Rogers took a swipe at the Fed, central banks money printing and rating agencies, while discussing his latest investment strategy
Though late to the party as usual, the proverbial man on the street – along with members of mainstream media and Wall Street heavyweights – is finally waking up to the decade-long, 700% increase in the price of gold, joining a growing buzz around the monetary metal. From questions whether gold is in a bubble to predictions that soaring prices are just around the corner, one thing is clear: a new phase of awareness for gold is upon us. How far might it move before these troubling times are over?
Financial contagion in Europe is pushing already fragile global economies towards recessions, and the risk of slipping into global recession are rising significantly. Indeed, as we have warned for many months, there is a real risk of a global Depression given the scale of the debt levels in most western countries and the massive imbalances globally. A senior Chinese official, Chinese Vice Premier Wang, said yesterday that a ‘chronic’ long term global recession is certain to happen and China must focus on domestic problems. While all the focus has been on Europe in recent weeks, markets may again focus on the not inconsequential matter of the appalling US fiscal position which could see further market volatility and the dollar come under pressure again. Washington's latest fractious effort to come to grips with its mounting debt looks set to end in failure today as negotiators look set to announce they have failed to reach a deal. The Congressional ‘supercommittee ‘charged with cutting the US government's crushing $15 trillion debt looks set to admit failure which should support gold. SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, reported a rise of 3.631 tons from a day earlier to 1,293.088 tons in its holdings, the highest in more than three months. The ETF witnessed an inflow of 24.422 tons last week, the biggest one-week rise in holdings since mid-August. Commerzbank say they expect to see gold trading at $1,800/oz by the end of the year. Barclays says it is sticking with a fairly bullish call for gold and says it sees the price at $1,875/oz in Q4, according to Reuters. Deutsche Bank say they expect periods of risk aversion to remain through 2012 and their strongest conviction trade remains long precious metals and specifically gold, according to Reuters.
This is Jim O'Neill in about the most pessimistic light that his genetic makeup, not to mention GSAM employment contract, will allow him: "For a couple of days this week, it actually felt as though Europe’s post-war project was nearing the end of the road and, as a result, emotions have been running high. For those that never believed it was a good idea, some have been expressing a mood of jubilance. For many involved in its creation, this has not been a good week. I got more caught up in the middle of this than usual as a result of a newspaper interview, where the headline distorted what I had actually said, claiming that we were predicting a break up. While this was not a fair reflection, I did say that some major issues were now on the table and needed to be recognized. The EMU, as created, has not really worked and needs to change. It is quite clear that many countries should not have been allowed to join. It is also clear that the Growth and Stability Pact has not worked. Policymakers need to be more open in at least acknowledging this, and then doing something about it. If all of this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Italy’s issues have become front and centre. Italy is no Greece. Indeed, although the BRICs can create another Italy in 2012, Italy is close to 4 times the combined size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Its total debt is close to 25 pct of the Euro Area GDP. Quite simply, Italy cannot be allowed to stay in the position it found itself this week....while I can see the case for an EMU without some others, and despite all of Italy’s complications, I can’t see an EMU without Italy. At the same time, I can’t see Italy sustaining life with 6-7 pct 10-year bond yields. So something has to give. Let’s see what Italy brings over the weekend, and how Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels and the rest of us all react."
They say a week is a long time in politics. Last week, quite frankly, a day seemed a long time with the rapidly unfolding events surrounding the European sovereign situation and the G20 summit generating a lot of market volatility. Greek PM Papandreou survived the vote of confidence on Friday with a majority of three and is now trying to form a government of National Unity. With opposition leader Samaras still calling for elections, this political impasse may well continue for the time being. Greece is widely considered to ‘run out of money’ in mid-December; while this may continue to unnerve the market over the possibility of a hard default, a month is probably an eon in politics and a lot could change very quickly. The same could be said for developments in Italy. PM Berlusconi remains under pressure and media reports suggest he has lost his parliamentary majority after a party rebellion on Friday. European and international policy makers continue to pressure Italy to undertake the necessary reforms to reduce the country’s debt level. The IMF will step in to monitor Italy’s efforts to implement austerity and growth-boosting measures, but the fund’s offer of a loan was rejected by the prime minister. Relatedly, over the weekend, ECB’s Mersch was quoted as saying that the ECB had debated whether to continue buying Italian debt if a step-up in the reform effort was not forthcoming.
Gold prices are mixed today as markets remain on edge due to increasing divisions amongst European leaders on how to solve the intractable Eurozone debt crisis. There continues to be very strong demand for physical bullion globally and support is strong at the $1,600 level due to this demand. The sharp fall of copper yesterday, by 6%, is an indication that the US, Chinese and indeed global economy is very fragile and may soon begin to contract. Physical demand in Asia, mainly India and China, has entered the traditional peak season with Indian festivals and the increasingly important Chinese New Year. This is reflected in premiums in Asia which remain good. There are reports of massive physical buying out of China on gold’s fall close to $1,600 yesterday. The most active Shanghai gold futures traded at a premium of more than $10 over spot prices earlier today. The contract stood at 335.22 yuan a gram, or $1,634 an ounce, at a premium of $3.
It's A Boat, It's A Plane, It's The Great Wall Of China: Part Of Symbolic Chinese Landmark CollapsesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/20/2011 14:02 -0500
It's one thing for China to have a rather embarrassing episode during a boat launch, or even when demonstrating the pride of its airforce. But when a part of the Great Wall Of China itself collapses, literally, you know the proponents of the Chinese Soft-Landing scenario (leaving aside that copper is now down 10% for the week) may want to reassess their thesis. From China Daily, "The damaged portion of the Great Wall is located in a remote area near the county of Laiyuan in Hebei Province, about 200 kilometers southwest of Beijing. The area is home to a dozen small mines, with some operating as close as 100 meters to the centuries-old wall. Villagers and local cultural heritage protection officials told Xinhua that about 700 meters of the wall, which was built during the reign of Emperor Wanli during the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620), had already collapsed, and more walls and even towers are likely to collapse if the mining continues unchecked." And while this is admittedly a symbolic development, we follow up this news with a piece from SocGen's Albert Edwards who has some quite factual observations on why China is now in stall speed and has little hope of a Hollywood ending.
When it comes to the gyrations in the stock market, there are those who, quite foolishly as of late, believe that market moves are driven by such arcania as fundamentals and/or technicals, or, much more relevant lately, are purely a function of overall liquidity in the system. Which brings us to China where unlike the US, the stock market has been in full on collapse mode until last Monday when the government, rightfully so, decided to bail out its own banks while letting European ones fend for themselves. Yet, unfortunately for China bulls such as Jim O'Neill, we have some bad news: the core indicator of overall systemic liquidity, M2, just tumbled to a 9 year low as of Friday, printing at 13% on expectations of 14%. Not only that, but the direct loans in the financial system, dropped far below the 550Bn CNY estimate, at just 470Bn, the lowest since December 2009. Granted, this is all "on the books" stuff (yes, we know, we know, communist regime and goal-seeked econometrics - check), so who the hell knows what is happening with the uncontrollable shadow banking system. Well, nobody, but since robots only have overt data to play with, regardless of how manipulated it may be, the following two charts will probably be a wake up call to anyone expecting a China driven "risk renaissance" absent the PBoC deciding to do away with its inflation-fighting regime, and launching into print speed ahead (something several hundred millions migrant workers would not be delighted with).
The last time (May 2010) when the head of the worst performing division at Goldman, GSAM's Jim O'Neill openly taunted the market skeptics ("Anyhow, dear grizzlies....bet your [sic] worried about today’s rally? See u later.") the market proceeded to implode with such ferocity (not to mention see the first and biggest SEC fine charged against his firm for CDO rigging) that it took QE2 to prevent a depressionary relapse. Now, following the latest two week surge in risk assets, driven as we currently speculate primarily due to a FX repatriation out of French banks on asset liquidation and USD to EUR conversion, Jim O'Neill has once again crawled out of his shell and has gone "bear hunting." However, so as not to jinx the ongoing melt up on proceeding liquidations, he is far more subdued and rhetorically answer himself: "So are the bears beaten? As tempting as it is, alas I think not - at least yet." He continues, putting the onus of the growth thesis once again squarely on China: "While the Euro challenges are immense, I don’t see them as being necessarily of the power to drag down either China or the US, or both. While it is perfectly possible, the US and China have coped perfectly well with Japan’s weakness for a long period, so I don’t see why they can’t cope with a struggling Europe. A collapsing Europe would be a different story, but a struggling Europe, that shouldn’t be too demanding. As for Europe, the bar has been raised these past few weeks, as markets have recovered and expectations of a Big Bang increased. There are all sorts of dilemmas remaining, ranging from Berlusconi’s tentative hold of power in Italy to the divergence of stances on the right broad European solution. What we really need from Europe is to just not implode, that would be a problem for the rest of us and the markets." Unfortunately for Jim, he appears to have missed the "paradigm shift" when few if any buy the China as world savior phenotype any more, and instead most finally see what Jim Chanos and other fringe bloggers have been claiming for year. As for the bears, Jim, just like last time, fear not - the bears will once again have the last laugh.
Developing China’s M2 money supply has been rising by a large 20% and Russia’s by a very large 30%. Even developed countries such as Switzerland have seen money supply growth of 25%. Japan’s M2 is gradually moving higher after the ‘Lost Decade’ and after recent events exacerbating an already fragile situation. Global money supply growth is increasing by 8%-9% per annum. Meanwhile annual gold production is less than 1.5% per annum. We looked at money supply growth and charts regarding global money supply, debt levels etc in a comprehensive article in early August (‘Is Gold a Bubble? 14 Charts, the Facts and the Data Suggest Not’ - http://www.goldcore.com/goldcore_blog/gold-bubble-14-charts-facts-and-da... ) when gold was trading at $1,670/oz or much the same price level as today. The charts and conclusions remain apposite. In order to fight economic problems brought about due to too much debt, debt based paper and electronic currency has been created at historically high levels. There is no sign of this abating any time soon given the scale of the global financial and economic crisis.
Last week, a fund rumored to be on deathwatch, was Toronto-based, gold and energy-focused hedge fund Salida Capital (whose gold exposure, in addition to Paulson's, were both factors in the rapid drop in the price of gold last week, following concerns that it was being liquidated in the open market - for more on Salida's gold exposure, read the attached letter). The fund promptly came out and refuted said rumors, however upon review of its monthly P&L, we are somewhat skeptical about its survival chances, even if, in principle, we agree with the fund's investment philosophy. The reason for our skepticism is that Salida was down a whopping 37.2% in September, and 49.4% YTD, a collapse which only compares to that of Paulson's Advantage Plus, and demonstrates vividly just how much of a misnomer the name "hedge" can be when applied to members of the asset management industry. What is worse, however, is that the reason attributed for this epic collapse is amateur hour 101, and any LPs should be far more concerned by the explanation provided for this underperformance than the actual underperformance itself.
When we reported that Bank of America will be the first bank to institute debit card fees we made the following less than insightful observation: "The problem is that the bulk of depositor clients will simply walk away from Bank of America (which had $1,038 billion in deposits as of June 30), and any other institutions that piggy back on this, and from a game theory perspective, everyone has to do it, or nobody will do it." Well, Citigroup, which had no other choice, has just decided to follow in BofA's footsteps, which i) proves there is indeed a collusive move of desperation by the bank cartel, which in a normal country would see at least a statement from Eric Rip Van Holder, and ii) our thesis about America's impatience with petty theft - they are more than ok with grand scale larson such as that by the Fed via shadow inflation and currency devaluation, but when it comes to paying up an additional $5/month, well, just look at Netflix, which instituted a $6/month price hike two months ago... and is now fighting for survival. As for the exemption requirements, they will likely be the same as Bank of Countrywide Lynch's: either have a mortgage with the TBTF behemoth, or have $20k in a deposit account - both which will likely not be much of a help to 90%+ of the bank clients. The biggest problem is that suddenly at risk are $1.9 trillion in deposits - $1 trillion at BofA, $866 billion at Citi. While the financial crisis did little to dent the banks' deposit buffer, it will be highly ironic if it is an act of the banks themselves that begins the great bank run that resets it all...
I've been asked to comment on the work of a few noted deflationists who are calling for a top in commodity prices here. Their argument is pretty clear cut: Because inflation is a function of available money plus credit (their definition), and because credit has fallen, deflation is what comes next. When looking about for things to deflate in price, commodities are an obvious candidate for attention because they have risen so much over the past decade. In this view, three things have to be true: i) Demand for commodities has to fall below supply. After all, as long as demand exceeds supply, prices will typically rise. ii) Money, including credit that would normally be used to buy commodities, has to shrink. That's the definition of deflation that we're analyzing here. iii) People's preference for money has to be greater than their preference for 'things,' with commodities being very obvious 'things.' That is, faith in money has to be there or people will prefer to store their wealth elsewhere. These are all just versions of the old supply/demand argument for commodity prices, except that our consideration also includes the important element of the Austrian economic view of demand for money.