Gold Bugs

Guest Post: Our "As You Wish" Markets Have Reached The Cliffs Of Insanity

In the classic fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride, the beautiful maid Buttercup orders the farm boy Westley to perform numerous tasks to test his servitude. No matter the magnitude of the request, Westley simply answers "As you wish" and makes it so. Buttercup eventually comes to view Wesley with similar devotion, and true love is born. Similarly, investors have fallen back in love with the capital markets, whose continual response their increasingly irrational hopes has been "As you wish." It's inconceivable!

Ken Rogoff: "Policymakers Should Be Cautious Seeing Gold's Drop As A Vote Of Confidence"

In principle, holding gold is a form of insurance against war, financial Armageddon, and wholesale currency debasement. And, from the onset of the global financial crisis, the price of gold has often been portrayed as a barometer of global economic insecurity. In fact, the case for or against gold has not changed all that much since 2010 - it makes perfect sense to hold a small percentage of your assets in gold as a hedge against extreme events. As Ken Rogoff explains, the recent collapse of gold prices has not really changed the case for investing in it one way or the other. Yes, prices could easily fall below $1,000; but, then again, they might rise; but he warns, policymakers should be cautious in interpreting the plunge in gold prices as a vote of confidence in their performance.

Is The Low In Place For Gold?

Citi's FX Technicals group is biased to believe that the low in this correction may have been posted for Gold. Here's why...

Guest Post: Gold's Under-Valuation Is Extreme

The price of gold fell last week to the $1,200 level. The lemming sentiment in capital markets is uniformly bearish, yet every price-drop brings forth hungry buyers for physical gold from all over the world. Even hard-bitten gold bugs in the West are shaken and frightened to call a bottom, yet it is these conditions that accompany a selling climax. This article concludes there is a high possibility that gold will go sharply higher from here. There are three loose ends to consider: valuation, economic and market fundamentals.

Guest Post: Gold – Has The ‘Narrative’ Failed?

Barry Ritholtz is convinced that once the current short-term bounce is over with, the recent cyclical bear market in gold will resume. The reality is of course that neither Mr. Ritholtz, nor anyone else actually knows the future. Therefore, he cannot know whether the bear market is or isn't over. However, judging from the remainder of his post, he actually seems to think that the secular bull market in gold is over. In our opinion there is no evidence for that, and we will explain below why we think that he and others in the  long term bear camp are wrong. Further below is the evidence marshaled by Mr. Ritholtz (actually, apart from the technical analysis he provides, it isn't really evidence at all – it reads like an unsupported opinion). Sure enough, gold has no yield, no conference calls, and no income statements (paraphrasing Jim Grant). That is actually the beauty of it. But that does not mean it 'has no fundamentals', nor does it means that it 'cannot be an investment'. We comment on his article (and its errors) further below.

Gold Bug Bashing, 1976 Edition

The New York Times had the definitive take on the vicious sell off in gold. The analysis provides a good representation of the current conventional wisdom. The only twist here is that the article from which this summary is derived appeared in the August 29, 1976 edition of The New York Times. At that time gold was preparing to embark on an historic rally that would push it up more than 700% a little over three years later. Is it possible that the history is about to repeat itself?

Guest Post: Roubini Attacks The Gold Bugs

Earlier this month, in an article for “Project Syndicate” famous American economist Nouriel Roubini joined the chorus of those who declare that the multi-year run up in the gold price was just an almighty bubble, that that bubble has now popped and that it will continue to deflate. Gold is now in a bear market, a multi-year bear market, and Roubini gives six reasons (he himself helpfully counts them down for us) for why gold is a bad investment. His arguments for a continued bear market in gold range from the indisputably accurate to the questionable and contradictory to the simply false and outright bizarre. But what is most worrying, and most disturbing, is Roubini’s pathetic attempt to label gold bugs political extremists. It is evident from Roubini’s essay that he not only considers the gold bugs to be wrong and foolish, they also annoy him profoundly. They anger him. Why? – Because he thinks they also have a “political agenda”. Gold bugs are destructive. They are misguided and even dangerous people.

"The Market Would Have Collapsed" Had The PBOC Drained: Chinese Liquidity Shortage Hits All Time High

Those who have been following our coverage of the bipolar Chinese liquidity situation (most recently here and here) are well aware of the unique position the world's fastest (if only on paper) growing economy finds itself in: on one hand, it is the target of massive external hot money flows from both the Fed and the BOJ, which are pushing select inflation in the country higher, manifesting itself best in the real-estate market now higher for 12 consecutive months. On the other hand, the local banking system is in such dire need of liquidity, that not only have various short-term SHIBORs soared to multi-year highs but as Market News reported last week, China Everbright Bank failed to repay 6b yuan ($977m) borrowed from Industrial Bank on time yesterday because of tight liquidity, leading to “chain effect” borrowing in the market overnight and almost ushering in the first bank failure in China. The unprecedented liquidity shortage in China is seen best on the overnight SHIBOR chart below which just hit an all time high. In a nutshell there is zero free liquidity in the system. So what would have happened if the PBOC had continued on its merry way of withdrawing liquidity from the interbank market? Very bad things. “If the PBOC sold repos or bills today, the market would have collapsed.”

Desperately Seeking $11.2 Trillion In Collateral, Or How "Modern Money" Really Works

Over a year ago, we first explained what one of the key terminal problems affecting the modern financial system is: namely the increasing scarcity and disappearance of money-good assets ("safe" or otherwise) which due to the way "modern" finance is structured, where a set universe of assets forms what is known as "high-quality collateral" backstopping trillions of rehypothecated shadow liabilities all of which have negligible margin requirements (and thus provide virtually unlimited leverage) until times turn rough and there is a scramble for collateral, has become perhaps the most critical, and missing, lynchpin of financial stability. Not surprisingly, recent attempts to replenish assets (read collateral) backing shadow money, most recently via attempted Basel III regulations, failed miserably as it became clear it would be impossible to procure the just $1-$2.5 trillion in collateral needed according to regulatory requirements. The reason why this is a big problem is that as the Matt Zames-headed Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) showed today as part of the appendix to the quarterly refunding presentation, total demand for "High Qualty Collateral" (HQC) would and could be as high as $11.2 trillion under stressed market conditions.

Guest Post: Unintended Consequences Are Increasing World Demand For Gold

With the financial experts claiming, some gleefully, that gold has "lost its safe haven status" in the aftermath of its biggest tumble in 30 years, many commentators thought (hoped?) that the dramatic price drop would steer people away from gold ownership. To my eyes, the past week has all the earmarks of a high-gloss propaganda campaign complete with well-placed anti-gold stories in the media and the careful use of language aimed at sowing doubt about gold's ability to be a store of wealth. But for those who consider gold a store of value, the recent gold slam is a gift: an invitation to purchase more sound money with fewer units of paper currency. In other words, a sweet deal.  Gold and silver on sale and the world is taking advantage.

CLSA Breaks The Wall Street Mold: Sells Japanese Equities To Buy Gold

In a world in which one bank after another has scrambled to downgrade its outlook on gold, both before the recent bank CEO huddle with Obama last Thursday - the day the bottom fell out of the gold market - but especially after, when the real onslaught on gold truly started, it has been an outright blasphemy for the sellside to even hint at having a bullish outlook on gold. After all, how dare someone allocate capital to the barbaric metal at a time when the US is recovering nicely (it's not), and when the US currency is one again deemed safe (with the Fed diluting its monetary base by 3% per month every month until the end of 2014 and likely forever, it isn't), any deviation from this latest script which desperately attempts to push savers out of the safety of gold into the fiat paper, where the proceeds are invested into stocks or simply spent (a la what happened in Cyprus and the latent fear of deposit confiscation everywhere in Europe), is not permitted. Yet this is precisely what CLSA's Chris Wood, author of the famous Greed & Fear, which is never afraid to be contrarian or to break the lemming mold, has done. His brief take on the recent gold plunge? "This is a buying opportunity too good for investors to miss." Buyers of physical gold everywhere in the world agree.

Frontrunning: April 17

  • Boston bomb probe looking at pressure cooker, backpacks (Reuters), Boston Bomb Clues Surface (WSJ) Forensic Investigators Discover Clues to Boston Bombing (BBG)
  • China local authority debt ‘out of control’ (FT)
  • Gold Wipes $560 Billion From Central Banks as Equities Rally (BBG)... or the same impact a 2% rise in rates would have on the Fed's balance sheet
  • More Wall Street leakage: Stock Surge Linked to Lobbyist (WSJ)
  • China's bird flu death toll rises to 16, government warns of spread (Reuters)
  • Chinese official endorses monetary easing (FT)
  • As global price slumps, "Abenomics" risks drive Japan gold bugs (Reuters)
  • North Korea rejects US call for talks (FT)
  • IMF Renews Push Against Austerity (WSJ)
  • India Gains as Gold Plunge Boosts Scope for Rate Cuts (BBG)
  • Germany set to approve Cyprus aid (FT)
  • Easing Is an Issue as G-20 Meets (WSJ)