Gold accumulations could checkmate the petrodollar

by: Stefan Gleason*

President Donald Trump’s administration is playing a game of high-stakes international chess with Russia, Iran, Turkey, China, and other countries viewed as adversaries in trade and geopolitics.

It’s not necessarily the case that tariffs, sanctions, and blustering will result in a hot war. More likely, escalating strife between the U.S. and a bloc of much more populous adversaries will push them to unite more closely to undermine and ultimately dethrone King Dollar.

The U.S. has long been the grandmaster – the dominant player on the geopolitical board – owing largely to its unique reserve currency status.

Quite simply, the U.S. dollar is the go-to currency for world trade. Oil and gold are traded in dollars. Manufactured goods on the international market are traded in dollars. All other currencies are measured against the dollar.

Nations Anxiously Moving to Dollar Alternatives

But all that is in the process of changing. As Washington, D.C.’s international adversaries pursue contra-dollar alliances, it could soon be checkmate for King Dollar.

President Trump recently touted tariffs designed to punish Turkey. The tariffs triggered the biggest financial crisis Turkey has seen in decades.

That may well have been the intended consequence. But the unintended consequence is that Turkey is now being pushed to form stronger economic ties with Iran… which in turn is forming stronger ties with Russia… which in turn is forming stronger ties with China.

Russian Central Bank Gold Reserves

The countries being targeted with tariffs and sanctions have a much larger combined GDP and a combined population that is multiples of the United States.’ What if a contra-dollar bloc formed that was determined to isolate the U.S. from the world financial system?

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov recently told International Affairs, “The time has come when we need to go from words to actions and get rid of the dollar as a means of mutual settlements and look for other alternatives.”

Foreign Gold Buying Is Ramping Up

One of those alternatives is gold. The Central Bank of Russia is ramping up its gold buying and reducing its holdings of U.S. Treasuries. In recent years, in fact, Russia has been the largest official buyer of gold – followed closely by China.

Earlier this year, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange launched a futures contract for crude oil priced in Chinese yuan. Now Chinese and other international traders can trade the world’s most important energy commodity in a liquid market without using U.S. dollars.

China has also launched a pilot program to purchase oil from Russia and Angola (two of its top suppliers) using yuan. It’s another gambit in the currency war being fought by major powers that have been targeted by the U.S. administration for punishment.

Those calls turned out to be premature. The petro-dollar lived to fight another decade, boosted the perception of the U.S. dollar as a safe haven during the financial crisis and later by the shale oil fracking boom that saw North American oil production surge.

Whether this method of production is sustainable at current oil prices remains to be seen. What’s not sustainable is the U.S. government (officially $21 trillion in debt) being able to extend itself militarily and through punitive economic measures to prop up the petro-dollar.

According to Gal Luft of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, “The main front where the future of the dollar will be decided is the global commodity market, especially the $1.7 trillion oil market.”

The Dollar’s Dominance in Global Transactions May End on Trump’s Watch

If China wants to buy oil from Saudi Arabia in yuan, from Russia in rubles or from Iran in gold, then OPEC nations and other major energy exporters will surely figure out how to accommodate their biggest customers.

Dollar Weakens

Whether a new global standard emerges or multiple competing standards rise in tandem, the dollar’s multi-decade run as the world’s dominant transactional currency could end on Trump’s watch.

The trend in the value of the dollar versus other fiat currencies and gold is another question.

China doesn’t actually want the greenback to go down versus its yuan – at least not at this point in the currency wars.

The one alternative currency that stands to benefit as the major national currencies battle each other is gold. It’s the only monetary asset that has proven to be resilient against all economic and geopolitical threats.

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

by: David Smith*

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

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

The Cando Disadvantage

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

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

Courtesy stockcharts.com

Zim and Ven, racing for the bottom.

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

Zimbabwe Banknotes

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

Bolivar Fuerte

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

Fall in the Value of the Venezeulan Bolívar (Chart)

But not now… (Courtesy Sources listed)

Emerging Markets Purchasing Power Disadvantage

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

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

Gold vs Emerging Market Currencies

Courtesy allstarcharts.com

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

In a January 2018 public domain post, they stated,

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

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

Now for the Bad News…

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

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

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

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

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

And this…

Weekly Gold with 50 Day Golden Cross (Chart)

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

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

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

 *About the Author:

China adds another 14 tonnes to its gold reserve in October

The title here is self-explanatory.  China has continued to announce small monthly increases in its gold reserves as part of its new transparency of reporting following on from its big upgrading of its reserve by some 600 tonnes back in June (supposedly six years of accumulated gold purchases).  Thus China has been reporting supposed month-by month purchases since and these appear to have settled down to around 14 tonnes a month with an October increase at 14.01 tonnes.

But many Western analysts remain sceptical regarding the true levels of the Chinese monthly purchases – indeed of the the real total level of the country’s gold reserves suggesting that they both may be far larger than is being reported.  China doesn’t want to rock the gold price boat is the theory, so it can continue accumulating a massive gold reserve which it sees as vital in cementing its place in the global economic hierarchy.  First it wants the Yuan to become part of the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR), which would effectively give it reserve currency status, and a decision on this is anticipated shortly.  One suspects that the U.S., which dominates the IMF, will eventually have to capitulate and let the Yuan in, despite the threat this poses for current U.S. Dollar global hegemony.

China’s past record in hiding the real level of its gold reserves suggests it may still be doing so and, at a suitable time, will unveil them – or at least yet another substantial addition – but the first goal is the SDR.  once the Yuan becomes part of this the next phase of Chinese economic policy could come about.  The Chinese always have played their economic cards very close to the chest and one suspects they may well be continuing to do so until their ultimate aim of having the dominant global currency, with all the trade advantagesthat brings, becomes reality,  It is already the world’s largest resource consuming nation and it may be only a matter of time before the petroyuan replaces the petrodollarand the Yuan the Dollar as the world’s pre-eminent rserve currency.  Time will tell.