Warren Buffett loves to bash gold — claiming that stocks are inherently superior, because they produce a return, whereas gold just sits. Trouble is, stocks (and all paper assets) are subject to counter-party risk, whereas physical gold isn’t. Gold doesn’t overcompensate its CEOs, it doesn’t leverage its productive capital in toxic derivatives, it doesn’t cause industrial disasters like Deepwater Horizon, its value isn’t dependent on central banking, or securitisation, or American imperialism, or the machinations of the military-industrial complex. It just sits, retaining its purchasing power.
"Next up on CNBC - - an octogenerian fund manager who completely missed the boat on technology in the late 1990s and, since the early 2009 bottom, has underperformed the S&P by 50%. Stay tuned!"
So how many people do you think would stay riveted to their flat-panel Samsung to watch that? Not many, I'm guessing. But if the aforementioned gent is named Warren Buffett, the entire nation comes to a halt and hangs on to every word. A quick glance at Amazon yields 2,100 results when one does a search on his name (including the surprisingly-titled Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should, Too).
Bill Gross' monthly letters are always a fresh source of jovial imagery, although the bond king may have outdone himself in his latest monthly letter which collapses the principles of investing onto the football field: "My point about pigskin offense and defense is the perfect metaphor for the world of investing as well. Offensively minded risk takers in the markets have historically been the ones who have dominated the headlines and won the hearts of that beautiful gal (or handsome guy).... Canton, however, has an approximately equal number of defensive in addition to offensively positioned inductees, so there must be a universally acknowledged role for both sides of the scrimmage line. What fan can forget Mean Joe Greene, Deion Sanders or Mike Ditka? The old, now politically incorrect showtune laments that “you gotta be a football hero, to fall in love with a beautiful girl,” but football and any of life’s heroes can play on either side of the line, it seems." And it only gets better. While at its heart Gross' latest is merely yet another lamentation against the confines of the financially suppressive regime that arises from ZIRP and ends with what many expect is a whimper (when in reality they all forget to factor in the facility of hitting the CTRL+P keys as many times as necessary), the flourish of abandon this time around is palpable. We would not be surprised to soon see Gross hang up his offensive (and defensive) jersey, and sit back and enjoy the coming lunacy from a distance (but hopefully not before he allocates just a little to the Ron Paul SuperPAC).
Following on his latest bash session of gold from the weekend, when Warren Buffett dedicated a substantial portion of his annual letter to shareholders for the now routine and perfectly expected gold blasting, the Octogenarian of Omaha revealed to his faithful personal scribe Becky Quick that of all banks, he would recommend Wells Fargo as the single best bank to own. Naturally, as was previously lampooned by William Banzai, Americans, even those paying a 15% tax rate, would "do absolutely nothing for Warren trading book" if they were to buy gold instead of pooling their cash into the ponzi. As for buying WFC vs. gold, the chart below will show why the world is increasingly taking any proclamations from the man whose net worth was bailed out by the government, with humor more than serious consideration.Presenting the past decade's return of Wells Fargo and of gold. No commentary necessary.
- Germany Crisis Role in Focus After G-20 Rebuff (Bloomberg)
- G20 to Europe: Show us the money (Reuters)
- Draghi’s Unlimited Loans Are No Panacea (Bloomberg)
- Geithner says Europe has lowered risks of "catastrophe" (Reuters)
- Gone in 22 Seconds (WSJ)
- Gillard beats Rudd to stay Australian PM (FT)
- Brazil Will Continue Reducing Interest Rates, Tombini Says (Bloomberg)
- China to Have ‘Soft Landing’ Soon: Zoellick (Bloomberg)
- China To Be Largest Economy Before 2030: World Bank (Reuters)
- Obama pressed to open emergency oil stocks (FT)
The real world revolves around cash flow. Families across the land understand this basic concept. Cash flows in from wages, investments and these days from the government. Cash flows out for food, gasoline, utilities, cable, cell phones, real estate taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, clothing, mortgage payments, car payments, insurance payments, medical bills, auto repairs, home repairs, appliances, electronic gadgets, education, alcohol (necessary in this economy) and a countless other everyday expenses. If the outflow exceeds the inflow a family may be able to fund the deficit with credit cards for awhile, but ultimately running a cash flow deficit will result in debt default and loss of your home and assets. Ask the millions of Americans that have experienced this exact outcome since 2008 if you believe this is only a theoretical exercise. The Federal government, Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks, regulatory agencies and commercial real estate debtors have colluded since 2008 to pretend cash flow doesn’t matter. Their plan has been to “extend and pretend”, praying for an economic recovery that would save them from their greedy and foolish risk taking during the 2003 – 2007 Caligula-like debauchery.
Debt default means huge losses for the Wall Street criminal banks. Of course the banksters will just demand another taxpayer bailout from the puppet politicians. This repeat scenario gives new meaning to the term shop until you drop. Extending and pretending can work for awhile as accounting obfuscation, rolling over bad debts, and praying for a revival of the glory days can put off the day of reckoning for a couple years. Ultimately it comes down to cash flow, whether you’re a household, retailer, developer, bank or government. America is running on empty and extending and pretending is coming to an end.
'Gold Bullion or Cash' Shows Buffett, Roubini, Krugman Mistaken; Faber, Rogers, Bass, Einhorn, Gross CorrectSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2012 07:33 -0500
Currency debasement of all major currencies is happening today on a scale never before seen in history. Yet there continues to be a complete lack of awareness amongst the majority in the western world as to the risks posed by our currency monetary and financial system. There continues to be a lack of knowledge and indeed often wilful ignorance regarding gold. Indeed, some comments on gold are so ignorant of the historical and academic record that they have all the hallmarks of crude anti-gold propaganda – and will be seen as such in time. Gold is a proven safe haven asset and currency. Despite much recent academic evidence and the historical record showing this and despite voluminous articles, research and evidence, (evidence succinctly summarised in the video 'Gold Bullion or Cash'), there continue to be frequent anti gold outbursts by some of the most respected and trusted people in the western financial and economic world. Such attacks on gold have come from men such as Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini and more recently Warren Buffett. Alan Greenspan correctly wrote in 1966 that "an almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions”. Today, an almost hysterical antagonism towards gold bullion as a diversification and as a store of wealth alternative to fiat currencies unites beneficiaries of the current status quo – both intellectual beneficiaries and material beneficiaries. That status quo is a massively leveraged and insolvent monetary, financial and economic system.
It seems that the mainstream investment community only takes a break from ignoring gold to berate it: one of gold’s most outspoken critics, uber-investor Warren Buffett, did so recently in his latest shareholder letter. The indictments were familiar; gold is an inanimate object “incapable of producing anything,” so any investor holding it instead of stocks is acting out of irrational fear. How can it be that Buffett, perhaps the most successful (and definitely the most well-known) investor of our time, believes that gold has no place in an intelligently allocated investment portfolio? Perhaps it has something to do with his mentor, Benjamin Graham....for most of Graham's adult life and the most important years of his career, ownership of more than a small amount of gold was outlawed. Banned for private ownership by FDR in 1933, it wasn't re-legalized until late 1974. Graham passed away in 1976; he thus never lived through a period in which gold was unmistakably a better investment than either stocks or bonds. All of which makes us wonder: if Graham had lived to witness the two great bull markets in precious metals during the last 40 years, would he have updated his allocation models to include gold?
Those who have been correct about the crisis in recent years question whether a new Greek government will stick to the deeply unpopular program after elections due in April and believe Athens could again fall behind in implementation, prompting lenders to pull the plug once the eurozone has stronger financial firewalls in place. The much used phrase "kicking the can down the road" underestimates the risks being created by European and international policy makers. Some have rightly warned that we will likely soon run out of road. Rather than "kicking the can down the road" what politicians in Europe, in the U.S. and internationally are actually doing is "kicking a giant beer keg down the road". The giant beer keg is the continual resort to cheap money in the form of ultra loose monetary policies, QE1, QE2, QE3 etc, money printing and electronic money creation on a scale never seen before in history. The road is our modern international financial and monetary system. The risk is that attempting to kick the giant beer keg down the road will lead to many broken feet and a destroyed road. A European, US, Japanese and increasingly global debt crisis will not be solved by creating more debt and making taxpayers pay odious debts incurred through massively irresponsible lending practices of international banks. The likelihood of continuing massive liquidity injections by the ECB next week and in the coming weeks will help keep the opportunity cost of holding bullion the lowest it has ever been and likely contribute to higher bullion prices especially in euro terms in the coming months.
History is replete with the carcasses of failed currencies destroyed through misguided intentional debasement by governments looking for an easy escape from piling up too much debt. James Rickards, author of the recent bestseller Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, sees history repeating itself today - and warns we are in the escalating stage of a global currency war of the grandest scale. Whether it ends in hyperinflation, in the return to some form of gold standard, or in chaos - history is telling us we can have confidence it will end painfully.
Although no one can be sure of Buffett's motives, it would be naïve to believe that someone as intelligent as Buffett has not considered the benefits of pushing through this tax structure. Higher taxes are always problems for entrepreneurs and regular people in the economy. However, they're often beneficial to the well-connected, who receive government bailouts and favors. And with Buffett even on the president's lips, he is becoming more connected to the power mechanism in D.C. every day. With many of Berkshire's companies, your loss as a taxpayer will be their gains.
SOTU Post Mortem:
The best news possible: "Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that." Barack Hussein Obama
The worst news: Everything else.
Here is the text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address as prepared for delivery at 9 p.m. ET. "Jobs" 33 vs. "Fat Cats" 0, Rich 3 vs Poor 1, Hope 2 vs Unicorns 0, Change 9 vs Tooth-Fairy 0, Mortgages 5 vs Apple 0, Main Street 1 vs Wall Street 3, China 4 vs Europe 1; DEBT CEILING 0
Humans are a flawed species. Our minds are easily manipulated. We don’t like pain. We prefer instant gratification. We are susceptible to mass delusion. We will often choose hope over critical thought. Those with higher IQs will regularly attempt to take advantage of those with lower IQs. Fear and greed are the two motivations used by the minority in power to control and manipulate the majority. The American people have been led astray by a small group of powerful men. We were herded through a door in the wall of perception that promised an American dream of material goods, entitlements and pleasure with no obligations or responsibility to future generations. There is only one choice that can save this country from ruin. Each individual must make a choice to either to continue supporting the manipulative, corrupt status quo or coming back through the Door in the Wall.
“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend” – Aldous Huxley
Just when one thinks American crony capitalism couldn't hit new lows, here comes Warren Buffett and his personal puppet, the president, proving everyone wrong once more. Because if one thinks there is no (s)quid pro quo for all that "sage" advice that Buffett has been giving to Obama on extracting as much wealth as possible from future wealthy Americans (before they decide they have had enough with this crony shit and leave the country for good), one would be fatally wrong. As it turns out, it is not just natural resources and aquifer purity that Obama had in mind when sealing the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. No - it appears there were far more relevant numerial metrics that determined Obama's decisions. Such as the bottom line number of Buffett's Burlington Northern, which according to Bloomberg, is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. '“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul." And quite delighted to reap the windfalls of unfounded populist fears she forgot to add. Because while the whole "carbon-credit" multi-trillion top line expansion scheme for Goldman under the pretense of actually caring for the environment may have collapsed, it is not preventing others from trying and succeeding where even Goldman has failed.