Six recent posts by Lawrie on sharpspixley.com

I’ve been a little lax about linking here to my articles published on the Sharps Pixley website but here are links to six I have published so far this month.  They look at the gold and silver markets as well as pgms.  Click on the titles to read the full articles.  To keep up with my thoughts on precious metals, and a whole host of other precious metals news stories from around the world, take a regular look at info.sharpspixley.com

Indian gold imports: High but ignore the hype!

13 Jul 2017 – Indian gold imports this year have already surpassed the full year 2016 level, but its probably best to ignore some of the year on year growth media hype given how low the figures were for H1 2016.

Implications for silver of Tahoe’s Escobal shutdown

12 Jul 2017 – Any impact on the supposedly temporary enforced closure of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine, the world’s second largest primary silver mine by Guatemala’s supreme court may only have a very limited impact on global silver fundamentals and the metal price.

Palladium closing gap on platinum – but neither great long term

11 Jul 2017 – In the past year the palladium price has moved up and platinum down and there is a real prospect of the former overtaking the latter in the near future.

So what’s happening to gold – and silver?

10 Jul 2017 – Gold, which had been showing signs of strength saw some huge trading volumes late last week which prompted a price slump, while silver fared even worse with the GSR rising to almost 80.

Gold overall H1 performance matches dollar index decline

04 Jul 2017 – H1 commodity price changes very positive for palladium while gold rise pretty well matches fall in dollar index. Silver disappoints. Iron ore worst performer.

 

Chinese gold demand up a little y-o-y but still well down on 2015

04 Jul 2017 – After a blip in May, Chinese gold demand as represented by Shanghai Gold Exchange withdrawals is now a little higher than at the same time a year ago, but still well down on the record 2015 figure.

 

 

The Commodity Cycle: What It Means for Precious Metals Prices

By Stefan Gleason*

The cycle for any commodity follows the same basic pattern…

When prices are low, production falls. As new supplies diminish, the market tightens and prices move higher. The higher prices incentivize producers to invest in production capacity and increase output. Eventually, the market becomes oversupplied, prices fall, and the cycle starts all over again.

Of course, this is a simplified model of what drives commodity cycles. Booms and busts can be amplified and extended by speculators, by unexpected shifts in demand, or even by interventions from central banks and governments.

Regardless of the causes, commodity markets will always be cyclical in nature. Commodities as a group can be pressured upward or downward by extrinsic forces such as monetary inflation or credit contraction.

However, any individual commodity – whether oil, corn, copper, gold, silver, platinum, or palladium – may be in its own particular stage within the commodity cycle at any given time.

As a resource investor, it’s important to have some idea of whether you’re investing in a commodity at a time in the cycle when it’s favorable to do so. Some technical analysts ascribe four-year cycles to some markets, longer duration cycles to others, and shorter-term cycles that operate within longer-term cycles. The reality is that cycles can’t be counted on to run their course within any prescribed time frame.

There are historical patterns and tendencies, to be sure. Gold, for example, tends to be less correlated to swings in the economy than oil and industrial commodities. Gold can remain in a major trend for years or even decades.

Gold prices crashed from $850/oz in 1980 to $300/oz in 1982. It wasn’t until 2002 that gold crossed above the $300 level for the final time. The new gold bull market rose out of a 20-year base and reached a cyclical high of $1,900 in 2011. A four-year downturn followed, and since 2016 a new cyclical upturn appears to be taking shape.

Commodities Are Moving into a Diminishing Supply Phase

Chart reading is always a tenuous undertaking, but when combined with supply and demand fundamentals, it can help investors identify favorable times to be a buyer or seller. Right now it appears that gold, silver, oil, and other commodities are transitioning one by one into a period in the commodity cycle of diminishing supply.

Oil Market

In the case of crude oil, which is the most economically important and most widely followed commodity, the major storyline in recent months has been a supply glut.

North American shale production has swelled inventories in the U.S. But oil prices have been quietly advancing.

What does the market know that isn’t showing up in all the seemingly bearish headlines for oil? The longer-term supply outlook actually augers for shortfalls… and much higher prices. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), new oil discoveries in 2016 sunk to their lowest number in decades.

The oil industry slashed spending on developing new supplies in response to low prices. ExxonMobil, for one, cut its capital expenditures by 26% ($10 billion) in 2016.

The IEA warns that in order to offset recent declines and meet rising global demand, the oil industry needs to develop 18 billion new barrels every year between 2017 and 2025. Oil’s recent price range in the mid $40s to mid $50s per barrel doesn’t seem to be incentivizing the necessary new production capacity. Higher prices appear to be in store over the next few years.

Mining Is an Energy-Intensive Business

Higher energy costs would mean higher production costs for the gold and silver mining industry. Mines are already having to process more and more tons of earth to extract ounces of valuable metals.

According to metals analyst Steve St. Angelo, “The global silver mining industry will continue to process more ore to produce the same or less silver in the future. While the cost of energy has declined over the past few years, falling ore grades will continue to put pressure on the silver mining industry going forward.”

Mine Operators

Physical precious metals are, in a very real sense, a form of stored energy. Think of all the energy inputs required to move the earth, to separate relatively tiny quantities of precious metals from tons upon tons of rock and dirt, to refine the raw ore into pure gold, silver, platinum, or palladium, and finally to mint the precious metal into bullion products.

All those energy inputs are represented in the value that markets impute to precious metals. Trends in prices will reflect trends in production costs. And production costs will rise as it becomes harder and more energy intensive to mine metals.

A position in physical gold and silver should be viewed as a core long-term holding. However, there are some times in the commodity cycle that are more favorable than others for buying.

There are times when you may even want to sell a portion of your position. Right now, the cycle appears to be in the early stages of turning bullish for commodity prices – making it a favorable time to be taking out long positions in hard assets.

 Stefan Gleason

TED BUTLER – Silver: Expecting the Unexpected

The latest commentary from silver specialist analyst Ted Butler, published on Silverseek.com foresees  a rapid and spectacular rise in the silver price ahead:

“I am convinced that silver will soon explode in price in a manner of unprecedented proportions, both in terms of previous silver rallies and relative to all other commodities. By unprecedented, I mean that the price of silver will move suddenly and shockingly higher in a manner never witnessed previously, including the great price run ups in 1980 and 2011. The highest prior price level of $50 will quickly be exceeded.

By “soon”, I mean that the move can commence at any time, but more likely before many weeks or months have gone by. I know that the price of silver has been declining on a daily basis nonstop for three weeks now, itself an unprecedented move, but I also know the reason for the decline and how the sharply improved COMEX market structure has always guaranteed a rally in a reasonable period of time. The only question is whether on the next silver price rally will JPMorgan add aggressively to its COMEX short positions. I’m suggesting JPMorgan is not likely to add to short positions on the next rally.

At the heart of the unprecedented move higher in the price of silver is the manner in which it will occur……”

To read full article CLICK ON THIS LINK

The Blockchain: A Gold and Silver Launchpad?

By David Smith*

Central governments around the globe have waged, against their own citizens, a virtual “War on Cash.” Efforts by Sweden to become “cash-free;” progressive “downsizing” of Eurozone currency units; a currency recall in India that affected 1.3 billion people; solemn talk about eliminating $100 and even $50 bills in the U.S. – all in the supposed fight against “drug dealing and tax evasion.”

US 100 Dollar Bill

Will Ben Be Going Bye Bye?

It’s really about people control.

The War on Cash goes hand in hand with the imposition of onerous taxation levels, negative interest rates, and destruction of what little privacy we have left.

Historically, nations backed their paper currencies with gold and/or silver. Today – without a single one doing so – it might seem, as some naysayers have observed, that gold is at best a “barbarous relic;” at worst, just a “pet rock.” And yet…

The War on Cash has unleashed a hydra. From the invention less than a decade ago of the “cryptocurrency” Bitcoin, to its present-day evolution, a change of monumental significance is underway.

The Foundation Is the Blockchain

Satoshi Nakamoto is credited with the creation of Bitcoin and as part of its implementation, devised the first blockchain database. By definition, a blockchain “allows connected computers to talk to each other, rather than through a central server. Using a ‘consensus mechanism’ the connected computers on the network stay in sync and agree with each other.” Every data entry references an earlier one, agreeing with the entire chain. (Summary from an essay by Peter van Valkenburgh.)

Three years ago, David Morgan aired his views in an essay titled, “My Two Bits about Bitcoin.” The technology was complex, relatively slow, and looked to become unwieldy. This was 15 months before the debut of a process that now holds the potential to turn night into day for just about any kind of online commercial transaction… and could spark a revolution for the use of “digital gold and silver.”

The key (for now) is Ethereum. Ethereum is a computing platform – and a cryptocurrency… that runs smart contracts – applications that run exactly as programmed without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference (ethereum.org).

The Potential and the Promise

Acceptance of gold and silver as a store of value and medium of exchange most likely pre-dates recorded history. Then someone (the Chinese?) got the bright idea to create a paper substitute exchangeable for, but still backed by, precious metal.

American Gold Buffalo

In Venezuela, one ounce of gold
buys a house.

This worked swimmingly until they decided to print unlimited amounts of what David Morgan at The Morgan Report has so famously termed “paper promises.” These promises are never fully honored, causing the eventual decline of a circulated currency’s purchasing power to zero.

The original promise of value is accepted in good faith, but when that promise is broken through devaluation, faith evaporates, along with the value of the once-supported currency. For proof of this today, look no further than Venezuela.

Digital Metal Data Points

A number of firms work to merge cryptocurrencies with physical gold and silver. The weakness of purely digital money is that it is unbacked by anything tangible. It only works for people who have electricity and are connected to the Internet. Physical gold and silver don’t rely upon the grid and can never be “hacked.”

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin cost almost nothing to transfer around the globe and they promise to be easy to transact with (akin to using a credit card). If those digital tokens can be anchored to tangible gold and silver bars, they could be more compelling as a store of value.

As you read the following passage in italics from an interview with Beautyon, editor of bitcoin-think, conducted on lfb.org., try substituting the term “digital metals” wherever you see “bitcoin.” Doing so shows the potential, the promise, and very possibly – eventual reality – for the evolving union of digital metals with physical gold and silver.

Bitcoin will succeed. There is nothing any government can do to stop it… No amount of time can put the Bitcoin genie back in the bottle…. (it) is good money, and all the State can produce is bad money… Bitcoin means the final death of government fiat money. It means the end of Big Government. It means an era of unprecedented prosperity, as savings once again become the source of investment.

Will the Promise Be Honored?

The keys to the argument are that when a person purchases digital metal, it must be stored in a secure location, in physical form of a stated purity, immediately available to its designated owner upon demand. It is not being loaned to others. The price is transparent, accurate, and available globally.

Bitcoin

Even though this is a nice image,
remember that Bitcoin itself is intangible.

The “authorities” have always sought, and will continue to try to control, peoples’ activities. But to the extent that investable physical gold and silver are removed from the control of exchanges and government coffers, and placed under “supervision” of the individual, the ability to manipulate the price and physical supply will deteriorate.

This, I believe, is the potential that digital metal represents. It will operate on a decentralized, secure, transparent platform. The blockchain and the portal through which it flows could be Ethereum or a similar protocol.

And if the “promise” is not honored? Then the concept of digital metal will be dispatched to irrelevance in the dustbin of history, as other experiments which have toyed with its essence have been. But pass or fail, no amount of digital tinkering will be able to stunt demand for gold and silver. Rather, the result will have simply been to introduce millions of new holders to the virtues of physical precious metals ownership.

Unintended Consequences

Global governments, having previously removed metals’ backing from the currencies they print, now attempt to force their citizens into holding only digital paper currency “wealth.” How ironic it will be, if by these very actions, the ultimate effect turns out to be the unleashing of new demand waves for digital metal – redeemable for physical gold and silver.

Last week, Stewart Thomson of Graceland Updates predicted the following:

“Going forwards, India-China operated digital gold wrapped in blockchain technology will be the undisputed currency of the world gold community, a 3-billion-person-strong titanic force…. This is the beginning of the end for world gold price manipulation, and you can take that to the bank.”

 

Precious metals outlook 2017

By Clint Siegner*

Precious metals had a wild ride in 2016, launching higher in the first half of the year and then falling much of the way back to earth in the second half. Our outlook for 2017 hinges on some of the drivers that figured prominently in last year’s trading. There are also a couple of new wrinkles.

Europe

We’ll start with some fundamentals that metals investors have become well acquainted with in recent years. The troubles plaguing Europe seem to be forgotten, but they certainly aren’t gone. The question is whether or not officials in Europe will be able to keep the wheels on in 2017.

Several major European banks remain in jeopardy, plagued by bad debts, too much leverage, and mounting legal expenses. Germany’s Deutsche Bank (DB) was often in the headlines last year as its share prices made all-time lows. Deutsche Bank paid out $60 million to settle charges of manipulating the gold market.

Tattered EU Flag

In addition, regulators in the U.S. had proposed a crushing $14 billion fine related to the bank’s marketing of dodgy mortgage backed securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Since then share prices have recovered significantly. The bank agreed last month to a settlement of just over $7 billion, roughly half the amount originally proposed but still a hefty penalty. The bank’s loan book still looks ugly and its exposure to risky derivatives remains a wild card.

The recent failure of Italy’s third largest bank – Monte dei Paschi – may put the spotlight back on the European banking sector. Particularly if other institutions, such as Deutsche Bank, have been aggressively selling credit default swaps they will now have to pay out on.

Investors grappled with the Brexit referendum in 2016. This year they will find out if Britain’s vote to leave the EU will actually get implemented. Negotiations around the departure are expected to commence in May.

Italians are going to select a new government shortly and there are elections coming up in Germany, France, and the Netherlands in the months ahead. Anti-European Union forces are making real headway in the polls.

This year looks pivotal for the EU, the euro as its currency, and its banks. Turmoil there will boost safe haven buying in precious metals and the U.S. dollar. Alternatively, should the establishment and the banks weather the storm, metal prices could suffer, at least in terms of euros. Right now, turmoil in Europe looks like the better bet.

The Fed

Once again markets enter a new year in thrall to Janet Yellen and the rest of the Federal Open Market Committee. Like last year, we just had one rate hike. Officials are telegraphing three to four additional hikes in the coming 12 months.

Last time around the stock market suffered stimulus withdrawals. Fed officials threw in the towel and reversed course almost immediately. We can expect officials are watching equity prices carefully now. If the S&P 500 keeps powering ahead, they’ll have the cover they need to deliver rate increases.

United States Federal Reserve System

If, on the other hand, we find out that markets are still addicted to low rates and officials can’t tolerate the pain of a withdrawal it will be bad news for the dollar and good news for metals.

A Donald Trump Presidency

The election of Donald Trump is what makes this year different. Many people are optimistic about the prospects for a major infrastructure program, tax cuts, and less regulation. Investors are ready to take on risk. Since the election, they have been mostly getting out of safe haven assets such as bonds and gold, while paying top dollar for stocks.

The rub is that Trump has yet to assume office. The expectations are high and, frankly, something has to give. Trump might deliver a big infrastructure program and some tax relief. However, that would spell trouble for the current dollar rally as people anticipate ballooning deficits and borrowing.

Or, Trump may find his proposed measures are easier said than done. Republicans control Congress, but there is no certainty they will accept big spending increases and even higher deficits. If optimism bumps up against a bleaker political reality, it’ll be bad news for investors playing the Trump rally.

Conclusion

2016 closed with investors positioning for smooth sailing and economic growth. They may get it but a number of things will have to go right. If they don’t, jettisoning safe haven assets to buy stocks at record high valuations won’t look like a very good idea.

How did gold and silver really do in 2016 and where are they headed this year?

Musings on what is likely to happen with precious metals in the year ahead and a look at how they actually performed in 2016 – very much a year of two halves.  Precious metals behaved really strongly up to the July 4th Independence Day holiday in the USA – but from there it was virtually all downhill for gold and silver, with big sales out of the Gold ETFs to accompany, or some would say drive, the price downturn.  This article was published on sharpspixley.com and, in the context of the timing of the price downturn should perhaps be read in conjunction with an article I published on seekingalpha.com; GLD Drops 158 Tonnes Since Independence Day and another published on the same site which also included some stock picks: 2017 Predictions – Gold, Silver, PGMs, The Dollar, Markets and Geopolitics…

Gold is, as usual, somewhat unpredictable.  Its performance in 2016 will have been very much dependent on the performance of your local currency vis-à-vis the US dollar.  Even in the latter the actual year-end price is also dependent on location and timing.  For example year-end prices in US dollars in Shanghai, London and New York were sharply different – respectively US$1,185, US$1,159 and US$1,151 based on the SGE final benchmark price for the year, the final LBMA gold price setting in 2016 and the final New York spot price.

We can’t view SGE comparisons for the full year as it only commenced announcing its benchmark prices back in April, but from the final LBMA price for 2015 to that in 2016, gold rose 9.1% over the year.  In terms of New York prices gold rose a slightly smaller 8.5% over the year. On the other hand in Russian rubles the gold price FELL by 10.6% over the year as the ruble appreciated against the dollar after a very sharp fall in 2014/15.  On the other hand, in the Pound Sterling, the UK gold price rose 22.5% over the year!  The Brexit vote effect!

But, as far as the media is concerned it tends to be the US dollar price which is the only one which matters so let’s look at the prospects for the gold price in the year ahead in US dollars – and for the other precious metals as well.

While global geopolitics and economics all have an effect on the dollar price of gold, it will almost certainly be the US itself and the impact on it of the Trump Presidency’s policies which will be the primary gold price drivers.  If President Trump is perhaps as unpredictable as his performance through the runup to the election suggests then we could see some major domestic and foreign policy upsets in relation to what has gone before.  Trump’s stated policies on the US economy have proved popular with Wall Street, but may well not fly – at least not nearly as quickly as the general public might expect, or even at all.  This could all see a reversal in the seemingly inexorable advance of general equities and an about-turn by the Fed in terms of interest rate rises, both of which would likely see a boost in the gold price.  Indeed general equities could crash given that they look to be overbought and in most cases earnings don’t look sufficient to justify the high prices currently prevailing.  At some stage the stock price bubble will surely burst.  Some ‘experts’ are predicting a crash of epic proportions – perhaps 80% -but although this is indeed possible we reckon that if there is a major correction ahead it will be more in the order of 50% as in the 2008/9 crash when the Dow fell around 55% at one time.

Should an equities market crash of this magnitude occur again, similarly to 2008 the gold price could be brought down sharply too as funds and investment houses struggle for liquidity and a fall to $1,000 or thereabouts wouldn’t be out of the question but again, as in 2008/09, gold would likely recover far faster than equities and then go from strength to strength as its safe haven role would become paramount again.  Where gold might end 2017 therefore could be a matter of timing.  If equities don’t crash, but perhaps correct by say 10-15%, then gold could well hit the $1,400 mark during the year.  If there is a major equities crash and it happens early in the year, gold could still hit the $1,400 mark – and steam on upwards in 2018, but if there is an equities market crash, and it peaks in the final quarter of the year then gold could well end the period in a much weaker position – but still steam ahead in 2018.

On Foreign policy there would appear to be, on the face of things, the likelihood of a rapprochement with President Putin’s Russia – if Congress allows this to take place.  The nomination of Rex Tillerson as Trump’s Secretary of State certainly suggests a change of relationships here, although it is yet possible that Tillerson’s nomination may be rejected by the Senate.  Trump may well be trying to take a leaf out of President Ronald Reagan’s book whose positive relationship with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the arms race, perestroika and effectively the end of the US/Russian stand-off, which now seems to be being resurrected by the current leaderships of two of the world’s three superpowers.  But while Trump may be heading towards a less hostile relationship with Russia, he also looks as though he may also be stirring up problems ahead with the third major superpower, China.

Domestic and foreign policy uncertainties may form the crux of a gold price resurrection in 2017.  This may already have started in 2016, but big financial sector interventions from around mid-year succeeded in nipping that in the bud – even so gold was up around 8% over the year and silver an even higher 15%.  This was after being up respectively around 25% and 45% immediately after the US independence Day holiday – a turnaround date which saw inflows into the world’s largest gold ETF switch to major outflows (See: GLD Drops 158 Tonnes Since Independence Day).  The referenced article looks at the seemingly pivotal impact of major holidays in the USA seemingly often providing the inflection points for complete changes in investment sentiment with respect to precious metals prices.

Where all the political and economic uncertainties which lie ahead will impact is probably on the strength, or otherwise, of the US dollar.  It is currently riding high, in part due to the US Fed’s 25 basis point interest rate rise and the avowed prospect of two or three more such increases during the year.  But those with even short memories may recollect that the Fed promised the same thing for 2016, but didn’t deliver.  Could it be déjà vu all over again in the immortal words of Yogi Berra!  We doubt the Fed will move until after it sees the initial impact on investment sentiment of the Trump Presidency.  The Fed’s FOMC meetings this year are scheduled for Jan. 31-Feb. 1, March 14-15, May 2-3, June 13-14, July 25-26, Sept. 19-20,. Oct 31-Nov. 1 and Dec. 12-13, thus we doubt any move to raise rates will happen until at least the May meeting, and perhaps not until June unless there’s a huge (and in our view totally unjustified) equities surge immediately following Trump’s accession to the White House.  If Trump’s supposedly business-friendly initiatives run into serious opposition in Congress then the dollar may well suffer.

But, there’s little doubt that dollar strength will be important for the gold price and the prospects of a trade war with China and the unwinding of some other key trade agreements, which Trump appears to wish to implement, could be destabilising for the greenback.  It is also perhaps not in US interests for the dollar to appreciate further – the dollar index (DXY) is currently comfortably above 103 which is a new record having varied between 91 and 103 during 2016, and this may colour the Fed’s thinking on interest rate rises too.  A high dollar makes US exports less competitive (which is why so much US company manufacturing activity has moved offshore), and imports cheaper, which would be a further blow towards trying to balance the nation’s current account.  We suggest that, over the course of the year ahead, the Fed will move surreptitiously to bring the dollar index down to perhaps a level of around 95, which is not conducive to further interest rate rises and which is gold positive.

While gold opened higher in early New Year trade, it rapidly lost ground, falling below the key $1,150 mark in Europe.  It remains to be seen how the US will react once markets open there.  But again, in 2016, it opened the year weaker before surging upwards.  Will this year see a repeat?

If we are correct in our assumptions about gold and we do see something of a repeat of 2016, then silver will do even better.  The gold:silver ratio (GSR) has slipped back to over 72, up from around 66 when silver peaked in mid 2016 (it had started the year near 80 and at one stage had risen to close to 84) but we think that if gold does perform then a GSR of around 65 could be seen again given silver tends to outperform gold in a rising gold scenario – and if gold hits $1,400 then silver could rise to over $21, still a huge way short of the near $50 it hit back in 2011 before a massive price takedown.

So overall a positive view of the gold price in the year ahead and perhaps an even more positive one on silver, BUT if there is a general equities crash as many doom and gloom merchants are predicting (and the uncertainties surrounding the Trump Presidency would perhaps make this even more likely) then booth gold and silver could suffer heavily in the financial fallout.  The comfort here is that would likely not be as intense a fall as the equities market and the recovery would be far quicker.

Deutsche Bank’s metals price rigging evidence

By Clint Siegner*

Some say there is honor among thieves. Perhaps, but apparently not among international  bankers when they are under serious legal and regulatory pressure.

Bank Heist

German behemoth Deutsche Bank agreed last spring to assist plaintiffs and regulators by exposing their co-conspirator banks in a wide ranging scheme to rig prices and cheat clients.

They cut a deal to avoid even larger monetary damages and criminal prosecution. Executives there agreed to pay nearly $100 million to settle their legal troubles and share information. In return the bank gets to deny wrongdoing and keep its license to trade in markets. The other alleged cheaters, including the Bank of Nova Scotia, UBS, Barclays, HSBC, Fortis, Standard Chartered, and Bank of America, may not get off as easy.

More details are now emerging as to exactly what kind of evidence Deutsche provided, and it indeed appears to be damning. Plaintiffs in a class action suit looked it over and just filed an amended complaint with broader allegations of wrongdoing implicating more banks. The revised complaint describes what they found in the Deutsche materials this way:

Plaintiffs incorporate factual allegations based on the more than 350,000 pages of documents and 75 audio tapes that Deutsche Bank produced as part of the cooperation provisions of its Settlement Agreement with Plaintiffs (collectively, the “DB Cooperation Materials”). The DB Cooperation Materials provide direct, “smoking gun” evidence of a conspiracy among the Fixing Members and several other silver market makers, including at least UBS, Barclays, Standard Chartered, Fortis, and Merrill Lynch, to illegally manipulate the price of silver and silver financial instruments at artificial, anti-competitive levels through multiple means.

“Smoking gun” appears to be an apt description. Here is an example of a chat between a trader at Deutsche Bank and one at HSBC:

Deutsche Bank [Trader-Submitter A]: I got the fix in 3 minutes

HSBC [Trader A]: I’m bearish

Deutsche Bank [Trader-Submitter A]: Hahahaha

HSBC [Trader A]: Massively… Really wanna sell sil * * *

HSBC [Trader A]: Let’s go and smash it together

That’s clear evidence of illegal collusion to manipulate prices down. But will this hoard of evidence actually lead to anything meaningful in terms of cleaning up the marketplace? We know banks have been rigging all sorts of markets and sticking it to their own customers for a long, long time with little repercussion. Regulatory capture – the cozy relationship between Wall Street and the bureaucrats who often want nothing more than to land a high-paying job there – is a real problem.

The CFTC, which regulates futures markets, announced they were closing their investigation into silver manipulation in 2013. After spending more than 7,000 enforcement hours, officials there somehow managed to miss what appears to be institutionalized cheating over a period lasting years.

Bart Chilton, who spearheaded the CFTC investigation, left for greener pastures shortly after the investigation wrapped up. He got a much better paying gig at nation’s largest law firm, advising companies on the topic of regulation. Many have all but given up on agencies like the CFTC when it comes to keeping banks honest.

There is, however, reason for investors to hope. This class action lawsuit is the biggest civil litigation pertaining to metals market rigging to ever get past first base. The judge will allow discovery to proceed, based in large part upon the evidence provided by Deutsche Bank. Attorneys will start deposing traders and bank officials and attempting to find out just how deep the corruption goes. And, because it is a civil matter, the case cannot be derailed by inept or compromised regulators.

Deutsche Bank agreed already to fork over nearly $100 million as part of the suit. Other class-action suits are already pending and it is safe to say more victims will look at that jackpot and jump into the game.

The new evidence might even be too compelling for regulators to keep looking the other way. It is at least possible investors will see actual criminal prosecutions and banks losing their privileges to trade in these markets.

Metals market rigging has moved out of the realm of theory and into the realm of fact. Perhaps, for the first time ever, investors in the sector have a real shot at more honest markets and price discovery. Wouldn’t that be nice?

With gold little is as it seems

 

A lightly edited rerun of another of my sharpspixley.com articles – well I do need to supplement my pension by writing for SP.  In it I endeavour to point to  various aspects of gold pricing and analysis  which set the yellow metal apart form other metals (except perhaps silver which tends to hang onto gold’s coattails.)  Gold is unique in being neither a true commodity – nor a wholly monetary metal although it falls far closer to the latter than the former.  So here goes:

The longer I have been associated with the gold mining sector – over 50 years since I worked as a junior mining engineer on what was then one of the world’s oldest and largest major gold mines – the more I recognise that the gold price itself frequently defies all logic.  Back then gold mining economics were easier to predict in many respects, although perhaps not for the miners which were feeling the squeeze from rising technical costs and a gold price which had been fixed at US$35 an ounce for around 30 years.

According to official U.S. inflation statistics, although these almost certainly understate the true position, $35 back then would be worth just under $300 today – not a level at which most, if any, gold miners could be profitable, but it should also be recognised in most gold producer domestic currencies the inflation rate will have been many times higher and the relative value of mined gold to the economics of gold mining will have changed drastically.  (Other estimates based on the fall in the purchasing power of the dollar suggest that $35 in 1960 is actually the equivalent of around $1,150  today – interestingly about where the gold price is now!)  Gold was thus probably underpriced 60 years ago and thus still is in today’s money.

Of course mining and mineral extraction technology has made huge advances since 1960 and global gold production has more than doubled, but calculations of gold supply and demand are fraught with argument, with some key analysts disputing the estimates from the major analytical consultancies, particularly in respect of Asian demand (See: Gold, GFMS, China Demand – Koos speaks out).  Global new mined gold output does seem to have peaked and looks likely to start reducing further in the years ahead.

Koos Jansen has also published some other analysis which goes much further than what was basically a critique of the way GFMS calculates Chinese gold demand in the face of some substantial – some would say irrefutable – evidence that published figures for gold flows  into China are more than double the GFMS figures for Chinese gold consumption, in part because of what GFMS defines as consumption.  And GFMS is not the only consultancy accused of publishing misleading statistics – its main competitors, Metals Focus and CPM Group also stand so accused.

In an earlier article Jansen goes further and pointed to major anomalies not only in gold demand statistics for China, but for the consultancies’ worldwide estimates too.  He sees the biggest anomalies arising because they tend to treat gold as a commodity and effectively ignore its parallel monetary role – See: The Great Physical Gold Supply & Demand Illusion.

Jansen comments as follows: “In reality gold is everlasting and cannot be consumed (used up), all that has ever been mined is still above ground carefully preserved in the form of bars, coins, jewelry, artifacts and industrial products. Partly because of this property the free market has chosen gold to be money thousands of years ago, and as money the majority of gold trade is conducted in above ground reserves.  Indisputably, total gold supply and demand is far in excess of mine production and retail demand.”

Jansen’s assertion certainly makes some of the seemingly strange goings on in terms of gold pricing perhaps a little more understandable, although not any more transparent –  indeed probably less so.

Meanwhile Deutsche Bank’s settlement of price rigging allegations (without actually admitting guilt) in the silver market, together with an apparent assertion that some other major global financial institutions have been doing likewise, is raising  a host of other questions regarding precious metals pricing.  Some commentators  have been suggesting that if manipulation of the silver market was rife then it is highly likely that the gold market has been similary rigged too which will hardly be a surprise to followers of these markets and justifies some of the accusations that GATA has been making for years.  What remains uncertain in the case of gold in particular is that if it indeed has been happening, which seems highly likely, whether the price rigging has just been conducted by the major financial institutions acting on their own, or whether with the support of government institutions and central banks (which is the GATA position).

What this all means, of course, is that the gold price moves in mysterious ways unfathomable to the person in the street.  With likely regulatory complicity we don’t see this situation ending in the near future unless stimulated by an equity market crash which overwhelms the power of the financial establishment to rein it back.  But then this latter is seen as being increasingly likely by many astute financial observers who see it as not a case of ‘if’, but ‘when’.

2017: Gold and Silver’s Year of “Public Recognition”

By David Smith*

During the fourth quarter 2015, share price declines of the precious metals mining companies tapered off once the last of the weak hands gave up and sold their positions to stronger, forward-looking investors.

Endeavour Silver Weekly Chart

Endeavour Silver Weekly Chart

If you go to a free chart service like stockcharts.com, you can choose any number of mining stocks and look at their January 19 daily price action. On this date – for most of the top and second-tier companies – the last intraday price plunge took place. For purpose of example only, we have chosen Endeavour Silver.

Notice how the price made a new low, then moved up into the preceding day’s/week’s range to close on a strong note for the session. It’s likely this low print will not be touched again during the current bull run.

What Have Physical Gold and Silver Been Doing?

Silver has risen more than 40% so far this year; gold is up almost 20%. Dozens, if not scores, of mining stocks rose several times as much (as expected). In fact, Jim Flanagan, who keeps track of the size and duration of first leg bull market runs across many asset classes, had the following to say about this year’s multi-month mining stock rise:

The 175% Advance in Gold Stocks in 5 Months, 22 Days Now Places Us As the 11th Greatest 1st Leg Up in Any Bull Market in Any of the Tangible Assets During the Past 150 Years. In Other Words, It Is the Elite of the Elite.

A few resource sector newsletter writers got their subscribers onto “the right side of the trade” early this spring, but a number of others either jumped out too early at the first sign of a “correction” (of which there have been 6), or sat out the entire year, waiting for what they hoped would be a low-risk entry point.

Silver Prices (2011-2016)

Silver Prices (2011-2016)

The World’s Central Banks Are Buying Up Mining Stocks

While there was considerable institutional, individual, and hedge fund buying of both the miners and metals, an unexpected long side category of customer has recently emerged.

Central Bank Net Gold Purchases

Deutsche Bank, Germany’s (and Europe’s) largest bank – otherwise in very poor financial shape – is said to be holding no less than 50 mining sector stocks, with a total market value of over $2 billion. The Swiss National Bank holds 25 stocks at a $1 billion market value. Now Norway’s Central Bank (Norges Bank) has filed notice with U.S. regulators that it too holds securities in 23 mining stocks to the tune of just under $1 billion.

Isn’t it ironic that the very financial entities who have been instrumental in flooding the world with un-backed currencies are now buying mining stocks as insurance for their own financial holdings? (Not to mention that, since 2010, central banks have been net buyers of physical gold!)

Public Recognition Will Kick In above $26 Silver and $1,500 Gold…

In almost every major bull market, the public begins to arrive at the party after the first few innings have been played. This time around we can make a guesstimate as to what price levels are likely to “trigger” a wave (waves?) of physical metals’ buying by newly-informed, recently-committed members of the public.

Note on the weekly silver chart above, the $26 level when touched for the fourth time in 2013 broke down sharply, initiating a further two years of decline. A rule of charting is that broken support becomes resistance to a return move.

Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that $26 will offer a major (initial) impediment to rising prices.

When the $26 level is decisively penetrated on the upside and a base built above it, prices have the potential to accelerate rapidly.

David Morgan and I are working on a book dealing with metals and the mining stocks, titled Second Chance: How to Make, and Keep Big Money During the Coming Gold and Silver Shock-Wave, due out early this fall.

In one chapter, we list in bullet form some of the “indicators” we believe will mark the way for greatly increased public sector precious metals involvement. They include:

  • Upside penetration by gold of horizontal resistance-becomes-support (HSR) levels in hundred dollar increments from $1,500 to and through $1,900.
  • Penetration of and successful base-building by gold (via retesting) above $2,000.
  • Upside penetration by silver of horizontal resistance-becomes-support (HSR) levels in five dollar increments from $25, to and through $45.
  • Penetration of and successful base-building (via retesting) above $50 silver.
  • The leading edge of the public mania wave starts building as these upside layers of resistance are successfully penetrated and turned into support. 2017 is most likely the year during which the public recognition phase gets underway.
  • New all-time nominal highs in gold (>$2,000) and silver (> $50) ushers in even more public involvement, leading to what we believe will be the final and most massive move for the precious metals and associated shares.

As these events are taking place, the effect on availability (as well as on expanding premiums) for physical gold and silver will be profound. As new nominal highs in both gold and silver are printed, several situations begin to develop.

  • Precious metals become more difficult to find as available supplies dry up.
  • More counterfeit bullion and “collector” coins and bars circulate in the market place.
  • The price, first of gold, then silver becomes elevated to the point that fewer people can afford to buy in quantity. The market rations supply and premiums expand sharply.

Late August into September ushered in an intermediate and much needed correction to the year’s blistering uptrend for the metals and miners. If you believe, as we do, that the new bull run for gold and silver has at least several more years to run, then going against your emotions and adding to your position – or starting a new one – is the right thing to do.

Adam Hamilton sums it up well when he demonstrates a key trait which separates those who do well as investors, from the rest, who just hope, plan, and watch. Says Adam:

Buying low is never easy. When selloffs snowball to major levels, there’s always a chance they will cascade even lower. So it’s very challenging psychologically to fight the thundering herd and buy when everyone else is selling. It feels terrible buying into capitulation selloffs, almost nauseating. The only way to build the fortitude necessary to do it is to stay exceptionally informed, which helps frame selloffs in context.

Even after you’ve done the research and decided to participate, buying into price weakness against the herd and contrary to your emotions is not an easy thing to do. But time and again, some of the world’s most successful investors have done just that. You might want to consider joining their ranks.

*David Smith is Senior Analyst for TheMorganReport.com and a regular contributor to MoneyMetals.com. For the past 15 years he has investigated precious metals’ mines and exploration sites in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, China, Canada, and the U.S. He shares his resource sector observations with readers, the media, and North American investment conference attendees.

Gold and silver acting strong – David Morgan

Mike Gleason* interviews David Morgan about the recent consolidation in gold and silver prices.  Interestingly David felt there was some strength in the pattern we had seen which could kick in after the Labor Day holiday – a pattern which has already come about.  The interview was conducted last week, ahead of the G20 meeting and the weak economic data which propelled gold and silver upwards before and immediately after, the U.S. holiday.

Mike Gleason: Coming up we’ll hear from David Morgan of The Morgan Report and co-author of the book The Silver Manifesto. David tells us how long he thinks the correction in the metals will last, why he believes this November’s election is less important than you might think and also talks about a key event coming up that could put a lot of pressure on the U.S. dollar. Don’t miss a wonderful interview with our good friend David Morgan.

Well now, for more on the importance of sound money and what’s ahead for the markets, let’s get right to this week’s exclusive interview with the man they call the Silver Guru.

David Morgan

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to be joined by our good friend David Morgan of The Morgan Report. David, I hope you’ve been having a good summer and welcome back. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

David Morgan: Thank you very much, and yes, I have been having a wonderful summer. Thank you.

Mike Gleason: Well, as we begin here, David, please give us your thoughts on the recent pullback in the metals. We’ve maybe been overdue for a correction for a while now. I know in following your work, you’ve been calling for one, and we’re getting it here. And after a fantastic first six or seven months of the year for gold and silver, we’re finally starting to see some real selling pressure emerge. What is your take… what have you noticed during this mini-correction, and what are some of the reasons for the pullback?

David Morgan: Well, I’ll start with the reasons. In any market, even in a non-manipulated market, which there is probably none. The stock market, bond market, metals markets, futures markets, options… just about everything out there is geared and leveraged and pretty much manipulated by the trading algorithms, and other means, but regardless of that, all markets move up and down. Nothing goes straight up or straight down, and so there are periods where there’s profit-taking, there’s periods where there’s consolidation, that type of thing. So regardless of manipulated or not, all markets ebb and flow.

So the metals markets are no different in that aspect. What we saw in the silver market was over the last two months’ time frame, we peaked out in the spot month around the $20.50 area a couple times, and now we’ve dropped as far as about $18.50, so we’ve had about a $2 drop over the last couple of months. Specifically, the most recent drop’s really over a one month period. I want to be correct on that.

The idea that I’ve had is similar to many others, and we’re kind of overdue for correction as you stated, Mike. So this is actually a healthy thing. The metals stocks certainly have leveraged both directions, so anybody that’s invested in the resource sector, particularly gold and silver stocks, is going to see a multiple percentage-wise on the drop. And some of these stocks actually gave us a clue that the consolidation or the correction was coming, because some of these sold off before the metals actually had started to sell off. What’s interesting, Mike, is that the selloff, even though it’s been a fairly good drop, $2 on a $20 commodity, you’re looking at about 12% or so, hasn’t dropped the commitment of traders… or the open interest, I should say, on the commitment of traders… very much, which means that the bulls and bears are still pretty equal. There’s still a very strongly held commitments to the silver and gold paper paradigm that futures markets more than I would’ve seen in a very, very long time for this kind of a price drop.

So let me restate that. The $2 drop in silver and a correspondingly percentage-wise drop in gold, normally, you would see a pretty good sell off in the open interest. In other words, the shorts would be winning the battle. That is not what I’m seeing at this point in time. We could see something different after the Labor Day holiday. I’m not sure, but right now, these metals for the whole year, and even during this correction, are acting extremely strong.

Mike Gleason: So in your view, it sounds like the correction might not be terribly long lasting. Is that what I’m hearing?

David Morgan: Yes, not long lasting. Maybe another month. There’s a lot of things happening this month, as we’ll talk about later. The August low is habitually seasonality-wise very accurate for gold. You usually get the lowest price in gold in August. We’re doing this in the 1st of September, and September is usually a rebound month, but the seasonalities haven’t worked very well in the metals markets for quite some time, so I don’t put as much credence in them as I used to. However, in the end of the year, you’ve got a rise in the metals, and we haven’t seen that in a while either. I’m just going to let the market dictate, but here’s what I’ll say. The main support on the silver price is around the $17.50 to 17.60 level, so we might see another drop, and I really think that that level, another dollar down, is about as far as these guys are going to be able to push it down.

On the gold side, it’s holding above $1,300 which has fairly good support. Not really strong support, because time-wise, it hasn’t been above that level for a long time during this rally of the last six months. So I believe we’re going to see a huge effort to push gold below the $1,300 level, and we have to just see how it reacts, if it rebounds quickly or not. And of course, more important than that, pretty much at the volume that takes place. In other words, if that causes a large selloff and the algorithms start to move with the shorts and the longs decide to throw in the towel and starts a waterfall decline, then of course, I’ll do an update for The Morgan Report members, show that to them. Right now, it’s too hard to call that. I don’t see that. In fact, my suspicion is that that’s not going to happen. In other words, they’ll push it down below $1,300, but it will pop back up fairly quickly. So it’s very interesting to watch the metals this year.

Mike Gleason: Talking about some of those key events that are coming here over the next month. We’ve got the G20 Meeting coming up. I know you want to comment on that. Also, China’s going to be part of the IMF Special Drawing Rights. I believe it’s October 1st. Comment on those two international events there.

David Morgan: Certainly. I think it’s very important, and this is the big news of the month of September. One is that, I think it’s the 4th and 5th of September, China will be hosting the G20 Meeting for the first time in China. And I think they will be running the meeting pretty much. And at the same time, at the end of the month, I think it’s the 30th of September, the yuan will be weighted at about, I think it’s 10% of the SDR, Special Drawing Rights. So the international currency system run by the IMF, which is really run by the United States and International Monetary Fund, will be embracing the yuan as part of the SDR. And also, you will see a lot of settlement that will take place outside the U.S. dollar.

For example, petroleum historically has been settled in U.S. dollars only, and this has caused a great deal of the banking system throughout the globe to hold dollars so they could make settlements, because everybody buys oil. And now, you’re going to see settlement directly in yuan, which means that this is going to put downward pressure on the dollar, which could be a reason to raise interest rates. This thing about the economy’s great, we need to raise interest rates like we used to have back ten, twenty years ago, is preposterous. Anyone who takes just a cursory look at the real numbers and understands what’s really going on with shows like yours, mine, and many, many others, knows that there’s no way that the recovery has really ever taken place in any substantial way since the 2008 financial crisis. Sure, there’s been pockets here and there, but the overall economic picture’s really just gone sideways or gotten worse.

However, if there’s pressure on the dollar, they could use that meme, that idea, that propaganda, that, “Oh, look at the unemployment. Look at how good we’re doing,” and this type of nonsense, “Well jeez, we really have to raise interest rates,” when actually the reality is that because there is a further weakening of the dollar and there’s negative interest rates throughout the bond market on sovereign debt, but not in the U.S. yet, that it could happen. I’m not saying it will happen, but my thinking is a little different than almost anybody that’s in my peer group on this matter, Mike. Again, I could be wrong, I could be right, but I certainly want to voice it because I want to get people to think, and the only way to keep the dollar strong, let’s say “strong”, would be that it’s got a positive rate of return when all these other sovereign nations with the euro, et cetera, have negative rates, there’s going to be a move for people to hold dollars.

And because China’s coming into the fore, there’s a move to not want to hold dollars, so you’ve got these two forces, sort of bullish the dollar and bearish the dollar. Very interesting times. Lots is happening, and I want to make one more comment and that is, as much as China has taken on the gold market in fiscal form for many, many years and built their reserves probably far higher than what the official report, I do not believe that China is ready to pull the gold card yet. They are just now entering into the global currency system in a meaningful way. They’re very patient and I think they’re more willing just to continue with this paper paradigm. They certainly caught the Keynesian disease years ago that have done the money printing to build out their infrastructure and to certainly boost their economic picture, which is of course distorted at this point just like everywhere else that’s based on the Keynesian model. But nonetheless, I don’t think they’re ready to switch horses to a gold-backed yuan or anything like that any time in the very near future.

Mike Gleason: Certainly going to be interesting to see that push-pull play out there with the dollar. You bring up some good points there about strong dollar versus weak dollar. And I also want to get your thoughts on the election here. We’ve got the election season kicking into high gear. We’ll have the debates here pretty soon. We’re about two months away now from election day. What do you think a Trump victory would mean this November for the markets, primarily the metals since that’s what we’re focusing on here, and also what do you think a Hillary victory would mean?

David Morgan: Well my view is different than a lot of people, but you want my view, my view is it doesn’t matter. My view is that it’s changing captains on the Titanic. My view is that Trump seems to resonate with a lot of conservative thinkers and I think there’s many, many Americans that are just absolutely, totally, and completely disgusted with the political class. I do think that you can make arguments either way, who gets in could move the price and we might get a blip one way or the other depending on who’s elected or should I say, “selected”.

But regardless, I think in the longer term macro picture, it really means very, very little. I think we’re way too far gone on the debt paradigm overall that any one person no matter how well meaning they are, can really turn the boat, turn the ship. The Titanic has hit the iceberg. It’s taking on water, and you might get somebody stronger at the wheel and you might veer off, but it doesn’t really matter. The ship’s going down. That’s my view.

Mike Gleason: Switching gears here a little bit, you’ve always had great advice for people when it comes to getting into precious metals. You’ve written your ten rules of investing in the sector and I know owning the physical metal is first and foremost in your view. So before we get into discussion about mining stocks, which I’ll ask you about in a moment, talk about why you recommend owning the physical bullion before you do anything else.

David Morgan: Well almost anyone that’s in this sector, and that could go from anybody that’s a prepper or as extreme as a survivalist or someone that’s familiar with financial markets and monetary history, everyone understands that we’re at risk at all times, and especially now. We’re in a situation on a global basis we’ve never been in before, which is that the reserve currency of the world is failing, which means you need something outside of the system. You need something that’s not electronic-based, you need something that has no counterparty risk, you need something that’s universally recognized, and you need something of high value that could be used anytime, anywhere by anyone. That of course is gold and/or silver. This has been the case.

So if there were, let’s say, a problem with the banking system where we go to the report that’s for free on TheMorganReport.com, you might go there, give me an email, and a first name. You’ll get the “Riches and Resources Report,” which shows you what happened during the currency crisis of 2000-2001 in Argentina. The film’s name is The Empty ATM, and they did not take your bank accounts. They just basically sealed them, where the money in the bank was held by the bank and they allotted you so much you could take out on a weekly basis no matter who you were, no matter what your account size was, and then they devalued the currency, which is basically stealing from you. So this is what took place.

I say all that to state how emphatic I am, how important it is for people to have real money outside of the system. Those people in Argentina that held some of their wealth in gold and silver circumvented the devaluation and also had readily available, recognizable and cherished real money that they could barter with, which took place all over the country in Argentina during that currency crisis that I just mentioned. So I really, really believe that this could take place in other areas of the world, certainly if you were in Venezuela right now and you had some precious metals, you might not have a smile on your face, but you certainly would be better off than the people that didn’t.

So these are really interesting times and we are in a paradigm that is failing and the powers that be are propaganda, propaganda, propaganda saying and telling everyone through the mainstream media that everything’s fine, go back to sleep, we’ve got it under control, things are wonderful, and that type of thing. When the reality of course, most people can just look out their window and drive down their main street of their town, take a look around and say, “You know, things don’t look as good as they did a decade or two ago.”

Mike Gleason: Are there any products that you prefer over others? For instance, in silver, do you generally recommend coins versus bars or coins over rounds? Does it even matter, or is it just about getting the most ounces for the money, or do you want variety? Give us your thoughts there.

David Morgan: Yeah, in the “Ten Rules of Silver Investing,” I said you should strive to get the most ounces per dollar you want, or whatever currency you have invested, which means first of all, small units. You definitely want to start with small units. You don’t want to have one 100-ounce bar, and that’s your silver holdings, because now you’re in a fix. You’ve got to make one absolutely correct decision when to turn it back into fiat currency or barter with it, whatever. So you want small coins if you have rounds, but if you’re particularly interested in recognizability, for example, and you want a government-stamped coin, you’re willing to pay a slightly higher premium, I have nothing against that.

Also, the constitutional silver or what’s known in the trade as “junk silver”, I think that’s still a good way to go. The bag market is actually fairly tight. So much has been smelted down into bars, there isn’t a lot of it around, actually. Small units. Rounds or recognizable coins are the way to go. I think you can start with silver if you’re modest means. If you have better means than that, I think you certainly should have some gold. You should actually have both if you can afford it.

And I also think moderation’s the key. I think a 10% holding in physical metal is probably more than is sufficient for most people. There are people like me that have a great deal more than that involved, but this is my life’s work. This is something I understand and I understand the risks, and I’ve been with that type of risk environment for a very, very long time. For most people, just a 10% amount in physical, and for those that really want to gain leverage and maybe triple their gains, certainly that’s available, but it’s a situation that demands study and work. And that would be through the Resources Sector, which is what we’ve specialized in for a long time.

Mike Gleason: Leading me right into my next question here, turning to the mining stocks. It’s been an outstanding year for the miners, the recent pullback notwithstanding. Now, if you look at the silver spot price, it’s up more than 35% since the first of the year, but if you look at the mining sector, gosh, David, we’ve got the HUI Gold Stock Index up nearly 100% for the year and the GDX is up over 120% year-to-date even with the big pullback in the last few weeks.

So things are finally starting to look up after a rough very few years for everyone in the Sector with many stocks down 80% of more since the 2011 peak, assuming they even stayed in business, but talk about the miners. What are you looking for here in the second half of the year after a great first half?

David Morgan: I’m actually looking for further gains by the end of the year. I think we’ve still got more work to do in the downside, and as I said earlier in your show, Mike, I think probably another month. I think by the time that the SDR takes place and people, the markets, I should say, understand how much dollar damage is done or not. We’ll have to wait and see. With the yuan being more accepted not only by the SDR but in final settlement rather than having to go to the dollar directly.

As that settles out, I think you’ll see more and more consolidation into the precious metals and more push for them to go to the upside. So it’s a situation that most of the large funds money managers, pensions even, that missed the 2008 bottom in the precious metals during the currency crisis, have woken up early this time and have moved into the paper paradigm of the gold and silver markets, which means that the open interest, as I said earlier on your show, is very, very high relative to what it’s been historically, and these are strong hands.

On top of that, the Shanghai Gold Exchange has a very, very large open interest themselves, and they’re trading from the long side vis-a-vis the commercials or the banking system that trades historically from the short side on the COMEX. So you’ve got big money that got in relatively early in both gold and silver, because they understand that the stock market is too high and they want to be hedged. They have no real philosophical reason to own gold like we just outlined in the last question, but they manage money and they need exposure. And the best way for them to get exposure is to buy it on a leveraged basis on the paper markets. So that’s what’s taking place. With the addition of the Shanghai Gold Exchange ramping up the amount they’ve purchased on paper, and of course, that’s much more physical marked than the COMEX is.

So again, there’s that really strong bull/bear back and forth and so, just to close out, I really don’t see these metals coming down a whole lot more or a whole lot longer, and I think this year is going to be one that people look back on and say, “Jeez, I’m sure glad I bought my metal or bought my mining shares during 2016.” By the way, The Morgan Report comes out this weekend right before the G20 Meeting, and on top of that, we’ve got another company that will be probably putting out mid-month, mid-September, an updated analysis, an appraisal on the mid-tier producers in the gold complex. And this is after it’s made two transformational acquisitions in 2016.

This is the kind of research we do. If you go back another month, we had like four or five speculative situations that are going to show up in these other newsletters that cost like three or four times what ours does. We see that all the time. Not that we certainly haven’t gotten ideas from others, because we have, but it seems that whatever we do our research on seems to be picked up by let’s say a lot of people in the industry. I’ll just leave it at that.

Mike Gleason: Well it’s great stuff as usual, David. We always appreciate hearing your thoughtful analysis here on our podcast, and I’m sure we’ll talk to you again very soon. Now, before we let you go, please tell folks how they can get involved with The Morgan Report, because this is a fantastic time for people to dive deeper into the metals and miners. I think they understood that by listening to our conversation here… it’s especially a good time after this recent pullback and this pause in the upward movement we’ve been having. Please let people know how they can get on your email list and also about some of the other things going on there at The Morgan Report or about the book, The Silver Manifesto.

David Morgan: Certainly. On the book, we’ve gotten great feedback from people. It’s probably one of the best $30 investments that you can make. You can get it on Amazon, you can go toTheSilverManifesto.com and read one chapter for free and get kind of an overview, you can read the reviews on Amazon. There’s a whole chapter on how to pick a mining stock, and we actually spill the beans and show you exactly how we do it. And again, we’ve gotten feedback that’s been extremely positive for those types of people that have the time, energy, and motivation to do their own analysis. We take you through step-by-step, so that’s something you can get out of the book along with a lot of other material.

As far as The Morgan Report, what I actually urge everybody to do is to just go to the website,TheMorganReport.com, and get on our free email list, and get our free “Riches and Resources Report.” In that report, you’re going to get two movies to watch for free. One is The Empty ATM I mentioned earlier and the other one is The Four Horsemen film, which is the end of The Age of Empire, and it’s very, very good thought-provoking types that are interviewed during that paradigm with some solutions to the problems at the end of the film. And that’s just two things you get in that report. You also get ways to accumulate silver and gold over time, you get some insights, and of course, once you’re on the list, you will be appraised of an update every weekend by yours truly, myself and or one of my staff.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, it’s great stuff. I’ve been on your list for an awfully long time. Always enjoy it every weekend we get an email from you, and it’s excellent information. The Silver Manifesto, as you mentioned, is another great resource. We’ve sold about 1,500 on our website, MoneyMetals.com. A lot of people are really enjoying that book and I know you’re doing very well with that in a number of different places and we wish you continued success there.

Well thanks so much. We really appreciate it, and I hope you have a great weekend, enjoy the rest of your summer, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Thanks, David, and take care.

David Morgan: My pleasure. Thank you.

Mike Gleason: Well that will do it for this week. Thanks again to David Morgan, publisher of The Morgan Report. To follow David, just visit TheMorganReport.com. We urge everyone to sign up for the free email list to get his great commentary on a regular basis, and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to pick up a copy of The Silver Manifesto, available at MoneyMetals.com, Amazon, other places where books are sold. It’s almost certainly the best resource on all things silver that you will find anywhere, so be sure to check that out.

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

 

New FOMC framework gold positive – the Holmes Gold SWOT

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

Strengths

  • The best performing precious metal for the week was palladium, up 3.57 percent.  Speculators have been piling into platinum and palladium futures, largely based on improved car sales in China, but position sizes are approaching all-time highs for both metals.
  • Gold investment in the first half of the year broke previous levels, as seen in the chart below, with both coin and bar demand, as well as ETF product demand, soaring to record levels. Gold demand will get another boost in India as wedding season starts to heat up, particularly with the metal currently trading at a $40-$50 discount in the country, reports Bloomberg. Bullion traders noted persistent buying by jewelers at domestic markets to meet festive season demand.

aug23SWOT

  • Gold got a boost on Thursday on dollar weakness following the release of the Fed minutes, which showed that U.S. interest rates should stay low. According to futures prices compiled by Bloomberg, the odds of an increase in borrowing costs in December fell to 49 percent from 51 percent a day earlier. “From looking at the data, and looking at the minutes, I don’t think we’re any closer to a rate increase,” Chris Gaffney, president of EverBank World Markets said.

Weaknesses

  • The worst performing precious metal for the week was silver with a 2.05 percent fall, of which most of the losses came on Friday when we had renewed strengthening of the dollar.
  • There have been a number of mixed signals from Federal Reserve policymakers this week, sending gold lower on Friday. The jawboning from these officials include a comment from New York Fed President William Dudley, for example, who reinforced his confidence in a possible rate hike for the second time in a week, reports CNBC.  Bullion for immediate delivery fell 0.5 percent an ounce in London, reports Bloomberg, as other officials say the U.S. is strong enough to warrant an increase in interest rates sooner than markets expected.
  • Gold consumption in China fell during the first half of the year, primarily due to a surge in price by 24.6 percent, reports Bloomberg. The Asian nation did keep its top spot as the world’s leading gold producer, however, for the ninth-straight year. Similarly, as the foreign currency crisis deepens in Venezuela, the country’s international gold reserves slumped 25 percent in the first half of the year as they swapped gold for dollars.

Opportunities

  • According to a piece from SmarterAnalyst.com, the FOMC members see the futility in their tools and announced this week that the Fed is rethinking its monetary stance. President of the St. Louis Fed James Bullard explains that the old model was a long-run equilibrium which averaged past economic variables. The new model, however, includes a set of possible regimes that the economy may visit and are not forecastable. The Fed’s new framework would be positive for gold, the article continues, as it would lower market expectations of interest rate hikes and support the price of the shiny metal. It makes the Fed even more agnostic and less inclined to provide clear guidance.
  • CNBC reports that gold’s relationship with stocks reached an all-time low in the 60 sessions through Wednesday’s close. The correlation between gold futures and the S&P 500 was -0.63, the lowest ever between gold and stocks based on CNBC analysis of Factset data going back to 1984. This could be a reason for many investors to buy gold, as the “two unrelated assets will together have a smaller amount of volatility than two identical assets, all else being equal.”
  • Global central banks dumped a record $335 billion in U.S. debt over the past year, according to an article from Zero Hedge. While the author points out his expectation that Saudi Arabia would be one of the biggest sellers (or other “petrodollar-reliant nations”), China, Japan and Hong Kong were the largest sellers of Treasuries in June.  The largest buyer in June was the Cayman Islands with purchases of $28.3 billion – another name for “hedge funds,” the author states.

Threats

  • As Islamist militants pose a growing threat at mines in Burkina Faso, the government announced plans to deploy more than 3,600 soldiers and police to secure its mines, reports Bloomberg. According to Francois Etienne Ouedraogo, the head of the National Office for Securing Mining, the police and soldiers will be “deployed gradually” at the 18 mine sites in Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer. In a report from the IMF last June, the group said that fragile security is one of the main threats to the nation’s economic outlook.
  • Gold equities have re-rated to historical peaks or above, reports Morgan Stanley, with an average 24 percent upside to spot gold already priced in. Similarly, analysts at UBS believe that mining stocks have priced in the gold bull run, and that the underlying metal provides more upside than the stocks. Despite gold being one of the top performing assets year-to-date, the metal’s 26 percent gain pales in comparison to the 110+ percent average lift across the senior producers, UBS continues.

A piece from All Africa Global Media this week points out that the lethal toll of informal gold mining is on the rise. Although deaths at formal mines have come down (fatalities numbered 77 in 2015, making it the least deadly year on record), “zama-zama” or informal fatalities have gone up. By 2015, the official number of informal mining fatalities reached 124 (a 150 percent increase in reported informal mining deaths from three years prior).

Top Silver Mining CEO Makes a Remarkable Price Forecast

Transcript of a podcast interview by Moneymetals.com’s Mike Gleason with silver miner First Majestic’s CEO, Keith Neumeyer

Welcome to this week’s Market Wrap Podcast, I’m Mike Gleason.

Coming up we’ll hear a fantastic interview with Keith Neumeyer, CEO of First Majestic Silver Corp. Keith gives an insider’s take on the tremendous and unsustainable imbalance that exists between the available mine supply of silver compared to gold and what it likely means for the silver to gold ratio. And you’ll definitely want to hear Keith’s long term price target for the white metal, which may surprise you.

Keith Neumeyer

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to bring in Keith Neumeyer, Founder and CEO of First Majestic Silver Corp (NYSE:AG), one of the top silver mining companies in the world. Keith has an extensive background on the resource and finance sectors and has also been an outspoken voice about concerns of distortions in the futures markets pricing for silver. It’s a real privilege to have him back on with us again.

Keith, thanks so much for joining us and welcome back.

Keith Neumeyer: Thanks very much. It’s exciting times, obviously, for everyone.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, it certainly is. To start off here, Keith, things are significantly different today here in August compared to where they were back in early February when we talked to you last. Both gold and silver have had fantastic starts to the year. One of the things I asked you when we had you on earlier in the year was whether or not you believed we would finally get some follow through after a good first month of 2016 because that is something we did not get after good starts to the metals in 2014 and 2015. You said it felt like it was different this time around and you were fairly confident and you were dead-on correct. So what’s your take on the first 7 months of the year here… what have been some of the key drivers for the advance in your view… and then how different is the environment today for someone in your position versus say 6 or 8 months ago?

Keith Neumeyer: Well, you know, Mike, it’s pretty interesting. This is a lot different than … I was somewhat of that view earlier in the year when the market did what it did. The fact that we didn’t have the normal correction mid-year, because, as you probably know, and it’s well known in the sector, I think, that generally speaking, April, May, June are relatively soft periods for the mining stocks. And quite often gold and silver do correct into those months and then in the summer they often just bottom out and then they start to progress higher as the year progresses into November, December, and then into January and February. You could look at charts that go back 30 years and see that pattern. It’s this repeated pattern that a lot of people actually trade against and have made money doing it. I’ve actually personally done it myself with a lot of success.

This year, we saw a couple of day correction. I remember in May I was interviewed, I think it was May 18th if I recall, and the market started to turn lower after it had zero correction up until that point. I said, in the interview I said, look, let’s see how long this correction lasts. It could be a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, and that’s really going to determine how strong this bull market actually is. And that correction was only a couple of days long, then we hit new highs after that. Just recently, we’ve had another small correction and now we seem to have a resumption to higher prices. First Majestic hit a new multi-year high, just yesterday, which was quite exciting. It’s a totally different market.

I travel around the world, as you probably know, and I talk to institutional investors worldwide. What I’m hearing from a lot of investors out there is that they’ve misjudged this market, they have not come into this market. And a lot of money is still sitting on the sidelines waiting to come in. And I think that’s why these dips and these corrections are so shallow.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, they certainly have demonstrated a lot of resiliency. Like you said, the corrections have been quite shallow. Now First Majestic has had a fantastic year so far. You just eluded to that a moment ago. Your share price is up more than 400% year-to-date. Gosh, Keith, it was around 3 and a half bucks when we spoke to you in February and now it’s up at $18 a share. So before I go any further, congratulations on achieving some really amazing returns for your investors.

Now one of the dynamics that I’m sure has driven this exponential growth for First Majestic, and other miners as well for that matter, are the dramatic gains in silver on a percentage basis. We’ve gone from less than $14 a ounce when the year began to over $20 an ounce as we’re talking here on August 3rd. So it’s gone up over $6. And I would think that almost all of that would go straight to the bottom line. Is that fair to say? Have you done the calculations on what it means to your profitability for say every dollar silver goes up in price, Keith?

Keith Neumeyer: Yeah, our costs are relatively fixed. One thing that you should be aware of is that we have been starving our mines of investment, exploration and development dollars, over the last 3 or 4 years because the focus has been to preserve cash, preserve the treasury, in order for us not to have to go to market to finance the company at ridiculously low share prices. I think we did a pretty darn good job doing that.

And you’re right, most of the increase in the silver price goes right to the bottom line. And at our level of production, we’re producing around 20 million ounces of silver equivalent annually. For every dollar, that’s $20 million extra in revenue. And we’ve seen a $6 increase in the silver price over the last 6 months, so those numbers are huge. The amount of dollars that are actually coming to the bottom line now, the amount of profits that we’re generating are enormous because literally 90% of that money goes to the bottom line. But look, we’re looking forward to reinvesting some of this capital. It’s now, because of the robust cash flows or profits are coming into the business, we’re looking at expanding the company again, which is going to be pretty exciting because over the last 5 years, we haven’t been able to look at expansion.

Mike Gleason: That leads me right into my next question. One thing we’ve seen here in the retail market, for silver especially, is that now that we’re over $20 an ounce in silver, we’re seeing retail demand decline, which tells us that maybe the last 4 or 5 tough years for metals investors have spooked the small group of folks, relatively speaking, who’ve already invested silver and maybe many of these folks may not believe this rally has legs. First off, how confident are you that higher prices are still ahead in the next year or two? And then has that improved environment resulted in more aggressive exploration by you and/or others? It sounds like maybe it has.

Keith Neumeyer: It’s a slow process. Look, I’m a bull on the metals. This bull market has resumed. We’re going to see much, much higher silver and gold prices over the next 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years. No one knows how long the bull market is going to last again. We had a 10-year bull market that went from 2002 to 2011, 2012. We turned into a very deep bear market that last almost 5 years. Who knows where we’re going to be going, but I’m pretty confident that we’re going to see new highs in both gold and silver.

I look at a couple of things, and this is how I determine that. If you go back and look at where the last bull market started, you look at 2002, we had $5 silver prices and we had $250 or $300 gold. Gold went to $1,900, which is basically is almost 7 times. And we went to $50 on silver, which is almost 10 times. If you use $13.50 as the low on silver, that’s $135 silver if the same ratio was to repeat itself. And that’s multi-thousand dollar gold prices. And that’s what I’m expecting to see. It’s hard to imagine those kinds of prices when we’re at where we are today, and it may even seem silly or somewhat ridiculous to talk about prices at those levels, but I’m pretty confident that looking back, 3, 4, years from now, looking back at this time, we’re going to be shaking our heads, probably wishing we would have been a little bit more aggressive.

That’s why I put together my new company, First Mining Finance. We bought 8 companies over a 13-month period from April of 2015 to early this year, March, April of 2016. I did that on purpose. I did that because the valuations were so low and my expectations of what’s going to happen to the metal prices in the coming years.

Mike Gleason: Now Keith, we know you’re not a big fan of the futures markets being the primary mechanism for price discovery in the metals. You’ve been quite outspoken about the shenanigans that have gone on there. Certainly, there is something broken about a system where a handful of bullion banks can sell a bunch of ounces on paper representing a very finite resource like silver and creating those contracts in virtually unlimited quantities. It’s the producers who suffer the most if prices are held artificially low.

So far this year, however, renewed speculative interest in the metals is driving prices higher. Now what’s interesting is that there is an extraordinary surge in the quantity of metal actually being delivered on COMEX contracts, especially in gold. It makes us wonder if these developments are making the short sellers nervous about selling much more paper silver. What are your thoughts on the recent action in the futures markets?

Keith Neumeyer: It’s pretty interesting. We’re reaching extremes that we’ve not seen historically. Usually the commercials are right. If you go back at least 15 years, since I’ve been really following it, the commercials are the ones that seem to make all the money. There was a saying, “just follow the commercials and you’ll do okay.” This time around, are they wrong? I don’t have an answer to that question, but it’s sure looking like a desperate situation.

With the metals not wanting to correct, I think it’s pretty exciting for investors. There’s definitely the potential there that we can see, finally, the market squeeze out some of these manipulators, some of these short sellers, who’ve been screwing around in this market for decades and making fortunes on the back of retail investors as a result.

Mike Gleason: Since we spoke last, the Shanghai Gold Exchange announced a fix for gold as an alternative for the London fix. A silver fix may be coming and many hope price discovery will be improved there, which is to say more closely related to supply and demand of the physical market. It isn’t clear to us what to expect. Can you give us your thoughts about the Shanghai Gold Exchange?

Keith Neumeyer: Well, quite honestly, I think that’s why we’re not seeing the big spike down that we’re so used to seeing. I remember, well everyone remembers, going back over the last 10 plus years where we would wake up one day and lo and behold gold is down 50 bucks in one day and silver is down a buck in one day. And it’s always on one of these very illiquid days or right at the end of the month when they need print a certain price so that their books look good for quarter-end or month-end or whatever they’re trying to achieve.

It’s just the shenanigans that everyone got used to. You roll your eyes when it happens (you say) “oh geez, they’re doing it all over again?” And the regulators are just sitting back and watching and doing nothing about it. And the retail investor just has to accept all the nonsense that goes on without anyone coming to the rescue as they should be.

And now we’ve got a new player in the marketplace. And I think as we do see more and more players enter this market, and the silver fix obviously comes in, it’s going to be more difficult for the same kind of games to be played. And I think it’s very exciting. And I’m hopeful that we’re going to see, finally, proper price discovery as a result of the new players coming into the market.

Mike Gleason: Last year you announced that First Majestic would hold back some of its production because prices were so cheap. You urged others in the mining community to do the same, although I remember you saying you didn’t have much success at all in recruiting others to do likewise. So have you now sold some of that 2015 production at these higher prices, now that prices have risen above $20? Are you still holding back production or are you now willing to sell all the silver you produce as well as those reserves you built up? Basically, how has that move to hold back some of what you produced last year worked out for you, Keith?

Keith Neumeyer: We did it a few times, 3 times, I believe, to be exact. And we’re now out of those positions. We have taken advantage of the higher metal prices. It’s helped the company dramatically. Our treasury today is somewhere around 110 million U.S. dollars. It’s the highest it’s been in 5 years. So we’re very excited about the amount of capital that we have in our treasury. And that’s going to allow us to start investing in the business and start building the business. I think, ultimately, that’s really what investors want us to do. We’ve got a couple of mines that can be expanded. We’ve got a couple of development projects that should be operating mines and will be operating mines over the next 3 to 5 years. That’s where our focus will be and I think it’s going to be welcomed among our shareholders.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, I have to think that some of your cohorts there who didn’t go along with you are probably wishing maybe they had. Keith, you spoke to a reporter from Bloomberg about a major Japanese electronics manufacturer who approached First Majestic about the possibility of buying silver direct, which implies they’re concerned about silver availability. Why do you feel this is significant and have you heard about more of these kinds of inquiries? Also, more generally, are you seeing any other signs that refiners and manufacturers are worried about finding an adequate supply of the raw metal?

Keith Neumeyer: Well, you know, that was an interesting situation. First Majestic I founded 14 years ago and I’ve said a number of times that this is the first time ever that we were approached by an electronics manufacturer for a silver supply. So I think that’s quite significant. Nothing has happened yet. We’re haven’t entered into any agreements, nor do I know whether we’re going to do it. There’s still the possibility that it could happen.

But the approach did occur and I think that means something. These users of the metal I don’t think would be going directly to the source if there was not problems within the supply chain, or at least perceived problems or potentially a perception of future problems. I’m not in their board room so I can’t tell you exactly what their rationale is, I can only speculate. But talking to some on the gold side, I know that the refineries in Switzerland, for example, where a lot of the gold goes through, that goes into Asia, are clamoring for gold. There is definitely a tightness in the silver space which I’m very familiar with, obviously, but there also is a tightness in the gold space as well.

Mike Gleason: We saw industrial users for a certain precious metal, palladium, hoard large amounts of it, gosh, I think it was around the turn of the century here when there was possible shortages in that metal. Electronics manufacturers, for instance, they’re using a very small amount of silver in their products. The price of silver really doesn’t affect them at all, but they’re going to be darned if they’re not going to be able to get it. Shortages beget shortages, as the saying goes, so that would be very interesting to watch play out because these industrial users are not going to be putting themselves in a position where they can’t be getting silver. So it certainly is interesting that you were approached by those folks. Is that one dynamic you think we could see, just based on the amount of silver that’s out there and the amount of people that want it?

Keith Neumeyer: I’ll throw in a couple of stats. One that I look at is the ratio of mining and the ratio where we’re trading. We’re mining on a global scale right now, silver to gold, 9 to 1. So for every 9 ounces of silver, we’re mining 1 ounce of gold. We’re currently trading in the low 60 ratio. So how do you trade at 60 to 1 or 65 to 1 when you’re mining 9 to 1? That makes no sense to me. We’ve been in a deficit for multi decades now. The above ground supply of the metal is very, very low. It’s actually at historic lows.

Another interesting dynamic that I point to is the lack of silver companies. When I put First Majestic together, there was actually a handful of true silver companies. And I look at a company that calls themselves a silver company as a company that has more than 50% of their revenues from the sale of silver, then, legitimately, I think they can call themselves a silver company. Well there’s only one company in the world, major company in the world, that has 50% of their revenues from silver and it’s First Majestic. We have about 70% of our revenues from the sale of silver, the rest being a little bit of gold and a little bit of lead and a little bit of zinc. It’s impossible to be 100% because every mine’s got some other metal, but to be that pure is actually extremely rare.

The question I have is why in the space, and there’s about 12 or 14 companies that call themselves silver companies, why do these companies have less than 50% of revenue from the sale of silver? You can talk to many of the CEOs of these companies, I’m not going to name names, but they’re going to tell you that the reason why they ended up becoming gold companies is because they could not find good silver mines. First Majestic, over its 14 year history, has been able to accumulate one of the most interesting portfolios of silver assets in the world and has become the second largest silver producer in Mexico as a result of this portfolio. And our focus is to remain as pure as possible so when investors want to buy a silver company, they can come to First Majestic.

Unfortunately, they get sucked into some other companies that call themselves silver companies that simply are not silver companies, but that tells me that these silver mines are way rarer, silver is way rarer, than people actually think it is. So I think we’re going to see huge ratio collapse. I’m looking for a ratio closer to 9 to 1 where the actual mining ratio is because that’s where the financial number, that’s where silver prices should be. It should be 9 to 1.

Mike Gleason: Certainly. We saw the ratio I guess down to about 32 to 1 in 2011. The classic ratio they say is in the teens, 15, 16 to 1, but yeah, we may see it as low as 9 or 10 to 1. That would be very bullish for silver’s future.

Well Keith, as we begin to close here, I want to get your thoughts on what you expect as we move further into the second half of the year here. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, a big election coming up this November that has a lot of people watching and perhaps concerned and nervous about the future and what’s going to happen. How do you see the metals performing in that environment? Will we see follow through from the wonderful first half that we’ve had here in 2016?

Keith Neumeyer: Well definitely there is going to be follow through. We’re going to go all the way into September, October, November here, which are generally pretty strong months for the precious metal and mining stocks. And I don’t see any reason why that’s going to be any different. We’re going to go into the elections. We’re seeing Europe fall apart in front of our eyes and we’re seeing the political environment around the world become more destabilized. Quite honestly, the world is probably the least safe that it’s been probably in the last 2 or 3 decades, which is very unfortunate. And I think all that is going to contribute to higher gold and silver prices.

But predicting where we’re going to go is a little bit of a fool’s game. And quite frankly, I’ve been wrong. I would have never predicted silver would have gone from $50 an ounce to $13.50, nor gold go from $1,900 to $1,050. I wish I had predicted that… we would have done a few things differently. But we’re now back into a bull market. A few months ago I predicted, that silver would hit $20 by the end of the year and that’s me being conservative because we’ve been beaten up so badly over the last 4 or 5 years, and sometimes being conservative is sometimes a better approach. But now I’m a little bit more comfortable, obviously. We’re obviously at $20 silver. We’re at $1,350 gold, currently.

I think, quite honestly, there’s a chance that we’re going to see $25 silver by the end of the year and then we could likely see $1,500 or $1,600 gold by the end of the year. Maybe those will prove to be too optimistic, but if it doesn’t happen between now and the end of the year, it’s going to happen sometime within the next 12 months. So I’ll be patient and continually build both First Mining Finance and First Majestic as the market allows us to continue to build these businesses.

Mike Gleason: Well, Keith, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your insights and your firsthand accounts of what’s going on in the silver mining industry. We really appreciate your time and wish you continued success. Now before we let you go, please tell our listeners how they can get more information on First Majestic and also, since we didn’t talk too much about it, First Mining Finance (OTC:FFMGF) (CDNX:FF.V), because I know you continue to see a lot of interest from investors wanting to get involved with that new venture.

Keith Neumeyer: Both the websites obviously. First Majestic Silver is just simplywww.FirstMajestic.com. First Mining Finance is www.FirstMiningFinance.com. You can follow me on Twitter, Keith_Neumeyer. I don’t do a lot of tweeting, but at least if you follow me, you’ll get all of First Mining’s news releases and First Majestic’s news releases and the industry-type bulletin that goes out that some of your listeners may be interested in. Those would be the best places to go. Or you can even phone either of the companies, investor relations fellows there, Todd Anthony and Derek Iwanaka, would be happy to talk to anyone that calls in.

Mike Gleason: Well thanks again Keith. We sincerely appreciate it. We would love to catch up with you again down the road. And I hope you have a great weekend and take care.

Keith Neumeyer: Yeah. Thanks very much for your time, Mike.

Mike Gleason: That will do it for this week. Thanks again to Keith Neumeyer, Founder and CEO of First Majestic Silver Corp, ticker symbol AG.

Silver: The Rip Van Winkle metal – Chris Martenson

Mike Gleason* of Moneymetals.com interviews Chris Martenson

Chris comments on geo-politics, geo-economics and on whether one should invest in gold and silver.

Chris Martenson

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to be joined by Dr. Chris Martenson of PeakProsperity.com and author of the book, Prosper: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting.

Chris is a commentator on a range of important topics such as global economics, financial markets, governmental policy, precious metals, and the importance of preparedness, among other things. It’s great, as always, to have him with us. Chris, welcome back, and thanks for joining us again.

Chris Martenson: Mike, it’s a real pleasure to be here with you and your listeners.

Mike Gleason: Well it’s been a number of months since we’ve had you on last, far too long by the way, and there has been a ton of things going on in the financial world of late. I’ll get right to it here. For starters, what did you make of the Brexit decision last month? Is this potentially the beginning of some meaningful opposition to the ongoing drive for a world government? Or was this just a one-off event?

Chris Martenson: No, this was not a one-off event, this was a continuation of a pattern that we’ve been talking about at Peak Prosperity for a while. We thought that there were three scenarios for the future. One of them we called fragmentation. I think this is the beginning of it, and fragmentation has its roots in a growing wealth gap. It happens when you have a stagnant to shrinking economic pie that is increasingly seized by the elites who are tone deaf.

And when they do that, people get cranky, and this is the first form of crankiness we’ve seen break out. Austria is next, we are going to see the sweep across Europe, I believe. People have seen that austerity is just a punishment by the bankers upon the average people for the sins of the banker. It feels unfair because it is.

I think Brexit as a political statement is just the beginning, and of course the powers that be are going to do everything they can to paint this as a mistake and punish the wrong people again.

Mike Gleason: What about the banking system, despite some recovery in the past week or two, the European bank stocks have been getting hit hard. We’re seeing that Italian banks need to bailout, and the share price of Deutsche Bank is signaling that the firm is in real trouble. The IMF just named them the riskiest financial institution in the world.

There is a rally here in share prices, Brexit appears largely forgotten, and Wall Street certainly isn’t acting too worried. Is the concern over European banks overdone? Or might we see a firm like Deutsche Bank actually collapse. And what do you see as the ramifications here in the U.S.?

Chris Martenson: The European banks are absolutely in trouble. I think they are insolvent, that is the step that precedes bankruptcy which is a legal action. Insolvency is just when your assets and your liabilities have a big mismatch. We know that’s the case for the European banking shares. It also explains, Mike, why we are seeing this rally, we call it on Wall Street, but it’s global.

We saw two things. First, we saw a big decline, a scary decline in January, and then this miracle, nipple bottom vault back up to the highs that came out of nowhere. To me, that was a liquification event. Somebody put a lot of liquidity into the system. We know that the central banks are coordinating on this because they are scared of the Franken-markets they’ve created. They cannot even tolerate a few percent decline without freaking out. That should freak ordinary people out, because if they are scared, you should be too.

So they re-liquefied like crazy, and then we had just another post Brexit re-liquification. My evidence, stocks at all-time highs, bonds at all-time highs. Listen, you cannot have that unless there is a lot of liquidity coming from somewhere. People cannot be panicking both into negative interest yielding bonds and stocks at the same time for this to make sense through any other lens than the central banks are absolutely pouring money into these markets.

Mike Gleason: Yeah, it’s certainly been a head scratcher to watch these equities markets, the DOW and the S&P making these all-time highs in the wake of what we’ve seen here recently. That’s a good explanation and I don’t see any other potential for why that’s happened. That’s not sustainable forever, they cannot get away with that forever before without the bubble finally bursting, is that fair to say?

Chris Martenson: That is fair to say. And just for your listeners, I just got back from a major wealth conference. These are people, families, institutions that are managing enormous money… they’re all scratching their heads. I watched these poor fund managers and CIOs, that’s investment officers, attempt to explain all of this. They contorted themselves into pretzels. I got up there and just said, “Look, somebody is dumping money in this market.” A lot of heads started nodding. First wealth conference I’ve been to, Mike, in many years where I was no longer the contrarian in the crowd. That makes me nervous.

Mike Gleason: Switching gears here a little bit, what do you make of all of the recent social unrest here in the U.S., Chris? We’ve seen police shootings followed by protests and revenge killings of police officers in a number of cities around the country. Then we’ve got probably the two most polarizing figures ever running for president. The months between now and the November election are sure to be interesting. But there is at least the potential that they could also be very dangerous. What does the recent unrest signal here Chris?

Chris Martenson: I think this is connected to the same factors that I talked about with Brexit. Look, Mike, what’s happening here is that people are getting squeezed. If you believe the inflation numbers go get your head checked or study up on it, because we know we are getting inflation. It’s at least twice as high, maybe three times as high as officially announced. And that’s really hurting people, savers just getting crushed.

We are watching banks get bailed out, we are watching Hillary skate on what are obvious transgressions of the law as it’s written and it’s not a complicated law to understand about mishandling of classified information. She got a pass on that amongst other things. So listen, we’re primates. Fairness and justice are hard wired into us, that’s a thing. People are feeling and seeing the unfairness of this all.

What it comes down to, really, for me, Mike at this stage, is they ran these really interesting experiments back in the 40’s and 50’s. Where they would take a rat and put it in the cage, make it so there is nothing in the cage so it cannot escape, and they shock the floor. The rat hates it but ultimately they figure out how to tolerate it. They curl up in a ball, they’re miserable.

If you put two rats in the cage, what happens is that all of a sudden they are both getting shocked, they are both hated, it’s painful, but now they have somebody to look at and go, “Oh, it’s you.” And they fight. And if they leave them in there long enough, they fight to the death.

What that experiment shows us is that when people – and rats and people are the same this way – if you don’t know where the shocks are coming from, you go to the blame game. That’s what we are starting to see. I believe that police and the people they are policing are actually on the same side of the story, but they don’t know it, so they are looking at each other, they are blaming the wrong parties in the state. The pie is no longer expanding. In fact, the piece of the pie that used to belong to even the upper middle class on down is being rapidly vacuumed out.

All that oxygen is being sucked out of the room by a financial system, not just bankers but a complete financial system that just doesn’t know how to say enough. And it’s vacuuming more and more for itself at ever increasing rates. That’s leaving less and less for everybody else. Guess what? Along comes polarizing figures. One who is representing the status quo, and allows people to default into the denial of saying, “Well, if we just get back to pretending that everything is okay and we shoot for the middle zone and don’t see anything too troubling, things will be okay.” Spoiler alert, they won’t.

And then another guy that’s saying, “Hey, I got an answer for this, and this is troubling and we need to start getting angry about this.” So he’s tapped into the anger side, and I think both of them are missing the mark on this, which is that we have to have a more fundamental substantive discussion about what’s really happening in this country, which is that we have some systems that are run amok and they are going to take us into a really dark territory if we don’t stop them now.

Mike Gleason: For the people who live in these urban areas where there is maybe a little bit more danger in being in an environment where there is a lot of animosity towards police officers. I know you’ve organized your affairs, so you are no longer living in a major metropolitan area, do you have advice for people to maybe consider that type of move given the fact that there could be some real instability in some of these major city centers with all of this violence?

Chris Martenson: Short answer, move. Longer answer, be prepared to move. I do work with people who live in urban areas that they are there for a variety of reasons, they’re not ready to make the move, but they are increasingly having plans for how they would get out of there. Listen, the difficulty of this Mike is this idea of shifting baselines, where if you are a person and you took a person today from my town and you dropped them into Oakland, California they would leave so quickly because it would be like dropping a frog in boiling water. They would jump right out of that.

But for people living there, it’s a little bit violent, but it’s four blocks away, and somebody got shot six blocks away. A month later, it’s two blocks away, but that’s okay, the police responded quickly. Over time, people lose their sense of perspective over what’s happening. So my invitation to people is to really look around and actually see what’s happening, ask yourself if the trend is getting better or worse.

And regardless of whether it’s getting better or worse, is that really where you want to live? A lot of people say the answer is no, but they don’t know what to do next. My invitation is, well, start figuring out what that plan is because there really is no time like the present to begin figuring these things out. It takes time, it just takes time.

Mike Gleason: Changing gears again here. I want to get your thoughts on the Fed. The FOMC meets again next week, they have been punching on interest rate increases. We’ve had mixed economic data, growth below expectations and central bankers everywhere are ramping up stimulus. Janet Yellen and company are finding it exceedingly difficult to tighten. Throw into that that this is an election year. What do you see the FOMC doing between now and the election? Could we see some kind of surprise to the dovish side to help boost the markets and keep the status quo going this November? What are your thoughts there?

Chris Martenson: Yeah, that’s the 85% probability. I’m on record as saying that I thought it was more likely that they were going to lower rates instead of raise rates on their next move, whenever that comes. I said that back in December after that first tiny little wiggle hike. And the reason I said that is because look, you can’t have the United States raising rates while the rest of the world’s rates are going down. That just doesn’t make sense from a variety of logical standpoints. But let’s be clear, the Fed follows, it doesn’t lead.

This is not an aggressive, assertive organization ever since Paul Volcker left. These are not people who have the moxie to run against what the markets want. They’re totally captive to the markets, the markets are clearly saying rates are going down. I don’t think this fed has it in them to do anything other than follow the markets. So since the markets are going down, the best the Fed can do is hold pat. But at some point, honestly, I would put a little bit more money on the wager that said the next surprise would be to the downside not the upside. Especially in an election year.

Mike Gleason: Speaking of following and not leading, I don’t know if you have been following Alan Greenspan and his comments, but now all of a sudden late in life after leaving his Fed chairman post, he is now advocating for a gold standard. It’s quite amazing to hear that come out of that man’s mouth after all these years. Maybe it just goes to the fact that when you are in that position, you’re just following and you’re not making any real leading decisions. What have you made of what Alan Greenspan has had to say in these recent days?

Chris Martenson: Yet another extremely disappointing CYA retirement circuit lap. We’ve seen this a lot, Senators who finally on their retirement day say, “Oh, by the way, Washington is really broken, here is all the ways they are.” Eisenhower on the way out, “Hey, watch out for this military industrial complex.” Yeah thank you, would love to have had those insights while you still could have made some decisions that would have shown that you had the personal fortitude and internal authenticity to have stood up and done what was right.

So for Alan to come out afterwards, I agree with a lot of what he is saying, it’s too little, it’s too late. It doesn’t do anything to resurrect or buff his reputation in my eyes. I think he was the architect that will ultimately end so badly, that his name will be mud if you follow the historical reference, for a long time coming.

Mike Gleason: What is your best guess for what to expect in the markets between now and the election… particularly for the metals? We’ve had an excellent first half of the year in gold and silver, although they have struggled a bit here in the last week or two. So do you see this as maybe a short term pause before the next leg higher? Basically can the metals match the performance in the second half of the year that they had in the first half?

Chris Martenson: Well I still think metals of course, particularly gold given the monetary shenanigans, that’s something that has to be in everybody’s portfolio. It’s your insurance policy, get it there. I really thought that Grant Williams about a year ago had made just to me the quintessential, best gold exposition where his summary was, “nobody cares”.

And his thought was that the west is perfectly happy to sell gold, we’re perfectly happy to sell our paper gold on the COMEX. We’re perfectly happy to see about 1,000 to 1,500 tons a year leave western vaults just for Shanghai alone. So we were okay with that because nobody cared. The Treasury didn’t care. He was talking with fed officials, like, “Yeah, if we lose gold, it’s fine.”

The west is starting to care. This hearkens back again to this wealth conference I was at, big money people, of course I’m always testing the gold waters with them. And more and more people are saying, “Yeah, I’m thinking about gold now.” So we’re starting to see this really show up on the western radars. I think that if I was going to mend Grant’s title, it moves from “nobody cares”, to “some are starting to care.” And that’s a very constructive environment for gold, just from that standpoint.

And the other part, of course, has to be how can gold not be constructive in a negative interest rate environment? People used to always say, “Chris, gold doesn’t yield anything.” And now I get to say, “Well at least it doesn’t yield negative something.” So this is a really positive environment for gold. It’s clear somebody has an interest in not allowing gold to go up. We saw that on Friday late night post Brexit. Somebody put 50,000 new open interest contracts to contain gold at the $1,360 mark. And we don’t know who that was, but we can all guess.

Mike Gleason: At some point you have to think that more and more people will recognize it as a safe haven. You talk about the wealth conference you just went to, about how maybe more and more people are starting to wake up to the idea of owning precious metals as a way to hedge against what may come. Obviously, and I’m talking about physical bullion now, there is not a tremendous amount of it. There’s been so much of it going to the east, and the west does not have a whole lot of precious metal left at this point.

If we did see an increase from say 1% of the general public and going to 3% or 5% of the general public, I have to think there is going to be a difficulty getting your hands on the metal if you wait too long. Is that fair to say?

Chris Martenson: That is fair to say, particularly at the retail level. I think the people who have the big, big money, they have access to vaults that you and I don’t normally have access to. There’s a very different structure for the big 400 ounce and 1,000 ounce bars for gold and silver respectively. But for people who want to buy coins, we saw this in ’08, we saw it in 2011 again when there were big price moves, particularly to the down side in silver where people started to want to get into that market.

And those were almost exclusively people who had already bought silver. This wasn’t new people coming into the market, just people looking for better deals. That alone swamped the retail supply chain, the refineries were maxed out, the mints were maxed out, supplies were tight, and the wait times ballooned out to six and eight weeks in some cases.

So that’s our learning which is that when the metals really do begin to move, your chance as a retail investor to get into that are going to be very, very limited if you wait or the percentages move from whatever it happens to be, 1% or 2%, to 3% or 5%. I think that that will swamp the retail availability for quite a while.

And then, you know what, people are going to be stuck with, and they’re going to say, “Oh there’s a six week wait.” When six weeks comes by, they discover that the price has moved a lot at that point in time. So either you put a lot of money on the line in the hopes of being in line somewhere, or you wait and discover that both the prices and availability have scurried away from you in the meantime. It’ll be hard I think psychologically if not practically for people to acquire what they want. So my motto always is I’d rather be a year early than a day late.

Mike Gleason: Very good advice. In terms of gold versus silver, obviously gold is really just monetary demand that drives that market, but silver is both pushed and pulled from both the industrial demand and the monetary demand. Generally speaking, when we see the metals rising, we’ll see silver outperform, but if we have an economic slowdown, perhaps that could hold silver back a little bit as it gets maybe lumped in with copper and oil and other industrial types of commodities. What are your thoughts there on the potential for silver versus gold going forward?

Chris Martenson: They’re very different words to me. A lot of people say, “Gold and silver” like it’s one word. They are two words to me. Gold is my monetary metal, love it, I have it because I think a monetary crisis is happening. If you have a short term horizon, I like gold better because I think we are having a monetary crisis first before we have a big industrial resurgence.

Silver, primarily Mike I love it as the industrial metal, as something who’s known ore grades are vanishing and deposits are depleting, and we know that it’s being used increasingly for more and more industrial applications. Silver is my Rip Van Winkle metal. I love it. If somebody said, “I need to pick one of these two, 20 years I want to be happy when I wake up.” Silver’s it. It’s a volatile metal that goes up and down, I think it could have a run down if we hit a capital “R” recession or depression across the world… if China blows up or something like that. But barring that, I love silver because of its actual supply and demand characteristics going forward. I think it’s heavily underpriced here.

Mike Gleason: Well as we begin to close here, Chris, what would you say are maybe the top three or four actions that people could be taking right now to become more self-reliant and generally more insulated from the chaos that’s on the horizon?

Chris Martenson: Well if I could just plug my own book here for a minute that I wrote with Adam Taggart called Prosper. What we do there is we specifically talk about steps people can take so that they will be more resilient given certain futures that might arrive. But every one of these steps we advise will make your life better today. So there’s really no way to lose in this story.

What we do is we have eight forms of capital that we like people to focus on. Financial capital, which commonly everybody focuses on only. But what we’ve found, and there’s a great quote, it says, “None are so poor as those who only have money.” If you only have financial capital you are not resilient. So there’s seven other forms of capital we talk about. I’ll just go through a couple.

One is social capital. Not just how many people you know, but how well you know them. Have you had experiences with them? Have you seen them operate under a variety of scenarios so you know really who they are at core? Building that social capital is going to be one of the most important things you can do to build you resilience. And guess what? You’ll know more people and connections are proven to make us happier, more fulfilled people.

Emotional capital, also in the mix. This is very important. It doesn’t do any good to be rich in all sorts of other areas if when a crisis comes you basically fold up your mental shop and shut down. Not good. We already see people doing this with increased rates of suicide, drinking, video game playing, other forms of numbing out because the reality is just not appealing. We think there’s lots of ways to rotate your thinking so that you can be positioned to not just be on the wave of change that’s coming, but the surf it.

There’s great opportunities coming here, but not for people who are going to be feeling the loss of the changes instead of the opportunities in the change. So those are just a couple of examples. Living capital is an example, knowledge capital, time (capital). Things like that. And so this book is our collection of stories and personal experiences with each of these forms of capital, from having worked with thousands of people in our seminars, at our website, Peak Prosperity. For people who are consciously and prudently as adults saying, “Hmm, different future coming, how can I be prepared? More importantly, how can I be resilient so I can increase my quality of life today and be more prepared for tomorrow?”

Mike Gleason: Yeah, it’s truly fantastic stuff. Obviously it was years in the making. You and Adam did a fantastic job, so many practical things in there. Now as we begin to close here Chris, why don’t you talk a little bit about the Peak Prosperity site and then also let people know how they can get their hands on that book if they haven’t already done that.

Chris Martenson: Thanks Mike. Yeah, the site is PeakProsperity.com. And we have a lot of free content there, we have a subscription newsletter for people who like to go a little deeper and maybe have more information. Our site is dedicated to two big things. One is educating, we want people to understand the context of what’s happening so they are not one of those rats getting shocked without an understanding of what the shocks are.

Once you know what the shocks are, then you have information that’s really important, that can help you move when other people are paralyzed or confused. So that’s half the site, the other half is about how we can become more prepared, more resilient… (there’s a) wonderful community of people there. They are very thoughtful. If I could identify us with one word, I would say we are all curious.

This is a life to be lived, it isn’t a dress rehearsal, we are not here hunkering down saying, “Woe is us, bad times coming.” We’re saying, “Big changes coming, now what do we do about it?” So it’s very positive while realistic, if I can put those two words together. And Prosper, the book, available on Amazon. You can come to the website and get that. It’s available pretty much everywhere.

Mike Gleason: Well again, excellent stuff. Thanks so much Chris, and I hope you have a great weekend, enjoy the rest of your summer, and we’ll catch up again soon.

Chris Martenson: Thank Mike. You too, and to all your listeners, have a great weekend and summer.

Mike Gleason: Well that will do it for this week, thanks again to Dr. Chris Martenson ofPeakProsperity.com and author of the book, Prosper: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting. For more information, just go to PeakProsperity.com, check out the extensive site there and the great online community. Or check out the book, which is also available on Amazon. You definitely will not be disappointed.

To listen to the full podcast download the MP3 file here:  DOWNLOAD MP3

 

 

Defeating Gold and Silver’s Wall of Worry

By Clint Siegner*

Confidence is slippery, even when you are a metals investor sitting atop the best performing assets of 2016. It doesn’t help when 4 years of a miserable bear market remains fresh in our memories. Any weakness in prices and it can feel like markets are getting ready to plunge right back to $13 silver and $1,000 gold.

That feeling is called the “Wall of Worry”, and bulls are going to have to climb it by staying in the market even if their emotions are telling them to bail. Let’s review the last 6 weeks because they are quite instructional.

June 1st: Silver closed at $15.97 and gold at $1,213. Precious metals prices stood well below the highs put in at the end of April and plenty of people declared the end of metals bull run.

There was plenty of reason to worry. At the time, markets were obsessed with Federal Reserve policy and sentiment was darkening.

Climbing over the Wall of Fear and Worry

The year had opened with turmoil in the stock markets. The S&P 500 was plummeting in response to a December rate hike with the expectation of more hikes to come. Precious metals surged as investors sought refuge from crumbling stocks.

In mid-February Fed officials responded to the collapse in stock prices by reversing their rhetoric on interest rates. They reaffirmed their undying commitment to growth and prosperity through freshly printed cash!

Metals got another boost and the S&P 500 took off like a rocket.

So much so that, by June, schizophrenic officials had reversed direction once again. They sounded an economic “all clear” and began jawboning about raising rates. Some thought they might even get around to hiking as soon as the FOMC meeting in the middle of the month.

June 3rd: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a disastrous jobs report for May, missing even the most conservative estimates by a mile. The consensus on more rate hikes simply blinked out of existence. Forget higher interest rates, investors began wondering if Negative Interest Rate Policy would soon be making its U.S. debut.

Gold prices jumped by $80/oz to $1,299/oz over the following 2 weeks. Silver raced ahead by $1.50 to $17.54/oz.

Then, in the days leading up to the Brexit vote, metals prices take a beating. Everyone is watching, but no one expects the British to vote “Leave.”

June 23rd: United Kingdom voters shock people everywhere. Stock markets crash, there is turmoil in the foreign exchange markets and people wonder if Brexit represents the kick-off for the next worldwide financial crisis.

Helicopter Money

Not only were interest rate hikes back off of the table, central bankers stood out front and did what they do best: they assured markets that no one need pay for their sins. They stood at the ready to provide “liquidity,” also known as unlimited cash to prop up overleveraged and mismanaged banks and hedge funds who lost bets they couldn’t afford on Brexit.

The turmoil and safe haven buying drove the gold price from $1,257 to $1,367 by July 8th. Silver jumped from $17.32 to $20.31 over the same period.

July 8th: Stock markets shrugged off the turmoil following the Brexit vote. Two days of heavy selling immediately after Brexit were followed by relentless buying.

Only investors were split. Some bought risk assets like stocks, figuring the hysteria surrounding Brexit was overdone.

Others bought safe haven assets including Treasuries and metals. They saw European banks in a lot of trouble. Italian banks needed a bailout and much larger banks – Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse – were signaling the possibility of collapse as their share prices traded below the 2008 crisis lows.

Cue the next U.S. employment report. This time the BLS puts out a blockbuster number that beats expectations by a mile. That report and the continuing rally in stocks undermine interest in safe haven assets. People once again start whispering about the Fed raising interest rates. Metals and bonds both drifted lower.

So what have we learned? World events are unpredictable – perhaps even more so lately. And, in bull markets some of the biggest moves happen suddenly, when people least expect it. Blink and you’ve missed it. So you just have to hang on to your convictions, and your position, even when worry sets in.

H1 Zinc gains almost match Silver.  Oil and Gas strong too.

While this website primarily covers the precious metals we diverge on occasion into other commodities and in this respect our concentration on price gains in gold and silver in particular have meant we have missed the big recoveries in some other metal and mineral commodity sectors too.  Indeed it took Frank Holmes’ review, and his ‘periodic table’ of H1 commodity performance to show how well some of these have been performing almost as well as silver – still the H1 leader in price gains – over the first half of the year.  In actuality it is almost certainly a case of these commodities being heavily oversold in last year’s big downturns, but it is worth noting that invariably such downturns are overdone with momentum carrying prices down way below levels justified by the true supply/demand equation.

periodic
click to enlarge

The H1 ‘Periodic table’ shown above from U.S. Global Investors shows in no uncertain terms how volatile the sector can be over the years with the top and bottom performers switching around almost on an annual basis.  And what it shows for H1 2016 is that although silver was, as we have noted beforehand, the top performer to date with an H1 price rise of 35%, zinc put on nearly as much at 32%, with oil and gas (hugely oversold last year) knocking gold into only 5th place with respective gains of 30%, 25% and 24.5%.

Zinc does have additional relevance in a focus which is primarily on precious metals as most primary silver producers also mine zinc (and lead) in relatively large quantities as well with the three metals invariably occurring together.  So the rise in zinc prices will have had an additional booster effect on the fortunes of most of the primary silver producers.  Similarly most primary zinc mines will also be producing silver as a byproduct.

Indeed the supply/demand situation for zinc has caused many commodity analysts to tip zinc and zinc miners as having strong investment potential over the past few years, but until this year the metal has not performed as the analysts had predicted.

Their premise had been one on likely major disruptions in the supply/demand balance with two of the world’s biggest zinc mining operations coming to the ends of their profitable lives, and no major new producers coming on line to replace what was assumed would be a significant supply shortfall.  In retrospect the Chinese industrial downturn threw some of the demand parameters into disarray and last year, for instance, zinc was one of the worst performing commodities, falling in price over the year by around 26.5%.

As Holmes pointed out in his accompanying article – Silver Takes the Gold: Commodities Halftime Report 2016  – this dynamic certainly helped   boost the zinc price so far this year. He noted that during the first four months of the year, mine production fell 8.1% from the same time a year earlier due to declines in Australia, India, Peru and Ireland.   The straw which may have finally broken the camel’s back was that Vedanta Resources made its last zinc shipment from its Lisheen Mine in Ireland, which for the last 17 years had produced an average 300,000 tonnes of zinc and 38,000 tonnes of lead concentrate per year.

This has been coupled with an expected increase in the demand the demand for refined zinc expected to increase 3.5% this year. A large percentage of this growth can be attributed to China, which is still investing heavily in infrastructure, even as money supply growth has slowed.  But the other big factor has probably been record automobile sales in the U.S. and China, the world’s largest automobile market, recording the sale of 10.7 million vehicles in the first five months of the year –  an impressive year-over-year increase of 7%.

In terms of oil and natural gas, the other two big gainers this year, as is usually with such market moves they were almost certainly sold down more than they should have been last year as the media and analysts fell over each other to predict further declines – more on momentum perhaps than real supply/demand data.  But, the aforementioned climb in automobile sales coupled with some significant falls in output, have presaged a very strong recovery in crude oil prices.  As Holmes pointed out: “Unplanned production outages in Canada, Nigeria, Iraq and elsewhere removed a collective 3.6 million barrels per day off the market in May alone. Coupled with ongoing declines in the North American rig count—U.S. crude production is now at a two-year low—this helped nudge prices up to levels not seen since July 2015… At the same time, global consumption is expected to increase by 1.5 million barrels a day both this year and next, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with North America and Asia, particularly China and India, responsible for much of the growth.”

Much as the precious metals complex tends to be dragged up by movement in the gold price, natural gas tends to benefit from movement in crude oil prices which probably accounts for gains here, although again the decline in fracking activity in the U.S. on economic grounds given the low gas prices will not have hindered here.

The other sector worth commenting on here has been a decent rise in pgm prices – of platinum in particular, although palladium, – continually pushed by the analysts as being the likely best performer in the precious metals  complex has continued to underperform relative to its peers.  In H1 platinum was up 14.7% and palladium only 6.5%.  Both should perhaps have been boosted by the strong automobile sales figures in particular, while some supply disruptions in South Africa will also have contributed.  Both metals are expected to see a supply deficit this year, but the pricing situation is continuing to be undermined due to large stocks of both metals being held out there and possible liquidations out of ETfs.

So while precious metals continue to be the focus of much commodity and equity investment interest, it is worth keeping an eye on some of what might be considered the more mundane metals and minerals.  Like the precious metals, many of these have perhaps been oversold in the downturn years and others could be set for similar big rises.  It’s a question of getting one’s timing right to benefit from these gains.  Copper, nickel and lead have been laggards in any pick-up so far this year and coal remains hugely depressed.  Could we see a turnaround in any of these?  At some stage we probably will as low prices impact supply and, in most cases, annual demand continues to grow.  As noted above timing is everything in commodity investment.

Silver Takes the Gold: Commodities Halftime Report 2016

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

Silver Takes the Gold: Commodities Halftime Report 2016

Here we are at the halfway point of the year, less than two months away from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. As a group, commodities are the top performing asset class, comfortably beating domestic equities, the U.S. dollar and Treasuries.

Commodities, the Top Performer in First Half of 2016

Below is our ever-popular Periodic Table of Commodities Returns, updated to reflect the first half of 2016. Click to see an enlarged version.

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns
click to enlarge

Commodities’ performance is quite a reversal from the weakness we’ve seen lately, particularly last year, but we shouldn’t expect another 2004 or 2005, when global trade was humming. Conditions are still not ripe for a real takeoff, with manufacturing activity in China and the eurozone struggling to gain momentum.

But there’s hope. Many of the challenges standing in the way of growth were exposed when Britain voted last month to leave the European Union (EU), which I’ve been writing about for the past few weeks. Most recently, I highlighted some of the winners to emerge from Brexit, among them gold investors, U.S. homeowners and British luxury goods makers.

Hopefully we can add global trade to the list. Brexit has brought to light some of the corruption and economic strangulation by regulation that chokes the flow of capital. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with some EU citizens. Their frustration was palpable. The cronyism among the EU’s unelected officials is nothing new, but it’s only worsened over the past decade and a half, they said. The British referendum has encouraged a balanced, intercontinental discussion on the direction Brussels must take now that the corruption and depth of discontent have been exposed for the world to see.

Precious Metals Shine Brightly on Macroeconomic and Geopolitical Concerns

Silver demand had a phenomenal 2015, with retail investment and jewelry fabrication both reaching all-time highs. Led by consumers in the U.S. and India, coin and bar investment soared 24 percent from the previous year, while jewelers gobbled up a record 226.5 million ounces. According to the Silver Institute’s World Silver Survey 2016, metal demand for photovoltaic installation climbed 23 percent in 2015, offsetting some of the losses we continue to see in photographic applications.

Global Demand for Silver Bars Surged 24% in 2015
click to enlarge

Caused by worries of a summer interest rate hike and uptick in the U.S. dollar, gold and silver both stalled in May but have since rallied on the back of Brexit and with government bond yields in freefall. For the first time ever, Switzerland’s entire stock of bonds has fallen below zero, with the 50-year yield plummeting to negative 0.03 percent on July 5.

Switzerland 50-Year Bond Yield
click to enlarge

All-time low yields can also be found in the U.S.—where the 10-year Treasury yield fell nearly 38 percent in the first half—U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. Roughly $10 trillion worth of global government debt, in fact, now carry low to subzero yields.

This has been highly constructive for gold and silver, as yields and precious metals tend to be inversely related.

What’s more, the rally doesn’t appear to be done, with UBS analysts making the case last week that we’re in the early stages of a new bull run. Credit Suisse sees gold testing the $1,500 an ounce mark as early as the beginning of 2017. As for silver, some forecasters place it at between $25 and $32 an ounce by year’s end.

The risk now is that higher prices are pushing away some potential investors. Today Bloomberg reported that gold imports in India plunged a sizable 52 percent in the first half of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.

Supply and Demand Rebalancing?

Much of the price appreciation has been driven by a global rebalance in supply and demand. Dismal prices over the last couple of years compelled explorers and producers to cut activity and other capital expenditures, while demand continues to rise.

This dynamic certainly helped  zinc, the best performing industrial metal of 2016 so far. During the first four months of the year, mine production fell 8.1 percent from the same time a year earlier due to declines in Australia, India, Peru and Ireland, according to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group. In January, London-based Vedanta Resources made its last zinc shipment from its Lisheen Mine in Ireland, which for the last 17 years had produced an average 300,000 tonnes of zinc and 38,000 tonnes of lead concentrate per year.

Meanwhile, the demand for refined zinc, used primarily to galvanize steel, is expected to increase 3.5 percent this year. What might surprise you is that a large percentage of this growth can be attributed to China, which is still investing heavily in infrastructure, even as money supply growth has slowed.

This rebalancing has also bolstered crude oil prices, up 73 percent since its 2016 low in February. Unplanned production outages in Canada, Nigeria, Iraq and elsewhere removed a collective 3.6 million barrels per day off the market in May alone. Coupled with ongoing declines in the North American rig count—U.S. crude production is now at a two-year low—this helped nudge prices up to levels not seen since July 2015.

Month-over-month change in global oil supply disruptions
click to enlarge

At the same time, global consumption is expected to increase by 1.5 million barrels a day both this year and next, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with North America and Asia, particularly China and India, responsible for much of the growth.

Record Automobile Sales Support Commodities

Crude consumption is also being supported by robust automobile sales, which set a six-month record in the U.S. following six straight years of growth. Between January and June, sales reached an all-time high of 8.65 million units, up 1.5 percent from the same period last year. In China, the world’s number one auto market, 10.7 million vehicles were sold in the first five months, an impressive year-over-year increase of 7 percent. Sales of light vehicles, especially motorcycles, have been strong in India.

As you might expect, this has likewise benefited demand for platinum and palladium, both used in the production of autocatalysts. The CPM Group anticipates palladium demand to reach an all-time high this year, up 3 percent from last year, on tightened emissions standards and the purchase of larger cars and trucks in the U.S. on lower fuel costs. (The larger the engine, the more palladium or platinum is needed to reduce emissions.)

Autocatalyst Production Driving Palladium Demand
click to enlarge

Since January, the platinum group metals (PGMs) have increased over a third in price, marking the end of an 18-month bear cycle, according to Metals Focus’ Platinum & Palladium Focus 2016. Fundamentals have improved since last year, when EU growth concerns and Volkswagen’s emissions scandal weighed heavily on investment prospects.

Like zinc, crude and other commodities, the PGMs were supported the last six months by lower output levels, as labor disputes in South Africa—the world’s largest platinum producer and number two largest palladium producing country—disrupted operations.