January 12th, 2012By Charles Wyndham. My latest sojourn in Antwerp can best be described as having left me slightly apprehensive, as, there was no one to whom I spoke that was not less than apprehensive themselves about 2012. The general economic travails that face us could not provide an optimistic background to anyone but the mute, let alone the added complications or pains inflicted by the investigations into HSBC and UBS hidden accounts. This gathering cloud has not been helped by the Tiffany results, which point to a slowing down in America and the non performance of Europe. As one commentator pointed out, however much everyone focuses on the new world of China and India, the fact is that the old world of America and Europe is still important... a point that my colleague Richard Platt has been making to deaf ears for ages. De Beers’ announcement about it sightholder list has added to the general air of unease. In this case. I am not referring to some incomprehensible decisions about who got sights, or rather who could break the most rules about ‘living up to diamonds’ to make sure that they got the goodies, but rather to the fact that most who did succeed seem to have had their proposed allocations slashed. Again, we seem to be falling further into the old story of the diner complaining bitterly about the quality of the meal, but even more bitterly about the fact that there was not enough of it. We have known, well I have known and generously shared the information, that De Beers have had a habit of running into various mining difficulties, be it at Venetia or Jwaneng... or even at the ‘Go Well’ mine. On top of these woes, I hear that the power cuts in Botswana are exceeding all expectations and whatever contingencies put in place, are having a real impact on mining and Orapa in particular. Shortages of supply from De Beers in some ways could be viewed as positive for the market, however this is now coupled with a general unease about the fact that Anglo as new owners might actually try to get their dollars’ worth for any production…something has got to pay for the $5 billion. Of course the shortage or lack of allocations could just be preparations for tendering more goods. De Beers’ insistence, certainly over the past decade to sell at extraordinary discounts to what the open market was prepared to pay has provided the fuel for strange market gyrations. These injections of cheap cash, so to speak, meant for most clients the key concern was to keep churning the numbers at all costs. The banks were happy to join the merry party because they could charge eye watering levels of interest and everyone was happy. Now suddenly the merry go around is being threatened. In the long term, moving the market mechanics onto a rational basis must be good news, however how to make the transition presents some serious problems, especially in the context of such economic uncertainty. But whatever my general concerns, I now know that all is not lost. Some kind nerd has sent me a story from Boney’s bush wire, that ‘the DEF hosts ‘Good Awards’ in New York.’ DEF if you were not aware, which I am pretty sure that I was not, refers to Diamond Empowerment Fund. As far as the tap tap from the bush wire came across to me the true beneficiaries of this stellar event were, the Empire Rooftop Hotel in New York, the four recipients, Melanie Fiona (who is apparently some big wig singer) and New York’s famous DJ M.O.S. Not much I am aware of about mud pies in Africa. At least I have learnt something from this big bash, that Ivana Trump, one of the four prize recipients, is the founder of the Ivana Trump Fine Jewellery ... on that basis I was only surprised that the function was not held at the Trump Tower? But anyway, good to know that the DEF has empowered someone so needy as Ivana. But all this wash of tittle tattle is really to disguise my lack of understanding as to why the term ‘Good awards’ should have been used. Was this to distinguish it from any ‘Bad Awards’?