Gold market consolidates as U.S. Government shuts down

By Stefan Gleason*

The gold market has been mired in a four-and-a-half year basing pattern. The rally that began late last year has taken prices up toward a major resistance zone. It’s make or break time!

Gold - Jan. 19, 2018 (Chart)

Also on the cusp of a potentially big move is the bond market.

Bonds haven’t been making headlines like the stock market, but where the bond market heads next could be crucial for stocks as well as metals (not to mention housing and lending).

The 30-year Treasury bond is forming a potential head and shoulders top. A sustained break below the major support line would confirm a new bear market in bonds. Lower bond prices would mean rising long-term interest rates – a potential precursor to rising inflation rates.

Bonds - Jan. 19, 2018 (Chart)

The government shutdown doesn’t do anything to inspire confidence in the creditworthiness of the U.S. Treasury.

Although no immediate threat of default exists, brinksmanship could escalate in future showdowns.

The government shutdown of 2011 caused the U.S. to suffer its first ever credit rating downgrade.

Senate Democrats pulled this latest political stunt over DACA – a controversial amnesty program for children of illegal immigrants. DACA affects very few Americans directly. It barely registers as a line item in the $4.1 trillion federal budget. Yet it caused the government to lock up and threatens to lead to a constitutional crisis down the road.

The investing implications of gridlock, dysfunction, and chaos in Washington aren’t immediately clear. Past shutdowns have seen volatility pick up, but neither equity nor precious metals markets have shown any consistent tendency to trade in a particular direction during or following shutdowns.

According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts, when gold prices and bond yields are both rising in tandem, that spells danger for the stock market. The Black Monday crash of 1987, for example, was preceded by rising gold prices and bond yields in the months leading up to that fateful October.

The U.S. stock market and economy have been fueled by easy money for the past several years and are now extremely leveraged. Margin debt balances are at record levels. And despite recent strength in employment and GDP numbers, the U.S. government is headed for trillion-dollar deficits. A rise in borrowing costs threatens to unwind leverage in the equity markets and hit Uncle Sam with huge increases in debt servicing costs.

Rising bond yields (falling bond prices), rising stock markets, and rising precious metals rarely co-exist together for long. One or more of these trends can be expected to soon break the other way. If gold rallies above resistance and bond prices fall through support in the days ahead, then stock market bulls will have cause for concern.

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Randgold’s Kibali on track to produce 700,000 gold ounces this year

Africa-focused gold miner, Randgold Resources has a remarkable track record in developing gold mining operations in a part of the world most of its Tier 1 gold mining peers avoid – West and Central Africa  It has built up a major gold production base in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, but it deserves particular credit for its development and operation of the Kibali open pit and underground operation in one of the remotest parts of the African continent in the far northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), close to the border with South Sudan.  The logistics of building what is probably now Africa’s single largest mine about as far from the coast as any mine could be, will have been daunting, yet Randgold brought Kibali on stream ahead of schedule and within its estimated cost parameters.

Kibali is owned 45% by Randgold and 45% by the far larger gold miner, Anglogold Ashanti, with the balance owned by DRC parastatal SOKIMO.  Even though Angolgold is the much larger company it ceded development and management of the Kibali mine to Randgold due to the latter’s particular expertise in running mining operations in remote areas of Africa and, perhaps most importantly, maintaining good working relationships with the host governments – a skill where many of the other gold majors fall short.

It is now eight years and $2.5 billion since Randgold started developing Kibali, and the giant gold mine is expected to be in full production this year following the successful commissioning of its underground operation’s integrated automated ore handling and hoisting system.

Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow, who is touring his company’s African mines en route to Cape Town for this year’s Mining Indaba Conference,  told local journalists in Kinshasa in the DRC that the mine was on track to produce its targeted plus 700,000 ounces of gold in 2018, making it Africa’s largest gold mine and one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Its high level of mechanisation, which features multiple driverless loaders operating with full automation as well as a single haulage drive with a high-strength surface, is believed to be a first for the gold mining industry in Africa.

“The past quarter has been a particularly busy one for Kibali.  In addition to completing the underground haulage and hoisting system, the team has settled the processing challenges, improving the recovery while keeping throughput above the plant’s nameplate design level.  At the same time, the mine’s conversion to the latest ISO 14001:2015 environmental standard was successfully certified and it readied itself for alignment with the new, and yet to be published, ISO 45001 safety standards,” Bristow said.

“All that now still remains to be done is to ramp-up the underground production and complete the construction of Azambi, Kibali’s third new hydropower station, which is scheduled to be plugged into the grid by the middle of this year.”

Bristow noted that with development expenditure tapering off, Kibali should now be in a position to start repaying its capital loans.  Unfortunately, Bristow commented, due to the continued non-repayment of tax credits to the tune of $192 million, Kibali’s shareholders have had to inject more money into the operation during the past year to enable the mine to pay its creditors.

“Over the past eight years, while Kibali was still a work in progress, it has paid $2.25 billion to the state and people of the DRC in the form of taxes, permits, infrastructure, salaries and payments to local suppliers.  Its shareholders, on the other hand, have not as yet received a return on their investment,” Bristow said.

“The surprise re-tabling of the controversial new draft mining code, which takes no account of the industry’s very serious concerns about the negative impact it will have on any prospect of further investment in this sector, is particularly disappointing.  I appeal again to the government to engage with the industry in the formulation of a code that will stimulate this key component of the DRC’s economy instead of crippling it.” said Bristow.

Bristow stressed that Randgold remained committed to a future in the DRC, and was already hunting for new development opportunities there.  In the DRC as in its other host countries, Randgold regarded itself as a partner of the government and the people, and its view on this issue should be seen not as unconsidered criticism but as a plea, from a major investor, for an outcome that will benefit all these partners equitably.

So the Kibali development has not been without its problems, but Bristow has a major point in that if the DRC does not put its mining code and its government-industry relations in order it could dissuade future external investment in the further development of the country’s very substantial mineral potential.  Geologically it is one of the world’s richest nations with enormous resources of precious, base and key industrial metals just waiting to be exploited.

We should learn more about progress at Kibali and the company’s dealings with the DRC Government, as well as on Randgold’s other operations and exploration progress when CEO Bristow presides over the release of the Q4 and FY 2017 financial and operational results on February 5th in Cape Town.

Rickards: Gold only place to go in coming financial panic

In the latest podcast from Mike Gleason* of  Money Metals Exchange Jim Rickards  warns of a huge financial crash ahead and that gold and precious metals will provide the only real way of protecting one’s wealth.

Listen to the Podcast Audio: Click Here or read the transcript below:

Mike Gleason: It is my great privilege now to be joined by James Rickards. Mr. Rickards is Editor of Strategic Intelligence, a monthly newsletter and Director of the James Rickards Project, an inquiry into the complex dynamics of geopolitics and global capital. He’s also the author of several bestselling books including The Death of Money, Currency Wars, The New Case for Gold and The Road to Ruin. In addition to his achievements as a writer and author, Jim is also a portfolio manager, lawyer and renowned economic commentator, having been interviewed by CNBC, the BBC, Bloomberg, Fox News and CNN, just to name a few. And we’re happy to have him back on the Money Metals Podcast.

Jim, thanks for coming on with us again today. We really appreciate your time as always and, how are you?

Jim Rickards: I’m doing great Mike, great to be with you. Thank you.

Mike Gleason: Well Jim, I figure a good place to start here is with one of your most recent books. We want to get your take on the state of the world economy. In your book titled The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis, you make some very interesting comments. Now while the financial media is talking about booming stock markets and accelerating GDP growth, you aren’t quite as optimistic. We both know that most of the growth we’ve seen in recent years has been built with huge amounts of central bank stimulus and the fundamental problems that drove the last financial crisis have hardly been resolved. In fact, you think the next financial catastrophe isn’t too far away and many among the elite are getting ready for it. If you can, briefly lay out some of what you’ve been seeing.

Jim Rickards: Sure Mike, you touched on two different threads. One is, let’s call it the short to intermediate term, which is how’s the economy doing? What would the forecast be for the year ahead? What do I think about stocks and so forth? That’s one part of the analysis, but the other one is a little bigger and a little deeper, which is what about another major financial crisis, a liquidity crisis, global financial panic and what would the response function be to that.

Let me separate. They’re related because, I mean the point I always make is that there’s a difference between a business cycle recession and a financial panic. They’re two different things. They can go together, but they don’t have to. For example, October 29, 1987, the Stock Market fell 22% in one day. In today’s Dow terms that would be the equivalent of 5,000 Dow points, so we’re at 26,000 or whatever, as we speak, a 22% drop would take it down about 5,000 points. You and I both know that if the Dow Jones fell 500 points that would be all anybody would hear about or talk about. Well, imagine 5,000 points. Well, that actually happened in percentage terms in October 1987. So, that’s a financial panic, but there was no recession. The economy was fine and we pulled out of that in a couple of days. Actually, after the panic, it wasn’t such a bad time to buy and stocks rallied back. Then, for example in 1990, you had a normal business cycle recession. Unemployment went up. There were some defaults and all that, but there was no financial panic.

In 2008, you had both. You had a recession that began in 2007 and lasted until 2009 and you had a financial panic that reached a peak in September-October 2008 with Lehman and AIG, so they’re separate things. They can run together. Let’s separate them and talk about the business cycle. I’m not as optimistic on the economy right now. I know there’s a lot of hoopla. We just had the big Trump Tax Bill and the Stock Market’s reaching all-time highs. I mean, I read the tape. I get all that, but there are a lot headwinds in this economy. There’s good evidence that the Fed is over-tightening.

Remember the Fed is doing two things at once that they’ve never done before. They’re raising rates. I mean, they’ve done that many times, but they’re raising rates, but at the same time, they’re reducing their balance sheet. This is the opposite of QE. I’m sure a lot of listeners are familiar with QE, Quantitative Easing, which is money printing. That’s all it is. And they do it by buying bonds. Then when they pay for the bonds from the dealers, they do it with money that comes out of thin air. That’s how they expand the money supply. Well, they did that starting in 2008 all the way through until 2013, and then they tapered it off and the taper was over by the end of 2014, but they were still buying bonds. So, that was six years of bond buying. They expanded their balance sheet from $800 billion to $4.4 trillion.

Well, now they’re putting that in reverse. They grabbed the gear and they shifted it into reverse and they’re actually not dumping bonds. They’re not going to sell a single bond, but what happens is, when bonds mature, the Treasury just sends you the money, so if you bought a five-year bond five years ago and it matures today, the Treasury just sends you the money. Well, when you send money to the Fed, the money disappears. It’s the opposite of money printing. So, the Feds are actually destroying money, actually reducing the money supply, so they’re raising rates and destroying money at the same time. It’s a double whammy of tightening and I don’t believe the U.S. economy’s nearly as strong as the Fed believes. They rely on what’s called the “Phillips Curve,” which says unemployment’s low, that’s a constraint and wages are going to go up and inflation is right around the corner. And that’s part of the reason they’re tightening, but there are a lot of flaws in that theory.

First of all, the basic Phillips Curve theory is junk. It’s just not true. We saw that in the late ’70s when we had sky high unemployment and sky-high inflation at the same time. We’ve also seen it recently when we’ve had low unemployment and disinflation at the same time. So, you start by saying the Phillips Curve is junk, but even if you thought there was something to it, there’s so many problems with it in terms of labor force participation demographics, debt deleveraging, technology, et cetera, that it just doesn’t apply under the current circumstances.

So, the Feds are tightening for the wrong reason. They are tightening at the wrong time and there’s a lot of evidence that a lot of the growth in the fourth quarter was consumption driven, but that was debt driven. People charged up their credit cards, consumer debt spiked. The savings rate is near a very long-term low. It doesn’t look sustainable, so lots of reasons to think that the Fed’s going to overdo it, get it wrong, tighten, throw the economy either into a recession or very low growth with disinflation, so I’m just not buying the inflation “happy days are here again” story.

There’s also good reason to believe that the Tax Bill will not be as stimulative as people expect. All that’s truly going on is the running up the deficit by another trillion dollars and we’re already way into the danger zone and then that’s actually a drag on growth. So, there’s a good reason to think the economy is going to slow, that by itself would take the wind out of the Stock Market and close it at the potentially very serious Stock Market correction, at least 10%, maybe as much as 20%. We’re talking about going down as I say 5,000 or 6,000 points on the Dow before the end of the year, so that’s one scenario.

The scenario I talk about in my book really involves a financial panic. Now, the thing there is that these are not that rare. I already mentioned the one, really two-day panic in 1987, but in 1994 you had the Mexico Tequila Crisis. In 1997, you had the Asian Peninsula Crisis. In 1998, you had the Russia Long-Term Capital Management Crisis. In 2000, you had the dot.com meltdown. In 2007, the mortgage meltdown. In 2008, the financial panic. These things happen every five, six, seven years, not like clockwork, but that’s a typical tempo for these kinds of meltdowns and it’s been nine years since the last one. So, nobody should be surprised if it happens tomorrow. I’m not predicting it will happen tomorrow. I’m just saying nobody should be surprised if it does, whether it’s tomorrow, or next month or next year, or even a year and a half from now, don’t think for one minute that we’re living in a world free of financial panics.

By the way, these two things could happen together. You could have a slowdown that leads to a financial crisis, a replay of 2008. But here’s the difference and this is really the point of your question, Mike. In 1998, we had a financial panic and Wall Street got together and bailed out the Hedge Fund Long Term Capital Management. In 2008, we had a financial panic and the Central Banks got together and bailed out Wall Street, so each bailout gets bigger than the one before it. In the next panic, whether it’s this year or next year, who’s going to bail out the Central Banks. In other words, each panic’s bigger than the one before. Each response is bigger than the one before going down this chronological sequence.

The next one is going to be the biggest of all. It’s going to be bigger than the Central Banks and you’re only going to have one place to turn. If you had to get global liquidity right now, the Fed’s at that one and half percent in terms of the target Fed funds rate, so they most they could cut is one and a half percent to get back to zero. There’s good evidence that to get the U.S. economy out of a recession, you have to cut interest rates three or four percent. Well, how can you cut them three percent when you’re only at one and a quarter, one and a half percent. Well, the answer is you can’t, so then what’d you do? Well, then you go to QE, but they already did that.

They haven’t unwound the QE. They started to and that’s what I mentioned, but they haven’t unwound it. The balance sheet is still around four trillion dollars, so what’d going to go to eight trillion, twelve trillion? I mean, some people would say, “Yeah, what’s the problem.” Those are the modern, monetary theorists, Stephanie Calvin, Paul McCulley, Warren Mosler. There’re a bunch of them that think that there’s no limit in the amount of money the Fed can print, but there is a limit. It’s not a legal limit. Legally the Fed could do it, but there’s a psychological limit. There’s an invisible competence boundary that you cross when people just say “You know what, I’m out of here. Get me out of dollars. Get me into gold, silver, fine art, land. Whatever. Crypto-currencies, if you like. Whatever it might be but get me into something other than dollars because I’ve lost confidence in the dollar.” And we’ve seen that before also.

So, putting that all together, in the next financial panic and nobody should be surprised if it happens tomorrow, it’s going to be bigger than the Central Banks. They’re going to have to turn to the IMF for liquidity. The IMF has a printing press also, that’s the International Monetary Fund. They can print this world money called the Special Drawing Right of the SDR, so yeah, they can pull trillions of SDRs worth trillions of dollars. One SDR is worth about $1.50. They could pull trillions of SDRs out of thin air and pass them around, but here’s the point and I spoke to Tim Geithner about this, former Secretary of the Treasury. It takes time.

The last time they did this … and by the way, it went completely unnoticed, the panic was in ’08 and in August and September of 2009, the IMF did issue SDRs to help with global liquidity, but that was almost a year after the panic. The point is, the IMF is slow and clunky. It’s not the fire department. I mean, they might be like a construction crew that can come in and put in a new foundation, but they’re not the fire department that can help you when the building’s burning down.

So, what they’re going to have to do is what I call Ice 9. They’re going to have to freeze the system. First, starting with money market funds, then bank accounts, then stock exchanges, they might reprogram the ATMs to let you have $300 a day for gas and groceries. They’ll say, “well, why do you need more than $300 a day to get some food and gas in your car? Why do you need more than that? We can’t let you take all your money out of the bank. We can’t let you take your money out of the money market funds. We can let you sell your stocks.” And I describe all this in the book in detail with a lot of endnotes. You don’t have to read the endnotes unless you want to, but this is all documented. It’s all publicly available. It’s not some science fiction scenario. This plan is actually in place and I describe how.

Just to wrap up, I expect a weaker economy than the mainstream in 2018. Perhaps, a stock market crashing based on that alone. I also expect another financial panic. It’s impossible to say when, but eight years on, nine years on, I would say sooner than later. And this response function is going to be something that people haven’t seen since the 1930s.

Mike Gleason: Now, let’s talk specifically about gold, safe haven assets, including metals are way of vogue these days, at least among the mainstream public. Now, most investors likely will be flatfooted and probably won’t see the next financial crisis coming just like the one in 2008, until it’s too late. Confidence in the U.S. dollar and the financial system is hard to shake without plenty of good evidence that both are in trouble. We’re even seeing some gold bugs beginning to lose faith. They know that there is plenty of risk out there that you just laid out, but they are growing tired of watching just about everything outperform precious metals. What are you saying these days to people who might be thinking about selling gold and say, joining the party in the stock markets?

Jim Rickards: Well, let me spend some time on that, but just to say a kind word about the people you’re describing. Look, gold just finished a four-year plus bear market. It lasted from August 2011 to December 2015. In that bear market, gold went down about 45% peak to trough, and if you use the about $240 price from 1999 and just scale that up to $1,900 and then back down again to $1,050, which is where it was in December 2015, that was a 50% retracement. And by the way, my friend Jim Rogers, one of the greatest commodities traders in history, co-founder of the Quantum Fund with George Soros, a legendary commodities trader, he said to me … and he has a lot of gold. He expects gold to go much higher, as do I, but he said, Jim, “Nothing goes from here to there.” Meaning, he’s reaching way up to the sky up into outer space. He says, “Nothing goes from here to there without a 50% retracement along the way.”

And I think that was very good advice. Well, okay, but we’ve had the 50% retracement. That’s behind us. We’re in a new bull market now. There was a bull market from August 1971 to January 1980 and gold went up over 2,000%. From January 1980 to August 1999, there was a very long, 20-year grind it down bear market, and gold went down about 70%. Then you had a new bull market that lasted from August 1999 to August 2011 and in that 12-year bull market, gold went up over 700%. Then you had another bear market from August 2011 to December 2015 and as I said, gold went down 45%. We’re in a new bull market. It started in December 2015.

Now, here are the facts, gold goes up and down. It’s volatile and we know there’s manipulation. People get discouraged and they buy gold and then some hedge fund or China comes along in the gold futures market and slams the price down. “Oh, gee, why did I buy it?” I get all that. I understand the discouragement. I understand how difficult it is to watch stocks go up and Bitcoin go up and I’m sitting here with gold and it just seems to be going sideways, but it’s not true. In 2016, gold went up over 8%. In 2017, gold went up over 13%. So far in 2018, gold is up 3%. You take the entire period from the bottom of the last bear market to the beginning of the bull market, December 2015 to today, gold is up over 25%. It’s been one of the best performing asset classes of all the major asset classes. It’s not crazy like Bitcoin, but Bitcoin’s collapsing, which I also predicted some time ago.

So, the truth of the matter is 2016-2017 are the first back-to-back years of gold gaining since 2011-2012, although at that point, it was already off the top. It’s more a statistical anomaly that gold went up in the year 2011. Yeah, it did, but it was way down, way off the peak in September of that year. But now we have two back-to-back years of gold going up very significantly. We’re in year three, 2018, is year three of this bull market. It’s off to a very nice start. The fundamentals are good. Their technicals are good. The supply and demand situation is good. We haven’t even gotten into other potential catalysts, including War with North Korea, loss of confidence in the dollar, financial panic. Even a normal business cycle recession or if inflation gets out of control, there’s just a whole list of things that are going to drive gold higher.

And the last point I want to make, Mike, is that gold is doing this performance against headwinds. The Fed has been raising rates. When you raise nominal rates and you tighten real rates, that’s normally a very difficult environment for gold and yet, gold’s going up anyway. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when the Fed has to back off… because right now, as I said, they’re over-tightening. When this economy slows, and that data starts rolling in later in the first quarter and early second quarter of 2018, the Fed’s going to do what they call “pause.” It doesn’t mean they’re going cut rates. That’s somewhere down the road, but they pause, which means that they …

Right now, they’re like clockwork. They’re going to raise every March, June, September, December – 25 basis points each time, boom, boom, boom, boom like clockwork. But, every now and then they don’t. They skip. They pause. Well, if your expectation is they’re going to raise and then they don’t, they pause, that’s a form of ease. It’s ease relative to expectations. That’s what’s going to happen later this year. All of a sudden, this headwind’s going to turn into a tailwind and gold’s going to get an even bigger boost. I see it going to $1,400 over the course of this year, perhaps higher. My long-term forecast for gold, of course, is $10,000 an ounce, but that’s … and I’m not backing away from that. That’s just simple math. That’s the implied noninflationary price of gold if you need to use gold to restore confidence in a monetary system in a financial panic or liquidity crisis where people have lost confidence. That’s not some made up number. That number is actually fairly easy to calculate, but you don’t go there overnight. You got to get to $2,000 and $5,000 before you get to $10,000.

I think right now, we’re in a new bull market. It’s going to run for years. We’ve got that momentum. We’re off the bottom, but people are always most discouraged at the bottom, right? Well, that’s the time you should buy. It’s just human nature. I’m not faulting anyone. I’m not criticizing anyone, it’s just human nature to say, “Oh man, I’m so beaten down. I’m so sick of this. I’m so tired of this.” Well, that’s usually the time to buy and guess what, it is.

*Mike Gleason is a Director with Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals dealer with over 50,000 customers. Gleason is a hard money advocate and a strong proponent of personal liberty, limited government and the Austrian School of Economics. A graduate of the University of Florida, Gleason has extensive experience in management, sales and logistics as well as precious metals investing. He also puts his longtime broadcasting background to good use, hosting a weekly precious metals podcast since 2011, a program listened to by tens of thousands each week.

For Americans Buying Gold and Silver: Still a Big U.S. Pricing Advantage

by: David Smith*

Two years ago in this space, I penned an essay discussing how Americans – and other countries that are “dollarized” – where the local currency is either the USD or pegged to it – had a significant advantage when it came to getting the most for their money when exchanging dollars for precious metals.

Lately I looked into this issue again and the good news for Americans is – it’s still a good deal. In relation to a lot of other folks, even better than before! But the bad news is that this might not be the case much longer…

The Cando Disadvantage

The Canadian Dollar is known in the trade as a “Cando”. In 2008 it traded at US$1.10, which meant that at the time, Canadians could buy 10% more metal than Americans. In 2012 it had a high of US$1.01. In 2016 it bottomed at US$0.58 (ouch!), and today still trades at about 80 cents on the dollar. As the chart shows, Canadians get about 20% less gold and silver for their money than their southern neighbors (us).

Canadian Dollar vs US Dollar 01/12/2018 (Chart)

Courtesy stockcharts.com

Zim and Ven, racing for the bottom.

Then there’s the perennial currency basket case Zimbabwe – now entering its second hyperinflationary blowout in just the last couple of decades. Zim is currently playing touch and go with Venezuela to see if the latter’s “bolivar fuerte” (strong bolivar), transacted by the pound on a produce scale rather than from a wallet, will incinerate itself first.

Zimbabwe Banknotes

Zim’s previous “Paper Promise”- Angling for a rematch?

Bolivar Fuerte

Back in the day when the term “strong bolivar” meant something…

Fall in the Value of the Venezeulan Bolívar (Chart)

But not now… (Courtesy Sources listed)

Emerging Markets Purchasing Power Disadvantage

Buyers in Emerging Markets, in which gold prices are making new highs relative to their own fiat paper, are also paying more for their stash. Nevertheless demand there is rising as well – which as previously noted – is an important “tell” regarding the health and durability of the ongoing bull market. This is because even when facing a less advantageous exchange rate, emerging market gold customers are still solidly on the buy.

Additional evidence indicates that we are just now entering the second year of what could become a lengthier – and considerably more powerful than-expected upside run.

Gold vs Emerging Market Currencies

Courtesy allstarcharts.com

We say this in part because of some serious work done by Bob Hoye’s Institutional Advisors along with the Technical observations of Ross Clark They note that for the last 50 years, important lows for gold have taken place on a regular basis, stating, “The most recent (low) was in December 2016, one year after a premature low at 7.2 years in December 2015.”

In a January 2018 public domain post, they stated,

After an initial surge off the cycle lows, the price tends to move methodically higher for the first two years. During that period, we have found that a lower 20-week moving average envelope provides support. This was most recently tested in December 2017… Except for 2002, a trailing one-week stop after the 55th week, kept participants in the market until the first week after the top.

You might want to commit that last part to memory. If the 8-year cycle pattern continues to play itself out, not only could this nascent gold bull have a long ways to run in terms of time and price, but an attentive investor could use the kind of trailing stop-loss discussed, in order to stay with the trend as long as possible, holding onto significant gains before offsetting all or most of their holdings for a good profit.

Now for the Bad News…

The U.S. dollar has been “king of the hill” since its establishment as a backstop for the so-called petrodollar, in an agreement with Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries as a result of the 1970’s oil spike. That idea was to create a stable and reliable revenue stream for oil exporters. The price of oil was thus set in dollars, in the process establishing the unit of account as the world’s reserve currency. Even so, the petrodollar’s purchasing power is, to some extent, predicated upon the rate of inflation and the value of the dollar on the FOREX.

Things worked well for quite awhile, but in recent years, for a number of reasons, the status quo has been increasingly called into question. A detailed rationale is beyond the scope of this report, but here are a few of the elements:

  • Profligate creation of dollars by the Federal Reserve, many of which have “migrated” offshore, driving down the recipients’ purchasing power.
  • Massive debt growth at all levels of the U.S. body politic – leading inevitably to more dollar creation in an attempt to pay the bill.
  • Unnaturally low interest rates since the 2008 melt-down, obscuring the “signals” given by rates that indicate if a given investment makes “dollars and sense”, leading to soaring mal-investment and speculation.
  • A changing geopolitical landscape, wherein the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China (plus others) – have tired of the constraints placed upon them by restrictive U.S. policies.
  • The launch and coming build-out of The New Silk Road from Asia to Europe and the Middle East, encompassing 40 per cent of the world’s population in an economic-financial-political paradigm less-incumbent on the West’s wishes.
  • Lessening dependence on the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency in favor of loans and payments denominated in Chinese yuan, Russian rubles, commodities…and gold.

All these factors and more mean that right now and continuing during the coming years, the U.S. dollar is going to be buying less of just about everything, and that includes precious metals. The key elements of this sea-change as they relate to you?

  • Lower U.S. dollar-denominated gold and silver purchasing power.
  • Increased global demand for these metals, especially in the many countries seeing their local currencies strengthen vis a vis the dollar.
  • Depleting gold reserves due to a lack of big discoveries.
  • Lower head-grades across the board.
  • Increased cost of production due to environmental and “country risk”.

And this…

Weekly Gold with 50 Day Golden Cross (Chart)

Note established 50 day MA (blue line) “Golden Cross”

While just about everything in life is based upon probabilities, the odds right now strongly favor that the next leg of the secular bull run in the metals is underway. Four years of a cyclical bear market 45-50% retracement (2011-15); an 8 month initial bull counter-trend rally (most of 2016); and finally 18 months of retracement and consolidation (mid-2016 to December, 2017) have already taken place.

Taken together, this alignment of factors makes a compelling argument for completing your metals’ acquisition plan in a timely manner. And if you have still have yet to get started… what’s your excuse?

 *About the Author:

Swamp appoints another of its own as new SEC regulator

President Trump was elected to office promising he would ‘drain the swamp’  in other words take the U.S. financial power away from Wall Street and the big banks.  This he has abjectly failed to do, either by design or failure and, if anything the ‘swamp’ is more powerful than ever, and seemingly becoming more so each day.  I used to have a colleague who would sing the praises of the USA as being the least corrupt nation on earth.  In response I would tell her it is one of the most corrupt with money buying political favours and overtly influencing political decision-making (the lobbying system), while the regulatory system is dominated by the very bankers and financiers it should be designed to protect the average American from.  (Fox and henhouse immediately spring to mind.)

So what is the result?  The system is designed to favour the rich and they get richer while the poor, at best, stagnate, with the ‘swamp’ remaining fully in control.  Indeed as Clint Siegner notes in the article below, published initially on the Money Metals Exchange website the regulatory bodies no longer even pay lip service to appointing anyone who might be deemed independent, but pack these bodies with ever more of their own.

Swamp Lives On: Crooked Banks and Captured Regulators

By Clint Siegner*

If officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are bothered by allegations of incompetence and capture by Wall Street’s bankers, it is hard to tell. The Commission recently hired Brett Redfearn to serve as Director of the Division of Trading and Markets. Redfearn left a 13 year stint at JP Morgan to assume a key role in regulating banks, investors and traders.

The SEC, and other regulators such as the CFTC and the Federal Reserve, aren’t worried about appearances. Redfearn looks like yet another fox being sent to guard the henhouse. His appointment undermines confidence even if he intends to serve with integrity.

Instilling confidence ought to be a priority at the SEC. The past decade has been a disaster when it comes to the agency’s credibility.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Seal

To date, not one high level bank executive, has been prosecuted for misdeeds related to the 2008 Financial Crisis. This despite plenty of the shareholders SEC officials are supposed to be protecting having lost their shirts. SEC bureaucrats either bungled or turned a blind eye to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

To cap it off, a high-profile story which broke in 2010 uncovered agency staff and contractors spending an inordinate amount of time watching pornography on the job.

Office of Inspector General investigators looked at a 5-year period and found 33 people had violated policy by watching X-rated content on federal computers. During these years, Madoff’s con was reaching its peak and Wall Street banks were busily selling mortgage backed securities stuffed with fraudulent loans to pension funds. You would think leadership there might be embarrassed.

Which brings us back to the appointment of Mr. Redfearn. It demonstrates the SEC remains tone deaf at a minimum, and completely captured at worst.

JP Morgan, Redfearn’s former employer, served as Madoff’s banker and has been involved in a number of questionable affairs. Laurence Kotlikoff from Forbes suggested the bank may be “America’s Most Corrupt.”

Until the SEC and its people prove they actually care about keeping the investment banks and financial insiders honest, they should probably do their hiring somewhere besides Wall Street. Otherwise people will understandably assume federal regulators are there to protect powerful firms under their jurisdiction, and not Americans at large.

*About the Author:

Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, the U.S. precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

Gold on a tear as dollar weakens – silver being left behind

Article first published on the Sharps Pixley website, and lightly edited here, looking at the strong performance of gold over the past week, but also the weakening of the U.S. dollar index.

Since Donald Trump assumed the Presidency of the world’s richest and most powerful nation, the US dollar index (relating the dollar to a basket of other currencies) has fallen by around 11% accounting for much of the increase in the gold price in US dollar terms.  By contrast, the gold price in Euros has actually fallen by 1% over the past year, so what may appear to have been an appreciation in the gold price has been more a reflection of the depreciation in the value of the supposedly mighty US dollar.  It’s only that most people around the world look primarily at movements in the gold price in the US dollar – as we do in the title of this article – that the gold price is seen as actually having advanced.

But gold in US dollar terms does provide a useful benchmark as over time the dollar is probably the world’s most stable currency and is, for most nations, their primary reserve currency in their foreign exchange holdings.

This relationship between gold and the US dollar, with the former providing perhaps the most overt indication of how the greenback is doing vis-à-vis other currencies is the reasoning behind what seems to be an ever-increasing view that the powers-that-be collude to suppress the gold price to hide what is an overall indicator in the decline of the dollar’s purchasing power.

Some put this decline at upwards of 80% since President Nixon severed the convertibility of the dollar for gold to protect US gold reserves. In some sectors of the economy this decline is readily apparent.  Grocery shopping, property prices, salary levels etc.  In others less so, notably transportation and electronics, but in general $100 today would only buy you a fraction of what you could have purchased with $100 in 1971.

But it’s not only the purchasing power of the dollar which has been in decline.  The same is true of virtually any nation’s currency.  All currencies nowadays are fiat in that they have no backing, which is why some economists call for a return to a gold standard.  This is probably impractical without a massive gold price increase and, even then, would probably be overrun very quickly by ever increasing consumer demand for goods and services.

There is also talk of China trying to introduce some kind of gold backing for the renminbi (yuan) at some time in the future thereby leapfrogging the dollar as the world’s go-to currency, but this is probably more a theory than a likely eventuality.  It is seen as the reason China is assumed by many to be building its gold reserves at a far higher rate than it has been reporting, but this may also, if true, be just as support for a future petro-yuan – with the yuan exchangeable for gold – as a very competitive Chinese bid to replace the petrodollar!

So perhaps gold investors should treat the latest rise in the gold price purely as a wealth protection exercise.  That is what gold is good at over time.  If the dollar declines further then gold will rise further, as will all the major precious metals – and most other commodities too.  Changes in prices over  the 47 years since President Nixon stopped dollar convertibility are self evident, but in geographic areas like Europe where currency purchasing power has diminished similarly the imposition of a new currency, and/or the implementation of other changes like decimalisation in the UK, have made direct comparisons that much harder for the peerson in the street to relate to.

But regardless, gold has moved up sharply in dollar terms in the past few days despite mixed economic data out of the USA.  Much of this increase so far seems to have passed silver by and the gold:silver ratio has actually risen a little standing at close to 78 at the time of writing, although silver has been making a bit of a late run ahead of the weekend as have platinum and palladium.

We still stand by our forecast that the gold:silver ratio will come down to 70 or lower during the course of the year which would make silver potentially a better investment than gold if it does follow its historic pattern and rise faster than gold when the latter is on the increase.  At the moment we see no reason to change our forecast for gold to hit $1,425 or thereabouts this year and silver $20.50.  As I stated in the article in which I made these predictions- Precious metals price predictions for 2018 – gold, silver, pgms – I look at these forecasts as being conservative and if the dollar continues to fall and precious metals prices to rise sharply. as they have this past week, then I may see the need to adjust the forecasts – at least in US dollar terms.  However, also bear in mind that gold and silver had a strong start in 2017, but then tended to pull back.  2018 could see a repeat of this pattern, although I don’t see palladium making the kind of gains it did last year.

For those interested in my precious metals stock price forecasts for the year ahead do look at a series of articles i have published on Seekingalpha.com.  

The terms and conditions for publication of articles on Seeking Alpha prevent me from posting them here, but follow the links to read them on that site.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts/Recommendations For 2018

Precious Metals Stock Performance And Recommendations Update

Top Silver Stock Suggestions For The Year Ahead

 

Economic worries positive for gold

Here follows a recent article by Frank Holmes looking at what may be some unrealised factors which could see gold move significantly higher this year and in the future

It’s Time for the Fear Trade to Move Gold Prices

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

best of the year top 5 frank talk posts of 2017

The price of gold and gold mining stocks were very competitive in 2017. The yellow metal ended the year up a little more than 13 percent—its best year since 2010—while gold stocks, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, gained more than 11 percent. All of this occurred even as large-cap stocks regularly closed at all-time highs and cryptocurrencies invited massive speculation.

We can thank the Fear Trade for much of gold’s performance last year. The Fear Trade, of course, is driven by low to negative real interest rates—when inflation erodes away at government bond yields—deficit spending, a weaker U.S. dollar and geopolitical uncertainty.

I believe these forces will only intensify in 2018. With inflation finally showing green shoots and President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax reform law expected to increase deficit spending, this year could provide the right conditions to spur gold prices higher.

The risks inherent in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy tightening is a good place to start.

Beware the Rate Hike Cycle?

Since the Fed lifted rates last month, gold has behaved just as it did following the last two December rate hikes—that is, it’s begun to appreciate. On the final trading day of 2017, gold broke above $1,300 an ounce, a psychologically important level, and has since climbed an additional 1 percent. This is the first year since 2013, in fact, that gold has started the year above $1,300.

We’ve seen this movie before. In July 2016, the yellow metal peaked close to $1,370 an ounce, a 29 percent surge since the December 2015 rate hike. (If you remember, this represented gold’s best first half of the year since 1974.) And in September 2017, it topped out around $1,360, up close to 18 percent since the December 2016 rate hike.

Will there be a fed rally in 2018
click to enlarge

So will we see a “Fed rally” in 2018 as well? Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but let’s say gold were to follow a similar trajectory this year as it did in 2016 and 2017. That would put gold somewhere between $1,460 and $1,600 an ounce by summer. These are prices we haven’t seen in four years.

I think it’s also worth pointing out in the chart above that support looks good for gold. For the past couple of years, it’s steadily posted higher lows.

But wait—shouldn’t rate hikes put a damper on gold prices? Gold, as I’ve discussed many times before,has typically thrived in a low-rate environment since it’s a non-yielding asset. What’s really happening here?

I’ll let Jim Rickards, editor of Strategic Intelligence, field this question. In a recent Daily Reckoning article titled “The Next Great Bull Market in Gold Has Begun,” Jim explains that the market is looking beyond the rate hike and “asking what comes next.”

After all, the December rate hikes in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were all advertised well in advance by the Fed and were fully discounted by the market. This means that the rate hike was a nonevent, because gold was already priced for it.

Yet the rate hike itself and the Fed’s commentary suggest both a headwind for economic growth and possible Fed ease in the form of future inaction and forward guidance relative to expectations.

Gold markets, in other words, could be forecasting slower economic growth as a result of higher borrowing costs. You might not agree with Jim here, and I’m not asking you to. After all, the U.S. economy is humming right now. Consumer spending is up, optimism is high and we have a robust labor market with unemployment at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. Many people expect the Trump tax cuts to prompt multinational corporations to bring home cash that’s been held overseas, lift wages and boost capex spending.

At the same time, we can’t ignore the historical implications of past rate hike cycles. I shared with you last month that in the past 100 years, only three such cycles out of at least 18 didn’t end in a recession.The current cycle could turn out to be just as benign, but that would make it a huge exception, not the norm.

U.S. Yield Curve Flattens to Level Not Seen Since 2007

Then there’s the flattening yield curve. The yield curve is said to “flatten” when the difference between the two-year Treasury yield and 10-year Treasury yield starts to tighten. As of today, that spread drew up to around 0.496 percentage points, its flattest level since October 2007.

This measure is worth watching because it’s often seen as one of the most reliable “canary in the coal mine” predictors of recession. The past seven U.S. recessions were directly preceded by an inverted yield curve—that is, when short-term yields rose above long-term yields.

An inverted 10 year minus 2 year treasury yeild spread has historcially preceeded a recession
click to enlarge

To be clear, we still have a way to go before the yield spread inverts. But if this observation concerns you—if you believe the business cycle is in fact getting a little long in the tooth—it might make sense to ensure you have a 10 percent weighting in gold bullion and high-quality gold mutual funds and ETFs.

Inflation Could Be a Lot Hotter Than We Realize

Another factor that’s driven gold prices in the past is inflation. When the cost of living has eaten away at government bond yields, investors have tended to seek more attractive stores of value, including gold. This is at the heart of gold’s Fear Trade.

The problem is that inflation has been sluggish lately—if we’re using the official consumer price index (CPI). In 2017, the CPI just barely met the Fed’s 2 percent target rate. Many economists had expected prices to start creeping up last year in response to President Trump’s nationalist “America first” agenda, complete with new tariffs, strong crackdown on illegal immigration, cancellation of U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). So far these policies haven’t had much effect on inflation.

But what’s the “real” inflation? Which gauge should we be looking at? Again, the CPI doesn’t show much movement.

The underlying inflation gauge (UIG), however, tells a different story.

The UIG, introduced only last year by the New York Fed, is a much broader measure of inflation than the CPI. It includes not just consumer prices but also producer prices, commodity prices and financial asset prices.

When we use this dataset, we find that—surprise!—inflation is not as subdued as we initially thought. Whereas the November CPI came in at 2.2 percent, the UIG heated up to 3 percent, its highest reading since August 2006.

Would the real inflation metric please stand up
click to enlarge

The implications here are huge. Three percent is higher than the five-year Treasury yield, currently around 2.3 percent, and the 10-year yield, about 2.5 percent. It’s even higher than the 30-year Treasury yield at 2.8 percent!

But there are even more ways to measure inflation, and some show it being higher than the UIG. Economist John Williams runs a website called Shadow Government Statistics, where you can find, among other “alternate” datasets, current inflation rates as is they were calculated the way the U.S. government did pre-1980. Note the huge bifurcation between the official CPI and alternate 1980-based CPI. According to the alternate gauge, consumer prices in November rose close to 10 percent year-over-year, or 7.75 percentage points more than the CPI.

US consumer inflation official vs shadowstats 1980 based alternative
click to enlarge

“In general terms,” Williams writes, “methodological shifts in government reporting have depressed reported inflation, moving the concept of the CPI away from being a measure of the cost of living needed to maintain a constant standard of living.”

So which metric do you believe? The official CPI? The 1980-based CPI? The broader UIG? If it’s one of the last two, you have to ask yourself why you would lock your money up for five years, 10 years or even 30 years in a government bond that fails to keep up with real inflation. The investment case for gold suddenly becomes very attractive.

Gold, silver, platinum, palladium prices – where are they headed in 2018?

This is the time of year for precious metals price predictions and these are flowing thick and fast, and the majority of such we have seen so far this year are positive for virtually the whole complex.  Indeed all the precious metals seem to have have started the year off in decently positive territory, but will it last?

We are already beginning to see heavy hands in the futures markets which could, given the monetary resources available, keep precious metals prices depressed – a pattern we have seen in the past, although the encouragement here is that we have at least seen prices rise in general over the past two years.  However the rises have been relatively small in the metals themselves.  Bur maybe they are at the early stages of another bull market.

We have been making our own predictions on the websites for which we write, including this one, but some require exclusivity so the only way you can read what we have to say on these is by accessing these websites directly.  Thus we would direct our North American readers to the U.S. Gold Bureau website, which is blocked to non-North American-based precious metals investors unless you have something like the Tor web browser (which uses Firefox) installed on your computer.

Tor allows you to browse anonymously and simulate access from any specific country, so for those looking to access North American sites which are blocked to non-residents, the browse can be set for your access to appear to be from the USA itself.  The browser software also protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.  The browser works on Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS, or GNU/Linux without needing to install any special software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained (portable).  The software is perfectly legal and if you wish to download it a link is here: Tor Browser – Download

The reason I’ve given the above information on Tor is that’s the only way I’ve found of accessing my own articles on the US Gold Bureau website, where I’ve been publishing one or two exclusive articles a month.  My latest one is: Precious Metals Price Predictions for 2018 (accessible directly if your browser picks you up as located in the USA, but if not only accessible on something like the Tor browser) and is something of an update to one published on Seeking Alpha just before Christmas entitled Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts/Recommendations for 2018.  This latter article has been linked here before so some readers may have read it already, but for those who haven’t it looks at the performance of my precious metals stock prediction for last year – over half outperformed the S&P 500 despite that Index breaking record after record during 2017, as well as metal price and precious metals stock forecasts for the current year.

I can also point you to a couple more articles I’ve published on the Sharps Pixley website which look at generalistic precious metals forcecasts from Martin Murenbeeld and the World Gold Council: 2018 gold price forecasts – Murenbeeld and World Gold Council  and a summary of the precious metals performance prognostications for 2018 from one of the UK’s top precious metals consultancies: Metals Focus’ precious metals predictions for 2018

There are plenty of other analysts out there who will be giving their opinions on where Precious meta;s are headed this year.  A good source for reading these is the News section of the  Sharps Pixley website which picks up precious metals news items from all around the world.

Wishing all readers of lawrieongold a prosperous 2018 and the hope that precious metals perform at least as well as we are forecasting throughout the year.

Precious Metals Outlook for 2018

By Stefan Gleason*

The first trading days of 2018 are confirming signs of renewed investor interest in the precious metals sector after a long period of malaise.

Gold Bull

Gold and silver markets entered the year with some stealth momentum after quietly posting gains late in 2017. Gold finished the year above $1,300/oz. – its best yearly close since 2012.

Over the past five years, the yellow metal has been basing out in a range between $1,050 and $1,400. A push above $1,400 later this year would therefore be significant.

It would get momentum traders and mainstream financial reporters to take notice.

The alternative investing world was enthralled by Bitcoin in 2017. While we don’t expect a Bitcoin-like mania to take hold in precious metals in 2018, we do expect gold and silver markets to make some noise.

Stimulus to Push Up Commodity Prices Again

Even as the Federal Reserve vows to continue raising its benchmark interest rate and “normalizing” its balance sheet, a flood of new fiat stimulus is set to hit the economy. The recently passed tax cuts will cause hundreds of billions – perhaps eventually trillions – of dollars to be repatriated back to the United States.

For years, many corporations have hoarded business assets overseas in more favorable tax environments. The U.S. had one of the world’s least competitive corporate tax structures. With the corporate rate dropping to 21% in 2018, the U.S. suddenly becomes a much more attractive place in which to set up shop.

The good news is that dollars are coming back home and getting reinvested in capital projects, wage increases, new hiring. The potentially bad side effect is that higher inflation increasingly shows up in consumer prices.

An inflation uptick would likely cause long-term interest rates to rise, which would dig the government’s $20.6 trillion debt hole deeper. (Federal deficits are expected to grow by more than $1 trillion under the GOP’s latest budget, which fails to pair tax cuts with spending cuts.)

The flood of deficit-financed stimulus sets the economy up for a short-lived spurt of gains… followed by longer duration debt and inflation pains. For now investors are still enjoying gains, as reflected by the ongoing strength of the stock market. But inflationary pressures are already building in raw materials markets.

Mining Output Continues to Decline

The supply and demand fundamentals for precious metals are improved in 2018. Low gold and silver prices over the past few years have hurt the mining industry. Although it has continued to operate existing mines – sometimes even at losses – it has slashed exploration and development of new projects. That will means years of stagnating or even declining output ahead.

Miner

Metals Focus projects mining output of gold in 2018 will be 3,239 tonnes, a slight decrease from 2017. Analysts expect a more significant drop could occur in 2019.

A similar pattern is expected to play out in silver, though it’s more difficult to forecast since few primary silver miners exist (most silver comes as a byproduct of base metals mining operations). Demand for silver is also more variable, with investment demand being the biggest wild card.

Commodity markets analysts at TD Securities believe silver may be the metal to own in 2018. According to TD’s 2018 Global Outlook, silver prices should hit $20/oz this year (after finishing 2017 just under $17).

Palladium Is on a Tear

Turning to the platinum group metals, platinum is widely expected to go into a supply deficit this year or next after finishing 2017 at a small surplus. Its sister metal palladium experienced an annual supply deficit of 680,000 ounces last year and growing concerns of shortages, helping drive its big price gains.

Even with palladium prices now touching all-time highs, available supply is still on the wane. HSBC forecasts an expanding palladium deficit in 2018 to more than 1 million ounces.

The growing shortage figures to continue pressuring palladium prices upward. It’s also bullish for platinum. That’s because automakers and other industrial users of palladium now have an incentive to switch to less expensive platinum where possible.

Large-scale substitutions don’t take place immediately. But in 2018, demand drivers could finally start shifting back in favor of platinum.

Platinum, silver, and gold investors who have sat patiently on their positions waiting for them to break through to the upside will be rewarded. It’s a question of whether that happens early in 2018 with the economic stimulus, late in 2018 as a reaction to potential tremors in bond and stock markets, or in 2019 when supply destruction starts to kick in more strongly.

Only “Mr. Market” knows for sure.

While you can still buy gold under $1,400 and silver under $20, they remain (for now) compelling values. Silver looks especially compelling given its cheapness relative to gold and virtually every asset on the planet.


Gold’s best year since 2011

By Clint Siegner*

Metals investors may have missed it given the gloomy sentiment that plagued markets for much of 2017, but gold just finished its best year since 2011.

Perhaps in a year like the one just passed, 13% gains are simply not inspiring. U.S. stocks finished about 25% higher for the year, and crypto-currencies including Bitcoin left all other asset classes in the dust. Bitcoin gained roughly 1,400%.

Die hard gold bugs enter 2018 waiting for crypto-bugs and stock bulls to see the value of precious metals. Fortunately, precious metals have served reliably both as an inflation hedge and as a safe haven for most of recorded history. It looks less and less probable investors will get through another 12 months while ignoring both inflation and market risk simultaneously.

While other markets were finishing 2017 strong, the U.S. dollar ended the year with a whimper. The dollar fell 10%, its worst performance in more than a decade.

That weakness has yet to manifest itself as price inflation in consumer goods and services. It has instead shown up in asset prices.

Consumers have yet to feel their dollars getting weaker, which may explain much about why a traditional inflation hedge like gold isn’t getting a lot of attention. That may change in the months ahead, particularly if President Donald Trump can add his debt-financed infrastructure spending program to the tax cuts recently passed. Both initiatives represent fiscal stimulus for Main Street, and a shift from Wall Street oriented monetary policy including Quantitative Easing.

Fiscal stimulus programs should contribute to more weakness in the dollar, as deficits and borrowing increase. Yes, the Republican led Congress could insist on spending reductions elsewhere to compensate for tax reduction and infrastructure spending, but only the most naive would consider that a genuine likelihood.

Inflated Dollar

If the dollar loses another 10% in the year ahead, metals ought to be significant beneficiaries – even if most aren’t paying attention to that possibility.

The recent strength in precious metals may be signaling that price inflation is on the way.

The Federal Reserve has been raising the Fed funds rate for more than two years, thus far with very little impact on bond yields and interest rates on consumer loans. When dealing with markets as centrally planned as ours are, anything is possible… in the short term.

Yet, in our view, the most likely alternative to inflation as a driving force in markets over the coming months is asset deflation. If investors aren’t talking about rip roaring asset markets at this time next year, they may be talking about bubbles popping instead. There are certainly a number of bubbly markets, and a near total disregard for risk. That is a potent combination.

Either way, don’t expect the metals markets to go unnoticed in 2018.

 *About the Author:  Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

Holmes – 10 Charts That Show Why Gold Is Undervalued Right Now

This article was initially posted on the US Global Investors website on December 26th before the end 2017/1st week 2018 gold price surge and is being reposted here now that people are mostly back at their desks following the New Year holiday.

by Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer US Global Investors

gold is undervalued right now

With the year quickly coming to a close, it might be time to start thinking about rebalancing the gold holdings in your portfolio. That includes bullion, jewelry, gold stocks and well-managed gold funds—all of which I recommend giving a collective 10 percent weighting. Because it’s been such a strong year for stocks—they’ve advanced more than 20 percent as of today—it’s likely that most investors will need to add to their gold exposure to meet that 10 percent weighting as we head into 2018.

Some investors might wonder why they need gold in their portfolios right now. The stock market is still chugging along, and the just-passed tax reform bill is likely to help ratchet up share prices even more. Cryptocurrencies have been hogging the spotlight lately, especially after bitcoin tumbled nearly 30 percent last Friday morning.

While I’m on the subject, inflows into cryptocurrencies have totaled more than $500 billion this year alone. To put that in perspective, the total sum of global equity mutual fund and ETF inflows were around $411 billion as of November 29. What’s more, cryptocurrencies are now doing as much daily trading as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), according to Business Insider.

Just think on that. Something is happening here that cannot be ignored or dismissed.

But back to gold. It’s important to remember that the precious metal has historically shared a low-to-negative correlation with many traditional assets such as cash, Treasuries and stocks, both domestic and international. This makes it, I believe, an appealing diversifier in the event of a correction in the capital and forex markets.

Need more reasons to add to your gold holdings? Below are 10 charts that show why the yellow metal is undervalued right now:

1. The gold price has crushed the market so far this century.

gold price has crushed the market 2 to 1 so far this century click to enlarge

Investors are invariably surprised to see this chart whenever I show it at conferences. Believe it or not, since 2000, the gold price has beaten the S&P 500 Index, which has undergone two 40 percent corrections so far this century.

2. Compared to stocks, gold looks like a bargain.

Gold is a bargain right now compared to stocks click to enlarge

As of this month, the gold-to-S&P 500 ratio is at its lowest point in 10 years. For mean reversion to occur, either the gold price needs to appreciate or share prices need to fall. Either way, consider this a once-in-a-decade opportunity.

3. Exploration budgets keep getting slashed.

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

One of the reasons why gold is so highly valued is for its scarcity. There’s a possibility it could get even scarcer as explorers continue to trim exploration budgets and uncover fewer and fewer large deposits. The time between initial discovery and day one of production is also expanding. This has led many experts in the field to wonder if we’ve finally reached “peak gold.”

4. Gold stocks could be just getting started.

will todays gold stocks track previous bull markets click to enlarge

Last year marked a turnaround in gold prices and gold stocks, and according to analysts at Incrementum Capital Partners, a Swiss financial management firm, they’re just getting warmed up.When charted against past gold bull markets, the present one looks as if it still has a lot of room to run.

5. Is too much money going into equities?

world equities market cap well on its way to 100 trillion dollars click to enlarge

More than $80 trillion sits in global equities right now, a monumental sum that’s likely to surge even more as we venture further into the bull market. Some worry this is a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. Another correction similar to the one 10 years ago would wipe out trillions of dollars around the world, and it’s then that the investment case for gold would become strongest.

6. Higher debt could mean higher gold prices.

federal debt expected to continue rising click to enlarge

The yellow metal has historically tracked global debt, which stood at $217 trillion as of the first quarter of this year. Looking just at the U.S., debt is expected to continue on an upward trend, driven not just by new, and largely unfunded, spending but also underlying interest. By most estimates, President Donald Trump’s historic tax cuts, although welcome, will contribute to even higher debt as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

7. The Fed’s about to take away the punch bowl.

federal reserve has begun the process of unwinding its 4.5 trillion balance sheet click to enlarge

“My opinion is that business cycles don’t just end accidentally. They end by the Fed. If the Fed tightens enough to induce a recession, that’s the end of the business cycle.” That’s according to MKM Partners’ chief economist Mike Darda, who was referring to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to unwind its $4.5 trillion balance sheet after it bought vast quantities of government bonds and mortgage-backed securities to mitigate the effects of the Great Recession. There’s definitely a huge amount of risk here: Five of the previous six times the Fed has similarly reduced its balance sheet, between 1921 and 2000, ended in recession.

8. Rate hike cycles have rarely ended well.

recessions have historically followed us rate hike cycles click to enlarge

Rate hike cycles also have a mixed record. According to Incrementum research, only three such cycles in the past 100 years have not ended in a recession. Obviously there’s no guarantee that this particular round of tightening will have the same outcome, but if you recognize the risk here, it might be prudent to have as much as 10 percent of your wealth in gold bullion and gold stocks.

9. Trillions of dollars of global bonds are guaranteed to lose money right now.

world central banks still holding interest rates in negative territory click to enlarge

As of May of this year, nearly $10 trillion of bonds around the world were guaranteed to cost investors money, as more and more central banks instituted negative interest rate policies (NIRPs) to spur consumer spending. Instead, it encouraged many savers to yank their cash out of banks and convert it into gold. That’s precisely what households in Germany did, and by 2016, the European country became the world’s biggest investor in the yellow metal.

10. The Love Trade is still driving gold demand.

golds 30 year seasonality patterns click to enlarge

The chart above, based on data provided by Moore Research, shows gold’s 30-year seasonal trading pattern. Although it’s changed over the past few years, the pattern reflects the Love Trade in practice. According to the data, the gold price rallies early in the year as we approach the Chinese New Year, then dips in the summer. After that it surges on massive gold-buying in India during Diwali, in late October and early November. Finally, it ends the year at its highest point during the Indian wedding season, when demand is high. The pattern isn’t always observed exactly how I described, but it happens frequently enough for us to make educated, informed decisions on when to trade the precious metal.

 

Dollar being allowed to fall; Gold rising

A pre-New Year article published on the Sharps Pixley website – and since posting gold has moved up further and the US dollar fallen some more.  The original article – shown below, also pointed to a disappointing performance by silver at the time, but since it was written silver has also picked up nicely and the Gold:Silver ratio come back to below 77.

Dollar being allowed to fall; Gold up; Silver disappoints so far

Original article published December 29th on Sharps Pixley website

As the final trading session of the year is already under way in Europe and has just begun in North America, precious metals are trending higher, but most of the increase is due to the gradual decline in the dollar index (DXY).  Since end 2016 the DXY has been allowed to drop from 102.65 on December 29th last year to 92.29 as I write on December 29th this year.  That is a fall of around 10%.  Again as I write, the gold price in the US dollar is up around 12% over the full year after its recent rally.  Silver, on the other hand, is only up a little over 4% over the same period – a particularly disappointing experience for the silver investor given that historically silver tends to outperform gold in a rising gold market.

Silver though is, or should be, somewhat anomalous vis-a-vis gold as it is much more of an industrial metal, although its performance as such may not be the real reason it has underperformed its sibling precious metal in 2017.  Silver is a much smaller market than gold and its price can thus be even more subject to futures trading patterns where big money is involved.  Silver followers reckon the price is being manipulated in a major way on the futures markets and point to the huge short positions taken in the metal by the big bullion banks and traders as being key to the price patterns.  These big shorts do not relate easily to some huge accumulations of physical metal by the same big banks that dominate these short positions – a point being made continuously by silver analyst Ted Butler (probably the world’s No. 1 expert on this anomalous situation) who reckons the activity in the silver markets by the big players – notably by JP Morgan – is, in effect, a criminal activity to which the market regulators continue to turn a blind eye.

Of course gold bulls also see the gold market as being manipulated too by many of the same players as in the silver market.  But here the motivation, if the gold price is indeed being held down, may be in support of governments and the dollar given the huge global debt position.  The gold price is considered by many as a bellwether for the state of the economy and a big rise in gold could be seen as a huge fall in confidence in global economic management.  That does not suit the big money and the markets, let alone government policies.  Whether there is collusion between major governments/central banks and the bullion banks to keep the gold price suppressed remains arguable, although there is considerable evidence to suggest that this has indeed been policy in the past and thus probably still is the case today.

The big question today is whether gold will indeed stay back above $1,300 on the year’s final trading day and what will happen when trading resumes in the New Year.  Silver could also possibly break back up through $17 and as I write gold has indeed breached $1,300 and silver looks well placed to break out above $17. These price advances have survived the New York market open and whether they will survive the full trading period at these levels remains to be seen, but the force is certainly with them at the moment.  Gold at $1,300 and silver at $17 would put the gold:silver ratio (GSR) at 76.5 which is certainly not unreasonable given that the GSR has ranged between  around 67.7 and 79.4 over the past year.  Indeed we have gone on record as suggesting the GSR will come down to 70 during the year.  Some feel this is a very conservative prediction.

Platinum is also moving up along with the other precious metals apart from palladium which has come off a few dollars.  We think there’s a good chance that platinum will be back at a higher price than palladium by the end of 2018, although I have received a recent email from former Stillwater CEO, Frank McAllister, who would strongly disagree having published a paper back in 2012 that palladium and platinum should at least be on a par with each other.  He further suggested that the demand for palladium in the autocatalyst sector could well drive its price ahead of platinum.  He has certainly been correct in this viewpoint.

Ted Butler’s latest theory, is also worthy of comment.  He avers that JP Morgan was in effect given a 10-year carte blanche by the U.S. Government and regulators as a reward for its assumption of the huge Bear Stearns short position in silver, at the government’s prompting, when that bank collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis.  That 10 year period will now be up in 2018 and, if Butler is correct in his suggestion, JP Morgan could now be in a position to reap multi-billion dollar rewards from unwinding some of its silver market activities.  Butler though has been permanently bullish on the silver price and some of his theorising, however well supported in fact, may just be wishful thinking.  BUT – he could also be correct and if he is there could be a run up in the silver price that would at least match that of 2011 when the metal peaked at just short of $50.  Silver investors will certainly be nailing their colours to that mast!  And if silver runs in this manner it could drag gold up with it too.  The tail wagging the dog!

There have been many changes in both the gold and silver markets over the past several years and most would seem to be price supportive – not least the continued flow of bullion from generally weaker hands in the West into stronger hands in the East.  Global gold production has probably peaked –it has certainly at least plateaued – and the year-end figures will be viewed with particular interest when they come in.  We would suspect global gold production in 2017 could be down as much as 1% overall.  It is falling in some countries, although still rising in others, but cutbacks in capital programmes and in exploration spending, particularly by some of the majors, suggest that there could be several years of declining global output, although not at a particularly high rate

Eastern demand appears to be holding up fairly well.  While neither of the two leading consumers – China and India – are importing gold at their past record levels, demand appears to have been increasing in 2017 over that of 2016 and we would expect that trend to continue along with the gradual increase in percentages of their populations falling into the middle class (and potentially gold-buying) categories – a growth that is being echoed around the world.

Geopolitics could also be playing a role here, although the gold price has been showing little sign of any sustained upwards movement with some of the worrying events taking place around the world and President Trump’s seemingly increasingly combative rhetoric which could be considered destabilising.  However we have noted that the passing of major holidays often seems to mark an inflection point in market behaviour and perhaps Christmas 2017 is yet another one of these.  So far the portents for gold and the other precious metals look positive.  It remains to be seen how they play out through the year ahead.

For those interested in a follow up as the first day of 2018 trading has got under way in Asia and Europe, Click on:

 Gold and silver continue rising as dollar and bitcoin slip

Gold, silver, platinum, pgms – price forecast reiterations

As gold and the other precious metals appear to be regaining some of their lustre as we approach the calendar year end, readers of lawrieongold might like to check out my precious metals price predictions for 2018 as posted on the Sharps Pixley website.  While the absolute forecasts do not differ materially from my prior article on Seeking Alpha   See: Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts some of the reasoning will be new or more detailed and it doesn’t refer to stock recommendations – just year-end price forecasts.  Click on Precious metals price predictions for 2018 – gold, silver, pgms to read.

Check out Seeking Alpha for my 2018 price predictions for gold, silver, platinum, palladium and precious metals stocks

My latest article on Seeking Alpha looks at the performance of my precious metals stock recommendations of a year ago – over half beat the record growth in the S&P 500, but some would have lost you money as well – and my new set of predictions for the year ahead.  Highlights as follows:

  • Precious metals stock picks made a year ago were mixed, but more than half beat the record growth in the S&P 500.
  • Most of the new 2018 precious metals stock picks are the same as those for 2017, but there are some deletions and additions.
  • Price forecasts for gold, silver, platinum and palladium, the dollar index

For the record looking for higher prices in the year ahead for gold, silver and platinum, but perhaps a fall back in palladium in the second half of  the year as we start seeing reverse substitution by platinum catalysts in the petrol (gasoline) section of autocatalyst manufacture due to the platinum price being lower than that of palladium.

Stock selections are virtually all in stocks which won’t collapse should precious metals not perform as expected.

To read the article on Seeking Alpha click on:

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts/Recommendations For 2018

Gold and silver edge up as bitcoin tanks

My latest article on sharpspixley.com edited and updated slightly looking at the pre-Christmas crash in bitcoin and a slight upturn in precious metals.  To read the original article, and also one on the latest Swiss Gold Export figures by me click on SharpsPixley.com and then on the Market Comment dropdown menu.

Bitcoin has demonstrated over the past couple of days why it’s not exactly an ideal investment for widows and orphans.  Those who climbed onboard bitcoin as it seemingly unstoppably moved to breach the $20,000 level saw it tank by almost 40% in a couple of trading days and seemed possibly heading to a 50% fall.  Whether this is just a correction on its way back up to $20,000 and above, or the beginnings of a bursting bubble, remains to be seen, but it does emphasise the enormous volatility of an ‘asset’ which is being driven up purely on sentiment, and would appear to have little or no material substance.  It has all the similarities to a Ponzi scheme where there have to be new buyers in the market to drive the price to ever new highs.  But when the new buyers desert it the asset plunges as holders try to bailout at whatever price they can.  Of course that applies also to many other asset classes nowadays – even the equities markets which are being driven up to, in our view, unsustainable levels.  Bitcoin is perhaps an extreme example and if the crash is sustained, equities could well follow bitcoin’s example and end their bull market too.

What does seem to be happening at the moment is that a section of the bitcoin community is taking huge profits given the growth of the cryptocurrency this year – or indeed in the last couple of months.  As I began to  write this article, bitcoin itself seemed to have broken through downside resistance at the $12,000 level – still hugely profitable for those who may have bought the cryptocurrency earlier in the year.  There has since been a bit of a bounce back up from around $11,000 to the mid $13,000s, but whether this can be prolonged or is of the ‘dead cat’ variety remains to be seen.  If say, however, the bounce is not prolonged and $10,000 is breached on the downside, the so-far very heavy correction could become a rout! This was on the last trading day before Christmas and recent investors in bitcoin are not seeing much Christmas cheer so far.

Meanwhile gold appears to be edging up in the other direction, and had broken up through $1,270 before the U.S. opening session, although the COMEX futures market could well bring it back a few notches going by recent experience.  At the time of writing though it had moved up a few more dollars, while silver was accompanying it on an upwards path too.  One doubts gold’s rise is on the back of bitcoin’s fall, but if the latter’s downturn proves to be prolonged it could pull some investors back into precious metals.  As noted above, silver was moving up alongside gold but with the gold:silver ratio seemingly stuck firmly between 78 and 79, silver was just about moving in parallel with its yellow sibling.

Regarding bitcoin there do seem to be rumblings on both sides of the Atlantic about possible regulation of cryptocurrencies being imposed.  If this happens, which we feel is inevitable, it will strike at the very heart of bitcoin’s raison d’etre and certainly reduce its desirability as the monetary payment medium of choice for the world’s criminal sector.  Lack of any real controls means it is a money launderers dream and that is something governments around the world are trying hard to clamp down on.

Russia upping the ante in its gold reserve increases

The Russian central bank has announced adding another 900,000 ounces (29 tonnes) to its gold reserves in November,  This makes 2017 the highest ever year in Russian central bank gold reserve rises and there’s still a month to go.

Have covered and commented on this in ny latest article on the shapspixley.com website.  To read the article please click on:

Russia upping the ante in its gold reserve increases