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Welcome to Lord Copper

Opinions about lots of things - mostly related to the worlds' metal markets

Ozymandias and Dzerzhinsky

20 September 2017

I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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We've Been Here Before

13 September 2017

Anthony Lipmann’s piece on the Trump Metals Act not only gave me great pleasure, it also induced a 65 year old flashback. Back in 1952 the hot topic among materials economists was a document called the Paley Report. It was commissioned by President Harry S. Truman and headed by William S. Paley, chairman of Columbia Broadcasting Corp, not the most obvious qualification for examining a materials supply question.

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Lady Luck

06 September 2017

For a long time, I held the view that luck is an under-valued element in considering success in financial markets. It’s not completely clear what Napoleon actually said - it may have been “I would rather have a general who is lucky than one who is good”, or possibly “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?” - but either way, we know what he meant. He himself wasn’t, in the end. Or at least, he came up against one who was luckier than him in Wellington.

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Why Do They Always Sell Options?

30 August 2017

Why do they always sell options? Over the years, I’ve come across too many LME users who alight - often believing themselves to be uniquely far-sighted and smart - on the notion of selling options, because the premium makes a nice income, doesn’t it? In the days of relatively unsophisticated position management software, it used to be so easy. Low delta options look benign, with their seemingly limited exposure. But they're pesky creatures, and it doesn’t always take much to change that delta so that they suddenly look a whole lot riskier. The alarm bells often used to ring too late…

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The Trump Metals Act

24 August 2017

Yogi (It looks like its déjà vu all over again) Berra would have been proud. It seems like the revs with which metal history repeats itself are in warp drive. No sooner has the U.S.’s hope of rare earth independence, Mountain Pass, drained down the plughole into Chapter 11, here we are again on the edge of another U.S. political intervention into the metals markets.*

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AK-47s and Salvador Dali

16 August 2017

Setting LME customer margin levels and collecting the cash these days is a pretty routine activity. Put the numbers into the parameters and out comes the required demand; send out the call, receive the cash, if not, close out the positions. That’s how the regulatory authorities want it, and they’re right. Margin shouldn’t be a subject of constant negotiation. But it’s not that long ago that it was.

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A Fanfare of Strumpets

09 August 2017

I was glancing through a list of the fifty most valuable metal mines in the world based on extraction and reserves at today’s prices, and struck by how many of them were not in existence 45 years ago. I mention 45 years because that is when a book called ‘The Limits to Growth’ was published in 1972. Although it was an academic book it caused quite a stir and sold several million copies.

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