There are many questions on the minds of weary precious metals investors after enduring the volatile yet range-bound price action of gold and silver over the past year:
- Have the fundamentals for owning gold & silver changed over the past year? No
- What are they? currency devaluation/crisis, supply-chain risk, ore grade depletion
- How should retail investors own gold? Mostly physical metal, some quality mining majors (avoid the indices), and ETFs only for trading
- Is gold in a bubble? No
- Could gold get re-monetized? Quite possibly
- Where is gold flowing? From the West to the East. At some point, capital controls will be put in place
Jeff Clark and Chris Martenson believe everyone should have exposure to gold and silver as a defense for preserving the purchasing power of their weath. The key question is: how much exposure?
Kyle Bass: Fallacies Such As MMT Are "Leading The Sheep To Slaughter" And "We Believe War Is Inevitable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2012 13:58 -0500
"Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation."
A number of economists and economics writers have considered the possibility of allowing the Federal Reserve to drop interest rates below zero in order to make holding onto money costlier and encouraging individuals and firms to spend, spend, spend. This unwillingness to hold currency is supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging productive economic activity and investment. But is that necessarily true? No — it will just drive people away from using the currency as a store of purchasing power. It will drive economic activity underground and banking would be turned upside down. Japan has spent almost twenty years at the zero bound, in spite of multiple rounds of quantitative easing and stimulus. Yet Japan remains mired in depression. A return to growth for a depressionary post-bubble economy requires a substantial chunk of the debt load (and thus future debt service costs) being either liquidated, forgiven or (very difficult and slow) paid down.
Here we go with the "but, but, Sandy" excuses. The just announced October retail sales tumbled, with their worst miss of expectations since May 2010, and the first sequential decline since June: printing at -0.3% for both the headline and the 'ex autos and gas', on expectations of a -0.2% and +0.4% rise. Ignoring for a second that the Commerce Department said that Hurricane Sandy had both positive (remember those massive lines in various stores ahead of Sandy) and negative impacts on retail sales, it would be truly inconceivable for the sellside Wall Street consensus of diploma'ed PhDs, which knew about Sandy's impact on retail sales well in advance, and thus could adjust its numbers, to actually, you know, adjust its numbers. Either way there is no way to spin the longer term major store sales trend (last chart), which shows that the US consumer, out of money, out of credit, and out of savings is entering the holiday season with little to zero disposable spending power.
Whenever the case is made for a stronger U.S. dollar (USD), the feedback can be sorted into three basic reasons why the dollar will continue declining in value:
- The USD may gain relative to other currencies, but since all fiat currencies are declining against gold, it doesn’t mean that the USD is actually gaining value; in fact, all paper money is losing value.
- When the global financial system finally crashes, won’t that include the dollar?
- The Federal Reserve is “printing” (creating) money, and that will continue eroding the purchasing power of the USD. Lowering interest rates to zero has dropped the yield paid on Treasury bonds, which also weakens the dollar.
All of these objections are well-grounded. However, the price of gold is not consistently correlated to the monetary base, the trade-weighted dollar, or interest rates. We have seen interest rates leap to 16% and fall to near-zero; gold collapse, stagnate, and then quadruple; and the dollar gain and lose 30% of its trade-weighted value in a few years. None of these huge swings had any correlation to broad measures of domestic activity such as GDP. Clearly, interest rates occasionally (but not always) affect the value of the trade-weighted dollar, and the monetary base occasionally (but not always) affects the price of gold, but these appear to have little correlation to productivity, earnings, etc., or to each other. Gold appears to march to an independent drummer.
Well, my fellow Slope-a-Dopes, you may have noticed that I have been completely turned upside down by this week's developments. Let me be clear, my crazed compromised counter comportment has nothing to do with the fact that the sitting U.S. president was re-elected. After all, every single national poll, swing state survey, and comprehensive electoral college considerations, had the President as the winner by a cushy considerably comfortable count. In this age of definitive digital data mining, why anyone would have been surprised by the well known outcome entirely eludes even eye. The only truly shocking surprise, would have been if the dastardly dog delivery dirtbag had beaten the coy corrupt community creep. So what has utterly upset & upended your favorite Idiot Savant's uneven universe?
Economists the world over can take comfort that the laws of supply and demand still largely rule the marketplace. However, we believe there is a noted exception for a yellow, largely useless metal. A metal that just happens to have shaped the world’s monetary systems for the last several thousand years. Gold’s “supply” traditionally defined as global mining production is virtually meaningless in determining its’ price. How can this be? Gold, even when viewed as a commodity, is unique in that it is not consumed. Rather than supply in the traditional sense, what drives the gold price is the percentage of the existing stock (170,000 tons) that is available for sale on any given day. Gold, in our opinion is what is often referred to as a Giffen good. We believe that a massive revaluation of gold denominated in dollars can happen quite suddenly, almost overnight. But not because of any sustained long term demand for gold, but simply because owners of metal simply withdraw it from sale, sending the stock to flow ratio to infinity. This is why understanding gold’s stock to flow ratio is so vital. What happens to the “price” of gold when it ceases bidding for dollars? Zero. Or infinity. Take your pick.
Yesterday, we were offered 'hopes and prayers' by Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg. However, as he warned then, there are some things to be worried about. From the wide gaps in voting patterns across socio-economic lines and the expectations that populist policies will be the hallmark of Obama's second term to the mixed-to-negative data across employment data, consumer spending indications, housing, and Europe; it appears the market is starting to price in some positive probability of a fiscal cliff and these macro data do nothing to subsidize that reality. While the President does not face the Great Recession of four years ago, he does confront the "Not So Great Recovery" nonetheless.
Against the backdrop of a tepid US recovery, Eurozone recession and stuttering growth across emerging markets, investors are beginning to focus on how the 'status quo' outcome impacts the odds of cliff-avoidance; which after all, if there is one thing economists agree on, it is that a US and global recession will ensue if the legislated tax increases and spending cuts worth roughly 3.5% of US GDP take effect next year. UBS believes that if the US economy dips into recession, operating earnings -which are near peak levels - could easily plunge by a fifth. Risk premia would climb, particularly because the US and the world have run out of policies that could lift their economies out of recession. Those factors point to significant downside risk (at least 30%) for global equity markets if the US falls off the 'cliff'. Yet the S&P500 remains within a few percentage points of its cyclical highs. Accordingly, as we have previously concluded, investors assign a very low probability to the ‘cliff’ and a 2013 US recession, which UBS finds 'darn surprising' that this much faith in common sense prevailing in Washington amidst such divisive politics. But for all the attention the ‘cliff’ deserves, UBS notes the fundamental challenge for the US (and many other countries) is to address fiscal stability as a long-term necessity, not a short-term fix.
The U.S. Presidential race is now behind us. And this morning the world woke up and realized that all the issues the election postponed now lie before us. It's becoming increasingly clear the way our leaders will "address" these challenges will be to throw increasing gobs of our citizens' current and future wealth at them. Until, of course, that simply doesn't work anymore...
We are programed to cheer and act out our sheep-like roles in partisan politics when, like the game, unless we have money bet on the outcome the actual winner will have absolutely no impact on our lives. The bottom line is that voting percentages generate credibility for the failed American political system. "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican parties." George Wallace, 1966 Alabama governor and presidential candidate. Romney lost for two main reasons: First, as he correctly noted during the campaign, 47 percent of American families are dependent on government handouts and they voted for what was in their own best interests; and second, the GOP leadership antagonized the 10 percent of the Republican Party electorate who supported Ron Paul for President. And so over the next four years the people will be provoked and buy more guns they will never have the courage to use to defend themselves against an all-powerful government. The game will go on until the time is up for our nation. It is time we as a generation man up for liberty to redeem ourselves in the tear-filled eyes of future generations. The American people must work peacefully to restore the Articles of Confederation now or else suffer the permanent consequences of the fall of America.
Once upon a time there was a myth that the equity market can only go up, year after year, with the average annual return according to such esteemed counting institutions as Ibbotson, at 10% or more. Then, we got the November 7, 2000 presidential election, which took place when the S&P was 1432. Fast forward to today, skipping the second and third elections in the interim, and going straight to today's fourth presidential election. The closing S&P today? 1428. We have now had four presidential elections... and a funeral - that of the "stock market always rises" myth. But wait, it gets worse. The numbers above are nominal. When adjusting for the real purchasing power lost in the past 12 years, whose best indicator in a regime in which CPI data is constantly fudged and manipulated, is the price of gold, one can see that 3 presidential elections later, the S&P 500, when priced in gold terms, is now 83% lower. In other words, how is that wealth effect working out for you? And where will the stock market be in another 3 presidential elections in either nominal or real terms? One can only hope that Japan is not prologue...
Forget Florida. This election it is all about Ohio: without Ohio, Romney's winning chances plummet (as can be observed at the following interactive chart), even if one ignores history which is that since 1862 no Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio. This is a fact well-known to the Obama administration, which explains why the incumbent has spent so much time in the ravaged state, where he has spent so much time ruminating on the the Ohio "unemployment rate miracle." Sure enough, in September, the Ohio unemployment dipped to 7.0%, the lowest since September 2008! On the surface, a tremendous metric and great improvement for a state that would have certainly been firmly in the pro-GOP camp had Obama not been able to hammer on this statistic time and time again. Yet, as always, the unemployment rate is only part of the story. The bigger question is whether or not another data set is being fudged to make the Ohio jobs situation appear better than it is in real life. The answer is, predictably, yes.
With the US elections approaching next week, as well as the threat of another fiscal cliff showdown looming, we look at how the expansive Central State has come to dominate both private society (i.e., the community) and the marketplace, to the detriment of the nation’s social and economic stability. We examine six critical dynamics that will lead to the devolution of Peak Government. "Governments, desperate for more revenues, ignore public resentment and loss of trust, which only deepens the disconnect between those in government and the public. And the private citizenry sees a lack of accountability, soaring public debt, accounting trickery, political dysfunction, and mal-investment of public funds as the hallmarks of their government."
Other than some obligatory arrests for disorderly conduct, the Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one year anniversary this past September with little fanfare. While the movement seems to have lost momentum, at least temporarily, it did succeed in showcasing the growing sense of unease felt among a large segment of the US population – a group the Occupy movement shrewdly referred to as “the 99%”. The 99% means different things to different people, but to us, the 99% represents the US consumer. It represents the majority of Americans who are neither wealthy nor impoverished and whose spending power makes up approximately 71% of the US economy. It is the purchasing power of this massive, amorphous group that drives the US economy forward. The problem, however, is that four years into a so-called recovery, this group is still being financially squeezed from every possible angle, making it very difficult for them to maintain their standard of living, let alone increase their levels of consumption.