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The Financial Crisis & Gold - A Retrospective

The Collected Essays of Michael J. Kosares

( 2007 to Present)

Editor's note: These essays first appeared in USAGOLD's News & Views newsletter. We invite you to sign-up here for a publication day e-mail alerts and a free subscription. Over 20,000 investors/gold owners subscribe to this newsletter – one of the leading publications in the field.

Gold a safe harbor on an ocean of excess reserves
January, 2016 - It has been an enduring mystery to many why the enormous amount of money created by the Federal Reserve in the wake of the 2008 crisis never translated to a general price inflation. After all, as Milton Friedman lectured us, "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomena." So why didn't the enormous amount of money created by the Fed during its quantitative easing program – some $3.5 trillion added to the bank reserve credit – launch double-digit price inflation, or worse?

Keynes on the menace of printing money
December, 2015 - Keynes had come full circle – from economic interventionist extraordinaire to proponent of Adam Smith's laissez faire. Twenty-five years after that, Richard Nixon would suspend dollar convertibility, scrap the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate regime system of which Keynes was the principal architect and allow currencies and gold to float freely in international markets. The fiat money system of the late 20th and early 21st centuries was born. Though a radically different system from the one Keynes created in the aftermath of World War II, Richard Nixon declared upon its launch that "we are all Keynsians now."

The third wave of the global financial crisis - Massive artificial stock, bond wealth will be looking for a place to go
October/November, 2015 - [G]old lags the Volatility Index which, as Investopedia points out, is forward looking. If Goldman's analysis is correct, and we are early in the process, the recent breakout in the gold price could be a harbinger of things to come. Please note the recent surge in volatility index – the investor fear gauge. Gold's inflation hedge characteristics are well-known, but what is not widely understood or publicized is gold's practicality as a disinflation and deflation hedge – a characteristic prominently illustrated in the chart which covers a distinctly disinflationary period.

Reflections in a golden eye - Confluence of events drives renewed investor interest
September, 2015 - The situation we are experiencing at the moment in the gold market is reminiscent of the period around 2002 just before the gold market broke to the upside. At the time, there were shortages in London and the Bank of England was forced into sales, in my view, to cover delivery problems being experienced by the bullion banks. As the BoE selling cleared the market, the price began to rise and developed into the first leg of gold's secular bull market – a long bull market I see as still in force today.

The gold investment demand juggernaut - Public buys dips, saves gold for rainy day
August, 2015 - Whenever the mainstream media decides to undertake one of its periodic attacks on gold and gold ownership, it almost always begins by laying out gold's long history as a proven inflation hedge. It then proceeds to explain that inflation is not a problem at the present, and, as a result, no one with any common sense would bother to own it. This argument is a set-up – a pretext meant to confuse investor thinking and redirect interest away from the one investment vehicle likely to do them some good in these uncertain times.

The Shanghai Stock Crash and China gold demand - What it means for the gold market
July, 2015 - The Chinese people, it is well known, already have a cultural affinity to gold. That attachment just received a shot of adrenaline. Prior to June, trading volumes on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) were already running 20% higher than the previous year.  Now, with crash psychology affecting thinking up and down the spectrum of investors, SGE is reporting volumes off the charts. In early July, Want China Times reported that "SGE posted a record trading volume of 48.33 million grams in a single day in late June." (48.3 metric tonnes, a big number.)

Gold ownership as a lifestyle decision - "It shone with the placid certainty of received tradition."
June, 2015 - Along these lines, I had the happy occasion recently of receiving a telephone call from an old client and friend – a physician safely retired near the sea and alongside one of the South's oldest golf clubs. It was good to hear from this student of the markets – one of life's steady and thoughtful practitioners. McHoots probably would have counted Doc, as I will call him, a friend, since he thinks much like the character so skillfully described by Mr. Wodehouse. Back at the turn of the century, Doc foresaw much of what would happen economically in the United States and purchased what he considered enough gold to see him through it.

Hedging the Twilight Zone - Candid mid-year assessments from some of Wall Street's big hitters
June, 2015 - "No one saw it coming." That was the popular refrain following the 2007-2008 financial crisis – explanation and excuse all rolled into one short, neat sentence. This time around, though, it's different. (It really is.) A chorus of naysayers, led by some of Wall Street's most respected figures, has come front and center to warn investors of a troubled economy and tenuous financial markets. One analyst aptly described the situation facing investors as being "trapped in a Twilight Zone" between the end of the Fed's money printing policies and its first rate hike.

Reflections in a golden eye - Rejection, repatriation and redemption in the gold market
April, 2015 - The individual who thought he or she had the cat by the tail and cashed-in his or her golden chips during the 1920's deflation became a millionaire. In short order though, that millionaire became a pauper as wave after wave of hyperinflation washed over the German economy. One moral from this somewhat frightening tale is that becoming a millionaire or even a billionaire on one's gold holdings was inconsequential. Another is not to give up one's hedge until there is ample evidence that it is no longer needed. Momentary nominal profits can be illusory.

Gold Chartography 101 - The Case for Gold Ownership in Ten Charts
March, 2015 - These charts summarize gold's impressive performance during the tumultuous first fourteen years of the 21st century. Investors fearing some future Black Monday, a general bank or currency collapse, a 1930s-style economic depression, or a sudden and virulent inflation took precautions by purchasing gold coins and bullion as a form of portfolio insurance. Gold Chartography 101 is a record of that past. At the same time, though, it could very well be a glimpse of the future.

Crude Oil Collapse, Gold’s Drop and Oil-driven Credit Collapse Worries November 2014 - We all know that the major central banks around the world are on the same page when it comes to inflation: They want it higher. One member of the European Central Bank's executive board, Yves Mensch, went so far as to suggest that Europe's central bank might buy gold in an effort to ratchet up the inflation rate.

swanThe Reinvention of Alan Greenspan
November 2014 - During the time Alan Greenspan and representative Ron Paul had their famous series of exchanges (some might have labeled them confrontations) during Congressional hearings from 1997 to 2005, the congressman made what turns out to have been a prescient observation. "My questions," he said, "are always on the same subject. If I don't bring up the issue of hard money versus fiat money, Greenspan himself does." I say "prescient observation" because here we are a decade or more later and the "new" post-Fed Greenspan sounds very much like the "old" pre-Fed Greenspan-––the one who consistently advocated gold before he became Fed chairman.

Why China Thinks Gold is the Buy of the Century
October 2014 - On the occasion of the launch of the Shanghai International Gold Exchange on September 19, 2014, Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the Peoples' Bank of China (PBOC), reflected on his country's view of gold. "[The] gold market," he said, "is an important and integral part of China's financial market. We are now the largest gold producer, as well as the biggest gold importer and consumer in the world. . . The People's Bank of China will continue to support the sustainable growth and sound development of China's gold market."

swanIt’s Not the Fed Taking Gold Down, but the Vote in Scotland September 2014 - Some of you might be wondering what happened to gold at the 4pm (MDT) open, particularly in light of the rather benign, steady-as-she-goes Fed announcement. This looks like it might have to do with the Scotland independence vote in the UK tomorrow. [One man's opinion] A late poll has the vote closing to 51% (No) – 49% (Yes). In other words a complete toss-up with the Yes vote gaining momentum going into tomorrow's proceedings.

Gold Market and the Interest Rate Trap
September 2014 - Had the Congressional Budget Office done the math, as outlined in the table above, it might not have appeared so nonchalant about the prospect of Treasury paying the historical average interest rate on the massive federal debt.

Developing Gold Market Situations - Stock Market Meltdown
June 2014 - Even as we are consistently reminded that the stock market is trading at record highs, gold remains the best performer on the year thus far -- better than Treasuries, the euro, commodities, farmland, NASDAQ and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, better even than silver. The nearly 10% appreciation in the price began under what we believe to have been oversold conditions at roughly $1200 per ounce. Much of the early year upward price adjustment had to do with investors globally taking advantage of the oversold market.

Reflections in a Golden Eye. (June 2014 - Here are a some previously unpublished notes written over the past few months — observations and reflections, some a little lengthy some short and sweet, strictly for the advanced gold owner.

So How Goes the War on Gold? (May 2014 - It seems to me that anyone considering gold ownership would want to know if the supports in the market that brought the price to its current level are still present, or if they have diminished thus deflating future prospects. Though the war on gold continues unabated judging from the anti-gold rhetoric issued by the mainstream financial press and some of Wall Street's largest financial institutions, the market for physical gold stands in stark opposition – a reminder that the metal "still clings tenaciously to men's hearts," as British gold analyst Timothy Green once put it.

swanPress Anti-Gold Scare Tactics Largely Ineffective (April 2014 - Under normal circumstances, I might let a rutty headline about gold in the Financial Times pass without much notice. I say "rutty" because the Financial Times has long been stuck in a rut as one of the principle apologists for Keynesian economics — big banks, big deficits, big governments and powerful central banks. It doesn't think much of gold enthusiasts and gold enthusiasts do not think much of it. (Although I still read it every morning.)

April Fools’ drop dead date for the Volcker Rule – what it might mean for Gold (March 2014 - As it turns out, and unbeknownst to me when I wrote the post below (which has now been edited), the Federal Reserve has extended the term for full compliance with the Volcker Rule to July 21, 2015 with an effective date of April 1, 2014. I hope my readers will forgive the oversight on my part. Though the sense of urgency conveyed in the original post is removed courtesy of the extended compliance period, my conclusion remains the same: I view the combination of the Volcker Rule and investigations into bank's trading activity with respect to the gold market as major positives for gold going forward.

Black Swans, Yellow Gold
January, 2014) - This short study examines gold's performance under the four most commonly predicted worst-case economic scenarios -- a 1930s-style deflation, chronic Japanese-style disinflation, a 1970s-style runaway stagflation, and a Weimar-style hyperinflation.

See also: Black Swans - A chronology of panics, mania, crashes and collapses from 400 BC to present (February, 2014)

The Gold Owner's Guide to 2014
January, 2014) - If I could add a prediction of my own for the New Year, it would be that heavy global demand for gold and silver will remain strong no matter what the price does. At the same time, I believe we are going to get back on the upside track this year. Of all the predictions posted below, Scotia Mocatta's comes closest to my own thinking: "For 2014, a return to $1,435/oz would not be too surprising."

Gold's organized retreat. Who benefits?
November, 2013) - [I]f you look closely at the timing of the two biggest stair-step downtrends in the gold market, they came just after Venezuela's repatriation announcement in August, 2011 and Germany's in January, 2013. What should have been bullish events became bearish instead.

China's gold coup d'etat: What it means for gold owners
Novermber, 2013 - "Now, with this report of ramped-up exports from the United Kingdom, another piece of the puzzle falls into place and we begin to get a fairly clear picture what these gold mobilizations entail. Switzerland and Hong Kong are acting as a conduit of western gold on its way to China — and probably, at least in part, to Chinese central bank reserves."

Golden Gut Check 2013 Is the secular bull market still on course?
October, 2013 - "This issue we team up with the charting research services, Macrotrends.net and Thechartstore.com, to bring you a grouping of highly illuminating charts on the gold and silver markets. Though we are a full five years from the genesis of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, its aftershocks still influence (in fact, dominate) economic policy as well as activity in the financial markets, including gold."

In "a banquet of consequences" deficits, gold matter
July, 2013 - "What the nation needs is another Paul Volcker. Under the circumstances, what it is likely to get is another Ben Bernanke."

Bernanke's conundrum: What it might mean for gold
July, 2013 - "In an earlier article, I advised that we should take heed of what the Fed does, not what it says. In a certain sense, as you see in the two graphs below, the Federal Reserve may have already launched QE4 while simultaneously talking about ratcheting monetization down."

The connection between quantitative easing and the gold price
June. 2013 - "At first glance, it looks like reserve bank credit and the gold price are correlated, but what is really going on with this tandem is that they are both being pushed by the same force -- a bad economy. It causes the Fed to print money and investors to buy gold." (Also includes "Russia: The sleeping giant of gold producing countries)

Fifteen Days in April
May, 2013 - "Assembled below are fifteen of the best insights and observations on one of the strangest and confusing fifteen day periods in the history of the gold market -- a flash crash, a global rush to purchase and a healthy bounce."

Wealth won, wealth lost - What's your real rate of return?
April, 2013 - "The dramatic breakdown in the real rate of return* on dollar-based savings instruments is perhaps the most important financial event of the past decade; save perhaps gold's rise as its most effective countermeasure. The absence of a real rate of return makes it impossible to preserve, let alone grow, wealth by traditional means."

Gold owners guide to 2013
December, 2012 - "By the time we get to the end of 2013, we will forget much of what shaped 2012. Yet, as we look back at 2012, there are some fundamentally disheartening, if not disturbing trends that are likely to play a determining role in all financial markets for some time to come, including the gold market."

Queen Elizabeth checks out Bank of England gold room
December, 2012 - Back in 2008, when the financial system was on the verge of breakdown, Queen Elizabeth asked a now famous question during a visit to the London School of Economics: "Why didn't anyone see this coming?" The answer she got left something to be desired, so apparently she decided to give it another try yesterday during a visit to the Bank of England's gold vault.

Saving Gold 2012
December, 2012 - In post World War I Germany, for example, a 20-mark gold coin purchased the equivalent of twenty marks worth of goods and services in the marketplace. At the end of the nightmare German inflation in 1924, that same 20-mark gold coin (weighing roughly one-quarter troy ounces) provided the purchasing power of 14,520,000,000,000 paper marks."

cbgoldThe most important gold market event since 1999
June, 2012 - "Quite unexpectedly, except perhaps among a handful of long-time gold advocates, gold is quietly and gradually moving back to its centerpiece role in international reserves. Stretched and threatened financially, nation states have begun accumulating gold for the same reason private individuals do -- as portfolio insurance."

Surging central bank gold demand adds new dimension to bull market
May, 2012 - "Central bank demand is more rooted in longer-term policies having to do with the value and safety of national reserves, and these policies tend to play out over the course of years or even decades. As a result, changes in the way gold is viewed by central banks are likely to have a significant, even profound, long-term effect on the market -- in fact, the consistent nature of central bank demand can be viewed as putting a floor under the price."

Extraordinary delusions or the madness of machines
April, 2012 - "[I]t is no different than the bubble thinking that preoccupied Holland during its tulip mania, or France during its South Seas investment scheme or the long list of extraordinary delusions and crowd madness chronicled by Charles Mackay in his now famous tome. Only this time it is driven by machines, a kind of madness that we have hard-coded into software that is running amuck, and no one seems inclined to understand the process, let alone stop it."

dilbertgold

Saving Gold 2011- Old reliable stands tall in crisis atmosphere
December, 2011 - "Gold has posted returns of 19% or better in eight of the last ten years -- a "yawner" for those who constantly inveigh against gold's supposed volatility, but "old reliable" for those who bought it intending to hedge the disastrous turn of events in the global economy. Anyone purchasing gold at any time during the past decade and holding it for at least three years has garnered a solid return on his or her holdings.

Americans choose gold as best long term investment
October, 2011 - "Gold," says Gallup, "is Americans' top pick as the best long-term investment regardless of gender, age, income, or party ID, but men, seniors, middle-income Americans, and Republicans are more enamored with it than are other Americans." 34% of those polled chose gold, 19% real estate, 17% stocks, 14% savings, 10% bonds. 41% of men rated it the best investment."

Top 10 Quotes on Gold going over $1600
August, 2011 - "We thought it would be interesting to catalogue in one place the best quotes on gold going over $1600 -- the thought-provoking, the witty, the profound (not necessarily in order of preference)."

King Ibn Saud's 35,000 British sovereigns
June, 2011 - "[S]ignificant gold buying interest in the Middle East brought to mind the story of Saudi Arabia's King Ibn Saud and his sale of oil concessions to the major oil companies. In payment he received 35,000 British Sovereigns — a coin many of you hold in your own sovereign wealth funds. The good king understood the difference between the value of gold and the value of a paper promise."

goldanchorHow gold became politically correct
February, 2011 - "It all started very quietly with a little-known speech in May of 2008 by Benn Steil, a highly respected policy insider at the the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is generally considered the font of establisment thinking on foreign and international economic policy. Steil's speech had to do with gold -- an unusual subject for someone so prominent in the CFR. His proposal? That gold should be restored to a central role in the international monetary system."

Black Swans Yellow Gold
November, 2010 - "Now, as the economy has gotten progressively worse, many investors are beginning to ask about gold's practicality and efficiency under more dire circumstances -- the ultimate black swan, or outlier event like a deflationary depression, severe disinflation, runaway stagflation or hyperinflation. The following thumbnail sketches draw from the historical record to provide insights on how gold is likely to perform under each of those scenarios."

The Perils of Unmitigated Positive Thinking
September, 2010 - "For countless private investors on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Queen Elizabeth's question prompted a more personalized assessment: "Why," they asked their financial advisors, "wasn't I advised that this might be coming?" For those completely honest with themselves, the question reduced to "Why didn't I see this coming. . ."

Hedging the Worst Case Scenario - How Gold Performs in Periods of Deflation, Disinflation, Stagflation and Hyperinflation (October, 2009) - "If history is indeed the best teacher, the important lesson about gold coins and bullion being the most versatile and reliable store of value under a variety of breakdown scenarios will not be lost on the contemporary reader. . ."

wall stDisturbing Trends 2009: Bail, Rescue, Print Forumula No Cure for What Ails America
September, 2009 - "Some might believe that we have reached a culmination of sorts for the financial crisis that began in 2008 and that from here things are going to get better. This study draws the opposite conclusion. The bail, rescue and print formula being employed by the federal government and central bank today is simply a continuation of policies that brought about the crisis in the first place. . ."

Dragon's Hoard - In One Fell Swoop, China Profoundly Alters Gold Market Synergy
June, 2009 - "Though the dragon hoard depicted by our good friend, Ed Stein, is not yet a reality, China can back its desire to own gold with plenty of cold hard cash. At nearly $1.4 trillion in dollar-based assets, and almost $2 trillion in total reserves, $80 billion would consume a paltry 6% of China's dollar reserves. . ."

The Gordon Brown Gold Rally Indicator Flashes Buy Signal
April, 2009 - "British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's serial attempts to persuade the International Monetary Fund to sell gold have proven to be one of the more reliable indicators of an impending price spike. Over the past decade, Brown has begged, pleaded and otherwise cajoled the IMF no less than four times to sell from its 3217 tonne hoard. Each of the first three attempts were stymied for one reason or another. . ."

Part 1 - The Big Bailout of 2008:
October, 2008 - "You get a sense that America's chickens have come home to roost. Instead of learning from our past mistakes though, as the idiom above is meant to suggest, the nation appears intent on compounding them. The Great American Bailout of 2008 is simply more of the same -- more debt, more easy money, more moral hazard, more taxpayer responsibility, and more government intervention. Quite literally, the government has once again applied a band aid . . "

Part 2 - The Big Bailout of 2008:
October, 2008 - "There has been a great deal of finger-pointing going on. Who is to blame for this extraordinary crisis? Arguably, it is the most personal of the many crises visited upon us in my lifetime and probably the most far-reaching since, as of this morning, it had engulfed most of the world.

Six Situations to Monitor for the Rest of 2008
September, 2008 - "The good news (if you happen to go to work every day on Wall Street like the fellow in the Stein cartoon above) is that you are likely to get bailed out if your balance sheet is reduced to a puddle. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke was serious about those money-dropping helicopters after all. The bad news is that there is a significant downside to the Fed's Magic Money Machine. Runaway stagflation becomes a distinct possibility. . ."

An Historic Year for Gold -- 2008, That Was the Year That Was
June, 2008 - A graphic representation of the first 12-months of the financial crisis.

Golden Gut Check
April, 2008 - "I cannot remember a time when the fundamentals have lined up more favorably for gold. The factors which have driven the price up over 75% over the past few years remain in place and in fact seem to be intensifying. The past, in this respect, could very well serve as prologue. Great forces, mostly benevolent, are at work in the gold market. . ."

A Commment on Gold as Savings
February, 2008 - "We have entered a new era in world finance -- an era where the dollar will never again be viewed globally by individuals and institutions as it was in the past. Likewise, gold has entered a new era where it, too, will not be viewed as it was in the past. . ."

drMSeven Steps to Becoming a Happy First-time Gold Investor January, 2008 - "Kick back and rest easy knowing you have taken a major step toward securing your financial future. 'The possession of gold,' Thomas Bailey Aldrich once wrote, 'has ruined fewer men than the lack of it.' Gold, in and of itself, won't change the world, but it will certainly change the way you view it. . ."

Gold Forecast for 2008
December, 2007 - "In 2008, my minimum target is $925 based upon a continuation of the trends already in place and mentioned above. We could, however, see a spike to between $975 and $1025 if, in addition, [t]he credit crisis escalates and the central banks are forced to inject substantially more "liquidity" into the financial system than anticipated. . ."

Gold Price Relativity - What Gold Owners Can Learn from the Stock Bull Market of the 1990s
October, 2007 - "If you were to apply the same arithmetic progression to gold from the inception of its bull market in late 2001 (when it traded at roughly $270), a top comparable to the Dow's would put its price in the neighborhood of $4050. ($270 x 15 = $4050.00). When viewed from this perspective, gold at $750 looks very reasonably priced. . . " (Includes Yap money inflation reference)

The Top 25 Quotes on the Credit Crisis
August, 2007 - "The financial market globally is up to its elbows in one of the strangest and most complicated credit crises in history. Events have come in rapid succession with mind-numbing effect. No sooner does the dust settle in one part of the market than it is kicked up in another. . .We thought it would be interesting to catalog some of that reaction for you on one web page. . ."

Disturbing Trends 2007: The Dollar Under Siege
July, 2007 - "Add the current problems in the mortgage markets, which have pushed several major banks against the ropes, and you have the potential for an imminent dollar crisis. We may no longer have to gaze into the distant future for a glimpse of what is to come for the dollar. The day of reckoning might very well have already arrived. . ."

war bondsStructural Shift in Gold, Money Markets
April, 2007 - "Common sense begs the question "Who is going to fill the gaping hole left by the exit of America's top [foreign] creditors?" A prime candidate, and perhaps the only candidate, is the U.S. Federal Reserve itself with its magical ability to manufacture money. . ." (Includes Gordon Brown Gold Rally Indicator post)

What Is Going On with Gold?
February, 2007 - "The experts are confounded. The stock market is at all time highs. The commodity sector has been battered -- down roughly 20% from its May, 2006 highs. Crude oil has plummeted from its dizzying highs made late last year. Everyone is talking about the Goldilocks economy. Yet, through all of it, gold is in an upswing of its own. . ."

Gold Forecast 2007
January, 2007 - "For 2007, my minimum upside target is $715 assuming we avoid major surprises and gold trades principally on monetary [dollar] considerations. (Gold closed Friday, January 12, at $625.5 and opened the year at $639.50). However, if we do get some surprises. . .[w]e could see a breakout that would take gold to the $775-800 range. . ."

* * * * * * *

sketch
Michael J. Kosares is the author of "The ABCs of Gold Investing - How To Protect and Build Your Wealth With Gold and founder and managing director of USAGOLD, the gold firm and website.

 

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mkMichael J. Kosares, the author of these articles, has more than 40 years experience in the gold business. He is the founder and executive director of USAGOLD (both the website and gold brokerage service), the author of three books on the gold market, and the editor of "News & Views, Forecasts, Commentary & Analysis on the Economy and Precious Metals," the firm's client letter. He has written numerous magazine and internet essays and is well-known for his ongoing commentary on the gold market and its economic, political and financial underpinnings.

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