Pelaez: Time to Position for a Decade-Long Bull Market in Natural Resources

Interview by Mike Gleason of www.moneymetals.com

Coming up we’ll hear a wonderfully fascinating interview with first time guest Samuel Palaez of Galileo Global Equity Advisors. Sam highlights what he views as a tremendous investment opportunity in commodities right now, and also talks about how the markets may be getting it wrong when it comes to the trade wars and the likely impact it will have on the U.S. economy, inflation and the dollar.

Samuel Pelaez

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Samuel Pelaez, CIO and Portfolio Manager at Galileo Global Equity Advisors, a Canadian subsidiary of U.S. Global Investors. Sam manages Galileo’s Growth and Income fund as well as the Technology and Blockchain fund and also follows the natural resource and gold mining space quite closely. And it’s a real pleasure to have him on with us today.

Sam, thanks so much for the time and welcome.

Samuel Pelaez: Thanks, Mike. It’s a great pleasure to join you. I think this is the first time.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, absolutely. Excited to get a chance to talk to you finally. You’ve been talking about commodities being way undervalued. You published a chart back in the spring showing the value of the S&P GSCI Index of commodities companies relative to the broader S&P 500 Index. The ratio is near all-time lows. Since that chart was published in April not a great deal has changed, so talk about where we’re at here in commodities now and give us your thoughts on what the value proposition looks like today because they certainly have been laggards compared to the broader markets.

Samuel Pelaez: Yeah, absolutely. That’s my favorite all-time chart I think. I’m a big proponent of commodities and natural resource investing. Keep in mind, that chart goes over 60 years or so of markets. We’ve had cycles like this three times or this will be the third time. Twice in the past we’ve seen that sort of extreme rating where commodities are so undervalued relative to the broader market as measured by the S&P 500.

What that suggests is that we may be at a juncture here that provides an opportunity to invest in resources that we haven’t had for over 20 years. Last time this happened was coincidental with the NASDAQ 1990-2000 boom. That was the time when the commodities were as undervalued relative to the broader market. And what happened since was obviously the big industrialization of China commodities did very well for a decade up until 2008 and even a little bit further than that.

So, it was at least a decade of commodities out-performance relative to the market. And we’re in a similar predicament right now and that keeps me very excited. Now, if you think about short term especially since the spring, there’s been a lot of talk of the trade wars. Commodities have sunk most of them quite dramatically, especially those that are sort of core to development of China. I would call those short-term deviations in the bigger and broader context. I think this chart is a very powerful indicator for investments over the next decade.

That may not mean that today is the bottom or tomorrow, but as any responsible investor, I would suggest to start reallocating some of your broader market exposure towards commodities just on the back of what this chart is saying. Now, the short-term deviations that we’ve seen can be very material. Copper is over 20% drop from its highs. Same story with zinc. Gold has also under-performed quite dramatically. But in general, I believe we are approaching a situation with that under-performance is unsustainable.

Frank at U.S. Global put out a piece a couple of weeks ago that was actually very insightful. And it said, “Let science drive your investing.” It just shows how gold is two standard deviations below its mean. Copper is 3 1/2 standard deviations below its mean. And in statistical terms, that’s a very sort of powerful indicator for a rebound. Just to say in a little bit more plain language, what that suggests is, there’s a 95% probability that gold rebounds in the next 60 days. And in copper, it’s more like a 99% probability that it rebounds in the next 60 days.

So, maybe we’re just towards the tail end of this short-term trade war inflicted sort of under-performance. And then maybe we can start recapturing the uptrend that we’ve seen over the last year or year and a half that could, I hope, translate into a decade-long bull market for natural resources and commodities.

Mike Gleason: Of course, our focus here is on precious metals, you alluded to gold of course. They often trade like commodities. Particularly silver which has significant uses as an industrial metal. But gold and silver are also monetary metals. They can get more attention from investors looking to hedge against inflation or as a safe haven. Given that, what are your thoughts on where the precious metals might be headed? Do you think they will be pretty well correlated with commodities in the months ahead? Or, are you looking for them to perhaps behave differently, Sam?

Samuel Pelaez: The answer is yes. I expect them to perform very well. Gold is actually one of the more puzzling asset classes so far this year because it’s under-performed. With the whole trade war angle, China and the U.S. at odds. President Donald Trump being at odds with some of Canada, some of the U.S. allies including Canada. That should be a pretty good environment for gold. But what’s happened is the markets have interpreted the trade war as a positive economic impact to the U.S. and we’ve seen the U.S. dollar rise. And that’s generally negative for gold on the other hand.

That’s also been sort of turbocharged for lack of a better word, by the fact that the U.S. continues to raise rates at a much quicker speed than its peers in Europe or in Japan. The 10-year yield in Japan today is as close to zero as it gets. The euro is already at 3%. So that interest rate disparity has also helped the U.S. dollar be pretty strong year to date. I think that’s going to stall and I’ll tell you why.

Number one, inflation. Gasoline prices if you’ve been to the pump recently you’ve seen that from July 4th last year to July 4th this year, gasoline prices have on average risen about 50%. And that’s inflation. That measure is not captured by the inflation metrics that the markets use. But, it’s captured by the inflation that all consumers in the U.S. pay. So, inflation is creeping in so it’s going to be starting to chip away from that 3% 10-year yield that’s larger than that you can get in Japan and other places.

And the second one and perhaps more important is, I think gradually the markets are going to start turning and accepting the fact that the trade war angle could be detrimental to the U.S. We’ve seen General Motors come out with a profit warning. We’ve seen Alcoa come out and issue a profit warning on the back of the trade wars. And this is just the companies that have started reporting so let’s wait another couple of weeks where most of the S&P 500 reports and see how many times the chairman and CEOs of these companies actually comment on the trade war being a potentially negative impact to the U.S. economy and to corporate earnings.

And circling back to gold, that may take some of that very strong support that the U.S. dollar has had year to date, which conversely should be very positive for gold. If you correlate that to what I mentioned earlier about the charts that show gold being two standard deviations below its mean, then we’re in a predicament where over the next two or three months we may see a strong rally in gold prices.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, extremely well put. I agree that maybe the markets don’t quite have it right and there’s maybe a lot of pent-up inflation coming. Obviously, the U.S. economy has not really felt much of these trade wars and that may be coming. That’s very well summarized there.

Now, I’d like to switch gears a little bit and get your take on the overall health of the markets in general. Around here we wonder how “real” markets are these days. For starters, we have central banks here and around the world heavily involved in markets. Interest rates are centrally planned. And these days it is commonplace for central bankers to be buying corporate stocks and even bonds for that matter. Then there’s the mounting evidence of more underhanded activity. Bank traders colluding to rig prices in everything from metals to LIBOR and to cheat their clients. In recent years the advent of high-frequency trading has raised concerns that retail traders may not get a fair shake.

So, we have a pretty dim view when it comes to the honesty and fairness of markets. That said, we rely on exchanges such as the COMEX and want to believe they can still work. Give us your thoughts, Sam, on the integrity of markets since this is the first time we’ve had a chance to get your thoughts on the subject.

Samuel Pelaez: This is a subject that we discuss internally quite a bit. I do believe there is a fair amount of market manipulation. That’s a very strong statement to say, but there’s facts that support that, right? There’s multiple banks have been, for lack of better word just risk locked. LIBOR, the gold market rigging, FX. There’s factual evidence that some of the banks have been actively manipulating markets.

But that’s just one of the angles from it. I think a second angle which is not manipulation but just an effect of passive investing is ETFs continue to raise capital and ETFs, the majority of them, are market cap weighted so they only allocate money to the top of the market. And that creates a sort of self-fulfilling bias for certain stocks that become market darlings and they receive more dollars, so they out-perform so then they receive more dollars. And it becomes like a vicious circle of out-performance.

That’s because there’s a lot of academics who are very interested in the subject and are writing about it. I think the term they coined for this is the passive investment paradox because the more dollars that go passive, the less dollars that go active essentially. And we start getting into this complacent type of markets, which I think we started to see especially in the broader indices in the U.S. like the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.

Now, that may have started to crack. I think we can talk about it in a second. But before or after I complete the answer to this question, but we think ETFs have become a problem. They’ve hit that sort of like momentum and size where they’ve started to disrupt the natural flows of money in the markets. I agree completely with you about the LIBOR and FX manipulations.

But then lastly, and you did mention COMEX and I’m glad you did, because I don’t know if people are aware and I don’t think they are, when you buy a gold futures contract on the COMEX, it specifically states that you can redeem in kind. Meaning you can actually show up to COMEX and demand to be paid in physical gold. The problem is… and this number fluctuates… but there’s about 400 contracts for every ounce of gold. Meaning if just one out of 400 people show up to reclaim their gold in physical form, the COMEX vaults would be completely empty.

So, there’s this false perception that this paper contract from the COMEX actually represents one ounce of gold. It actually represents one four hundredths of an ounce of gold. And that in a way is a form of manipulation as well because it inflates the number of contacts. It inflates the liquidity of the sector. It inflates the supply of gold that realistically in physical form is not there.

These things worry us. They concern us. But, what we’re really focusing on in our investing is allocating capital to sustainable companies that have higher than average return invested capital. We are supporting businesses. We’re supporting management teams and we believe that the better ones will be able to surface amidst this market manipulation and still be darlings for a lot of investors.

Mike Gleason: Sam, among other responsibilities you manage the Galileo Technology and Blockchain Fund. Cryptocurrency has been a big topic in the precious metals space. Many people who look at gold as sound money have taken interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for some of the same reasons. We at Money Metals Exchange do significant business both selling metals and taking crypto in payment and vice versa, buying metal and making crypto payments. Do you think a cryptocurrency offers genuine potential for widespread adoption as money? What do you make of the comparison between Bitcoin and gold?

Samuel Pelaez: Let me turn the question around. I don’t believe that Bitcoin and gold are the same thing as has been purported by other market participants. I believe gold has a unique status and it’s had it for a long time and it has a lot to do with its physical properties. Gold is the only metal that you can store for decades and then come back to it and it looks exactly the same. It doesn’t rust. It’s essentially oxygen proof, rusting proof, among other things.

You cannot say that about Bitcoin or a paper wallet of Bitcoin or a physical wallet of Bitcoin. So, I’m not subscribing to that thesis that cryptocurrencies are a store of a value akin to what gold is. I do subscribe to the thesis that blockchain technology… and I think tokens are just one representation of blockchain technology… blockchain technology is transformational for multiple industries. The payment processing industry or the barter industry let’s call it, is obviously the most ripe industry for disruption from this kind of technology and that’s what Bitcoin has done and Ethereum in the field of crypto have done, is create a secondary market for transactions outside of the fiat world.

It’s much more efficient than gold at that because you can trade it instantaneously with people anywhere in the world which is something that you can’t really do with gold in its physical form. Now, what do I think about the technology going forward? I think it’s going to disrupt virtually every industry. And people probably heard it before. This is the internet all over again. We’re only starting to learn how deep this is going to get. And also, think about it from a consumer perspective. The internet came about very late. But, for decades now or least two or three decades, when you pay anything at the supermarket and show it to the cash register, that’s an Oracle machine with internet all through the back connected to a number of devices that make all of it possible. If you’re at Walmart, then it automatically connects to the suppliers and updates the inventories and the unit numbers so they can place orders.

The internet has been amongst us for a long time. And I think blockchain technology would be the same. Now, Bitcoin, Ethereum and the other ones we can see as consumers. But the real transformation I think is happening in the business to business world. We’re involved in a number of companies that are doing some incredible amount of work that will facilitate business to business. Not payment transfers but all sorts of technological processes that will completely disrupt the way things are being done right now.

What I’m trying to convey is that sense that this technology is not just limited to payment processing and money transfers. That’s just one of the sectors. There’s dozens and dozens of other sectors where these this technology will transform the way we do our business going forward.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, very interesting technology and that I think is the bigger story here: the blockchain technology much more than say, yeah, just Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency for instance. Well, as you know, we’ve had Frank Holmes on a number of times here on our podcast and he’s talked a lot about the gold royalty ETF, ticker symbol GOAU here in the U.S. and GOGO there in Canada. I know you played a big part in the research behind that. So talk about mining royalty space here, Sam, and why are you guys so excited it. And also, talk about the fund’s performance over the first year or two now.

Samuel Pelaez: Absolutely. We are big proponents of the royalty model. We think it’s a superior business model relative to the miners. They also fit one of the key characteristics in everything you look for which is return on invested capital. The return invested capital in the royalty companies is exceptional. I warn you though if you just calculate the ratio on Bloomberg or any other data source, the return capital may appear lower than it actually is.

And that is because these companies have spent so much money forward in projects that will generate cash flows in the future. But, if you take them on a project-by-project basis, any investment they did and what they’re deriving out of it, the returns are spectacular and they come at a very low risk. So when you sort of risk adjust then they’re even better than they are in absolute form. So, we’re big proponents of the model. We’ve been big supporters of the formation and the ongoing marketing of these companies. Frank was involved in the seeding of what became Wheaton Precious Metals which is the second largest royalty company out there right now.

So, what we decided to create was an ETF that offered investors that alpha generation that the royalty companies have offered us, over the full business cycle. We’ve noticed that many people only invest in gold when they think gold’s going up. We actually believe that everybody should have an allocation to gold throughout the business cycle because it has this diversification properties relative to the other components of your portfolio given to broader the market.

So, what product could we offer our investors in the market that would allow them to invest across the full business cycle and deride all the benefits of gold investing without some of the detriments? And we created this ETF that’s overweight the royalty companies because they offered that intrinsically and then after that it holds a number of gold producers that also have very high returns in invested capital and generally trade at a discount to their peers.

We believe that’s part of the magic sauce. There’s a few other factors that they’re clearly listed on the marketing materials, you could get those at the U.S. Global website or at the Galileo Funds website. And what we’ve been able to achieve and I want to make sure that this doesn’t sound promissory, it’s actually based on the one year of performance, is the data of the ETF to the upside as in how it moves to the upside relative to the gold sector is about one for one.

So when gold starts to go up, owning our product or owning any other product is about the same. It’s when the markets go down that our ETF goes down by a lesser amount than the competing products. And then when you bootstrap that difference over a long time, it creates a very big spread above performance. So far for the one year, our product beat the GDX by about 8%. That’s a pretty… I call it… a pretty impressive alpha generation. The fund also has a lower management fee and it has a lower standard deviation or pretty much every other risk metric is inferior.

So, we’re very confident that it will continue to do that. The back tests suggest that it can do over the full business cycle. And I encourage your listeners to go and have a look because we’re very proud of what we’ve created.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, you should be. It’s done very well and it’s exciting stuff and I love the model as well, you guys have done a great job putting that together and the research behind it. Well, as we begin to close here, Sam, any final comments? What will you be watching most closely in the months ahead? Maybe give us a final synopsis on commodities and metals as we wrap up.

Samuel Pelaez: I’ll give you anecdotal piece of evidence. I had some friends visit from Colombia, where I’m from originally. And the first thing they mentioned was, and they looked at all the cranes and they said, “Wow, there’s so much construction going on.” And I guess because we live in North America and we see it all the time, we don’t really recognize it every day. But, just think about all the wonderful things taking place in terms of… if you travel to New York often you’ve seen the big transformation that’s taking place at the airport at LaGuardia.

I’m sure in all your communities and your cities you’re going to see major projects being built. President Donald Trump has made a big focus of his presidency to roll out a major infrastructure plan. So, we’re going to need these commodities. It’s not like we achieved that peak moment of commodity demand. Commodity demand continues to go up every year. It’s almost like GDP growth. So we will need these commodities. And right now you have the opportunity to buy them at one of the cheapest relative valuations that you’ve had in the last 20 years. And if you’re like me, I wasn’t investing – I wasn’t old enough to be investing in the ’90s – this is the best entry into the resource market that’s ever been presented to me.

And because it only happens every 20 or 30 years, over the course of a professional life. You may only have one or two of this big macro cycles. So, I encourage listeners to follow that chart. We publish it very frequently every six or eight weeks as part of our marketing materials. I invite them to think seriously about reallocating some of the capital from the broader market. The S&P and NASDAQ have been a phenomenal investment over the last nearly decade, since 2009.

So, maybe it’s time to start rolling some of those profits and rolling some of that allocation from some of the sectors that have out-performed into the sectors that have under-performed. And I believe over the next decade you will be handsomely rewarded for that.

Mike Gleason: Very good way to wrap up, very well put. Really enjoyed the conversation today and appreciate you sharing your market insights with our audience. Before we let you go please tell people how they can learn more and how they can reach you and your firm if they’re so inclined.

Samuel Pelaez: Absolutely. The easiest way to reach is through our website GalileoFunds.ca. We’re based in Toronto, Canada. I do travel to the U.S. a lot to speak at conferences, I travel a lot with Frank at U.S. Global. You can find all of our contact information and our fund fact sheets on the website. You can also follow us with social media. We have a LinkedIn page. We have an Instagram account. We’re catching up to the times and finding all the new ways to reach the new demographics and to be out there for people to find us.

Mike Gleason: Well, good stuff. Thanks again, Sam. Keep up the good work. Continued success there and I hope we can speak with you again in the future. Take care.

Samuel Pelaez: Thank you, Mike. Bye, bye.

Mike Gleason: Well, that will do it for this week. Thanks again to Samuel Pelaez, CIO and Portfolio Manager at Galileo Global Equity Advisors. For more information visit www.GalileoFunds.ca.

Advertisements

How to avoid gold and silver investment scams

by: Stefan Gleason*

It could be undisclosed commissions and fees in an annuity, unwanted accounts opened up by a banker seeking additional fees, trades sabotaged by market manipulators, or any number of other schemes.

Rip-off artists, unfortunately, operate within the precious metals space as well.

Most recently, a scammer posing as a government agent in order to gain people’s trust was convicted of selling counterfeit gold bars and phony Morgan silver dollars. He took one investor for $11,000, according to reports.

You can avoid this type of scam as well as other common cheats when buying or selling precious by heeding the following guidelines.

1. Avoid “Too Good to Be True” Deals

If a price on a bullion product sounds too good to be true – or comes with exorbitant incentives or exaggerated claims – you should be suspicious.

Too Good to be True!

Gold and silver bullion products do not legitimately sell below spot prices. Individuals holding precious metals can visit a dealer and sell items immediately, for full value. Given that everyone has this option, it is highly likely anyone offering items well below actual value is trying to stick it to you.

Legitimate dealers cannot afford to offer items way below cost either. Dealers must charge small premiums above spot prices to reflect product minting costs and the costs of doing business. (One notable exception: 90% silver U.S. coins minted prior to 1965 (aka “junk” silver) which exhibit significant wear occasionally become available at melt value or even slightly lower.)

2. Choose a Reputable Dealer and Use Extreme Care Buying from Unknown Parties Online

Find a reputable dealer who offers prompt, reliable service, and fair prices. Customers who buy based solely on slick advertisements or low quoted prices risk getting left holding the bag when that dealer fails to deliver.

Every so often a dealer will come along that tries to undercut the industry with super-low prices. Only a few years back a “low price leader” called Tulving & Company went bust. A similar blow up occurred at the Northwest Territorial Mint in 2016.

In both cases, warning signs included delivery delays and rising customer complaints. A slew of customers ultimately lost tens millions of dollars when their orders went undelivered.

Bottom line – receiving actual delivery of your metals is way more important than getting the lowest price!

Take a few minutes to investigate a dealer’s online reputation before ordering. You should also expect the dealer to provide a firm estimate as to when the order will ship when the order is placed.

Customer reviews for Money Metals Exchange are overwhelmingly positive for a reason. Regardless of whether you’re a new customer with a small budget or an experienced stacker, you can buy with confidence from Money Metals.

3. Avoid eBay, Craigslist, and Other Online Bulletin Boards

You may be tempted to peruse sources such as eBay, Craigslist, or flea markets to try to find hidden bargains. But all to often, the only ”hot deals” being offered are from sellers with questionable or poor reputations.

Auction sites, including eBay, charge significant fees to the seller. That means reputable dealers must charge very high prices within that platform – passing along the fees eBay charges them. Better prices are usually available by going directly to dealers outside of eBay.

It is always better to know you are dealing with an established business with a reputation for fair dealing, rather than random individuals who can disappear in the night.

With underground sources, you can spend hours researching, bidding, emailing, phoning, driving, and waiting… only to still be left worrying that the product you bought might be counterfeit, stolen, or otherwise not as described.

4. Avoid Rare Coins and Other Hard-To-Sell Products PriceD Way Above Their Melt Value

Numismatics – coins that carry hefty premiums as collectibles – are a huge profit opportunity for dealers and scammers alike. Gold and silver bullion products do not legitimately sell below spot prices.

St. Gaudens Gold Coins

Only serious collectors and experts
are qualified to make wise investment
decisions in so-called rare coins,
so scammers love to peddle them.

If you are a bullion investor, you are more concerned with the number of ounces you hold than the supposed rarity or aesthetic value of coins.

Sometimes the dealer is the scammer – making false claims about a coin’s history, for example, or engaging in “bait and switch” tactics and outright lies to steer unwitting customers into high-premium coins.

There are prominent numismatic dealers that had paid for celebrity endorsements and TV commercials now face litigation over their dishonest sales tactics.

The numismatic market also attracts forgers. There’s little incentive to tamper with bullion coins that sell close to melt value when the value of a numismatic coin can be hugely inflated by altering its grade or appearance slightly.

5. Know Exactly What Something Is Worth to Sell… Before You Buy

Doing a bit of upfront due diligence to determine how – and for how much – you can sell the precious metals you are considering buying can help you steer clear of big mistakes.

It’s not unusual to find a seller of so-called “rare” coins would only pay you 60% of your purchase price if you were to sell it back to them the next day. Most coins being represented as “rare” are not particularly scarce or desirable. They do not bring much premium above the value of their metal content when it is time to sell.

Bottom line – avoid precious metals that are not actively traded. If the difference between the price you will pay to buy and the price you would receive to sell is more than 5-10%, you are likely paying too much.

6. Never Sell Coins, Rounds or Bars at More Than a 5% Discount to Melt Value

When the time comes to sell your bullion, the “cash for gold” sign displayed at your local strip mall represents a fast and convenient way to get paid a fraction of what your bullion is worth.

Whether it’s a jewelry store, a pawn shop, or a scrap gold middleman, you almost certainly won’t be offered anything near fair value. If you negotiate aggressively, you might get closer. But you’ll almost always get a better upfront offer from a large national bullion dealer like Money Metals Exchange (which happens to have the best “sell to us” prices in America).

Some coin dealers will offer more than others, of course. A small local shop that doesn’t carry much inventory may only be able to serve as a middleman for your bullion (and lower the buy price accordingly). Or they may not be able to make an offer at all. A large national dealer will be generally able to accept bullion in larger quantities and varieties – and with narrower buy/sell spreads.

7. Treat Your Bullion Purchases Confidentially and Store Your Metals Securely

A precious metals stash will be at higher risk of theft if you don’t secure it. One of the very best ways to secure your gold and silver is to keep your mouth shut. Loose lips really do sink ships.

Confidentiality

A good home safe that is hidden from view and embedded in or bolted into concrete will go even further to minimize the chances of a burglary.

It can also be a good idea to keep a separate, larger stash in a professionally secured storage facility. A bank safe-deposit box is not suitable for this purpose. Nor are pooled bullion programs offered by brokerage firms.

A few years ago, MF Global lost clients’ gold when it co-mingled their assets with those of the firm…and the firm’s bad derivatives bets caused it to go bankrupt.

Insist on fully segregated storage for maximum security. Money Metals Depository offers this service, as do a few other dedicated bullion storage facilities (albeit at higher storage fees than MMD).

8. Know When Your Bullion Order is Expected to Ship and Monitor the Dealer’s Follow Through

A dealer who is repetitively slow to ship orders is, at best, a poor operator.

At worst, late shipments are a signal that the dealer is in serious financial trouble. They are selling inventory they don’t have and can’t pay for without waiting for funds to come in from future buyers.

Very occasionally there can be legitimate reasons for a delayed shipment.

For example, there have been a few short periods in recent years when mints and refiners were not able to keep up with the huge demand for coins, rounds, and bars, and extended lead times for delivery were not uncommon. But reputable dealers will explain any expected shipping delay upfront, so the client knows what to expect.

With the current glut of inventory in the market, however, there is no excuse for delivery delays at the present time. So if you do not receive prompt delivery, you are most definitily taking more risk by placing another order with that particular dealer.

While performing your due diligence on a dealer, it is wise to look for regular customer complaints about late deliveries. The Better Business Bureau website is one good place to search for what people have to say.

Silver and Gold Bludgeoned in Controlled Market

Sound Money Needed Now More Than Ever
Ron Paul and the Tea Party advocated for limiting government and ending the Federal Reserve system. Sound money advocates made real inroads in recruiting Americans to their cause based on evidence that the nation is headed for bankruptcy.

The implications of the most recent financial crisis went way beyond budget and finance.

Many Americans grasped the more significant lesson. The perpetual expansion of government spending lay behind the corresponding decline in personal liberty for them, their children, and their children’s children.

National Debt 1940 - 2008

Dishonest money is a dream for politicians and bankers, but it is a nightmare for citizens. Charts showing the final abandonment of the remnants of the gold standard in 1971 and the exponential rise in government debt helped people make the connection between dishonest, unlimited fiat money and unlimited government.

Here is one example from the Daily Caller…

The trend shown on this chart has not changed or improved. The red bar on the right hand side of the current chart now stands more than twice as high with total government debt north of $21 trillion.

There is no credible effort in Washington to limit spending. It is safe to say U.S. deficits and the corresponding borrowing will continue to rise exponentially. It will continue until confidence finally collapses; either in the nation’s ability to repay, or in the dollar, or both.

The nation needs sound money more desperately now than ever.

Unfortunately, the debt chart above isn’t the only chart that tells a damning story. Below is a chart from TF Metals Report which shows the regular beatings given to silver in recent months. The picture for gold looks similar.

Silver Daily Chart

This is what a controlled market looks like!

The bankers and central planners hated the lesson Americans got following the 2008 financial crisis. They are using the markets to condition people to respond differently. Buy stocks, buy bonds — any conventional “paper” securities. And, for the love of Pete, keep borrowing.

For gold and silver investors, the conditioning is delivered in the form of a regular bludgeoning each time the metals start to show strength.

Any who still question whether markets are manipulated, simply aren’t paying attention. Or they rely upon CNBC for all of their investment news. The topic has been covered extensively on alternative news sites, including by Money Metals.

Crooked and relentlessly painful markets, combined with optimism surrounding Donald Trump, is a potent combination.

Yes, there was some grumbling when Trump signed the latest budget and expansion of government.

However, many fewer Americans feel the sense of alarm that prevailed when the Federal government was running trillion-dollar deficits under Obama. Others may be alarmed, but they question whether gold and silver will work as honest money given the price never seems to reflect the reality of the nation’s finances.

Too many Americans are effectively tuned out when it comes to the message of sound money and limited government. That is tragic. Few will be ready and a whole lot more will be caught by surprise when the inevitable reckoning finally arrives.

Precious Metals Contrarians See Opportunity in Negative Sentiment

by: Stefan Gleason*

Gold and silver markets entered this summer with sentiment toward the metals in something of a deep freeze.

For several months, precious metals prices have gone essentially nowhere. No sustained rallies to attract momentum traders; no washout plunges to attract bargain hunters. The long, protracted stalemate between bulls and bears has frustrated metals investors and, frankly, bored the public.

Sell, Sell, Buy

As a consequence, bullion buying volumes dipped.

The U.S. Mint’s sales of gold and silver Eagles in the first half of the year lagged far behind the pace of 2017, when it sold 302,500 ounces of gold and 18 million ounces of silver.

As of this writing, the U.S. Mint sold just 6.5 million 1-ounce silver coins and 110,000 ounces of gold – a collapse in sales from levels seen in recent years.

Another measure of the public’s disinterest in owning precious metals is declining internet search volumes.

Google Trends data for May show the fewest searches for the phrase “buy gold” since July 2007. Back then, gold traded at around $670/oz – a pretty good price at which to buy amidst public apathy.

Some beleaguered gold bugs are taking the lackluster market conditions as a sell signal. Bullion selling by the public has increased since the start of the year. Money Metals Exchange saw a marked increase in customers wishing to sell, particularly since we offer the best “bid”prices in America.

The silver lining in a depressed bullion market is that buyers can obtain most popular products at low premiums. In some cases, premiums over spot prices have dropped to historically low levels.

We are happy to facilitate either sell or buy orders, but our experience is that when lots of people want to sell, it’s an opportune time to buy – at least for those with a long-term perspective.

The futures market bears this out time and time again. When speculators are lopsidedly positioned on the short side, that usually serves as a contrarian indicator that the market is close to bottoming. By May, speculators had piled in on the short side in the silver futures market in a bigger way than they had in several years.

Investors in the Far East aren’t worried about the ups and downs on the charts. They are concerned with acquiring more ounces.

Tweet This 

Sentiment turned extremely negative in both the paper and physical markets even as gold and silver prices maintained their trading ranges. Although both gold and silver came close to suffering major technical breakdowns this spring, no longterm damage was done.

Given the negative sentiment and the strength of the U.S. dollar in the spring, the downside in metals markets could have been far worse. The fact that it was minimal suggests underlying technical strength.

It appears that growing demand among the world’s central banks is helping to put a floor underneath prices. In recent years, Russia and China have been steadily accumulating gold. Over the past decade, Russia has more than tripled its gold reserves from 600 tons to nearly 2,000 tons.

China’s gold reserves have also grown dramatically. It’s difficult to get exact numbers, as the Chinese government has acquired much of its gold in secret. But it could be as high as 4,000 tons.

Smaller players on the global stage are accumulating physical gold as a way of countering U.S. sanctions and U.S. dollar dominance in global trade. In the first quarter, Iran’s gold bullion purchases surged.

Iran’s Islamic neighbor Turkey, surprisingly, was the second largest state buyer of gold for the first quarter.

Clearly, many countries that count the United States as an adversary are turning to gold as a means of gaining greater independence and leverage in international trade. The ultimate goal of the emerging Russia-China-Middle East economic alliance may be to dethrone King Dollar.

It won’t happen overnight. But gold is gradually rising as a credible counterweight to the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies.

Far East countries like China are known for their long-term time horizons. They aren’t worried about the ups and downs on the charts. They are concerned with acquiring more ounces. They are happy to buy on price dips when they come. Disciplined long-term investors should be as well.

FRANK HOLMES: GO GOLD! Inflationary Tariffs Could Supercharge the Yellow Metal

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

Global sales of semiconductors crossed above 400 billion for fisrt time in 2017

Ready for inflation?

Just days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reassured markets that a trade war between the U.S. and China was “on hold,” the Trump administration announced that it would be moving forward with plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on as much as $50 billion worth of Chinese exports to the U.S. Beijing has already suggested that it will retaliate in kind.

The White House also reinstated tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU) after allowing earlier exemptions to expire. Again, there’s a big chance the U.S. will see some sort of tit-for-tat response.

Steel prices are already up 45 percent from a year ago. The annual change in the price of a new vehicle in the U.S. has been dropping steadily since last summer, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, but with the cost of materials set to rise dramatically, we could see a price reversal sooner rather than later.

US midwest hot rolled steel price up 45 percent from last year
click to enlarge

Next up, the U.S. government could slap steep tariffs on imported automobiles—and possibly even ban German luxury vehicles outright, according to a report by German business news magazine WirtschaftsWoche.

These decisions, if fully implemented, will have a multitude of implications on the U.S. and world economies. What I can say with full confidence, though, is that prices will rise—for producers and consumers alike—which is good for gold but a headwind for continued economic growth.

You Can’t Suck and Blow at the Same Time
US midwest hot rolled steel price up 45 percent from last year

Let me explain. I’ve often said that middle class taxpayers elected Trump president by and large to take on entrenched bureaucrats, cut the red tape and streamline regulations. People are fed up. A study last year by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that government workers not only earn more on average than private-sector workers with similar educational backgrounds, they’re also guaranteed health, retirement and other benefits. Trump responded to these concerns by signing an executive order that eased the firing of federal workers.

He’s kept his word in other ways. Since being in office, he’s already eliminated five federal rules on average for every new rule created, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). He’s weakened Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, not to mention slashed corporate taxes.

In 2017, the number of pages in the Federal Register, the official list of administrative regulations, dropped to 61,950 from 97,069 the previous year. This is especially good news for productivity. Research firm Cornerstone Macro found that Americans were more productive when there were fewer rules, less productive when there were more rules.

productivity decreased as the number of federal rules and regulations grew
click to enlarge

These are all positive developments that should help boost the economy. The problem is that they could be undermined by tariffs, which are essentially regulations. We believe government policy is a precursor to change, and history suggests that rising tariffs and regulations hurt the economy.

Consider automobiles. U.S. automakers are the second largest consumer of steel following construction. In March, the Wall Street Journal estimated that the tariffs could add at least $300 to each new vehicle sold in the U.S. And speaking to Bloomberg last week, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will make cars more expensive. “These tariffs will result in an increase in the price of domestically produced steel—threatening the industry’s global competitiveness and raising vehicle costs for our customers,” Gloria Bergquist said.

Do tariffs on imported vehicles threaten united states auto sales
click to enlarge

Higher Inflation Has Historically Meant Higher Gold Prices

The good news in all this is that higher inflation has historically been supportive of the price of gold. In the years when inflation was 3 percent or higher, annual gold returns were 15 percent on average,according to the World Gold Council (WGC).

gold has historically rallied in periods of high inflation
click to enlarge

When gold hit its all-time high of $1,900 an ounce in August 2011, consumer prices were up nearly 4 percent from the same time the previous year. The two-year Treasury yield, meanwhile, averaged only 0.21 percent, meaning the T-note was delivering a negative real yield and investors were paying the U.S. government to hang on to their money. This created a favorable climate for gold, as investors sought a safe haven asset that would at least beat inflation.

CIBC: Major Gold Firms to Generate Strong Free Cash Flow and ROIC
gold has historically rallied in periods of high inflation

Finally, I want to draw attention to an exciting research report released last week by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). I’m a huge admirer of the work CIBC does, especially that of Cosmos Chiu, director of precious metals equity research. Chiu and his team write that the “future looks brighter” for gold equities on improved free cash flow and return on invested capital (ROIC). Both factors are among our favorites. I recently shared with you a chart that shows that, over the past 30 years, ROIC outperformed other factors by as much as one and half times.

With gold trading near $1,300 an ounce, producers are currently posting positive margins, according to CIBC. As a result, every stock in the bank’s large-cap universe, with the exception of Kinross, is expected to generate positive free cash flow through 2019.

Go Gold! Royalty/Streaming Companies Deliver the Profits

The bank has even better news for royalty and streaming companies, particularly Franco-Nevada, Royal Gold and Wheaton Precious Metals. For one, the three big royalty names delivered combined shareholder returns of 6.2 percent between 2013 and 2017, outperforming both senior producers and physical gold.

Three largest royalty and streaming companies forecast to deliver strong return on invested capital
click to enlarge

Now, CIBC forecasts the royalty group will generate strong ROICs, “steadily inching higher over the next decade… to average between the 5 percent and 8 percent mark from 2018 – 2023.” ROIC measures how well a company can turn its invested capital into profits.

Loyal readers already know we’ve long been fans of Franco-Nevada, Wheaton Precious Metals and other royalty/streaming names. To find out why we believe they’re the “smart money” of the gold mining space, I invite you to watch this brief five-minute video.

AXEL MERK – Inflation & Precious Metals to Rise, Fed to Act Late

Mike Gleason* of Money Metals Exchange interviews Axel Merk of Merk Investments.

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome back Axel Merk, President and Chief Investment Officer of Merk Investments and author of the book Sustainable Wealth. Axel is a highly sought after guest at financial conferences and on news outlets throughout the world and it’s great to have him back on with us.

Axel, it’s a pleasure to have you join us again today and thanks very much for coming on.

Axel Merk: Great to be with you. What a week.

Mike Gleason: Exactly. Well, Axel when we spoke to you in February the equity markets were in the midst of a sell off and some significant volatility, which had been extraordinarily low, came roaring back to life. Since then, the stocks have recovered some. The S&P regained about half of what it lost by the end of February and has been trading in a range since then.

Our thoughts are that precious metals are trading inversely correlated to equities markets, at least for now. Unless we get a pullback in stocks or more appetite for safe-haven assets it will be hard for metals to get much going to the upside. But what are your thoughts on the relationship between gold prices and stock markets, Axel? And what factors do you expect to be driving stocks between now and say the end of the year?

Axel Merk: Sure, and for context I think we should just mention we are talking before the Non-Farm Payroll Reports (are out), so who knows what’s happened to markets since we have talked? One of the things I don’t recall if I mentioned in February is, ever since last December, and I still believe in that, the markets have been a bit like a washing machine. That correlations have been breaking down. And, if you go back to, kind of, all the way to the financial crisis, that’s the 2008 one, not the one from a week ago, that means that whenever there was a crisis the Fed bought treasuries. And so whenever “risk” falls off, when equities are plunging, bonds were rising. And that kind of ingrained this perception about certain types of correlations and so, similarly, the price of gold was actually reasonably highly correlated to that of treasuries. And so we got this thing that gold and the stocks are sometimes moving in tandem, sometimes they move in opposite directions.

Since January 1970, if you look at monthly correlations, the correlations between stocks and bonds is 0.00. So, there is no correlation. Yet, we get caught up in this thing that, for months at a time, sometimes there’s a correlation that is significant. I think the most noteworthy thing of late is that yields have been, until a good week ago, have been matching higher and the price of gold was falling up. And then, conversely, when bond yields were falling, gold didn’t rise.

And so, gold has kind of marched on its own in some ways and I happen to believe that a lot of the buyers of gold these days are doing it because they are concerned about the equity markets because of volatility spiking. And the reason why volatility and the price of gold are related is because gold doesn’t have cashflow. And that means the future cashflows don’t get discounted more, whereas, if you have a quote unquote risk asset, like equities, and volatility increases, those future cashflows get discounted more and the prices of equities, all else equal, tends to fall. So, that’s why in “normal” circumstances the price of gold should rise when equities tumble. Obviously, that doesn’t always happen.

Mike Gleason: You pay more attention than most people to events in Europe and the European markets. Lately, troubles in the PIGS nations have crept back into the news. Populace in Italy and Spain are making hay by opposing EU imposed austerity and it’s a reminder that deep fundamental issues remain and the union may not survive. Let’s start by getting your take, if we can, on the overall status of the EU. Will there be any high-profile exits, perhaps by Italy or Spain? Is Great Britain going to complete its exit? Or are you expecting the EU to weather the storm here, Axel?

Axel Merk: The UK is almost certainly going to exit and nobody else, probably, any time soon. Now, I say that, I might have egg on my face in a few years down the road on that. But let me, maybe before we get too far carried away, make a general statement because I think we’ve seen this movie before. What we’ve had is a classic case, classic as in classic for financial crisis type of case, where investors were piling in into an asset that they perceive to be risk free, only to wake up that it is risky after all. And what I’m referring to, of course, is Italian bonds, right?

Who wouldn’t want to grab for some yield? And if you don’t grab for some yield, especially if we’ve had someone like the head of the ECB doing quote unquote whatever it takes, all but guaranteeing the debt. So, why would you get a negative yield, or very low yield on German bonds when you can get Italian treasuries for a much juicier return? So, we’ve had yield chasers in there.

Now, the noteworthy thing is, and, again, this is the same picture we’ve had throughout the financial crisis, the folks holding these are not risk-friendly investors. Those are folks who thought that stuff was risk-free. So, sure enough, there is some event happening and people is “Oh, my God! Italian bonds are risky! How could I have possibly known?” So, they run for the exit.

Now, that doesn’t mean there’s nobody there to buy them. Whenever somebody sells something, somebody has to buy it. The folks buying are risk-friendly investors. And so, for example, on Wednesday, there was a treasury option and it was very well received and obviously they’re not the same guys that sold the day before, but now you have risk-friendly investors come in. And you needed to have that kind of a shake-out and have other investors go in.

Now, none of that means whether Italy is going to survive or not, but the relevant part here is that the system cracks when you build up this pressure cooker, when you have an unsustainable situation, and to me, it is unsustainable that folks, like Italians, pay a very, very small premium over – kind of a borrowing cost – than in Germany, for example.

And when this pressure builds up, well, at some point, some steam has to be let gone and, depending on how much pressure has built up, the fallout can be greater. And so, for now, people woke up and now they can deal with this crisis as a risk event, whereas, before, it was something that was kind of a black swan event, and it blew up in some people’s faces.

Mike Gleason: Let’s talk a little bit more about the implications for gold and silver markets. In recent weeks, the euro has weakened and that has been a big driver in the rally of the dollar indexes. This prompted some selling in gold and silver. On the one hand, we could see a continued euro weakness and dollar strength weighing on gold and silver prices; on the other hand, metals could get a bid if concerns over serious trouble in the EU drives some safe-haven demand. What is your best guess about which dynamic might win out there?

Axel Merk: Curiously, during much of the Eurozone debt crisis, I’m referring to several years ago, the price of the euro and gold were quite highly correlated, but anybody liking gold wouldn’t touch the euro with a broomstick. So, I’m just pointing out, as you pointed out, it’s because if the dollar strengthens that, of course, this yellow metal doesn’t change. And so, as the price of the dollar appreciates, the price of gold might go down. Now, that said, again, as volatility flares up, I do think gold is worthy of the consideration as a diversifier.

Also, the reason why I went into detail here about the yield chasers, the market didn’t trade as if the Eurozone were to break apart. By all means, bank stocks sold off, by all means, volatility surged, all kinds of things happened. But this was, here, momentum traders, yield chasers, being wrong-footed. And we had a violent unwinding of that. And that is one of the reasons why the price of gold didn’t surge in this context, because this was not a trade that said “Oh, my God, the Eurozone is going to fall apart”. Now, if that were to happen, then we going to see a very, very different picture.

We also had, for example, bonds rally, right? But there was a very, very substantial short-position bond and so a lot of these guys took profits or said “Oh, I didn’t expect it that a trade could go against me” and then when something is too good to be true, if too many people are piling the same trades, things go bad.

Now, as far as the context of how this is going to evolve, we have no idea even by the time your broadcast is, what’s going to happen next. Are they going to form a new government, are they going to have called new elections, who knows? Anything is going to happen. We have a populace resentment for all the right reasons and the European Union is incapable of communicating with the people and saying “Hey, we’re the good guys. We actually mean well for you.” People are fed up.

Now, that said, the majority of Italians do appreciate the euro and so that means they want to find a way. Also, we tend to forget that it is extremely expensive to leave the EU. It’s one thing for the Brits to leave the European Union; they don’t share the same currency. If you shared a currency, your banking system is going to be sucked empty. Your economy is going to implode if you leave. And that is something that is not really a very attractive proposition. And so, when push comes to shove, most of these countries decide, “Hey, we might want to stay.”

Now at the other end of the spectrum, though, if you have a populist rising, usually the more extreme opinions prevail. And so they are not ruling out that some bad things can happen. When I buy something in Europe, I buy the German stuff, the Northern European stuff. And ultimately, if it were to break apart while I still have that Northern European stuff, right? And that doesn’t mean buying Italian securities is necessarily a bad thing, but you better be aware of the risks that come with it and tying it back to the price of gold, the question is “Is there contagion? Is the Federal Reserve going to change course?” and so forth. In the short term, I don’t think the Fed it rattled by this. Access to credit continues to be easy. I think the Fed is going to continue to march higher.

Now, all that said, I do also think inflationary pressures in the euro’s going to move higher because I don’t think the U.S. economy is about to implode. And so, because of that, I do think people are going to continue to look at gold as a diversifier and at some point that cycle’s going to turn. I don’t know whether it’s in six months or in a year or down the road. We’re looking at these indicators, I don’t think we’re at the top of the cycle at this stage. I think it’s going to continue for another six months, maybe twelve months, and maybe even eighteen months. I can only give us like a six to ten months outlook on this.

But, for the time being, inflationary pressures are rising and the Fed is going to slowly but surely march higher.

Mike Gleason: George Soros made news this week, and I’m talking about much more than what Roseanne Barr said about him during her Ambien-induced Twitter rampage. Soros warned that Europe and even the world financial markets face an “Existential threat saying everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

He’s apparently quite upset at the unraveling of the Iran nuclear deal, anti-EU populism, and new calls for fiscal austerity. At the same time, he launched a campaign this week to try to reverse the Brexit decision. Is this just sour grapes by Soros or do you think the world financial markets are truly on the precipice?

Axel Merk: To understand Soros, I think the only thing one has to understand that he is Hungarian at heart. He grew up in Hungary and he loves Hungary. He would love everybody in the world, especially the European Union, to write blank checks to the Hungarians so that that country’s standard of living moves higher. And so they want the Germans to write checks, they want the French to write checks, they want everybody to write checks so that the Europeans are happy. It has nothing to do with the Eurozone being sustainable or not. I have no idea why people are listening to Mr. Soros. Sure, he had a great trade on the Bank of England, but for him, it is all about trying to support Eastern Europe. That’s very well intended. Godspeed for him, let him help these folks and he has some initiatives and foundations that does it. Great for him. But, to conclude from any word he says, whether the Eurozone is stable or not, I wouldn’t listen for two seconds to his opinion.

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any issues in the Eurozone, by all means. But, a lot of people are biased when they hold a trading position, well, George Soros’s trading position is that he wants Eastern Europe to thrive. And if the West can write a check to do that, then he likes that. Anything, any tough austerity measures, anything that against that, Mr. Soros says “Don’t do it”.

And so, it’s very different answer, probably than you might have expected, or you get from other folks, but, if you look at George Soros as a person who has an agenda to help Eastern Europe, then you understand everything and anything that he says.

Mike Gleason: Getting back to the Fed here, briefly. They have been tightening, which is contributing to some of the dollar’s strength, but they almost certainly don’t want a collapse in the euro, and there is, we think, a limit to how much of a rally they’re going to put up with in the dollar. What are your thoughts there? Expand on that a bit. It seems like the markets have priced in a couple more rate hikes this year. Sounds like you think we’ll probably get those?

Axel Merk: Well, let’s think about it. We got a new Fed chair, right? Jay Powell. And he’s a lawyer. He does not have a magic framework. Bernanke had this Great Depression framework, Yellen was a labor economist, well Powell is a lawyer. And he’s a smart lawyer. And he has good intentions. So, what do lawyers do? Well, they call a committee to decide on things. So, one thing you can be sure of with Powell, in my view, is that he’s not going to be very fast. He’s going to call the best and the brightest, to give him their opinion, and then he’s going to make a judgment based on that. And that might be a very boring answer, but, that’s what it is. And the one thing that a Powell Fed will look at is A, is the economy going to continue to move ahead, is the “slack” exhausted, and are financial conditions all right?

One of the things Yellen always said is that “Hey, our quantitative tightening is like watching paint dry on a wall and it’s really nothing.” Well, that’s a bunch of BS because the whole point of raising rates is to tighten financial conditions. But, at the same time, it hasn’t happened. The financial conditions have been easing. In early 2016, the Fed panicked because the fracking market didn’t do well. This time around, stock marks has had a hiccup or so, but access to credit hasn’t been any tighter. So, as long as access to credit is not tightening, the Fed is going to continue to march.

And what we have is, the typical thing at this time of the cycle is that banks are actually easing lending standards. Because the economy is doing all right, they want to write more credit. And that’s why the Fed is going to continue to tighten. Now, as that happens, of course, at some point they’ll overdo it and push the economy into a recession and maybe they’re geniuses and do a soft landing, but that’s usually more luck than anything else.

And so, at the same time, they’re not in a rush. Last year was the first year in many, many years where the Fed tightened more than was priced in the beginning of the year. This year, I would think the same thing can happen again and what has happened over the last week to ten days is that rate hikes expectations has come down quite significantly, obviously, partially because of what happened in Italy.

Now, that said, 85% of the U.S. economy is domestic, 15% is international. And so, unless Europe blows up the next day, I don’t think the Fed, in the near term, can change course. Also, keep in mind, by the way, just a word back on Italy. Italy has had about one government a year. And so even if they have a new election, even if they elect a more populist government, odds are that their new government is not going to survive very long. There’s a European parliament election next year and the two populist parties, if the two are going to buddy up, and that’s still an if, they might get into an argument because, ideologically, they’re not exactly aligned.

And so, a lot of things can happen, and the Fed is not going to pay attention to that because they going to say “Hey, if something does blow up in our face, we can still reverse course”. And so, it’s very different from the Yellen Fed in early 2016, when it was spooked about equity markets going down. And the reason they were spooked about it is because access to credit in the fracking industry was at risk of spilling over to the rest of the economy. At this stage, we see no signs that access to credit is tighter, so they’ll continue to march ahead.

Now, what does it mean for metals? It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, because the pace at which they’re moving is very slow and, by the way, we are already at extremely low unemployment. The labor participation rate is slowly inching higher. I happen to think that in about six months we’ll have exhausted that so-called slack, which means inflationary pressures are going to accelerate. And that’s exactly when the Fed is going to be at a point where it’s going to slow down the economy. And so, we going to have this inflationary push at the end of this economic cycle where the Fed is, in my view, not going to be fast enough to do something about it. And then, because of the higher rates causing more volatility in the markets, in my view, all of that are reasons why precious metals historically, do reasonably well at the end of an economic cycle, which we’re going to see presumably a year from now, or whenever it’s going to be.

Mike Gleason: Yeah. Very well put. There’s a lot of things circling about, and I think you summarized that all very well. As we begin to close here, any other news stories that you’re going to be watching closely as we progress throughout the year, Axel?

Axel Merk: Well, we’ve got a European Central Bank meeting in June 14th. So, in the short term, that’s probably the most interesting event. Whether anything is going to happen, the one thing that Mr. Draghi is not going to do is he’s not going to take options off the table, which means he’s not going to announce the end of QE. There might have been an early chance for him to do it, but, with what’s happening in Italy, he’s not going to do it.

The one thing to keep an eye on there is, what I think may happen in the Eurozone is that they have indicated they’ll stop QE before they’ll start tightening. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ll get more flexible in that. Meaning that they’ll start hiking rates. At the same time, at some point, if the crisis were to escalate, Mr. “Whatever-It-Takes” Draghi is going to say “Hey, but, we’re not going to allow Italian bonds to trade at too much of a premium” and so to interfere in the markets that way. But they have to, in my view at least, get off that negative interest rates because it’s creating havoc in the rest of the Eurozone that’s actually doing quite well. So, he might, again, pull up some ace up his sleeve where he’s going to say “Yep, rates are going to move higher, but only for Germany and the Northern European countries, whereas, for Italy and others, we’ll guarantee that rates are not going to move higher”.

And before you dream too far ahead, just keep in mind, Draghi’s job is coming to an end at the end of next year, so, as we go towards the end of this year, people are going to speculate who’s going to succeed him. But that’s a story for another day.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, we seem to be focusing a lot of our interest on Europe, once again here. It seems like we’ve been down this road before.

Well, good stuff as always, Axel. It’s great to get your perspective on these matters and we look forward to catching up with you again later this year. Now, before we let you go, please tell listeners a little bit more your firm and your services and then also how they can follow you more.

Axel Merk: Sure. The firm is, my name, Merk Investments. Look us up. Sign up for our newsletter on our website. Follow me on Twitter, that’s really the best way to be in tune of what is happening there. We have several funds, including a gold fund. And we provide some services to institutions and other folks. But come to MerkInvestments.com and browse around.

Mike Gleason: Excellent stuff. Thanks again, Axel. Appreciate your time and hope you enjoy your summer and thanks for joining us again. Take care.

Axel Merk: Yep. My pleasure. Take care.

Mike Gleason: Well, that’ll do it for this week. Thanks, again, to Axel Merk, President and Chief Investment Officer of Merk Investments, Manager of the Merk Funds. For more information, be sure to check out MerkInvestments.com and follow him on Twitter. His handle is @AxelMerk.

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

*About the Author:

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.

Ted Butler Discusses the Great Silver Fraud

Ted Butler is nothing but obsessive on what he sees as a huge criminal fraud in the multi-year manipulation of the silver price by big money players with the apparent complicity of the regulators.  But his obsession is almost certainly rooted in truth.  No-one studies this market quite to the extent Ted Butler does.

In his latest posting on silverseek.com he likens Comex activity on silver to the recently uncovered Theranos medical diagnostic fraud in an article entitled Great Frauds Require Darkness – the main difference being that the Theranos fraud only had a life of nearly 15 years before the company behind it came crashing down, while what Ted sees as the Comex silver fraud has been in place now for more than twice as long and is still ongoing, with far more powerful vested interests supporting it.  As ted puts it “all the leading legitimate participants and regulators have aligned themselves to prolong the fraud.

You can read his full article by clicking on the following link:  Great Frauds Require Darkness

Gold Demand Looks Promising in India and China

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

Gold was up half a percent year-to-date through last Friday. This doesn’t sound very exciting, but over the same period, the S&P 500 Index was in the red—the first time in nearly a decade that stocks have been negative for the year through the beginning of May. The yellow metal is doing the one thing for which many investors have it in their portfolio—namely, it’s trading inversely to the market. This highlights its longstanding role as an attractive diversifier and store of value.

Gold bullion has outperformed the market so far in 2018
click to enlarge

Gold has been under pressure from a strengthening U.S. dollar, and May has historically delivered lower prices. As I’ve pointed out before, this makes it an ideal entry point in anticipation of a late summer rally before Diwali and the Indian wedding season, during which gifts of gold jewelry are considered auspicious. Demand in China for the remainder of the year also looks promising.

India Gold Demand Weakened, but a Healthy Monsoon Could Help Reverse That

India’s demand for gold jewelry in the first quarter was down 12 percent from the same period last year, according to the latest report from the World Gold Council (WGC). Consumption fell to 87.7 metric tons, compared to 99.2 tons in the first three months of 2017. Contributing to this weakness was the fact that there were fewer auspicious days in the first quarter than in the same period of the past three years, according to the WGC.

However, this followed a monumental fourth quarter 2017, when gold demand in the world’s second-largest consumer was 189.6 metric tons—an all-time record—so a decline was expected.

Looking ahead, it’s estimated that India will have a “normal” monsoon season this summer. This is good news for gold’s Love Trade. A third of India’s gold demand comes from rural farmers, whose crop revenues depend on the rains from a healthy monsoon. When the subcontinent experiences a drought, as it did in 2014 and 2015, gold consumption suffers.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) reports that its forecasts suggest “maximum probability for normal monsoon rainfall” and “low probability for deficient rainfall during the season.”

Chinese Bullion Demand Off to a Good Start in 2018

In China, the world’s largest importer of gold, jewelry demand rose 7 percent in the first quarter to 187.7 metric tons, a three-year high. According to the WGC, Chinese retailers are working on improving the customer experience, providing consumers with “a more holistic retail solution.” The industry is expecting a strong 2018 after a relatively subdued 2017.

Except for a weak February, demand so far this year has been particularly strong, with monthly withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) above the two-year average of 170 metric tons. April represented the third straight month of rising demand. Withdrawals were 28 percent higher than in the same month in 2017, according to veteran precious metals commentator Lawrie Williams.

China gol ddemand rose for the third straight month in April
click to enlarge

Williams writes that fears of a potential trade war with the U.S. could be driving Chinese investors into safe haven assets, including gold bars and coins. Indeed, the WGC reports that bullion demand in the first quarter finished at 78 metric tons, above the three- and five-year averages. (See: Chinese gold demand looks to have risen sharply in April)

I believe this all bodes well for the Love Trade going forward, meaning it might be an opportune time for investors to consider increasing their exposure to gold and gold mining stocks. As always, I recommend a 10 percent weighting, with 5 percent in bars, coins and jewelry, and 5 percent in high-quality gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

4 Big Reasons Why You Might Want to Consider Gold Stocks Right Now

The price of gold has been feeling the pressure lately from a stronger U.S. dollar, which is at a four-month high, and rising Treasury yields. Nevertheless, the yellow metal eked out a positive March quarter, returning close to 1.3 percent, while the S&P 500 Index posted its first negative quarter since 2015. This tells me the investment case in gold and gold mining stocks remains as strong as ever.

Below are four more reasons why I think you should consider adding gold stocks to your portfolio right now.

1. Gold mining stocks look inexpensive.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once said: “Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”

Compared to the broader equities market, gold mining stocks, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, look incredibly “marked down” right now. They’re far below the average gold miners-to-S&P 500 ratio of 0.7 for the nine-year period, and nearly as undervalued as they’ve ever been.

Gold mining stocks are incredibly undervalued relative to broader equities
click to enlarge

I believe that for investors with a long-term horizon, this makes gold miners look especially attractive as we await valuations to revert their mean, or average. Hopefully this can be achieved without a significant decline in the S&P.

2. Rising inflation has historically lifted gold prices.

Inflation can be understood as the destruction of wealth. Every time consumer prices head higher, a dollar loses some of its value, whether in your pocket or your savings account. Inflation can also weigh on stock prices, as some investors anticipate it cutting into corporate earnings. They might therefore decide to move their money into other assets.

That includes gold, which has enjoyed a long history of being an attractive store of value during times of higher inflation.

After being mostly stagnant for several years, inflation looks as if it’s ready to stage a strong comeback, thanks to rising oil prices and new trade tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, among other factors.

But which measure of inflation is most accurate? The Federal Reserve prefers the consumer price index (CPI), but there are others, including the New York Fed’s Underlying Inflation Gauge (UIG) and ShadowStat’s Alternative CPI.

no matter which gauge you use, inflation is on the rise
click to enlarge

From the chart above, we can surmise that inflation could be highly understated right now. According to the official CPI, prices rose 2.4 percent year-over-year in March. But if we use the Fed’s methodology from 1980, as ShadowStats does, it’s possible prices advanced more than 10 percent from a year ago.

Regardless of which measure you trust the most, it’s clear that inflation has been heating up at a faster pace—meaning it might be time for investors to consider adding to their gold exposure.

3. Gold supply is shrinking while demand continues to grow.

Like most hard assets, prices of gold and other precious metals respond to supply and demand. If supply goes up but there’s little demand, prices tend to struggle to gain momentum. But if the reverse happens—if supply can’t meet demand—prices have a better chance of increasing.

It’s possible we could see the latter scenario in the coming months.

That’s because many explorers and producers went into cost-cutting mode after the price of gold broke down from its record high of around $1,900 an ounce in August 2011. Exploration budgets were slashed, and partially as a result, there have been fewer and fewer large-deposit discoveries.

What this all means is that if gold demand were to spike unusually high, there’s a strong probability that not enough gold would be available. We would expect the metal to be traded at a premium.

gold supply crunch ahead?
click to enlarge

In the chart above, you can see how a smaller number of projects have been added to the pipeline in some recent years, thanks to a decrease in exploration budgets. Meanwhile, demand has continued to grow as incomes rise in emerging markets that have a strong appetite for the yellow metal—India, China and Turkey chief among them.

4. Gold prices have historically tracked government debt—which appears to be increasing dramatically.

I think what’s also driving gold demand right now are concerns over the U.S. budget deficit and ballooning government debt. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently said it estimated the deficit to surge over $1 trillion in 2018 and average $1.2 trillion each subsequent year between 2019 and 2028, for a total of $12.4 trillion.

Believe it or not, servicing the interest on this debt alone is expected to exceed what the government spends on its military by 2023.

Now, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its April “Fiscal Monitor,” says U.S. government debt will continue to expand as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP), even surpassing levels we last saw during World War II.

gold supply crunch ahead?
click to enlarge

This is a cause for concern, the IMF writes, because “large debt and deficits hinder governments’ ability to implement a strong fiscal policy response to support the economy in the event of a downturn.”

You can probably tell where I’m headed with all of this. Savvy investors and savers might very well see this as a sign to allocate a part of their portfolios in assets that have historically held their value well in times of economic contraction.

Gold is one such asset that’s been trusted as a store of value in such times. As I’ve shown elsewhere, gold has tracked U.S. government debt up since 1971, when President Richard Nixon ended the gold standard.

 

MARC FABER: Holding Nation’s Gold Reserves in the USA Always a Risk

The latest podcast guest for Mike Gleason* at Money Metals Exchange is Dr. Marc Faber whose financial predictions are always of strong interest to the investment community everywhere.

Mike Gleason: Coming up we’ll hear from the one and only Marc Faber of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report. Dr Faber has some alarming things to say about how America’s foreign policies may have disastrous implications for the U.S. and global economies, and for the dollar. He also weighs in on which asset class, crypto-currencies or precious metals, will ultimately will be the major benefactor of all of the pending geopolitical unrest. Don’t miss a tremendous interview with Dr Doom, Marc Faber, coming up after this week’s market update.

Precious metals markets suffered a big setback this week as the U.S. dollar gained strength. The dollar rose to a three-month high on interest rates and upbeat economic data, including strong durable goods numbers. The dollar’s rise against the euro was also boosted by the European Central Bank’s decision Thursday to maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy.

Precious metals traders responded by hitting the sell button. Gold prices are down 1.0% on the week to bring spot prices to $1,323 an ounce as of this Friday recording. Silver currently checks in at $16.52 after falling 3.6%. Platinum is down 1.5% this week to $917, and palladium is off 4.2% to come in at $988 per ounce.

Metals markets could continue to face selling pressure if the U.S. dollar continues to rally. Dollar bulls note interest rates continue to look relatively attractive in the United States, with the European Central Bank showing no signs of trying to catch up with the Fed in raising its benchmark rate. Some currency analysts describe the dollar as the best looking house in a bad neighborhood.

Dollar bears counter that the Federal Reserve’s nominal interest rate hikes are lagging behind rising inflationary pressures. Moreover, rising deficit spending makes the U.S. fiscal house one of the worst looking in any neighborhood. The current debt to GDP ratio of close to 100% puts the United States in a danger zone.

Other countries that have seen their government’s debt balance exceed the output of their economy went on to experience political upheavals, defaults, and hyperinflations. The most notable example currently playing out is Venezuela.

The bolivar has lost more than 99% of its value since the socialist economy collapsed, sending prices up thousands of percent. The Venezuelan stock market is up some 1,600% so far this year alone. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can expect to get rich quick buying Venezuelan stocks. They are moving largely just as a side effect of inflation.

That’s easy to see in an extreme case like Venezuela. It’s less obvious when inflation is rising at a relatively low annual rate, as it has been in the United States in recent years. But over time the stock market has gotten and continues to get artificially inflated while politicians and mainstream media outlets cheer on what they want us all to believe is a true bull market.

But those who believe the Dow would be sitting at over 24,000 without the inflationary stimulus of the Fed is simply fooling themselves. A rising stock market can actually be a symptom of a systemic problem leading to a currency crisis. Investors don’t see it that way right now, which is why they aren’t running to gold in a big way. But it won’t take much for the powers that be to lose control and for investor perceptions to shift.

It’s a question of when, not if. When will the unsustainable growth in government debt reach a tipping point that sends a shock into the financial system?

The most recent omnibus budget deal virtually guarantees trillion dollar deficits going forward. President Donald Trump reluctantly signed it into law and in so doing may have sealed the dollar’s long-term fate. The Trump administration is trying to pare the spending back by a few billion dollars… certainly not enough to change the country’s fiscal trajectory… but even that likely won’t happen. GOP leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel promised Congressional Democrats they’d get all the spending they want. And that promise apparently supersedes the promise Republicans made to voters about getting spending under control.

It’s difficult to believe they will have a better opportunity to do so after this fall’s elections, when Democrats are likely to pick up seats – and quite possibly the majority in Congress. Investors would be wise to prepare for the end of the Trump rally and the ultimate inflationary consequences of bipartisan debt spending.

Well now, for a closer look at America’s politics internationally and what it all might mean for gold and silver, let’s get right to this week’s exclusive interview.

Marc Faber

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to be joined by a man who needs little introduction, Marc Faber, editor of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report. Dr. Faber has been a long-time guest on financial shows throughout the world, and is a well-known Austrian economist and investment advisor, and it’s a tremendous honor to have him on with us today.

Dr. Faber, thanks so much for joining us again, and how are you?

Marc Faber: Well, it’s my pleasure to be on your show. Thank you.

Mike Gleason: Let’s start out here with the equities Marc. Now the U.S. stock markets peaked in late January and made their lows for the year in early February. Stocks have been trading in a range since, but are currently pushing back towards those lows as volatility has certainly picked up. If you had to guess about which way the markets are likely to break from here, what would it be, and do you think we’ve seen the top for 2018 or can speculators keep pushing the markets higher for a bit longer?

Marc Faber: That’s a good question and I think everybody’s interested in the answers and everybody has a different view, but I have maintained that the January 26th high for the S&P up 2,872 was like a mirror image of the low on March 6th, 2009 when the S&P was at 666. At that time, everybody was bearish and leading strategy and I don’t want to name who, but they were predicting for the S&P to fall to 400. And what happened is that, because sentiment was so negative, and the market was so oversold, the market turned around and actually on very poor earnings, started to go up. And now, we have, in January, a high, when everybody felt that the market would go higher and what then happened is that on good earnings, stocks didn’t move up, but started to go down.

So, I think we are in a situation where it is likely, it’s not yet a hundred percent sure, in order to get a clearer picture, if a major bear market has started, we would have to make a low below the February low, but that hasn’t happened yet. But looking at the market and the market action and the momentum and the number of stock that are actually making new lows, I’d say there is a fair probability that the market will disappoint very badly.

Mike Gleason: Dr. Faber, it seems to us that the fate of precious metals markets is tied pretty closely to stock prices, at least in the near term. We lack either fear or greed to drive any trend change. Here in the U.S. there’s very little demand for safe-haven assets. If you look at sentiment in the metals markets you’ll find that the greed factor is also missing. Now that could all change if gold and silver can catch investors’ attention by significantly outperforming stocks for a while longer or if we get the long overdue correction stocks.

Now Marc, you wrote recently about two items you feel would signal a major top in the equity markets. The first had to do with the public going all-in, coupled with an excessive amount of speculation. The second would be the revelation of a major fraud. Those items will be familiar to anyone who had taken a good look at the 2008 financial crisis. Are you expecting history to repeat itself here?

Marc Faber: Well, I think there is a lot of disinformation, and usually when stocks go down, some fraud comes to the surface. And I expect it to happen, and I mean in a major way. Whether the fraud is related to some corporation, which I think is quite likely, or whether it’s related to the fraud that is going on in the pension fund system, where pension funds are grossly underfunded, and, in the future, will either have to increase contributions or reduce distributions. I think these are items that could happen. Secondly, the public may start to lose faith in the system because of the political situation. I think the political situation in the U.S. is very bad, and If you read about what has been happening at the FBI, the CIA in Washington, you have to scratch your head whether that is all possible in a system that is supposedly functioning.

It’s like Watergate, but actually magnified. So, I think there is a possibility that investing public loses interest in financial assets. You talked about precious metals. I think there has been, just recently, a huge short position in the dollar. In other words, speculators, 15 months ago, they were heavily long in the dollar, and now they are very heavily short dollar. I think the dollar may rebound and as a result, precious metals may not move up right away. I think, eventually, they’ll move up, but for the next, say, one or two months, I don’t see how precious metals would rally significantly.

Mike Gleason: Getting back to politics here for just a moment, it does appear that we may be on the verge of a global trade war. What are your thoughts on the tariffs being imposed by the Trump administration on China, and how do you envision that playing out?

Marc Faber: My view is that, actually, the Trump administration, for which, I would have voted for Mr. Trump, but he proves every day that he’s a completely clueless individual. He says one thing and then does something totally different. He changes his view all the time. And I think, quite frankly, there is a trade war which maybe won’t happen, but if there is one, the U.S. will be the big loser, because consumer prices in the U.S. will go up and that is not desirable at the present time, as the Fed is already tightening and interest rates have been rising, so what it will mean is, if there is a trade war, initially the dollar will actually rally. But this is precisely what the U.S. shouldn’t have, a very strong dollar.

Mike Gleason: Turkey is the latest nation to announce that they will repatriate their gold, joining a number of other countries who have declared they will do the same. What does this say about the confidence in the system, and then what do you think these countries are positioning themselves for? Basically, why are they doing this?

Marc Faber: Well, I think the question should be: why did they actually hold gold in the U.S.? I personally think that, to hold your assets that are like a safe-haven, in another country is a risk by itself… so I understand all these countries. And secondly, I think for the first time in Bretton Woods, we have less confidence or less faith in the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency. I think the U.S. policymakers, especially the Neo-cons, had the talent to antagonize Mr. Putin and also Mr. Xi in China.

By doing that, they have actually managed to get them closer into an economic and political alliance. And the goal of these two countries, Russian and China, is probably to gradually move away from a dollar system. I’ll tell you, I personally, I’m not a U.S. citizen, I’m just an international observer of economic, financial, and political trends. I cannot imagine a foreign policy that would be worse for the U.S. itself than what the Neo-cons have engineered. I just can’t imagine.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, that’s a very fair point, there. Speaking of oil and the petrol dollar, oil prices have been moving up steadily for a while now. Do you envision a broader commodity rally taking place here, and then maybe could that benefit precious metals in the long run?

Marc Faber: Well, a lot of industrial commodities have been rallying because of commodities-related circumstances, like aluminum rallies because of the trade embargo against Russia, and so forth. But if I look at industrial commodities, I rather have the feeling that they will come down. Why? I think the increase in interest rates in the U.S. on the 10-year treasury note from 1.38 percent in the summer of 2016 to the current level of over three percent, in other words, we more than doubled in the yield in the bond market. And for the two-year treasury, we have been going up between 10 and 20 times depending how you measure it.

I think these interest rate increases will slow down the U.S. economy, and probably bring about a recession.

Mike Gleason: We talk a lot about the appetite for gold in other parts of the world. Do you ever see the tide changing when it comes to the importance of gold ownership? We know Asians are buying it relentlessly and so are many folks in Europe. On the whole that mindset definitely hasn’t made it here to the U.S. yet, but do you sense that may be coming, and if and when it does, do you foresee any problems with being able to get the physical metal once the masses do finally decide to pour into it as the ultimate safe-haven?

Marc Faber: That’s a good question. We had a total neglect of gold and other commodities in 1999, and then gold rose from $255 to a peak in September 2011 of $1,921. At that time, there was a lot of speculation in gold and in other precious metals and other commodities. And since then we’ve been at a bear market until December, 2016, when gold approached $1,000.

Since then, as you know, we’ve been up something like 30 percent, and it is true, there is some speculative interest in gold, but nothing compared to crypto-currency. People that look for an alternative to paper assets like bonds and equities, they’re all gambling on cryptos. I don’t think that cryptos are safe. Now they may move up and they may move down but I, as an investor for the ultimate crisis, I prefer to be in physical precious metals, gold, silver, platinum.

I think, eventually, these precious metals will come back into the investment portfolios of major institutions and individuals. The major institutions of the world, they hold practically no gold. They have more money in Apple, they have more money in Amazon, than, say, in gold. And I think that will change over time, but I don’t know whether it will be tomorrow or in three years’ time, but my view would be that if you really look at the financial situation, the unfunded liabilities, the government deficit, the inflated asset prices, the conclusion is central banks will have to continue to print money, otherwise the system collapses. That, in my opinion, will boost precious metals prices.

Mike Gleason: As we begin to close, here, Dr. Faber, one of the things we value most about your perspective is that you don’t live in the U.S. More than most people, you’re tuned into what’s happening elsewhere, particularly in Asia and Europe. As for Americans, they can’t seem to get their eyes off the political theater in Washington, and to be fair, there’s never been a show quite like the one we have today, but is there anything of note that Americans are overlooking, and what stories are you going to be watching most closely as we move throughout the year?

Marc Faber: Well, I don’t want to criticize the U.S., because in other countries it is not much better. But the one thing I want to say is the following: Americans have been growing up and they’ve been brainwashed that America is a superpower and they have been educated in the belief of the American exceptionalism. And I just want to say that lots of countries in this world have a different perspective of the world. In particular, if you look at China, it has four times the population of America. Its industrial production is larger than in the U.S., their land mass is larger than the U.S., and they’re growing at a much faster pace. They have, in my opinion, no territorial ambitions, but they don’t want to be controlled by the U.S. that has, in Asia, countless military and naval bases.

They (China) look at the world from their perspective, and the U.S. would do well to consider other leaders’ perspectives, including Xi Jinping and Mr. Kim Jong-un, and Mr. Putin, of course. But if you only look at the world from your perspective, undoubtedly some trouble will arise. And what most Americans don’t see, they have kind of a tunnel vision where the tunnel starts in America and looks at the whole world, whereas other countries, they have another view of the world than the U.S.

And I think it’s very important, both economically and politically to consider the point of view of other countries that, by the way, have become very powerful.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, very well put. We’ll leave it there, and Dr. Faber, thanks so much for your time and for staying up late with us today in your home in Thailand. It was a joy to speak to you again. Before we let you go, please tell people how they can subscribe to The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report so they can follow your great commentaries on a regular basis.

Marc Faber: Thank you very much. I have a website called www.GloomBoomDoom.com. There, they can choose either a printed version of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report or the website report, or both.

Mike Gleason: Excellent stuff. Once again, it’s been a real privilege to speak to you, Dr. Faber, and I hope we can do it again in not too distant future. Thank so much for joining us.

Marc Faber: It was a pleasure talking to you and to your listeners. Thank you.

Mike Gleason: Well, that will do it for this week. Thanks again to Dr. Marc Faber, editor and publisher of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report, again the website is GloomBoomDoom.com be sure to check that out.

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

*

Gold Supply Concerns Highlight its Rarity

Article by Frank Holmes – CEO and Chief Investment Officer U.S. Global Investors – abstracted from a longer article suggesting that commodities in general are flashing a once-in-a-lifetime buy signal .  To read full article click here.

Gold ended last week down slightly, the first time in three weeks it’s done so. It looks as if gold investors took some profits late in the week after the yellow metal came close to breaching $1,360 on Wednesday.

I still believe gold could hit $1,500 an ounce this year on rising consumer and producer prices, which I think are understated. This is more than apparent when you compare the official U.S. consumer price index (CPI) and alternative measures such as the New York Fed’s Underlying Inflation Gauge (UIG).And as Dr. Ed Yardeni points out in a recent blog post, the word “inflation” appeared as many as 106 times during the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, a sign that Fed members could be getting more and more concerned about mounting inflationary pressures.

Recent reports also suggest gold production is slowing, which could help support prices long-term. Exploration budgets have been declining pretty steadily since 2012 after the price of gold peaked, and fewer and fewer large-deposit mines are being discovered.

Last week the China Gold Association announced that the country, the largest producer of gold, produced 98 million metric tons in the March quarter, down some 3 percent from the same period last year. This comes after total Chinese output in 2017 fell 6 percent year-over-year to 426 million tons. Granted, miners have been pressured by Beijing to curtail production as part of the government’s enforcement of tougher environmental protection policies, but the decline in output is part of a downward trend we’re seeing across the board, especially among major producers.

Take a look at the declining quarterly output of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold miner. According to its preliminary results for the first quarter, Barrick produced a total of 1.05 million ounces from its 10 projects. That’s only a 2 percent decrease from the same quarter last year, but a far cry from where it was seven years ago.

Barrick gold reported lowest quarterly output in 16 years
click to enlarge

Since the news hit April 11, shares of Barrick are up about 3 percent, even after a Friday selloff.

While some investors might view the lower output as disappointing, others no doubt see it as a reminder that gold is a finite resource, one of the many reasons why it’s remained so highly valued for centuries. As I’ve written before, the low-hanging fruit has likely already been picked, making the task of mining the yellow metal more difficult as well as expensive. Supply isn’t growing nearly as fast as it once did.

And yet demand continues to climb. Not only do the peoples of India, China, Turkey and other countries have a strong cultural affinity to gold—an obsession that will only intensify as incomes rise—but the metal still plays a vital role as a portfolio diversifier in times of economic and political uncertainty.

China Takes the Long View on Gold-Silver… and So Should You

Article by: David Smith*  First published on the Moneymetals.com website

A cursory look at Chinese history can convince you that China should not be underestimated when it sets its sights on a particular goal.

Even before Mao Zedong took over the reins in 1949, and the first Five Year Plan began in 1953, centuries of history demonstrated that long-term planning, while not always meeting expectations, is a core behavioral trait of the Chinese psyche.

And more often than not, it has enabled them to hit the mark.

Expect eventual success for the One Belt, One Road Initiative – the world’s largest construction project, estimated to cost $80 trillion dollars – linking the Asian mainland, (including Central Asia) with Europe via high speed rail, communications links and vibrant financial trading platforms.

And expect this project to be a major factor in bringing about what Doug Casey and others believe could become the greatest commodities bull-run that most of us now living are going to see.

The petro-yuan. A game-changer?

And oh, by the way, China recently officially launched a petro-yuan contract at the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. It marks the first time overseas investors have been able to access a Chinese commodity market – an oil futures contract – that can be settled, not only with U.S. dollars, but also Chinese Yuan, eventually a basket of currencies… and gold.

Asian Analyst, Pepe Escobar sees clearly where this is heading, saying:

As the yuan progressively reaches full consolidation in trade settlement, the petro-yuan threat to the US dollar, inscribed in a complex, long-term process, will disseminate the Holy Grail: crude oil futures contracts priced in yuan fully convertible into gold…

That means China’s vast array of trade partners will be able to convert yuan into gold without having to keep funds in Chinese assets or turn them into US dollars… Still, the whole petrodollar edifice lies on OPEC – and the House of Saud– pricing oil in US dollars; as everyone needs greenbacks to buy oil, everyone needs to buy (spiraling) US debt. Beijing is set to break the system – as long as it takes.

8 Gram Gold Panda

Meanwhile gold will continue rising to a level where at some point, Beijing decides to set a conversion rate. When this “golden moment” arrives, the effects on global oil trade – and U.S. continued supremacy in this arena – will be profound. Mining Analyst, Byron King doesn’t mince any words about it. Says he,

China’s vast array of trade partners will be able to convert yuan into gold without having to keep funds in Chinese assets or turn them into U.S. dollars. It’s a straight-up way to bypass the buck. And what if Saudi Arabia – among China’s largest oil suppliers – agrees to accept yuan instead of dollars? It’ll be a bomb-down-the-funnel for U.S. dollar hegemony in the world.

Gold-for-Oil is just one element which will take precious metals to new all-time highs.

For the last several years, we’ve discussed many of these factors, about which readers can fully test their understanding by perusing scores of reports and essays archived here at https://www.moneymetals.com/news You can also find a steady stream of informative, relevant, actionable information on “The Silver Guru” David Morgan’s Blog.

Once this trend fully gets under way – sooner than most expect – the price you’re looking at for physical gold (and silver with its 90% directional gold- correlation price movement) will quickly recede in the rear-view mirror.

Here are just a few recent commentaries that should give you a sense of the structural changes in these markets, making them increasingly subject to explosive moves on the upside – without sending you an invitation to board the train beforehand.

The bottom line is gold is nearing a major bull breakout above $1365. That will turn psychology bullish and bring traders back in droves. Gold is rallying ever closer to new bull-market highs as evidenced by its massive multi-year ascending-triangle chart pattern now nearing a bullish climax. Today gold is only a couple percent below that decisive breakout, which will finally blast it back onto the radars of investors. – Adam Hamilton, Zeal Speculation and Investment

“We see a massive base building in gold. Massive. It’s a four-year, five-year base in gold. If we break above this resistance line, one can expect gold to go up by, like, a $1,000. . .” Doubleline CEO, Jeff Gundlach, the “Bond King”

“With the growth of high-end consumption and the development in second and third-tier cities, the Chinese market will show its substantial demand, mostly unexplored, for physical gold, as more and more people start to realize gold’s stored and retaining values in the long term.” – Song Xin, China Gold Association, April 18, 2018.

So how should you consider handling this situation?

Yes, we’ve been waiting “quite awhile” for this trend to get underway, creating fireworks for metals’ holders. And yes, a few people have become impatient, and actually sold back their metal – which may have taken years to accumulate. But just remember, it’s less a question of if, rather than when this all comes together.

Successful metals’ owners who have prospered since the beginning of the bull run in 2000, got there – and stayed onboard – by following a few sensible rules.

Silk Road Countries have bought 30,000 Tonnes of Gold Since 2000

Does this look like an established trend? (Courtesy goldchartsrus.com)

They listen to the “experts” and pay attention to big changes, like the Chinese yuan-for-oil event we’re discussing here.

In addition, they look at what the charts tell them – that Asia continues to suck up gold and silver from the West like a proverbial vacuum cleaner. The Silk Road Gold Total Reserves Plus Demand chart nearby confirms this in spades. They touch base with risk tolerance, taking stock of their financial capability to participate. And acquire metal on a regular basis (without going ‘all in’ at any particular price point), regardless of that the price is doing that month.

They understand that profoundly positive things come to those who are patient, have a plan… and who then act on it. So, ask yourself today, “Am I willing – like the Chinese – to persevere for ‘as long as it takes'”?

Silver May Be Getting Ready to Shine Again

by: Clint Siegner – Money Metals News Service

The setup for higher silver prices is so good it’s scary. The relative positioning of speculators versus the bullion banks in the futures markets is extraordinarily lopsided.

A bet on silver moving higher from here looks a lot like a no-brainer. So much so that David Morgan, publisher of The Morgan Report and silver guru is advising just a bit of caution, as he told listeners in an exclusive interview on this past Friday’s Money Metals Weekly Market Wrap Podcast.

The bullion banks (Commercials) are almost certainly now betting for higher silver prices and have relinquished their concentrated short position.

Meanwhile, the large speculators are positioned increasingly short. The good news for silver bulls is the bullion banks dominate the futures markets, by hook or by crook, and they generally win versus the speculators.

In the chart below from Zachary Storella (Investing.com), the red line represents the “Commercials” which are the bullion banks and miners. It shows their collective position virtually even, or neutral. It is the first time this has happened since the Commodity Futures Trading Commission began publishing the more detailed Commitments of Traders report in 2009.

Silver: COT Futures Large Trader Positions Chart

One could argue that if the commercials are neutral, that isn’t exactly the same as the bullion banks being positioned long.

Remember though, the commercial category includes both the producers and the bullion banks. Miners are generally going to be short by default. It is typical for them to hedge their production by selling futures and delivering the physical metal later. This hedging allows them to raise funds for current operations and protect themselves from a drop in metals prices down the road.

If the miners are short, the bullion banks have to be betting long.

Meanwhile, the speculators are taking the other side of that bet. If history is going to repeat and the banks are going to once again take the specs back to the woodshed for a whipping, it is full steam ahead for silver prices, right? Not quite so fast says David Morgan.

The problem is in the lower of the two charts shown above. Open interest in silver — the number of open futures contracts — is near record highs.

In the past, when the commercial short position approached a bottom, open interest also tended to be near a low point

We are in uncharted territory with both an extreme in Commercial/Spec positioning and an extreme in open interest. That makes predictions about the direction of the price more uncertain.

The COT report isn’t detailed enough to remove all guesswork about how the banks are positioned, so there could be something important that silver bugs are missing.

But if the prop traders at JPMorgan Chase and the other banks who dominate metals trading are positioned heavily long, the huge open interest could fuel a dramatic move in price. If prices start moving higher, there are a lot of specs to be caught in a short squeeze.

Another bit of data supports the notion that silver investors are witnessing history in the markets with the bullion banks FINALLY long silver.

Craig Hemke, of TF Metals Report, noted on Friday that JPMorgan Chase added another 605,000 ounces of physical silver to their COMEX vault. That bank has been notorious for its short position, but it has been steadily building a physical position in recent months. Today it holds a whopping 53.7% of the COMEX bar inventory.

All of this extraordinary positioning in the futures markets could be foretelling something extraordinary is about to happen to the silver price.

Clint Siegner

Is $1,500 gold on the cards this year?

Could the Stars Be Aligned for $1,500 Gold?

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

How the stars could be aligned for 1500 gold

In a January post, I showed how the price of gold rallied in the months following the 2015 and 2016 December interest rate hikes—as much as 29 percent in the former cycle, 17.8 percent in the latter. Gold ended 2017 up double digits, despite pressure from skyrocketing stocks and massive cryptocurrency speculation.

Will there be a fed rally in 2018
click to enlarge

I forecast then that we could see another “Fed rally” this year following the rate hike in December 2017. Hypothetically, if gold took a similar trajectory as the past two cycles, its price could climb as high as $1,500 this year.

As I told Kitco News’ Daniela Cambone last week, I stand by the $1,500 forecast. Before last week, investors might have been slightly disappointed by gold’s mostly sideways performance so far this year. But now, in response to a number of factors, it’s up close to 3 percent in 2018, compared to the S&P 500 Index, down 2.4 percent.

Living with Volatility

While I’m on the topic of equities, the S&P 500 dividend yield, for the first time in nearly a decade, is now below the yield on the two-year Treasury. Historically, the economy has slowed around six months after dividends stopped paying as much as short-dated government paper. This could spur some stock investors to trim their exposure and rotate into other asset classes, including not just bonds but also precious metals, which I believe might help gold revisit resistance from its 2016 high of $1,374 an ounce.

Two year treasury yeild is now higher than sp 500 dividened yield

click to enlarge

Volatility has also crept back into markets. It began with the positive wage growth report in February, implying the possibility of faster inflation. More recently, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), or “fear gauge,” has surged on the departures of Gary Cohn as chief economic advisor and Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, as well as the application of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Last week, President Donald Trump ordered tariffs on at least $50 billion of Chinese goods, stoking new fears of a U.S.-China trade war. In response, the Asian giant proposed fresh duties on as much as $3 billion of U.S. products, including wine, fruits, nuts, ethanol and steel pipes.

Volatility has returned to markets after a calm 2017
click to enlarge

As I see it, there could be other contributing factors pushing up the price of gold. A good place to start is with Trump’s recent appointment of former CNBC star Larry Kudlow as White House chief economic advisor.

Kudlow’s Kerfuffle Over Gold

Between 2001 and 2007, I appeared on Kudlow’s various CNBC shows a number of times, and though he always struck me as highly intelligent, informed and accomplished—he served as Bear Stearns’ chief economist and even advised President Ronald Reagan—it was clear he had a strong bias against gold. This was the case even as the price of the yellow metal was on a tear, rising from $270 in 2001 to more than $830 an ounce by the end of 2007.

Gold price continued to rise last decade even as bearishness in media persisted
click to enlarge

Kudlow showed his true colors toward gold as recently as this month, telling viewers: I would buy King Dollar and I would sell gold. As you can see below, this has’t been a prudent trade for more than a year now.

Gold price vs US dollar
click to enlarge

Earlier this month, Kudlow wrote that falling gold is good, as it “bodes well for the future economy.” He said he agreed with a friend, who called the metal an “end-of-the-world insurance contract.”

While there are those who would agree with him, it’s important to remember that gold is used for much more than as a portfolio diversifier, and its price is driven by a number of factors. These include Fear Trade factors, from inflation to negative real interest rates, and Love Trade factors such as gift-giving during cultural and religious festivals. The precious metal has important industrial applications as well.

And since I first went on Kudlow’s program, gold has outperformed the S&P 500’s price action nearly two-to-one, as I showed you back in December. Even with dividends reinvested, the market is still trailing the yellow metal.

Gold price has crushed the market more than 2 to 1 so far this century
click to enlarge

So it’s fine if gold isn’t your favorite asset, but to dismiss it wholesale as Kudlow has again and again is, with all due respect, irrational.

It’s Not About Steel, It’s About Stealing

Kudlow isn’t just anti-gold, however. He’s also anti-China, and even though he’s traditionally opposed tariffs in general, he supports Trump’s efforts to levy taxes on Chinese imports. Specifically, the duties are designed to offset the cost of intellectual property allegedly stolen by the Chinese over the past several years.

China’s J-31 fighter jet, for example, is believed to be a knockoff of Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the most expensive piece of U.S. military equipment. It’s for this reason that Lockheed’s CEO, Marillyn Hewson, was present when Trump signed the authorization to impose new tariffs.

The Chinese J31 fighter jet is thjought to be a knockoff of Lockheed Martins F35

Our intellectual property is hugely important to the U.S. economy. As important as steel and aluminum are, they account for only 2 percent of world trade, and in the U.S., it’s even less than a percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Technology exports, on the other hand, represent about 17 percent of U.S. GDP.

That said, the implications of a trade war with the world’s second-largest economy certainly have many investors concerned—all the more reason to consider adding to your gold allocation at this time. As always, I recommend a 10 percent weighting, with 5 percent in gold bullion, 5 percent in high-quality gold mining stocks and ETFs.

Is Trump Betting on the Wrong Guy?

On a final note, we were pleased to have an old friend visit our office last week. Michael Ding, a veteran of the U.S. Global investments team, joined us to share some laughs and his thoughts on what’s happening in Asian markets right now.

Specifically, Michael said that Ray Dalio, founder of mammoth investment firm Bridgewater Associates, which manages around $160 billion, has become something of an economic guru for members of the Chinese ruling party’s highest-ranking members, including Premier Li Keqiang. Dalio—whose most recent book, Principles, nowtops China’s bestseller list—is reportedly advising the country’s top bankers and economists on how to deleverage safely without triggering a so-called “hard landing.”

A trade war between the U.S. and China, Ray Dalio said recently, would be a “tragedy.”

So to put it in perspective: Whereas Trump has just now brought on Kudlow, the Chinese are leaning on a fellow American, Dalio, one of the smartest, most gifted money managers in the world—not just of our time but of all time.

Did Trump make the right call? Which player would you want on your team: Kudlow or Dalio? For my money, I would pick Dalio.

Kudlow on gold – Admin stooge or …?

A view on Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s new Chief Economic Advisor, who apparently advocated buying the dollar and selling gold in one of his first pronouncements after accepting the new position.  This statement had an immediate negative effect on the gold price.  But, does he really believe what he said or is he just toeing the party line?

By Clint Siegner*

Gary Cohn resigned as President Donald Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor on March 6th. He and Trump didn’t see eye to eye on the recently imposed tariffs and the President selected CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow to replace him Wednesday. Perhaps it was Kudlow’s experience on television that got him the job.

Larry Kudlow

It doesn’t look like he was chosen for his intellectual honesty. Kudlow was quite vocal with his own opposition to tariffs.

He has suddenly done an about face and now says he can “live” with targeted tariffs. However, it gets worse than simply flip-flopping on trade.

In one of his very first interviews after accepting the post, Kudlow offered this bit of advice to investors: “I would buy King Dollar and I would sell gold.”

The dollar went on a dramatic losing streak during Trump’s first year in office – one of its worst annual performances in decades. Of course, that is just a single year.

The fiat dollar has been in almost continual decline versus real assets since the Federal Reserve’s establishment 105 years ago. It has lost 98.5% of its purchasing power relative to gold since then.

Kudlow must have seen the forecasts which show federal deficits spiking higher as the combination of tax cuts and higher spending wreak havoc on the budget. The tariffs should further weigh on the U.S. dollar as higher steel and aluminum prices drive inflation.

The prospects for the U.S. dollar are downright awful and Kudlow isn’t advocating for reforms which might improve that outlook. Instead, he is vocally advocating for the Federal Reserve to slow down on interest rate hikes.

It’s hard to believe anyone today could be particularly bullish on the greenback. Now that Kudlow is getting a federal paycheck, he is simply toeing the company line like he did for years at CNBC.

Kudlow has made a name for himself by constantly hyping the economy and stock market, cheering for “king dollar,” and criticizing gold – much to the detriment of viewers who followed his advice ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

We’ll be paying particularly close attention to Kudlow’s moves now that he’s in the Trump administration. Early indications are not positive.

Gold’s many uses – investment, industrial and decorative

Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors summarises gold’s many uses in a blog article first published on his company’s website.  It contains links to other data on the website

The Many Uses of Gold

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

The many uses of gold

As our loyal readers know, at U.S. Global Investors we carefully monitor the price of gold. We pay close attention to the macro drivers moving the yellow metal, like government policy and cultural affinity spurring demand globally. We also monitor the micro drivers, like company management and quant factors that make one gold stock superior to the next.

Gold’s qualities make it one of the most coveted metals in the world and a popular gift in the form of jewelry – this is what I call the Love Trade. From the beginning of the Indian wedding season in September until Chinese New Year in February, the price of gold tends to rise due to higher demand from the two biggest consumers of gold, China and India.

The Love trade China and India gift gold for weddings and other celebrations

On the other hand is the Fear Trade, driven by negative real interest rates and the fear of poor government or central bank policies that could result in currency devaluation or inflation. This fear triggers people to buy gold as a hedge against possible negative returns in other asset classes, which in turn, pushes the gold price higher.

For more on gold’s seasonal trading patterns, download the free whitepaper Gold’s Love Trade.

Gold in a Portfolio

We believe gold is an essential part of a portfolio due to its history as a protector against inflation. I’ve always recommended a 10 percent weighting in the metal, 5 percent in gold bullion or jewelry, and 5 percent in gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

In fact, current economic conditions make an even greater case for gold. The stock market is still on a historic bull run, and the tax reform bill is helping ratchet up share prices. It’s important to remember that the precious metal has historically shared a low-to-negative correlation with equities. For the past 30 years, the average correlation between the LBMA gold price and the S&P 500 Index has been negative 0.06.

Gold has also performed competitively against many asset classes over the past few decades, as seen in the chart below. This makes the metal, we believe, an appealing diversifier in the event of a correction in the capital markets or an end to the bull market.

Gold has performed very competitively against a number of asset classes over the years
click to enlarge

Our investment team brings knowledge and experience in a variety of fields, with one of the most notable being gold. As such, we have written numerous pieces about the precious metal. One of our most popular is the Many Uses of Gold slideshow that outlines eight different uses of gold, other than in your portfolio. From dentistry to electronics and space travel to currency, gold remains widely used in everyday life.

We believe it’s important to truly understand the asset class you are investing in, and we hope this slideshow does just that. Explore gold’s many uses here!

Explore the many uses of gold slideshow