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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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.

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.

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.

 

Should one invest in gold and silver now? Follow a ‘mind like water’.

by: David Smith*

With sensory input from across the political and economic spectrum of the Internet bombarding us 24/7, it’s understandably difficult to follow through on a decision once made, even if you’ve researched carefully and thought things through beforehand.

Nowhere is this more difficult right now than the decision of whether or not to invest in – or add to – one’s position in the physical gold and silver space.

Not only that, but when you add all the noisy arguments from competing investments which seem to be doing much better while the precious metals slumber, it’s understandable why some long-term information-overloaded investors have decided to sell their metal.

I’d like to suggest that those who hesitate to buy, or worse, decide to sell what they already have are going to experience considerable remorse – and soon.

A potent way to avoid such a struggle and stick with your original decision is to practice developing mizu no kokoro – Japanese for a “mind like water.”

In this state, thinking is minimized, listening/watching emphasized. To get an idea of the clarity that can be achieved, look at the picture below.

I took this photo during a rare moment when all the elements necessary to build such a scene were present. The water is dead calm; the sky is so full of more-or-less stationary cloud formations that it’s difficult to see where one begins and the other ends. At the same time, nothing is distorted. The glassy water “mirrors” the clouds exactly as they look in the sky.

Mind Like Water

Being in the moment mostly involves paying attention.

There’s a lot to be said for “planning your work”; then “working your plan.” At some point you’ve taken your position and set aside money to buy more metal, either at certain intervals or into declining prices.

Then just let things be. Try not to be swayed by counter opinions, even if they seem to make sense. If this is difficult, don’t feel so bad about it. Even the investing greats have to remind themselves from time to time.

Jesse Livermore, one of the greatest speculators who ever lived, wrote a book titled Reminiscences of a Stock Market Operator. Still relevant almost a century later, it stands as one of the half dozen titles any serious investor should read. In it, Livermore made a comment about staying the course that is absolutely germane to our discussion. He said,

After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: it never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It was always my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight!

It is no trick at all to be right on the market. I’ve known many [traders] who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying or selling stocks when prices were at the very level that should show the greatest profit. And their experience invariably matched mine; that is, they made no real money out of it. Those who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon. I found it one of the hardest things to learn. But it is only after a stock operator has firmly grasped this that he can make the big money.

Steve St. Angelo’s excellent world physical silver demand chart shows a powerful 4x increase during the last decade. This “trend in motion” will continue.

World Physical Bar & Coin Demand (Chart)

Realize that the blockchain and gold (+silver) will coexist.

Yes, the current hyperbolic rise in bitcoin may be side-tracking some funds that otherwise would find a home with precious metals (though there has been no major outflow from metals’ ETFs). But in this writer’s view, an even bigger reason is that some long-term holders have developed a level of fatigue waiting for metals to rise while the stock market and bitcoin seem to be on a never-ending run. This, in spite of the fact that gold is actually up around 10% in 2017.

Stewart Thomson’s view, as editor of GU Blockchain , to which I fully subscribe (both literally and figuratively!) is this:

(I will) state adamantly that blockchain will increase demand for gold. Indian investors will seek to put a portion of their huge blockchain profits into physical gold because they are essentially mandated to do so by their Hindu religion. Western investors will do the same when the stock market finally rolls over.

If gold-backed blockchain currency goes mainstream, demand for gold would increase even more significantly, and do so in a sustained way.

Gold Bull Markets 1970 vs 2000 (Chart)

When, not if?

How you can apply “Mind like Water”

Step back from the “noise” (charts, talking financial heads and top-callers) that blurs your vision. Work your plan by continually adding – via dollar cost averaging, regular buying or “taking some money off the table” from other winnings and plowing it into precious metals. Let your mind (and emotions) rest on the picture above and you’ll achieve a level of clarity most others will not. Be right. Sit tight.

Raise your odds of success by keeping in mind the following words from Rick Rule, a man who over several decades, has made a career out of being consistently right – and making big money in the process. He says, “I prefer to ask myself investment questions where the answer begins with when, not if. If the outcome is certain, but the timing is uncertain, my only risk is patience.”

Few eyes are being focused on the powerful base-building action of the metals and miners that has been taking place over the last 18 months. The odds are excellent that we’ll soon see much higher prices, just like we did in 2016. So, be a contrarian. Take your position in gold, silver and possibly some palladium. Then let your mind become like water, as you wait for “when, not if.”

Forthright views on direction of equity markets, gold, silver, bitcoin and the Powell Fed from Michael Pento

An explosive interview with Michael Pento of Pento Portfolio Strategies by Mike Gleason of Money Metals Exchange.

Michael Pento describes for us what may be coming in the bond and fixed income markets and the impact on the stock market (negative) and on gold and silver prices (very positive) in 2018. He also shares some of his very strong feelings about Bitcoin and the crypto-currencies which he describes as a ‘scam’.

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Michael Pento, President and founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies and author of the book, The Coming Bond Market Collapse: How to Survive the Demise of the U.S. Debt Market. Michael is a well-known and successful money manager and has been a regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business News, and also the Money Metals Podcast, and shares is astute insights on markets and geopolitics from the perspective of an Austrian School economist’s viewpoint.

Michael, welcome back. Thanks for joining us again and how are you?

Michael Pento: I’m doing fine. Thanks for having me back on Mike.

Mike Gleason: Well, Michael, you focus a lot on the bond markets. Let’s talk for a minute here as we begin about the bubble that has been created and maintained there, and then we will get into the potential ramifications for precious metals. I was researching this morning and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 2.242% on December 20, 2015, just after the Federal Reserve made the first rate hike in the current cycle of raising the Fed funds rate. Today, the 10-year yield is 2.327%, a tiny increase from two years ago, so the yield has barely budged despite the funds rate ratcheting up a full percentage point higher. Now, the funds rate isn’t directly tied to Treasury yields, but shouldn’t this tightening be translating to higher yields? Why is that not happening?

Michael Pento: What a great question to start off the show. So, I’ll just dovetail on what you just said and say that in the beginning of 2017, the yield on the 10-year note was 2.4%, or just around that level. Now, as you said, it’s 2.32%. So, there’s a very good reason for why this is happening because the long end of the bond market is concerned with inflation and if the Fed is hiking rates from pretty much zero to one and a quarter percent as we sit today, the effective Fed funds rate is just a little bit above 1%, that doesn’t mean that the yield should go higher on the long end of the yield curve. Actually, what that does mean, is that the Fed is vigilant, for now at least, on fighting inflation.

They’re reigning inflation out of the economy. That means the long end is going to come down to meet the short end, and I will tell you on that front that in the beginning of 2014, 260 basis points was the spread on the two and 10-year note. And we’ve had five rate hikes since then and guess what the spread is today as we record this interview, 51 basis points. So, you don’t have to have an advanced degree in calculus to figure out that you have two rate hikes left, two, assuming that the two-year note rises commensurately with the Fed funds rate, two rate hikes left before the yield curve is completely flat.

And the problem is that when I’m reading a lot of material in the past few days that the all-knowing pundits on Wall Street from the big brokerage houses, the big wire houses, are claiming that we’re going to have five rate hikes. Mike, five rate hikes between today, December 6th and the end of 2018, five. Not two, five. That means the Fed funds rate is going to be well above where the 10-year note yield is trading today, so you’re going to have a massively inverted yield curve by the end of 2018. Not only that, you pile onto the fact that central banks are going from a $120 billion worth of counterfeit confetti each month to zero by October. So, if you’re not worried about a recession, if you’re not worried about an inverted yield curve, if you’re not worried about the central banks moving their massive bid from stocks and bonds and if you’re not worried about the stock market imploding in the next few quarters, if not months, you should be.

Mike Gleason: Interest rates are essentially the price of risk and the market seems to be saying there just isn’t much. However, you and I both know there is plenty, as you just discussed there, but this is bubble has persisted for years now. The truth is we don’t have real properly functioning markets and this extraordinary mispricing of risk will go on until, and probably suddenly, it doesn’t. What signals are you watching for in the bond markets, if you would expand on that, that would indicate the game is about up and are you seeing any of those signs?

Michael Pento: Well, you have to watch high yield spreads and the nominal yield. If you see those yields starting to spike, then you should worry. They were spiking a few weeks ago. They’ve since come down a little bit, but keep an eye on that. There were good break-even spreads, inflation break-even spreads. I watch those very insidiously. Of course, like we just talked about, you watch for the yield curve to invert.

When the yield curve flattens out and inverts, it means this – and it doesn’t really matter why it happens – some people will say, well, I hear this Mike, that you shouldn’t worry about the yield curve inverting this time because it’s inverting because. Because, the 10-year (German) bund is yielding .29%. Mario Draghi over in Europe is bending the whole yield curve to the south in Europe and that’s putting pressure on our yields here in the United States.

Well, that’s true to some extent, but let me ask you a question, if the yield on the 10-year bund was .5% not too long ago, why is it .29% now in light of the fact that everybody knows the ECB is going to taper from 60 billion euros of QE today to 30 billion come January, and eventually stop their QE probably in October around the same time the Fed steps up their monthly sales to 50 billion.

The answer is because the economy is slowing. It’s very clear to me, the economy and inflation is slowing. That it’s putting further pressure down on long-term yields. That means the yield curve is going to invert and it’s not different this time. What that means is that if you’re a depositor at the bank and you’re going to be getting say X% on your money, whatever it is, one, two percent on your money, and then the private banks make the same loans are yielding the same as they’re paying in deposits, it no longer benefits the bank to lend out money. So, money supply growth crashes and that means deflation starts to diffuse across the economy and that means asset bubbles crash.

And I just want to make one thing very clear. What happened this week, this week happened, this data point was breached. The total market capital stocks is now a staggering 140% of GDP. Yes. It did reach 140% of GDP. That ratio has only been higher at one time in history and that was during just a few short months around the very peak of the NASDAQ bubble. Outside of that very short duration, that ratio for decades was 50%. So, we don’t just have a regular stock market bubble, we have an epic Stock Market bubble that is couched within the biggest bubble in fixed income that the world has ever seen and it’s not going to end very well.

Mike Gleason: Now, let’s talk about what a bursting of the debt bubble might mean for precious metals. One could argue that if real interest rates move sharply higher, it will weigh on metals, which don’t offer a yield at all. It’s zero or even negative real interest rates that gold bulls want to see. But that certainly hasn’t been the case in recent years. Maybe gold and silver will respond as safe-haven assets in the turmoil in markets created by a collapse in bonds will drive demand for metals. What would you expect the long overdue reckoning in bonds will mean for gold and silver prices, Michael?

Michael Pento: The last time we had an inverted yield curve in a recession was circa 2006-2009. And gold benefit is very greatly leading up to the Great Recession, but if you look on your data points and see what happened in 2008, gold did not do very well at all. And that was partially because real interest rates rising is not good for gold, but it was also the case that there was a huge dollar short occurring at that time.

So, people were borrowing in dollars and investing in the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China. When it became evident that we were having a global recession, the manifestation of the global recession, people had to unwind those carry trades. So, in other words, they sold renminbi and they sold the ruble and they went back into dollars driving the value of the dollar way up. That crushed gold in the short term. But then you remember, from 2009 all the way to really late 2011, early 2012, gold had a huge run and that’s because deficits absolutely soared. We had annual deficits in this country were well over a trillion dollars. We’re going back there again and then the dollar started to again weaken.

This time around there is no massive dollar short. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite. In this next iteration of a recession, there may actually be dollar weakness. Even though you have rising real interest rates, which has always been the death knell for gold, you’re not going to have that rise in the dollar. That will mollify or attenuate the swollen gold prices, if there is any at all, but on the other end of this recession, and once this recession becomes manifested and you see the Fed going from wherever they are at that juncture, maybe 2% back to zero and then QE… and then we have Mr. Marvin Goodfriend on the Board of Governors – he’s been nominated by Donald Trump – he wants negative, nominal interest rates. He wants to ban cash. You’re going to have universal basic income. You’re going to have negative nominal rates. You’re going to have QE. You’re going to have perhaps even helicopter money. You’re going to have some version of that dangerous inflation cocktail and that has to be incredibly bullish for gold.

Mike Gleason: It sounds like a “perfect storm” sort of scenario there for the yellow metal. These days, when you talk about markets, the topic of bitcoin and crypto currencies is almost certain to come up. Bitcoin hit $13,000 earlier today [$16,000 today – Monday – Editor] as we’re talking here on Wednesday afternoon. It’s epic run higher this year cannot be ignored. Have you taken any interest in this space? We’d like to get your thoughts on where this phenomenon is headed.

Michael Pento: Well, you were you asking me about crypto-currencies. I’ve been on record for well over a year saying that it’s a scam. I’ve been wrong for well over a year. I will never own a crypto-currency in my life. I will never own a bitcoin or Etherium or any of these things. When you think about it Mike, what is a crypto-currency. Well, what you really own … You always see these pictures of people holding a coin with a B on it with a dollar sign through it. That’s not a bitcoin. A bitcoin, and I’m far from a computer programmer, so please understand, but from my knowledge of what a bitcoin is, it’s a private key. So, what you actually own is a private key, which is just a series of letters and numbers. I think it’s about 64 of these. It’s a series of letters and numbers, characters, that exist not even in tangible form, they exist in the Internet, so they exist digitally. So, how could a bunch of numbers be considered money?

The definition of money, it has to be portable, tangible and it has to be transferrable, but the most important factors of money, they have to be extremely rare and virtually indestructible. Now, what the heck is extremely rare or indestructible about numbers and letters? They’re very, very common and they have zero utility. Bitcoins and crypto currencies have zero utility. Let me repeat that. Zero utility outside of that ecosystem. So, you have to agree, in order to believe in Bitcoin, that this chain of numbers and letters can be worth $13,000 per unit and that that chain of numbers and letters is money, but outside of that ecosystem, there’s zero utility and you have ask yourself what good is it to be able to move numbers and letters via the Internet. Well, you could move U.S. dollars electronically over the Internet.

What you really should be asking is how can I move gold. Gold, which is all the properties of money, gold has. And most importantly, it’s virtually indestructible and extremely rare. There are over a thousand crypto-currencies, so various versions of those numbers and letters in the private key. There’s an immutable open ledger that is used to transfer bitcoins, but you can use a private blockchain to move gold. There are companies that do that. That’s the value of the blockchain. The blockchain’s value is not to move letters and numbers over the Internet and then somehow think that unit could be anywhere near $13,000. It’s a scam. It’s going to come crashing down and I’ll not be a part of it.

Mike Gleason: Well, I don’t think anyone’s going to wonder where you stand on that, thanks for honest assessment on that. Now, what are your thoughts on Jerome Powell taking over for Janet Yellen as the new Fed Chair. He’s a mainstream dovish-minded economist from all indications, so will it be more of the same, or do you have any insights on what a new Powell Fed will look like?

Michael Pento: Well, everybody says he’s going to be more of the same. He’s another dove like Janet Yellen, but you have to understand – and there’s two things I want to mention about Mr. Jerome Powell. Everybody knows he’s nominated by Donald Trump, but why did Donald Trump make the switch from Janet Yellen to Powell? Well, Mr. Powell is going to assent to two things. Number one, what does Donald Trump love to talk about more than almost anything else? Well, he likes to talk about how great the stock market’s doing, so I can assure you one thing is Jerome Powell will not allow the stock market to go down very much, very quickly. That’s number one.

Number two, Donald Trump is on record now, not Candidate Trump, President Trump is on record saying, he wants a weaker currency and he’s also a lover of debt. So, I expect in the long run, maybe not the short run because you’ve seen this baton has been passed to Mr. Powell, who’s going to carry on with Janet Yellen’s interest rate hikes and the reduction of the balance sheet. But, once the recession hits and the stock market turns south, and I’m talking about the 10% hit that I see happening very, very soon is going to quickly morph into 30%. And once we get 30% plus down in the stock market, you’re going to see Mr. Powell reverse course very quickly, because Mr. Trump can no longer brag about the stock market when it’s down 30%. And you’ll see all those things that I mentioned, some variation of that cocktail and that is negative interest rates, QE, universal basic income and helicopter money.

Mike Gleason: Well Michael, as we approach the end of the year here and start looking forward to 2018, I would like to ask you what you think people might be talking about this time, say a year from now, in the markets? What are a couple of those key events that you see happening in the next 12 months and also, your outlook for gold next year?

Michael Pento: Well, I think you’ll be talking about the epic crash of crypto-currencies a year from now. I think a year from now, you’ll be talking about the inversion of the yield curve. I think you’ll be talking about a crash in inflation and the onslaught of deflation. You’ll be talking about a crash in the major markets and in the capital markets. You’ll be talking about a reversal in the Fed’s monetary policy. You’ll be talking about a falling dollar and you’ll be talking about gold, which will be well over $2,000 an ounce by the end of next year, given the fact that construct I just laid out. If half those things that I just mentioned occur, gold will be well on its way to its all-time record nominal high.

Mike Gleason: It should be a very interesting year. I know we have talked a lot with you and you, of course, write a lot about the oscillations between the inflation cycle and the deflation cycle. And it’s always great to get your commentaries here and read them on a regular basis. We always appreciate your time, Michael. Thanks so much for the times you’ve come on this year and I certainly look forward to doing it again. Now, before we let you, please tell people how they can follow you more regularly, get those great commentaries in their email inbox each week, and also other information that they might need to know if they would like to potentially become a client of your firm there Pento Portfolios Strategies.

Michael Pento: Thank you Mike. The office number here is 732-772-9500. You can email me directly at mpento@pentoport.com. And the website is PentoPort.com.

Mike Gleason: Well, thanks again Michael. Enjoy the Christmas season and I look forward to our next conversation in the New Year. Take care and thanks for all you do.

Michael Pento: God bless you. Merry Christmas Mike.

Mike Gleason: Well that will wrap it up for this week. Thanks again to Michael Pento of Pento Portfolio Strategies. For more info just visit PentoPort.com. You can sign up for his email list, listen to the mid-week podcasts and get his fantastic market commentaries on a regular basis. Again, just go to PentoPort.com.

And don’t forget to check back here next Friday for our next Market Wrap Podcast, until then this has been Mike Gleason with Money Metals Exchange. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend everybody.

Gold and Silver boring for now – lacking fear and greed

By Clint Siegner*

Fear and greed drive the precious metals markets, but there hasn’t been much of either pushing gold and silver prices lately. Investors have grown tired of worrying about geopolitical events, ever increasing federal debt ceilings and ever inflating equity bubbles.

Meanwhile, greedy trend traders continue piling in to hot markets.

With the exception of palladium, metals prices have been stagnant for most of the year. For the time being, gold and silver are looking pretty boring relative to the hefty gains in stock prices and the explosive rise in Bitcoin.

Goldbugs are still waiting for a catalyst to shift investor attention back to the metals markets. Let’s take a look at some of the possible near-term drivers for gold and silver…

The equity markets remain overdue for a significant correction, and that would definitely stir some safe-haven demand. Yes, we have been expecting a correction in stocks for some time and prices are still moving higher.

There is, of course, no telling when the next bear market in stocks will arrive. But price-to-earnings valuations have only moved higher into nosebleed territory and shares are truly priced for perfection. A good-sized hiccup could have investors heading for the exit.

Bitcoin prices may also correct, diverting some of that capital instead into gold and silver. Cryptocurrencies are an entirely different kettle of fish when it comes to valuation. If Bitcoin can deliver on its promise to revolutionize payments and finance, today’s prices will ultimately look cheap.

Bitcoin Caution

However, no one should expect Bitcoin to continue moving higher in a straight line, with price corrections measured only in days or hours. There are a couple of developments right now with the potential to derail the extraordinary bull run in Bitcoin – at least temporarily.

A number of major cryptocurrency exchanges have grown reliant on a token called “Tether.” The Tether token is supposed to be backed 1 to 1 with U.S. dollars held by the company behind the Tether. Traders swap Bitcoin and other coins into Tether, assuming it is akin to cash. However, there are serious questions about whether or not the backing exists.

If confidence is lost in the nearly $1 billion of Tether tokens floating around exchanges, much of which has been used to make leveraged purchases of Bitcoin, it could be a disaster rivaling the collapse of Mt. Gox.

Bitcoin is also getting a boost in anticipation of institutional money pouring into the markets. The CME Group (COMEX) will launch Bitcoin futures trading later this month and lots of people expect the influx of capital to be very good news for the price. Our perspective is a bit different given that the nearly unlimited supply of paper futures contracts has undermined precious metals prices.

We think Bitcoiners should be wary of the participation of establishment institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase, which are likely to heavily short Bitcoin. These banks have a record of defeating limited supply by selling paper contracts in unlimited quantity and profiting as prices fall. People should also understand that many of the institutions who will be playing in Bitcoin futures are not fans of Bitcoin.

There are also a couple other developments of particular interest for metals investors in the coming weeks. Tensions with North Korea and Iran are still escalating. And Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, has taken a plea deal. The President’s many enemies in Washington DC are hoping Flynn will testify to some impeachable offense.

Should these players finally hang something serious on the President, we can definitely expect some turmoil in conventional markets.

It is quiet in the metals markets now, but there are plenty of ways for this quiet to be broken at any time.

Middle East Could Bring Down Markets, Drive Up Gold – Gerald Celente

 By Mike Gleason*
Podcast first published on www.moneymetals.comListen to the Podcast Audio: Click Here

Coming up we’ll hear from the one and only Gerald Celente of the Trends Journal. Gerald weighs in on the rise of crypto-currencies, the massive volatility he sees ahead in the crypto world and the key geopolitical ticking time bomb that he sees having a big effect on gold prices.

Gerald Celente

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome Gerald Celente, publisher of the renowned Trends Journal. Mr. Celente is perhaps the most well-known trends forecaster in the world and it’s always great to have him on with us.

Gerald, thanks for taking the time and welcome back.

Gerald Celente: Thanks for having me on.

Mike Gleason: Well, Gerald, to start off here, we still have the equities markets ripping and roaring and there is seemingly no news that can derail the train. So, as we head into the end of the year, what does your forecast show for the crowd on Wall Street? Is the party going to end anytime soon?

Gerald Celente: Well, as they go through with this tax deal, it’s just going to bring more money to the bigger corporations and you saw what the corporations have done with the profits from the past, what do they do with them? They reinvested them into the stock market rather than building their companies and investing in capital improvements.

So, giving them more money will give them more stock buybacks. The more stock buybacks, the higher the market goes. I mean that’s the reality of it. So, if the tax breaks go through the way they’re being planned, we’re going to see more stock buybacks, more cheap money to reinvest back into the markets.

Again, we’re looking at a very small segment of the population that’s really playing the markets. For example, only 10% of Americans are in the markets at the range that makes any difference, so that 10%, for example, that’s playing, they have about in equity about $350,000 (on average). The rest of society that has money into it, the so called middle class, of those that have any money in it, and again the 10% own over 90%. For the rest of the society, they only have about $15,000 in equity.

So, the markets are just going to keep going up if the cheap money keeps existing. Again, that’s going to also see what happens when they raise interest rates, which are about a 99% sure shot now, later in December. And if the cheap money flows stop, then the markets stop. It’s as simple as that, but we don’t think a 25 basis point increase is going to have much of an impact.

Mike Gleason: Clearly the world has a problem with crooked bankers and corrupt politicians. We talked about this a bit when we had you on back in August. The two aren’t unrelated, of course. Bankers and politicians have a very long and dark history of collusion.

On one hand, if history is a guide, there isn’t much reason to expect anyone will be held to account for their crimes. “They are too big to jail,” as former Attorney General Eric Holder might say. On the other hand, we can’t help but be a little bit hopeful. It looks to us like some of these crimes, such as the Uranium One deal, are getting harder to ignore.

What do you make of the recent news? Are you feeling any more optimistic about some of these crooks actually going to prison?

Gerald Celente: No, quite the opposite. Look at the new Fed chair that’s coming in. He’s already saying that the banking regulations in place now are too tough and tough enough. So, if under the current regulations nobody went to jail and they soften them, they could steal more, and get fined, and also accused of less crimes.

So, no, it’s going in the opposite direction. Under the new administration, they’re not draining the swamp, they’re just filling the swamp with different swamp creatures. I mean look at the Trump White House. Who’s running it? Mnuchin and Cohn on the financial end and those are both Goldman Sachs guys. It’s just more of the same.

Mike Gleason: The rise of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin in particular, is making waves in the precious metals markets. Some of the demand for gold and silver has been diverted to Bitcoin. People see it as another form of honest money and there is plenty of excitement over the huge price gains. Lots of people are wondering what the rise of Bitcoin might mean for precious metals over the longer term.

Now, our take is that Bitcoin offer hope as honest money and we are certainly fans of anything that can circumvent central bankers. Gold and silver, on the other hand, are proven stores of value with a track record extending back thousands of years and they are totally off the grid. Physical metals work with or without electricity or an internet connection and they can be used without leaving digital tracks behind.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between Bitcoin and bullion?

Gerald Celente: Well, we’ve been writing a lot about it now in our Trends Journal. One of the points that we keep making is that we see this isn’t a fad, it’s a trend in the cryptocurrency world, but the volatility’s going to be enormous.

Again, when you look at volatility in gold … I remember, back in 1980, I bought gold in the highest point of the trading day at $875 an ounce and then it went down from there. It was down for, what, almost 20 years.

So that’s the kind of thing you’re going to see in cryptocurrencies, as well. You’re going to see great volatility. They’re not going to go anywhere, but in looking at it, you see what happens when there’s geopolitical unrest. For example, you saw what happened in Zimbabwe, when they were getting rid of Mugabe, who had been running the joint since 1980. All of a sudden, Bitcoin over there spiked.

So, you’re going to see that kind of thing, but, again, there’s definitely playing a role as another safe haven asset of sorts, relative to gold and silver, but the volatility aspects in the crypto world are far higher and far greater than any of the precious metals. Also, in the cryptocurrencies, or what we call “Millennials’ Gold.”

My generation was gold, this generation, they’re looking more at digital. It’s a digital world. You’re in China, you don’t pay anything with cash or credit cards, it’s an app. So, it’s a different world.

However, saying all that, again, the big point is, you’re going to see a lot of the cryptos come and go. There’ll be some for the long term. The volatility will be enormous, but we don’t see them going away in the long term. And when you look, again, at particularly gold, the central banks around the world are buying it up in much greater proportions now, although the public is buying less physical gold.

So the demand for physical gold among the central banks, particularly Russia, China, will continue. And the crypto markets will have their place, but again, the volatility’s real, something we’ve been forecasting for quite some time and you can see it in the numbers.

Mike Gleason: One of the potential drivers for Bitcoin prices moving forward… it looks like the CME Group, the people behind the COMEX Exchange will soon launch a futures contract for Bitcoin. Lots of people in the crypto space are excited that the market will be opened up to “institutional money” and expect additional demand will be good for the Bitcoin price.

That might be true, but we have a dim view of the COMEX and how crooked the markets for gold and silver have become. According to the recent Wikileaks memo, they showed evidence that gold futures were first launched in the early 1970’s to help to rig the gold price, trade volatility, and discourage ownership for physical gold. 40 years later, we can look back and see precious metals futures worked exactly as intended.

In light of that and in light of this news now, what are we going to see a Bitcoin future exchange mean and can you comment about whether this will be good news or bad news for the cryptos?

Gerald Celente: Well, you summed it up. You’re going to see a lot more volatility. Again, I remember, going back to 1980 with the volatility of the gold markets and how also, though, and this is very important. Because of the futures trading, that’s what really drove the prices up.

What we expect to see is that you’re going to see a real surge and a price drive, higher, but you’re also going to see a greater downward collapse of the prices as well. Again, you see it with the futures contracts in many different fields, naked shorts, all of a sudden, the whole market changes in a flash.

So it can be very easily manipulated by bigger players. And again, with cryptos, it’s a bit more difficult considering how difficult it is to buy them, the periods of time you have to wait in order for you to buy them, so it’s going to be a little harder to manipulate, but they’ll figure a way how to do it.

So, expect, when the CME futures happen, and also other futures exchanges opening around the world, much more volatility. So what we see is a real spike up and a real sharper spike down.

Mike Gleason: Getting back to the Fed a little bit here. Jerome Powell was recently tapped to replace Janet Yellen as Fed chair, as you mentioned earlier. Powell looks like another garden variety central planner to us. He’s an attorney with decades of experience spread across Wall Street to Washington D.C. Obama installed him on the Board of Governors at the Fed in 2012.

Give us a little bit more about what your take is on Powell and can we expect any difference happening with the monetary policy?

Gerald Celente: Well, again, Powell has already made clear that the bank regulations are too difficult already for the banksters. So, what that means is that the bigger banks will have less regulation, more trading opportunities.

Again, who made up this thing that banks are supposed to be investment banks. Banks were there just as commercial banks. When I was a kid growing up, banking was boring. Banks used to open up at like 10:00 in the morning and be closed by 3:00. I mean, really. I know it sounds like ancient history, and it is when you get older, but there was no such thing as an investment bank.

So, what he’s going to do is the that the bigs are going to be bigger, more manipulation in the system, and again, he is a proponent, he says, of raising interest rates. However, we don’t see them going up that high. And as long as interest rates remain low, the Ponzi scheme on Wall Street continues.

I mean, there’s only one factor that’s driven the markets. It’s cheap money. Period. Paragraph. The rich have gotten richer and everybody else has gotten poorer. Those are the facts. Median household income in the United States is below 1999 levels.

Do you realize you have five people in the world, five people, that have more money than 3.5 billion people, half the world’s population? Same thing in the United States. Buffett, Gates, and Bezos. Three people have more money than half of the American population combined.

So, Powell is just one of the white shoe boys. He’s going to keep the club going and it’s going to go in the same direction it was going before. Again, the bubble can happen because it is a bubble and it’s only being pumped up by this monetary methadone. That’s all it is. It’s a fix.

There’s wild cards that would change this in a flash. And the wild cards, for example, could be what’s going on in the Middle East, with the new crown prince over there in Saudi Arabia saying that Lebanon and Iran have declared war against Saudi Arabia, which they never have. And you know how he became a crown prince, don’t you, that everybody’s bowing down to? You must remember when you were a kid. A princess kissed a frog and the frog became a prince and then a king.

I mean, who’s making this garbage up? Crown prince. Give me a break, man. They just made the Saudi government up in about 1934. It’s an oligarchy. It’s one of the most repressed nations on earth and they’re starting wars. They’ve slaughtered over 10,000 Yemenis. 50,000 Yemeni children are going to die this year because of the war conditions started by Saudi Arabia, supported by the United States. We just sold them another $7 billion worth of armaments.

Again, now that the Arab League, minus Syria, Qatar, and Iran, and Iraq, are declaring a new Arab NATO and a war against terrorism. A war against terrorism? Hey, it’s the Saudis that gave the money to Al Qaeda and ISIS to overthrown Qaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria.

But, again, the presstitute news doesn’t bring these facts out. Going back to gold, gold is the ultimate safe haven in times of geopolitical economic instability. And geopolitical and economic instability in the Middle East could bring down the markets and drive up gold prices.

Remember, Saudi Arabia needs oil at $100 a barrel for its economy to break even, to balance its budget. We were playing with $40, $50, now $60 oil since 2014. They’re in great financial straits. You look at the numbers, man. Anybody. All they have to do is look at them. Look at the oil revenue coming in from 2006 to Saudi Arabia to 2017 and it’s lower now in 2017 than it was even back in 2006.

Going back to gold. Our forecast of gold has been steady since 2013. November 2013, we said, “Gold prices have to stabilize over the mid $1,400’s.” $1,450, $1,480, $1,460, $1,470. Then it would spike to $2,000. Absent that, we saw a downside risk of gold at around $1,150. Saying this constantly. We maintained that forecast.

We see gold coming under more pressure even though we see interest rates coming up and most people are expecting it. There’s an opportunity cost for holding gold. Bond yields go higher, become more attractive, gold less attractive.

However, in this time of economic and geopolitical uncertainty, we still maintain that gold is the ultimate safe-haven asset in this geopolitical and economic climate.

Mike Gleason: Well, finally, as we begin to close here, Gerald, anything else that you’re focusing on as we head towards the final month of 2017 and start looking at 2018? What’s on the horizon and what are you watching most closely?

Gerald Celente: What we’re watching most closely, really, is the events in the Middle East. People are talking a lot about North Korea. We’re not so concerned about that, because if the United States does anything to North Korea, in terms of war – and by the way, again, we’re getting a one-sided story. The United States keeps launching these massive military maneuvers. Matter of fact, there’s going to be a new one in December with about 16,000 U.S. troops, hundreds of aircraft, and also naval forces on their shores.

So the United States is provoking North Korea and North Korea’s made it very clear they’re not going to give up a nuclear weapon because they saw what the United States did to Qaddafi and Hussein when they gave up their nuclear capability.

What we’re saying is that North Korea’s not on our radar as being the hot spot that could explode, because if the United States launches war against North Korea, say goodbye to South Korea. What do you got? 24 million people living in Seoul, Korea, about 35 miles away from the North Korean border? Say goodbye to Japan. It’s not going to happen.

Again, (North Korea) that’s a country, by the way, with a GDP smaller than West Virginia’s and a population the size of Texas. They don’t have the wherewithal to withstand the long war, so what they’ll do is, they’ll go all out and destroy anything anywhere near them.

Again, while the focus is on North Korea and everybody’s pumping up this king over there, or the crown prince, excuse me, who’s really the de facto leader at 32 years old, in Saudi Arabia, as the new enlightened guy over in the region, we see just the opposite. So that’s where our focus is really on, very heavily now.

And looking at the real news and really reading through and sifting through the propaganda that’s being sold by their government, our government, and other governments, and repeated by the presstitute media, those reporters that cut paid to put out by their corporate Johns and their Washington whoremasters.

Mike Gleason: Well, thanks so much for your time again today and we appreciate it, as always, and love getting your candid and unfiltered comments on the state of things. Now, before we let you go, please tell listeners how they can get their hands on the Trends Journal and the other great information that you put out there on a regular basis at the Trend Research Institute.

Gerald Celente: Well, the new Trends Journal will be out this week. You could got to TrendsResearch.com or TrendsJournal.com. And not only do we put out the Trends Journal, we do Trends in the News Broadcast, we have Trends Monthly, Trend Alerts each week. Money back guarantee, the only place you’ll read history before it happens. TrendsResearch.com or TrendsJournal.com.

Mike Gleason: Well, thanks again, Mr. Celente, for being so generous with your time, as always. Have a great weekend and we’ll look forward to our next conversation. Take care.

Gerald Celente: Thank you for having me on and thank you for all that you do.

 

Gold’s Global Supply: Heading for Cardiac Arrest

by: David Smith* – Lightly edited version of article originally published on Money Metals Exchange

An oceanic-scale demand push from “all parts Far East” is building, as the desire to own gold and silver promises to place an increasingly solid foundation for years to come.

China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) Initiative – the world’s largest-ever construction project – is designed to link 60% of the world’s population in a cooperative financial and economic matrix. Taken together, the continued migration of gold supply from West to East is baked into the cake.

For a deeper understanding of how and why China is leading the charge – and going about capturing an outsized portion of the global gold supply – see my essay from last summer, titled China’s Get the Gold Plan: Part II.

Even as the West ships much of its remaining gold eastward (largely via Swiss refineries who “repurpose” it into .9999 fine gold), countries like Germany and Turkey have stepped up to the plate, becoming noteworthy demand drivers in their own right.

Fund managers are finally realizing that gold deserves to be a permanent portfolio asset holding category. In The Morgan Report and in Riches in Resources, David Morgan has written extensively about this for both individual investors and institutional clients. Just one more “silent lever” by which a long-term, rock-solid foundation is being built under gold’s demand… and price.

Gold Supply Vein Seizures

Metaphorically-speaking, available data strongly suggests (with evidence mounting sharply since 2015), that over the next few years an ongoing narrowing of the global gold supply’s veins and arteries is leading to a series of demand seizures, climaxing in a systemic “heart attack”.

Peak Production is Expected ~2015 (Chart)

As of 2017-18, this trend shows no signs of abating

South Africa’s Gold Production Keeps Heading Further South

South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin has been the source of almost 40% of all the gold ever recovered. But the government has become so obdurate that its current declining rank as the world’s 7th largest producer looks set to fall even more.

They have once again decided to “amend” the country’s mining code, demanding higher royalties and increased Black Empowerment participation, leading to a dire warning from the rating agency Moody’s. It states that “If the substantial expansionary investment required to reconfigure loss-making mining operations and make them profitable is not forthcoming, mines will either be restructured or closed.”

South Africa’s next move on the resource supply chessboard follows recent gambits against other large gold producers in Indonesia (Freeport) and Tanzania (Acacia Mining). Dave Forest, who keeps track of this in his letter, Pierce Points, remarks:

Mining “nationalism” has re-introduced one of the most crippling elements a mining producer – or explorer can face…unpredictability.

If there is no certainty that some sort of “rule of law” will prevail, then trying to anticipate/ predict how much gold and copper will/can be produced in a given operation flies out the window. Look how much is going on right now as gold hovers “merely” around $1,300 per ounce. What do you think that this witches’ brew of greed, corruption, power-grabbing and incompetency is going to produce when gold trades – as it will before long- at $2,000, $3,000, $5,000 or more?

Even without heavy-handed regulations, South African mining would be facing increasing costs as mines go deeper to access gold and platinum. The way things are going, the last nails in the coffin appear set to be hammered into place. In the early 1970s, annual gold production topped out at an amazing 1,000 tons. Since 2000, gold production has literally fallen off a cliff, as it spirals downward toward a paltry 200 tons/year.

South Africa's Gold Output has Benn in Steady Decline for More than 45 Years (Chart)

Courtesy sources as listed.

When a Gold Giant Speaks, You Should Listen…

Pierre Lassonde is a giant in the mining business. In 1982, he co-founded Franco-Nevada, the first publicly-traded gold royalty company, which now has a seven billion dollar market cap. He played a critical role in the growth of Newmont Mining, the world’s second largest gold producer, heading to become the largest as current No. 1 Barrick Gold divests non-core mines. When he speaks, you and I should pay attention… In a recent interview, discussing the global gold supply going forward, Lassonde said:

Production is declining and this is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on prices down the road. If you look back to the 70s, 80s, and 90s, in each 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 where are those great big deposits we found in the past? How are they going to be replaced? We don’t know. We do not have those ore bodies in sight…

They have not put anywhere near enough money into research and development, particularly for new technologies with respect to exploration and processing… it takes around seven years for a new mine to ramp up and then come to production. So it doesn’t really matter what the gold price will do in the next few years: Production is coming off and that means the upward pressure on the gold price could be very intense.

Average Number of Years Between Discovery and Production

You Can’t Fight a War – or Produce Gold – without Reserves

Of the 5 formal categories estimating the amount of economically-recoverable gold a mining company has in the ground, “Reserves” ranks highest. The other 4 categories decline in estimated value and the likelihood they will ever be profitably recovered. As of this year, global gold reserves barely equal those prevailing in 2004 – the very beginning of the current metal’s bull run. This, despite gold having risen from $250 to (briefly) $1,900 the ounce, and now around $1,280.

The inescapable truth is that every ounce of mined gold that is not replaced by a new reserve places a producer just that much closer toward going out of business.

The trend of annual declining gold yields is well-established.

This Is the Calm before the Storm

Do not be lulled into complacency by this year’s muted U.S. gold and silver sales figures.

“High grading” – mining the best ore bodies first in order to remain profitable, lack of exploration success in replacing reserves in spite of increased funding, and elevated “country risk” around the globe are placing declining supply on a collision course with increasing demand.

Establish and keep adding to your gold “stash” now while the price is favorable. Don’t be shut out when an unpredictable but inevitable “gold supply heart attack” takes place.

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.

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.

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.