“[Russell]Clark isn’t a name that most mom and pop investors would recognize. But within the confines of the hedge fund world, he’s a star. His video interview last year on the Real Vision subscription website was one of the most requested of 2018.”
USAGOLD note: For better or worse, Clark’s made his stand. . . .He is a man of obviously deep convictions on what’s in store for the stock market. When asked what happens if he is mistaken, he answers – “This could be my farewell interview.”
“But this is actually standard operating procedure in the Chinese Communist system. Frontline negotiators — in this case vice-premier Liu He — are never empowered to finalise agreements and must always seek final approval from their bosses before a deal is signed.”
USAGOLD note: Some important insights from Financial Times Asia Editor who writes frequently about China’s economy and financial markets. His expertise becomes apparent as you read this well-written assessment of where we stand now in the US-China trade negotiations.
“Why would Beijing return a 150-page draft with ‘systematic edits’ that they surely understood would risk blowing up months of negotiations? . . . China views U.S. demands to change laws as an infringement of national sovereignty.”
USAGOLD note: A major, major sticking point. . .and perhaps full engagement of the Law of Unintended Consequences – for both sides.
“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. . . .
“A growing risk is that Mr Trump won’t just stop with this latest escalation. There’s the threat of extending US tariffs to all Chinese imports and Washington trade hawks are circling Japan and eyeing Germany and the wider eurozone.”
USAGOLD note: Press reports tell us that it will be a month before the effect of tariffs shows up in consumer prices and that is the time China and the United States have to patch things up. Then, as Mackenzie suggests, there is burgeoning trade wars with Japan, Germany and the rest of the EU. Perhaps the cacaphony on inflation will rise once again as the implications begin to seep in. I will remind our readers that part of the genius of Alan Greenspan was to foresee Chinese imports would hold inflation down and allow him the luxury of lower interest rates. What happens when the opposite takes place, i.e. tarriffs + import fees = the shelf price? Will it unleash the forces of inflation buried deeply in the present economic balance?
“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 . . . .
Doomsday prep for the super-rich
“Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.” – Evan Osnos, The New Yorker
Everyday on this page we report on the reasons why gold ownership makes a great deal of sense to ordinary investors. In doing so, we have always taken exception to the mainstream media’s portrayal of the ordinary gold owner as “the woodsman in the tinfoil hat”. . . etc. I would think that many among the media are utterly amazed that people like Steve Huffman (Reddit, CEO), Peter Thiel (PayPal founder) and the long roster of other luminaries mentioned in this New Yorker article are identified as “preppers” in one capacity or another.
They would probably be even more amazed to find that a good many of this same group are likely to be gold and silver owners as well. As such, they take their place alongside a wide range of Americans who own gold – physicians and dentists, nurses and teachers, plumbers, carpenters and building contractors, business owners, attorneys, engineers and university professors (to name a few.) We know because that is the description of our clientele. In other words, gold ownership is pretty much a Main Street endeavor. One Gallup poll a few years back found that 34% of American investors rated gold the best investment “regardless of gender, age, income or party ID. . .” In that survey, investors rated gold higher than stocks, bonds, real estate and bank savings.
“As I had the opportunity to directly question Taleb on gold, he told me truly despises gold. He hates gold. He couldn’t care less about the gold market. Yet Taleb does invest a large share of his ‘safe assets’ in physical gold. Gold is the robust investment par excellence. In case the global economy is on the verge of collapse, gold will keep afloat and survive. Or things might go great, but even then an investment in gold will not result in enormous, unrecoverable losses and ruin. Or as some gold investors rightly remark: for a more or less regular gold coin you could buy hundreds of liters of wine centuries ago and for the value of a similar coin in present times that probably still holds true. Taleb calls this the Lindy effect: gold has been a store of value for, according to some accounts, 4,000 years. We can reasonably expect gold, therefore, to continue to be a store of value for the next 4,000 years.”
USAGOLD note: Nicholas Taleb has always held a place of honor in my reference list of economists and market commentators even before I learned of his love-hate attachment to gold through Olav Dirkmaat’s excellent profile linked above. Taleb’s latest book is Skin in the Game. I have not read it yet, but I plan to.
Repost from 4-27-2018
“‘I am so afraid of a democracy getting the idea that you can just print money to solve all problems. Eventually I know that will fail,’ Warren Buffett’s longtime investing partner told CNBC’s Becky Quick in an interview. ‘You don’t have to raise taxes, you just print.’”
USAGOLD note: The next thing you know Buffett and Munger will be stocking up on gold [smile]. . . . . . .
Repost from 5-6-2019
“A slowing global economy, stock market turmoil, delays to interest rate rises and potential U.S. dollar weakness are expected to boost average annual gold prices to their highest since 2013, a Reuters poll found.”
USAGOLD note: Though the price projections seem on the low side, as is the case often in these kinds of surveys, it is good to see that a poll of top analysts and traders gives gold a positive outlook for the rest of 2019 and going into 2020.
Repost from 5-2-2019
Hussman Frunds/John P. Hussman
“One might view the very comparison of present stock market conditions to 1929 market peak as exaggerated and preposterous, but then, one would be wrong. The fact is that on the valuation measures we find most strongly correlated with actual subsequent long-term and full-cycle market returns across history (and even in recent decades), current market valuations match or exceed those observed at the 1929 peak.”
USAGOLD note: Though the presence of bearish sentiment on stocks is widely acknowledged, it is also generally ignored. Too many believe that even if the stock market tumbles, it will quickly recover as it did after the 2007-2008 credit debacle. There is another scenario – the 1929 example – where the market does not return to peak values for decades (See chart below). Hussman comparisons of the 2019 stock market with its predecessor in 1929 are worth noting and its possible recurrence worth hedging.
Chart courtesy of MacroTrends.com
Repost from 5-5-2019
(USAGOLD – 5/10/2019) – Gold is off to a strong start this morning as higher tariffs on China kick in and the President tweets that “tariffs will bring in far more wealth in our Country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind.” It is now up $5 in early U.S. trading at $1289 after rising marginally in Asia overnight. Silver is up 4¢ at $14.82. The president’s tweets this morning appear to be an attempt to acclimate Americans to the prospect of a longer-term trade war and soothe jittery financial markets.
“The dollar isn’t acting as a safe haven in stressed markets as it usually does,” writes David P. Goldman in Asia Times. “On the contrary, it is absorbing a good deal of the stress. That’s still a small black cloud rather than a thunderstorm, but it suggests that markets are pricing trade-war risk into the US dollar as well as the Chinese yuan. The implication is that the consequences of a full-blown trade war could be nasty for world capital markets.” He goes on to point out that in recent days the dollar dropped against the euro and yen while rising against the yuan. Amidst the confusion, gold has held its own with some evidence of being the recipient of current safe-haven capital flows, particularly during Asian trading hours. (Please see today’s Chart of the Day below.)
We invite you to check back for a possible afternoon update today. We are monitoring what could turn out to be an interesting day in financial markets.
Quote of the Day
“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – William Strauss and Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning
Chart of the Day
Chart courtesy of TradingEconomics.com
Chart note: Gold has held steady since the initial tariff shock at the beginning of the week. Meanwhile, China’s yuan has dropped abruptly. Speculators will likely test the waters with the yuan, i.e., see how willing China is to defend its currency under new and developing circumstances. Gold and the yuan have generally traveled in the same direction in recent years. The chart illustrates the first signs of a potential break with that past. It also serves as an initial warning that perhaps the old tried, true and generally accepted formulae might not work in this rapidly changing commercial and foreign exchange environment – one that increasingly looks like it might include an all-out trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
“The tendency of EU politicians to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to these issues represents a smoldering threat to global financial stability. Troubles affecting Deutsche Bank and other EU lenders could easily explode into financial contagion if markets decide to turn away from these banks à la Lehman Brothers. For American business leaders and political leaders, the festering problems in European banks are a source of potential risk that could cause significant economic problems for all of us. Stay tuned.”
USAGOLD note: Whalen quotes veteran bank consultant Mayra Rodriguez Valladares as saying “U.S. and EU banks are enormously intertwined” particularly when it comes to derivatives and says that the EU’s inability to deal effectively with its teetering banks send financial waves aross the Atlantic in the next crisis.
“While the U.S. financial system is strong, ‘that doesn’t mean we won’t have a recession,’ Eisman said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong on Thursday. ‘And in a recession I think there will be massive losses in the bond markets because there’s a lack of liquidity.’”
USAGOLD note: Eisman, of course, is the investment manager featured in Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short”. When he speaks, people listen. . . . . .You get a sense of what he believes the current big short might be.
“The offshore yuan slumped 0.8% against the dollar after U.S. President Donald Trump said at a rally on Wednesday night that Chinese leaders ‘broke the deal’ he was negotiating with them on trade. The Chinese currency busted through its 200-day-moving average en route to about 6.86 per dollar, its weakest level since January. Senior Chinese officials were set to arrive in Washington Thursday as traders debated whether China might use market instruments – like yuan depreciation or its hoard of Treasuries – to retaliate.” [Emphasis added.]
USAGOLD note: FOREX traders might see gold’s holding up under these yuan circumstances as a good sign. . . . .If China retaliates at some point down the road by selling U.S. Treasuries – a big “if” at this juncture but not impossible – that would be the time where it would likely take an interest in pushing the gold price higher. An upward valuation of its large hoard of gold, some believe significantly larger than what it reports, would compensate at some level for the losses it would sustain on its Treasury holdings (if it were to pursue such a strategy).
“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
“Presently, cryptocurrencies seem to be marred by intellectual contradictions. Why does anyone think, for example, that crypto is a good payment mechanism or store of value when transactions are clunky and the value of a bitcoin has swung from $20,000 to $5,000 in the past 18 months?”
USAGOLD note: We came across Gillian Tett’s article after posting “Bitcoin wanna be like Mike” a few days ago. She draws many of same conclusions we do about bitcoin, then goes further by delving into high-frequency trading problems similar to what Michael Lewis exposed in his Flash Boys bestseller.
Repost from 5-3-2019
“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
The inverted yield curve as a harbinger
of higher gold prices
(Grey vertical bars indicate recessions.)
During the course of the past several weeks, we have heard much about the inverted yield curve in three-month and ten-year Treasuries as a harbinger of recessions. Missed in the press reports is the fact that it has also been a harbinger of higher gold prices. In the chart above, please note the upward surges in the price of gold in the five-year periods following the two most recent yield inversions in 2000 and 2006. The first occurred with gold trading in the $300 range. It subsequently rose to the $600-650 level in 2006. The second occurred with gold priced in the $600-650 range. It subsequently rose to over $1900 per ounce in 2011 – its all-time high.
“Ominously,” writes Robin Wigglesworth and Joe Rennison in a recent Financial Times editorial, “the US yield curve has now inverted once again, with the 10-year Treasury yield on March 22 dipping below the three-month T-bill yield for the first time since 2007. Combined with the length of the post-crisis expansion — this summer it will become the longest growth spurt in US history — and deteriorating economic data, the inverted yield curve has stirred fears that the countdown to the next downturn has already begun.”
Peter Fisher, formerly head of fixed income at BlackRock and currently a professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, puts it succinctly in that same Financial Times editorial. “The mistake,” he says, “is to think it [an inverted yield curve] is a predictor of recessions. I think it causes recessions.” The rise in the price of gold following the two prior instances of yield inversion, it is now well understood, came in response to aggressive central bank monetary easing and the sudden emergence of credit-related systemic risks.
“‘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.
(USAGOLD – 5/9/2019) – Gold is level in quiet early trading as the U.S. and China turn the page today on trade negotiations. Silver is down 11¢ at $14.75. With a prevailing calm having descended upon financial markets this morning, we will cut this report short with a promise to update later if anything of significance develops.
Quote of the Day
“Financial markets have short memories. Of late, they’ve convinced themselves that collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) are much safer instruments than the collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, on which they’re based and which helped precipitate the 2008 crisis. They’re wrong — and dangerously so.” – Sanjiyat Das, Bloomberg Opinion
Chart of the Day
Chart note: This interactive chart compares price appreciation for gold and the dollar index. Gold has consistently outperformed the dollar in twelve of the last eighteen years – a formidable record. Even if one were to add in average yields on dollar-based investments, gold still comes out the clear winner in those twelve years. Gold had an off-year in 2018 – down 1% while the dollar was up almost 7%. Given the performance record, though, contrarian investors might see the present disparity as a buying opportunity.
“I’m adamant that even the most diehard gold bug should have some capital in the US stock market, bonds, and real estate. Even if it’s just 10% of a gold bug’s portfolio, it’s important for all investors to hedge their bets.”
USAGOLD note: Do you get the impression that Mr. Thompson might be pulling someone’s leg. . .
“‘I think he’s right. If we reduced interest rates by 100 basis points, I think the economy would soar and so would inflation and so would the dollar fall accordingly.’ That expected tumble in the dollar would threaten the greenback’s status as the world’s reserve currency.”
USAGOLD note: Zell make a series of important points in this interview. Ultimately, it is meant as a warning to the White House about the law of unintended consequences and being careful what one wishes for.
A very old yet very new thought
from Mr. Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
Things change little. Things change a great deal. The opening passage to A Tale of Two Cities – a very old yet very new thought.
“The 4 percent growth in total silver demand for 2018, reaching 1.03 billion ounces, marked a three-year high. The silver coin and bar category rose by 20 percent, although the rise was entirely driven by silver bar demand, which jumped by 53 percent. Silver bar demand was led by exceptionally strong sentiment in India, where demand leapt 115 percent higher last year.”
USAGOLD note: Based on what we are hearing from our own clientele, we see investor demand as driven by two important factors: low prices and the high gold/silver ratio of nearly 86 to 1. A large percentage of the orders are coming from investors with IRAs and other retirement plans with some swapping gold for silver – the current ratio acting as an incentive.
Repost from 4-3-2019
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
“The shift is well under way, Dalio said. With interest rates pinned near zero in Europe and Japan, and likely to head back there in the U.S. when the economy falters, the fiscal-policy takeover is ‘by and large what has been happening’ already.”
USAGOLD note: There is something to be said for Dalio’s observation that MMT is a natural progression from what is happening already . . . The calls for lower interest rates, permanent quantitative easing, the huge federal government budget deficit, new calls for trillions to be spent on infrastructure – all point in the same direction.
Repost from 5-3-2019
(USAGOLD – 5/8/2019) – Gold pushed higher in early trading on a Reuters reports released overnight that China had back-tracked on nearly all aspects of the trade negotiations with the United States. Gold is up $4.50 in early U.S. trading at $1289.50. Silver is up 2¢ at $14.94. The report will likely serve as justification for the president’s ratcheting up of tariffs over this past weekend. At the same time, though, it will put a damper on market expectations that the rift might be short-lived.
Chart of the Day
Chart note: “The figure,” say the authors of this study published by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, “shows that the uncertainty shocks that hit the economy in the fourth quarter of 2018 and in the first quarter of 2019 (January) have been the largest during our sample period. Based on the framework we use, this finding has potentially ominous implications for the U.S. economy.” A fitting chart as we weigh the effects of a possible breakdown in trade talks between the United States and China. . . . . . .