Ashley Young admits Manchester United have endured “a tough week”, but has called on those around him to “play for the badge” as a new era is opened at Cardiff.The Red Devils will take to the field in South Wales with a new manager at the helm, with Jose Mourinho having been relieved of his duties.Inconsistent displays from an underperforming squad spelled the end for the Portuguese, with a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool proving to be the final straw. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been drafted in as Mourinho’s successor and is being backed to bring a feel-good factor back to Old Trafford.Young concedes there have not been too many smiles on United faces of late, but told the club’s official website: “It’s been a tough week.“But we’ve got to move on now, move forward and concentrate on this game. We need to get ourselves back to winning ways.“You go out there as a player and you want to win, play for the badge, play for this fantastic club, the best club in the world and for us now it’s about looking ahead and looking at the next couple of games we’ve got coming up.“It’s a busy Christmas period and we want to get points on the board and start getting ourselves back up the table.”The Red Devils are looking for returning hero Solskjaer to make an immediate impact, with the presence of a 1999 Treble winner helping to raise spirits around the club.“I’m sure Ole is excited to be back, Mike Phelan as well,” added Young. “For Ole to walk back in here must feel unbelievable. The fans love him, he loves the club and it can only be a good thing for us.“With me being one of the older heads, I [previously] worked under Mike and it’s nice to see him back on the training pitch again.”Young has also hailed the impact of the backroom team at United, with Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez all having important roles to play in the present and future.“Carras, Kieran and Emilio have been fantastic,” he said. “The training sessions they’ve put on have been fantastic, top notch.“I can definitely see Carras being a manager one day and Kieran has been brilliant stepping up to the first team [from the Under-18s]. He’s taken to it like a duck to water and Emilio is a fantastic goalkeeping coach. It’s nice for them to be here and work under Mick and Ole as well.“The main thing for us has been not to be caught up in everything and instead just concentrate on our work on the pitch and get ourselves fully prepared for this weekend’s game. That’s all you can do as players; be prepared and be ready for the game that we’ve got coming up.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche accused Arsenal’s players of diving after his side lost 3-1 at Emirates Stadium, scathingly saying: “Millions of children see it.”Goals in either half from Premier League leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left Burnley with little hope of picking up a point towards their fight against relegation, although Ashley Barnes gave them a glimmer of hope when he pulled one back 27 minutes from the end.The Clarets pushed for an equaliser, but a late strike from Alex Iwobi knocked the stuffing out of the visitors, and Dyche claimed the Arsenal substitute scored from an offside position. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? “We could have got something out of the game. Their final goal was marginally offside,” Dyche told reporters before firing accusations at Unai Emery’s players over diving.”Two dives,” said the Burnley boss. “No-one seems to want to do anything about diving apart from me. Millions of children see it.”We’re not talking about gamesmanship; we’re talking about diving.”Diving’s not for me but gamesmanship is different. What I don’t like is when you’re touched on the arm and your feet go from beneath you. I thought it was incredibly bad at the World Cup.”PIC: Ashley Barnes and Arsenal’s Sokratis battle for the ball pic.twitter.com/nGHgalSOlO— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) December 22, 2018Emery refused to get dragged into an argument about diving, opting to politely disagree with Dyche’s accusations while calling for respect for the referee’s decisions.”The most important thing is the victory,” said the Arsenal coach.”We have to have respect for the referee and for the opposition.”Arsenal’s win coincided with Mesut Ozil’s return to the side after a spell out, and the German was instrumental in helping mastermind the victory, providing an assist and influencing the play with a superb display of passing to delight the Emirates.”It was a big performance and afterwards I spoke with him [Ozil] and said congratulations for your work,” said Emery. “He showed his quality and their characteristics and we needed him to work to help us today and he did.”
Manchester United cruised to an impressive 5-1 Premier League victory over Cardiff City on Saturday in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match in charge.Three goals in the first half from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial and a brace from Jesse Lingard earned all three points at Cardiff City Stadium, with Victor Camaras’ penalty proving little consolation.United stay sixth in the table, but the manner of the performance, as well as the result – the first time the side have scored five times in the league since Alex Ferguson’s final game – will have been a welcome sight for the travelling fans at the end of a week that saw Jose Mourinho’s contentious time in charge come to an end. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? The new United era got off to a stunning start when Rashford blasted home a free-kick from 30 yards out that left goalkeeper Neil Etheridge rooted to the spot.Almost 81 per cent of possession underlined United’s early control, and the scoreline reflected their dominance when Herrera’s strike looped off Greg Cunningham’s shoulder and into the net 29 minutes in.Cardiff were gifted a lifeline when Camarasa fired high into the net from the spot, but United’s two-goal lead was restored three minutes later, when Martial slotted beneath Etheridge after a sublime one-touch passing move involving Lingard and Paul Pogba, restored to the starting line-up.3 – Man Utd have scored three first half goals in a Premier League away game for the first time since November 2017 v Watford. Reaction. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/ENU4COALZJ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018And any hope of a Cardiff comeback was promptly extinguished 11 minutes into the second half, when Lingard dispatched a confident penalty after he had been bundled to the ground by Sol Bamba.Pogba and Phil Jones were each denied by good Etheridge saves, while David de Gea kept out a good Kenneth Zohore attempt. It was 5-1 when Lingard rounded the keeper and slotted home from Pogba’s pass in the 90th minute to secure a first away league win since November 3 in style and give Solskjaer extra cause for celebration against the club he used the manage. 500/100 – Anthony Martial’s strike vs Cardiff was the 500th goal scored in the Premier League this season, in what was his 100th league game for Man Utd. Milestones. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/y8fs7lJ9En— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Solskjaer has lifted the gloom’You make me happy, when skies are grey’ goes the song sung in Solskjaer’s honour by United fans, and that certainly seems to be the case at the end of a week that started with Mourinho apparently looking likely to stay in the job.United looked liberated in south Wales, playing expressive, attacking football and scoring the goals to go with it, while much-maligned players like Victor Lindelof seemed to exude confidence.Yes, Cardiff were undeniably poor and, yes, United are still sixth, but this was a match where the manner of the performance was arguably more important for the visitors than the result itself.Lingard given a licence to thrillLingard epitomised the freedom with which United’s attacking players performed. His assist for Martial’s goal and his well-taken penalty were the high points of a display full of verve, and Cardiff never quite got to grips with him.Bumbling Bamba a burdenBamba was dispossessed too easily by Pogba in the build-up to Herrera’s goal, his clumsy foul allowed Lingard to make it 4-1 and he missed a good chance for a goal. It was not his finest outing.Key Opta Facts- Since Alex Ferguson left the club, four of the five different managers to take charge of Manchester United have seen their side score 3+ goals in their first Premier League game (Moyes 4, Mourinho 3, Giggs 4 and Solskjaer 5). – Cardiff manager Neil Warnock suffered his 50th Premier League defeat, in what was his 92nd game in the competition – only Mick McCarthy (79), Danny Wilson (87) and Gary Megson (91) have reached 50 defeats in fewer games managed.- Anthony Martial has been directly involved in 70 goals for Manchester United in all competitions (45 goals, 25 assists); the most of any player for the club since his debut in September 2015.- Manchester United’s third goal against Cardiff – scored by Anthony Martial – was the 500th netted in the Premier League this season. What’s next?Huddersfield Town visit Old Trafford for the first home game of the Solskjaer era, while Cardiff head to Crystal Palace, both on December 26. read more
Antoine Griezmann’s penalty was enough as Atletico Madrid moved up to second in LaLiga after claiming an unremarkable 1-0 win over Espanyol, as the Frenchman reached 200 career goals for club and country.Espanyol produced a fine performance given their wretched form, but Atletico just about managed to earn the victory which moves them back above Sevilla at least until Sunday thanks to Griezmann.The visitors looked considerably more threatening in the first half, with Jan Oblak having to be at his best to deny Borja Iglesias and one-time Atletico striker Leo Baptistao. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But Espanyol’s attacking threat fizzled out somewhat after the break and Atletico made the most of that, with Griezmann’s penalty proving decisive and inflicting a sixth successive league defeat on Espanyol, their worst run since 2003. 94′ | 1-0 | ¡FINAAAAL! ¡Cerramos el 2018 con tres puntos en el Wanda @Metropolitano!#AtletiEspanyol#AúpaAtleti pic.twitter.com/vMfkhSoMDq— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) December 22, 2018Espanyol looked the more creative of the two sides early on and went close twice in the first 15 minutes, as Esteban Granero sent a chip just wide of the top-left corner, before Oblak had to be alert to tip a similar effort from Iglesias over.Oblak made another vital stop in the 28th minute when parrying Baptistao’s fierce 20-yard volley, though he had to rely on his left-hand post to stop the Brazilian’s follow-up effort.Atletico finally tested Diego Lopez just before the break – the former Real Madrid goalkeeper pushing a Griezmann volley wide.The hosts looked more solid defensively after the interval and then found themselves ahead in the 56th minute, as Griezmann emphatically slammed a penalty into the roof of the net as a consequence of Koke being felled by a wild Granero kick.Atletico should have rounded things off when Gelson Martins was tackled in the penalty area on the counter, though it had no impact on the score as the hosts held on at the other end.200 – @atletienglish’s Antoine Griezmann has scored his 200th goal in his professional career (club and country). Milestone. pic.twitter.com/2vi3bWhw6f— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 22, 2018 What does it mean? Atletico ride their luckAtletico were again guilty of producing an unimpressive performance, finding themselves under pressure a lot in the first half. Although they weathered the storm and came out unscathed, one has to assume their luck will run out eventually against better – more ruthless – opposition.Oblak proves his worth, againHaving an immense goalkeeper really does make a difference, as Oblak showed on Saturday. Not only did he produce some vital saves, he dealt particularly well when put under physical pressure at set-pieces, somehow managing to routinely clear his lines despite being surrounded.Kalinic kept quietCroatian striker Nikola Kalinic was hoping to score in a third successive LaLiga game, but he offered very little before the interval, with Naldo generally bossing him. He was then replaced by Vitolo, who injected more urgency into Atletico’s attack.Key Opta Facts- No side has kept more clean sheets than Atletico Madrid in the top five European leagues in 2018 (21, level with Juventus). – Griezmann has scored 40 goals in 2018 for club and country, more than in any other calendar year.- Atletico have picked up 50 points at Wanda Metropolitano in La Liga in 2018 (W15 D5 L1), more than any other side at home in the competition.- Antoine Griezmann has been involved in 11 goals in his last 10 games for Atletico de Madrid in all competitions (seven goals and four assists).- Espanyol have lost their last six LaLiga games, their worst run in the competition since October 2003 (also six).- Atletico faced more shots in the first half against Espanyol (10) than in any other first half of a league game at Wanda Metropolitano. What’s next?After the winter break, Atletico face a trip to fellow high-flyers Sevilla in what promises to be a feisty encounter at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, while Espanyol host Leganes. read more
Manchester United have hit a 13-month high under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the new man at the helm making an immediate impact during a trip to Cardiff.With the Red Devils having taken the decision to part with Jose Mourinho, cover was required in a high-profile post.Treble winner Solskjaer was the man chosen to take the reins, with the Norwegian agreeing an initial interim deal through to the end of the season. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? His return to Old Trafford was welcomed by many, with a clean slate offered to an underperforming squad.In a quirk of fate, his first game in charge of United took him back to the familiar surroundings of Cardiff – the scene of his only previous coaching post in British football.Solskjaer would have been hoping to make a bright start, but the speed at which his new side burst out of the blocks probably came as a surprise even to him.Marcus Rashford recorded the first goal of a new era inside three minutes, before Ander Herrera doubled United’s lead before the half-hour mark.Victor Camarasa pulled one back for the Bluebirds from the penalty spot, but Anthony Martial restored the Red Devils’ two-goal advantage four minutes before half-time.Fast starts are not something that United had been accustomed to under Mourinho, with over a year having passed since they last registered three efforts in the opening 45 minutes of any given Premier League fixture.3 – Man Utd have scored three first half goals in a Premier League away game for the first time since November 2017 v Watford. Reaction. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/ENU4COALZJ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018While Solskjaer was able to oversee a dream start to his reign, he is under no illusion as to the size of the challenge facing him in familiar surroundings.United’s struggles under Mourinho have left them playing catch-up in the race for top-four finishes.Victory over Cardiff will, however, be a positive step in the right direction.With the games coming tick and fast over the festive period, there will be further opportunities to close on the Champions League places before the end of the year.If the Red Devils can continue to burst out of the blocks like they did against the Bluebirds, then they may soon have top-flight rivals looking anxiously over their shoulder. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Former Manchester United forward Michael Owen feels that the departure of Jose Mourinho has been a breath of fresh air around the club, and that the more relaxed atmosphere was reflected in Saturday’s drubbing of Cardiff City.A double from Jesse Lingard added to Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial’s goals as United ran riot in a 5-1 victory in south Wales.That win meant Solskjaer, who replaced the sacked Mourinho on an interim basis, enjoyed the perfect start on the bench for the Red Devils, who also cut the deficit behind fourth-placed Chelsea to eight points. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Mourinho’s final months at United were marred by reported rifts with players and poor results, and Owen believes that his sacking has given the club a new lease of life.”It’s not that you don’t want to put a huge amount of praise on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he’s obviously had an immediate impact, but he can’t have done much in such a short period of time.” Owen said to BT Sport. “It’s basically the shackles are now off and people can express themselves, people are actually smiling within the club now.”That makes all the difference to anybody’s performance.”Wayne Rooney also praised the Norwegian’s impact, while also alluding to the toxic atmosphere that accompanied Mourinho’s last days.”They looked a bit restricted. The players have got a lot of ability, and today we’ve seen that,” he said.”Playing for Manchester United, it’s a lot of pressure and a lot of things were happening around the team, around the manager, which is never easy to deal with as a player.”I think the players have just got that freedom. Ole has given them that as well. You’ve seen what they can do. I think today was a fantastic day for the club.”United continue their Premier League campaign on December 26, hosting Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Juventus dealt a fresh blow to Eusebio Di Francesco’s job security in a routine 1-0 win over an outclassed Roma at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.Champions League semi-finalists last season, Roma have been a shadow of their former selves this term and were no match for the Serie A champions despite the narrow final scoreline.Mario Mandzukic’s commanding header, his eighth league goal of the campaign, gave Juve a deserved half-time lead and they were rarely troubled in restoring an eight-point gap to second-placed Napoli, who earlier beat SPAL 1-0. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Robin Olsen’s string of stellar saves ultimately achieved little more than keeping the score down as the under-pressure Di Francesco was left to defend a run of just one victory in seven competitive matches.How did you celebrate this moment from @MarioMandzukic9? #JuveRoma #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve pic.twitter.com/QdEqdHOq11— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) December 22, 2018Roma encountered intense early pressure and only an in-form Olsen prevented them from slipping to an earlier deficit.The Sweden goalkeeper brilliantly denied Alex Sandro in the seventh minute and was at his athletic best in turning a Cristiano Ronaldo shot around the upright.His saves only prolonged the inevitable as Juve’s opener arrived in the 35th minute, Mandzukic towering above Davide Santon and heading in Mattia De Sciglio’s cross.Ronaldo must have felt a sense of deja vu when Olsen frustrated him with two fine saves in quick succession prior to the hour, causing the Portugal attacker to kick out at the post in irritation.Massimiliano Allegri’s men twice had late goals disallowed on their way to sealing a record 16th victory in 17 Serie A fixtures. Giorgio Chiellini was adjudged to have fouled the Giallorossi goalkeeper, before substitute Douglas Costa’s stoppage-time strike was overturned on VAR due to Blaise Matuidi’s crude challenge on Nicolo Zaniolo in the build-up.What does it mean? Di Francesco in dangerThe goodwill Roma boss Di Francesco built up during an excellent 2017-18 campaign could soon evaporate if results do not turn.There are just two points separating his team and 12th-placed Parma after 17 matches, with considerable January investment seemingly the only antidote to a sub-par run of results.Brilliant Bentancur makes seamless comebackRodrigo Bentancur returned to Juve’s starting XI following a one-match suspension and got straight back to dominating the midfield.Though still only 21, the midfielder is a key cog for Allegri and demonstrated as such by topping the match count for tackles while rarely wasting possession.Santon switches offGranted, there was a mismatch in size at the far post, but Roma needed right-back Santon to be more than a mere step ladder for Mandzukic’s opener.The former Newcastle United defender paid the price for not assessing his surroundings and his regular turnovers impeded Roma’s attempts to rescue a result.Key Opta Facts- Juventus have gained 49 points in the first 17 games of the season – a joint-record in the top five European leagues.- Juve have also won 31 league games in 2018, more than any other team in the top five European leagues.- Ronaldo was responsible for 10 of his team’s 20 shots in this game.What’s next?Both clubs are back in action on December 26 as Juve head to mid-table Atalanta and Roma entertain Sassuolo. read more
Ronald Vargas’ 82nd-minute winner saw Newcastle Jets pile more misery on Central Coast Mariners with a 2-1 derby victory on Sunday.Struggling at the bottom of the table after collecting just two points from their previous eight A-League games of the season, the Mariners took a first-half lead through Matt Simon.But Jason Hoffman headed in a 66th-minute equaliser for the Jets, who handed the Mariners a seventh straight loss when Vargas struck. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Newcastle welcomed Roy O’Donovan back from a 10-match ban, but the forward struggled to have much of an impact on his return.Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey and Jets star Dimitri Petratos were denied from decent positions with free-kicks before Jair blazed over from inside the area for Newcastle in the first half.Central Coast opened the scoring nine minutes before half-time through Simon.Matt Millar did well down the right before clipping a cross to the back post, where Simon headed in.Advantage @CCMariners in the #F3Derby!Matt Simon nods home after Matt Millar’s bullocking run. #ALeague@FOXFOOTBALL #WhereHeroesAreMade pic.twitter.com/9NVha4zz3b— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) December 23, 2018The game started to develop a derby feel as the half wore on before Connor Pain squandered a great chance for the Mariners in a one-on-one after the break.That miss would prove costly as the Jets equalised in the 66th minute, Hoffman rising highest to head in a Jair corner.Hoffy draws us level! #F3Derby #MadeOfNewcastle @FOXFOOTBALL pic.twitter.com/mH7FM4JcMF— NEWCASTLE JETS FC (@NewcastleJetsFC) December 23, 2018Newcastle had an 80th-minute effort ruled out for offside before Vargas delivered the winner, the attacker finishing clinically after a beautiful pass from Kaine Sheppard.
Leeds can go back to the top of the Championship on Sunday if they overcome Aston Villa away from home.Marcelo Bielsa’s side have won all of their last five Championship outings but find themselves heading to Villa Park looking up at Norwich, who defeated Blackburn thanks to a late Teemu Pukki strike on Saturday.In Birmingham, they will find themselves up against a Villa side who are seven undefeated and with a habit of being involved in exciting, high-scoring games. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Aston Villa vs Leeds Date Sunday, December 23 Time 1:30pm GMT / 8:30am ET TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via ESPN+. US TV channel Online stream N/A ESPN+ In the UK, the game will be shown on Sky Sports Football and Main Event and can be streamed through the Sky Go app. UK TV channel Online stream Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event Sky Go Squads & Team News Position Aston Villa players Goalkeepers Nyland, Moreira, Bunn Defenders Chester, Tuanzebe, Richards, Taylor, Elmohamady, Bree, Hatton Midfielders Jedinak, Whelan, Hourihane, McGinn, Lansbury, Bjarnason, Grealish Forwards Bolasie, El Ghazi, Adomah, Abraham, Kodjia, Hogan, Davis, Hepburn-Murphy Villa go into Sunday’s match without key midfielder Jack Grealish or fellow midfielder Birkir Bjarnason.Meanwhile, Dean Smith will have to monitor a number of players in the build up to kick off. Neil Taylor and James Bree are doubts in the defence, while midfielders Henri Lansbury, Mile Jedinak and Albert Adomah are all concerns.Goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic will join up with the squad in January after his signing from Gent was confirmed.Possible Aston Villa starting XI: Nyland; Elmohamady, Chester, Tuanzebe, Hutton; McGinn, Hourihane, Whelan, Bolasie, El Ghazi; Abraham Position Leeds players Goalkeepers Peacock-Farrell, Huffer Defenders Douglas, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Pearce, Phillips, Berardi, Shaughnessy, Halme Midfielders Forshaw, Dallas, Hernandez, Baker, Klich, Shackleton, Harrison, Brown Forwards Roofe, Alioski, Roberts, Saiz, Bamford, Clarke, Harrison Leeds’ squad is hit by a number of absentees, which could pose issues in the busy festive period.The defence is the area of the squad worst hit, with Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi ruled out along with Conor Shaughnessy. In the midfield, Stuart Dallas is sidelined while Samuel Saiz has agreed to join Getafe and will train with the Spanish club before the move is formalised. Izzy Brown is set to miss out for a month with a thigh problem.Luke Ayling will return to the team after a couple of months out with Marcelo Bielsa stating he will “probably be a starter”.Possible Leeds starting XI: Peacock-Farrell; Ayling, Jansson, Philips, Douglas; Baker, Klich, Forshaw, Alioski, Hernandez; RoofeBetting & Match Odds Aston Villa are 6/4 favourites to win the match at bet365 . Leeds can be backed at 15/8, while a draw is priced at 13/5.Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more . Match Preview After an absence of 15 years, Leeds United are finally making a strong move to return to the Premier League under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine has guided them to five successive Championship victories and the top of the table, but on Saturday they lost their status as they were not in action. Less than 24 hours after they were pushed off first place by Norwich, they have the opportunity to regain it, albeit against an Aston Villa side in good form.Injuries have hampered the plans of Bielsa and the Lilywhites in recent times, but they have not stopped the Elland Road side’s impressive momentum, which has made the manager something of a cult hero at the club.“I am thankful, it is important for me the feeling they give to the club, but they give me an importance that I think I don’t deserve,” he said ahead of this encounter. “Affection is the maximum aspiration for a human being. When you receive affection, it is something you are very thankful for. In this case though, I don’t think I deserve the recognition I am getting.”New Aston Villa boss Dean Smith will enjoy similar recognition if he keeps the team on an upward course in the table, with his side consistently one of the most entertaining to watch in the league, with an astonishing 77 goals coming from their 22 matches to date.“I think it will be one hell of a good game because both teams play in the same manner,” he predicted. Victory would lift Villa to seventh in the standings and within touching distance of the playoff positions for the first time since a 4-1 loss to Sheffield United on September 1.
Marco Asensio is honoured to be on Inter’s radar but has no plans to leave Real Madrid, according to his agent.Reports have suggested the Nerazzurri are considering a January bid for the Spain international, who has started 11 of Madrid’s 17 La Liga matches this season and scored only once.Asensio’s representative, Horacio Gaggioli, acknowledged his client would be proud to hear of an offer from the Serie A club but says the 22-year-old wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? “It’s an honour if a club like Inter are interested in Marco,” he told FCInternews.”I don’t know if it’s true, but for now the player has no intention of leaving Madrid.”Asensio has won eight major trophies for Madrid since 2016, including the 2018 Club World Cup this month.Otro título para vosotros, Madridistas. ¡Tricampeones del mundo! / Another cup for us, Madridistas. World Tri-champions! pic.twitter.com/8PJSFYWGRI— Marco Asensio (@marcoasensio10) December 22, 2018
Paul Pogba’s struggle for consistency at Manchester United is not because of any problem with his behaviour, former striker Louis Saha says.Pogba impressed on Saturday in his side’s 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City, registering two assists as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as caretaker manager got off to a flying start.It was the France international’s first start in the Premier League since the 2-2 draw with Southampton on December 1, the midfielder having been dropped by Jose Mourinho in the Portuguese’s final few weeks in charge. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Pogba’s inability to perform consistently under Mourinho was often attributed to a poor relationship with his manager, with the pair said to have clashed on more than one occasion.Saha, twice a Premier League winner with United, thinks Pogba showed at the World Cup that he can play in a more disciplined role, but he admits it is not something that suits him.”The issue with the word ‘boss’ is that, at some stage, a boss needs to be consistent,” Saha told Omnisport. “You need to be well-perceived in the group.”That’s today’s criticism towards Paul. We need to understand him. Some weeks, he’s been outstanding. That’s what we expect from a player as talented as he is.”I think that his problem is that he has so many qualities that it’s complicated to keep him in one specific position, even box-to-box or in the defensive tasks, when he can score or make the difference anyway. I think those elements are difficult for him as a player.”He can do it because he did it with Didier Deschamps. He can do it with any team or coach. It’s not a behavioural problem but an analysis one. He must tell himself: ‘Okay, for that specific game, I need to do a certain job’. I think it’s not easy for him.”Saha hopes Solskjaer can be a positive influence on Pogba given his selfless nature as a player and a coach.”Ole has a lot of humility and it can help in their communication,” Saha said. “He will put his ego aside as ‘boss’ and he’ll tell himself that today the team goes first.”It is what Ole does. He’s always done it. He made great sacrifices for his team-mates. He’s made the difference for his team-mates and his coach. That’s Ole. He will give that [to the team].”That’s a message he’ll give gradually to all the players. They need to get their confidence back. They almost need some paternal communication. A misplaced pride in a great club constantly under the scrutiny of everyone. Whatever will happen, there they’ll talk about it because it’s one of the most followed clubs in the world. ” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Manchester City will be hoping to recall some key players to the starting line-up as they look to get back to winning ways at Leicester City on Boxing Day.Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne were not fit enough to start the 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace, and David Silva had returned to training but was not ready to feature in the squad.MAN CITY INJURIES David Silva and Vincent Kompany have progressed well from their recent lay-offs but were not ready for Saturday’s game. Neither are likely to start in Leicester but Silva, at least, could make the bench. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Danilo was among the substitutes on Saturday and he could come into the line-up for Kyle Walker, who has struggled of late.Fernandinho was not fully fit on Saturday but could well feature on Boxing Day.Benjamin Mendy (knee) and Claudio Bravo (Achilles) are definitely out.MAN CITY SUSPENSIONS Neither side have any suspensions.MAN CITY POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP Danilo could come in at right-back for Walker, while John Stones could drop back into defence if Fernandinho is fit enough to return to the midfield.De Bruyne is likely to come back into the midfield, and he would be partnered by either Ilkay Gundogan or Bernardo Silva.Sergio Aguero is a candidate to replace Gabriel Jesus up front, while Riyad Mahrez may be selected to start at his former club. LEICESTER TEAM NEWS Under-fire Leicester boss Claude Puel, who eased some of the pressure on him with a shock win at Chelsea on Saturday, has no new injury worries for the game.Daniel Amartey and Matthew James are long-term absentees.OPTA MATCH FACTS Leicester are winless in their last four games in all competitions against Manchester City (D1 L3), with each of the three defeats coming in the Premier League. Manchester City are looking for their fourth consecutive win against Leicester in the Premier League – prior to this run, they had won just four of their first 11 games against the Foxes in the competition (D2 L5). Leicester have won just two of their last 15 games against Manchester City in all competitions (D5 L8), with both of those victories coming under Claudio Ranieri. Manchester City have lost just one of their seven away games against Leicester in the Premier League (W4 D2), with that defeat coming in December 2016 (4-2). Since they were promoted back to the top-flight in 2014-15, Leicester City have lost all four of their Premier League Boxing Day games. Manchester City have won eight of their last 10 Premier League Boxing Day games (D1 L1), winning the last four in a row. Their only defeat in that run came against Sunderland in 2012-13 (0-1).TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME Kick off is 15:00 GMT (10 ET) on Wednesday. The game will not be shown on TV in the United Kingdom. It will be shown on NBC in the United States, and on various channels around the world. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Juventus are working on a deal to sign Braga forward Francisco Trincao in January, Goal understands.The 18-year-old plays primarily as a right winger, but can also be deployed as a secondary striker, and has yet to make his breakthrough into Braga’s senior team.However, he has been capped at Under-17, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level by Portugal, scoring 11 goals in 16 appearances for the Under-19 age group. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? He has yet to complete 90 minutes for Braga B this season, but has made seven appearances. Last season, he scored five goals and created five more in 30 outings.Inter are also interested in the prospect of luring Trincao away from Portugal, but Juve have been working on a deal for months, and believe they are at the front of the queue.Trincao’s agent travelled to Turin to meet with representatives of the Bianconeri last week, but Braga are thus far refusing to budge on their asking price for the teenager.Trincao has a €15 million (£13.5m/$17.1m) release clause in his contract, and the Portuguese club want Juventus to pay in full.And while the Serie A champions are hopeful of completing a deal, they have thus far refused to match the clause.Trincao’s reputation precedes him, having enjoyed a stunning run of form in the European Under-19 championships in the summer.The winger shared the Golden Boot with team-mate Joao Filipe, as they both finished the tournament with five goals apiece.Trincao even scored in the final as Portugal defeated Italy 4-3 after extra time.
Arsenal, and any other suitor of Nicolas Pepe, have been made aware that it will cost €80 million (£72m/$91m) to secure the Lille winger’s signature.The talented 23-year-old has emerged as a target for leading sides across Europe.The Emirates Stadium has been mooted as one possible landing spot for the Ivory Coast international. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Lille, though, are aware that they have a prized asset on their hands and will not be parting with him unless a hefty price tag is met.The Ligue 1 club’s sporting director, Luis Campos, told Telefoot of Pepe: “I hope he will stay this winter. We’ll do everything to keep him.“All the top clubs in the world have their eyes on him, and that’s normal, but the president has been clear.“The idea is for him to continue at the club.“In contrast, with my experience in football, I would say that if a club arrives with a big number and can convince the player… I would sell him for €80 million.“That’s the price tag, but you’d have to convince the player and he’s been a big part of us being in second place.”Pepe has certainly enjoyed a productive opening to the 2018-19 campaign.In just 19 Ligue 1 appearances this term, he has contributed 12 goals and five assists.It is that productivity which has him attracting admiring glances from afar.Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who got a good look at Pepe during his time in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, is said to be a big fan.The Gunners already have plenty of creativity on their books, but the opportunity to bolster those ranks will not be passed up if an opportunity presents itself.
Juan Cuadrado is likely to avoid the need for surgery on a knee injury, Juventus have confirmed.The Colombia international was sent to Germany for assessment on the problem last week and missed the 1-0 Serie A victory over Roma last Saturday.The 30-year-old has returned to Turin and will continue conservative treatment in a bid to restore him to full fitness. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? “Juan Cuadrado is continuing conservative therapy with some improvement,” a Juve statement said.”At the moment, there are not enough indications to proceed surgically.”Cuadrado has made 15 appearances in all competitions for Massimiliano Allegri’s side this season.Despite his injury struggles, he remains fully committed to the Juve cause and has sought to play down any suggestion that he may consider leaving the club.He told Marca in November: “I think only of Juventus and to reach the goals we have set ourselves, to arrive in March and to be in a race on all fronts.“Then there will be the Copa America, it will be a great opportunity to win something with Colombia.”Juve are set to face Atalanta on December 26 before hosting Sampdoria three days later in their final match before the mid-season break.Cuadrado will play no part in those fixtures, but will be hoping to come back into contention at some point in early 2019.
Raheem Sterling has shown admirable courage in speaking out to highlight the issue of racism in football, according to Gareth Southgate.During Manchester City’s defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this month, Sterling was allegedly racially abused.Chelsea have subsequently suspended four fans pending further investigation and in the aftermath of the incident, the England forward took to Instagram to point out media coverage of young black footballers, which he felt “fuel racism an aggressive behaviour”. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And England manager Southgate believes Sterling should be applauded for taking a stand and helping to bring the issue into the public eye.”It’s easier for me to talk about what I feel about what Raheem’s done and how brave he’s been in speaking up,” Southgate told Sky Sports.”We’ve seen incidents of racism in the last few months that have always been unacceptable, remain unacceptable and will be unacceptable if they happen in the future. We have to hope they don’t.”Football is a mirror of society and unfortunately racism exists in society and so there are times when people use the opportunity at a football ground to fuel that.”We have to stand strong as a game to make sure that does not happen.”I think Raheem commented about what happens in stadiums, but also the unconscious bias that maybe exists.”I think that’s a huge topic for everyone to think about and to ponder and see how that might affect our lives and how we might do things differently as we move forward.”I really commend what he did and I think he should be very proud of being brave enough to stand up because it’s not an easy thing to do.”
The existing Trans Mountain pipeline crosses a river in Chilliwack, B.C., near Cheam First Nation. (APTN file)The Canadian PressAn Indigenous group planning to bid for ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline is launching a “listening tour” of Indigenous communities in B.C. and Alberta.Project Reconciliation says the tour will begin in Kamloops in mid-August and will invite First Nations and Metis Nation people and communities along the pipeline route from Edmonton to the West Coast to share their thoughts about Indigenous ownership.Delbert Wapass, executive chair and founder of Project Reconciliation, says the tour will provide information on his group’s proposal but is also designed to gather feedback to be reflected in its final submission to the federal government.51 per cent Wapass, the former chief of Saskatchewan’s Thunderchild First Nation, is proposing ownership of at least 51 per cent of the federal government-owned pipeline be shared among all participating Indigenous communities in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.The group would put 80 per cent of the cash flow from the pipeline stake into a “sovereign wealth fund” to invest in environmentally friendly projects.Its bid is opposed by the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group which argues Trans Mountain should be owned by communities actually located on the route as they are most at risk from an oil spill.Ottawa has indicated support for the idea of selling the pipeline to Indigenous owners but says decisions won’t be made until the pipeline expansion project is “de-risked.”
In This Issue. * Jobs numbers disappoint… * Elections in Europe… * Oil falls below $100… * RBA weighs on the Aussie dollar… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Jobs data pushes speculators out of the market… Good day. And welcome to another week. Chuck finally made it back home last night, after speaking at two different conferences last week down in Florida. We had a pretty wicked night of thunderstorms last night, so I’m sure Chuck’s flight wasn’t exactly smooth. Sure hope he got over that stomach thing which he had on Friday. Currency investors weren’t feeling too good either Friday, as a weak jobs number here in the US was a lot like bad shrimp for non-dollar investors. The traditional ‘safe haven’ currencies of the Japanese yen and US$ moved up Friday after US payrolls added just 115,000 workers, the smallest increase in six months. As Chuck informed us all on Friday, the median estimate of economists was for a 160,000 increase. In a bit of an odd twist, the jobless rate actually fell to a three year low of 8.1%. Chuck sent me this note after reading about the jobs numbers last Friday: Well… we sure did see a prime example of a Risk Off Day on Friday, with all the risk assets getting taken to the woodshed after the Jobs report… You may recall me saying on Friday that in recent times, the markets had treated the Jobs report outcome like it should, and that if the number of jobs created in April were weaker than forecast (they were 115,000 VS 160,000 forecast) that the markets would view this as a primer for QE3, which would be dollar negative… However, after the knee jerk reaction to the report had the dollar on the run, the currencies’ fortunes turned on a dime… and it was back to the old trading theme of: Bad data in the U.S. equals buy dollar bias… Who knew? Would someone that has some influence over the markets, tell them that investors want to know ahead of time which curtain they should choose! The thing though that kept creeping into my mind about this whole report, and it making two consecutive reports, is that thing I’ve tried to put into your minds about the financial storm… and how we had looked pretty good for a short time, but we were in the eye of the storm… It appears to me that we’re entering the other side of the storm, and it could very well be worse than the front of the storm that hit in 2008… For… we didn’t correct anything! Oh… and in keeping with my usual dig deeper than journalists routine with the jobs data… The BLS added 206,000 jobs to the 115,000 total.. which, without the adjustment, job creation would have been negative! Back to Chris now. Thanks to Chuck for his intuitive analysis of the currency markets reaction to the jobs numbers. One thing which I noticed when I was going over the jobs reports this weekend was the ‘participation rate’ which fell to the lowest in over 30 years. The participation rate indicates the share of working-age people who are in the labor force. This percentage fell to 63.6% from a reading of 63.8% last month. I highlight this number because it shows why the jobless rate can be falling in spite of lower hiring. People who are working age are simply leaving the workforce, too aggravated in their hopeless attempt to find a job. While their exit from the available workforce currently has a positive impact on the unemployment rate, as the US economy starts to recover, we could see these workers move back into the workforce. This would have a drag on the recovery of the jobless rate, with a deluge of new workers entering the market offsetting those leaving the unemployed ranks due to new hiring. Investors will need to keep an eye on this participation rate in the coming months, as the Federal Reserve is certainly keying on the jobs side of the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the central bank is ‘prepared to do more’ to boost the economy if it appears necessary. US policy makers have repeated their plan to hold borrowing costs low through 2014 as the US economy slowly recovers. “The Unemployment rate has declined but remains elevated,” Fed policy makers said in an April 25 statement. The FOMC “expects economic growth to remain moderate over coming quarters and then to pick up gradually,” and “anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline gradually.” Uncertainty regarding the elections in Europe also weighed on investor’s confidence on Friday, causing many of the speculators to move money back into the US$. There were no surprises in France, as the French booted out President Nicolas Sarkozy and voted instead for Monsieur Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate. Chuck pointed out last week that this result was expected (Hollande even appeared on last week’s cover of The Economist magazine). But while the election results were expected, the direction he will take France is not so clear. German Chancellor Merkel invited Hollande to Germany to discuss the Eurozone’s growth policies. President elect Hollande campaigned on a ‘balanced’ approach to the Euro, offsetting austerity measures favored by Germany with efforts to stimulate growth. It will be interesting to see if Hollande can be persuaded by Angela Merkel, who has mostly had her way in guiding the Eurozone recovery efforts. Even more uncertainty resulted from the other big election over the weekend. Greek voters picked anti-bailout parties, but none of these minor parties garnered enough votes to form a government straight away. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is trying to piece together a government, and was given three days to make it happen. Members of the Greek government are split down the middle on whether to reneg on the terms of the bailout agreements. If Samaras is not able to put together a government, the second place winner will get 3 days to try, and if they can’t then it falls to the third place party who will get another 3 days. If no government can be formed in the next 9 days, President Karolos Papoulias will get a chance to broker a government of national unity with another round of elections a possibility. The major risk is that no government is formed, and there is no one able to continue the austerity measures necessary for Greece to continue to receive the Euro bailout funds. European leaders could shut the flow of funds off, fearing they are throwing good money after bad (there seems to be some truth to that statement). Eventually we could see Greece be forced out of the euro, causing another round of fear over what will happen if one of the members exits. In my mind it is pretty simple, the euro is much stronger without Greece, but the Greek exit probably won’t be a smooth and painless event. A report I read over the weekend agrees with my thought that a Euro ex-Greece would actually appreciate. According to the report, the euro would rise to $1.36 ‘the second they say Greece is out’. Economic data out of Europe today showed German factory orders rose more than economists forecast in March as global demand help offset a slowdown in the Eurozone. Factory orders jumped 2.2% from February, topping economists projections of a .5% increase. Today’s numbers were a positive surprise following Friday’s data which showed a euro-area composite index dropped. April’s index, based on a survey of purchasing managers in both services and manufacturing industries dropped to 46.7 from 49.1 in March. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. Chuck spoke about the slippery slope oil was starting down on Friday morning, and it continued to lose throughout the day to close below $100 for the first time since February. The drop in crude prices was the result of the combination of poor jobs data here in the US and investor worries over the elections in Europe. The commodity currencies dependent on oil sold off, with the Canadian dollar dropping for a third day in a row. The loonie lost over 1.6% vs. the dollar last week as reports indicated both the US and Canadian economies would not recover as quickly as some thought. Many had predicted the Bank of Canada would be increasing rates this summer, but the probability of a rate rise by September now stands at less than half, down from two thirds at the start of the week according to Bloomberg. The drop in oil prices will also weigh on the Norwegian krone, but the impact may not be as great as you may expect. A story I read yesterday showed that higher oil prices have actually helped Norway’s government hold the value of the krone down. Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive, but high oil prices have actually given Norway’s leaders the ability to sell more of the Norwegian krone back into the market in an effort to hold down the krone’s value. Norway is the seventh-largest oil exporter, and the recent higher prices have caused a surge in the government’s oil revenues. Norway’s central bank is predicted to sell an average of 727 million Norwegian kroner a day for the rest of the year, up from 350 million in May. The bank has cut rates twice since December, in part to weaken the currency, and the oil revenues have given them the ability to keep a lid on the Norwegian krone. Investors have shown an interest in the Norwegian krone in spite of the government’s efforts to cap its appreciation. Norway’s economy will expand 3.25% this year according to central bank estimates, and the unemployment rate was just 2.6% in April, Europe’s lowest level. The oil revenues have made Norway the world’s second richest nation per capita according to The Economist magazine. This has caused many to look toward Norway as a safe haven, seeking shelter from Europe’s debt crisis. The other commodity currencies of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Brazil all sold off as risk was taken off. As Chuck informed readers last week, the RBA surprised many in the markets with a 50 bps rate cut. Many investors now believe the RBA will reduce its benchmark rate even further to an all time low after officials cut forecasts for growth and inflation. Governor Glenn Stevens cited economic conditions that were somewhat weaker than expected as a reason for the cut. The RBA is now predicting average growth of 3% in 2012, down from a February estimate of 3.5%. Consumer prices are predicted to rise 2.5% in the year, down a bit from a previous prediction of 3%. Lower inflation expectations combined with slower growth will probably cause further rate cuts by the RBA in the coming months. It will be a relatively slow week for data here in the US, with consumer credit today followed by a couple of ‘optimism’ measures tomorrow (NFIB Small Business Optimism and IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism). Wednesday we will get the Wholesale Inventories and MBA Mortgage Application numbers. Thursday will be the busiest day, with the weekly jobs numbers along with the Trade Balance, Monthly Budget Statement, and Import Price Index. Friday will close out the week with the PPI numbers along with the U of Mich confidence index. To recap. It was a risk off day on Friday after the jobs data in the US came in a surprisingly weak 115k. Bad data in the US combined with uncertainty over in Europe to push investors back into the ‘safe havens’ of the US$ and Japanese yen. French voters elected a new president from the Socialist party, and Greek voters threw their government back into disarray. Neither is positive news for the Euro which sold off a bit. But if the Greeks exit, we could see the Euro rally to $1.36. Oil fell below $100 a barrel, pushing the CAD$ down. Norway’s oil revenues have been used to keep a lid on the value of the NOK. And the commodity currencies of Aussie, kiwi, and rand were all lower. Currencies today 5/7/12. American Style: A$ $1.0187, kiwi .7955, C$ $1.0035, euro 1.3024, sterling 1.6164, Swiss $1.0843, . European Style: rand 7.8276, krone 5.8111, SEK 6.8451, forint 220.19, zloty 3.2236, koruna 19.2425, RUB 30.065, yen 79.81, sing 1.2479, HKD 7.7623, INR 52.922, China 6.3078, pesos 13.2193, BRL 1.9276, Dollar Index 79.734, Oil $97.78, 10-year 1.84%, Silver $30.2825, Gold $1,639.07, and Platinum $1,528.50. That’s it for today. A couple of tough losses for the Blues as they got swept out of the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by a very strong LA Kings hockey team. The Kings are the first team in NHL history to knock off both the #1 and #2 seeds in the same year. If their goaltending keeps up, I think they are going to be a tough team to beat! I spent all weekend outside working on a project in the back yard. My kids call it the ‘bridge to no-where’ as I am building a stone bridge crossing a dry creek bed which runs through my yard. Wanted to get it done for my wife before mother’s day, but with all the rain I don’t think I am going to make my goal. Looks like more rain today, it was pouring down on my drive in. So it will be a stormy start to the week, just hope the markets aren’t too stormy for us. Hope everyone has a Marvelous Monday and a great start to your week! Thanks for reading the Pfennig. Chris Gaffney, CFA Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 www.everbank.com
Dear Reader,Befitting its status as a “classic,” George Orwell’s 1984 is frequently mentioned by practitioners of the written arts, usually in a context such as, “Reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, the US government today revealed plans for more scanning of private Web traffic, email.”Actually, the energetic referencing of Orwell’s most dystopian of works – which is saying something – has caused it to transcend the realm of a mere classic, enshrining it as a cliché.The reason for said overuse is that the parallels between the all-powerful government so starkly envisioned in Orwell’s book and the steady growth in government power in the real world today are hard to ignore. It’s almost as if Orwell penned a script that every subsequent government, as circumstances and technology allowed, has followed as closely as a devout Amish follows the Ordnung.But there is one aspect of 1984 that most commentators fail to mention: in the end, Big Brother wins.It’s not even a close thing: at no point in Orwell’s book does Big Brother break even a little sweat as it goes about crushing Winston Smith and all other would-be malcontents.Now, it may be that Orwell, seriously afflicted with tuberculosis at the time of writing his darkest book, couldn’t muster the creativity to concoct a deus ex machina to tip Big Brother over. But in my opinion, he simply came to the conclusion that once a certain threshold of power has been attained by government, there’s no way to unseat it. Minor examples for that contention are found in abundance and include, I would propose, the longevity of Robert Mugabe’s reign and North Korea’s Kim Il Sucks dynasty.For me, then, the real message of 1984 is that once governments are allowed to get too firm a grip on the reins of power – including the judicial, the constabulary, the military, the media – they are not just imminently corruptible but super-hardened to any real change.Which brings me to the theme of today’s musings: the chestnut from whence such grand power grows.I, Pencil, Leonard Read’s 1958 essay, a video version of which you can watch here, explains how the free market works using the simple example of how the lowly pencil is produced and brought to market.While I can have no hope of duplicating the success of Read’s work, I’ll try to use the same sort of simplistic example – replacing the pencil with the coca leaf – to expose the genesis of Big Brother’s steady assent to unassailable power.That there is even a law against such a plant as this – or any plant, for that matter – seems just the right starting point for today’s musings. And so tucking a few coca leaves into the space between my cheek and jaw, which thanks to culture and tradition in this corner of Argentina is still legal, we begin.I, CocaHere in Salta province, in the northwest of Argentina, as well as in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, coca has been grown and used for millennia.It can be consumed as a green tea, pleasantly sweet and musky, or gently masticated, much the same way folks in the southern US enjoy chaws of tobacco.To assist in releasing the coca plant’s active ingredients, one usually dips a moistened pinkie finger into a small bag of bicarbonate of soda – or “bica,” as it’s called locally – and rubs the powder on the gums.No matter how you enjoy your coca, it acts as a very mild stimulant, approximately like a cup of coffee, but just a couple of ticks different. Not stronger, just different.In fact, unlike coffee, with coca there is none of the stomach upset or jitteriness. Quite the opposite, the locals – and yours truly – drink a spot of coca tea now and again to settle the stomach, especially ahead of a long drive on winding roads.In countries where it is available, the plant is also valued by the indigenous folks for the properties it possesses in reducing hunger, thirst, and fatigue.As for the “drug” aspect of the plant, it is, of course, the base for cocaine, a dangerous and addictive substance. But to make that drug requires some fairly complex chemistry and often includes using additives to produce more bang for the significant bucks charged by the dealers.To conflate coca leaves with cocaine, however, is the equivalent of conflating charcoal with gun powder. Sure, charcoal is used in the process of creating gunpowder, but the two are as different as night and day. In fact, the level of active ingredients in coca leaves is so low that you could chew the stuff pretty much day and not experience anything remotely resembling the high provided by cocaine.As much as I resist quoting Wikipedia, in the interest of moving expeditiously forward, I will do so here.“Addiction or other deleterious effects from the consumption of the leaf in its natural form have not been documented in over a 5,000-year time span, thus leading to the logical conclusion that coca left in its natural form has no addictive properties at all. There is no empirical evidence showing the coca plant’s potential for addiction.“And yet, in most of the known world, the possession and use of coca leaf is not just illegal, it is seriously so. In the US, coca is considered a Schedule 1 drug, a category that includes heroin and, of course, cocaine. In the DEA sentencing guidelines, possession of more than 5 kilograms of the leaf demand that…“…such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 10 years or more than life and if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance shall be not less than 20 years or more than life, a fine not to exceed the greater of that authorized in accordance with the provisions of title 18 or $4,000,000 if the defendant is an individual or $10,000,000 if the defendant is other than an individual, or both.”Yet, millions of people in the areas of Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru where its use is legal imbibe the stuff daily without any side effects. So what’s the disconnect, and what does it have to do with our story today?I’ll get to that in a moment, but first allow me a brief but necessary detour to provide those of you dear readers unfamiliar with the leaf a bit more background on the coca plant.A Brief History of CocaIn the beginning – and in the case of coca, the beginning is lost to the millennia, so all we can do is use our imagination – a native with an active curiosity, or in need of a snack while laboring in the lower Andes, popped a coca leaf in his mouth and found the flavor to be somewhat pleasing. As a bonus, he didn’t keel over dead from some previously unknown poison. And so he popped in a few more.We might conjecture that said native mentioned his new-found partiality for the leaf to fellow tribe members, some of whom also decided to give it a whirl.It was about this time when one of the early adopters, a pioneer of the scientific method, realized that not only was the coca leaf delicious and perhaps nutritious, it also had an agreeable side effect of reducing hunger and putting just a bit of extra pep in his step. He shared his observation with neighbors, who, based on their own observations, confirmed the side effect… and the word began to spread.And so it was that in the proverbial blink of an eye, the coca leaf had become something of a fad. Everywhere you might look, happy natives now went about their business – in those days usually meaning clubbing small animals and each other, rooting about for grubs and berries and so forth – with wads of coca leaves stuffed in their cheeks.Again, while largely lost to the fog of history, based on rock-solid archeological evidence, we know that even as long as 8,000 years ago some minor Einstein figured out that adding a dash of lime to the coca further amplified the energy-enhancing attributes of the leaf, and that, too, quickly caught on.Unfortunately, as the millennia sped by, humanity’s perpetual love affair with mysticism began to interfere with the widespread chewing of coca. It began, no doubt, when an influential shaman realized that controlling the supply of a commodity in such high demand would give him serious clout around the camp, and so passed a judgment that the beneficial attributes of the leaf could only have been bestowed by a deity. Which is to say, that the leaf was simply too good, too divine, for the common folk.By the time the Incas solidified their bloody grip on the lands hereabout, coca could only be cultivated by the state, and only those in power, or in favor with those in power, were allowed to enjoy it.And so it was that a plant with known beneficial qualities – as an analgesic, energy booster, antidote for altitude sickness, anesthetic, calming agent for upset stomachs, and source of a variety of minerals and essential vitamins – first found itself suppressed by the state.As an aside, I’m one of those people who tend to get drowsy when driving distances longer than about an hour. I’ve had the problem looked into, and medically there’s nothing wrong with me, other than the fact that my mind begins to wander and then doze. Stuffing a small wad of coca leaves in my cheek, however, pretty much eliminates the problem.Skipping forward in time, we come to the introduction of coca into Europe in the 16th century, after which various extracts and preparations of the plant found their way into all manner of tonics, patent medicines, liquors, and so forth.But it wasn’t until 1859 when a German university professor, one Albert Niemann, managed to isolate and concentrate the primary alkaloid in coca into cocaine. Much as the original tribes people in our story tried and liked the coca leaf, the European community tried and liked cocaine, and its use for medicinal and recreational purposes spread.Except, unlike the coca leaf, the concentrated drug cocaine is clearly addictive and carries with it significant negative side effects.And so it was that by the early 20th century, cocaine – like heroin, morphine, and so forth – came to be outlawed in most countries.Then, in 1961, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs categorized coca leaves themselves as a Schedule 1 drug, side by side with heroin and cocaine. It went so far as to decree, “The Parties shall so far as possible enforce the uprooting of all coca bushes which grow wild. They shall destroy the coca bushes if illegally cultivated” (Article 26), and that, “Coca leaf chewing must be abolished within twenty-five years from the coming into force of this Convention” (Article 49).Interestingly, there’s solid evidence that the inclusion of the coca leaf in the Single Convention was encouraged by the then head of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, who moonlighted as a flunkie of the Coca-Cola company, which used decocainized coca extract as part of its secret formula. The end result was that while the coca leaf was banned, a provision was written into the regulations allowing Coca-Cola to continue using it in making its signature beverage.Since the passing of the Single Convention, there has been some pushback from countries such as Bolivia, where coca chewing is as much a part of the local custom as eating apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese is in parts of the US Midwest, but nonetheless, outside of a few remote parts of South America, the prohibition remains.And that concludes our brief and entirely inadequate story of the coca plant to this point in history. The question begging to be answered is: Why would any government make something as generally beneficial as the coca leaf illegal?Let me sum it up again:Coca doesn’t pose a health threat to anyone – based on archeological evidence dating back 8,000 years, virtually coincident with the accepted beginning of recorded human history.Consuming the raw leaf is not addictive. That’s not to say that some people’s fondness for the plant won’t lead them to regular use… just like many a coffee drinker, it will. But stepping on a plane for a month-long holiday in a country without access to coca won’t cause any real discomfort or withdrawal symptoms. And you certainly wouldn’t sell your baby for a wad.It has many beneficial attributes – per the list of benefits catalogued above.It doesn’t have any negative societal consequences. Unlike alcohol or marijuana or any of dozens of recreational or even medicinal drugs, chewing coca doesn’t impair a driver’s ability to react, but actually mildly increases concentration. And you won’t find coca users overindulging and tripping over themselves in public places or passed out in back alleys.Therefore, is it actually anybody’s business whether a person chews coca? In terms of simple logic, not in the slightest. In today’s legal terms, it is, which brings us, finally, to the connection with Big Brother.Big Brother’s BeginningsIn a simple society, the needs of the villagers are known because they are obvious. In Maslow’s attempt to arrange basic human needs into a hierarchy, he placed at the broad base of his pyramid the physiological… unfettered access to air, food, water, a roof over the noggin, that sort of thing.Once those essentials were secure, the villagers could turn their attention to the next level up in the hierarchy, safety. This involves securing basic protections for self, and for the food and water just mentioned.Looking around and feeling somewhat comfortable that the day was likely to pass without any serious unpleasantness, our villagers were then free to focus on what Maslow labels loosely as “Love/belonging.” In this category, he identifies the making of friends, the cosseting bosom of family, and that and a bit more with a willing sexual partner.After a good night’s rest, the villagers, according to the widely accepted hierarchy, would then be at liberty to work on matters involving esteem, expounded upon as “self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect by others.”And, finally, with absolutely nothing better to do, the villagers ascend to the very pinnacle of the pyramid, “self-actualization,” where, according to Maslow, he will ponder the universe and in so doing discover morality and strive to achieve his full potential.Now, one might ask, where on this list does banning the use of coca (or any of the other nanny-state prohibitions) come in?It is certainly of no concern to the physiological layer of Maslow’s pyramid… you know, where the poor hungry villagers huddle around the barely flickering warmth of a campfire as the temperature drops toward zero. Unless, of course, it would be a handy bush to burn, or useful to chew in order to absorb the minerals and vitamins earlier mentioned. In other words, at this level it’s a clear help, not a hindrance.Likewise, it has no role to play in matters related to safety.Love/belonging? Hardly, unless its energizing attributes lead to use as a primitive form of Viagra, again, a positive.Self-esteem? Ah, here’s where we first get a glimpse at Big Brother, stepping out of his warm hut with a good-looking mate on arm and thinking himself a rather grand fellow with grand prospects. While coca neither helps or hinders at this level, as will shortly be made clear, it starts to become a target.Self-Actualization? And here’s where the rubber finally meets the road, because Big Brother, or “BB,” as his friends like to call him, having decided that he’s a grand fellow who deserves wider adoration – and possessing the traits of a sociopath found in pretty much all aspirants for the top spot – will use his innate human creativity to convince others that he and only he can secure and maintain them in their place on the pyramid.All of which finally brings us to why the entirely useful coca leaf is outlawed.And that is because the rest of the tribe, having clawed up the pyramid to the point where life is feeling somewhat predictable, a pre-condition for activities such as capital formation and investment in the future, look to cement that predictability in place.Yet, the world is, and always will be, inherently unpredictable. That we believe differently is clear testament to the human mind’s tendency to self-delusion and willingness to believe in illusions and fantasies.If only I pray a little harder, one might come to believe, I’ll keep my job while others lose theirs. If only I take this homeopathic medicine, water imbued with the vibration of an undetectable herb, I will restore or enhance my health.If only the Republican, or the Democrat wins, then finally, this time, the government will improve things instead of shaking them apart.More to the point, the tribe comes to believe, because they are taught to believe by those in positions of power, in the mass delusion that only the power elite – the shaman, the chief, the official of government – possess the know-how, the finesse, the innate acumen required to run “the big show.” Which, in modern times, is defined as the nation-states.And so it is that Big Brother arises. At first it was the little things, the baby steps with formal laws codified against the same anti-social and destructive behaviors that had been outlawed from the beginning of humanity as unacceptable for communal harmony – stealing, murder, cheating, etc. – and therefore quickly punished by the tribe.But then, as the tribes evolved into larger societies, new rules and regulations came into being, in some cases out of necessity – for example, rules related to private property in societies where private property had not previously existed. Increasingly, however, the laws and regulations expanded beyond the obvious – and in many cases, the necessary – leaking into the realm of fantasy, misguided morality, and bad science, the common denominator being that the power elite found a self-serving reason to act and no one stood up to stop them.This is all easily understood. As is the fact that most people in a society won’t bother taking a stance against a law or regulation that doesn’t directly impact them in an urgent and important way. For example, what does it matter if the state you live in mandates that hair dressers must first go through extensive training and licensing before being allowed to coif your curls?Likewise, when it came to the so-called scourge of drugs, most people were happy to go along with the notion that the state should regulate what we put into our body. In the case of heroin or cocaine, some might make the argument that addicts are not only self-destructive but have the potential to act destructively towards others. As addicts lose their ability to earn their own keep – as anything other than a paper weight, perhaps – they’re left perpetually short of cash, so needing money each day to feed the monkey could cause them to turn to a life of crime to get by.However, there are other ways to deal with the addictive personality types than criminalizing them by outlawing the stimulants they seek. Besides, you could blast pretty much every known drug on earth into outer space and the addict would still find a way to get high – witness First Lady Wannabe Kitty Dukakis turning to hair spray and after-shave when no better options were available – but that’s another topic, and I’m already well adrift.The point is that there is absolutely no reason for something as obviously benign and actually beneficial as coca to be criminalized, anywhere and under any circumstances. That it is, is only part of Big Brother’s steady grasping for power.And that is true of thousands of other laws and regulations that the power elite has burdened society with over the last 100 years.The sheer volume and the implied threat inherent in the current body of controlling laws weigh on the human spirit, making us as individuals uncertain where we stand at any given moment but pretty sure we have broken, or are in the process of breaking, a law. (Does writing an article in favor of coca make me guilty of advocating drug use? Does chewing a little coca leaf here, where it’s legal, make me a criminal back in the US, where it’s not?)This growing insecurity in the face of a powerful government pushes us back down Maslow’s pyramid to the point where all of a sudden we’re not feeling so safe. We begin to worry that a misstep will cause us to be stopped when next crossing the border into the US, or worse, trying to cross the border on the way out. We begin to worry about the police car following us down the road; is going the speed limit suspicious? And even though there is no traffic in sight, we hesitate to cross the street without waiting for the green “walk” light.And come tax time, we sweat at whether we have a proper grasp of all the many rules and fear that we may have forgotten something, tripping an algorithm and triggering a forensic audit.(On that last note, I just received a fine from the IRS for almost $800 for 2012, even though I overpaid my taxes by a substantial amount. My accountant, who is pretty much the best in the business, confirms that even though it makes zero sense, the regulations allow for it.)As the body of laws and regulations increase, and along with them our fear of the state, the state’s power only grows. Soon, we find ourselves feeling the need to ask permission to do pretty much anything.Toss into the mix an act of terrorism or a war, and the now cowed population, encouraged by the media, becomes even more fearful and desiring of a strong state.Today, at least in the United States, the overarching meme is, “Better to fight them over there than fight them over here.” Which, when you break it down, is just a different way of stating Big Brother’s famous dictum, “War is peace.”And so it is that, mostly unaware it is following script, the power elite in the United States, hand in glove with the military-industrial complex, unabashedly mimics BB by constant sabre rattling and indulging in power projection into countries around the globe.Welcome to 1984There is, I would contend, a point of no return in the growth of government power. Past that point, there’s no wrestling power back from Big Brother. I think that Orwell came to believe the same, which explains why once Winston Smith was arrested, he was a dead duck walking without even a glimmer of hope that he’d be rescued.How can it be otherwise when the state has grown to the point where it is today, with surveillance methods that Orwell could only dream of?Thanks to your cell phone, BB knows where you are at pretty much any time of day, and the NSA has incredibly powerful tools to track your every electronic communication. About 12 years ago, I was a shareholder in a small tech company that perfected the ability to track a person’s every click on the Internet… and track the click back to the physical address of the clicker, complete with map and, in most cases, a photo of your house. The CIA bought the software. And that was 12 years ago – can you imagine BB’s capabilities today?Then there’s the billion or so laws and regulations hanging over your head, any number of which can be trotted out as needed to ruin your day, or even your life. When doors start getting kicked in at farms solely for producing raw milk, as they are today, you know the point of no return has been passed.Seeing the all-powerful government in action, reading stories about its arbitrary and pernicious clamp-downs, causes the masses to cling to their position on Maslow’s hierarchy and to willingly trade their freedoms for the illusion of predictability and safety. They come to believe that, provided they follow the laws, they’ll be left alone to pursue the next-generation iPhone or whatever else the media says should make them happy. And so Big Brother rises to the point of invincibility.“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness, and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”―George Orwell, 1984Now, I know that there are a large number of dear readers who cling to the fantasy that “if only” the Republicans or some libertarian type get elected, all can be made right in the world.Others, even more delusional given the extraordinary fire power of BB – soon to be further enhanced with swarms of miniature drones able to inject you in the back of the neck with a paralyzing agent or an explosive charge – expect upstanding men of stout character to rise up in armed revolution and throw the socialists out of power.Sorry, it’s just not going to happen. Again, leaning on Orwell…“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”―George Orwell, 1984Simply put, America is the “standard of comparison,” the shining Camelot on the hill. That it now more resembles Mordor and most Americans have no idea that the change has happened is yet another clear sign that BB has won.I know this perspective – that Big Brother is now fully evolved and in control, and that he’s only going to grow more dangerous from here – is almost as dystopian as the world portrayed in 1984. Unfortunately, stepping back from the trees, I can’t find a more optimistic view to hang my hat on.So, what does being free to ingest coca in whatever form best suits you have to do with Big Brother’s rise to the sort of unassailable power elaborated by Orwell in 1984? In my view, everything. As I have tried to illustrate, once the government is allowed to concern itself with matters outside of the basic protections – banning coca, as in my example – the stage is set for Big Brother to materialize.It’s time to wake up to the reality that Big Brother is here and, thanks to technologies even Orwell couldn’t imagine, is only going to get stronger and more dangerous.Anything We Can Do at This Point?The first rule of protecting personal safety is to put physical distance between you and the threat. While Big Brother, in one form or another, rules much of the Western world, there are still places – here in Argentina, for example – where its grip is weak.Of course, we have our own Little Sister, Christina Kirchner, but her operation lacks the sophisticated surveillance apparatus and efficient bureaucracy that are hallmarks of Big Brother. In addition to Argentina, there are places – in Asia, for example – where the presence of an all-powerful, all-controlling government is still mostly absent.While it is still even somewhat possible, moving funds out of Big Brother’s easy grasp also seems a sound move to contemplate. Although jumping through hoops may be required, especially if you are a serf to the biggest Big Brother of all – Uncle Sam – unless you are trying to move a lot of money, $10 million or more, you are probably not worth BB’s time and effort in smashing down foreign legal protections to get at you.Other than potentially moving yourself and/or your money, if you plan on staying put, then keeping your head down seems a good idea.While the world we live in may be entirely unpredictable, with the right outlook and a little luck, it can also be interesting, energizing, and downright fun. Just don’t make the mistake of taking the good times for granted, and don’t become so enamored of your position on Maslow’s hierarchy that you willingly trade your freedom to Big Brother in an attempt to maintain it. That makes you a slave.And with that, and my apologies for going on so long, I move on by leaving you with what I think is one of the most revealing passages from 1984. In my view, it’s equally applicable to all the political parties in power today. “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”―George Orwell, 1984The Catastrophe in Gold & Silver StocksAs you may be aware, during the recent Harvest Celebrations here at La Estancia de Cafayate, we ducked out of the activities to quickly assemble a cast of sound thinkers on the topic of precious metals, with a focus on the bombed-out junior resource sector.The program was so hastily assembled, in fact, that I was the only ready choice to serve as moderator, which is unfortunate because, as my mother still likes to point out, I tend to mumble.Even so, last night I saw the rough cut of the webinar – titled Downturn Millionaires: How to Make a Fortune in Beaten-Down Markets – and even though I typically don’t like to sit through long videos, and I already knew what the panelists said (having been the moderator), I still found myself glued to the screen.Bill Bonner, John Mauldin, Doug Casey, Rick Rule, and Louis James each brought their “A-games” to the table – sharing important insights on the big picture for the metals, as well as detailed recommendations of what to do with your precious-metals stock portfolio today.Once again this week, the metals took a pounding, adding to the sense of capitulation – total surrender among those who invest in the shares – and sending prices even lower. This, despite the global economy still being trapped in crisis and the central bankers reasserting their commitment to fight back with the only tool left to them: extreme money printing.This disconnect between the massive money printing and the price performance of the monetary metals – and especially the companies responsible for the brutal task of wrestling them out of the earth – can’t last. As you’ll hear if you tune in this Monday, April 8, at 2 pm Eastern Time – when the market comes to its senses, fortunes will be made.Other than the mumbling of the master of ceremonies, I can promise you that the webinar is well worth your time. And feel free to invite others to listen in, too.Friday FunniesCoffee with the PopeNescafé manages to arrange a meeting with the pope at the Vatican.After receiving the papal blessing, the Nescafé official whispers, “Your Eminence, we have an offer for you. Nescafé is prepared to donate $100 million to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘give us this day our daily coffee.’”The pope responds, “That is impossible. The prayer is the word of the Lord. It must not be changed.”“Well,” says the Nescafé man, “we anticipated your reluctance. For this reason we will increase our offer to $300 million.”“My son, it is impossible. For the prayer is the word of the Lord, and it must not be changed.”The Nescafé guy says, “Your Holiness, we at Nescafé respect your adherence to the faith, but we do have one final offer… We will donate $500 million – that’s half a billion dollars – to the great Catholic Church if you would only change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘give us this day our daily coffee.’ Please consider it.”And he leaves.The next day the Pope convenes the College of Cardinals.“There is some good news,” he announces, “and some bad news. The good news is that the Church will come into $500 million.”“And the bad news, your Holiness?” asks a Cardinal.“We’re losing the Wonderbread account.”(Okay, okay… I was in a hurry and grabbed whatever had most recently popped up in my email box. For the record, I don’t have anything against Catholics – or any religion, as long as it’s not knocking on my door on a Saturday morning trying to hand me pamphlets – and in fact join my Argentine friends in celebrating the Argentine pope… so, please don’t send me finger-wagging emails.)The Infamous IRS Star Trek Parody VideoI had heard rumors of this video, made by IRS executives for upwards of $60,000, but only now got around to watching it.It is funny, but not in a ha-ha sort of way… rather the sort of grimacing gasp one might emit when watching a video of some jackass trying to land a skateboard on a metal handrail and connecting instead with his gentleman parts.Then again, given they coerced the money to make this travesty from hard-working citizens, maybe it’s not so funny after all.Cats & LaddersA fire-fighter was working on the engine outside the station, when he noticed a little girl in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides and a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.The girl was wearing a fire-fighter’s helmet.The wagon was being pulled by her dog and her cat.The fire-fighter walked over to take a closer look.“That sure is a nice fire truck,” he said with admiration.“Thanks,” the girl replied. The fire-fighter looked a little closer. The girl had tied the wagon to her dog’s collar and to the cat’s testicles.“Little partner,” the fire-fighter said, “I don’t want to tell you how to run your rig, but if you were to tie that rope around the cat’s collar, I think you could go faster.”The little girl replied thoughtfully, “You’re probably right, but then I wouldn’t have a siren.”And That’s It for the WeekAs I was going to press, colleague Vedran Vuk sent across the following.“I was looking for data on Cyprus for The Casey Report and stumbled upon this gem from the State Department on the Cyprus investment outlook for 2013. I’m not sure of the exact date of the report, but it makes references to data in Dec. 2012, so essentially it’s right before the crisis:“Cyprus has modern and efficient legal, banking, and financial systems. EU accession on May 1, 2004 was instrumental in establishing an efficient capital market in Cyprus through the abolition of such restrictions as the interest rate ceiling in 2001 and exchange controls for residents.“Credit to foreign and local investors alike is allocated on market terms. The private sector has access to a variety of credit instruments, which has been enhanced through the operation of private venture capital firms. The banking sector is generally sound and well supervised.”“Interested, I did some more poking around and found some other choice words from the site of the US Embassy in Cyprus.“The accounting, legal, and financial services sectors are efficient and one of the strong points of the economy.”Whoops…And with that, I’ll sign off the day and the week, heading off with friends for a favorite hike in the lower Andes. While I can’t be sure, I expect somewhere along the way a coca leaf might get chewed… just don’t tell Big Brother.David GallandManaging DirectorCasey Research
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