling sanctions on Russia for the conflict in Ukraine, yet the EC wants Russia to bail out Ukraine while accusing Russia of invading Ukraine.

Icing on the wonderland-cake is the Russian Ruble has plunged nearly 50% this year, but Ukraine needs money from Russia to fight Russia.

Is this complete lunacy or what?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Saturday, December 20, 2014 3:23 PM

Evolution of YouTube: Will it Supplant Mainstream TV, Vanish, Evolve, or Languish?

What will become of YouTube?

It started from nowhere about 10 years ago as an idea with no revenue and no content, then pretty quickly lots of content coupled with a plethora of copyright infringement lawsuits.

Today, YouTube gets 300 million hours of watching every day. Top content producers have millions of followers and make millions of dollars.

But where to from here?

New Play Button

The New York Times tackles that question in a fascinating story YouTube’s Chief, Hitting a New ‘Play’ Button.

The article is about Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive of YouTube, how she got her start, and in turn how Google got its start. Wojcicki was Google's 16th employee, and she is still with Google.

The Times notes Smosh, a pair of 20-something lip-syncing comedians, have roughly 30 million subscribers to their various YouTube channels. PewDiePie, a 24-year-old Swede who provides humorous commentary while he plays video games, has a following of similar size.

"Every day, one billion people around the world watch more than 300 million hours of videos on YouTube. In November, 83 percent of Internet users in the United States watched a video on YouTube, according to comScore. In contrast successful network television shows like 'NCIS: New Orleans' or 'The Big Bang Theory' average a little more than half that in weekly viewership."

I'm at the other end of the extreme. I watch very little TV. In fact, I have never even heard of 'NCIS' or 'Big Bang'

It's a fascinating success story for 46-year old Ms. Wojcicki, one of the most powerful media executives in the world.

Where To Next?

We can all speculate, but "where-to from here" is unknown. Not even Wojcicki knows.

Things are always changing. Part of being successful here is being comfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen,” said Wojcicki.

One thing for sure is that You-Tube will evolve. Expect more internet content, not less. Also expect  more forays by Google into TV-land material.

From what we have seen so far, Wojcicki is still the right person to lead the way.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Friday, December 19, 2014 9:24 PM

Russia Not Selling Gold, It's Buying; Reflections on Extremely Sloppy Reporting

On December 17, ZeroHedge asked Will Putin's Next Step Be To Sell Gold?

On December 18, ZeroHedge answered his own question wrongly with Russia Has Begun Selling Its Gold, According To SocGen.

I did not believe that when I saw it yesterday, and I sure don't today after viewing a few charts from Nick at Gold Charts "R" Us.

Russia Gold Reserves Up 600,000 Ounces for November

In US dollar terms, Russia's gold reserves are worth about $0.4 billion less.

Russia Gold Reserves in US Dollars

Of course, Russia may have started selling in December, but that's not precisely what happened either.

Gold Chat Debunks Russia Selling Gold Rumor

Please consider this snip from the December 19 Gold Chat article ZH fail on Soc Gen fail on Russia selling its gold.

As is common in internet land, people pick up stuff by others without doing basic drilling down to the source. The reason you have to do this is because people often misinterpret the source. Other times the source is wrong.

ZH quote the following from Soc Gen: "It appears possible that the Central Bank of Russia has started to sell off some of its gold reserves in December, with some sources reporting that official gold reserves dropped by $4.3 billion in the first week of the month."

Now that is a very specific figure, $4.3b. It seems that Soc Gen got it from this Business Insider republication of a Vesti Finance article which said "On Thursday, the Central Bank of Russia announced that gold reserves dropped by $US4.3 billion in just one week, reports Vesti Finance."

However, if we check the [Vesti] source link [using Google Translate] we get the following:

"Russia's international reserves for the week from November 28 to December 5, decreased from $ 420.5 billion to $ 416.2 billion, the central bank said on Thursday. ... For the previous week, from 21 to 28 November, gold reserves increased from $ 420.4 billion to $ 420.5 billion. On November 14th the size of gold reserves stood at $ 420.6 billion, on November 7 - $421,400,000,000 rubles."

Now the decrease they are talking about is $4.3b in total reserves but the headline mistakenly assumes it is all gold. The gold specific figures they mention show completely different numbers.
Link Sloppiness

This is precisely what happens when you are sloppy with links.

My major criticism is not that ZeroHedge posted something inaccurately, but that he frequently fails to link to stories.

On many occasions ZeroHedge states things like "Bloomberg says" and I spend 15 minutes looking and cannot find anywhere Bloomberg said anything remotely close to what was being attributed.

I realize sometimes there is no link. On such occasions, I will say something like via email, no link available.

In this case it appears the source of this misrepresentation was Business Insider who also got the story amazingly wrong.

On December 12, Business Insider reported Russia Is Fighting Its Financial Problems By Selling The Gold They Have Been Hoarding.
Russia is finally using all that gold they have been hoarding.

On Thursday, the Central Bank of Russia announced that gold reserves dropped by $US4.3 billion in just one week, reports Vesti Finance.

Which isn’t all that surprising. ....

In the third quarter alone, Russia added more gold to its reserves than any other nation, according to the Telegraph. And over the last decade, Russia has tripled its gold stocks, according to data from the World Gold Council.

Until recently, Russia hasn’t dipped into these enormous reserves.

But now that the ruble is getting pummelled following the decline in oil prices and sanctions imposed on Russia’s economy by the West, Russia’s central bank is apparently selling off some of its gold reserves to fight inflation and the ruble’s decline.
Business Insider Sloppy Reporting

Russia is not selling gold, rather the US$ value of its international reserves fell by $4.3. Billion. Here is the opening sentence "Russia's international reserves for the week from November 28 to December 5, decreased from $ 420.5 billion to $ 416.2 billion, the central bank said on Thursday."

Gold Chat ended with ...

"Editor's Note: Earlier it was reported that the Central Bank's gold reserves decreased by $4.3 billion, quoting Vesti Finance. However, in actuality, it is international reserves assets that have decreased — not gold. Appropriate changes have been made."

Now how hard was that fact checking Soc Gen and ZH?

ZeroHedge messed up another gold story as well. Please consider the December 17 Gold Chat article Zero Hedge fail on undocumented gold supply story

This kind of nonsense is precisely why I am meticulous with links. I ask others to carry the same standard.

Bloomberg is also terrible. In fact, mainstream media is horrendous in general.

Many mainstream media news outlets only link to themselves. And when that happens there is no way to check the facts. Then nonsense like this happens. I rest my case.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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