Saudis, Russians No Longer Buying Gold In Dubai As Oil Slump Curbs Precious Metals Shopping

Over the course of the oil price slump we’ve documented the far-reaching effects of falling crude. Leaving aside the capital markets for now, the downturn has rippled through oil boom towns both in the US and Canada. Take Fort McMurray (in oil-rich Alberta) for instance, where home sales fell 66% in February or Sidney, Montana where the collapse in oil revenue has left law enforcement and schools strapped for cash in the face of rising crime and crumbling infrastructure. Then there is of course Texas which, until recently, was America’s job creation engine but which shed a recession-like 24,500 non-farm jobs in March alone.

“Purge” Night 4: Baltimore Quiet As Tensions Rise In Philadelphia – Live Feed

A heavy National Guard presence and a draconian curfew have ended the rioting in Baltimore, but, as RT reports, the popular uprising against police brutality has spread across the US. Peaceful protests are taking place in Baltimore and several major cities and on the heels of last night's New York City protests, tonight it is Philadelphia that is seeing clashes between police and civilians…

As Fox29 reports,

Protesters organized a demonstration at Philadelphia's City Hall to draw parallels between the death of a man shot during a traffic stop and a death in police custody that sparked riots in Baltimore. The protesters are currently at Broad and Vine Expressway. Protesters are currently trying to get on Vine Street Expressway. According to FOX 29's Dave Kinchen the march is no longer peaceful and fights are breaking out.

First Blythe Masters, Now Goldman Investing In Bitcoin

When Bitcoin first appeared, its proponents valiantly claimed that the revolutionary new digital currency was nothing more than a modernized version of a legacy non-fiat currency such as gold or silver, one which would allow global transactions seamlessly and without tracking by monetary authorities, but one which was more convenient than gold as one would never actually have to hold it – the “bitcoin” could be stored safely in virtual vaults that could be accessed anywhere in the world. Most importantly, it would be a libertarian statement of non-compliance with the fiat status quo.

Then MtGox happened and “unexpectedly” thousands of Bitcoin users found out they had been corzined, and their digital “money” – which supposedly was tracable – had disappeared forever.

Of course, fraud happens, so this humiliating incident to what was once the biggest bitcoin exchange was promptly brushed off.

But when a little over a month ago we reported that none other than former head of JPM’s commodities head, Blythe Master, had reemerged from the shadows as chief executive of the Bitcoin startup Digital Asset Holdings, then all those who valiantly clung to the belief that Bitcoin is some aspiration to a libertarian, anti-status quo contrarianism, were promptly quieted.

As the FT reported then, the startup aims to be a venue for buyers and sellers of financial assets to meet and transact, switching currencies into bitcoin in order to cut the cost and time of settlement and make use of the decentralised “block chain” as a secure record of transactions.”

There is a school of libertarian ‘visionaries’ who want to imagine a world without big banks, big governments,” said Ms Masters, who left JPMorgan last April. “That’s nice, but completely irrelevant to this business model. We don’t imagine a world in which big banks and big governments don’t exist.”

Forewarned: Traveling This Week

As previously mentioned, we are going West this week, to meet up with friends and clients as well as meet with prospective clients.

I am looking forward to speaking with some interesting folks at David Rosenberg’s intimate event in Napa this weekend. Then for the rest of the week of May 4-8th, we will be in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, meeting with clients, presenting to a few tech firms, and generally enjoying the Bay Area.

Long-time readers may recall that markets occasionally misbehave when I am traveling — be it the Flash Crash or the 2008-09 or 2000 or even 1987 (I don’t recall what I was up to in 1973-74). I don’t believe the correlation is anything more than a coincidence (but you have asked to be informed when I am on the move).

Is Your State Racist?

With the topic of racial division increasingly top of mind in America, The Washington Post reports a new study suggests that the rural Northeat and South are the most racist regions of America. The study, based on Goggle searches for race-related phrases, shows racist people in the U.S. appear to be clustered along the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia, through New York and all the way up to Vermont.