Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PDAC, part 2

A bit of a trying day today. It seems I am being invited on to somebody's Board of Directors, but until a formal offer is made there seems to be little point in going on about it. I was asked to identify a couple of projects or small companies for purchase by private money. I have a line on some money for a project.

Then I spent a lot of time hanging around the Chilean booth, waiting for wine and empenadas.

 Instead of going to the usual drunken company parties, I went to a reception organized by the government of India.

Unfortunately, there were too many dull talks and it took too long to get to the part with the drinks and the food, so we went to the Argentinian reception instead . . .

. . . which was a lot more lively. But after a few drinks, I suddenly found all the dancing couples depressing--probably because I met my wife at PDAC years ago. As I recall, there was a lot of dancing back then, too.


No complaints about the swag this year.

Monday, March 2, 2015

PDAC 2015 part 1

The investors exchange was pretty dead in the morning.

No worries about broken toes here! But things picked up somewhat in the afternoon.

There is a lot more space than usual in the investors exchange, due to all the missing booths. There are a few more breaks in the rows to allow traffic as well as a little snack bar, which I never recall seeing before. There were a lot of booths which would normally have been in the trade show section, which is full to overflowing.

There was even a large contingent of trade show booths in the north building (where it used to be years ago), as well as the usual large area on the 800 level. And as I mentioned above, it almost took over a complete row of the investors' exchange. I haven't quite wrapped my head around what this means. I remember working an investors exchange booth back in 2002 and 2003 when the conference was so full that not only were there many additional conference rooms filled with mining company booths, but quite a few of us were put in the trade show, which really cut down on the number of questions I had to answer that year.

So raising money for mining projects is still pretty hard, why are there so many more service companies than usual? Is it a sign of desperation? Or is it a sign that there is a lot of innovation in the sector (because I am seeing a lot of new processing/interpretation services being offered)?

Once again there seems to be a lot of interest in uranium (at least in the company presentations).

Standing room only in the afternoon uranium sessions. I mean I went in there to take a nap, and not only couldn't get a seat but it was so stuffy I was ready to completely pass out by the end of the Denison presentation. I managed to make it to the precious metals room, where Silver Standard was presenting. The room was mostly empty.

Wandering the Investors Exchange did give me a line on some work and a potential financing for an African project (from different booths).

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gold-silver ratio over 20 years in phase space

Today's chart is the rate of change of the gold-silver ratio plotted against the ratio itself over the last 21 years (beginning of 1994 to the end of 2014).

The major features are three regions of stability--one in the low 50s, one in the low 60s, and one in the mid 70s.

For stackers of both gold and silver, the lesson here is to buy silver when the ratio is in the 70s and trade it for gold when it is in the 50s (or on rare opportunities when it is lower, as in 2011). I traded about 200 oz of silver for gold at about a ratio of 45 back then, and in hindsight wish I had traded a lot more.

Concentrate more on gold when the ratio is in the 50s. Sometimes this is difficult because of all the voices clamouring for silver to "go to the moon", but that never quite seems to happen, unless the moon is $50.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Multistability in the political world

In this blog I have tried to show that economic systems behave very like complex natural systems, which are often characterized by multistability. These demonstrations have been easy because of the data available from economic systems.

Political systems may similarly exhibit multistability. But this is not so easy to demonstrate in phase space.

Rosie Dimanno has a recent opinion in the Toronto Star about the ongoing horror in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, she draws the wrong conclusions, stating that the internecine warfare amongst groups of Muslims is occurring because "we" are withdrawing our troops. According to Rosie, all would be well if only the West would continue its benevolent humanitarian interventions in Afghanistan and other places around the world.

She doesn't pause to consider--why all this violence? Were all these countries this violent before the foreign interventions? How was Afghanistan before all the western intervention--which goes all the way back to the Russian invasion (if not earlier)? The pictures in the above links suggest it was a pretty nice place.

The current state of Afghanistan is completely different from the above earlier version of the country. What changes a peaceful place into one wracked by war, kidnappings, and all forms of extremism?

I believe we are looking at a state change much like we observe in complex natural and economic systems. Most systems find themselves in some stable state (which one is a function of the entire past history of the system). External forcing mechanisms (often in conjunction with internal mechanisms) may drive the system from its zone of stability.

Once the system leaves an area of stability, it tends to behave chaotically until it settles in another region of stability (or perhaps the same one).

What may have happened in Afghanistan is that western intervention drove the social system from its former stability and into a chaotic regime. Ordinarily, we would expect the system to evolve to some other stable state, but perhaps the ongoing interventions have kept this from happening.

It isn't clear if the social state in Afghanistan has switched to a new and very undesirable stable state, or whether it is winging through the realm of chaos. Trying to drive the system to a particular realm of stability is difficult--we have no theoretical framework for success. For this reason, it is typically better not to intervene in the first place.