Many times what "should" happen does not happen. For example, global stock markets "should" decline as the global economy free-falls into recession, as global recession is not exactly an ideal scenario for rising corporate sales and profits or demand for commodities. Yet global markets are by and large rising significantly. Sometimes what "should" happen is simply being delayed. In other cases, some other dynamic is at work. Stock market bulls, for example, say the "other dynamic" is global money-printing by central banks, and this "easing" will power stocks higher even as sales and profits sag. Analysts who believe fundamentals eventually over-ride monetary manipulation believe the stock market decline has only been delayed, not banished. A similar tug-of-war is playing out between those who feel the U.S. dollar "should" decline in the years ahead and those who see the dollar strengthening significantly.
Since the end of the Second World War, the major powers of the world have lived in relative peace. While there have been wars and conflicts — Vietnam, Afghanistan (twice), Iraq (twice), the Congo, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican and Colombian drug wars, the Lebanese civil war — these have been localised and at a much smaller scale than the violence that ripped the world apart during the Second World War. Hopefully, the threat of mutually assured destruction and the promise of commerce will continue to be an effective deterrent, and prevent any kind of global war from breaking out. Nothing would be more wonderful than the continuing spread of peace. Yet we must be guarded against complacency. Sixty years of relative peace is not the end of history.
We have mentioned the little-known Belgian economist's works a couple of times previously (here and here) with regard his exposing the serious flaws in the Bretton Woods monetary system and perfectly predicting it's inevitable demise. Triffin's 'Dilemma' was that when one nation's currency also becomes the world's reserve asset, eventually domestic and international monetary objectives diverge. Have you ever wondered how it's possible that the USA has run a trade deficit for 37 consecutive years? Have you ever considered the consequences on the value of your Dollar denominated assets if it eventually becomes an unacceptable form of payment to our trading partners? Thankfully for those of us trying to navigate the current financial morass, Robert Triffin did. Triffin's endgame is simple. A rapid diversification of reserves out of the dollar by foreign central banks. The blueprint for this alternative has been in plain sight since the late 1990's, and if you watch what central banks do – not what they say – you can benefit.
Alan Wheatley, Global Economics Correspondent for Reuters has written a very interesting article, 'Analysis: China's currency foray augurs geopolitical strains’ where he emphasizes China’s desire to wean out the US dollar’s currency reserve status. China is actively taking steps to phase out the US dollar which will decrease volatility in oil and commodity prices and deride the ‘exorbitant privilege' the USA commands as the issuer of the reserve currency at the centre of a post-war international financial architecture which is now failing. In 1971, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Connally said, "It's our currency and your problem". China is frustrated with what it sees as the US government’s mismanagement of the dollar, and is now actively promoting the cross-border use of its own currency, the yuan, or also called the renminbi, in trade and investment. China’s goal is to decrease transactions costs for Chinese importers and exporters. Zha Xiaogang, a researcher at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said Beijing wants to see a better-balanced international monetary system consisting of at least the dollar, euro and yuan and perhaps other currencies such as the yen and the Indian rupee. "The shortcomings of the current international monetary system pose a big threat to China's economy," he said. "With more alternatives, the margin for the U.S. would be greatly narrowed, which will certainly weaken the power basis of the U.S."
Bill Gross: The US Is A Debt Meth Addict - Unless The Fiscal Gap Is Closed Soon "The Damage Will Be Beyond Repair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/02/2012 07:37 -0400
The highlights from Bill Gross' latest monthly piece:
- Armageddon is not around the corner. I don’t believe in the imminent demise of the U.S. economy and its financial markets. But I’m afraid for them.
- Unless we begin to close this gap, then the inevitable result will be that our debt/GDP ratio will continue to rise, the Fed would print money to pay for the deficiency, inflation would follow and the dollar would inevitably decline. Bonds would be burned to a crisp and stocks would certainly be singed; only gold and real assets would thrive within the “Ring of Fire.”
- If the fiscal gap isn’t closed even ever so gradually over the next few years, then rating services, dollar reserve holding nations and bond managers embarrassed into being reborn as vigilantes may together force a resolution that ends in tears. The damage would likely be beyond repair.
- The U.S. and its fellow serial abusers have been inhaling debt’s methamphetamine crystals for some time now, and kicking the habit looks incredibly difficult.
We believe an unsustainable new global financial architecture that arose in response to the US and European financial crises has replaced an older, more sustainable, architecture. The old architecture was crystallized in Washington- and IMF-inspired policy responses to the numerous sovereign defaults, banking system failures, and currency collapses. Most importantly, the previous architecture recognized limits on fiscal and central bank balance sheets. The new architecture attempts to 'back', perhaps unconsciously, the entire liability side of the global financial system. This framing is consistent with a purely political—institutional stylized—fact that it is nearly impossible to penetrate the US political parties if the message is that there are limits to their power…or that their power requires great effort and sacrifice. This is why Keynesians (at least US ones) who argue there are no limits to a fiscal balance sheet are so popular with Democrats, and why monetarists (at least US ones) who argue there are no limits to a central bank balance sheet are popular with (a decreasing number of) Republicans. Party on! Again, nobody chooses hard-currency regimes – they are forced on non-credible policymakers. Let me put it more positively. If politicians want the power of fiat money, let alone the global reserve currency, they need to behave differently than they have - or the consequences for Gold are extraordinary.
What is it that makes Keynesians so insanely self destructive? Is it their mindless blind faith in the power of government? Their unfortunate ignorance of the mechanics of monetary stimulus? Their pompous self-righteousness derived from years of intellectual idiocy? Actually, I suspect all of these factors play a role. Needless to say, many of them truly believe that the strategy of fiat injection is viable, even though years of application have proven absolutely fruitless. Anyone with any sense would begin to question what kind of madness it takes to pursue or champion the mindset of the private Federal Reserve bank… Quantitative easing has shown itself to be impotent in the improvement of America’s economic situation. Despite four years of free reign in central banking, employment remains dismal in the U.S., the housing market continues its freefall, and, our national debt swirls like a vortex at the heart of the Bermuda Triangle. Despite this abject failure of Keynesian theory, the Federal Reserve is attempting once again to convince you, the happy-go-lucky American citizen, that somehow, this time around, everything will be “different”.
A whole lot of pundits are spending column inches trying to explain the cruel reality of the last forty years — stagnant wages for full-time male workers, falling wages for men as a whole, and a huge outgrowth of men who aren’t in the labour force. The question is why. Mainstream media pundits are suggesting that men are unsuited to the present economic landscape. It’s not at all the case that the United States is cutting back on industrial jobs because industry is less in demand. The United States still has plenty of demand for industry. America has cut back on industrial jobs because it has the ability to run huge trade deficits, through the dollar’s role as global reserve currency, and shipped its manufacturing industry abroad. Yet the present paradigm has severely damaged the prospects of young men, for whom a generation ago jobs in industry and manufacturing were once plentiful. Quantitative easing led to a jobs boom — in China, for Chinese industrial workers. And it seems unlikely that the industrial jobs are coming back any time soon.
The last time we looked at monthly Chinese imports of gold from Hong Kong in 2012, the comparable country in question was Portugal (whose citizens, if not central bank, incidentally have run out of gold to sell), because that is whose total gold holdings (at 382.5 tons) Chinese imports had just surpassed. Fast forward a month later, and the update is even more disturbing. In July, Chinese gold imports from HK, after two months of declines, have picked up once more and hit a 3-month high of 75.8 tons. While it is notable that this number is double the 38.1 tons imported a year prior, and that year-to-date imports are now a record 458.6 tons, well over four times greater than the seven month total in 2011 which was 103.9 tons, what is far more important is that in the first seven months of 2012 alone China has imported nearly as much gold as the total holdings of the hedge fund at the heart of the Eurozone, elsewhere known simply as the European Central Bank, and just as importantly considering the import run-rate has hardly slowed down in August, which data we will have in a few weeks, it is now safe to say that in 2012 alone China has imported more gold than the ECB's entire official 502.1 tons of holdings.
Gold’s seasonality is seen in the above charts which show how March, June and October are gold’s weakest months with actual losses being incurred on average in these months. Buying gold during the so-called summer doldrums has been a winning trade for most of the last 34 years. This is especially the case in the last eight years as gold averaged a gain of nearly 14% in just six months after the summer low. We tend to advise a buy and hold strategy for the majority of clients. For those who have a bit more of a risk appetite, an interesting strategy would be to buy at the start of September, sell at end of September and then buy back in on October 31st.
Russia continues to accumulate gold in its large foreign exchange reserves. The reserves include monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserve position at the IMF and foreign exchange. Russia’s central bank increased its gold holdings to 30.1 million troy ounces as of August 1st, from 29.5 million troy ounces a month earlier, according to a statement published on its website today. The gold reserves were valued at $48.7 billion at the end of last month, Bank of Russia said in a statement. Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves rose to $510.0 billion in the week to August 10 from $507.4 billion a week earlier, central bank data showed last Thursday. Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves were $498.6 billion at the end of 2011. This means that Russia now nearly has some 10% of its foreign exchange reserves in gold bullion.
Now that the "alternative energy" industry is in shambles following one after another solar company bankruptcy, as the realization that at current prices, alternative energy business models are still just too unsustainable, no matter how much public equity is pumped into them, more "traditional" companies have resumed circling the drain. First, it was Patriot Coal, which finally succumbed to reality a month ago. Now it is the turn of ATP Oil and Gas, which filed Chapter 11 in Texas last night. And sure enough, in a world in which nobody is to blame, and everything is someone else's fault, the CEO promptly made a case that he is blameless and it is all Obama's fault. According to Forbes: "The founder and chairman of [ATP Paul Bulmahn] wants the world to know that the Obama Administration—and its illegal ban on deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP disaster—is to blame for the implosion of his company. Not him. “It is all directly attributable to what the government did to us,” he rails. “This Administration has gone out of its way to create problems for my company, the company that I formed from scratch.”
The idea of “collapse”, social and financial, comes with an incredible array of hypothetical consequences ranging from public dissent and martial law, to the complete disintegration of infrastructure and the devolution of mankind into a swarm of mindless arm chewing cannibals. In an age of television nirvana and cinema overload, I have found that the collective unconscious of our culture has now defined what collapse is based only on the most narrow of extremes. If they aren’t being hunted down by machete wielding looters or swastika wearing jackboots, then the average American dupe figures that the country is not in much danger. Hollywood fantasy has blinded us to the tangible crises at our doorstep. In 2012, we still await that trigger event, which I believe will be the announcement of QE3 (or any unlimited stimulus program regardless of title), and the final debasement of the dollar. At the beginning of this year, I pointed out that we were likely to see such an announcement before 2012 was out, and it would seem that the private Federal Reserve is right on track. Last month, the Fed announced that it was formulating a plan to “expand its tool kit”.
Lately various media outlets have been swamped with stories and allegations of precious metal manipulation ranging from the arcane, to the bizarre to the outright ridiculous. At issue is not that these claims of price fraud are unfounded - they very well may be completely true - but without a notarized facsimile of an actual trade ticket signed by Brian Sack, or his replacement Simon Potter, or any of the BIS traders confirming they are indeed selling gold on behalf of the Fed, BOE, ECB, SNB or BOJ simply to keep the price of the metal down, what such constant factless accusations (and no, sorry, a chart showing that the price of gold may go up or go down sharply indicates merely that and nothing about the underlying factors for such a move) do is to habituate the broader public to the real issues surrounding precious metal, and other asset class, manipulation. So instead of searching for circumstantial evidence which one can easily find everywhere, we decided to go straight to the source. To do that we go back to a post we wrote back in September of 2009, based on an internal previously confidential Fed document, which conveniently enough explains everything vis-a-vis gold manipulation and leaves nothing to speculation or misinterpretation. Zero Hedge presents the smoking gun that may provide responses to all the various open questions regarding the Fed's Modus Operandi in the gold arena which answer the core question - motive - courtesy of a declassified memorandum, written by none other than the then Fed Chairman, and addressed to the president of the United States.
The conventional view looks at the domestic credit bubble, the trillions in derivatives and the phantom assets propping the whole mess up and concludes that the only way out is to print the U.S. dollar into oblivion, i.e. create enough dollars that the debts can be paid but in doing so, depreciate the dollar's purchasing power to near-zero. This process of extravagant creation of paper money is also called hyper-inflation. While it is compelling to see hyper-inflation as the only way out in terms of the domestic credit/leverage bubble, the dollar has an entirely different dynamic if we look at foreign exchange (FX) and foreign trade. Many analysts fixate on monetary policy as if it and the relationship of gold to the dollar are the foundation of our problems. These analysts often pinpoint the 1971 decision by President Nixon to abandon the gold standard as the start of our troubles. That decision certainly had a number of consequences, but 80% the dollar's loss of purchasing power occurred before the abandonment of dollar convertibility to gold.