“Next five years is not about winning but surviving.” This is the headline of an article I wrote in early August 2019. At that point I was primarily thinking of economic survival. But now the world is facing multiple threats and multiple failures. As I have already stated, the Coronavirus is not the cause of global market crashes but the catalyst.
But even if I have been totally certain that the world will see an economic collapse greater than any crisis for 100s of years, this is the worst catalyst that anyone could have expected. Yes, a global virus was always one of the potential risks but of all triggers, this one was certainly the most unwelcome and horrible.
CORONAVIRUS IS FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN THE WORLD REALISES
Before I talk about markets and gold further on in this article, I will mention some of the horrific effects that are now hitting the world due to Coronavirus. Just to summarise that my market views haven’t changed. Stocks will go down by at least 90% from here and gold will surge to levels that few can imagine.
No one knows the extent of people affected by the CV. China has never given us the real figures. And the rest of the world hasn’t got a clue where they stand. Every country thinks they are in control of the situation until they panic. Outside of Asia, poor Italy got it first and there we have seen an exponential growth of the number of people affected. And still, in Italy like in most other countries, they haven’t got a clue how many people have been infected.
Same in the UK, US, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and most other nations. No country has the capacity to test a fraction of the population. You hear from most countries that when people have the symptoms, they are just told to stay home. So the real numbers are certainly 10x greater than reported or much higher. Somebody forecast that 70% of the world will be infected and that doesn’t sound improbable.
DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS HAVE NO CHANCE TO COPE
And as Italy discovered, there is not a fraction of ventilators available that are required to treat the seriously ill. There is on average only 12 critical hospital beds available per 100,000 in the EU. The EU has 500 million people. If the estimate of 70% becoming infected will be correct, that would be 350 million will get CV. Say that 10% need a critical hospital bed. That is 35 million people who would need to share 60,000 critical beds available. I am sure that the US figures for critical beds available are no better but probably much worse. No wonder Italy’s health system has no chance to cope with the situation as we have seen from many reports and nor has any other country.
EUROPE IS SHUTTING DOWN
Any government and health authority just needs to look at Italy to understand how quickly Coronavirus spreads. But every government, including the US and UK, think that they are different and are therefore totally lethargic and irresponsible in their actions to fight the disease. In the winter, I spend time in the Swiss Alps. On Friday the 13th, the Swiss government decided to close all ski resorts and all schools. Many European countries have closed their borders like Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia and Malta.
Italy is totally paralysed with virtually everything closed. Shops, except for food and pharmacies, major part of industry, hotels, restaurants, schools etc. are all closed. I have heard from Italian friends that they are just shutting their businesses since there are no customers. How tragic.
Spain is starting to close a major part of the country including the whole tourist industry. Most European countries are likely to follow although they are too slow to react swiftly. And so is the US who still hasn’t understood how serious the situation is.
If we just take Italy as an example since Corona is more advanced there than in any other country, it is a total disaster for this great nation. Italy has wonderful culture, history, heritage, food and people. But the country was already on its knees before this crisis. The economy is broken and so is the financial system. Much of this is due to the EU. I have difficulties seeing Italy coming out of this intact. But sadly the same thing will happen to Greece, Spain, France, Germany, the US, the UK and most other nations.
SMALL BUSINESSES DON’T EVEN HAVE CASH FOR 2 WEEKS
For a world economy that is totally dependent on credit to the extent of $265 trillion, what is happening is a total disaster. Small business will not have cash to survive for even a couple of weeks. Same with ordinary people. Virtually nobody has any savings, only debt. Many are being laid off already. The airline industry was extremely weak before the crisis. Norwegian Airlines has already made 50% of staff redundant. The tourist industry with its thin margins is collapsing. The same is happening in a great number of industries.
The banking industry will not survive the next phase but will initially be the beneficiaries of massive global money printing.
What is now happening economically in the world was totally predictable even though the catalyst was not the most obvious one. But what is not obvious for 99.5% of investors is what will happen next. And for most people, it is of course impossible to understand a market that can go down 2,000 points in one day and up 2,000 the next, like the Dow. This is obviously totally illogical and irrational behaviour. With High Frequency Trading and irrational investors creating a lot of this volatility how can we expect markets to behave in a logical manner. And more importantly, with dip buying investors having been supported by central banks for decades, it has been impossible to lose money.
But those days are now over even if after Friday the 13th 2,000 point Dow rally, the false optimism will return for a day or so. Sadly, anyone buying the dips in the current market is going to be burnt for years.
Let me summarise how I see markets in the short and long term.
Stocks globally have topped and crashed as I forecast in January and February. See my articles:
We are now facing a secular bear market which will last for at least 5-7 years. The economy will be in a recession and depression for much longer than that.
There will of course be volatility on the way down with major pullbacks. But there is absolutely no question that all stock markets will decline by 90% or more in coming years. There will of course be violent corrections up, like we saw last Friday, often assisted by the Plunge Protection Team in the US and similar in other countries.
Often when a crisis starts, the public focuses on the wrong area. Thus, shops both in Europe and the US have run out of toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper is useful in the short term, but history has taught us that in the medium term, as hyperinflation ravages, gold will be much more important to own. For the very few Venezuelans who understood this 10-20 years ago, it saved their lives.
Let me categorically state that there is no shortage of gold, YET.
Some gold dealers are reporting that they are running out of stock. There was a recent article on Zerohedge on this subject by a Singapore dealer. Precious metals dealers who mainly deal in retail quantities are probably running out gold and silver coins.
But as we are based in Switzerland where 70% of all the gold bars in the world are made, we can state that there is currently no shortage of physical gold at the wholesale level. There is ample supply of gold bars currently from the Swiss refiners. But there is high demand for smaller retail bars.
That is the good news. The bad news is that this situation is not going to last long. As we know, the gold price is set in the paper market currently. And when global markets panic, many speculators in paper gold sell their positions for liquidity reasons. This gives the manipulators, with the BIS leading the exercise, a chance to push gold down $100 on a Friday afternoon in Europe over a 3 hour period like they did on Feb 13th. The BIS and their lackeys, the bullion banks, clearly wanted the opportunity to pick up gold at bargain prices before the real rally starts.
Due to Coronavirus, the Swiss refiners are now cutting down on production as they must reduce the work shifts. At some point it is possible that production must shut down completely. At this stage decisions are taken from day to day. This is likely to lead to shortages of both gold and silver in the short to medium term.
GOLD IS AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF A LONG TERM BULL MARKET
Let’s be very clear. Gold is at the very beginning of an extremely strong long term uptrend. Current volatility is just temporary due to global conditions. This will soon change. The state of the world economy and the extremely precarious financial system guarantees that.
Coronavirus is the catalyst and not the cause of the coming economic and financial collapse. The trigger could have been any event such as a credit default or a bank in trouble. But unfortunately Murphy’s law prevailed and anything that could go wrong did and also at the worst possible time.
I have for years warned about the risks in the world economy and most recently that a market collapse was imminent as I mention above. This collapse has now started. I have also stated that gold will surge and this is still to come. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about this.
The current correction in gold could last a bit longer and at worst go down to $1,450 where the price was in November and December 2019. But that is not my preferred scenario. At some point soon, I expect gold to turn up strongly on its way to new highs, also in US dollars. In all other currencies gold has already surpassed the 2011-12 highs.
CENTRAL BANKS ARE GOLD’S BEST FRIEND
I have for many years stated that the Central banks are gold’s best friend. Sure, most CBs prefer to hold gold down since a high price reflects their mismanagement of the economy. But unlimited money printing, especially since 2006, is the best support gold can ever get. Incessant printing of worthless currencies has zero positive effect on the economy but a massive effect on gold since it debases the value of paper money. Due to suppression, the price of gold is not reflecting the total effect of this, but will very soon as central banks start the next phase of accelerated money printing.
Back in late August 2019 I stated the central banks were starting actions that were similar to August 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window. In August 1971, China was the only country to realise the effects of Nixon’s actions:
“These unpopular measures reflect the seriousness of the US economic crisis and the decay and decline of the entire capitalist system.”
The above quote is from the People’s Daily in China in Aug 1971.
CHINA HAS 20,000 TONNES OF GOLD AND THE US VERY LITTLE?
Since then the dollar and most currencies have lost 98% against gold and global debt has exploded. The Chinese saw it clearly then and that’s way the Chinese government has probably accumulated gold of at least 20,000 tonnes whilst the US probably has very little left of their official 8,000 tonnes. How right the Chinese were already 50 years ago. And the world is likely to find out who really holds the gold and the power in the near term future.
The Central Banks around the world started panicking already in the early Autumn of 2019 with Repos and QE in the $100s of billions. Major parts of the world are today in total lockdown due to Coronavirus. No one understands or can estimate the effects of this. But what we can say with certainty is that a world which was already very fragile economically and financially before the Virus, will suffer immeasurable financial and human consequences due to the CV.
$1.5 QUADRILLION OF DERIVATIVES ARE NOW AT RISK
With economic activity virtually shut down in many countries and more certainly to follow, like the UK and US, the amount of money printing coming will be endless and of unimaginable quantities. It will start in the $ trillions, but as the banking system comes under pressure, it will grow to $10s of trillions. When one day Deutsche Bank, with $50 trillion in derivatives, comes under real pressure, which is not far away, the Bundesbank and ECB will have to print in the $100s of trillions. Remember that counterparties will fail simultaneously and JP Morgan for example also has around $50 trillion in derivatives. And soon at least $1.5 quadrillion is at risk when all counter parties fail.
The collapse of the banking system might not be in 2020 but once it unravels, Central Banks have no chance of stopping it but they will still use the only tool they know which is unlimited money printing. As I have said many times, YOU CANNOT SOLVE A PROBLEM WITH THE SAME MEANS THAT CREATED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Thus the money printing will fail, but before that many clueless investors will buy stocks again before the next big fall.
THE BOND MARKET WILL NOT SURVIVE
I must finish this newsletter now since it must be published. The bond market is the biggest danger globally combined with the derivatives. The artificial manipulation of interest rates might last for some time yet. It could go on for a year but the bond market might also collapse tomorrow. There is so much junk and so much bad debt in the system that it would be surprising if Central banks could maintain this charade for much longer.
Thus the bond market will default and collapse at some point not far away. The question is only when. What is certain is that investors will soon start bailing out. And as Central Banks accelerate money printing, they will be the only buyer of their own junk debt. The end of the financial system as we know it today is guaranteed. Its demise is imminent.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
But please remember that This Too Shall Pass. The world will have difficult times ahead for some time. It is obviously made worse due to many people, and especially the old, being isolated. Still we have phones, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom etc so it is still possible to keep in touch with our loved ones and friends. At some point in the next few months Coronavirus will hopefully weaken and we can then function better.
The financial implications will last a lot longer and the world will have to get used to a much lower level of economic activity. But as I have stated many times, there are so many wonderful things in life that are free – like family friends, nature, books, music, television etc. Hard times bring people closer together for as long as we have a roof over our head and enough food to eat.
PS Italy just reported a 20% increase in CV cases in one day. Italy is sadly the model for the world. I implore everyone to be extremely careful and self isolate themselves. Doctors and hospitals will not have the capacity or the tools to help us all.