Real Interest Rates
When we wrote Part I of this paper in June 2009, the total U.S. public debt was just north of $10 trillion. Since then, that figure has increased by more than 50% to almost $16 trillion, thanks largely to unprecedented levels of government intervention. Once the exclusive domain of central bankers and policy makers, acronyms such as QE, LTRO, SMP, TWIST, TARP, TALF have found their way into the mainstream. With the aim of providing stimulus to the economy, central planners of all stripes have both increased spending and reduced taxes in most rich countries. But do these fiscal and monetary measures really increase economic activity or do they have other perverse effects?... The politically favoured option of financial repression and negative real interest rates has important implications. Negative real interest rates are basically a thinly disguised tax on savers and a subsidy to profligate borrowers. By definition, taxes distort incentives and, as discussed earlier, discourage savings.... The current misconception that our economic salvation lies with more stimulus is both treacherous and self-defeating. As long as we continue down this path, the “solution” will continue to be the problem. There is no miracle cure to our current woes and recent proposals by central planners risk worsening the economic outlook for decades to come.
While some have talked of the 'credit-easing' possibility a la Bank of England (which Goldman notes is unlikely due to low costs of funding for banks already, significant current backing for mortgage lending, and bank aversion to holding hands with the government again), there remains a plethora of options available for the Fed. From ZIRP extensions, lower IOER, direct monetization of fiscal policy needs, all the way to explicit USD devaluation (relative to Gold); BofAML lays out the choices, impacts, and probabilities in this handy pocket-size cheat-sheet that every FOMC member will be carrying with them next week.
There have been quite a few stories comparing the post-WWII American economic "renaissance" with expectations that the same confluence of beneficial circumstances may repeat now, resulting in the same benign outcome. Many of these stories touch upon the key points debated in today's everyday politics: taxes, massive debt overhang, and the treatment of private business. Sadly, most of these stories are also just that: mythical representations of an idealized reality, which however have no analogy to what actually happened in the 1950s. In other words, none of the conditions that were in place in 1950 which allowed net US debt to decline from 80% of GDP to just 46% in one decade, are here now.
Just two weeks after the 'Back To The Future'-Day hoax, Citi's Global Head of International Economics Nathan Sheets, notes that, the experience with fiscal deleveraging after World War II offers some striking lessons, as well as some important caveats, for the United States in the present episode. With the debt again on a high and rising trajectory, even if the headwinds that are now afflicting U.S. aggregate demand quickly abate, economic growth is unlikely to be as strong as that recorded in the late-1940s and 1950s. At the very least, demographics are less supportive. Similarly, while we cannot dismiss the risk that the Federal Reserve may stumble as it eventually exits from its unconventional policies. The key, Sheets concludes, is to find a path for expenditures and revenues that avoids the so-called “fiscal cliff” in the near term but that firmly reduces the trajectory of the debt over the medium to long run. Without such a solution, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the vagaries of sentiment in the bond market, thus opening the door to an unwelcome set of severe financial risks.
On occasion of the publication of his new gold report (read here), Ronald Stoeferle talked with financial journalist Lars Schall about fundamental gold topics such as: "financial repression"; market interventions; the oil-gold ratio; the renaissance of gold in finance; "Exeter’s Pyramid"; and what the true "value" of gold could actually look like. Via Matterhorn Asset Management.
Gold Report 2012: Erste's Comprehensive Summary Of The Gold Space And Where The Yellow Metal Is GoingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/11/2012 11:21 -0500
Erste Group's Ronald Stoeferle, author of the critical "In gold we trust" report (2011 edition here) has just released the 6th annual edition of this all encompassing report which covers every aspect of the gold space. What follows are 120 pages of fundamental information which are a must read for anyone interested in the yellow metal. From the report: "The foundation for new all-time-highs is in place. As far as sentiment is concerned, we definitely see no euphoria with respect to gold. Skepticism, fear, and panic are never the final stop of a bull market. In the short run, seasonality seems to argue in favor of a continued sideways movement, but from August onwards gold should enter its seasonally best phase. USD 2,000 is our next 12M price target. We believe that the parabolic trend phase is still ahead of us, and that our long-term price target of USD 2,300/ounce could be on the conservative side."
The idea that short-duration bond funds are a good bet due to “the FED’s complete control with regards to suppressing and maintaining short-term interest rates” is completely wrong on every level; they’ve been a losing investment in real terms for most of the last 5 years, and the Fed is determined to keep it that way. The Fed’s control over nominal interest rates is precisely the reason that I wouldn’t want to invest in treasuries; not only has it consistently made bonds into a real losing proposition, but it also creates a good deal of systemic currency risk. Simply, the Fed will — in the pursuit of low-rates — monetise to the point of endangering the dollar’s already-under-threat reserve currency status. The only things that would turn bonds into a winning proposition — rising interest rates, or deflation — are anathema to the Fed, and explicitly opposed by every dimension of current Fed policy. Of course, creating artificial demand for treasuries to control nominal rates has blowback; if the buyers are not there, the Fed must inflate the currency. Hiding inflation is hard, so it is preferable to a central bank that old money is used; this is why Japan has mandated that financial institutions buy treasuries, and why I fear that if we continue on this trajectory, that the United States and other Western economies may do the same thing.
There are now reports that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to clamp down on gold bullion coin sales by banks as the rising bullion imports are adding pressure to the current account deficit and weakening the rupee.
Western central banks and mints will not be clamping down on gold bullion coin sales in the near future as demand for gold and silver bullion coins fell in Q1 2012.
Turkey raised its reported gold holdings by another 2% in the month of May. Turkey’s gold holding rose by 5.7 tonnes in May to total 245 tonnes, International Monetary Fund data showed, making it the latest in a string of countries to increase gold bullion reserves this year. Turkey has allowed banks to hold more of their reserves in gold to provide extra liquidity. The central bank this month raised the proportion of reserve requirements that can be held in foreign exchange to 50 percent from 45 percent, while the limit for gold was increased to 25 percent from 20 percent. The changes will add as much as $2.2 billion to gold reserves. Gold accounts for about 9.1 percent of Russia’s total reserves, 5.1 percent of Ukraine’s and 15 percent of Kazakhstan’s, according to the World Gold Council. That compares with more than 70 percent for the U.S. and Germany, the biggest bullion holders, according to Bloomberg figures. Kazakhstan plans to raise the amount of gold it holds as part of its reserves to 20 percent, Bisengaly Tadzhiyakov, deputy chairman of the country’s central bank, said earlier this month.
One of the things that’s really unique about this part of the world is having access to so many people with first-hand experience of living under Soviet rule. It’s a bizarre thing to say, but the stories they have to tell are extraordinary. ast night I had dinner with some friends, including one woman who was just a child at the end of World War II. She explained to me that her family had been wealthy landowners near the capital city… until the Soviet-controlled government came in, confiscated all of their property, and shipped the adults off to Siberia. “There were so many opportunities to leave beforehand,” she explained, ”but they just never thought things would ever get that bad here. Everyone saw what happened in other countries, but my family never expected that it would happen to them.” While most people probably aren’t going to end up in Siberia anytime soon, the lesson is still valuable.
A land grab shrouded in a banking takeover, wrapped in a financial crisis "rescue." As always, insiders get first dibs. (And, yes, there is an MF Global connection.)
Central bank gold demand remains robust as central banks continue to diversify out of the euro and the dollar. Further central bank demand is confirmed in the news this morning that Kazakhstan plans to raise the share of gold in its international reserves from 12% to 15%. So announced central bank Deputy Chairman Bisengaly Tadzhiyakov to reporters today in the capital, Astana. “We’ve already signed contracts for 22 tons,” Tadzhiyakov said. Bloomberg report that immediate-delivery gold was little changed at $1.620.41 an ounce at 10:50 a.m. in Moscow, valuing 22 metric tons of gold at about $1.2 billion. “The bank is ready to buy when suppliers are ready to sell,” Tadzhiyakov said. Kazakhstan said yesterday it will cut its holdings in the euro by a sixth. It was reported in the Reuters Global Gold Forum that the central bank buys all the gold produced in Kazakhstan and owned 98.19T at the end of April, according to the IMF's most recent international finance statistics report. Meanwhile, supply issues remain and South African gold production continues to plummet. South African gold production fell 12.8% in April from a year earlier, Juan -Pierre Terblanche, a spokesman for Statistics South Africa, told Bloomberg.
The global monetary system which has evolved and morphed over the past century but always in the direction of easier, cheaper and more abundant credit, may have reached a point at which it can no longer operate efficiently and equitably to promote economic growth and the fair distribution of its benefits. Future changes, which lie on a visible horizon, may not be so beneficial for our ocean’s oversized creatures. Both the lower quality and lower yields of previously sacrosanct debt therefore represent a potential breaking point in our now 40-year-old global monetary system. Neither condition was considered feasible as recently as five years ago. Now, however, with even the United States suffering a credit downgrade to AA+ and offering negative 200 basis point real policy rates for the privilege of investing in Treasury bills, the willingness of creditor whales – as opposed to debtors – to support the existing system may soon descend. Such a transition occurs because lenders either perceive too much risk or refuse to accept near zero-based returns on their investments. “There she blows,” screamed Captain Ahab and similarly intentioned debt holders may soon follow suit, presenting the possibility of a new global monetary system in future years, or if not, one which is stagnant, dysfunctional and ill-equipped to facilitate the process of productive investment.
PIMCO vs GARY SHILLING - ROUND 1
Gold Has Fallen Due To:
- Gold’s recent weakness is in large part due to a period of recent dollar strength. While gold in dollar terms has fallen by 25% ($1,920 to $1,540), gold in euro terms is only down by 14% (from €1,374/oz to €1,210/oz).
- Oil weakness – since the end of February, oil has fallen from $111 a barrel to below $95 a barrel (NYMEX) today. Gold and oil are often correlated and many buy gold to hedge inflation that comes from higher oil prices.
- Gold’s weakness may also have been due to wholesale liquidation in all risk markets due another bout of "risk off" which has seen global equities and commodities all come under pressure.
- Physical demand from retail investors in the western world has slowed down as did demand from India in recent weeks due to the increase in taxes on bullion (since removed).
- Much of the selling has been technical in nature – whereby more speculative elements on the COMEX who trade gold on a proprietary basis have been selling gold due to the recent price weakness and the short term trend clearly being down. This has led to speculative longs now having their smallest positions since December 2008.