5 days ago saw the 150th year anniversary of an event so historic that a very select few even noticed: the birth of US fiat. Bloomberg was one of the few who commemorated the birth of modern US currency: "On April 2, 1862, the first greenback left the U.S. Treasury, marking the start of a new era in the American monetary system.... The greenbacks were originally intended to be a temporary emergency-financing measure. Almost bankrupt, the Treasury needed money to pay suppliers and troops. The plan was to print a limited supply of United States notes to meet the crisis and then have people convert the currency into Treasury bonds. But United States notes grew in popularity and continued to circulate." The rest, as they say is history. In the intervening 150 years, the greenback saw major transformations: from being issued by the Treasury and backed by gold, it is now printed, mostly in electronic form, by an entity that in its own words, is "set up similarly to private corporations, but operated in the public interest." Of course, when said public interest is not the primary driver of operation, the entity, also known as the Federal Reserve is accountable to precisely nobody. Oh, and the fiat money, which is now just a balance sheet liability of a private corporation, and thus just a plug to the Fed's deficit monetization efforts, is no longer backed by anything besides the "full faith and credit" of a country that is forced to fund more than half of its spending through debt issuance than tax revenues.
On Thursday morning, President Hu Jintao of China, President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia , President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India shook hands at the start of the one day meeting in New Delhi. Top of the agenda was the creation of the grouping's first institution, a so-called "BRICS Bank" that would fund development projects and infrastructure in developing nations. Less noticed and commented upon is the aspirations of the BRIC nations to become less dependent on the global reserve currency, the dollar and to position their own currencies as internationally traded currencies. The leaders of BRIC nations and other emerging market nations have adopted the idea of conducting trade between the five nations in their own currencies. Two agreements, signed among the development banks of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, say that local currency loans will be made available for trade between these countries. The five fast growing nations participating in local currency trade will allow participants to diversify their foreign exchange reserves, hedging against the growing risk of a euro or dollar crisis. The BRICS want to have easy convertibility of currency to make it easier to use the real, ruble, rupee, renminbi and rand amongst themselves without having to always use the US dollar. Higher intra-Brics trade, conducted in their own currencies would shield their economies from economic dislocations in the west. Left unsaid so far is the possibility that one of the BRICs or the BRICs in unison might peg the value of their respective currencies to the ultimate store of value and money - gold.
Sean Corrigan presents an interesting chart for everyone who still believes that, contrary to millennia of evidence otherwise, money is not fungible. Such as the Lerry Meyers of the world, who in a CNBC interview earlier said the following: "I’m sorry, I’m sorry, you think he doesn't have the right model of inflation, he would allow hyperinflation. Not a prayer. Not a prayer. If you wanted to forecast inflation three or four years out and you don't have it close to 2%, I don't know why. Balance sheet, no impact. Level of reserves, no impact, so you have a different model of inflation, hey, you like the hawk on the committee, you got good company." (coupled with a stunning pronouncement by Steve Liesman: "I think the Fed is going to be dead wrong on inflation. I think inflation is going up." - yes, quite curious for a man who for the longest time has been arguing just the opposite: 5 minutes into the clip). Because despite what monetary theorists say, monetary practitioners know that money always finds a way to go from point A (even, or especially if, said point is defined as "excess reserves" which in a stationary phase generate a ridiculously low cash yield) to point B, where point B are risk assets that generate the highest returns. Such as high beta stocks (and of course crude and other hard commodities). And the following chart of Inside vs Outside Money from Sean Corrigan shows precisely how this is accomplished.
I feel almost inclined to apologize for the number of times I trot out the gold bugs index analog, but - - well - - I think it's important. Week after week, this analog has held together and strengthened itself. Here's a grid chart comparing the 2005-2008 period (top) to the recent market history (bottom):
Below is the broad view of igold bugs ndex symbol $HUI, which shows how the analog has strengthened recently. The key, of course, is to break beneath that lower horizontal line. If we can do that, life gets interesting in a big hurry.
A lesson to be learnt from the individuals who continue to buy European Debt
It was one short week ago that both Australia surprised with hotter than expected inflation (and no rate cut), and a Chinese CPI print that was far above expectations. Yet in confirmation of Dylan Grice's point that when it comes to "inflation targeting" central planners are merely the biggest "fools", this morning we woke to find that the PBOC has cut the Required Reserve Ratio (RRR) by another largely theatrical 50 bps. As a reminder, RRR cuts have very little if any impact, compared to the brute force adjustment that is the interest rate itself. As to what may have precipitated this, the answer is obvious - a collapsing housing market (which fell for the fourth month in a row) as the below chart from Michael McDonough shows, and a Shanghai Composite that just refuses to do anything (see China M1 Hits Bottom, Digs). What will this action do? Hardly much if anything, as this is purely a demonstrative attempt to rekindle animal spirits. However as was noted previously, "The last time they stimulated their CPI was close to 2%. It's 4.5% now, and blipping up." As such, expect the latent pockets of inflation where the fast money still has not even withdrawn from to bubble up promptly. That these "pockets" happen to be food and gold is not unexpected. And speaking of the latter, it is about time China got back into the gold trade prim and proper. At least China has stopped beating around the bush and has now joined the rest of the world in creating the world's biggest shadow liquidity tsunami.
Sprott strategist John Embry has never been a fan of the existing financial system. Today, he makes that once again quite clear in this interview with Egon von Grayerz' Matterhorn Asset Management in which he says: "I think that the current financial system, as we know it, will be totally destroyed, probably sooner rather than later. The next system will require gold backing to have any legitimacy. This has happened many times in history." Needless to say, he proceeds to explain why a monetary system based on gold, one in which one, gasp, lives according to one's means, is better. Logically, he also explains why the status quo, whose insolvent welfare world has nearly a third of a quadrillion in the form of unfunded future liabilities, will never let this happen. Much more inside.
Yesterday we asked rhetorically if Ben Bernanke has become the gold bug's best friend courtesy of his FOMC announcement which led to a surge in gold, and a kneejerk whimper in stocks, which has now been completely wiped out courtesy of a subpar GDP number. Today we note that it is not only the Fed, but the US Treasury, and specifically the ravenous Mr. Geithner, who just got a green light to issue another $1.2 trillion in debt, and bring total debt to $16.4 trillion, which would still be 107% of today's GDP (which we don't see growing much if at all over the next year), that can be added to the list of best Goldbug friends. As the chart below demonstrates quite vividly, in addition to global and local monetary expansion, the price of gold tends to correlate quite well with the US debt ceiling. Which means that per yesterday's Senate 52-44 vote authorizing Timmy to go hog wild (which in turn means that Bernanke will have to step in and monetize much of this new debt issuance), the price of gold just got a green light for at least $250 in upside - the implied price just got raised to $1960. Of course, anyone who thinks the US will stop issuing debt there needs a brain MRI stat. Thank you Senate. And thank you Timmy. And, of course, thank you Ben.
Below we present the indexed return of ES (or stocks) and of gold over the past 24 hours since the Bernanke announcement of virtually infinite ZIRP, and the latent threat of QE3 any time the Russell 2000 has a downtick. It is unnecessary to point out just when Bernanke made it all too clear that the Fed has nothing left up its sleeve, expect to directly compete with the ECB over "whose (balance sheet) is bigger," as it is quite obvious. What is not so obvious, is that for all intents and purposes, Bernanke may have unwillingly, become a gold bug's best friend, as gold (and implicitly silver) has benefited substantially more that general risk. Much more. So for the sake of all gold bugs out there, could the Fed perhaps add a few more FOMC statements and press conferences? At this rate gold should be at well over $2000 by the June 20 FOMC meeting. And yet it is not smooth sailing: the time has come to watch out again for potential CME margin hikes (or rumors thereof) in gold at any given moment. After all, any increase in the price of protection against central planning stupidity is "irrational" and must be promptly punished by the keepers of the trillions in "stable derivative markets", who are too busy to police the MF Globals of the world and instead have a mandate of killing any PM price breakout.
Gold & Silver Banker-Cartel Prolonged Price Suppression Has Set the Foundation for an Explosive Move Higher in 2012Submitted by smartknowledgeu on 01/17/2012 07:54 -0500
Recently, public interest in gold and silver and gold/silver mining stocks has been at multi-year lows. And that is a super bullish contrarian indicator.
Gold coin purchases gained 13% last year and will increase 2.7% in the first half. Purchases of gold bars increased by 36% to nearly 2,000 (1,194) metric tonnes, concentrated in China, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. East Asia demand for gold bars rose 53% to 456 metric tonnes. India rose 9% to 297 metric tonnes and western markets demand for gold bars rose 41% to 335 metric tonnes. Central banks increased net purchases by a massive fivefold to 430 tons last year, and may buy another 90 tons in the first half, GFMS said. Combined official holdings stand at 30,788.9 tons, data from the London-based World Gold Council show. “Attitudes among central banks haven’t really changed,” Thomson Reuters GFMS annual survey said. “There’s still that desire to come into the gold market to diversify some of the assets away from foreign exchange and to boost gold holdings.” The Thomson Reuters GFMS annual gold survey also predicts that gold will struggle in the first half of the year, increasing in the later half towards $2,000. It also says the gold bull market is losing steam and predicts an end to the run as economies recover next year and interest rates begin to rise.
If you ever happen to acquire an inclination for being the subject of disrepute and ridicule I highly recommend endorsing the conceit alluded to in the title. Apparently this issue is ‘so obvious’ that even gold bugs and government officials can reach common ground via the contention that I’m deluded. My folly — if you will — is to maintain that dollar debasement can be bullish for the dollar vis-à-vis other currencies at present. Since this long-standing conviction of ours is once again being corroborated by price action in the currency markets I thought I’d attempt to convince you that I’m not completely crazy. Here I outline why dollar debasement is bullish for the dollar against other fiat currencies in this environment.
Bill Buckler Discusses The Last Price Standing Of "True Money", Answers The Only Question Relevant To Gold BugsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/19/2010 17:27 -0500
Bill Buckler, publisher of The Privateer Report, has released one of the most scathing critiques of paper money we have read to date: "Before it can be exchanged, wealth must be created. Wealth cannot be created out of thin air. By definition, an economic good is “scarce”. If it were not, there would be no such thing as economics or exchange. Neither would be necessary because no effort or choice in the face of alternatives would be required in order to provide the GOODS which further our lives. Before we can talk about money and the VITAL role it performs, we must stress this point. Money is NOT wealth, it is the means by which wealth is exchanged amongst those who produce it. Paper money is not suited to this function." So what is the only rational investment in times in which money's role is so often confused by pretty much everyone? "Ninety-seven percent of all existing Treasury debt has been created since August 15, 1971! Ninety-three percent of it has been created since Mr Volcker “saved” the paper Dollar in late 1979! Please note that the gain in Treasuries and the loss in the US Dollar almost exactly cancel out. Please note also that even the biggest gain in these paper markets fades into insignificance against Gold’s rise."And here is the answer all the "gold bugs" have been waiting for: "The paper money “price” of Gold will last as long as the attempt to make paper money “work” lasts. In the end, Gold will no longer have a “price” because it has reverted to its role as MONEY. Whenever and wherever that happens, that nation can return to the production of wealth - rather than “money”."