Those who know Mr. Denninger know that he, well, for lack of a better word, hates Gold. It only goes to show the level of disinformation and ignorance prevalent in our society when even smart people like Karl fail to get it. From what I hear anybody even mentioning the word Gold runs the risk of being permanently banned from one of his "forums". In a recent commentary entitled "Ten Things for 2010" he was at it again bashing Gold. Here is what he had to say:
We're not looking at hyperinflation folks, in my view - we're looking at a deflationary collapse…If you fear hyperinflation do not look to Gold, instead buy a small (5% of your total portfolio) position in far out of the money LEAP CALLS on the major indices, spread across them. Why? Because (1) the tax structure on gold is unfavorable, (2) gold has never performed well on a contemporary basis .vs. inflation and (3) you can't eat it. If you try to get around the tax man structure you're going to get creamed; governments can and WILL prevent that from working. My recommendation thus is to buy insurance against a hyperinflationary event using instruments that do not try to evade the formal financial structure, are levered (to get around the tax hit) and are defined risk (so as to avoid losing your ass if you're wrong.)
Really Karl? LEAP Calls? In a hyperinflation? That’s a good way to lose 5% your portfolio. I’m assuming you know what hyperinflation is - in a hyperinflation the currency becomes worthless, as in toilet-paper. Why would anyone want to get paid their "winnings" in a worthless currency, assuming there are stock indices and counterparties left who can pay off these worthless winnings when countries collapse?
And the tax structure is FAR more favorable for Gold than ANYTHING else, if only you are not in the habit of bending over. Buy cash and keep your mouth shut – it’s very simple – or just move to another country where the government is not as intent on raping its citizens. I know privacy is a foreign concept in America these days, but still. All your other assets, including stock market profits, are fully open to the government and there is nothing stopping them from taxing them to the hilt. Trust me, when it all hits the fan Gold in your personal possession will be your best friend.
Which brings me to my favorite part:
gold has never performed well on a contemporary basis .vs. inflation
Poor Gold. The thing gave an instant 75% profit when Roosevelt confiscated it in 1933 and rose 24x (yes, that’s 24 TIMES) from $35 to about $850 in a space of 10 years from 1970 to 1980. And even during the past decade from 2000-2010 it has risen 5x outperforming ALL asset classes. Overall, from 1933 till date it has risen about 60x. That is, if you simply held Gold since 1933 you would be now 60 times richer, at least in nominal terms. Yet nobody remembers all that. All they remember is the lousy 20 years from 1980-2000 when the full force of the derivatives market was brought to bear upon it to suppress it’s price (well, that’s a topic for another post), as is being done even now absent which it would have easily crossed 10x (from the 2000 low) by now – which it will at some point in the future as the market cannot be suppressed forever. Indeed, the longer the suppression, the more forceful the eventual price rise as happened when the London Gold Pool collapsed during the late sixties soon after which Gold shot up 24x during the next decade. If you’re not that devoted a disciple of Karl I suggest you hang on to your Gold for a little while longer. In my humble opinion, it will outpace all gains in all other asset classes since the creation of the dollar – in not only nominal, but real purchasing power terms.
And then there was this again:
The last time I checked they didn't take 100oz bars at WalMart, but they sure do take $100 bills
And the last time I checked Karl, they weren’t taking stock certificates and bonds either. Also, there was a funny thing I noticed: there was NOTHING stopping me from getting dollar bills, euros, yen – you name it – for my Gold. In fact, everytime I sold some Gold I got even more paper tickets than the last time – which meant that I could buy even more stuff with the same amount of Gold. How surprising, no?
Well, Karl was definitely surprised:
Precious metals will not be a safe haven: Clean miss. Gold and silver have both performed well.
And talk about reaching wrong conclusions:
Discovery that the metals market has been "polluted" to the point of irrelevance would mean that those around the world who had bought and were holding alleged gold bars that in fact aren't gold had tendered good money for nothing. This would be a monstrous deflationary event - after all, the definition of deflation is the destruction of money, and that's exactly what would have happened, just as if you took a stack of $100 bills and burned them in your back yard.
No Karl, the bills still exist – in the bank account of whoever was paid to obtain the said Gold. It is the Gold which is discovered to be no longer existing, thus causing the apparent supply to be further reduced and spiking the price.
Karl thinks he’ll be safe watching these “fireworks” from the sidelines. Not so Karl. By not buying Gold (and holding dollars), you are smack in the middle of them. You are not simply “missing out” on some investment gain but stand to lose everything as the purchasing power of the dollar is decimated. This is why those advocating holding only paper cash as a “safe alternative” are in fact harming those who listen to them.
Now don’t get me wrong - I agree with a lot of what he says in general – he’s a good reporter (which is why I keep him on my “must read” list) - but when it comes to Gold, Karl simply doesn’t “get it”. First of all, when you talk about deflation you have to ask the question, “In terms of what?”. Most people ala Mish, Prechter, Karl et. al. when they talk about deflation are referring to deflation in terms of the dollar, i.e. they are, in fact, “dollar-deflationists”*. One can’t really blame them since the dollar is considered by most people as “money” today and is therefore their frame of reference. But this is a critical error of perception that will prove fatal to those who hold their life’s savings in dollars when it all finally implodes. The dollar today is just another fiat currency created at will out of thin air by bankrupt and corrupt governments and their Central Banks. It is an illusion of money, not money; which brings us to the question of:
What is money?
This is a topic which can fill an entire book, but I’ll just quote the best one I found (Mises):
In the marketability of the various commodities and services there prevail considerable differences. There are goods for which it is not difficult to find applicants ready to disburse the highest recompense which, under the given state of affairs, can possibly be obtained, or a recompense only slightly smaller. There are other goods for which it is very hard to find a customer quickly, even if the vendor is ready to be content with a compensation much smaller than he could reap if he could find another aspirant whose demand is more intense. It is these differences in the marketability of the various commodities and services which created indirect exchange. A man who at the instant cannot acquire what he wants to get for the conduct of his own household or business, or who does not yet know what kind of goods he will need in the uncertain future, comes nearer to his ultimate goal if he exchanges a less marketable good he wants to trade against a more marketable one. It may also happen that the physical properties of the merchandise he wants to give away (as, for instance, its perishability or the costs incurred by its storage or similar circumstances) impel him not to wait longer. Sometimes he may be prompted to hurry in giving away the good concerned because he is afraid of a deterioration of its market value. In all such cases he improves his own situation in acquiring a more marketable good, even if this good is not suitable to satisfy directly any of his own needs.
A medium of exchange is a good which people acquire neither for their own consumption nor for employment in their own production activities, but with the intention of exchanging it at a later date against those goods which they want to use either for consumption or for production.
Money is a medium of exchange. It is the most marketable good which people acquire because they want to offer it in later acts of interpersonal exchange. Money is the thing which serves as the generally accepted and commonly used medium of exchange...
(All emphasis mine)
Money was created by the markets; by humans trading goods and services amongst themselves; by the need for indirect exchange. This is one of the major misconceptions of the dollar-deflationists - that money is what the government says it is. Although Governments do their best to convince people otherwise, including putting a gun to their collective heads via legal tender laws, they cannot dictate what money is – not for long periods of time anyways – which is why whereas Gold has been money for thousands of years, you’d be hard pressed to find a fiat currency that has existed past a few decades. The present period is one such short period of mass delusion where the majority has been convinced – including, apparently, Mr. Denninger - that the colored pieces of paper being printed by various men behind the curtains is, in fact, money.
Gold is the commodity that humans chose to be “money”- the most marketable good. It didn’t happen overnight, but over thousands of years of evolution. Billions of trading decisions over centuries made by free men of their own volition – the collective wisdom – installed Gold as money. It needs no government violence to enforce as money because the force of nature that is the market chose it to be money. Indeed, it was the governments who hijacked the free-market commodity money of Gold into “backing” their various fraudulent paper money scams using fractional reserve systems. Why? Because the power to create money is the ultimate power. It is not for no reason that Mayer Amschel Rothschild said:
“Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes her laws.”
And why do we know Gold is still money today? It’s simple – Gold has the highest stocks to flow ratio of any commodity i.e. its total above ground stockpile is very large compared to its annual production which is NOT the case for other commodities. The reason for this is that while other commodities are primarily mined for consumption, Gold is not consumed but hoarded. Its primary function is that of a store of value – a wealth reserve. Why do you think the Central Banks keep Gold on their balance sheet even today? Right. Even the Gold jewellery demand in countries like India is, in fact, investment demand in disguise – hidden firmly behind veils of religion and culture to protect their real wealth from the depredations of various rulers and governments that have pillaged her over the many thousands of years of her existence.
Moreover, even though most people don’t realize it, even today the dollar is only acceptable as money because it is indirectly “backed” by Gold (via the derivatives market) i.e. you can get Gold in exchange for paper dollars on the open market. The proof of this lies in the fact that were, for some reason, the convertibility of Gold into dollars suspended today [on the open market], the dollar would instantly collapse.
Gold IS Money – not the dollar, not ANY fiat currency. Period.
As the king of banksters J.P. Morgan himself testified before the Pujo Committee in 1913:
“Gold is money and nothing else”.
The Fiat Money Scam
Throughout history no fiat currency has survived – ever. There is a reason for it. Paper money is inherently a scam – a scheme to loot the people who actually produce the goods and services in the economy. Just because it is legalized and its perpetrators hold fancy government titles does not mean it is not a fraud. The issuer can create unlimited pieces of paper – or computer bits today – at essentially no cost and use them to appropriate real goods and services in the economy. So whereas you and I have to actually do real work to procure it, the printers of the currency can basically print whatever they need. This is why there is a constant inflation of money supply under a fiat money regime as has been the case since the Federal Reserve was established in the US in 1913, as constant theft requires constant creation of new money. The evidence of this inflation is the annihilation of the dollar’s purchasing power since then:
"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world? You are.”