From the moment we all got to peek behind the over-leveraged financial system reality thank to Lehman's collapse, the-powers-that-be have made every attempt to stop this whole thing unraveling. Eric Sprott humbly suggests, when the CNBC anchor in the following clip questions recent gold price action as evidence of something wrong in his thesis, that just as Jim Grant opines, "All markets are manipulated" and that Central Banks (who are desperately trying to revive the dying system in every extreme monetary scheme possible) simply do not want to see the price of gold rising. He then notes that Silver is likely to be the investment of the next decade (although offers no strong thesis other than levered gold). Shrugging off the obfuscation from Omaha, "People who sell paper gold and paper silver can rule the markets in the short-term but physical participants will win the day in the long-run". Detailing some fundamental drivers for gold's advance, as the investment of the last decade and so for those three gentlemen (Buffett, Gates, & Munger) who missed it, I don't know that I should respect their opinion at this point in time.
The dulcet tones of Jim Grant provided much food for thought on Tom Keene's Bloomberg Radio show this morning. While the interest rate observer did not change his tack on the extreme experimentation of world's central banks, he did have some new perspective on the incredible moral hazard (or unintended consequence) that is being created. One of his main criticisms is the incredible arrogance and conceit of a central banking system that believes it can see the future and thwart things before they come to pass, as he notes "I blame the central bankers for confusing the black art of central planning with the traditional art of central banking". He fully expects more easing by the Fed and its friends as he awaits their response to this latest stumble in the markets but what is most evident to him is that "The Fed owns the stock market" since they have financially repressed all investors into risky assets they now have been forced to have a moral responsibility to keep us safe in those assets - incredibly! The Fed is more likely than not to intervene with still more money-printing in any effort to keep this bubble afloat. What Jim focuses on is the morality in economics and the current immoral policies that have very bad consequences.
Munch's "The Scream" may be all the rage today, but to Jim Grant, in his latest interview on Bloomberg TV, the record price paid for the painting is not so much a manifestation of modern art as one of modern currency: "This is the flight into things from paper" . Thus begins the latest polemic by the Grant's Interest Rate Observer author whose topic is as so often happens, the Federal Reserve (for his latest definitive expostulatin on why the Fed should be disbanded and why a gold standard should return, delivered from the heart of Liberty 33 itself, read here). The world in which we invest is a world of immense wall to wall manipulations by our friends in Washington. And people get off on Goldman Sachs because it has done this and this, it is pulling wires... The Federal Reserve is the giant squid of squids, it is the vampire squid of vampire squids."
The Fed’s promise to use more QE should the economy falter is supporting gold.
The global economic picture remains grim, with euro zone economic sentiment falling more than
expected in April and the US job market recovery showing signs of a slowdown.
Apple earnings and the tech boom and indeed possible tech bubble remains one of the primary
drivers of continuing irrational exuberance and risk appetite.
The poor and deteriorating economic backdrop is gold supportive.
The bow-tie-and-bespectacled Jim Grant once again takes the centrally-planned 'Office of Unintended Consequence' (aka The Fed) to task in a thoughtful exchange with Capital Account's Lauren Lyster. Reflecting on his recent opportunity to speak directly to various Fed officials, he found one particular question (on the perceived 'mass starvation' that occurred in the brutal earlier Depression beginning in 1920 which ended rapidly without the need for monetary stimulation) most disturbing in its summation of the central bank's 'Atlas Complex' - or how would we get up and go to work in the morning without them. The attitude of our Monetary Priesthood, he analogizes, is that unless they are active in their prayers and devotions, who knows what might happen? Grant goes on to discuss the hypocrisy of Bernanke (noting the importance of free market prices to his students and yet controlling interest rates overtly in the market-place) and highlights interest rates role as the traffic light signal in a market economy providing a critical input to our perception of value in stocks, bonds, real estate, Silicon Valley Startups, and so on and because these rates are manipulated we live and invest in a hall-of-mirrors leaving us with a distorted vision of the real-world. He notes that Americans, as typically recklessly joyous investors in growth, "remain in a miasma of anxiety due to the extreme unpredictability of policy action and this is what creates the tail risk of doubt and apprehension." Looking to the future he sees the constitutionality of Obamacare and the elections as a critical test in the war against supply and demand that is being waged by our central bankers and government.
What we need to understand is that we are in one of the most dangerous phases of this crisis at the moment. The priests of fiat are being attacked from all sides. People have awoken to the Fed and how criminal and deceitful this organization is and the existential threat it poses to economic freedom and hence human liberty. The arguments against the Fed are blistering and the only rebuttal the Fed has is to spout the same old nonsense like “we saved the world” or some trite derivative of this fallacy. The only thing they saved are untalented speculators from their bad bets. What the Fed has systematically done is literally transfer all of the bad debts and bets from the banks to the taxpayer. We are living this reality to this day. This fact is becoming increasingly understood throughout society, hence the emergence of the tea party and then last year’s Occupy Wall Street movement. So the thing I want my readers to really internalize is that the Fed and indeed TPTB generally are getting slaughtered in the intellectual arena and they know it. As a result, they feel cornered and will thus act increasingly aggressive to prove they are right and everyone else is wrong.
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.
In the not quite 100 years since the founding of your institution, America has exchanged central banking for a kind of central planning and the gold standard for what I will call the Ph.D. standard. I regret the changes and will propose reforms, or, I suppose, re-reforms, as my program is very much in accord with that of the founders of this institution. Have you ever read the Federal Reserve Act? The authorizing legislation projected a body “to provide for the establishment of the Federal Reserve banks, to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper and to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, and for other purposes.” By now can we identify the operative phrase? Of course: “for other purposes.” As you prepare to mark the Fed’s centenary, may I urge you to reflect on just how far you have wandered from the intentions of the founders? The institution they envisioned would operate passively, through the discount window. It would not create credit but rather liquefy the existing stock of credit by turning good-quality commercial bills into cash— temporarily. This it would do according to the demands of the seasons and the cycle. The Fed would respond to the community, not try to anticipate or lead it. It would not override the price mechanism— as today’s Fed seems to do at every available opportunity—but yield to it.
Jim Grant is simply brilliant in this must watch interview with CNBC's Bartiromo, which we won't spoil with commentary, suffice to provide the following pearl of an exchange:Maria Bartiromo: "What are the alternatives?" Jim Grant: "Capitalism is an alternative for what we have now. I highly recommend it." Maria: "We all do." Grant: "No we don't." Maria: "The Federal Reserve may not." Grant: "We ought to be discussing an intelligent move to a sound currency by which i mean a currency that is based on a standard and not at the whim and the discretion of a bunch of mandarins sitting around Washington D.C." In other news, Joseph Stalin is now delighted that Ben Bernanke has decided to shoulder the legacy of central planning and is firmly committed to proving that where Vissarionovich failed, the ChairSatan will succeed.
While much of the focus has been on Paulson & Co., the hedge fund founded by billionaire John Paulson, cutting its stake in the SPDR Gold Trust by 15% in the fourth quarter, possibly of more importance is the fact that PIMCO, the Texas Teacher Retirement System and George Soros all increased their holdings of the biggest exchange-traded product backed by gold. Paulson cut his gold ETF bullion holdings by about 600 million dollars in Q4, a reduction that was likely driven by client redemption needs as he and his fund remain upbeat on gold – primarily due to inflation concerns. Paulson’s reduction in SPDR was offset by other important buyers such as PIMCO, which oversees $1.36 trillion and is home to the world's biggest bond fund and significant institutional buying from the likes of the Texas Teacher Retirement System and billionaire investor George Soros. ‘Bond King’, Bill Gross recently wrote about gold as a “store of value” and PIMCO’s allocation to GLD may be ongoing as they seek to diversify their portfolios and hedge against inflation. Soros, who once suggested gold was or would be "the ultimate asset bubble," raised his stake in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), a gold-backed exchanged-traded fund, to 85,450 shares, up from 48,350 shares in the period. Soros, who had disclosed call and put options on the gold fund in the prior period, reported no such investments in the fourth quarter. Soros’ GLD position is worth a mere $13 million, however it suggests that he is not as bearish on gold as portrayed and that he sees further upside for gold.
James Grant, of Grant's Interest Rate Observer makes some thought-provoking statements in his must-listen Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene today. While noting America's exceptionalism (h/t Clint Eastwood?), he perhaps doesn't mean all Americans as he takes the Fed and Treasury to task over their actions in recent years (and in fact for decades). His long-held view that rates should be higher and follow generational cycles raises concerns for him that government intervention is in fact 'prolonging the symptoms' of the recession. In considering Tom Keene's well-thought-out question of why the US does not take advantage of low rates and issue exceptionally long-dated bonds, Grant agrees with the odd premise that they do not but then goes on to what would be sounder policy. "Why not issue bonds backed by gold bullion? Gold is a better money and is grounded in something besides the power of the people that print the dollar bills." The interview goes on to discuss population growth as a more potent 'fix' for housing in the US than QE, that the US is a preferable investment environment (given valuations) than Germany or Japan, the drastic drop in NYSE volumes, and the "leeching out of excitement, hope, and expectation of improvement (particularly for the young)." His compare and contrast of the 1920-21 depression to the current Great Recession (which seems not to end), focused on the fiscal and monetary actions, is an eye opener that its just possible the present-day orthodoxy is wrong. Urging that we maintain our sense of shock at the size of our 'peacetime' deficits, Grant worries that we are in a secular stagnation.
Can Austerity Work?
To print or not to print: the choice of whether to open the European Pandora's box, which as we suggested two months ago is an interesting but ultimately moot thought experiment, has suddenly become the only talking point for TV pundits desperate for eyeballs and suckers to buy their books, who are now experts not only on monetary policy but European monetary policy. And while 99% of these empty chatterboxes should be promptly muted, one person whose opinion we value in any regard is that of Jim Grant. Earlier today, with Bloomberg TV's Deirdre Bolton, he discussed not only the expected ECB response to the ever worsening contagion (while the ECB bought Italian bonds in the open market, and potentially primary against its charter, it is prohibited from buying French bonds which is why the OAT-Bund spread closed at record wides), but all the other developments in the insolvent continent. Here are some of the key sounbdbites, and, of course, the full clip.
Jim Grant, whose Grant's Interest Rate Observer has been one the world's most informative premium newsletters since 1983, has long been one of Zero Hedge's favorite commentators, not least due to his convergent ideas on monetary policy and the role of central planning in the world, which as Arthemis Capital presented very vividly last week, is the sole marginal decider of risk in the world's capital markets (and thus the most critical shadow political force the world, or rather its bankers, has ever unleashed upon itself). So while we await any news out of Greece, however non-eventful they may be, and at best will see the placement of one Pap ("G"), with another Pap (the "L", who as we profiled is nothing but yet another puppet of the Federal Reserve), here is a compilation of James Grant's best moments on money, banking, central banking, gold and the Federal Reserve System, courtesy of Gresham's Law. It is no wonder that Ron Paul recently said that he would choose James Grant as Fed Chairman if elected.