Monthly Archives: February 2019
“Gold typically tops when futures traders have a lopsided long position (example: July 2016). That’s certainly not the case today. This has been a stealth rally(& U.S. investors are still asleep). When they wake up(possibly soon)-the critical $1365 resistance level will be broken.”
USAGOLD note: Funds, institutions and central banks are the buyers behind the stealth rally. Under the radar, a small coterie of forward-looking private investors is taking a cue from that group and are quietly stocking up on gold at these still low prices.
Repost from 2-18-2019
(USAGOLD – February 22, 2019) – Gold is attempting to stabilize at just below the $1330 mark after yesterday’s steep sell-off. It is trading at $1329 and up $2.50 on the day. Silver, likewise, is up 5¢ at $15.90. The magnitude of yesterday’s decline – about $15 – took many by surprise. Some saw it as an over-reaction and misinterpretation of the Fed’s clear intention to ratchet down its bond-selling, quantitative tightening program (Please see our Chart of the Day.) Overnight, gold hit a low of $1322 but opened in New York with a push to the upside.
Today could be an important day for gold. If it manages to stabilize here and finish higher, the stage could be set for another attempt at the $1350 level next week. In a Wall Street Journal article yesterday under the headline, Wary Investors Reach for Gold, Neuberger Berman’s Hakan Kaya is quoted as saying “A lot of people see a bad moon rising, and if you want to have a downside hedge, gold is the instrument.” If today’s early trend remains intact, gold will finish the week on the plus side despite yesterday’s stiff correction.
Quote of the Day
“To suppose that the value of a common stock is determined purely by a corporation’s earnings discounted by the relevant interest rates and adjusted for the marginal tax rate is to forget that people have burned witches, gone to war on a whim, risen to the defense of Joseph Stalin and believed Orson Welles when he told them over the radio that the Martians had landed.” – James Grant, Interest Rate Observer
Chart of the Day
Chart note: Quantitative tightening – the process depicted on the far right of the chart – is progressing now at the fastest pace since its launch in January 2018. At his press conference in late January, Fed chair Powell suggested that the Fed would temper its bond selling program sooner rather than later – a gate opener for both the stock and gold markets in early 2019.
“U.S. negotiators are reportedly demanding China not devalue the yuan as a condition for any potential trade deal. Such a measure is likely to encounter little resistance from the Chinese: It’s actually in Beijing’s interest to have a stronger currency, experts told CNBC.”
USAGOLD note: As shown in the chart, the yuan has declined about 7% against the dollar over the past year. An argument could be made that what a country wants in terms of the value of its currency and what the market determines can be two different things. That presumption, of course, would apply to both countries.
“They say it’s a bad idea to fight the last war, but then they also say there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. When it comes to bad debt crushing the economy, we might be better off listening to the second adage.”
USAGOLD note: Until Janet Yellen raised the specter of defaults in the category of Collateralized Loan Obligations, or CLOs, for short, no one knew much about this area of the bond market. Now it is getting considerable attention and in the editorial linked above Bloomberg’s Mark Gongloff tells why.
“Investors stand at the crossroad of bulls and bears, afraid both that the bulls will pass them by and that the bears won’t. They want to believe the bulls but are mesmerized by the convincing arguments of the bears. With no way to judge the merits of the two cases, most investors become paralyzed, afraid to make a wrong move. And most of the time that’s okay, assuming you are already in the market, because the bears may be more erudite than the bulls but they are also usually wrong.”
USAGOLD note: Calhoun offers a well-reasoned argument for diversification at all times. “Interpreting the present is hard enough,” he says, “but predicting the future is impossible.”
“Bullard added that he thinks rates are actually too high now but acknowledged that his view is in the minority on the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee. Bullard is a voting member of the FOMC and said he has tried to convince his fellow central bankers that they’ve gone ‘too far.'”
USAGOLD note: St. Louis Fed’s James Bullard is currently one of the doves on FOMC. He was pretty vocal about holding off on rate hikes this past December and he was right. He mentions the flexibility of many who serve on the committee – a good thing given the present confusing economic and financial circumstances.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week that he will not hesitate to retaliate against the U.S. on trade, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing sources. ‘In the West you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the left cheek, you turn the other cheek,’ Xi said in the report, according to people briefed on his remarks. ‘In our culture, we punch back.’”
Repost from 6-25-2018
Interview of Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates/Video
“You easily could have a 30% depreciation in the value the dollar. . . .”
USAGOLD note: This video expands on Dalio’s current thinking – particularly with respect to the next crisis which he says is about two years away. He offers some sound, basic advice how to go about preparing for it.
Repost from 9-24-2019
“The fact that a record number of Americans aren’t making those payments is ‘usually a sign of significant duress among low-income and working-class Americans,’ Long wrote.”
USAGOLD note: That’s a pretty big number and a big red flag that this economy might not be what many think it is.
Repost from 2-15-2019
“Citigroup bankers have been holding talks with U.S. Treasury officials to figure out how to handle a gold deal they had arranged with Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, people familiar with the matter said.”
USAGOLD note: More concerns about a Venezuela-owned barbarous relic involving a major bank, a U.S. Senator, the Treasury Department and a South American dictator. . . . Hard value. Not hardly valued, as some might have us think. The chart below shows the price of gold in Venezuela Bolivars over the past two years of hyperinflation.
(USAGOLD – February 21, 2019) – Gold turned lower today in early trading after six straight days of upside. It is now down $6.50 at $1334. Silver is down 17¢ at $15.92. The first signs of weakness showed up yesterday immediately following the FOMC minutes release when it became apparent that board members were somewhat non-committal on rates and quantitative tightening. At the time, gold was trading in the $1345 range. The plan to move the decision on quantitative tightening to the end of 2019 is likely to be seen as especially halfhearted.
In Asia overnight, a sharp move higher in the yuan followed by an equally sharp move lower belied a Bloomberg report late yesterday that “a pledge of yuan stability has been discussed in multiple rounds of talks, and both sides [the U.S. and China] have tentatively agreed it will be part of a final deal.” The volatility only added to gold’s discomfort so far today and will likely raise questions on China’s commitment to future yuan stability.
Scrap Register this morning passes along a positive note on gold from TD Securities. “While the [commodities] complex has benefited from expectations of a very dovish Fed with a contingent of the market still expecting cuts — which keeps the bar elevated for the Fed to avoid disappointing the market — we think that CTAs [Commodity Trading Advisors] have played a notable role in helping gold and platinum prices rally . . . We continue to expect trend followers to add a significant amount of length to their gold holdings.”
Quote of the Day
“[S]ome of the biggest players in the gold sector are warning we’ve seen peak gold production. Also, the biggest pools of money on the planet – central banks – are loading up on gold. Dwindling supply met with tons of demand means higher prices. Historically, gold has been a fantastic leading indicator of central bank policy… The metal ran from under $1,200 an ounce to nearly $1,300 an ounce prior to the Fed’s reversal in January. And if it runs higher from here, which we fully expect, it means all hell is about to break loose. I’d recommend adding to your position while you still can.” – Simon Black, Sovereign Man
Chart of the Day
Chart courtesy of OPTIONAlpha
Chart note: As was the case this past November (the last time we posted this chart), we continue to guesstimate that we are somewhere between “Euphoria” and “Anxiety” on stocks and “Depression” and “Hope” on gold and silver. Recent statistics showing a significant migration of investor capital from stocks to cash and to gold coins, bullion, ETFs and mining stocks supports that determination. Market sentiment has changed markedly since last September, in our view, when we put stock market sentiment at somewhere between “Thrill” and “Euphoria” and gold somewhere between “Despondency” and “Depression.”
“Federal Reserve policymakers signalled the central bank will complete the job of reducing its multitrillion-dollar balance sheet this year, in a boost to financial markets that have in recent months been unnerved by the process.”
USAGOLD note: It is uncertain if the Fed meant it would “end” quantitative tightening this year, or “announce a plan to end it” by the end of the year. The markets seemed unsure of what to make of the minutes’ release yesterday. It might take a few days for the true reaction to manifest itself.
“A slowing global economy and increasing strain on businesses from a year-long Sino-U.S. trade war are tilting central banks from Japan to Australia toward monetary easing in a remarkable 180 degree turn.”
USAGOLD note: This article emphasizes the spread of disinflation in Asian countries. The problem with disinflation is the systemic risks that usually come with it. In the contemporary financial framework, wherein interlocking counterparty risks play a central role, a failure in one country can spread to other countries overnight – including developed countries and their financial systems.
“Former Chairman Alan Greenspan, the most politically astute Fed chief in half a century, puts such worries in perspective: ‘I don’t know a single President, and I worked for a lot of them, who don’t want lower interest rates. Now, obviously that’s not possible. You keep lowering them down to zero, where do you go from there?'”
USAGOLD note: We posted some of Volcker’s recent comments last week made in conjunction with the release of his new book, Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government.” This review delves into some of the details. What is most interesting is Whalen’s summary of the views of past Fed chairmen. A good read for those searching for a little perspective that transcends today’s overheated political rhetoric, and for those interested in a summary of the philosophical differences and experiences among recent Fed chiefs.
Repost from 10-30-2019
“The breadth and diversity of central banks that have recently purchased gold are matched by an equally broad and diverse set of reasons for these purchases. Traditionally, central bank reserve managers prioritise safety and liquidity when investing, which is why gold, the ultimate safe-haven asset, has long been a mainstay for central bank reserve investment.”
USAGOLD note: The World Gold Council’s Ezehcial Copic explores some of the primary motivations for the structural shift to gold among the world’s central banks – the investment of kings and the king of investments.
Repost from 2-14-2019
January record to detail talks on rate outlook, balance sheet
Policy makers likely discussed ending balance-sheet rolloff
USAGOLD note: Of more than passing interest to the gold market, the minutes to the January FOMC meeting will be released at 2pm ET.
(USAGOLD – February 20, 2019) – Gold nudged higher again today following yesterday’s strong performance to trade at $1344 – up $4.50 on the day. If today’s upside holds, it will mark six straight days of increases. Silver is up another 9¢ and over the $16 mark at $16.06. Three baseline factors underlie the upward trend – the Fed’s dovish monetary tilt, Washington’s indifference to the burgeoning national debt and possible rapprochement between the U.S. and China on trade.
In turn, technical trading has become a factor with indications that computer-driven short covering has begun to wield some clout. We will not be able to verify that conjecture though until the CFTC brings its shutdown-delayed COT reports current. “Gold is powering higher even as the U.S. dollar index rises,” said George Gero, managing director with RBC Wealth Management in a Scrap Register report. “Gold now has a life of its own. Bulls have start of the upper hand.”
Quote of the Day
“If you look at the history of currency, gold has a unique role and I don’t think it’s accidental. Some people say that if gold hadn’t been selected as a currency thousands of years ago, it would not have a role today. I don’t agree. Gold has a lot of useful properties and unique features so I don’t think its status is in any way accidental. It’s a monetary asset and I think if you replayed history another way, you would come out with gold again . . . As we have less and less paper currency, there will still be a need to store wealth, to have privacy and to carry out transactions between parties who don’t trust one another – gold fills that role. It’s probably the best substitute for paper currency so it’s hard to imagine its transaction value won’t go up over time. And there are all kinds of uses for gold in new technology that nobody even thought of years ago. So overall, it’s hard to see gold’s role diminishing,” – Ken Rogoff, Harvard University (World Gold Council, 2-12-2019, The curse of cash and the allure of gold)
Chart of the Day
Chart note: Over the long haul, gold (blue line) has outperformed the commodities complex (orange line) as shown in the chart above. It has also done a better job of retaining gains during downturns. In short, since the turn of the new century, gold has been the less volatile, more consistent performer when compared to a basket of commodities, as represented by the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI)
“The U.S. is asking China to keep the value of the yuan stable as part of trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, a move aimed at neutralizing any effort by Beijing to devalue its currency to counter American tariffs, people familiar with the ongoing talks said.”
USAGOLD note: If the U.S. gets its way on this, on top of the dovish Fed tilt, it would likely send shockwaves through the foreign exchange market.
“What is going on is that gold is in the early stages of a parabolic slingshot uptrend as shown, that should soon vault it above the key resistance approaching and around $1400. Once it breaks above this resistance it is expected to accelerate dramatically.”
USAGOLD note: Though a powerful statement in and of itself, the snippet above should not keep you from going to Clive Maund’s site to read the rest of his detailed presentation. He offers a very readable and digestible opinion on the present state of the gold market and where it might be headed – from the chart technician’s standpoint. Maund is not alone in his technical assessment of the gold market.
“MMT hasn’t worked out well for other countries. Consider Germany in the 1920s, or Venezuela and Zimbabwe more recently. The U.S. tried a milder version in the 1960s and 1970s, when the government tried to pay simultaneously for the Vietnam War and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. The result was inflation, America’s withdrawal from the gold standard and the demise of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates.”
USAGOLD note: An argument from former New York Fed president Dudley that carries a ring of familiarity. . . .Here is the link to a post we made on the subject Feb 8 – The next great monetary experiment. Modern monetary theory (MMT) is neither modern nor a theory. John Law, the Scottish financier, tried a version of it exactly 300 years ago in France with infamous results.
Image by Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons/The Mississippi Bubble, Street of Speculators/The Story of the Greatest Nations/Edward S. Ellis and Charles F. Home (1900)
$200 billion in gold sits beneath
the streets of London
“One historical nugget of note: During WWII, the vaults served as bomb shelters. By that time, though, the gold they held had been secretly shipped to Canada, in case the Nazis overran London. ‘It’s all very James Bond,’ says the Sun of the relatively old-school security still in effect—access involves 3-foot-long keys. ‘You can’t visit the gold, of course,’ observes a post at Atlas Obscura.” – Luke Rodney, Newser
USAGOLD note: The Canada shipments seem to be much rigmarole over a barbarous relic, one would think. Here’s a photo of Queen Elizabeth amidst all that gold in December 2012 – a relic no more, but a very present and important component of reserves in nearly all the primary developed economies. The World Gold Council recently reported the strongest demand for gold among central banks in 50 years. Britain once owned one of the largest gold hoards on Earth, but most of the gold in this room belongs to other countries who deposited it with the Bank of England.
(USAGOLD – February 19, 2019 PM) – We will stick pretty much with this morning’s DRM (scroll below) as to the underlying reasons for gold’s strong upside move today and add one more – the possibility of algo-based short covering.
“Or maybe gold’s surge is just the result of trend-chasing algos and CTAs,” says Zero Hedge’s Tyler Durden, “who are the marginal price setters: as several desks have pointed out, gold is trading within a clearly defined upward channel with upside resistance expected to hit around $1366, which is where gold topped out on three prior breakout attempts in early 2018. Should the current upward channel provide support, expect a major test some time in mid-to late March when the upward support clashes with what has so far been unbreakable resistance.”
Silver went over $16 today to finish at $16.03, up 17¢ on the day.
“These are across-the-board synchronized correlations and as I wrote about last week, the computer-driven ‘algobots’ exacerbate and exaggerate every short-term trend in virtually all markets around the globe and since they never sleep, when Chicago shuts down, London picks up the reins and when London retires for the day, Tokyo carries the mantle such that over and over and over again, the pattern-recognition-driven algorithms implanted into the brains of the algobots feed upon themselves and overshoot their marks every single time, as happened on August 15 and 16 in (again) ALL markets. Now these pulse-less, robotic vermin are trapped and quite possibly, in deep trouble.”
Related: Historical Repetition in the Gold And Silver Arenas/Michael Ballanger/Gold Eagle
USAGOLD note: Ballanger writes convincingly and definitively about computer-driven money management systems that dominant the markets these days including gold. The two articles linked above are solid and fascinating representations of his thinking. In conjunction with his advice to back-up the truck on precious metals, he says the bottom for gold is in at $1167 per ounce on August 16, 2018.
Image by Creepeurman [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Repost from 8-30-2018
“If gold is anything to go by, investors are increasingly anxious about the state of the world. Volatile equity markets and fears of a global economic slowdown have helped gold rally 10 per cent from its August lows, putting it among the best performing metals over that period. It is a sharp contrast to much of the past two years . . . . “
USAGOLD note: A positive article on gold from Financial Times. . . . . .
Repost from 1-17-2019
“The price of gold is expected to rise to $1,532 an ounce by October next year, delegates to the London Bullion Market Association’s annual gathering predicted on Tuesday.”
USAGOLD note: The annual consensus prediction from the LBMA is usually a low number, so the $1532 an ounce comes as a surprise. In a separate report, Kitco quotes Ruth Crowell, the LBMA’s chief executive as saying “this is the most bullish forecast since 2012.” Neither article mentions just what might have prompted the unusually high number. The membership of the London Bullion Market Association consists of key players in the gold market – banks, financial institutions, refiners, miners, etc.
Repost from October 30, 2018
(USAGOLD – February 19, 2019) – Gold pushed solidly over the $1330 mark in early New York trading after a strong showing overseas. It is now trading at $1333 – up $6.50 on the day. Silver is level on the day thus far. The trade talks between the U.S. and China scheduled to begin this week are providing impetus to gold as hopes rise that the two might settle their differences and pump new life into the commodities market. Also helping gold is a growing recognition in financial markets that neither political party is all that interested in addressing head-on the rapidly escalating national debt.
With gold now pushing past the $1330 mark, precious metals’ analyst John Rubino says that “from a technical standpoint, piercing $1,350 resistance should trigger a big, fast move to the next resistance level somewhere in the high $1,400s.” Crossing that $1350 barrier was problematic for gold in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Economic circumstances, though, have changed in 2019 – the Fed’s stated dovish intentions being the chief difference. We might soon find out whether or not that change is enough to propel gold over its $1350 nemesis.
Quote of the Day
“A lot of economic, market and bank supervisory theory is based on the premise that financial actors are largely rational. The crisis convinced me that they are not. It was not rational for very experienced financial leaders to make their companies hostage to short-term financing that was, in the final analysis, secured by the irrational assumption that house prices will always go up. It was not rational for Dick Fuld to reject offers because their terms offended his pride. It was not rational for money market fund investors to flee all money market funds just because one fund made a bad bet. It was not rational for some lenders, at the height of the crisis, to stop accepting even Treasuries as collateral. The crisis convinced me that greed, ego, fear, short-sightedness, group-think and other human foibles have at least as much, if not more, to do with financial behaviour as rational thinking does.” – Mike Silva, former chief of staff to New York Fed president Tim Geithner during the 2008 financial crisis (Speech to the LBMA, October 2018)
Chart of the Day
Chart note: Up until the “double oughts,” the manual on gold read that it performed well under inflationary and deflationary circumstances, but not much else. However, as the decade of asset bubbles, financial institution failures, and global systemic and sovereign debt risk progressed, gold marched to higher ground one year after another. As events unfolded, it became increasingly clear that the metal was capable of delivering the goods under disinflationary circumstances as well. The fact of the matter is that, during the 2000s even as the inflation rate hovered in the low single digits (See chart, green area], gold managed to rise from just under $300 per ounce in the early 2000s to just over $1800 per ounce by 2011 — a gain of nearly 650%. Since then, gold has taken a breather. As this essay is written, it is trading in the $1200 per ounce range — still up over 425% in the new century.
“‘This is an extremely imbalanced situation,’ Greenspan, who led the Fed from 1987 to 2006, said in a phone interview. ‘Politically, budget deficits really don’t matter. What matters is the consequences.’ For Greenspan, 92, the ultimate concern is inflation.”
USAGOLD note: Somehow we missed this Greenspan interview last week. The former Fed chairman has consistently warned about the massive deficits and the potential for a return to a 1970s style stagflation of which, he tells Bloomberg, we are seeing the early signs now.
“In the March issue, we will explain in detail, based on data and academic research, why the model of global governance has failed. It should be heeded closely, as the fragility of the global economy creates the possibility of a global crash, as we have warned since March 2017. Most likely, it’s too late to avert the global crash, but one can always prepare. We will return to that in more detail in June.”
USAGOLD note: The Great Stagnation, says Malinen, could evolve to something worse.