Holding some gold and silver is ALWAYS a good idea for portfolio diversification

Clint Siegner* of  Money Metals Exchange tells us why holding some bullion in your portfolio is a good idea.

The Dangers of Zero

Zero is an important number in the psychology driving demand for bullion. There are periods when investors find the argument that gold or silver prices “will never go to zero” compelling.

The 2008 financial crisis and the years immediately following it are the most recent example. The fear of conventional securities and even the fiat dollar becoming worthless was palpable for many in the metals markets. Bullion demand hit record levels.

Left Behind

Investors have chased bull markets
for fear of being left behind.

 

While demand for gold ETFs and futures contracts has been strong in 2016 and 2017, some investors in the physical market for coins, bars, and rounds seem to have overlooked the modest gains of the past two years and are anxious instead to participate in bull markets elsewhere. If they are worried about anything, it is the possibility of missing out.

Gold and silver’s appeal as a safe haven is in temporary eclipse.

The metals markets are awaiting the moment when investors lose their conviction about ever higher stock prices and once again grapple with the idea that prices do fall.

Indeed, the value of some securities can, and does, fall all the way to zero. Companies miss expectations or fail outright. Bond issuers occasionally default and fiat currencies eventually die. Investors discount risk in the euphoria of a bull market.

In fairness, it is also possible for investors to focus too much on the downside.

Given the Fed’s absolute unwillingness to allow overall asset prices to fall and remain at low levels, the fear driving investors in the years following the Financial Crisis certainly looks now to have been overblown. A more meaningful threat is a devaluation in the purchasing power of the Federal Reserve Note – NOT broad-based declines in nominal asset prices.

Left Behind

The Fed will not allow nominal asset prices to crash,
but it won’t guarantee our currency retains value.

 

The Federal Reserve Note has lost more than 97% of its value in the past 100 years, with an acceleration in this decline since the 1970s. That’s 97% of the way to zero.

We’ll find out in the years ahead whether the historic intervention by central banks around the world cushioned economies from the worst effects.

We continue to hold the minority view. Manipulating markets, printing money and propping up failed banks is a recipe for bigger and more destructive bubbles, not prosperity.

Regardless of how history ultimately judges these markets, now seems like an important moment to remind people that metals will never fail and be valued at zero. Even if it sounds blasé, it is worth repeating; physical gold and silver carry no counter-party risk. A gold coin in your possession will have value regardless of what happens or who breaks a promise.

For investors with a portfolio stuffed full of paper, that means genuine diversification. It is why holding some bullion is always a good idea.

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Gold royalty companies and bitcoin – a viewpoint

Here at lawrieongold.com we have long advocated the investment positives of precious metals royalty companies – and Franco Nevada and Royal Gold have been the two best performers so far this year out of the precious metals stocks we recommended on Seeking Alpha right at the end of 2016 – See: 2017 Predictions – Gold, Silver, PGMs, The Dollar, Markets, Geopolitics,

However we do have to say that on bitcoin we are not really a believer.  To us there is no underlying value, it is in a bubble, and will likely, at some stage, come crashing down from whence it came – but Frank Holmes. whose thoughts we publish below is very definitely a believer reckoning that it is a currency for our times and is being taken up particularly by millennials.  As I say, we are not so sure but Frank’s views are well worth reading.  After all he runs a successful series of funds, while I do not!  Anyway, do read Frank’s views on the royalty companies and bitcoin below:

My Conviction in Gold Royalty Companies and Bitcoin

By Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer, US Global Investors

Bitcoin

Some of you reading this might already be familiar with the “Parable of the Talents,” but it’s worth a brief retelling. The story, which appears in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, involves a master who entrusts three servants with some of his “talents,” or gold coins, while he’s away on business. Two of the servants take a risk by putting the money to work and end up doubling their master’s wealth. The third servant, however, buries his share to “keep it safe” and so doesn’t generate any returns. (Indeed it likely loses value because of inflation.)

When the master returns, he’s so pleased at how the first two servants grew his wealth that he puts them in charge of “many things” and invites them to share in his own success.

The third servant, though, he calls “wicked and lazy” and says he might as well have deposited the money in a bank while he was away—at least then he would have received a little interest. The servant is punished by having his share of the talents given to the two who faithfully grew their master’s money, leaving him with nothing.

The lesson here should be plainly obvious, and we can express it in a number of different ways: There can be no reward without risk. You must spend money to make money. You reap what you sow. This should resonate with investors, entrepreneurs and any true believer in the power of capitalism.

Jesus’ parable applies not just to individuals but to corporations as well. Companies must grow to keep up with the rising cost of labor and materials and to stay competitive. To do that, they must put their money to work just as the two servants do.

And just as the two servants were invited to share in their master’s success, corporate growth has a multiplier effect—for the company’s employees and their families, shareholders, the local economy, strategic partners, companies up and down the supply chain and much more.

A Bonanza for Precious Metal Royalty Companies as Exploration Budgets Have Declined

I think the business model that best illustrates the meaning of the “Parable of the Talents” is the one practiced by gold and precious metal royalty companies. As much as I write and talk about royalty companies, I still encounter investors who aren’t aware of how significant a role they play in the mining space.

As a refresher, these firms help finance explorers and producers’ operations by buying royalties or rights to a stream. Because miners have had to slash exploration budgets since the decline in metal prices, the kind of financing royalty companies provide has only grown in demand—as evidenced by the mostly positive earnings reports last week.

Chief among them is Franco-Nevada, which had a very strong third quarter, reporting earnings of $55.3 million, or $0.30 a share, up 3.4 percent from the same three-month period last year. The Toronto-based company, having also recently diversified into the oil royalties space, closed its purchase of an oil royalty for C$92.5 million, bringing the number of its oil and gas assets up to 82. Including precious metals and other minerals, the total number of assets Franco-Nevada had in its diverse portfolio as of the end of the quarter stood at 341.

Here’s the multiplier effect: Not only do the miners benefit from the deals, allowing them to continue exploration and other operations, but shareholders are also rewarded handsomely. Since the company went public nearly 10 years ago, it’s raised its dividend each year and its share price has outperformed both gold and relevant gold equity benchmarks. After its earnings announcement last Monday, Franco-Nevada stock closed up more than 6 percent on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), its best one-day performance in nearly a year and a half. Shares hit a fresh all-time high last week.

Precious metal royalty names have outperformed gold and gold producers
click to enlarge

Other royalty companies’ reports were just as impressive and show the rewards of putting your “talents” to work. Sandstorm Gold, reporting higher operating cash flow of $11.9 million, has acquired as many as 10 separate royalties since the end of September on properties in Peru, Botswana and South Africa that collectively cover more than 2.4 million acres.

Osisko Gold Royalties bought a $1.1 billion portfolio of 74 precious mineral royalties, including a 9.6 percent diamond stream. The company reported record quarterly gold equivalent ounces (GEOs) of 16,664, up 65 percent from the same quarter last year, and record quarterly revenues from royalties and streams of $26.1 million, up 48 percent.

Royal Gold also had a strong quarter, reporting operating cash flow of $72 million, an increase of 30 percent from last year, and returned as much as $16 million to shareholders in dividends.

Wheaton Precious Metals, the world’s largest precious metal streaming company, showed a sizeable decline in profits in the third quarter, but it continued to generate strong cash flow and looks poised to meet its end-of-year production guidance.

Although some investors might not realize how important these companies are to the industry, many other investors are opting to place their bets on royalty names, seeing them as having ample exposure to precious metals without some of the risks associated with producers. In its review of the third quarter, the World Gold Council (WGC) reported that global gold demand fell to an eight-year low as investment in gold ETFs slowed to 18.9 metric tons, down from 144.3 metric tons in last year’s September quarter. This could be a consequence of the media’s continued negative coverage of gold, despite its competitive performance against the S&P 500 Index. Whatever the cause, in this environment, there was no lack of love for royalty names, as you can see in the chart above.

A Changing Financial Landscape

We were one of Wheaton Precious Metals’ seed investors in 2004, when it was then known as Silver Wheaton. Because Franco-Nevada wouldn’t be spun off from Newmont Mining for another three years, Wheaton had first-mover advantage. It was something new, something different. This, coupled with what I recognized as a superior business model, gave me the conviction to allocate capital into the fledgling company, a move that turned out to be highly profitable.

Today I have the same conviction in blockchain technology and digital currencies. As of the end of October, the initial coin offering (ICO) market had raised $3 billion so far this year. That’s more than seven times the amount generated in crowdfunding in all of the previous years before 2017. And Bloomberg just reported that Google searches for “buy bitcoin” recently surpassed searches for “buy gold.”

Search queries for buy bitcoin surged past buy gold
click to enlarge

With bitcoin’s market cap having grown past that of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, cryptocurrencies can no longer be written off as a curiosity. Major financial institutions have become bullish, having filed approximately 2,700 patents in blockchain technology.

Abigail Johnson, the youthful chairman of Fidelity, was quoted as saying, “Blockchain technology isn’t just a more efficient way to settle securities, it will fundamentally change market structures, and maybe even the architecture of the internet itself.” Johnson allegedly has a crypto-mining computer rig in her office, and Fidelity accountholders are now able to see their bitcoin holdings on the brokerage firm’s online platform. USAA, the massive financial firm used by millions of U.S. military personnel and their families worldwide, provides a similar service.

Bitcoin

This all comes as Coinbase, a leading digital currency broker, saw a record number of people opening new accounts on its platform recently, doubling the number of accounts from the beginning of the year. In one 24-hour period, 100,000 new accounts were opened.

Millennials Driving Interest in Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies

A lot of this growth in demand is thanks to millennials, the largest U.S. generation. Forget the stereotype of the “entitled” millennial in the workplace and the misconception that they’re all wasting their money on $10 avocado toast. Consulting firm Deloitte estimates that by 2020, millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce and control between $19 trillion and $24 trillion. Many are savvy investors and were found to be more likely to be aware of their brokerage account fees than older generations, according to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth index.

In some ways, millennials are reshaping our living habits. Many of them choose to rent instead of own to stay mobile. They’re more likely to get their news from Twitter than from TV. Online dating apps have helped foster today’s hookup culture, but while young people now might have more sex partners than before, they’re having less sex overall than their parents or grandparents might have had at their age.

It’s little surprise, then, that millennials are among the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of blockchain technology, bitcoin and digital currencies in general—none of which existed even 10 years ago. A poll conducted by Blockchain Capital found that large percentages of millennials would prefer $1,000 in bitcoin to $1,000 in other assets. More than a quarter said they would prefer bitcoin to stocks, while nearly a third preferred it to bonds.

Percent of millenials who would prefer 1000 in botcoin to 1000 in
click to enlarge

What I find especially encouraging is that only 4 percent of those who took the poll owned or had owned bitcoins. I say encouraging because this suggests there’s quite a lot of upside potential for bitcoin ownership, which in turn could raise prices further. As I shared with you recently, Metcalfe’s law states that the bigger the network of users, the greater that network’s value becomes. Consider Facebook. The social media giant has more than 2 billion active users. That’s 2 billion pairs of eyes Facebook is able to charge top dollar for advertisers to reach, helping it deliver record profits in the third quarter.

We could see the same thing happen across the blockchain and cryptocurrency network as more and more businesses and people embrace this new form of exchange.

Ploughing Capital into Blockchain

It should be clear by now that something is changing in financial markets, and this is what inspired me to make a strategic investment in a company with first-mover advantage in the cryptocurrency space, just as we did with Silver Wheaton years ago. As the “Parable of the Talents” teaches us, no reward can come to you without some risk-taking. Doing nothing is not an option.

That company is HIVE Blockchain Technologies, a blockchain infrastructure company involved in the mining of virgin digital currencies. The first company of its kind to sell shares to the public, HIVE began trading on the TSX Venture Exchange on September 18.

I’m very excited about this new chapter in our company’s history. If you weren’t on today’s earnings call, you can download the slide deck here to learn more about our deal with HIVE and what it means for our investors and shareholders.

WGC – Global gold demand in Q3 seen at eight-year low

The latest Gold Demand Trends report from the World Gold Council is now out and the full report can be downloaded from the WGC website – www.gold.org

World Gold Council Report Highlights as follows:

  • Gold jewellery demand fell in Q3. Jewellery volumes continue to languish below longer-term average levels. Indian weakness was the main reason for the y-o-y decline. Tax and regulatory changes in India weighed on domestic gold demand. The new tax regime deterred consumers, as did anti-money laundering measures governing jewellery retail transactions.
  • Inflows into gold-backed ETFs stalled: holdings grew by just 18.9t. Investors continued to favour gold’s risk-hedging properties, but the greater focus was on rampaging stock markets.
  • Gold bar and coin demand growth was driven by China. Global investment in bars and coins rose 17% from relatively weak year-earlier levels. Chinese investors bought on price dips, to notch up a fourth consecutive quarter of growth.
  • Volumes of gold used in technology increased for the fourth consecutive quarter. Demand for memory chips continued to soar thanks to the persistent popularity of high-end smartphones.
  • Total supply fell 2% in Q3. Mine production fell 1% y-o-y in Q3, which was also the fifth consecutive quarter of net dehedging. Recycling activity (-6%) continued to normalise after jumping in 2016

Stock Picks YTD, Newmont/Barrick and Randgold Q3 – Articles posted on Seeking Alpha

One of the other sites on which some of my articles are posted is U.S. site Seeking Alpha but this doesn’t allow me to publish the same articles here so if you’d like to read them you’ll need to read them on Seeking Alpha.  My three most recent articles here relate to the performance of the precious metals stocks I recommended at the end of last year – rather better than I had anticipated, particularly with respects of what are probably the top two royalty stocks, Franco Nevada and Royal Gold which both comfortably outperformed the Dow and the S&P500, despite the somewhat disappointing progress of the gold price, and a second one is on Randgold’s Q3, which on first look was pretty dire and the stock price plunged accordingly, but in fact was largely in the company’s own forecasts and still leaves it on track to reach the top end of its 2017 guidance.  Overall Randgold has been the star performing major gold miner and the recent stock price dip should provide a buying opportunity.

I also published one showing that Newmont is overtaking Barrick as the world’s No. 1 gold producing company – and may even do so this year:

To read the articles, click on the following links:

Precious Metals Stocks Update YTD

Newmont Closing Gap On Barrick As World’s Largest gold miner…

Randgold: Difficult Q3 But Still On Track To Meet Top End of Guidance.

Note:  the above articles were written for a North American investment audience so use U.S tickers – and spelling!

Are we running out of major gold mines?

The World Is Running out of Gold Mines—Here’s How Investors Can Play It

By Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer U.S. Global Investors

the world is running out of gold mines, here's how investors can play it

My good friend Pierre Lassonde, cofounder and chairman of Franco-Nevada, doesn’t know how we’ll replace the massive gold deposits of the past 130 years or so. Speaking with the German financial newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft this month, Pierre says we’re seeing a significant slowdown in the number of large deposits being discovered. Legendary goldfields such as South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin, Nevada’s Carlin Trend and Australia’s Super Pit—all nearing the end of their lifecycles—could very well be a thing of the past.

Over the medium and long-term, this could lead to a supply-demand imbalance and ultimately put strong upward pressure on the price of gold.

According to Pierre:

If you look back to the 70s, 80s and 90s, in every one of those decades, the industry found at least one 50+ million ounce gold deposit, at least ten 30+ million ounce deposits and countless 5 to 10 million ounce deposits. But if you look at the last 15 years, we found no 50 million ounce deposit, no 30 million ounce deposit and only very few 15 million ounce deposits. 

So few new large mines are being discovered today, Pierre says, mostly because companies have had to slash exploration budgets in response to lower gold prices. Earlier this year, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that total exploration budgets for companies involved in mining nonferrous metals fell for the fourth straight year in 2016. Budgets dropped to $6.9 billion, the lowest point in 11 years. Although we’ve seen an increase in spending so far this year, it still dramatically trails the 2012 heyday.

Total nonferrous exploration budgets fell to an 11 year low in 2016
click to enlarge

And because it takes seven years on average for a new mine to begin producing—thanks to feasibility studies, project approvals and other impediments—output could recede even more rapidly in the years to come.

“It doesn’t really matter what the gold price will do in the next few years,” Pierre says. “Production is coming off, and that means the upward pressure on the gold price could be very intense.”

Have We Reached Peak Gold?
Frank Holmes standing next to Pierre Lassonde right at Mines and Money London in December 2015

What Pierre is talking about, of course, is the idea of “peak gold.” I wrote about this last year and suggested another factor that could be curtailing new discoveries—namely, the low-hanging fruit has likely already been picked. Gold is both scarce and finite—one of the main reasons why it’s so highly valued—and explorers are now having to dig deeper and venture farther into more extreme environments to find economically viable deposits.

Other factors contributing to the decline include tougher regulations and higher production costs. And unlike with the oil industry, no “fracking” method has been invented yet to extract gold from hard-to-reach areas, though Barrick—the world’s largest producer by output—has been experimenting with sensors at its Cortez project in Nevada.

Take a look at how drastically annual output has fallen in South Africa, once the world’s top gold-producing country by far. In the 1880s, it was the discovery of gold in South Africa’s prolific Witwatersrand Basin—responsible for more than 40 percent of all gold ever mined in human history, if you can believe it—that helped transform Johannesburg into one of the world’s largest and most populous cities. Today, South Africa’s economy is the most advanced and stable in Sub-Saharan Africa, all thanks to the yellow metal.

In 1970, miners dug up more than 1,000 metric tons—an unfathomably large amount. Since then, production has steadily dropped. No longer in the top spot, South Africa produced only 167.1 tons in 2016, an 83 percent plunge from the 1970 peak. Meanwhile, miners in the notorious Mponeng mine—already the world’s deepest at 2.5 miles—continue to follow veins even deeper into the earth at greater and greater expense.

South Africa's gold output has been in steady decline for more than 45 years
click to enlarge

Australia could soon be seeing a similar downturn over the next four decades. A first-of-its-kind study conducted by MinEx Consulting and released this month, shows that Australia’s gold production is expected to see a significant drop between now and 2057. By then, all but four of the 71 currently operating mines in the country will be exhausted. Most of these will close in the next couple of decades. Any additional production will be dependent on new exploration success, which will become increasingly difficult if companies don’t invest in exploration and if the Australian government doesn’t relax rules in the mining space.

MinEx estimates that “for the Australian gold industry to maintain production at current levels in the longer term, it will either need to double the amount spent on exploration or double its discovery performance.”

To be fair, large discoveries haven’t disappeared entirely. Back in March it was reported that Shandong Gold Group, China’s second-largest producer, uncovered a deposit in eastern China containing between 380 and 550 metric tons of the yellow metal. If true, this would make it the country’s largest ever by amount. The mine has an estimated lifespan of 40 years once operations begin.

In addition, Kitco reports this month that Toronto-based Seabridge Gold recently stumbled upon a significant goldfield in northern British Columbia. The find appeared, coincidentally, after a glacier retreated. It’s estimated to contain a whopping 780 metric tons.

“There’s no question that as glaciers retreat, more ground will become available for exploration and more discoveries could be made in that part of the world,” Seabridge CEO Rudi Fronk told Kitco.

The company already has the permits to begin mining.

Seabridge gold is up 15 percent for the three month period
click to enlarge

Exploration Budgets Jumped
Gold represents over half of global annual commodities exploration budgets

As I said earlier, we just saw an encouraging spike in the amount spent on exploration. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, exploration budgets increased in the 12-month period as of September for the first time since 2012. Budgets jumped 14 percent year-over-year to $7.95 billion, with gold explorers leading the way. During this period, gold companies spent around $4 billion on exploration, which is roughly half the value of all nonferrous metals mining budgets.

But because exploration is getting more expensive for reasons addressed earlier, senior producers might very well decide instead to acquire smaller firms with proven, profitable projects.

This could create a lot of value for investors, so I would keep my eyes on juniors that look like targets for takeover. Dealmaking in the Australian mining industry, for example, is showing some growth this year compared to last, according to a September report by accounting firm BDO. Last year, Goldcorp finalized its deal to acquire Vancouver-based junior Kaminak Gold, and in May of this year, El Dorado announced it was taking over Integra Gold for C$590 million. I expect to see even more deals in the coming months.

In the meantime, I agree with my friend Pierre’s “absolute rule” that investors should hold between 5 and 10 percent gold in your portfolio. I would also add gold stocks to the mix, especially overlooked and undervalued names, and rebalance once and twice a year.

Frank Holmes: Are ICOs Replacing IPOs?

By Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer U.S. Global Investors

Last week I was in Barcelona speaking at the LBMA/LPPM Precious Metals Conference, which was attended by approximately 700 metals and mining firms from all over the globe. I found the event energizing and stimulating, full of contrary views on topics ranging from macroeconomics to physical investment markets to cryptocurrencies.

My keynote address focused on quant investing in gold mining and the booming initial coin offering (ICO) market. I’m thrilled to share with you that the presentation was voted the best, for which I was awarded an ounce of gold. I want to thank the London Bullion Market Association, its members and conference attendees for this honor.

Speaking of gold and cryptocurrencies, the LBMA conducted several interesting polls on which of the two assets would benefit the most in certain scenarios. In one such poll, attendees overwhelmingly said the gold price would skyrocket in the event of a conflict involving nuclear weapons. Bitcoin, meanwhile, would plummet, according to participants—which makes some sense. As I pointed out before, trading bitcoin and other cryptos is dependent on electricity and WiFi, both of which could easily be knocked out by a nuclear strike. Gold, however, would still be available to convert into cash.

It’s a horrific thought, but the poll results show that the investment case for gold as a store of value remains favorable. Goldman Sachs echoed the idea last week, writing in a note to investors that “precious metals remain a relevant asset class in modern portfolios, despite their lack of yield.” The investment bank added that precious metals “are still the best long-term store of value out of the known elements.”

Metcalfe’s Law Suggests Crypto Prices Could Keep Rising

This isn’t meant to knock bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Because they’re decentralized and therefore less prone to manipulation by governments and banks—unlike paper money and even gold—I think they could also have a place in portfolios.

Even those who criticize cryptocurrencies the loudest seem to agree. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jaime Dimon, if you remember, called bitcoin “stupid” and a “fraud,” and yet his firm is a member of the pro-blockchain Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). Russian president Vladimir Putin publicly said cryptocurrencies had “serious risks,” and yet he just called for the development of a new digital currency, the “cryptoruble,” which will be used as legal tender throughout the federation.

Follow the money.

Metcalfe’s law states that the bigger the network of users, the greater that network’s value becomes. Robert Metcalfe, distinguished electrical engineer, was speaking specifically about Ethernet, but it also applies to cryptos. Bitcoin might look like a bubble on a simple price chart, but when we place it on a logarithmic scale, we see that a peak has not been reached yet.

Bitcoin still has room to run
click to enlarge

Bitcoin adoption could multiply the more people become aware of how much of their wealth is controlled by governments and the big banks. This was among the hallway chatter I overheard at the Precious Metals Conference, with one person commenting that what’s said in private during International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings is far more important than what’s said officially.

I have a similar view of the G20, whose mission was once to keep global trade strong. Since at least 2008, though, the G20 has been all about synchronized taxation to grow not the economy but the role government plays in our lives. Trading virtual currencies is one significant way to get around that.

The Incredible Shrinking IPO Market

Just as water takes the path of least resistance, money flows where it’s respected most.

You need only look at the mountain of cash U.S. multinationals have stashed overseas, currently standing at an estimated $2.6 trillion. The steep 39 percent U.S. corporate tax rate—the highest among any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)— discourages companies from bringing their profits back home and reinvesting them in new equipment and employees.

Of course, taxes aren’t the only type of friction money can run up against. More and more stringent financial rules and regulations have been one of the top destroyers of capital and business growth over the past 20 to 30 years. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, signed in 2002, is widely blamed for limiting the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) that occur in the U.S. The legislation has made it prohibitively expensive for many smaller firms to get listed on an exchange. Between 1996 and 2016, the number of investable U.S. companies was cut in half, falling from 7,322 to 3,671.

Number of listed US companies continues to drop
click to enlarge

This has ultimately hurt everyday retail investors who not only have fewer stocks to invest in now but also lack access to many of the same potentially profitable opportunities enjoyed by angel investors, venture capitalists and other institutional investors. Private equity and venture capital can be much higher-yielding investments than common asset classes such as Treasuries and equities, but for the most part, only accredited investors can participate.

Bracing for MiFID

IPOs could be squeezed even further after the implementation of the European Union’s (EU) revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), set to go into full effect January 3. The directive, initially passed in response to the financial crisis, acts as a sweeping reformation of existing trading rules that affect everything from stocks to bonds to commodities. All 28 EU nations must have laws in place to comply with MiFID by the January deadline—or face litigation and fines.

With less than two months left on the clock, 17 countries, including Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, are still scrambling to convert MiFID into national law, according to Bloomberg. This is creating all sorts of financial uncertainty for banks, insurers and money managers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Half of the EU still scrambling to meet the January 3rd MiFID compliance deadline
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One rule in particular could threaten U.S. IPOs. It states that, to be more transparent, banks must now “unbundle” the costs of investment research from that of executing trades, a practice that’s been routine for decades. To produce stand-alone research, banks must register as investment advisers, a costly process that might prompt some firms to avoid it altogether. This would limit investors’ exposure to only the largest companies and, in turn, discourage smaller U.S. firms from pursuing an IPO, according to Cowen & Co. analysis and reported by Bloomberg.

MiFID is just the latest in a long string of regulations that, while conceived with good intentions, carry unintended consequences. It’s doubly unfortunate that an EU rule could so impact U.S. companies’ ability to gain the publicity necessary to go public.

But hasn’t this been the trend for years now? In many ways, doing business in the EU has only gotten more challenging, and bureaucrats seem determined to take punitive steps against successful American firms.
Look at how Facebook, Google and other large tech companies have been treated in Europe. Back in June, the search giant was slapped with a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine and has since been strongarmed into changing its online shopping service.

A restrictive regulatory backdrop is largely responsible for this. Because rules are so tight, European companies have a hard time innovating and staying competitive. So instead of building its own Facebook or Google, the EU’s only other recourse is to take a protectionist approach and wrap the 28-member bloc in more and more red tape.

For Many Startups, ICOs Are a Solution

I believe this is part of the reason why we’re seeing such a massive surge in ICOs, which, at the moment, are nearly unregulated in the U.S. and Europe. In an effort to bypass the rules and costs associated with getting listed on an exchange, many startups now are opting to raise funds by issuing their own digital currency based on blockchain technology. And unlike with private equity, smaller retail investors can participate.

Again, money flows where it’s respected most.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are the best known cryptocurrencies, but there are more than 1,000 being traded around the world, with a combined market cap of around $150 billion, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML).

As of this month, IPOs have raised over $3 billion in 2017, more than seven times the amount generated in all years prior to 2017 and far surpassing expectations of around $1.7 billion for the year.

ICO market has raised more than 3 million so far in 2017
click to enlarge

To give you some perspective, the U.S. IPO market raised $4.1 billion from 29 deals in the September quarter alone, according to Renaissance Capital. Although this dwarfs the ICO market in dollar terms, both the number of IPOs and the amount raised are significantly lower than the same quarter in 2014, which saw an impressive $37.6 billion raised from 60 deals.

As long as the barriers to getting listed remain high, I expect we’ll see this trend of fewer IPOs and more ICOs continue.

Bitcoin Now Bigger than Goldman Sachs

Not all cryptocurrencies will survive, obviously, and we’ll likely see huge transformations in the space before clear leaders pull away from the pack. Remember, no one knew in 1997 which internet companies would eventually dominant  the others.

But for now, it’s an exciting time for an asset class that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Trading above $6,000 for the first time last week, bitcoin reached a market cap of $96.7 billion. Amazingly, that’s more than Goldman Sachs’ market caps of $92.9 billion.

Cryptocurrencies off their 2017 highs
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It’s important for investors to know that cryptos do face potential regulation risk. What kind of risk, though, is currently up in the air as U.S. regulators debate whether digital currency is a security or commodity. One would place it within the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the other within the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Unsurprisingly, both agencies see cryptos as their own.

Last week also highlighted a new risk in the fledgling market. Tezos, the firm behind what was at the time the largest ICO in history, revealed a significant slowdown in the progress of its virtual coin, the “tezzie.” Back in July, Tezos made headlines for raising a then-unprecedented $232 million. But today, the group, headed by a husband-and-wife duo, is faced with a number of setbacks including a lack of developers and a highly-publicized management dispute.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Vigna, this has “put trading of Tezos tokens held by investors in limbo while also putting some of the technology on hold as well.”

Diwali Fails to Light Up Gold

U.S. Global Investors wishes our friendss & followers a Happy Diwali filled with light and prosperity

Turning to gold, the yellow metal made healthy gains the week before last, climbing more than 2.3 percent as we headed closer to the first day of Diwali. As I’ve explained numerous times before, it’s considered auspicious to give gifts of gold bullion and jewelry during the Hindu Festival of Lights, and in years past we’ve seen some price appreciation in the days and weeks leading up to the celebration.

Last week, though, the gold price fell below $1,300 an ounce as stocks continued their record-setting bull run.

But as the LBMA poll shows, it’s prudent to have some gold in your portfolio, as it’s negatively correlated with other assets. As always, I recommend a 10 percent weighting, with 5 percent in physical gold and 5 percent in gold stocks, and remember rebalance every year.

The Fed’s options and the changed picture for gold – Greg Weldon

The latest Mike Gleason* interview with Greg Weldon where the latter talks us through Fed options, the markets, gold price rigging  etc.  Greg’s research calls for the markets to roll over, and he’s expecting some very rough waters ahead based on key metrics he’s focused on – consumer spending and debt. He also weighs in on the tricky spot the Fed is in and where this is all pointing for both stocks and for gold.

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Greg Weldon, CEO and President of Weldon Financial. Greg has over three decades of market research and trading experience, specializing in metals and commodity markets and even authored a book in 2006 titled Gold Trading Bootcamp, where he accurately predicted the implosion of the U.S. credit market and urged people to buy gold when it was only $550 an ounce.

He is a highly sought-after presenter at financial conferences throughout the country, and is a regular guest on financial shows throughout the world, and it’s good to have him back here on the Money Metals Podcast.

Greg, thanks for joining us today. And it’s nice to talk to you again. How are you?

Greg Weldon: I’m great, thanks. My pleasure, Micheal.

Mike Gleason: Well, when we had you on back in mid-August you were optimistic about gold at the time. We had a pretty good move higher, shortly thereafter that ended up with gold hitting a one year high. But it stalled out around $1,350 in early September and we’re currently back below $1,300 as we’re talking here on Wednesday afternoon. Gold hit resistance at about the same level in the summer of last year, so give us your update as to your current outlook. What drivers, if any, do you see that can push gold through that $1,350 resistance level in the months ahead, Greg?

Greg Weldon: Yeah, well, exactly as you said. You had the move that we were anticipating when we last spoke and it kind of had already started from the 1205-ish level. All of this fitting into the kind of bigger picture, technical structure that still leads to a bullish resolution. But as you accurately mentioned, you got up to what have been close to, not quite even towards last summer’s highs around $1,375, $1,377. In this case, around $1,360 and ran out of steam.

The dollar kind of changed some of the picture and the thought process linked to the Fed changed some of the picture. So, you embarked on a downside correction. $1,260 was the low, you have a nice little correction from that level. That was the level that equated to 200-day exponential moving average. It’s a level that was just below the 38% Fibonnaci retracement of the move up from $1,205. Actually, the move up from $1,123 back at the end of 2016. So you had real, critical support there. So, to me, everything’s kind of mapped out the way you might expect it to, structurally, in this market.

From here, one of two things happens, I think. Well, one of three things, anyway. You could be cut if you have a bit of low rally backed up to $1,300. You back below it a little bit to dollars; still looks kind of strong. It’s an interest rate differential dynamic as a more hawkish view for the Fed is priced into the Fed funds; that gets transferred into the two-year and five-year treasury notes. The two-year treasury notes at a record high-yield relative to the German two-year schatzi. So, that lifting the dollar … it’s kind of gravitational pull to the upside. And that is some of the downside risk here; that the rally we just saw is kind of you b-wave and maybe you have a c-wave down towards $1,240. That’s kind of an ultimate low. Whether or not it plays out that way, longer term we still like it.

Mike Gleason: Precious metals have had a pretty respectable year all in all. Gold is up about 11% year to date. Silver is up about half as much. There isn’t exactly a lot of excitement. It seems like it’s always two steps forward, one step back. Sentiment in the physical bullion markets, where we operate, is muted. There are multiple factors to consider as to why metals markets are stuck in a bit of a rut. It seems to us that one of the big ones is the equities market stock prices just keep marching relentlessly higher. Either investors have become totally desensitized to risk or maybe there just isn’t as much risk as well think there is. In any event, barring some sort of spike in inflation expectations, which pushes metals and stocks both higher, we don’t see gold and silver breaking out unless investors start getting nervous about stock market valuations and thinking about safe havens. So what are your thoughts about equity markets and how they relate to precious metals, Greg? And where do you see stock prices headed in the near term?

Greg Weldon: Yeah, I mean it’s a perfect question because the reality is, and we in our daily research we focused on this, in fact yesterday. We haven’t spoken … It sounds like we arranged this question. Focusing on the fact that gold, relative to S&P, is at a low. You really are kind of lows that we’ve seen before, but at a level where if you get much lower, you’re breaking down to multi-year lows and this whole thing gets called into question from a technical perspective. But my problem with looking at it from a technical perspective, is that I think the stock market is living in borrowed times. Basically, the Fed has done exactly what they wanted to do. They have flushed people out of safe havens and into risk assets. That’s the whole idea of QE. It worked. You reflated the stock market. That has facilitated a huge, unprecedented rise in consumer credit.

Instead of the housing market being the collateral like it was in 2006 and 2007, now it’s the stock market that’s the collateral, the Googles and Amazons of the world and the Facebooks of the world. And you have this demand that is being driven or really being fed by credit. Now you see the credit numbers start to slow. They’re unsustainable. You start to see the consumer roll over a little bit. So that’s the number one risk to the stock market; it’s actually the consumer.

If you look at the retail sales numbers, outside of automobiles and gasoline, which is price-based, you don’t have much of anything. And you have eating and drinking growth slowing. That’s a key component, a key layer to the discretionary spending that’s an important tell to the bigger picture. The consumer discretionary sector is breaking down against the S&P. So that’s a warning sign to me.

You have, in terms of the dynamics around what the expectation is for GDP growth, predicated upon policies that have not yet been even agreed upon, let alone voted upon, let alone implemented, let alone starting to work. So, I worry about that kind of fracture between the expectations, the patience level of stock investors, diminished returns, diminished volumes. I think there’s a stock market risk. That’s one of the reasons we like gold, because what would go hand in hand with that, was some kind of maybe statement or a pull back on the dot plot from the Fed that would then cause the dollar to come off its little rally here.

Mike Gleason: Let’s play the devil’s advocate maybe a little here. We look at these record stock prices and wonder about what is beyond this extraordinarily high valuations in the past when PE ratios hit these levels, it was a signal that markets were nearing a top. But there’s one big difference between the past and today: the advent of high frequency and machine-driven trading. Huge amounts of daily volume is generated by trading algorithms. That is a game changer. These programs don’t sense risk on an emotional level like human traders do. They respond very differently to geopolitical events. So, if today’s markets seem disconnected from reality, perhaps because it’s because they are.

Now you have been on the front lines, trading in these markets for decades. You were a witness for how markets have transformed in recent years. What is your take on high frequency and algorithmic trading and what does it say about the possibility that current equity market valuations can be sustained or maybe even pushed higher? What are your thoughts there, Greg?

Greg Weldon: That’s phenomenal question and it’s very well timed given that we did a big special in September called “Shrinkage,” which is a shift in the Fed policy here. But if you take now your question, which is pertinent now, and you look at experience, in my experience over decades, it brings back 1987 right off the bat. We’re not saying the market’s going to crash. There clearly there are a lot of differences. But when you ask about high frequency trading, it sounds to me, the first thing I think of, is portfolio insurance on steroids, times a thousand, times ten thousand. So, the risk in terms of just what is the catalyst that then causes kind of that cascading downside?

One of the things we’ve been pointing out to our customers… and by the way, I’m working out a gigantic special that shows just how intriguing some of the similarities are around movements in the dollar, movements in bonds, movements in gold, and movements in stocks, and some of the ratios, and even down to crude oil, Fed policy and CPI. Now as there was basically from 1985 to ’87, once they kicked in the Plaza Accord, which depreciated the dollar. A lot of intriguing connections there and the special report that I’m writing on this, it’s called “What, Me Worry?” which we’d love to make available to any of your listeners, first of all, if they want to email me.

But in terms of the catalyst, setting it up, again I think the landmines are laying in wait out there. I think if you take an example, one of the things, like I said we’ve been telling our customers, if you take Amazon or Google. Stock are trading at $1,000 a share. You need $1,000 to buy one share. So, the volume of trading has diminished dramatically over the last couple of years as the stock prices has gone up. The ownership is huge. And it’s passive, and it’s managed investments, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t discriminate in terms of what type of investor. The people who want to own these stocks, own them. The dynamic between the price level being so high, nominally speaking, to buy up block shares, the amount of money needed, pure and simple, against the volume, to me, sets up something like you’re talking about that would be exacerbated by a flash crash. So, it becomes very scary in terms of what kind of meltdown could you see if you get the ball rolling to the downside.

I still think that this is something that will play out over some time. I think the Fed is there. I don’t think this is … There are a lot of differences. I’m not trying to make a direct ’87 comparison. But I’ll tell you what, the risk is there. No doubt about it. The risk is rising.

Mike Gleason: In terms of the Fed here, Greg, what is your thinking on who it might be that talks over for Janet Yellen as the next Fed chair and then also, tell us what you think they’re going to do here in terms of getting inflation to where they want? Basically, what are your general thoughts on the Fed and Fed monetary policy? Clearly everyone’s favorite subject.

Greg Weldon: Really, it’s two totally separate questions right now because who is Donald Trump going to pick versus how inflation going to play out. I think if you look at what the Fed is saying, the Fed has been very clear. This is where (Jerome) Powell becomes, what seems to be, and I’m not saying I believe this, I’m just saying it seems that Powell’s a logical choice if, IF, your goal is to maintain policy. Thinking about bringing in a guy like (John) Taylor, and the Taylor rule and where the natural level of Fed funds should be here, he would obviously be a much more hawkish choice. While him and Trump might have really gotten along, and maybe there’s a lot Trump can learn from him, I don’t think that’s the guy Trump wants in terms of policy for trying to get his growth agenda going.

In that context, how you maintain continuity, which really isn’t that bad. They’re certainly not tight and they’re not tightening to any nth degree. It’s almost Goldilocks material here, inflation aside. Powell is a logical choice because you make a headline splash, which of course he loves. You basically make a change, but you kind of keep the status quo.

The other one would be (Kevin) Warsh. He was more away from QE and towards just using interest rates. He’s an interesting kind of dark horse. Yellen is certainly a dark horse. What mattes really is how does the Fed decide they’re going to deal with this inflation issue when they can’t even decide what’s causing it? Because you keep hearing transitory, idiosyncratic. These are the words that being used repeatedly, over and over and over again to describe, and you’ve had one Fed official go so far as, and even Yellen herself has made comments to the effect of, “We don’t understand why it’s not materializing.”

Again, kind of back to the Taylor model, the basic rule of thumb that the Fed is counting on, i.e. hoping for, is that as the labor market continues to tighten wages, inflation will go up and that will support of a general rise in prices. The question now becomes is the natural rate of unemployment lower than we thought it was. Or, are there structural differences now, technologically based dynamics in the labor market that has hollowed out the labor market, the reason you still have participation rate while finally up a little, is still so low historically, therein lies the question. What is it kind of keeping inflation back and how does this play out?

I think the employment numbers from this month, for September, were huge in the sense it was the biggest wage number … and you know how I break the number down. To the nth degree, this was the real deal. Only one month, but still the real deal, and the best wage number we’ve seen since 2007. So, will that continue? We know anecdotal evidence is there. Will this continue over the next couple of months?

If you look at CPI and PPI, the pipeline, the year-over-year dynamics around some of the commodities, God forbid, grains, oil seeds, and tropical commodities started to rally because then you’d have a real problem. Look at what the base models are doing. Look at what energy potentially you’re going to break out here. So, I think there is some inflation coming and it’s apt to push the Fed to have to raise to meet their dot plots, and I think that’s going to be problematic for the equity markets. They’re walking the high wire act with no safety net. It’s a very difficult job.

Mike Gleason: Getting back to metals here for a bit. We would like to give our listeners an update on the silver and gold price rigging scandal that erupted a year and a half ago when Deutsche Bank was forced to acknowledge cheating and turned over mountains of evidence, which may prove damning for a number of other banks. But the courts and regulators have a record of moving slowly, if they do anything at all. Now you’re much closer to the futures markets than we are. Are you aware of any developments on that front and what do you see as the implications of the civil action against the bullion banks? Do you sense that the Deutsche Bank revelations here led to more honest markets, perhaps because of all that evidence struck fear into banker’s hearts or is it more business as usual for these bullion banks who seem to have so much influence in these markets, Greg?

Greg Weldon: I have the sense it’s business as usual. I get the sense that it’s a kind of laissez faire attitude about that because the problem is so big, if we were to actually kind of get unearthed, the impact would be much, much larger and we would know it based on the price section very quickly. It’s a powder keg. It’ll blow at some point. This is something, gosh I’ve been in the business how long, and we’ve been talking about this how long? Really, this goes way, way back. The degree to which it has gotten worse is, I mean, the thing you debate, not whether it exists or not. Is it going to be somehow uncovered to the extent that it causes that kind of disruption? I think again, this is probably fodder for a great movie… a spy movie or whatever.

Sure, there’s probably a lot of that kind of thing going on in background, but in terms of the day to day operation of the trading of these metals, I don’t see any tangible impact in the dealings I have here, no.

Mike Gleason: Well Greg, as we begin to close, give us a sense of what you’re focusing on here, maybe some of the things that we haven’t touched on and then give us a sense of how you’re evaluating these markets for your clients. Do you think it’s time to get defensive, go to cash, favor metals and commodities here as an inflation hedge, or does the wave of exuberance in stocks still have a ways to go? Any final comments or anything else that you want to leave us with today?

Greg Weldon: Well, I think some of that depends on whether they can actually get some kind of job done in Washington where the Republicans finally realize their own necks are on the chopping block here, so let’s finally ban together and get a tax reform package done. We’ll see whether that happens. I think that might be one of those last gas type of moves for the stock market. It could be a “buy the rumor sell the fact,” but I think lot has been priced in and I think there’s still going to be disappointment down the road for that.

I’m watching the consumer specifically. The retail sales numbers have been really poor all year. It’s minuscule gains in discretionary items since January. And the debt numbers are interesting. You’re starting to see a roll over, starting to see rise in delinquency rates. The debt obligations for consumers and for the Federal government, by the way, are high despite the fact that rates are still low. Can you imagine if the Feds actually did push rates a hundred basis points higher over the next however many, 14, 15 months? I think that would have a real reverberating effect on the consumer and on the government where deficits are still increasing and they’re at high levels again. No one talks about it. You have $20 trillion dollars in sovereign debt and you’re about to push the five-year note above 2%, which is your trigger to increase cost on funding the debt. Man, the land mines are out there.

I’m watching all of it. That’s what we do for our clients every single day because never before, have you had to be more plugged in. Look at the way things happen so much more quickly now. You asked about what’s the difference from 30 years. So much more availability of news, quickly. But the fact of the matter is, the basic thing that we do hasn’t changed at all, which is dissecting all of it, connecting all the dots, and kind of trying to make it all make sense in terms of what the markets are doing and how you might profit from that.

Mike Gleason: Well Greg, thank you so much for joining us again. We enjoyed it very much and love getting your very studied and experienced outlook on the state of today’s financial world. Now before we let you go, please tell folks about Weldon Financial, how they can find you, and any other information they should know about you and your firm.

Greg Weldon: Sure, thanks, appreciate that. We’re found at WeldonOnline.com. We do Weldon Live, one product, one price. It’s kind of a multi-layered product, although it’s just again, one price. We do daily and we cover daily global macro, fixed income, foreign exchange, stock indexes and ETFs, precious and industrial metals, energy, and agricultural commodities. And we tie them all together and we have what we call our Trade Lab, which is part of Weldon Live. These as specific trading recommendations in all of those sectors, we’re old school futures guys, so that’s kind of the way we approach it. What we find is a lot of family offices or independent brokers or even individuals out there, and there’s no reason with the way your see ETFs now being utilized that the average investor can’t operate more like a hedge fund manager or CTA.

We try and provide rhyme and reason to what’s going on and then specific strategies to take advantage of it. Weldon Live found at WeldonOnline.com.

Mike Gleason: Well great stuff. Thanks so much for your time today, Greg. I hope we can talk again down the road. Take care and we appreciate you coming on.

Mike Gleason

Ted Butler: Why Scotia Mocatta is up for sale

Herewith an article by Ted Butler being an edited version of one he posted on his own website and subsequently posted on the Silver Seek website.

“News reports this week indicated that the Bank of Nova Scotia (ScotiaBank), Canada’s third largest bank, had put its precious metals operation, ScotiaMocatta, up for sale. Various sources said the unit had been for sale for a year or so and it was thought or hoped that Chinese interests might buy the business. It was also reported that the Bank of Nova Scotia would shrink the unit if no buyer could be found. The impetus for the sale was said to be a scandal involving smuggled gold from South America to the US. Somewhat ironic, and interesting, was that the sale “listing” agent was none other than JPMorgan.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-scotiabank-gold/scotiabank-mulls-sale-of-gold-trading-unit-sources-idUSKBN1CN2CN

I believe there is more to this story than meets the eye and it involves the ongoing gold and silver price manipulation. About the only thing I find suspect in the news accounts is the motive for the sale.  I was aware of the smuggling story, but ScotiaMocatta didn’t seem particularly exposed in this matter. I accept that the unit is up for sale, just not the motivation behind the sale. If my reasoning is correct, this could be a very significant development in the ongoing silver and gold price manipulation on the COMEX; on a par with JPMorgan taking over Bear Stearns in March 2008; which, in my opinion, was the most significant event in the silver market in decades….

To read full article click on: http://silverseek.com/commentary/backing-out-16919

Gold/Silver vs. Bitcoin Comparisons: A No-Brainer… or Brainless?

by: David Smith*

For most of the year, as Bitcoin soared, crashed, and soared again, cryptocurrency vs. physical gold-silver talking heads engaged each other in heated rhetoric about which of these venues is here to stay.

Some of the biggest names in finance, government, and the newsletter analyst space have made comments that – to be charitable – appear less-than-fully informed. Comments like “Even though bitcoin could rise to $100,000, it’s still going to zero!” don’t offer much insight. Some other questionable assumptions:

2017 percent price change comparisons: Relating this year’s gold and silver’s price range to that of bitcoin misses an important point. Yes, bitcoin (BTC) has risen by a much greater percent, but it’s also fallen more. I don’t recall gold dropping 40% this year, which bitcoin has… on a couple of occasions.

Bitcoins

Please note: Bitcoin has no tangible, physical form.

 

Trash-talking gold and silver as “antiquated”: Bitcoin is now considered legal tender in Japan, but at this time, its primary function is for use in the purchase and sale of the 900+ “alt coins” currently available.

Most of these exchange entries in the crypto-space are not really “currencies” at all and will never trade as such.

Rather they are “coins” or “tokens” digitally created and circulated to raise seed money, via initial coin offerings (ICOs) in order to solve some business application in a blockchain-connected manner. Many have no trading volume – possibly because the market is skeptical of their business plan – and have become more or less “dead” coins.

At present, a relative few have an actively trading market. Investors have dropped literally millions of dollars into scores, if not hundreds of entrants which have appeared on the scene like dragon’s teeth, in many cases only to see volume dry up soon thereafter.

At present, digital apparitions can be created and marketed by just about anyone. The following example demonstrates how easy it is (for now), and how gullible some people really are.

Can I interest you in a “Useless Ethereum Token”?

Earlier this year, the “Useless Ethereum Token” (UET) was “announced” online. The “Issuer” wrote:

You are literally giving your money to someone on the Internet and getting completely useless tokens in return. There are no ‘whitepapers,’ no ‘products’, and no ‘experts’. It’s just you, me, your hard-earned Ether, and my shopping list.

You would think this blatantly-stated scam would elicit exactly zero response, yet reportedly, the UET ‘Project” was able to raise more than $60,000!

By the same token, it’s a safe bet that many Venezuelans wish they had traded some of their bolivares fuertes (“strong Bolivar”) notes, rendered worthless over the last few years, for a few ounces of silver – or a single ounce of gold – which could now purchase respectively, six months of food, or a house.

Becoming a victim of “default bias”: We all have a tendency to operate through a lens which uses the past as a default setting.

We keep doing what we know, avoid taking new risks, and resist changing the way we think.

Default bias can cause lost opportunities – whether it involves learning about the blockchain or being hesitant to buy precious metals when they’re in boring “wear you out or scare you out” sideways action (another David Morgan homily)… as they’ve been lately.

Dismissing Bitcoin as “just digital”: Kim Iskyan (Stansberry Churchouse Research) addresses the criticisms leveled at bitcoin and the blockchain. Responding to the charge that it’s “purely digital,” he notes that fully 90% of all the money – or as David Morgan refers to it, “paper promises” – that exist around the world today are not physical either!

Doug Casey is always one to see beyond the next investment valley (or country), and he pegs what most people miss when they argue that bitcoin is “bad” for the future of precious metals. As he said,

When people buy these cryptocurrencies, even if they know nothing about hard money, economics, or monetary theory, they inevitably ask themselves, “Hmm, Bitcoin or the dollar?” They’re both currencies. Then they start asking questions about the nature of the dollar…the nature of inflation… and whether the dollar has any real value, what’s going to happen to it, and why.

People start asking themselves these questions – which wouldn’t have occurred to them otherwise… and it’s going to make them very suspicious of the dollar. It’s going to get a lot of people thinking about money and economics in a way they never thought about it before. And this will inevitably lead them to gold…

What I am doing: In addition to staying very active in metals and miners, I have placed “small money” into several coins and tokens having viable business models in hopes of making an asymmetric profit.

Gold Bull Market 1970s vs. 2000 to date

In spite of the current turmoil, I remain steadfast in the belief that the next few years will see gold and silver trading several times higher than their nominal 2011 prices of $1,900 and near $50 respectively. The blockchain is here to stay. As for bitcoin, only time will tell.

We may even see digital coins and tokens backed by precious metal. But these changes in the crypto space will not replace them. Indeed, gold and silver will almost certainly – to the surprise of many bitcoin bulls – markedly increase demand.

I plan to continue holding the majority of my investible funds in gold and silver. How about you?

Palladium and Rhodium on Fire, is Platinum Next?

by: Clint Siegner*

Platinum was once the most precious of metals. For decades, it traded at a premium to gold. The other platinum group metals – palladium and rhodium – barely registered on investors’ radar screens.

Platinum lost its crown to gold in 2015. It was overtaken by the other PGM metals in recent weeks.

Given that platinum, palladium, and rhodium demand is largely driven by automobile manufacturing and the production of catalytic converters, one of these things is likely true; platinum is currently undervalued, or the other two have gotten ahead of themselves.

1 Oz Rhodium Bars

1 oz rhodium bars run about $1,455 each.

Which one is the correct assessment will depend on whether the current optimism for economic growth in both developed economies and emerging markets has been well placed. Either way, investors inclined to speculate on the PGM metals have some interesting market action upon which to trade.

Platinum does look remarkably underappreciated. It is hard to imagine it trading at a significant discount for too long.

Auto makers should bid for whichever metal offers the lowest cost as all three are somewhat interchangeable.

Platinum offers the largest and most liquid market of the group. It is widely available in a variety of coins and bars. For investors, platinum’s liquidity is a consideration.

However, momentum traders may want to take a look at rhodium. It is traded in relatively tiny quantities and has a history of making big moves. Rhodium saw a top near $4,000 in the early 1990s and it made a run north of $2,000 about 10 years later. It peaked at $10,000 per ounce in 2008.

Although rhodium has doubled in the past year, it currently trades just over $1,300.

The metal’s pattern of having a sharp spike roughly once every 10 years is interesting. It is possible we are in the middle of another of those massive moves now.

New York Price for Rhodium Chart

Rhodium is available primarily in 1 ounce bars. While the quantity of rhodium traded is by far the lowest among precious metals, market liquidity for that metal has seen a boost since 2008. There are now a couple of ETFs focused on the metal. Those ETFs may in fact be driving a good portion of the recent demand.

Editor’s note:  The Platinum Group Metal  pricing patterns are primarily based on supply/demand fundamentals, not on rarity of the metals in the earth’s crust.  Rhodium and palladium are running high as they are both in a substantial supply deficit situation while platinum supply and demand are much closer balanced.  Palladium, with a little rhodium, is currently the preferred catalyst for gasoline-powered internal combustion engine emission control catalytic converters, having largely succeeded platinum in this usage, but this was due to palladium being substantially less costly than platinum – that is until palladium’s (and rhodium’s) recent run.  The big question now is: is platinum, being the cheaper metal, going to make a dent in palladium’s current predominance as the catalytic metal of choice for gasoline powered engines.  It is already the dominant catalytic metal for diesel exhaust emission control.  

Randgold’s Kibali U/G section on track despite possible political pitfalls ahead

In a statement to local media Randgold Resources CEO, and driving force, Mark Bristow, reported excellent progress at its 45%-owned Kibali gold mine in the DRC, which it operates.  It built the mine ahead of schedule as an open pit operation with the underground section to follow, despite it being located in one of the most remote parts of the African continent in the northeast of the mineral rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) close to its border with South Sudan.  The construction logistics were daunting with virtually all the heavy equipment needing to be trucked to the site from ports far away on Africa’s east coast.

Kibali is also owned as to 45% by the much larger Anglogold Ashanti, which ceded construction and management to Randgold because of the latter’s strong prior expertise in constructing and operating gold mines in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire and in maintaining good relations with the governments in those nations – even through some major political changes. The balance of 10% of Kibali is owned by DRC parastatal, Sokimo.  However, while technical progress has perhaps exceeded expectations there are obviously some potential political pitfalls ahead if they cannot be warded off through negotiations with government, Bristow also warned.

The Kibali gold mine, nowadays one of the largest such operations in Africa, remains on track to achieve its production target of 610,000 ounces this year as its underground operations and the integration and automation of the vertical shaft enters the final commissioning and automation stage, Bristow told the audience at an event in DRC capital, Kinshasa.  The mine is anticipating a significant increase in production once the final shaft commissioning, which remains on a tight schedule, has been completed.

At a briefing for local media, Bristow said in spite of the high level of activity at the mine, there had been a significant improvement in the safety statistics, with its total injury frequency rate continuing to decrease and lost time injury frequency rate down to 0.31 per million hours worked in the September quarter.

Following the anticipated completion of the underground mine in the fourth quarter, the only major capital project still in the works would be Kibali’s third new hydropower station, currently being constructed by an all-Congolese contracting team.  Bristow said the availability of self-generated hydropower and the mine’s high degree of mechanisation and automation were important factors in Kibali’s ability to sustain its profitability throughout the ups and downs of the gold price cycle.

To date, over $2 billion has been spent on acquiring and developing Kibali, of which the majority had been paid out in the form of taxes, permits, infrastructure and payments to local contractors and suppliers.

“With capital expenditure tapering off, Kibali should now be preparing to pay back the loans taken to fund its development.  We are concerned, however, that its ability to do so will be impeded by the increasing amount of debt – currently standing at over $200 million – owed to the mine by the government.  TVA refunds, excess taxes and royalties in violation of the country’s mining code, make up the bulk of this amount,” Bristow said.

Another troubling development was the recent re-introduction to parliament by the Ministry of Mines of a proposed new mining code which is exactly the same as the one the government withdrew in 2015 after it was comprehensively demonstrated that it would seriously damage or even destroy the Congolese mining industry.

“Randgold has proven and continues to prove that it is committed to the DRC and to the development of a gold mining industry capable of making a substantial and lasting contribution to the country’s economy.  Despite all the challenges, including the volatile political climate and a deteriorating economy, we continue to invest here.  Our exploration teams are searching for our next big discovery in the greenstone belt of the north-eastern DRC.  In line with our local supply strategy, Kibali spent approximately $40 million with Congolese contractors in the past three months alone.  We are developing substantial agribusiness and other community projects.  And perhaps most important, we invest in the training and empowering of Congolese nationals, who already make up most of the Kibali management team, thus making a contribution of incalculable value to the expansion of the country’s skills base,” Bristow said.

“The DRC has all the materials for building a sustainable mining industry but that will require a fully committed partnership between the government on the one hand and the mining companies on the other.  Despite recent indications to the contrary, we remain confident that such a partnership is within reach, and that the government will see the critical importance of maintaining a stable, investor-friendly fiscal and regulatory environment for the country’s mining sector.  In this regard, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the government in jointly selecting an independent group of experts to benchmark the DRC mining code and its fiscal framework and to model the impact of the new proposed code, which we believe will be damaging to the development of the industry.”

These are, in effect, dire warnings by Bristow and illustrate some of the potential problems arising when working with the DRC government.  The DRC has enormous mineral potential for the production of many strategic metals and minerals, but the kinds of problems noted by Bristow could have a serious impact on further potential inward investment in the mining sector and could also adversely affect ongoing operations in the country.  The country had a hugely successful mining industry back in the mid 20th Century, but this largely fell into disrepair in the latter half of the century as foreign expertise was shunned.  One hopes this will not happen again.  The world needs the metals and minerals the DRC can supply.

The Germans: Now the world’s biggest gold buyers

By Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer, U.S. Global Investors

Germans Have Quietly Become the World’s Biggest Buyers of Gold

When I talk about Indians’ well-known affinity for gold, I tend to focus on Diwali and the wedding season late in the year. Giving gifts of beautiful gold jewelry during these festivals is considered auspicious in India, and historically we’ve been able to count on prices being supported by increased demand.

Another holiday that triggers gold’s Love Trade is Dussehra, which fell on September 30 this year. Thanks to Dussehra, India’s gold imports rose an incredible 31 percent in September compared to the same month last year, according to GFMS data. The country brought in 48 metric tons, equivalent to $2 billion at today’s prices.

As I’ve shared with you many times before, Indians have long valued gold not only for its beauty and durability but also as financial security. Indian households have the largest private gold holdings in the world, standing at an estimated 24,000 metric tons. That figure surpasses the combined official gold reserves of the United States, Germany, Italy, France, China and Russia.

 

A New Global Leader in Gold Investing?

But as attracted to gold as Indians are, they weren’t the world’s biggest investors in the yellow metal last year, and neither were the Chinese. According to a new report from the World Gold Council (WGC)that title shifted hands to Germany in 2016, with investors there ploughing as much as $8 billion into gold coins, bars and exchange-traded commodities (ETCs). This set a new annual record for the European country.

Gold investment demand in Germany Hit a New High in 2016
click to enlarge

Germany’s rise to become the world leader in gold investing is a compelling story that’s quietly been developing for the past 10 years. Before 2008, Germans’ investment in physical gold barely registered on anyone’s radar, with average annual demand at 17 metrics tons. The country’s first gold-backed ETC didn’t even appear on the market until 2007.

But then the financial crisis struck, setting off a series of events that ultimately pushed many Germans into seeking a more reliable store of value.

“While the world fretted about Lehman Brothers, German investors worried about the state of their own banking system,” the WGC writes. “Landesbanks, the previously stable banking partners of corporate Germany, looked wobbly. People feared for their savings.”

To stanch the bleeding, the European Central Bank (ECB) slashed interest rates. Banks began charging customers to hold their cash, and yields on German bunds dropped into negative territory.

All of this had the effect of rekindling German investors’ interest in gold. As I’ve explained before, gold prices have historically surged in that country’s currency when real government bond yields turned subzero. What we saw in Germany was no exception.

gold price jumped when German government bond yield turned negative
click to enlarge

Weakening Faith in Paper

As the WGC points out, Germans are acutely aware that fiat currencies can become unstable and lose massive amounts of value. In the 1920s, the German mark dipped so low, a wheelbarrow overflowing with marks wasn’t enough to buy a single loaf of bread. In the past 100 years, the country has gone through eight separate currencies.

It’s little wonder, then, that a 2016 survey found that 42 percent of Germans trust gold more than they do traditional money.

This is where Germans and Indians agree. The latter group’s faith in the banking system has similarly been eroded over the years by regime changes and corruption, and gold has been seen as real money.

It’s not just individual German investors who harbor a strong faith in gold. The Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, spent the past four years repatriating 674 metric tons of Cold War-era gold from New York and Paris. The operation, one of the largest and most expensive of its kind, concluded in August. Today the central bank has the second largest gold reserves in the world, following the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Room for Further Growth

With Germans’ demand for gold investment products having already reached epic proportions, what can we expect next? Will interest continue to grow, or will it recede?

Analysts with the WGC believe there is room for further growth, citing a survey that shows latent demand in Germany holding strong. Impressively, 59 percent agreed that “gold will never lose its value in the long-term.” That’s a huge number.

Regardless of whether or not investment expands in Germany, this episode shows that gold is still seen as an exceptional store of value, and trusted even more so than traditional fiat money. For gold investors, that’s good news going forward.

Gold vs Bitcoin: Are they competitors?

Mike Gleason* of Money Metals Exchange interviews Frnak Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at US Global Investors. Mr. Holmes has received various honors over the years, including being named America’s Best Fund Manager for 2016 by the Mining Journal. He is also the co-author of the book The Goldwatcher: Demystifying Gold Investing and is a regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business as well as right here on the Money Metals podcast. Frank, welcome back and thanks for joining us again. How are you today?

Frank Holmes: Excellent. Thank you, my friend. Thank you.

Mike Gleason: Well, to start out here, Frank, I know you recently attended and spoke at the Denver Gold Show and I always like to talk to insiders like yourself following those sorts of events because you can always glean some good insights on the mood of the industry and how things are really going in the precious metals community. Now the mining industry has taken a pretty good beating over the last few years and it continues to struggle a bit even as we seem to be in a new bull cycle that began in late 2015. You’ve got your new gold fund now, GOAU, so you’ve got lots on insights into the mining industry and know lots of gold bugs. So, what did you glean from the conference Frank? What was the mood in general? Give us some highlights there if you would.

Frank Holmes: Well I think my presentation was well received when I explained how the quant world and data mining, and these other what they call alternative investment research companies, are providing new insight the way investing is taking place. Understanding the paradigm shift on that data collection and that analysts love their old reports on mid asset value, are irrelevant. They’re not relevant to picking stocks today. And you have to go with the forces of physics either as electromagnetic rebounding to the mean is a cheap stock and math says it will rebound or has strong momentum. And you can take a universe of 88 gold stocks and take it down to 28 and far outperform the GDX or GDXJ.

Using data that was foreign to a lot of these analysts and recognizing … the other thing I think worth commenting on was gold and this whole thing on Bitcoin, is it a competition for bullion? It is not. First of all, without electricity Bitcoin is not worth any money. It needs electricity. Gold is always gold. It conducts electricity and it will always have its materiality for currency in addition to being jewelry. But I think that’s really important is to recognize that it’s so much easier, this idea of crowdfunding, to go and open up an exchange and trade 24/7 all these different currencies all around the world than it is to open a brokerage account. And I think that this excessive regulations is basically seeing people migrate over to angel investing, crowdfunding such as into cryptocurrencies, et cetera. And I think that’s the bigger danger is to overall investing in trading in the capital markets. So they’re the comments that I made and that seem to have come back with many written messages to me regarding the quants and how they’re changing the landscape.

But I think the other part that’s important for your listeners is that there were 1,100 people there. Now they don’t allow investment bankers in. Research analysts, traders, CEOs, gold analysts from the buy and sell side, they’re allowed to participate and there were 1,100. The week before there was a big event for the juniors (junior miners) but this event is the premiere event of the world. And I was impressed with it. The conversations looking for companies that are going to be taken over. What’s the probability. Because the seniors are desperate for future production and where is that growth going to come from because they’re just not finding the gold as fast as they’re mining. So, the Newmonts of the world have to go and strike deals like they did with Continental in Columbia to get a foothold into high grade big geographic footprints. So I thought that was interesting. I think that in the next 12 months there’s going to be lots of M&A work. And the other part was the royalty companies seem to get a new sort of respect for how their positioned in the capital markets in that gold space.

Mike Gleason: Yeah definitely. Sounds like there is a wave of optimism there and some good things ahead. Now I wanted to get back to some of the cryptocurrency conversation here. Your firm, Frank, US Global Investors, recently made an investment in HIVE Blockchain Technologies and you have been appointed chairman of the board there. Given you are heavily involved in the cryptocurrency space now, we’d like to get your take on a topic of growing interest in the metals community. You alluded to this a moment ago but cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin in particular, have been seen by many as another form of honest money. You’ve obviously maybe shot a little bit of a hole in what it is that is needed in order to continue the cryptocurrency world, that being electricity. But since you’re a fan at least in part of both metals and blockchains. What are your thoughts on how metals might fit in with this emerging technology, Frank?

Frank Holmes: Well let’s just focus on this emerging technology. We go back to the internet and it was actually very boring when it first come out because it was very slow and it used to be a joke that it was just porn and dark things. And now it’s fast porn. No, I’m kidding. But the real catalysts for the internet exploding in usage were emails, AOL. And long before Yahoo came out to give you free email. And then people saw the incredible capacity for this channel of distribution of information. Well I think that the Bitcoin and Ethereum are doing that for blockchain technology and that there’s a huge scramble to be able to apply this so that you’ll be able to trade stocks 24/7.

And when I was doing my research and I went to the largest cryptocurrency event, that used to be where the gold show used to be held in New York at the Marriott. I was just shocked to see how many young people were there. Many more than ever when gold was peaking. And two is that they weren’t drinking scotch and whiskey at the bar and beer, they were drinking Pepsi and coffee. That really threw me off to just watch those young people and how they’re looking at it. And then to find out that the keynote speaker was a CEO of Fidelity. Fidelity is a massive multi-trillion dollar asset management company and they have all their employees on Bitcoin. They have a wallet and you can buy goods in the store. And seeing that she’s the keynote and that the New York Stock Exchange when it was launching GOAU they were commenting that they had put money into Coinbase along with USAA in San Antonio.

So, at Coinbase you can open an account so easily and they will now let your 10,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 of coins show up as an asset over all in your portfolio. USAA and all that should do that at Fidelity. So I said well it’s something really that’s not mainstream and then in the summer it came out in the Wall Street Journal that Fidelity is doing it. But really it didn’t seem to captivate a lot of people’s interest. And I think that the big part with the New York Stock Exchange is just their worry of being Uberized the way taxi cabs were with having stock trading 24/7 and a lot cheaper.

So, I think that that’s the big trend and along I was trying to launch a cryptocurrency, ETF, or a product with that and I just kept bringing up cul-de-sacs. Had to back that car out, back that truck out. It didn’t matter if it was the U.S., the SEC, or Canada with the OSC. They’re just so consumed that AML (Anti Money Laundering) supersedes, even though you can track Bitcoin, supersedes anything else. So that’s why you’ve not seen anything come out directly where you can trade Bitcoin into an ETF.

So I’ve been working on this and then all of the sudden I hear from my friend Frank Giustra saying, “Look, we have this deal. Do you know much about this space?” And I said “Oh, yes. I’ve been working on it. And I just keep running into cul-de-sacs.” And he said, “Well, why don’t you explore it” and explored it and I said, “You know what, I’ll be come your third biggest shareholder, and I will go on the board,” because I think that HIVE is so special and unique because it’s the mining business.

And the company behind HIVE is Genesis Mining and Genesis Mining is the largest cryptocurrency miner in the word. They have a million people give them 500 bucks a year and one of the things I learned was that if you want to do mining of cryptocurrency you need to have cheap energy like two cents a kilowatt hour. So you find that a lot of these big dealer centers are in Iceland where it’s cool and you have cheap electricity. Google is there. Facebook is there and so is Genesis. And you need to have computer graphic cards because the processing power to validate a transaction. So, you found that NVIDIA stock has taken off because the cryptocurrency companies like Genesis have been massive buyers of their computer graphics cards.

And so, with that, I said, “You mean, we’re going to be investing in a company that’s mining and validating transactions all over the world, and we create new coins, fresh coins, mint coins, virgin coins” … however you want to characterize them. We are not trafficking on the silk road. We are not buying and selling a coin that could have been painted et cetera. No. We’re the creator because we validate transactions and you get paid every time you validate a blockchain transaction. So, I became extremely excited about this opportunity and so far we’ve made for our shareholders more than 500% on their money.

Mike Gleason: That’s fantastic. Now I’d like to get your take on the U.S. dollar. The dollar had a miserable performance through the first eight months of the year and bottomed in early September at 91.5. The greenback then bounced and has enjoyed a very good rally since then. What is driving this rally in your view and are you expecting the dollar to keep moving higher in the months ahead, Frank?

Frank Holmes: Well, historically it does get a bit of a rally going into the year end. That’s one. Two is the 5-year government bond. The 5-year government bond is positive now, the yield. So, the CPI number is 1.9 and you just take whatever the government is trying to entice you to buy their 5-year government bond, subtract the CPI number… it recalibrates every month and it gives you a good idea for where fund falls are going for real rates return. And whenever the five year government bond and the two year government bond are negative, gold is positive. And so, we went from a 1.4 to 1.5 5-year government bond to a 1.93. Now it’s just slightly positive but that was enough to sort of have the dollar rally and gold come off in the past month.

But I think that unless you really get change, you get fiscal change, trying to get the tax code streamlined and trying to get other parts of the legislation body in its Beltway to streamline regulations. We need to have the TSA preferred, how you can fly much more quickly now, rather than those two hour waits to fly and to go and catch your flight. You know most people in San Antonio were driving to Houston rather than going to wait two hours for an hour flight. And so, you’re seeing now this TSA preferred. That’s just streamlining processes and this has to be done for the movement of money, for opening a trading accounts, for opening up investment accounts, et cetera. If we don’t get those things, we’re going to have to have negative real interest rates to keep the economy going. Or you’re going to have to a very weak dollar to drive exports.

And I think that Trump has been a master disrupter. He’s so disruptive to the Beltway Party, which is the regulatory regime that’s been their professional regulatory. I’ve listened to other people like Bernanke spoke about the difficulty for Jimmy Carter and Trump to take on the Beltway Party. But he’s different and so he’s trying to push for the streamline of regulations. If he can, rates can trade higher and I think that the dollar will just trade with the real interest rates relative to the rest of the world.

But I remain very positive on gold. It’s amazing to see how well gold has done this year. The gold stocks have had a great run until the GDXJ blew up. Basically, they captured 95% of all fund flows. Therefore, they had to be concentrated owning more than 20 companies 20% means they had to do a force takeover. They had to back out of that one and they blew out three billion dollars. They brought in five billion dollars over 12 months and then they did an exit in only a matter of weeks of three billion dollars. And that really damaged the bid side and bruised people. It’s like getting hit by Mike Tyson. You just don’t heal quickly when he hits you and it’s the same thing with the gold stocks. But I think there’s some just fabulous gold stocks out there that are ripe to be taken over, that have very strong positive cash flow. The weaker dollar in the U.S. and the higher gold prices, there’s very strong margins for companies like Klondex.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, certainly can be interesting as we go towards the latter part of the year here to see what might be sustained in this correction in gold or if it can rebound and get back to where it was maybe a month ago or so. We did have a good first half of the year in the metals but the markets obviously have hit some of those headwinds here recently, a rising dollar and so forth that you alluded to. If you would, give us your bull case for metals in near term and then also if you would maybe a bear case as well and then kind of expand more on which side you’re betting on, as we begin to wrap up here.

Frank Holmes: Well, there’s the two drivers for gold: love trade and fear trade. And the fear trade dominates the psychic of Americans and the same thing with Europeans in that’s predominantly negative real interest rates. So whenever the government has to monetize most of their debt, and basically negative real interest rates are losing money and buying their government bonds, gold does well. I don’t think that they can raise rates significantly without a massive streamlining of regulations and the government is doing everything to try to stop Trump from doing that. So, I think we’re going to end up still living with negative interest rates.

Now, the other positive part, for the U.S., is that the dollar is down but the exports are up. So we have our strong industrial base. And it’s showing up in PMI, that’s Purchasing Manufacturer’s Index, which is a forward looking index. It’s not like GDP, which is looking out the rear view mirror. This is like looking with headlights looking down six months. And the one month is above the three month, and that’s really positive for global growth. So I remain positive and constructive towards it. What could derail it? North Korea could derail it. China’s policies could derail it. And I think that if rates were to surge dramatically in the U.S., that could derail it.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re in a very constructive mode and it’s a great opportunity for stock picking. I just spoke at a conference in Vancouver yesterday, and I commented on … By the way, I commented on HIVE. I was asked and I said, “You know, if you’re a value investor, HIVE is extremely overvalued.” But if you are a first mover advantage in the first public company where funds can go by and get exposure to crypto-mining. It is not. It’s like Tesla, it’s like Amazon. They will always trade at lofty valuations. And so, it’s extremely attractive that way when you look at it as being first mover advantage.

Mike Gleason: Well that’s great stuff as usual. Thanks as always for joining us. It’s a real honor to hear your thoughts and we appreciate your time as always. Now before we let you go, please tell our listeners a little bit more about your firm and your services and then also mention the Frank Talk Blog so people can learn more about that if they’re not already checking it out.

Frank Holmes: Well, we are USfunds.com, makes it so easy, just go to USfunds.com, sign up for investor alert. It’s right in the middle of the page. And we write every week and we do a game film analysis, three strengths or weaknesses for last week and opportunities and threats that can come out next week. Sort of forward looking like game film and looking back.

And the Frank Talk is my global travels and I try to be insightful and learn about how we’ve applied quant math. What’s called quantamentals to stock picking. And especially we launched our GOGO Canadian gold ETF and we’ve launched one here in the U.S., which we’re really proud of because the ten year index based on those smart factors, both performs of GDXJ say 94% of the time are rolling 12 month periods. So we think that GOAU, we’ll write about it, we’ll tell you about the changes. And we also have unique products like JETS which is also an ETF listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, it’s great stuff. Certainly the Go Gold fund is looking very good from what I’ve been reading about. Obviously performing just as you were hoping it would and continued success there. We always appreciate it and good luck with the other endeavors that you have going on and keep up the good work on those market commentaries and we’ll certainly look forward to our next conversation. Take care, Frank.

Frank Holmes: Take care, my friend.

Mike Gleason: Well that will do it for this week. Thanks again to Frank Holmes, CEO of US Global Investors and manager of the recently launched GOAU Gold Fund. For more information, the site is USfunds.com. Be sure to check out the previously mentioned Frank Talk blog while you’re there for some of the best market commentary you will find anywhere on gold and other related topics. Again, you can find all that at USfunds.com, and you can also go to GOAUETF.com for more information on that new gold fund.

And check back here next Friday for our next Weekly Market Wrap Podcast. Until then, this has been Mike Gleason with Money Metals Exchange. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend, everybody.

World Gold Council: Market Update: German gold investment market

The impact of German gold investment on the global market over the past few years is often overlooked, thus the World Gold Council has just released a special report on German gold investment since the 2008 global financial crisis – as linked below

Germany’s gold investment market has boomed in the past 10 years. In the face of successive financial crises and loose monetary policy, German investors turned to gold to protect their wealth. In response, new product providers entered the market making it easier for people to invest. Last year, more than €6bn was ploughed into gold investment products in Germany and, encouragingly, there is room for further growth: consumer research indicates there is latent retail demand which the industry can tap into.

In 2016, €6.8bn was ploughed into German gold investment products

Download (pdf, 717.67 KB)

 

Metals Focus’ Precious Metals Investment Focus still sees gold averaging $1,400 next year

I recently attended Metals Focus’ launch of its latest publication on Precious Metals Investment and while its overall conclusions were somewhat mainstream the group’s analysts are looking for the gold price to AVERAGE US$1,400 next year which suggests at times spot prices will go higher than this.  I published an article on this on the Sharps Pixley website on this which is set out below:

Metals Focus still sees gold hitting $1,400 average in 2018

Yesterday saw the launch of London-based precious metals consultancy Metals Focus’ second annual Precious Metals Investment Focus publication which, in its 90+ pages, goes into considerable detail on the current prospects for gold, silver, platinum and palladium.  The consultancy also yesterday published its latest Precious Metals Weekly newsletter, which emphasised some of the findings of the longer report and, perhaps, what it sees as the potentialimpact of the increased likelihood of a U.S. Fed small interest rate rise at its December meeting.  However some others – notably Jim Rickards in a recent interview – would disagree feeling that the most recent U.S. economic data would scare the Fed into delaying any further rate increases into 2018, if then.

Metals Focus has a dedicated team of analysts looking at all aspects of the Precious Metals sector – and also nowadays provides the statistical element of the World Gold Council’s regular quarterly analysis of global gold supply and demand.  The group was initially put together as a break-away from the longstanding GFMS analytical group when the latter was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2011 and a number of its analytical team previously worked for the latter and some of the methodology of its analysis mirrors that of GFMS, although the conclusions do sometimes differ slightly.

Looking at gold as the prime driver of the precious metals complex – although increasingly the other precious metals are to a major extent dependent on their demand as industrial metals particularly in the case of the platinum group (pgms) – the report does see potential for further positive price growth given the supporting underlying macroeconomic and geopolitical outlook.

In his presentation at the launch of this latest publication, Neil Meader, the group’s Research and Consultancy Manager, reflected on a slightly disappointing performance for the complex, despite great promise earlier in the year.  The report thus suggests only a 2% average rise in the metal price this year compared with 2016.  An earlier 5 year analysis of the precious metals complex by the consultancy had predicted $1,400 gold this year, and while this has not been totally ruled out, the latest analysis suggests that this price level may now not happen until next year unless some worrying geopolitical event (North Korea looks to be the most likely instigator) causes the metal price to spike again.

Writing here a week or so ago, we had suggested keeping a close eye on the largest gold ETF (GLD) to see the trend in institutional investment in gold in North America, which seems to be a great indicator of U.S. investment demand and thus of the overall trend in the global gold price level.  After a strong couple of months, the past two days have seen 10.35 tonnes withdrawn from the ETF which is perhaps indicative of weak institutional demand for gold in the light of the recent price falls, although much of these can be put down to some recovery in the dollar index over the past few days.

In today’s trading gold is, so far, up a few dollars from yesterday’s low point although has not retained some of its earlier price gains seeing a degree of profit taking (or an engineered decline depending on who one believes) after it moved briefly back above $1,280.  Silver is pretty flat while platinum and palladium are trading at broadly similar levels after the latter’s high flying move of last week. In later trading palladium again moved slightly ahead of platinum, although not significantly so.  Thus so far this week platinum has moved up a little and palladium down a little more.  Metals Focus favours platinum over palladium into next year.  We may disagree given the latter’s better current fundamentals but all the North American precious metals markets are managed by the big money to a greater or lesser extent and, ultimately the markets each tend to move in the way the bullion banks and major institutions determine as the prime players in these market.

What the Metals Focus Investment Focus publication does do is set out its price forecasts in the light of what it sees as the supply/demand parameters for the current year and next.  For gold it sees a surplus, albeit a slightly smaller one of 22 tonnes in 2018 and an average price for that year of $1,400 as against a $1,275 average for the current year, itself up from $1,251 in 2016.

Silver is seen as outperforming gold next year, as it usually does in a rising gold market and again sees a supply surplus of 72 tonnes this year and 66 tonnes in 2018.  The consultancy analysts see silver, like gold, benefiting from a recovery in investor interest in safe haven assets.  Here the analysts are looking for a $20.60 average price for the year which some may see as optimistic, but if you are a silver investor optimism usually rules.

The analysts also see some kind of recovery in platinum, despite a 450 million ounce projected surplus. leading to  an average price of $1,090 in 2018 – due largely to platinum’s historic correlation with the gold price.  However it sees palladium as underperforming its fellow pgm despite a 1.44 million ounce projected deficit and are predicting an average price of only $880 an ounce.  That is around $30-40 below where it is at the moment, although the 2017 average price is seen as only $830 an ounce.  We would probably disagree here with, in our view, palladium having the distinct possibility of maintaining a premium over platinum given the disparities in fundamentals supply/demand data.

 

U.S. Mint Bullion Coin Sales Dip As Buyers Take Advantage Of Secondary Market

by: Clint Siegner*

Alt

In all but one year thereafter the Mint set a new record. Sales peaked in 2015 at 47,000,000 Silver Eagle coins – 5 times the number sold before the world discovered just how rickety the global financial system actually is.

Memories are short, however, and investor complacency is setting in.

Sales to date in 2017 are just short of 16 million coins and are set to finish the year very close to the 2008 totals.

U.S. Mint sales are viewed as a proxy for bullion sales in the broader market. There isn’t much else available in the way of published data. However, Mint statistics don’t tell the whole story.

While retail buying activity is still stronger than retail selling, we’ve seen a meaningful increase in customer selling of coins, rounds, and bars over the past year. A lot of the American Eagles traded today are therefore resale coins which don’t show up in the Mint’s reporting of new minting activity.

Government Mint Bureaucrats Don’t Respond to Market Conditions

Private mints and refiners are responding to weaker sales by lowering premiums on rounds and bars. The government bureaucrats which run the sovereign mints, including the U.S. Mint, largely ignore these competitive forces. To date, they have not adjusted pricing.

Demand for government-minted products therefore suffers the most as buyers take advantage of significant premium discounts available in other products and secondary market items.

While retail bullion demand in the U.S. is certainly weaker overall, it is way better than the Mint’s statistics might imply. In a sense, the bullion markets are more balanced. National dealers like Money Metals Exchange make more of a two-way market, both buying from and selling to clients.

That is good news for buyers. The days when new production Silver Eagles were strictly allocated and supply fell hopelessly short of demand are behind us, at least for now. Investors can get those coins for around $2.50 over melt value, instead of paying up to $6.00 and waiting for delivery – which has been the case on a few occasions over the past 5-7 years.

Any buyer who doesn’t have to have a sovereign coin will find plenty of other silver products with premiums under a buck – such as rounds and bars. Gold premiums and availability are also improved.

Premiums could go even lower if retail demand does not increase despite the renewed bull market in precious metals that began in late 2015.

Much will depend on spot prices. Many people are impatient with the seemingly gradual rise in gold and silver prices off the 2015 bottom. If prices accelerate upwards, investors will finally start believing in the new bull market.

Perhaps an even bigger variable is the atmosphere of complacency in the markets and how much longer that will persist. Our view is that virtually all markets are severely underpricing risk. More investors should be buying safe-haven assets rather than selling.

It is hard to reconcile the world we find ourselves in today with record stock market prices, at least not without the artificial forces of central bank stimulus in massive amounts and algorithmic trading. Those forces are formidable, to be sure. But how much longer can bankers (both central and Wall Street) forestall the ultimate reckoning for all of their excesses?

Investors asking the same question should take advantage of the buyer’s market in metals while it lasts.