Copper

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Question of the Week: Readers Respond to Money Morning's Afghanistan Mineral Wealth Query

The news that there is $1 trillion of Afghanistan mineral wealth hiding in the country's scarred and deserted landscape has global investors calculating how likely it would be for this incredibly poor country to transform itself into a natural-resources powerhouse.

It has also spawned debates about which nations should be given a piece of this vast apparent fortune.

The discovery - and its transformational potential - is mind-boggling: At $1 trillion, the estimated value of the mineral reserves is 100 times the size of Afghanistan's entire economy, estimated at $12 billion. And it's not just the dollar figures that could bring about change. Much of Afghanistan's economic activities involve drug-trafficking and terrorism. About 40% of the country's population lives below the poverty line, and 70% lives on $2 a day.

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We Want to Hear From You: Is Afghanistan's Mineral Wealth a Blessing or a Curse?

The news that there is $1 trillion of Afghanistan mineral wealth hiding in the country's scarred and deserted landscape has global investors calculating how likely it would be for this incredibly poor country to transform itself into a major global exporter.

It has also spawned debates about which nations should be given a piece of this potential fortune.

At $1 trillion, the estimated value of the mineral reserves is 100 times the size of Afghanistan's $12 billion economy. And it's not just the dollar figures that could bring about change. Much of Afghanistan's economic activities involve drug trafficking and terrorism. About 40% of the country's population lives below the poverty line, and 70% lives on $2 a day.

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Will Afghanistan's Mineral Wealth Bring the Nation's Rebirth or a Commodities Curse?

Overnight, Afghanistan has gone from being a political pariah to one of the most significant, and potentially richest, countries on the globe. But can the rocky, war-torn desert - known mostly for harboring terrorists and exporting opium - be reborn as a major commodities exporter?

U.S. geologists have found some $1 trillion of untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Sunday. Afghanistan's mineral wealth includes large caches of iron, copper, gold and lithium that could turn the country into one of the most important mining centers in the world.

Think of Australia, Canada, and Latin America. That is the league into which these geographical revelations have thrust Afghanistan.

"There is stunning potential here," General David Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told The Times. "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant."

Those "ifs" include ongoing warfare, a lack of infrastructure, and more than a little political corruption. But the upside for the country is enormous.

While U.S. officials estimate the potential value of Afghanistan's mineral wealth at $1 trillion, President Hamid Karzai said last month during a visit to Washington that his country's deposits could be worth three times as much.

So why did it take so long for this information to surface?

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Buy, Sell or Hold: A Copper-Price Rebound Could Mean a 50% Gain For Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX)

It's time to play "the metal of the economists"- copper. And that brings us to one stock: The publicly traded king of copper - Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX).

Let me explain ...

Last week, I provided a solid "defensive-investing" pick for readers who wanted to balance their portfolios - and wait for the latest global-financial storm to pass.

During the past week, we got very strong indications that strong hands see value in the market:

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Is the Plunge in Commodities a Bear Market Signal for Stocks?

The biggest slump in commodity prices since 2008 is undermining confidence on Wall Street and fueling speculation that a new bear market has been born.

Despite forecasts for accelerating economic growth and higher prices, commodities, with the notable exception of gold, are taking a big hit.

The Journal of Commerce (JOC) Commodity Index that tracks the growth rate of steel, cattle hides, tallow and burlap plunged 57% in May, the most since October 2008 - something that gave analysts a sense of déjà vu.

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How to Profit As Copper Becomes the "New Gold"

Copper is a key metal that keeps the world economy humming. Used in art and industry, copper consumption has grown by 4% a year since 1900. But, for some reason, everyone in the world still prefers gold. Read this report to discover why copper may become the "new gold" for investors. And, find out the best ways to profit from copper's rise.

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Get in on the Ground Floor of This Growing Global Profit Machine

I am enamored with Indonesia.

I've never been there. I've never met anyone from there. And it's not a country we hear much about. But it's the world's third-largest democracy (the current president got more votes than U.S. President Barack Obama). And it's one of the few Muslim countries - along with Turkey - that doesn't hate the United States as a matter of public policy.

And those are just a few of the reasons that it's time to invest in Indonesia.

To see why Indonesia is truly a ground-floor economy, continue reading...

The Scramble for Africa: Profiting From World's Largest Cache of Commodities

In the quarter century stretching from the late-1880s to the First World War, there was a mad rush by the world's leading powers to occupy and annex African territory. Now, 100 years later, the world's elite again are scrambling to make their respective marks on the continent.

The methods of extraction have changed, but the end goal remains the same - to gain access to Africa's coveted bounty of commodities.

Most notably, Chinese interests have swarmed Africa, constructing roads, rail lines, municipal buildings, schools, ports, and pipelines in exchange for access to natural resources.

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Will Copper Become the "New Gold?"

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable American icons in the world.

And as she towers 305 feet above Ellis Island, what's Lady Liberty wearing? Copper - 60,000 pounds of it.

Clearly, copper's big in art. It's also a key metal that keeps the world economy humming. Copper consumption has grown at an average annual rate of 4% since 1900. China and India - which some analysts describe as the combined market of "Chindia" - where one of every three human beings resides, needs loads of this element to meet its modernization requirements for electricity and infrastructure.

Copper is also used in today's currency, where most U.S. coins are actually 92% copper, and 8% nickel.

But there's no denying that, given the choice, nearly everyone prefers gold. It's valuable, it's seductive and it's mystical.

Ancient kings fought wars to amass it. Yet, for thousands of years, its most enduring role has arguably been in the form of money - as a store of value.

That's because fiat-paper-currency experiments have never lasted, and always ended badly.

Increasingly, followers of the Austrian School of Economics are nostalgic for gold to regain its former glory, perhaps "backing" a new international currency.

But despite gold's much longer history as true money, some believe that copper - the much humbler metal - could be positioning itself to upstage gold.

To find out more about the forces that will transform copper into the "New Gold," read on...

Four Ways to Profit From the World's Shrewdest Government

Three powerful investment trends will separate the winners from the losers in the new year.

  • Global commodities prices will continue to move higher.
  • Emerging economies will outgrow their richer, more-mature counterparts.
  • And the countries that were stingy with their monetary and fiscal bailout plans will now reap the benefits; they will outpace the countries that slashed their interest rates to zero and allowed their deficits to soar.
One country is poised to profit from all three of those trends. What's more, the political worries that always seem to diminish its allure to investors are poised to recede, making this emerging southern hemisphere heavyweight one of the premiere profit opportunities for 2010.

I'm talking about Chile.

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