In November, NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini stated, “gold at $1,500 is utter nonsense.” In less than two years, gold was above $1,900. This week, the mad professor is back with his swiss-cheese logic and anti-gold rants.
"Zero hour" - the day you can mark on a calendar when the price of real metal breaks away forever from the quoted price on media's ticker. The "zero hour" scenario is the ultimate emperor-has-no-clothes moment. Hans Christian Andersen’s original 19th-century tale The Emperor’s New Clothes has become a 20th- and 21st-century touchstone for obvious truths overlooked by the masses. It is almost a cliche. But it is singularly appropriate for our purposes today. The "emperor" here consists of central banks, commercial and investment banks and the commodities exchanges. The day everyone recognizes them as being buck naked — or in this case, stripped of the gold they claim to hold — will be "zero hour." At root, zero hour will come when everyone knows gold supply can no longer meet gold demand.
Two weeks ago, with its current account getting crushed by relentless gold imports, India's finance minister Chidambaram literally begged the people to stop buying gold. Judging by the popular response, the ongoing physical shortage, and last night's increase in Indian gold import duties from 6% to 8%, appealing to people's feeling when it comes to the choice of fiat vs physical, has failed miserably. So the FinMin Chidambaram has decided to escalate. Per Reuters: "The Reserve Bank of India has advised banks against selling gold coins to retail customers, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on Thursday, a day after he raised gold import duty to try to ease pressure on India's bloated current account deficit." Well, if there ever was one sure way to send demand for any product through the roof (guns, ammo, etc), it is for the government to prohibit its outright sale. What follows next, almost without fail, is a panicked, chaotic buying scramble.
India should monetise their huge gold stockpiles of over 20,000 metric tonnes according to the World Gold Council (WGC) as reported by Bloomberg this morning.
“In the long term gold could be monetized as a financial asset," Aram Shishmanian, the CEO of the WGC said in India overnight.
The World Gold Council has approached the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to work with it so that bullion could be used as a financial asset, rather than just a physical asset.
Following on from our annual update on the wealth (re)distribution of nations, we thought it important to look at the other side of the household balance sheet - that of 'debt' to see just how much 'progress' has been made in the world. In the aftermath of the credit crisis (and the ongoing crisis in Europe), government debt levels continue to rise but combining trends in household debt highlights countries that have sustainable (and unsustainable) overall debt levels - and thus the greatest sovereign debt problems. Whether the 'number' is from Reinhart & Rogoff or not, the reality is that moar debt is not better and the nations with the highest debt-per-capita may surprise many. Critically, despite the rise in 'wealth' from 2000-2008, the ratio of debt-to-net-worth rose on average by about 50% (and in many nations continues to rise). The bottom line - in almost all countries, government liabilities exceeded government financial assets in 2011, leaving the government a net debtor.
Bulls and Bears. It’s all about predicting when that upturn or that downswing in the market is going to take place and when you need to sell or buy that stock to hit the jackpot and make the millions. People have been doing it for centuries and that doesn’t look like it is going to stop right now. There have been dozens of financial crises over the centuries and each of them has had an effect on the lives of people to varying degrees.
The store of wealth demand is not just from Chinese ‘aunties.’ There remains an under estimation of the demand coming from wealthy Chinese and high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals (HNWs and UHNWs).
This has not been commented upon or analysed but we have direct experience of wealthy Chinese people looking to store gold in Hong Kong and Switzerland, as have other storage providers.
Following April's surprising drop in crude imports which led to a multi-year low in the March trade balance (revised to -$37.1 billion), the just released April data showed an 8.5% jump in the deficit to $40.3 billion, if modestly better than the expected $41.1 billion. This was driven by a $2.2 billion increase in exports to $185.2 billion offset by a more than double sequential jump in imports by $5.4 billion, to $222.3 billion. More than all of the change was driven by a $3.2 billion increase in the goods deficit, offset by a $0.1 billion surplus in services.The Census Bureau also revised the entire historical data series, the result of which was a drop in the March deficit from $38.8 billion to $37.1 billion. In April 233,215K barrels of oil were imported, well above the 215,734K in March, and the highest since January. Furthermore, since the Q1 cumulative trade deficit has been revised from $126.9 billion to $123.7 billion, expect higher Q1 GDP revisions, offset by even more tapering of Q2 GDP tracking forecasts. And since the data is hardly as horrible as yesterday's ISM, we don't think it will be enough on its own to guarantee the 21 out of 21 Tuesday track record, so we eagerly look forward to today's POMO as the catalyst that seals the deal.
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Unfortunately, the majority appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
- BIS lays out "simple" plan for how to handle bank failures (Reuters) - Are we still holding our breath on Basel III?
- Deficit Deal Even Less Likely - Improving U.S. Fiscal Health Eases Pressure for a 'Grand Bargain' Amid Gridlock (WSJ)
- IRS Faulted on Conference Spending (WSJ)
- Deadly MERS-CoV virus spreads to Italy (CNN)
- Turkish PM Erdogan calls for calm after days of protests (Reuters)
- Financial system ‘waiting for next crisis’ (FT)
- Russia to send nuclear submarines to southern seas (Reuters)
- China Nuclear Stockpile Grows as India Matches Pakistan Rise (BBG)
Back in 2010 we started an annual series looking at the (re)distribution in the wealth of nations and social classes. What we found then (and what the media keeps rediscovering year after year to its great surprise) is that as a result of global central bank policy, the rich got richer, and the poor kept on getting poorer, even though as we predicted the global political powers would, at least superficially, seek to enforce policies that aimed to reverse this wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich (a doomed policy as the world's legislative powers are largely in the lobby pocket of the world's wealthiest who needless to say are less then willing to enact laws that reduce their wealth and leverage). Now that the topic of wealth distribution (or rather concentration) is once again in vogue, below we present the latest such update looking at a global portrait of household wealth. The bottom line: 29 million, or 0.6% of those with any actual assets under their name, own $87.4 trillion, or 39.3% of all global assets.
Sell in May and go away will be on every investor’s mind after Friday’s week performance. It’s always been when you sell that’s been the measure for this maxim to be effective. If so the high for SPY would have been May 21st at $167.17. Then there’s the reappearance of the Hindenburg Omen but that’s for another day’s discussion.
Weakness in gold and silver is leading to robust demand internationally as store of value buyers accumulate gold and silver on this dip. This is particularly the case in Asia where premiums remain robust and supply demand imbalances remain. The persistent strong demand of this week began on the price falls in April. This demand is clearly seen in the London gold and silver trading data released by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) yesterday. London gold trading jumped to a 20 month high in April and silver volumes surged 25% after the price falls led to an increase in physical buying, the LBMA said in a report. Trading in gold averaged 24.1 million ounces a day in the London market, the most for any month since gold reached record nominal highs in August 2011, the LBMA said in a statement yesterday as reported by Bloomberg. The 24.1 million ounces was a 10% increase on March when 21.8 million ounces a day were traded. Silver volume surged nearly 25% to 165.2 million ounces a day, up from 132.5 million ounces in March. There were 5,395 gold transactions on average per day, the highest on record, while silver transfers at 1,007 a day were the second-highest ever, according to the report.
- Record unemployment, low inflation underline Europe's pain (Reuters)
- The ponzi gets bigger and bigger: Spanish banks up sovereign bond holdings by more than 10% (FT)
- California Lawmakers Turn Down Moratorium on Fracking (BBG)
- China’s Growing Ranks of Elderly Beset by Depression, Study Says (BBG)
- Tokyo Prepares for a Once-in-200-Year Flood to Top Sandy (BBG)
- Morgan Stanley Cutting Correlation Unit Added $50 Billion (BBG)
- IMF warns over yen weakness (FT)
- Rising radioactive spills leave Fukushima fishermen floundering (Reuters)
- India records slowest growth in a decade (FT)
Jim Rogers was recently interviewed by GoldMoney and had plenty to say (as usual):
On Bernanke: "He doesn’t want to be around for the consequences of what he’s doing."
On Fiat: "Paper money doesn’t have a very glorious history, but again, nothing imposed by the government has a very long and glorious history."
On Europe's Crisis: "You can postpone it all you want, but the problems just mount."
On Capitalism: "You are not supposed to take money away from the competent people and give it to the incompetent so that the incompetent can compete with the competent people with their own money. That’s not the way capitalism is supposed to work."