Toppling central banks is a messy business.
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.
In a post entitled 'Mugabenomics: Inflation in UK Higher than in Zimbabwe,' Guido Fawkes points out how the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable once warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics.” This was prior to coming to power and a swift u-turn which would make even the most slippery politician proud. Remember when Vince Cable warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics”? Vince flip-flopped on that even before he joined the coalition. Guido Fawkes then reminds its readers about the time when George Osborne said “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed.” Alas as the blog rightly warns, "In government Osborne has overseen the printing of more money than any other Chancellor in British history. A quarter of the national debt – all this government’s overspending – has been bought by the Bank of England via QE." “So it is not a shock that inflation in Zimbabwe (3.63%) is now lower than inflation in the UK (3.66%, August 2011-July 2012).” Those who have been warning about this monetary madness for some years are gradually being proved right
Gold reached highs in euros and Swiss francs yesterday, in London trading it hit EUR 1,379.60/oz compared to EUR 1,375/oz last September. In Swiss Francs gold traded at CHF 1,666/oz. Europeans have been viewing scenes of violence and riots from protestors in Madrid and Athens over the past few days. Barclays Plc. announced yesterday it was opening its own London vault to store gold and other precious metals due to demand from their clients. Investment banks have readjusted price targets upward in the past few days with some calling for gold at $2,000 and higher in the next few months. This signals that the recent rally of the euro against the dollar was largely due to the poor US monetary and fiscal situation and the greenback’s weakness and not due to any great confidence in the single currency per se.
SNB bond-buying is "exacerbating" the gap between borrowing costs for stable countries like Germany and the rest of the 17-nation euro zone.
Gold has now reached all-time record highs in terms of the Euro, Swiss Franc, and Brazilian Real. Gold in USD is up 90% from the March 2009 equity lows and up 50-65% in the rest of the major fiat currencies.
According to data released by ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) new passenger car registrations fell 8.9% in August after a decline of 7.8% in July. In 2011, Germany produced 5.8 million passenger cars, of which 77% (4.5m) were exported, making cars and parts the most valuable export good (EUR 185bn). A heavily export-dependent German automotive industry looks vulnerable to setbacks in important markets.
Bernanke took the plunge yesterday by embarking on QE3 or what would be better described as “Currency Debasement 3”. Improving the U.S. job market and therefore economy was the reason given for the extremely radical measures. However, the scale of the open ended monetary commitments suggests the Fed is worried about another Great Depression and an economic collapse. The move was described as "stunningly bold" by some analysts as it is "open ended" with Bernanke pledging to print or electronically create, with no time limit, an extra $40 billion every single month until the labour market improves. This is the frightening vista we have been warning of for some time. It means that should the US economy enter a recession and or depression, which still seems very likely, that the Fed will continue printing money and debasing the dollar thereby leading to dollar devaluation and inflation - potentially virulent inflation on a par with or worse than that seen in the 1970's. We had long said that QE3 was inevitable - the question was when rather than if. Indeed, we had said that given Bernanke's closeness to Wall Street we expected that QE4, QE5 etc. were likely. The "open ended" nature of this new round of QE as enunciated yesterday means that the Fed could if it wished or believes it is necessary print unlimited quantities of dollars.
There are already three former European central bankers who criticize more or less openly the European Central Bank (ECB). All these older central bankers experienced the inflationary periods in the 1970s in detail, whereas the younger ones seem not to grasp what inflation means. Modern central bankers seem to think that monetary inflation will not lead to price inflation in the long-term. This might be true in countries where asset prices need to de-leverage after the bust of real-estate bubbles. But it is certainly not true in states like Germany, Finland or Switzerland, that did not have a real-estate bubble till 2008. With current low employment and the aging population, qualified personnel who speaks the local language will get rare. PIMCO’s Bill Gross might be right saying that soon employees want to get a part of the cake and not only the stock holders. This essentially implies wage inflation, the enemy of the 1970s.
This Monday, a few shorts days after the Knight algorithm decided to do what it and the Fed does best, and go on a shopping spree, gobbling up $7 billion in stocks in 45 minutes and in the process almost destroying its host like any self-respecting virus, something weird happened with the 1.20-pegged EURCHF in the minutes after the marked closed: it shot up for no reason, only to slam right back down. Some speculated it was a fat finger. Turns out they were right. Only with a twist, as first it appears it was purely human error, which in turn set of an avalanche of algo trades which had no idea why they were buying, except that someone else was buying, so they had to be buying: the purest definition of momentum trading insanity, where one buys or sells with no rhyme or reason, but simple because someone else, marginal enough, is moving the market. And that is why every single capital market: stocks, bonds, commodities and FX, is always one trade away from total collapse.
The World Gold Council have just published their commentary on gold’s price performance in various currencies, its volatility statistics and correlation to other assets in the quarter - Gold Q2, 2012 - Investment Statistics and Commentary. It provides macroeconomic context to the investment statistics published at the end of each quarter and highlights emerging themes relevant to gold’s future development. One of their key findings is that gold will act as hedge against possible coming dollar weakness and gold will act as a "currency hedge in the international monetary system." The key findings of the World Gold Council’s report are presented inside.
The sharp losses in the gold mining sector Friday and last week could presage further weakness today but the higher weekly closes for gold and silver were constructive from a technical perspective.
After initial gains in Asia, gold fell early in Asian trading prior to recovering and then weakening again bang on 0800 GMT as Europe opened (see chart below).
Gold is higher in euro and Swiss franc terms but slightly lower in dollars and pounds.
Peak oil is a phenomenon many will be aware of – peak gold remains a foreign concept to most. Peak gold is the date at which the maximum rate of global gold extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. The term derives from the Hubbert peak of a resource. Unlike oil and silver, which is destroyed in use, gold can be reused and recycled. However, unlike oil gold is money, a store of value and a foreign exchange reserve and gold is slowly being remonetised in the global financial system and indeed may soon play a role in a new international monetary system. Ore grades have fallen from around 12 grams per tonne in 1950 to nearer 3 grams in the US, Canada, and Australia. South Africa's output has halved since peaking in 1970. Peak gold may not have happened in 2000. Nor may it have happened in 2011. However, the geological evidence suggests that it may happen in the near term due to the increasing difficulty large and small gold mining companies are having increasing their production. The fact that peak gold may take place at a time when the world is engaged in peak fiat paper and electronic money creation bodes very well for gold’s long term outlook.
Nearly full employment in all the cited developed economies except the US shows that the deflationary environment of the recent months is only temporary. Deflation is rather an effect of the recent strong fall in commodity prices. No wonder that the Fed is still reluctant to ease conditions; they saw the opposite temporary commodity price movements last year. We do neither expect a global inflation nor a deflation scenario but a balance sheet recession in many countries but still an increase of wages and therefore a very slow global growth in both developed and developing countries and continuing disinflation (see chart of Ashraf Alaidi to the left). CPIs will look soon similar for all developed countries, with the consequence that the currencies of the most secure and effective countries (measured in terms of trade balance and current accounts) will appreciate. These are for us e.g. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore and partially Sweden and Norway. The overvalued currencies with weaker trade balances like the Kiwi and Aussie must depreciate.
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.