Author Archives: News

Households in India pile up 24,000 tonnes of gold

Financial Express/Banikinkar Pattanayak/5-20-2019

“Households in India may have piled up around 24,000-25,000 tonnes of gold, remaining the world’s largest holders of the precious metal, Somasundaram PR, managing director (India) of the London-headquartered World Gold Council (WGC), has told FE. At Friday’s international price, the value of the holdings (25,000 tonne) would be as much as $1,135 billion, or equivalent of more than 40% of India’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in FY19.”

USAGOLD note:  To give you an idea just how much gold the people of India own in the overall scheme of things, the total amount of gold held by governments and central banks globally is 33,976 tonnes, according to World Gold Council statistics.

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Inside perspective on the 2008 financial crisis and the lessons learned

The Alchemist/Mike Silva/January 2019

“Absolutely. As long as we have a financial system, we will have financial crises. The only question is how often and how severe. Personally, I think a crisis is likely to happen sooner rather than later because of the large number of possible crisis triggers that are currently being squeezed. . . . Fortunately, because of improved capital, liquidity and risk management, the next financial crisis is unlikely to result in a banking crisis. But it could still  easily result in sufficiently deep losses across a sufficiently broad range of assets to trigger an extraordinarily painful recession, or worse. The likelihood that the US has seen its last depression is about as high as the likelihood that it has seen its last war. Just saying.”

USAGOLD note:  In this fascinating peak behind the curtain, Mike Silva tells the inside story of the 2008 financial crisis from the perspective of someone who, as Tim Geithner’s chief of staff at the New York Fed, was at the policy-making epicenter during the breakdown. Silva delivered his remarks in a speech before the London Bullion Marketing Association in October 2018.


Image by Benji the Pen [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons [Edited]


Repost from 2-13-2019

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The vast gold hoards held by Germany’s population

Bullion Star/Ronan Manly

“While the Chinese and Indian populations are well known for their insatiable appetite for importing, buying and hoarding physical gold, there is one market in the West that does likewise but which flies under the radar slightly, garnering less attention than China and India. That gold market is Germany. Although German citizens are known for their fondness for holding gold, the vast size of the German population’s gold holdings was clarified recently in a newly published survey commissioned by Reisebank, a bank active in the German precious metals market.

The survey, conducted by the Research Center for Financial Services (CFIN) on behalf of Reisebank, found that German adults currently own a staggering 8918 tonnes of gold, worth about € 330 billion at current Euro gold prices. Note, this figure is gold held by private citizens in Germany and does not include the gold reserves of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, which amount to an additional 3370 tonnes.”

USAGOLD note 1:  When push comes to shove, those who own the gold make the rules.


Repost from 4-29-2019

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Donald Trump eases tariffs for allies as he focuses on China

Financial Times/James Politi and Jude Webber/5-18-2019

“Donald Trump is easing trade tensions with US allies, bowing to mounting domestic pressure to rein in commercial conflicts across the world and focus on an escalating tariff battle with China.”

USAGOLD note:  Should we call it the ‘US-China Trade War’ or Trade War 1 (TW1)? The White House, Financial Times reports, is only tabling the trade conflicts with Mexico, Canada, Europe and Japan until a later date.

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US trade talks with China have stalled: Sources

CNBC/Jeff Cox/5-17-2019

“Negotiations between the U.S. and China appear to have stalled as both sides dig in after disagreements earlier this month. Scheduling for the next round of negotiations is ‘in flux’ because it is unclear what the two sides would negotiate, two sources briefed on the status of the talks said. China has not signaled it is willing to revisit past promises on which it reneged earlier this month, despite showing up for talks in Washington last week.”

USAGOLD note:   This latest turn of the screw will cause a great deal of anxiety over the weekend that will likely flow into the open for Asian markets late Sunday. . . . .

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Germany repatriates about half of its gold reserves

But with Europe stumbling from crisis to crisis, the German public has grown uneasy about keeping the gold abroad. Some even argue the world’s second biggest bullion reserve may be needed to back a new deutschmark, should the euro zone break up.” – Reuters, 2-9-2017

“Germany has a stronger relationship with gold than most nations. The country’s experience with hyperinflation between 1919 and 1923, during the years of the Weimar Republic, is ingrained in the national consciousness. Gold, above all, stands for stability” – Financial Times, 11-10-2017

Germany this year (2017) completed its scheduled transfer of national gold reserves from the New York Fed and the Bank of France.  Germany will now leave 1236 tonnes at the New York Fed and another 432 tonnes in London.  The remainder of its 3378-tonne national holding will be stored in Frankfurt.  The repatriation transfers to Frankfurt were completed three years ahead of schedule.

With respect to the gold left at the Fed, Bundesbank’s Carl-Ludwig Thiele told reporters: “We have a lot of discussions about (U.S. President Donald) Trump, regarding implications on monetary policy, macroeconomics, etc., but we trust the central bank of the U.S.”

Thiele’s confidence in the Federal Reserve brings to mind an old story about Germany’s relationship with the Federal Reserve and the storage of its gold reserves. When Hjalmar Schacht, head of Germany’s central bank in the 1920s, visited the New York Fed he asked to see Germany’s gold stored in its vaults.

“Strong**,” wrote Schacht in a 1955 autobiography, “was proud to be able to show us the vaults which were situated in the deepest cellar of the building and remarked: ‘Now, Herr Schacht, you shall see where the Reichsbank gold is kept.’ ” Storage staff went off to retrieve the gold.  “At length,” Schacht goes on, “we were told: ‘Mr. Strong, we can’t find the Reichsbank gold.’ ”  To which Schacht replied: “Never mind; I believe you when you say the gold is there. Even if it weren’t you are good for its replacement. ”One need presume that nearly 100 years later, the level of trust conveyed by Schacht remains in place.

It is unlikely that Germany would depart the euro anytime soon and back a new Deutschmark with gold.  Having an asset set aside, though, that is detached from erratic national currencies in this day and age is a wise move for the prudent nation-state – just as it is for the prudent private investor.

–– USAGOLD


** New York Fed president at the time, Benjamin Strong

Repost from 2/10/2017, updated October, 2018. The Financial Times article linked at the top of the page tells the fascinating inside story of Germany’s gold repatriation.

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‘Flash Boys’ speed bump for gold and silver futures gets regulator go-ahead

Bloomberg/Benjamin Bain/5-15-2019

“The go-ahead from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, announced Wednesday, comes after ICE announced in February that it planned to impose a 3-millisecond trading delay on gold and silver contracts. The pause would be the first-ever speed bump for futures, showing that an idea popularized in Michael Lewis’s 2014 book ‘Flash Boys’ to rein in high-frequency traders is gaining more adherents.”

USAGOLD note:  Interesting that ICE would choose gold and silver as the two streets in which to install the speed bump.  The CFTC says that the speed bumps “have the potential to significantly impact futures’ markets function and quality” and that it would promote more trading through “slowing down high-speed traders engaged in latency arbitrage.” The CFTC, it would seem, is handing high-speed trading a ticket. Hopefully the net effect will be something of a return to normalcy as the advantage of high-speed trading is throttled.

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US consumers start to pay price of trade war with China

Financial Times/Sam Fleming and Alistair Gray/5-16-2019

“Donald Trump has been sounding supremely confident that US consumers will emerge unscathed from his trade war, but economists fear households are already starting to be hit by earlier rounds of tariffs and will face a mounting burden as hostilities escalate.”

USAGOLD note:  Several retailers including WalMart have publicly warned their customers that higher prices are coming the result of increased tariffs on China.

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China dumps US Treasuries at fastest pace in two years

Financial Times/Joe Rennison and Colby Smith/5-15-2019

“Except for a small net purchase in February, China has now sold Treasuries every month since September. A fear in the US is that China could ramp up its sales of Treasuries in an attempt to disrupt the market and put upward pressure on US interest rates, in effect raising borrowing costs for Washington.”

USAGOLD note:  Financial Times points out that the yuan remained flat during March when the liquidations were conducted hinting at a connection with trade negotiations.  FT quotes Deutche Bank’s Torsten Slok as saying “Normally the answer to why this has happened has been very similar — it’s been the exchange rate. This time the number is more surprising. There are a lot of open questions.”  There is another question not covered in the articles we have read on this subject:  Will sales by China prompt sales from other nation states as part of the de-dollarization trend? At the moment, foreign invetors hold over $6 trillion in U.S. debt paper, as shown in the chart below.

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US and China draw closer to final trade agreement

Financial Times/James Politi and Lucy Hornby

“We’re getting into the end-game stage,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice-president for international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce. “Ninety per cent of the deal is done, but the last 10 per cent is the hardest part, it’s the trickiest part and it will require trade-offs on both sides,” he told reporters on Tuesday.”

USAGOLD note:  The good news is that both sides seem to want to finalize a deal as they round the final turn and head into the backstretch, according to this FT report. The bad news is that the final 10% Brilliant references, could be a deal killer. We hesitate to point out that it has been on the table for months. . . . . . .Market strategist Clif Droke has this to say about the potential effect of a trade deal on the price of gold: “. . .[T]here is also a growing sense among some analysts that if a trade deal is soon reached, it would actually benefit gold. This belief is based on the assumption that a trade deal would likely push the U.S. dollar’s value lower, in turn boosting gold’s price due to its inverse correlation to the dollar.”  We would add that a trade deal would likely increase demand for commodities in general – a development that could spill over to the gold and silver markets.


Repost from 4-3-2019 (Hard to believe that this where we were roughly a month and a half ago.)

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Is the supply of gold depleting?

The Gold Telegraph/Lawrence Thomas

“The demand for gold is increasing, yet new discoveries of the precious metal have not kept pace with the demand. Funds for exploration are historically high, $54.3 billion, up 60 percent over the past 18 years. . . Gold discoveries have followed a predictable pattern. 263 major gold discoveries have been made in the past 28 years, but half of those discoveries happened in the 1990s. This boom lasted until the turn of the century when the rate of discovery began to decline. Only 16 discoveries were reported from 2000 to 2002, which produced 108.3 [million] ounces of gold. That amount was below the average finds of the 1990s. This decline has continued, with both new discoveries and the amount of gold mined decreasing steadily. By 2010, only 18.6 million ounces of gold was discovered, a severe drop from the 61.5 ounces found in 2009.”


Repost from 5-7-2018

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Trump calls on Fed to help win the trade war

Financial Times/Sam Fleming/5-14-2019

“Donald Trump called on the Federal Reserve to help win the trade war with China, saying victory would be inevitable if the US central bank matched stimulus moves in Beijing.”

USAGOLD note:  The chess game continues. . . .And so do the tweets. The president pressures the Fed and the Fed resists.  Fed chairman Powell only a few days ago stated “we don’t see a strong case for moving in either direction” on rates. You get the feeling that something is going to break somewhere. In an article published yesterday, Bloomberg’s Marvin Perez summed up the situation this way: “Donald Trump’s tweets are keeping global financial markets on edge, and many investors are opting for gold as a refuge.”

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Neutron star collision billions of years ago put gold and silver in all of us

Columbia News/Carla Cantor/5-7-2019

“This single cosmic event, close to our solar system, gave birth to 0.3 percent of the Earth’s heaviest elements, including gold, platinum and uranium. ‘This means that in each of us we would find an eyelash worth of these elements, mostly in the form of iodine, which is essential to life,’ [Astrophysicist Imre] Bartos said.”

USAGOLD note:  And economists wonder why humanity has a dogged attachment to the barbarous relic. . . . .Was it Carl Sagan who used to say that “we are made of star stuff”?


Repost from 5-9-2019

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Global Times reporter tweets ‘possibility of dumping U.S. Treasuries’

USAGOLD note:  China’s Global Times focuses on issues from the Chinese government’s perspective.  One would have to assume that Hu Xijin’s tweet was approved, particularly since it was not removed from Twitter even though it has received substantial attention in the West because of the source.  China has not been a net buyer of U.S. Treasuries for quite some time. It systematically disposed of U.S. Treasuries from 2014 to early 2017. Since early 2017, however, its exchange reserves have remained at roughly $3 trillion, most of which are U.S. Treasuries.

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US rift with Europe widens ahead of Orban visit

Financial Times/Demetri Sevastopulo and  Guy Chazan/5-13-2019

“When Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, last week abruptly cancelled a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper declared that the US-German friendship was ‘in ruins.'”

USAGOLD note:  While attention is riveted on China, across the other big pond another important trading relationship appears to be in the process of unraveling.

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$1.2 trillion in stock market value lost so far from trade war sell-off with more expected

CNBC/Patti Domm/5-13-2019

“Large cap stocks, or those in the S&P 500, have now lost $1.2 trillion since President Donald Trump surprised markets with the May 5 weekend tweets that said he was thinking of raising tariffs on Chinese goods. As China retaliated against the latest U.S. tariffs Monday, the Dow and S&P 500 were both down more than 2% and investors fled to bonds and other safe haven trades like gold.”

USAGOLD note:  It’s that part about more losses being expected that will keep the bulls up nights.  Some bulls have become the bears but they are still small in number.  The increase in demand for gold we are seeing now is miniscule compared to what it could be.

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World’s rich put a third of funds into cash as trade war simmers

Bloomberg/Joanna Ossinger

“Wealthy investors around the world are holding a relatively high level of cash, and perhaps they’ve become too cautious, according to UBS Group AG. The world’s largest wealth manager said 32 percent of high-net-worth portfolios are in cash, in a survey released May 7. In Asia and Latin America, the portion was 36 percent, compared with 31 percent in Switzerland and 35 percent in the rest of Europe. The outlier: the U.S., at just 23 percent.”

USAGOLD note:  That U.S. number is interesting to say the least. . . .American investors are all-in with respect to the stock market thinking they can get out when the time comes without any serious injury.  Blind faith?  Wishful thinking? Or trust well-placed?  Time will tell. . . . . .For those with a healthy skepticism and a lot of cash, though, we know of another liquid instrument that does not carry the burden of counterparty risk.  It is yellow, shiny, comes in the form of coins and bullion and has a history of serving its owners as a storehouse of wealth since before the time of the Caesars.


Repost from 5-8-2019

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The bond market just sent a disturbing message

Bloomberg/Robert Burgess

“Global markets got a glimpse of the unthinkable Wednesday when the U.S. held a key bond auction. The $27 billion sale of 10-year notes – the world’s benchmark securities  – didn’t go well at all. It wasn’t a failure; that would have triggered no less than an Armageddon-type event on par with the financial crisis. But the poor demand sure sparked a lot of questions, including whether this was a sign that investors finally had enough of the government’s profligate spending and borrowing.”

USAGOLD note: When reviewing the TIC data, the one thing that stands out is China and Japan’s withdrawal from the Treasuries market as buyers over the past year.  That is a fact of life comes at a time when the U.S. government is running its largest deficits in history. Bloomberg from that perspective is right in sounding an initial alarm on to poorly subscribed auction of 10-year notes.


Repost from 5-8-2019

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Trump said to weigh Judy Shelton — author of op-ed ‘The case for monetary regime change’ — as Fed board pick

MarketWatch/Mark DeCambre/5-12-2019

“Shelton, considered an economist with a conservative political leaning, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, that appeared to defend Cain and Moore, saying that ‘mainstream commentators have made a point of dismissing anyone sympathetic to a gold standard as crankish or unqualified,’ she wrote on April 21.”

USAGOLD note:  Forget the gold standard, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon. How will Judy Shelton square her well-known conservative monetary leanings with the Trump perscription to let it rip on interest rates and quantitative easing?  That’s not to say she wouldn’t make a good Fed governor.

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Hold tight for volatility as trade turmoil rattles markets anew

Bloomberg/Netty Idayu Ismail and Abeer Abu Omar/5-12-2019

“AMP Capital’s Naemi sees ‘huge volatility’ at Asia open. . .The standoff between the U.S. and China appeared to deepen at the weekend after Trump took to Twitter again, this time to say the Chinese may have felt they were ‘being beaten so badly’ in the recent talks that it was better to drag their feet in hopes he would lose the 2020 election and get a better deal from the Democrats.”

USAGOLD note:  That does not sound good. . . .

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Indians buy 23 tonnes of gold on Akshaya Tritiya

TheSentinel/5-9-2019

“Market sources said the bullion market was abuzz on Tuesday and people across the country were excited due to decreased gold prices. Akshaya Tritiya is considered auspicious for purchasing precious metals.”

USAGOLD note:  More of the barbarous relic disappears into the coffers of strong-handed long-term investors . . . .

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10 lustrous facts about gold

Mental Floss/Elizabeth Miller

“Gold’s symbol on the periodic table, Au, comes from its Latin name aurum, which means ‘glowing dawn.’ This metal’s tantalizing yellow color and shining exterior has made gold a prized element in jewelry and treasured objects for thousands of years—but, amazingly, all of the gold that has ever been refined could melt down into a single cube measuring 70 feet per side. Read on for more opulent facts.”

USAGOLD note: A refresher course on humanity’s long-term attachment to the yellow metal dating back to the Thracian civilization 4000 years ago.  We take special note of  fact #10. On a sunny autumn day, the golden Colorado capitol dome does truly shine lustrously against the bluest sky you will ever see . . . . . .


Image by Billmcmillan [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons [Edited]


Repost from 9-27-2019

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The Fed is looking at a new program that could be another version of ‘quantitative easing’

CNBC/Jeff Cox

“Federal Reserve officials are considering a new program that would allow banks to exchange Treasurys for reserves, a move aimed at ensuring liquidity during difficult times that also would help the central bank decrease the size of its nearly $4 trillion balance sheet. . . . In some quarters, the idea is viewed as a natural extension of current Fed policy. Others, though, think it in essence could be a repackaged form of quantitative easing and thus yet another iteration of the Fed’s decade-long tinkering in financial markets.”

USAGOLD note: Here we go again. . . . Another new and sure-to-please form of financial engineering designed specifically to pump money into the economy.


Repost from 4-29-2019

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Bond market flashes recession warning as portion of the yield curve inverts again

CNBC/Thomas Franck/5-9-2019

“‘I think that we’re going into a recession. Look, I’m not going to sit here and pinpoint the day, the week or the month it’s going to happen, but it’s out there,’ said David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff. ‘I think people tend to forget that the cause of the recession are the lags between the monetary policy tightening cycle and the eventual hit on GDP growth.'”

USAGOLD note:  We should take into account not just trade war fears but the poor demand at yesterday’s auction of 10-year notes (covered below).  The stock market is down on the trade war but we also believe that the inverted yield curve, as reported at the link above, is also a big factor.  Above we repost an important Short and Sweet on the inverted yield curve as it relates to the gold market.

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U.S. gold bar and coin demand up 38% over last year

World Gold Council/Demand Trends/5-2-2019

Map courtesy of the World Gold Council

“Central banks bought 145.5t of gold, the largest Q1 increase in global reserves since 2013. Diversification and a desire for safe, liquid assets were the main drivers of buying here. On a rolling four-quarter basis, gold buying reached a record high for our data series of 715.7t. Q1 jewellery demand up 1%, boosted by India. A lower rupee gold price in late February/early March coincided with the traditional gold-buying wedding season, lifting jewellery demand in India to 125.4t (+5% y-o-y) – the highest Q1 since 2015.  ETFs and similar products added 40.3t in Q1. Funds listed in the US and Europe benefitted from inflows, although the former were relatively erratic, while the latter were underpinned by continued geopolitical instability. Bar and coin investment softened a touch – 1% down to 257.8t. China and Japan were the main contributors to the decline. Japan saw net disinvestment, driven by profit-taking as the local price surged in February.”

USAGOLD note:  The World Gold Council reports U.S. bar and coin demand rose 38% over the past year (through the first quarter). Global central banks and financial institutions drove physical gold demand the past 12 months raising once again the question if professional investors know something that retail investors do not. As the chart above illustrates, the United States ranked at the top globally for growth in gold coin and bullion demand over the past year, while Asian demand fell back.


Repost from 5-3-2019

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Exclusive: China backtracked on nearly all aspects of U.S. trade deal – sources

Reuters/David Lawder, Jeff Mason and Michael Martina/5-8-2019

“The diplomatic cable from Beijing arrived in Washington late on Friday night, with systematic edits to a nearly 150-page draft trade agreement that would blow up months of negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, according to three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources briefed on the talks.”

USAGOLD note:  This report from the Reuters news agency is unlikely to be well-received in financial circles.  It will be seen as China forcing the White House’s hand, a justification for the president’s tariff stance, and an indicator that the split is far-deeper than most thought prior to its publication.

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Fed tinkers with rate that it uses to help guide main benchmark

Bloomberg/Alex Harris

“The central bank’s shift follows an increase in recent weeks in the effective fed funds rate within that band. The benchmark has been above IOER for more than a month and this week crept up to 2.45 percent, fueled in part by rates squeezing higher in other short-term funding markets.”

USAGOLD note: If the Fed is lowering the rate paid on excess reserves, then it is making an attempt to keep the Fed funds rate from rising – a dovish policy stance.  The market, it would seem, is inclined to push rates higher.  It did not lower rates per se, but it acted to keep them from rising – an interesting distinction.


Repost from 5-1-2019

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Wealthy Indians likely to increase investment in gold: Knight Frank

MoneyControlNews/Knight Frank/5-4-2019

“Ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in India are looking at gold as a viable investment option in 2019, reports suggest. According to a survey conducted by independent global consultancy company Knight Frank, 14 percent Indian UHNWIs are likely to hike their investment in the gold asset class, which is three percent higher than it was in 2018.”

USAGOLD note:  The article goes on to note that 20% of the wealthy worldwide intend to increase their gold holdings in 2019.

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Xi: No devaluation of yuan, cryptic reference to gold

South China Morning Post/Teddy Ng and Lee Jeong-ho/4-26-2019

“Xi said China would keep the Chinese currency stable within a reasonable range, but would not engage in any ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ currency devaluation, one of the criticisms of the US towards China. . .Amid concerns that China had failed to live up to its reform pledges, Xi said, ‘China treasures its promises and commitments with a thousand taels of gold.'”

USAGOLD note:  That cryptic reference might have been directed to China’s partners along the New Silk Road, i.e., that China has significant gold on hand to back its promises of aid. Such a commitment will play well in Asia where gold remains a highly-valued measure and symbol of real wealth.


Repost from 5-1-2019

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A $300 billion blowup has traders bracing for war in Washington

Bloomberg/Vildana Hajric and Sarah Ponczek/5-5-2019

“Not that the candidates are shedding any tears. A campaign aide for Senator Bernie Sanders — who is running for the Democratic nomination — touted the concerns among investors as a victory that signals growing support for his ideas like Medicare for All. The aide said it shows that investors who didn’t consider Sanders a real threat before now believe he can win.”

USAGOLD note:  It is of more than passing interest that the markets are beginning to react to the possibility of a Democratic win in 2020 sooner rather than later. . .The concern is not misplaced.  An assortment of polls now show Trump trailing both Biden and Sanders in the upcoming election and by uncomfortable margins.

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