Sunday, March 31, 2013

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Resurrection Egg

From Treasures of Imperial Russia:


The figure of Christ depicted standing above the tomb which is flanked by two kneeling angels, each figure naturalistically enameled, the robes enameled white, raised on an oval base bordered by diamonds, the underside with radiating flutes alternately enameled white and translucent strawberry red, the whole contained within a rock-crystal egg-form shell with a vertical diamond-set band raised on a domed quatrefoil foot enameled with multicolored scrolls in Renaissance style and with diamond-set ribbons and mounted with four pearls, the pearl stem with a border of diamonds, marked with Cyrillic initials of workmaster, Fabergé in Cyrillic and assay mark of 56 standard for 14 karat gold.

The Resurrection Egg bears the early hallmark of head workmaster Michael Perchin 1 and the assay marks of St. Petersburg before 1899, a combination of marks dating it to between 1884 and about 1894. The egg is not inscribed with a Fabergé inventory number.

From September 14 to September 20, 1917 Major General Yerekhovich, chief director in charge of the Anichkov Palace, drew up a list of the Dowager Empress’s treasures to be dispatched to Moscow for safekeeping. Among the descriptions, many of which are easily identifiable, he lists “a small crystal egg with figures inside, on a gold stand with eight diamonds, rose-cut diamonds, and pearls,” 2 a description which fits the Resurrection Egg.

On September 15-16, 1917 a train of forty cars full of Imperial treasure, including eighty-four cases from the Dowager Empress’s Anichkov Palace, departed from Petrograd for Moscow. All the treasures from the capital were stored in the basement of the Kremlin Armory. The present object reappears in a 1922 inventory of confiscated treasure established at the time of a transfer from the Kremlin Armory to Sovnarkom as: “a crystal egg containing figures on goldstand with 8 diamonds, rose-cut diamonds and pearls.” 3

The Resurrection Egg has, until recently, been unanimously considered as one of the eggs given by Tsar Alexander III to his wife, Maria Feodorovna. It was exhibited as such at the pioneering Victoria and Albert exhibition in 1977 organized by the late Kenneth Snowman. It was also published as an Imperial egg by all recognized specialists including Snowman (1953, 1962, 1964, 1972, 1979), Habsburg (1979, 1987, 1993, 1996), Solodkoff (1979, 1984, 1988, 1995) and Hill (1989)....MORE

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Winter Egg

The highest original cost of an Imperial egg and, until the auction of the Rothschild egg, the highest modern auction price.

Intended as a gift to Empress Maria Feodorovna.  Surprise  – a basket of anemones, decorated with diamonds and emeralds. At the present time is in the collection of the Emir of Qatar.  With 1,300 rose-diamonds in the egg body, another 1,378 for the small flower basket and 360 brilliant diamonds again on the egg body, the Winter Egg cost 24,600 rubles in 1913 the equivalent of approximately 3 million dollars today.

In 1949, it was sold for 1870 pounds ($5,236). In 1994, it was acquired anonymously at public auction by an American businessman for the record price of $5.587 million dollars. Auctioned again at Christie's, April 19 2002 the "Winter Egg" sold for $9.58 million.

In 1927 this egg was sold by the Antikvariat to Emanuel Snowman of Wartski Jewelers, London. In 1934 Wartski sold it to Lord Alington, London. In 1948 it was owned by the late Sir Bernard Eckstein and in 1949 it was sold by Sotheby’s London to Bryan Ledbrook, UK. Around 1975 the egg disaperead and was relocated in a London safe in 1994. In November 1994 the egg was sold by Christie's Geneva on behalf of a trust to a telephone bidder, acting for a US buyer. In 2002 Christie's New York sold it to the Emir of Qatar.

Set on a Siberian rock crystal base shaped into a block of melting ice, the thinly carved, transparent rock crystal egg was delicately engraved and opens vertically to reveal a platinum basket of wood anemones – each flower carved from a single piece of white quartz.

The intrinsic value of the egg is comparatively quite low. The Winter Egg consists of two blocks of rock crystal – a couple of thousand dollars – a bit of platinum and some three thousand minute rose cut diamonds – another couple of thousand dollars. So all in all, if you break this egg up, what is it worth? Four or five thousand dollars.

Egg Decorating: The Moscow Kremlin Egg

The largest of the Fabergé Imperial Eggs
Moscow Kremlin Egg (1906)
Materials: Onyx, quatre-couleur gold, silver, opalescent white and translucent guilloche green enamel, glass, oil painting
Dimensions: Height of egg: 361 mm. (14 3/8 in.)
Base of egg: 185 mm. x 185 mm. (7 1/4 in. x 7 1/4 in.)
Owner: Armoury Museum of the Kremlin, Moscow

This egg, also known as the Uspenski Cathedral Egg, is the tallest of the known Imperial Easter eggs. It represents the Uspenski (Dormition) Cathedral where the tsars of Russia were crowned. Based on a cup attributed to the Nüremberg copper and silversmith Sebastian Lindenast, the elder (ca. 1460–1526), the walls, towers, and staircases are clustered around the central, opalescent white enamel egg, the top of which takes the form of a graceful yellow gold cupola. The turrets of the Kremlin are fashioned in red gold and the roofs are enameled translucent light green. There are chiming clocks in two of the towers, the dials measuring about half an inch (12 mm.) in diameter. The Spasskaia Tower, which is duplicated, bears the coat of arms of the Russian Empire and of Moscow. Through the glass windows of the egg can be seen a minutely accurate representation of the interior of the cathedral, with its rich carpets, decorations, and High Altar, shown on an oval glass plate.

Two Cherubim chants, traditional triumphal Easter hymns, are played when a clockwork mechanism is wound up by a gold key two and a half inches long. Tiny enameled icons of Our Lady of Kazan and Christ Pantocrator decorate the walls of the cathedral. The egg, which rests on an octagonal white onyx base, is consciously designed as a pyramid and is built up of other smaller pyramids.

The making of this egg marked the Imperial couple’s return to Moscow in 1903. They had tended to avoid the capital following a disastrous incident during the celebrations to mark their coronation. Scholars believe the egg was to have been presented in 1904, but there was a delay until 1906, probably because of the Russo-Japanese War or the assassination of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Nicholas II’s favorite uncle and brother-in-law. Despite these sad associations, the Moscow Kremlin Egg held the most prominent position in Alexandra Fedorovna’s display cabinet in the Mauve Sitting Room of the Alexander Palace. The tsarina was deeply religious and became more so with age.

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Colonnade Egg

When Tsar Alexander III passed away in 1894, the tradition was continued by his son, Tsar Nicholas II who commissioned Fabergé to create Easter eggs for both his wife and his mother every year until 1917.
the Colonnade Egg was created in 1910 to depict the Imperial family with columns surrounding a pair of platinum doves that represent the enduring love between the Tsar and his wife, and four figures seated around the base, holding a flower garland to represent the Tsar’s four daughters. the gold egg itself, enameled in pale pink works as a clock with white enameled dial and rose-cut diamond numerals set in a band round the egg.

This Imperial Easter Egg – which incorporates a rotary clock in its design, the movement supplied to Fabergé by Henry Moser & Cie – is in the form of a classical temple. The colonnade of pale green bowenite columns supports the pink guilloché enamelled egg, surmounted by a cupid. Below a pair of platinum doves sits on a truncated column and around the base four female silver-gilt cherubs hold garlands of roses in red, white, green and yellow gold. This Easter egg is an allegory of the imperial family in 1910.

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Trans-Siberian Railway Egg

Яйцо Фаберже

The Trans-Siberian Train Easter Egg was made in 1900 to commemorate the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway. A route map of the railway is engraved across the face of the egg, with major stations marked by precious stones. Inside the egg is a miniature Trans-Siberian train. The craftsman placed a complex mechanism inside the locomotive so that the miniature train could be set in motion by winding the mechanism with a tiny gold key. The train consists of a locomotive and has five gold carriages labelled "direct Siberian communication", "ladies only", "smoking" and "non-smoking", while the last carriage is a chapel. This egg is part of the Moscow Kremlin Museums collection.

Trans-Siberian Railway egg

Friday, March 29, 2013

Egg Decorating: The Rothschild Fabergé Clock Egg

This is the only non-Imperial egg that we link to, in part because it is one of only three with both an automaton and a clock and partly because it set three auction records, the $18,500,000 realized price makes this the most expensive timepiece, Russian object and Fabergé object ever sold at auction.


The Cristies lot notes describes the egg as:
Lot Notes
This previously unrecorded Fabergé egg is known from the codicil to her will quoted above to have been given to Germaine Alice Halphen on her engagement to Baron Edouard de Rothschild in Paris, and married in 1905. It was a gift from Edouard's elder sister Béatrice (also known as Béatrix) Ephrussi, née de Rothschild, and has remained in the recipient's family until now.

Fifty Imperial eggs were produced and delivered by the Fabergé workshops in St. Petersburg as recorded by Tatiana Fabergé, Lynette Proler and Valentin Skurlov in their book The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs, London, 1997, although not all survive.

Between 1885 and 1896, eleven were commissioned by Emperor Alexander III (1881-96) as Easter gifts to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, née Princess Dagmar of Denmark. The remainder were given by Nicholas II to his mother as well as to his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, née Princess Alix of Hesse und bei Rhein, from 1896 to 1916. These eggs, representing the Resurrection, were given on the moveable Feast of Easter ('Paskha' in Russian) each year except 1904 and 1905, on account of the Russo-Japanese war.

Comparable in importance and quality and, indeed rarer than, the Imperial eggs, a very few eggs were produced by the Fabergé workshops in St. Petersburg for a select group of exceptionally wealthy private clients. These include the Egg acquired by the Duchess of Marlborough, née Consuelo Vanderbilt, during her visit to St. Petersburg in 1902, the Iusupov Egg of 1907 commissioned by Prince Felix Iusupov, as a 25th wedding anniverary present for his wife, Zinaida, and Dr. Emmanuel Nobel's Ice Egg. (Tatiana Fabergé, et al, op. cit., pp. 70-91.)

Another enormously wealthy client, Alexander Kelkh, presented his wife, Varvara Petrovna, née Bazanova, no fewer than seven large Fabergé eggs between 1898 and 1904, the last being the Chanticleer Egg. Practically identical to the present egg, it is enamelled in blue, with variations to the plinth, and to the rose-diamonds on the cockerel's throat. This repetition of form in different colours is not unique and is mirrored in the Imperial Blue Serpent Clock Egg of 1887 and the translucent pink Duchess of Marlborough Clock Egg of 1902.

Both the Rothschild egg and the Chanticleer egg are in fact similar in style to the Imperial Cockerel (formerly Cuckoo) Egg of 1900. All these were inspired by the famous ormolu automaton Peacock Egg in the Winter Palace made by James Cox (d.1788). For over 20 years Carl Fabergé voluntarily gave his time and expertise, to the Imperial Hermitage, repairing, restoring and classifying its treasures. Fabergé, together with a mechanic, were known to have examined and repaired the automaton Peacock Clock, and familiarity with this large-scale mechanical work of art led to the design, of the smaller 1900 Cockerel Easter Egg, and the slightly later Rothschild and Chanticleer Eggs.

In fact these three large eggs are the only Fabergé eggs incorporating both a clock and an automaton. While it has not been possible to examine the movement of the Cockerel Easter Egg, from the description of that of the Chanticleer Egg, the latter's appears to be identical to that of the Rothschild Egg. (A. Chapuis and E. Droz, Automata, Switzerland, 1958, pp. 229-232, figs. 280-284.)...MORE
Here's the Christies press release announcing the auction:

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Blue Serpent Clock Egg

From Pearly's Qunol:

1887 - Blue Serpent Clock Egg
The egg stands on a base of gold that is painted in opalescent white enamel. The base features three panels with raised motifs in four gold colors, representing the arts and sciences. The top of the egg is encircled by a white band with roman numerals, rotating around the egg, driven by a clock inside the egg. A serpent, set with diamonds, coils around the base up to the middle of the egg. Its head points to the hour, indicating the time.

The egg is enameled in translucent blue and has diamond-studded gold garlands surrounding the top and bottom of the egg. On each side of the egg a sculpted gold handle arches up in a "C" shape. It is attached to the egg on the top near the apex and on the lower half of the egg, near the center.

This is the first of the Imperial Fabergé eggs to feature a working clock.

Since this egg is a working clock, it contains no surprise.
The crafting of this Imperial egg is credited to Mikhail Perkhin of Fabergé's shop.

Fabergé created a very similar egg in 1902, the Duchess of Marlborough Egg for Consuelo Vanderbilt. This clock egg is larger than the Blue Serpent Clock Egg and is enameled in a pink, rather than blue.

Descriptions from the Russian State Historical Archives, the 1917 inventory of confiscated Imperial treasure and the 1922 transfer documents for the egg all describe it as containing sapphires. However, the Blue Serpent Clock Egg contains no sapphire. No one knows what happened to the sapphires.

The Blue Serpent Clock Egg was presented by Czar Aleksandr III to Maria Fyodorovna on Easter day, April 5th, 1887. It is possible that by this time, the egg gift was already an established tradition, allowing Fabergé and his craftsmen an entire year to craft the next egg. This would explain in part why this egg is so much more elaborate than the first Imperial Easter egg.

This egg, along with the First Hen Egg, is the only known surviving Imperial egg from the 1880's.

The egg was housed in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolution. Along with the other Fabergé eggs in the palace, the Serpent Clock Egg was transferred to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin in mid September of 1917. In 1922 the egg was likely transferred to the Sovnarkom where it was held until it was sold abroad to Michel Norman of the Australian Pearl Company. Between 1922 and 1950 the egg was bought by Emanuel Snowman of Wartski Jewelers, sold, and bought back by Wartski. The egg was sold again by Wartski around 1974 to an unknown party, and was held in a private collection in Switzerland in 1989. In 1992 it was owned by Prince Rainier III of Monaco. When Rainier III died in 2005, Prince Albert II inherited the egg along with the throne.

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Cradle with Garlands and Rennaissance Eggs

First up, from Pearly's Qunol:

1907 - Cradle with Garlands Egg
Dimensions: Height: 14,6 cm (5.7 inches)
This gold egg in the Louis XVI style, is enameled translucent pale blue and decorated with a band composed of painted enamel roses and translucent emerald green enameled leaves, panels of oyster enamel and bands of scrolls and acanthus in colored gold. The Egg is supported in a gold cradle by four columns with Cupid's sets of arrows studded with diamonds. The whole is supported on a carved oval alabaster base and stands on four bun feet in chased colored gold.

The now missing surprise was made of white enamel, ruby, pearls, rose-cut diamonds, watercolor (possibly on ivory), probably gold. According to the original invoice the surprise was a miniature of all the Imperial children.

Private Collection, Robert M. Lee, USA
And from Treasures of Imperial Russia:


The egg-shaped casket carved of translucent bluish gray agate opening horizontally and raised on an oval gold foot, the hinged cover applied with a white-enameled latticework and set with diamond and ruby flowerheads at the intersections, the top wit the diamond-set date 1894 on an oval reserve enameled translucent strawberry red, the reserve bordered by green-enameled scallop shells interspaced with red and white enameled ovoids, the lower border of the cover with scallop shells enameled translucent strawberry red between white enamel scrolls set with diamonds, the cover opening to reveal interior rims engraved with scrolling foliage on a white enamel ground, the diamond-set rim of the lower half enameled translucent strawberry red, the “straps” of the lower half enameled with blue scallop shells and berried green leaves, each end of the casket mounted with a gold lion mask and loose ring handle, with diamond-set clasp, the foot repoussé with leaves enameled translucent green interspaced by translucent red enamel bellflowers, marked with Cyrillic initials of workmaster, Fabergé in Cyrillic and assay mark of 56 standard for 14 karat gold.

The 1894 Imperial Egg is described on its invoice as:

“Agate egg, gold mount, decorated in the Renaissance style, with diamonds, rose-cut diamonds, pearls and rubies. St. Petersburg, May 6, 1894 4750 r.” 1
After its confiscation by the Provisional Government, it was sold by Antikvariat for 1,500 rubles to Armand Hammer....MORE

Egg Decorating: There's Top 1% Rich and then There's Autocrat of All the Russias Rich

First posted Palm Sunday, 2011.

While Fabergé created thousands of jeweled Easter eggs it is the 65 large eggs that receive the most attention. Included in that number are the 50 Imperial eggs, of which the wherabouts are known for 42.
There are no eggs referencing Palm Sunday so I was Ieft to choose from those with either a biblical motif or some green coloring.

An odd little site called Pearly's Qunol has the most pictures, Treasures of Imperial Russia the highest pixel counts.

Here's the 1898 Lilies of the Valley egg.

From Treasures of Imperial Russia:

The egg enameled translucent rose pink over a guilloché ground and surmounted by a diamond and ruby-set Imperial crown, the egg divided into four quadrants by diamond-set borders, each quadrant with climbing gold sprays of lily of the valley, the flowers formed by diamond-petaled pearls, the finely sculpted gold leaves enameled translucent green and rising from curved legs formed of wrapped gold leaves set with diamonds ending in scroll feet topped with pearls, a pearl-set knob at the side of the egg activates a mechanism which causes the crown to rise revealing a fan of three diamond-framed portrait miniatures of Tsar Nicholas II and the children of Nicholas and Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, each signed by the miniaturist Johannes Zehngraf, the reeded gold backs of the miniatures engraved with the date 5.IV.1898, marked on these backplates with Cyrillic initials of workmaster, Fabergé in Cyrillic and assay mark of 56 standard for 14 karat gold.

Fabergé's invoice lists this egg as:

“April 10. Pink enamel egg with three portraits, green enamel leaves,
lilies of the valley pearls with rose-cut diamonds. St. Petersburg, May 7, 1898 6700r.” 1 The Lilies of the Valley Egg is adorned with the favorite flowers and the favorite jewels – pearls and diamonds – of the young Empress. It also contains, as its surprise, miniatures of her three favorite people in the world: her adored husband Nicholas and her two daughters, Olga (born 1895) and Tatiana (born 1897). Moreover, Fabergé designed the egg in the Tsarina's favorite style – Art Nouveau. Doubtless this egg was also one of her favorite objects by the Russian master.

The eight missing eggs would make for one heck of an Easter egg hunt.

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Steel Military Egg

Easter 1916. Rasputin and war.
Easter was late that year, falling on April 23rd.

1916 - Steel Military Egg
The exterior of this egg is made from steel, coated in translucent enamel, surmounted by a gold crown. It is divided into three sections by two smooth horizontal lines. In the middle section, in inlaid gold, is an image of George the Conqueror in a diamond-shaped frame outlined in laurel leaves. This is topped by the Russian emblem, a double-headed eagle beneath three crowns. Resting on the points of four miniature artillery shells, this egg makes up in sober significance what it lacks in ornamentation.

The surprise is a miniature painting by Vassily Zuiev on an easel made of gold and steel. The easel is coated in translucent enamel. The frame of the painting is lined with diamonds.

Czar Nicolai presented the egg as an Easter gift to his wife, the Czarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna probably on April 23, 1916.

The egg is one of the ten Imperial eggs that were never sold, and is now housed in the Kremlin Armory.

The Economist: "Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar."

Those are words I never expected to see out of the Grande Dame of the British financial press. They have been staunch proponents of the AGW juggernaut and would brook no dissension, even if the dissent was from the policy prescription of carbon trading rather than from the science of absorption bands of the CO2 molecule. Wow.
This follows on yesterday's link to the middle of the mainstream German paper Die Welt: "Die Welt: Scientists warn of ice age".
What is going on?
From The Economist:
Climate science
A sensitive matter

The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise. Ed Hawkins, of the University of Reading, in Britain, points out that surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range of projections derived from 20 climate models (see chart 1). If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years.

The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1°C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining.

The mismatch might mean that—for some unexplained reason—there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-10. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or, as an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.

The insensitive planet
The term scientists use to describe the way the climate reacts to changes in carbon-dioxide levels is “climate sensitivity”. This is usually defined as how much hotter the Earth will get for each doubling of CO₂ concentrations. So-called equilibrium sensitivity, the commonest measure, refers to the temperature rise after allowing all feedback mechanisms to work (but without accounting for changes in vegetation and ice sheets)....MUCH MORE

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gold Has Yet To Break the Series of Lower Highs Dating to Last October

$1595.00 last.
A bit of simple chartology (just the way we like it):


As we said in February's "Gold Is Approaching a Waterfall Decline" at $1627.90:
...The next area of support is all the way down at $1525 from May 2012....

Was Alan Turing A pre-Internet Troll? Plus: How to Always Win a Turing test

From naked capitalism:
We have a lot to be thankful for today that we owe to Alan Turing – who is generally recognised as among the first, if not the first, computer scientist. But, on the other hand, we also have a lot that we can trace back to Turing that we should be in no way grateful for as it has filled our minds with stupidities and our universities with people talking nonsense. Without detracting from Turing’s undoubtedly important achievements we here focus on the latter and how some of Turing’s ideas came to infect the human sciences in general and economics in particular.

Alan Turing: Pre-Internet Troll
Perhaps there is some irony in the fact that one of the men responsible for the invention of the modern computer was also an insufferable troll who seems to have persistently engaged in acts that were designed to disturb the emotional equilibrium of those around him. Turing’s biographer Andrew Hodges relates one of these incidents which highlights well Turing’s charmingly knavish nature:
Alan was holding forth on the possibilities of a ‘thinking machine’. His high-pitched voice already stood out above the general murmur of well-behaved junior executives grooming themselves for promotion within the Bell corporation. Then he was suddenly heard to say: “No,I’m not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I’m after is a mediocre brain, something like the President of American Telephone & Telegraph Company”. The room was paralysed while Alan nonchalantly continued to explain how he imagined feeding in facts on prices of commodities and stocks and asking the machine the question “Do I buy or sell”?
It seems that it is in this vein that we should read his seminal 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’. What Turing was ostensibly dealing with in this paper was whether or not a computer could be said to “think”. However, at the very beginning of the paper Turing redefines “think” to simply mean that a computer might imitate a human being so perfectly that the person cannot distinguish between the computer and another human being. This, of course, is not the typical manner in which to discern if someone or something is thinking, however we shall consider this point in more depth later on. For now let us simply examine what Turing was doing.

In the paper Turing proposed what came to be known as the “Turing test”. In this test a person would sit in front of two curtains, behind one is a computer and behind the other is another person. The person in front of the curtains would then communicate with the two mystery entities using a keyboard and a screen. Finally they would try to discern which of the entities is human and which is machine.

There is a strong element of trolling manifest in this thought experiment. Turing begins the paper in question by trying to set the reader off-balance by making the case that if you put a man and a woman behind the curtains most people would not be able to guess which is which if the man wants to trick the person guessing. Turing then goes on to make the even more disconcerting proposition that if we replace either the man or the woman with a machine we still might not be able to tell them apart. His account is altogether unsettling – and one gets the distinct impression that this is purposefully so....MUCH MORE
See also:

 From Nature's Turing special issue:
Big Brains: "Turing at 100: Legacy of a universal mind"


and "Artificial Intelligence: Why There is No Reason to Fear The Singularity/HAL 9000"

Three Decades After The Attempted Silver Corner, Herbert Hunt is Once Again A Billionaire

We've written about the action a few times.*
From Bloomberg:
Hunt Becomes Billionaire on Bakken Oil After Bankruptcy
William Herbert Hunt was once one of the wealthiest men on Earth. With his brother, Nelson Bunker Hunt, the billionaire bought more than 195 million ounces of silver -- 60 percent of the U.S. market -- in the 1970s. By early 1980, their stake was valued at more than $9 billion. 

The Hunts’ position imploded when silver prices plummeted 80 percent over the course of a few weeks in March 1980, culminating 33 years ago this week on what traders called Silver Thursday. The crash rattled Wall Street and sent the Texas brothers into bankruptcy.

Hunt is once again a billionaire, this time with oil. In October, he sold 43 percent of the North Dakota petroleum assets owned by his closely held Petro-Hunt LLC for $1.45 billion to Houston-based Halcon Resources Corp. (HK) The cash and stock deal made Hunt Halcon’s largest shareholder and boosted his net worth to $4.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“The numbers are out there,” said Hunt, 84, in a telephone interview from his Dallas headquarters. “We’re a family-owned company -- a private company -- and are really not interested in being out in the public arena.”

Hunt hasn’t appeared on an international wealth ranking in 25 years. He said oil will continue to fuel the U.S. economy.

“The people of the United States don’t recognize it, but the oil industry has given the greatest gift to the people of the nation, and that gift is the low cost of energy,” he said. “Bottom line is this enables the country to be very competitive manufacturing-wise and in the world economy.”

Harold Hamm
The $9,500 per acre Halcon paid for Hunt’s land is about average for recent deals in the Williston Basin, according to Eli Kantor, Senior Exploration and Production Analyst with Iberia Capital Partners LLC in New Orleans, Louisiana....MORE
*From 2009's "How to Break a Market Corner: Breeding Breakthrough Helps Sushi Baron Create Sustainable Tuna":
...*In January 1980, as the Hunt Brothers were gunning the price of silver toward it's historic high, the CEO of one of the world's largest trading firms said "Those boys don't know what deep pockets are", rather an amazing statement when talking about billionaires.
Within 48 hours both U.S. silver futures exchanges had gone "Liquidation only", the corner was broken and the Hunt's had lost their fortunes.
I'll leave it to you to guess the CEO.
From 2010's "Hunt Consolidated Creates Two New Energy-linked REIT's, Getty Realty Pumps Gas and Yield (GTY; LUKOY)":
...The Hunt REIT is not open to the public. For folks who don't know the Hunt family genealogy (picture Medusa's hair) Hunt Consolidated is the holding company for Hunt Oil Company, run by Ray Hunt, half-brother of Nelson Bunker who degraded the family crown jewel, Placid Oil, by way of a silver-induced madness bankruptcy back in the '80's.

In '92 Ray got into a bidding war with Ross Perot to buy Bunker's ranch. It was not sibling loyalty.
Finally, some of the details (and a bit of repetition) from  2010's "Wheat prices ease after Russia predicts stable exports" and "...Speculators ‘Hunt What’s Moving":
...Should prices see $8.50 the opportunities on the short side would almost be a lock.
I say almost because the serious money in commodities can pretty much get prices to where they want them, at least for short periods.

When the Billionaire Hunt brothers were attempting to corner the silver market in January 1980 the head of one of the world's largest grain traders said "Those boys don't know what deep pockets are".
The "commercials" had been shorting into the Hunt bros. buying and the grain trader was at the top of the "commercial" heap.

On January 21 the COMEX went "liquidation only".
On January 22 the CBOT went "liquidation only".
On Tuesday the 22nd silver closed at $34, down 27% from its close the previous Friday.
The Hunt's still had enormous paper profits but any attempt to book them would smash the markets even further.

Prices declined to $17 by March, down 66% from the January high and the Hunt's were receiving calls of $60 Million per day in variation margin. On March 27 the price dropped from $21.62 to $10.80 and one of their brokers, Bache was in violation of net capital requirements and another, Merrill Lynch was on the brink.
As the attorneys got involved over the next few years, oil prices headed south, destroying the value of Daddy's creation (and the brother's piggybank) Placid Oil.

Bunker Hunt filed for bankruptcy in September 1988 as did his brother and Placid.

At the time the grain trader spoke it is probable that the various branches of the Hunt families comprised the wealthies "family" in America.

That's why I say "almost" a lock.

Corn Hammered Limit Down on Stocks/Intentions Report

 Corn down 40 cents at $695.25, wheat down 40.5 cents at $695.75
From the AP via Washington Post: 

USDA report: Farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, highest since 1936
The USDA reports that farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, the most since 1936.

The spring planting survey released Thursday says the 2013 corn planting forecast is up slightly from last year’s 97.2 million acres.

Corn remains profitable, as prices are strong after last year’s drought left the grain in short supply.

Record corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon.
But some Corn Belt states will continue to be affected by the worst drought since the 1950s, with slightly less planted acreage expected....MORE
From Agrimoney:

Grain futures plunge as US supplies beat forecasts
Corn futures plunged the exchange limit in Chicago, with soybean and wheat prices falling too, after the US said that its stocks of all three crops were larger than had been thought, easing concerns over tight supplies.
The US Department of Agriculture added to ideas of an easing in the corn supply squeeze by pegging domestic sowings of the grain at 97.3m acres, a little above market expectations, and the largest area since 1936.
The USDA said that US corn inventories as of the beginning of the month had fallen to 5.40bn bushels, down some 600m bushels year on year, but well above the figure that investors had expected following last year's drought-hit harvest.
The immediate market reaction was to send corn futures for May down the exchange limit of $0.40 a bushel, or 5.4%, to $6.95 ¼ a bushel.
The new crop December contract dropped 3.6% to $5.50 ¾ a bushel.
Wheat tumbles 
For wheat, the USDA said that start-of-month inventories were, at 1.23bn bushels, a little higher than a year before, rather than showing the small decline that investors had expected, spurred by ideas of livestock feeders switching grains....MORE

"US natgas futures slip ahead of holiday despite bullish EIA"

The new front futures are off 3 cents at $4.05.
From Reuters:
* Front month hits highest mark since early September 2011
    * Forecasts for second week of April turn milder
    * Nuclear outages slip below last year, five-year levels
    * Coming Up: Baker Hughes rig data Thursday

    By Joe Silha
    NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - Front-month U.S. natural gas
futures lost ground on Thursday, pressured by the milder turn in
extended weather forecasts despite an early rally attempt after
a government report showed a weekly inventory withdrawal well
above market expectations.
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration report showed
total domestic gas inventories fell last week by 95 billion
cubic feet to 1.781 trillion cubic feet. 
    Most traders viewed the decline as supportive for prices,
noting stocks usually build slightly that week and the draw came
in well above the Reuters poll estimate of 87 bcf.
    "The net withdrawal was in the upper end of the range of
expectations and also bullish relative to the five-year average
for the date," Citi Futures analyst Tim Evans said in a report.
    "Natural gas remains supported by current heating demand,
but will become vulnerable to a downside test once the weather
moderates and heating demand fades away," he added.
    By 12:05 p.m. EDT (1605 GMT), front-month gas futures 
on the New York Mercantile Exchange were down 2.9 cents at
$4.039 per million British thermal units after climbing early to
a fresh 19-month high of $4.121....

Natural Gas: In What Should Be the Start Of Injection Season, Market Instead Pulls 95Bcf From Storage

And the market yawns. The front futures are flat at $4.07. Yesterday was the highest close in 18 months and the pep seems to have gone out of the longs.
From Bloomberg:
Natural Gas Fluctuates After Supplies Decline More Than Forecast
Natural gas futures fluctuated in New York after a government report showed that U.S. stockpiles fell more than forecast last week.

Gas gained as much as 1.3 percent after an Energy Information Administration report showed inventories dropped 95 billion cubic feet in the week ended March 22 to 1.781 trillion cubic feet. Analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg showed an expected withdrawal of 90 billion. Gas has surged 21 percent this quarter as winter storms brought below-normal temperatures.

“The market responded to it, but we couldn’t break a new high,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker with Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “That suggests that while it was higher than expected, it’s already priced in. Normally, when you get a number that’s bullish, you get a stronger reaction.”

Natural gas for May delivery rose 0.1 cent to $4.069 per million British thermal units at 10:39 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas traded at $4.055 before the storage number was released at 10:30 a.m. in Washington. Trading was 40 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day. The fuel has climbed 16 percent this month, heading for the largest monthly gain since September....MORE
Here's today's action via FinViz:
From the EIA:
Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

for week ending March 22, 2013.   |   Released: March 28, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.   |   Next Release: April 4, 2013

Working gas in underground storage, lower 48 states Summary text CSV JSN

Historical Comparisons
billion cubic feet (Bcf)

Year ago
5-Year average
Region 03/22/13 03/15/13 change
(Bcf) % change (Bcf) % change
East 710 783 -73
1,070 -33.6 751 -5.5
West 334 339 -5
344 -2.9 261 28.0
Producing 737 754 -17
1,009 -27.0 707 4.2
   Salt 178 180 -2
245 -27.3 122 45.9
   Nonsalt 558 574 -16
764 -27.0 585 -4.6
Total 1,781 1,876 -95
2,423 -26.5 1,720 3.5


Working gas in storage was 1,781 Bcf as of Friday, March 22, 2013, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 95 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 642 Bcf less than last year at this time and 61 Bcf above the 5-year average of 1,720 Bcf....MORE

UPDATED--Commodities and High Frequency Trading: Prices Being Driven By Price Moves Rather Than Fundamentals

Update: I forgot to link to the paper, here's the copy on the IMF's servers.
Original post:
This is a potentially big deal.
On the other hand it might just be the Europeans looking for more reasons to slow down or ban outright, HFT. More to come.
From Bloomberg:
Commodities Futures Driven by Price Moves, Not News, Study Finds
Commodity-future price moves rather than news are increasingly driving trade in oil, sugar and grain futures, which may make finding a fair price less efficient, according to a Swiss study. 

Since the middle of the 2000s, more than one out of two price changes in a number of commodity markets followed from an earlier price move, according to the study by Vladimir Filimonov and Didier Sornette at ETH Zurich and David Bicchetti and Nicolas Maystre at the Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The researchers analyzed intraday trading of oil and sugar in New York and London and corn, soybeans and wheat in Chicago, finding “high levels” of self-generated price moves.

“Price dynamics on these commodity markets are partly driven by self-reinforcing mechanisms,” the researchers wrote in the study published March 20 via the Social Science Research Network. “This evolution partly reflects the development of algorithmic trading and of high-frequency trading in particular.”
The European Parliament backed a proposal to limit high- frequency trading by introducing a 500 millisecond minimum holding period for any trade in October. A study by Bicchetti and Maystre published last year found an increase in high- frequency trading in commodities is boosting the short-term correlation with the prices of stocks and other assets.

Market orders based on technical analysis, herd behavior, margin calls on leveraged trades and stop-loss orders are among the mechanisms that can trigger so-called endogeneity, or price moves not generated by external information, Filimonov, Bicchetti, Maystre and Sornette said.

Trading Activity
A cascade of self-generated trading activity makes finding a “true price” take longer, a potential source of inefficiency or instability in the process of price discovery, according to the study....MORE 
John Kemp at Reuters also caught the study:
Fundamentals and behaviour in commodity prices
Fundamental changes in supply and demand account for less than a third of short-term movements in commodity futures prices, according to an authoritative new study by researchers at UNCTAD and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Reflexive trading, when prices respond to past price changes rather than new information about fundamentals, now accounts for 60 to 70 percent of price moves in the main futures contracts, up from less than 40 percent before 2005.

The authors examined price moves in Brent oil, U.S. crude, soybeans, sugar, corn and wheat futures using an elaborate procedure designed to separate movements related to the arrival of new information from those in which one price change begets another.

"We find an overall increase in the level of short-term endogeneity since the mid-2000s to October 2012, with a typical value nowadays around 0.6-0.7, implying that at least 60 to 70 percent of commodity price changes are now due to self-generated activities rather than novel information", according to Vladimir Filimonov, David Bicchetti, Nicolas Maystre and Didier Sornette in a paper published on March 21.

The paper marks a breakthrough in research into the formation of commodity futures prices. It brings research on commodity markets into the academic mainstream, integrating behavioural and fundamental approaches, and follows pioneering work in other asset classes by George Soros ("The Alchemy of Finance" 1987), Sornette ("Why Stock Markets Crash" 2003) and Robert Shiller ("Irrational Exuberance" 2009).
If their paper is correct, commodity futures markets may actually have become less efficient at discovering prices in recent years, not more, as a result of high-frequency trading and other aspects of financialisation.
Sornette is one of the world's foremost authorities on price formation and market microstructure, so the findings cannot easily be dismissed by researchers and policymakers who insist markets are efficient and all changes reflect fundamentals....MORE
We've visited with Sornette a few times most recently in Feb. 2013's "Innovation as a Social Bubble: The Example of the Human Genome Project".
He can be a bit of a flake but I'm guessing he's smarter than I.
See also:
Econophysicist Predicts Date of Chinese Stock Market Collapse--Part II
Forecasting Financial Crashes: The Ultimate Experiment Begins
And FT Alphaville's wonderfully titled "Dragon-king of the outlier events".

"King Dollar breaks 10-year resistance- Gold on 10-year support. Next Big move will be…"

From Kimble Charting Solutions:

When Gold was trading at $1,600 per ounce, the Power of the Pattern suggested Gold should trade up to $1,900 and then run into SERIOUS RESISTANCE! (See post here) The advice at that time…”We are long Gold at this time and we will Look to harvest long Gold positions when it hits resistance.”
Another reason I suggested that Gold be harvested was….Gold was becoming a crowded trade, with GLD becoming the largest ETF on the planet!!! (See post here) 

Now a year and a half later, Gold finds itself $300 lower in price. What has the U.S. Dollar done over the past 18 months? The US$ has gained 13% while Gold has declined 15%. Is the Dollar the reason that Gold is declining in price? 

The Dollar of late is doing something it hasn’t done in 10-years, its breaking above a falling channel that has contained it for 10 years. The breakout becomes very important for Gold, because as the US$ is breaking resistance, Gold is on a 10-year steep rising support line at (2) in the chart below....MORE

Die Welt: Scientists warn of ice age

This is a bit odd.
Die Welt is about as mainstream as German media gets and I've never seen them write anything that might even hint at contradicting Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.

Combined with the Economist story "Climate science A sensitive matter" which we will be linking to later this afternoon (first line: "The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away") which again is, as far as I know, a first, and you have a distinct break with what European mass media has been saying for the last decade.
I can't stress this enough, the change in reporting is a big deal.

I apologize in advance for the Google Translate; between a full schedule and pathological inertia I didn't do the honors myself.
Here's the German language original
Wissenschaftler warnen vor Eiszeit

We've had a few posts re: the possible great cooling, the reason we track this is: cold, and especially cold/wet can set up monster crop failures. Think all of Ukraine and a big chunk of western Russia monster.

Then there's the British natural gas angle, even now the Norwegians are filling the pipeline as fast as they can and it's not enough.

Finally, one of the most perverse effects would be a rise in carbon prices as more hydrocarbons are burned, which carbon price was ostensibly instituted to combat AGW.

One of the more credible earlier posts was 2011's "*****Alert***** "What's down with the Sun? Major drop in solar activity predicted" *****Alert*****" which looked at a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the . That one links to a couple prior posts and is worth a look if you are interested in this stuff.

From Die Welt:

March 25, 2013:

Minus 19 degrees in Brandenburg, mild temperatures in southern Germany. What on earth is going on with the weather?  

Globally, the same temperature extremes from most, but in recent weeks have to look even more closely in order to identify our region particularly warm climes. Japan, for example reports a relatively early onset of spring. Therefore suffered the northeastern United States under snow chaos in New York fell in mid-March because almost half a meter of fresh snow also made many flights. Particularly cold it was and is currently in the European part of northern Russia, as deep dark blue as the current weather map was there rarely have such large areas. They project far into our regions. Perhaps it is no coincidence, therefore, that from Russia louder voices are heard from the science that warn of an impending ice age. Vladimir Bashkin and Rauf Galiulin have only recently discovered this in a study. The two biogeochemist - a discipline which includes the exploration of the Earth's atmosphere is one - have drawn up the paper for the Research Institute VNIIGAZ Gazprom Group, an address that is not sure of lobbying interests acquit altogether. Their reasoning is based on the findings, however, the gain in the independent science more and more ground: The activity of the sun weakens significantly, considered by some experts to a degree as last several hundred years ago, during the "Little Ice Age".
It is not a variation of the warm sunshine that would not be sufficient to explain the climate changes in past centuries. Very influential on the long-term development of underground temperature contrast could be the changes in the solar ionizing radiation emissions, the so-called solar wind. These fluctuations associated with the ups and downs of the number of sunspots. They are to observe from Earth, it is about at least since its discovery by the German-born British astronomer William Herschel in the 18th Performed century book. Herschel had already found a temporal relationship between the number of sunspots and climate impacts, namely the good and bad years in agriculture. His theory of the "hog cycle" was long derided as the declaration was missing. Until they were found a few years ago. Meanwhile, there are methods to track the variations of the solar wind also by other phenomena as sunspots, by isotopes in ice cores, sediments, or millennia old ice. And lo and behold: there are clearly parallel curves between the changes in solar activity and, a few years or decades later, the global temperature - at least insofar as this is retrospectively ascertained what the researchers are always in a better position. Taking account of these delays can be quite the ups and downs of temperatures in the 20 until the beginning of the 21st Century, from the sun to explain their activity in the second half of the last century was the highest rate since the medieval climate optimum any more than it was about one degree warmer than today.
Also a physical explanation for this significant temporal relationship you are currently at several institutions around the track. Among others at the nuclear research center CERN in Geneva and at the state-owned National Space Institute of Denmark. To some extent it was able to win a series of tests a picture of how the solar wind affects the ionizing cloud formation and thus the temperature of the Earth. The delay could be well explained by the buffering effect of the water masses in the oceans. One can only wonder how the scientists who study these connections, see the important fifth "Assessment Report" of the IPCC account, which will be presented in September. So far, it looks even so they will not play a role, and especially the scientists set the tone, the view of man-made carbon dioxide emissions as almost the sole driver of the climate. Here, the one-dimensional explanation of CO2 lately gets by other studies in the review. Last by a scientifically proven work of two climate researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA), published in the February issue of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" - one of the world's most prestigious scientific magazines. The two researchers came to the conclusion: "The anthropogenic contribution to global warming has been in the second half of the 20th century probably overestimated by a factor of two," actually only half as large as expected. The flow and pressure conditions in the oceans and on the other hand, would fundamentally underestimated.
Before publication in the coming weeks is a study at the University of Oslo, which comes to a similar conclusion. Thus, even a doubling of CO2 by 2050, emanating from the hardly anyone, by far do not have the dramatic effects of which the IPCC says. The influence of natural factors, such as clouds or volcanic eruptions, be much stronger than previously thought. Yet studies do with such content, though they checked all the rules of science ("peer reviewed") are no headlines. Although they appear more frequently lately. The current extreme weather is good for only a limited degree, to support them, weather is fickle. However, this is the other way around for any contrary weather conditions. From the perspective of this winter anyway, it can be definitely: The summer is approaching. Also the next very, very hot. The only question is: When? 
Here's the Google Translate results page.

Bengal Tiger Habitat Continues Shrinking

From America's Finest News Source:

Bengal Tigers’ Habitat Down To Studio Apartment In Jaipur, India

When Will Norway Be a Short? (there's only one direction a triple-A can go)

From Quartz:

Norway’s petro-wealth is making its investments riskier and its workforce less competitive
Some news about Norway today offers a glimpse at a unique collision of economic clichés: the “resource curse” hitting the “welfare state.”

Apparently, the Norwegian government is considering slashing the prices that it charges shippers to transport gas through its pipelines. Investors in those pipelines—and they’re a powerful bunch—are really annoyed at what this will do to their profits. What’s more, the government is risking legal reprisals, investor flight and higher future borrowing costs on its infrastructure projects.

What would make Norway’s government crazy enough to earn comparisons to Venezuela or Russia?
For one thing, its oil production has fallen by around half in the last decade, and it needs to keep raising gas output to offset that. Lowering the tariff encourages gas producers (which are dominated by Norway’s Statoil) to explore more gas deposits and get more out of them.

But more generally, Norway needs to up its gas production to support its economy. Though the country’s non-energy GDP rose more than its overall GDP did last year—3.5%, compared with 3.2%—its workers are becoming less productive and its economy less competitive....MORE
Here's the story linked at "considering slashing the prices".
From Bloomberg:

Norway Becomes Petro-State as Investors Balk at Hidden AAA Risks
Norway, home to the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, is betting it can afford to ignore investor outrage.

After shocking global credit markets in 2011 by pulling support from the once AAA and now junk-rated lender Eksportfinans ASA, the government unveiled plans in January to cut tariffs on gas transport by 90 percent, sapping income for those funding the venture by as much as $7 billion.

Investors are now asking themselves how much risk they’re willing to accept to gain access to western Europe’s biggest oil and gas reserves. And while Norway boasts a stable AAA rating and the world’s smallest default risk, the government’s decision to ride roughshod over investors is starting to resemble actions seen in less stable democracies such as Venezuela and Russia.

The planned tariff cut “undermines Norway’s reputation as a stable and predictable country for investments,” Solveig Gas Norway AS and Silex Gas Norway AS, two of the companies backing the pipeline network that charges the tariffs, Gassled, said in a March 15 letter. It “represents an unauthorized intervention in the infrastructure owners’ legally protected rights and expectations,” they said....MORE
Possibly related:
Why Africa won't be the new Norway
Catchy headline, huh?
It's from the Private Sector Development blog at the World Bank. The PSD blog has this on their sidebar:

Most popular last month

Best targets for bribe-seekers

Here's the Afro-Nordic fusion delusion post...
Family Office consultant Graycourt Capital:
Big Money: Yale vs. Norway

"The Great Norway Diaper Racket Is the Best Arbitrage Ever"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Tesla Powered Mercedes Electric: It's a Baby Benz

From Wired:

Mercedes Bringing Tesla-Powered EV to U.S. Next Year
Mercedes-Benz is finally getting into the attainable electric-vehicle game with the B-Class Electric Drive, a compact Benz with a 115-mile range, a four-hour charge time and a price considerably cheaper than the awesome all-electric gullwing supercar. Even better, U.S. consumers get it before anyone else.

The B-Class is a popular compact across the pond, but the introduction of the awkwardly named B-Class E.D. (insert Viagra joke here) marks the first time Mercedes will sell the five-door hatchback in the states. When it goes on sale next year, the electric version will be the only B-Class variant available.

In typical EV-retrofit fashion – see also Mitsubishi iMiEV, Ford Focus Electric, etc. – Mercedes took an existing platform, ripped out the conventional drivetrain and installed an electric motor and a battery. Mercedes says the B-Class Electric Drive is good for more than 100 kilowatts (around 135 horsepower), with maximum torque – nearly 230 pound-feet – available the instant you hit the pedal. That’s enough grunt to get this sucker up to 100 mph – Benz won’t let you go any faster – while hitting 0-60 mph in “considerably less than 10 seconds.”...MORE

Awwwwww, it's cute.

What came first Egg or Chicken? Solution Through Granger Causality

I've got a feeling we're going to be talking Granger Causality Tests in the very near future so I might as well start laying (sorry) the groundwork.
Clive Granger was awarded an economics Nobel for his correlation/causation work. Rather a big deal in my world.
(prediction and stuff)

Here's an intro via a defunct blog, Wealthson:
Granger causality was proposed [to answer the question] by Thurman and Fisher. In their paper, they examined US egg production and chicken population from 1930 to 1983. Granger causality looks to see if data in one time series can predict data in another time series. By looking at the annual number of eggs produced, and comparing it with the total number of chickens, Thurman and Fisher sought to see if the chicken population predicted the number of eggs laid, or if the number of eggs predicted the chicken population, or both. It was found that information present in the egg time series predicted the number of chickens, but there was no reciprocal prediction of the number of eggs from the number of chickens.

granger thumb What came first Egg or Chicken? Solution through Granger Causality
The notion of Granger causality is simple: If lagged values of X help predict current values of Y in a forecast formed from lagged values of both X and Y, then X is said to Granger cause Y. We implement this notion by regressing eggs on lagged eggs and lagged chickens; if the coefficients on lagged chickens are significant as a group, then chickens cause eggs. Asymmetric regression tests the reverse causality. We perform the Granger causality tests using one to four lags. The number of lags in each equation is the same for eggs and chickens.

To conclude that one of the two "came first," we must find unidirectional causality from one to the other. In other words, we must reject the non-causality of the one to the other and at the same time fail to reject the non-causality of the other to the one. If either both cause each other or neither causes the other, the question will remain unanswered. The test Empirical Results are presented in table 1. They indicate a clear rejection of the hypothesis that eggs do not granger cause chicken. This means that the eggs came first and then came chicken.
Here's a JSTOR version of the Thurman Fisher paper.

Possibly related:

Mix Butter, Onions, Cheese and Eggs. Add Electricity...
For some reason, this post from Freakonomics got me thinking about the Chicago Butter and Egg board, the Butter, Cheese, and Egg Exchange of New York and Title 7, Ch. 1, § 13–1 U.S. Code*:

Lightbulb Moment in Food History

Last week’s post talked about early-20th-century “egg gamblers” who bought eggs cheap in spring in order to sell dear in winter. Their kind of speculation proved not just controversial but also pretty risky, and ultimately doomed. Why?...