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’.

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Asia Pushing Gold Higher and Silver’s on a Roll

Trading overnight on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) served to give the gold price a boost overnight last night.  The SGE’s am benchmark fix came in at the equivalent of US$1329.05 an ounce, around $10 higher than it had been trading on Western markets the previous day, and the pm SGE benchmark price came in higher at $1.335.27 on http://www.kitco.com’s calculations – the site has a nice interactive tabulation of the SGE benchmark prices in various combinations of yuan, U.S. dollars, ounces and grams.

Whether the SGE uptick will start to show up in terms of a pick-up in Asian demand – notably in China where it appears to have been lacklustre so far this year – remains to be seen. But this could already be happening given net imports of gold into mainland China from Hong Kong (which currently accounts for around 40-50% of such imports), rose sharply in May to the highest level in five months at 115 tonnes.  If Asian demand does pick up – we will be watching mainland China gold import levels with perhaps added interest in the months ahead to see if there is a continuing improvement – and if gold ETF inflows continue at recent levels, there could well be even more of a squeeze in physical gold availability given inventories of available. non-attributable, metal in London and New York appear to be getting particularly tight.

The real precious metals beneficiary of yesterday’s gold move – indeed of gold’s overall performance over the past few weeks – has been silver, which for the first time since September 2014 has breached the $19 an ounce level.  Indeed its rise of around 6% over the past 10 days has been pretty spectacular.  This is also showing up strongly in the Gold:Silver Ratio (GSR) – effectively calculating the amount of silver it would take to ‘buy a similar weight in gold – which has come down to below 70 from a high of over 83 only around three short months ago.  silver had seemed to be relatively slow to move, but now it appears to have some momentum behind it.

As a result of silver’s increase, silver stocks – even before the latest big surge in price – had been probably the best performing stock market subsector year to date – See: Silver Stocks Best Investment YTD. Can They Continue to perform?.  But since I wrote that article only a few days ago they have, not surprisingly, continued to move sharply upwards alongside the boost in the silver price.  From the UK investor’s point of view, most of these major silver stocks are quoted in Toronto (TSX) and the USA (NYSE or NASDAQ) – the only major primary silver producers with UK quotes are Fresnillo (FRES) and Hochschild (HOC).  FRES is up 142% year to date and HOC 178%.  Another more diversified approach would be the Way Charteris Gold and Precious Metals Fund where silver stocks comprise a large part of its major investments.  After a pretty torrid performance over the past few years, this year to date it is up around 154% from the beginning of January.  These are impressive performances, but as usual with silver, while the upside potential is really positive, the downside risks are similarly large.  Silver tends to outperform gold when the latter is rising, but can substantially underperform on the downside.

Silver too, as a very small market sector in monetary investment terms, is also seen as being particularly prone to potential manipulation on the futures markets by a number of silver analysts and by virtually the whole community of out and out silver bulls.  They will point to a number of occasions, and particularly April 2011, when silver was on a roll and reached just short of $50 an ounce, where huge seemingly anomalous sales on the futures markets saw it crash – even when gold at the time was  to continue on an upwards path for another 4 months.

Both silver and gold have benefited quite strongly from the shock UK Brexit referendum outcome which has had some strange effects on markets in general.  Gold, and silver, have benefited, while the pound sterling has plunged, but the UK’s well-followed FTSE 100 Index, after a  stutter, recovered all its lost ground, and more.  It is currently up 5% on the past month at a new high for the year to date.  Few would have predicted that kind of outcome from a vote for the UK to leave the safety net of the EU.

But as cautioned, silver is a volatile metal to trade, and silver stocks perhaps even more so.  If gold continues to show some strength, there’s a good chance silver’s momentum could carry it yet higher still with the GSR continuing to come down.  If gold were to reach $1,400 or higher by the year end – as many analysts are now suggesting – silver and silver stocks could well be somewhere to put perhaps a limited section of your investment portfolio, but only a true gambler would risk all!

 

Silver and Silver Stocks have been Making Strong Move

Silver has performed better than gold post Brexit.  Gold rallied around $100 as soon as it became apparent that The UK’s referendum vote was going in the Leave direction, but has since come back to levels it had actually already achieved a week or so earlier.  However silver has surged ahead with the Gold:Silver Ratio (GSR) coming down to around 71.75 as I write from levels above 74 pre-Brexit.  Indeed the silver price has achieved a level which it last saw back in early 2015 – and then only briefly.

Do read my commentary on the silver price posted on sharpspixley.com – See: Silver surges. Will it be allowed to continue upwards?.  the recent surge in price  is something that has seemed to be ignored by the media.

If you are interested in silver stocks – the best performing investment subsector so far this year, do read also my article published on seekingalpha.com – Silver Stocks Best Investment YTD. Can They Continue to Outperform.

Gold soars to 2-year high: The Holmes Gold SWOT

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

Strengths
  • The best performing precious metal for the week was palladium, rising 2.24 percent. Palladium surged early in the week, doing just the opposite of gold, when polls indicated British voters were more likely to vote “remain” in the Brexit referendum, thus economic uncertainty would be maintained.
  • However, the palladium price dropped on Friday as gold soared to a two-year high following the U.K.’s vote to exit the European Union, boosting haven demand. According to Bloomberg, U.K. voters backed leaving the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent, causing turmoil across markets and prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to resign.
  • Gold dealers in London say they have never seen anything like it, describing the rush from consumers to sell gold, and many more to buy the precious metal following the U.K.’s vote to exit the EU. “We’re doing 10 times the business we normally do,” said Michael Cooper, commercial director of ATS Bullion Ltd. BullionVault saw its busiest day ever on Friday, reports Bloomberg.
 Weaknesses
  • Despite the surge in gold prices on Friday following the U.K. vote, it was the worst performing precious metal for the week, although still up 1.43 percent. Gold backed ETFs have seen a surge in assets this year as investors have started to discount that political leaders at the central banks around the world have lost their mojo, as you can see in the chart below.

HGS276

  • Gold experienced weakness most of the week, falling for the first four days of the week as polls on the Brexit referendum showed uneven results. Gold tumbled by the most in almost a month as other polls on Monday showed voters tilting toward remaining in the EU.
  • Kinross Gold Corp. temporarily halted mining at its Tasiast mine in Mauritania, reports Bloomberg, after the Ministry of Labor banned some of its expatriate workers from the site due to invalid work permits. The stoppage comes a week after a three-week strike by unionized workers ended at the mine, one Seeking Alpha article points out.
Opportunities
  • According to the median of 12 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of analysts and traders from New York to Canada, gold prices could reach as high as $1,424 an ounce by year end, reports Bloomberg. “The Brexit referendum lowered the probability for an interest rate hike,” said commodity analyst Thorsten Proettel. Low rates are a boon to gold because it increases the metal’s appeal as a store of value, the article continues..
  • Capital spending by gold producers has been decimated, writes Sean Gilmartin at Bloomberg, which will lead to a long-term decline in the mine supply of the metal. According to UBS, high quality gold equities still offer attractive leverage to gold price upside, and will outperform physical gold in a rising price environment. Other opportunities for the metal come in the mergers and acquisitions space, reports the Financial Review, particularly in the West African-focused gold space driven by strong acquirers out of North America. In an all-share deal, Teranga Gold made an offer to buy Gryphon Minerals, boosting its share price by 22 percent on the news.
  • Hartley’s reports on Burey Gold Limited this week, noting the company’s release of significant drilling results from its maiden RC drilling program in the northern zone of its Giro project. Highlights include 2 meters at 196 grams per ton from 12 meters, and 15 meters at 255.6 grams per ton from 15 meters. Additional results include 33 meters at 6.1 grams per ton from surface and 12 meters at 21.2 grams per ton from 3 meters. Hartley’s writes “These results confirm our opinion that the Giro project has potential to define a company-making asset particularly given these significant high grade results.”
Threats
  • Physical demand for gold out of both India and China was tepid during the first half of the year, reports Bloomberg. Demand was historically weak in India, with the discount averaging $25 an ounce in 1H versus $8 a year ago. Also contributing to the overall weakness was a poor farming year in India, continues the article, yielding less disposable income for Indians to buy gold.
  • Although a vote for Brexit will benefit gold, reports SocGen, other commodities such as copper and oil could suffer. Mark Keenan, SocGen Asia head of commodities, points out that a rising U.S. dollar will depress metals such as copper, and risk aversion may hurt oil.
  • In a note from Sovereign Man this week, the author reflects on how much has changed since the publication started seven years ago. He points out that U.S. government debt soared 70 percent, that the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet more than doubled, and that the U.S. government has been caught red-handed spying on everyone – all in seven years’ time. “We’ve seen an appalling rise in police violence and Civil Asset Forfeiture to the point that the U.S. government now steals more than every thief in America combined,” he continues. Perhaps Donald Trump is right in that Mexico will pay to build a wall on its northern border, which is to keep Americans from crossing illegally into Mexico.

 

Silver Wheaton: The Ultimate Streaming Service

Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer for U.S. Global Investors expounds on the methodology employed by streaming company, Silver Wheaton, which he views as one of the lowest risk ways of investing in the upturn in precious metals stocks:

Silver Wheaton CEO Randy Smallwood (right) with USGI portfolio manager Ralph Aldis

“There’s a healthy appetite for streams right now.”

That’s according to Randy Smallwood, CEO of Silver Wheaton, who stopped by our office last week during his cross-country meet-and-greet with investors.

Randy should know about the appetite for streams. His company had a phenomenal 2015—“the best year we ever had,” he says—highlighted by two successful stream acquisitions, strong production and fully-funded growth. Silver Wheaton stock is up more than 51 percent for the year. And the company just received the Viola R. MacMillan Award, presented by the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), for “demonstrating leadership in management and financing for the exploration and development of mineral resources.”

We were one of Silver Wheaton’s seed investors in 2004. In the summer of that year, the company was spun off from Wheaton River, a producer that took its name from a stream in the Yukon where one of its mines, the Luismin property, produced silver. It was founded by Ian Telfer, chairman and CEO of Wheaton River, and the company’s then-chief financial officer, Peter Barnes, who later headed up Silver Wheaton management. My friend, the mining financier and philanthropist Frank Giustra, also had a hand in its conception.

As the only pure silver mining company, Silver Wheaton couldn’t have been founded during a more opportune time. The commodities boom was still young. I remember that when the idea for the company was shared with me, what I found most attractive was that it had virtually no competition.Franco-Nevada, which had been acquired by Newmont in 2001, wouldn’t be spun off for three more years. It was a no-brainer to put capital in this new endeavor.

Wheaton River was eventually bought by Goldcorp—the entire story is told at length in the book “Out of Nowhere: The Wheaton River Story”—and today, Silver Wheaton is the world’s largest precious metals streaming company, with a market cap of over $9 billion.

But Wait, What’s a “Stream”?

A “stream,” in case you were wondering, is an agreed-upon amount of gold, silver or other precious metal that a mining company is contractually obligated to deliver to Silver Wheaton in exchange for upfront cash. (The company’s preferred metal is silver because, as Randy puts it, it’s a smaller market and has a higher beta than gold.) The payment generally comes with less onerous terms than traditional financing, which is why miners favor working with Silver Wheaton (or one of the other royalty companies such as Franco-Nevada, Royal Gold and Sandstorm.)

Overview of Royalty and Stream Financial Model
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Streaming allows producers to “take the value of a non-core asset and crystallize that into capital they can invest into their core franchise,” Randy explains in a video prepared for the PDAC awards.

With operating costs mounting and metals still at relatively low—albeit rising—prices, royalty and streaming companies have become an essential source of financing for junior and undercapitalized miners. Between 2009 and 2014, operating and capital costs per ounce of gold rose 50 percent, from $606 to $915 per ounce, according to Dundee Capital.

Gold and Silver at 15-Month Highs

Paradigm Capital estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of global miners’ operating costs are covered when gold reaches $1,250 an ounce. The metal is now at this level—it’s currently at $1,298, up 22 percent so far this year—but as recently as December, prices were floundering at $1,050, which cut deeply into producers’ margins.

Royalty and streaming companies, on the other hand, get by with a materially lower cost of $440 an ounce.

From only 11 stream sales in 2015, miners collectively raised $4.2 billion, which is double the amount they raised in 2013.

These partnerships are a win-win. The miner gets reliable, hassle-free funding to cover part of its exploration and production costs, and the streaming company gets all or part of the output at a fixed, lower-than-market price. A 2004 streaming arrangement made with Primero on the San Dimas mine in Mexico entitles Silver Wheaton to buy all of its silver for an average price of $4.35 an ounce. With spot prices now at more than $17.89 an ounce, up 29 percent year-to-date, the San Dimas property is one of Silver Wheaton’s more lucrative assets. (The mine represents an estimated 15 percent of Silver Wheaton’s entire operating value, according to RBC Capital Markets.)

As part of its contracts, Silver Wheaton gets the added value of optionality on any future discoveries. This is important, since an estimated 70 percent of all silver comes as a byproduct of other mining activity, including gold, zinc, lead and copper. According to Randy, all of Silver Wheaton’s silver is byproduct.

Seventy Percent of Silver Is a Byproduct of Other Mining Activity

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Huge Rewards, Minimal Risk

Investors find royalty companies such as Silver Wheaton attractive for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they have exposure to commodity prices but face few of the risks associated with operating a mine.

They have minimal overhead and carry little to no debt. Franco-Nevada, in fact, added debt for the first time ever last year to buy a stream from Glencore. By year-end, the company had already paid down half this debt, and it plans to tackle the rest this quarter.

Royalty companies also hold a more diversified portfolio of mines and other assets than producers, since acquiring new streams doesn’t require any additional overhead. This helps mitigate concentration risk in the event that one of the properties stops producing for one reason or another.

Royalty Companies Hold a More Diversified Portfolio of Assets

Consequently, margins have historically been huge. Even when the price of gold and gold mining stocks declined in the years following 2011, Franco-Nevada continued to rise because it had the ability to raise capital at a much lower cost than miners. And with precious metals now surging, royalty companies are highly favored, with Paradigm Capital recommending Franco-Nevada, which has “exercised the most buying discipline among the royalty companies,” and the small-cap, highly diversified Sandstorm.

Gold Royalty Company vs. Gold Bullion vs. Gold Miners
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With only around 30 employees, Silver Wheaton has one of the highest sales-per-employee rates in the world. According to FactSet data, the company generates over $23 million per employee per year. Compare that to a large senior producer like Newmont, which generates “only” $200,000 per employee.

Royalty Companies Have a Superior Business Modelclick to enlarge

Royalty companies can often minimize political risk because they don’t normally deal directly with the governments of countries their partners are operating in. This is especially valuable when working with miners that operate in restrictive tax jurisdictions and under governments with high levels of corruption. Silver Wheaton’s contract with Brazilian miner Vale, for instance, stipulates that Vale is solely responsible for paying taxes in Brazil, which are among the highest in Latin America. Vancouver-based Silver Wheaton pays only Canadian taxes.

Political risk is still a thorny issue, however. When government corruption is too pervasive, or the red tape too tortuous, the miner’s corporate guarantee is obviously threatened. In cases such as this, Silver Wheaton can simply elect not to work with the producer, as it had to do recently with an African producer.

A key risk right now is Silver Wheaton’s ongoing legal feud with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), regarding international transactions between 2005 and 2010. Randy says the company might finally be nearing a resolution to the dispute.

“We do have resource risk. We do have mining production risk,” he says. “But with that risk comes rewards, and I think if we’re selective in terms of our investments, the rewards far outweigh the risks. I think we’ve been really successful making sure we invest in good quality, high-margin mines. We really put a strong focus on mines that are very profitable.”

Gold, silver and platinum rallying – The Holmes SWOT

Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of U.S. Global Investors, gives us his latest report on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the precious metals markets as reported in global media over the past week

Strengths

  • The best performing precious metal for the week was platinum, up 6.38 percent.  Platinum largely moved in sync with gold and silver price changes, but has recently outpaced its counterparts and has now begun to play a significant catch-up trade.
  • The Bank of Japan (BOJ) opted against boosting stimulus this week, in a decision that battered the U.S. dollar and gave gold a surprise lift, reports Bloomberg. The Japanese yen also reacted to the bank’s decision, surging the most since the 2010 stock-market meltdown. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve left its benchmark rate unchanged too, helping to boost the yellow metal.
  • According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society plans to set up a gold vault and office in Qianhai. This will be the biggest in Hong Kong investment in the special economic zone in Shenzhen, reports Bloomberg.  Jeremy Wrathall, Investec’s Global Head of Natural Resources, thinks that gold is likely to be the best performer among global metals and minerals for 2016, reports Lawrie Williams.

Weaknesses

  • The worst performing precious metal for the week was palladium, still up 3.93 percent, and not far behind the other precious metals (all of which closed in positive territory). Palladium was the best performer in the precious metals group last week, when it closed up 5.99 percent.
  • Commodity exchanges boosted margin requirements on more products, reports Bloomberg, sending stocks in China to the lowest in a month. “The boom in the commodity markets isn’t a good thing for stocks as that will distract some investors and divert money away from the stock market,” said Wu Kan, a fund manager at JK Life Insurance in Shanghai.
  • The metals and mining sector is the top performer in both high-grade and high-yield indexes this year, according to BI Senior Credit Analyst Richard Bourke. But has the rally in metals and mining bonds come too far, too fast? An analysis of commodity spot prices shows that they are all above consensus forecast price, and may portend a correction.

Opportunities

  • RBC Capital Markets released a research piece on its gold companies under coverage on Monday, explaining that a decline in production and growth expenditures is expected in 2016. Overall gold production of the North American companies listed in the report, is expected to decline by 7 percent year-over-year. Exploration and expenditure budgets continue to face downward pressure as well, leading to an ongoing decline in reserve lives. While this may appear negative at first glance, the forecast should bode well for acquisition activity to pick up later this year in a heated gold market.
  • HSBC has been bullish on gold since 2015 and the group believes that the strong rally this year could continue. In addition to gold’s inverse relationship with the U.S. dollar, HSBC points out that the group’s counter-consensus view of a strong euro, along with the expectation for the euro-dollar to continue trading higher.  Investors may also take a gold position to hedge against the upcoming UK vote to exit European Union membership.
  • Paradigm Capital released a comprehensive and informative research note this week, focusing on gold equities and opportunities to be found for the generalist. The group highlights negative interest rates and central banks buying gold (rather than selling it) as a few reasons why this up-cycle is different. Paradigm also states that “Producing gold is a better business than most today, one with expanding margins, yet gold equities still offer excellent relative value.”  In the chart below, this shows the long-term price relationship between gold bullion and gold mining stocks.  One can observe that the gold miner valuations are currently substantially depressed relative to the change in gold prices.

SWOT 2-5

Threats

  • Earlier this month, Deutsche Bank admitted to manipulation of the gold and silver price fix, agreeing to turn in any information about other banks’ wrongdoings over to the authorities. In an article from ZeroHedge this week, the group reminds its readers that the CFTC in 2013 closed its five-year investigation concerning these allegations, proudly stating there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Fast forward to April 22, 2016. The CFTC and its director have come out saying they were unaware of the DB story, finding no reference to it in the commission’s file of “news reports of interest.”
  • Could silver’s upswing be due for a correction? Another article from ZeroHedge this week points out that an old indicator, the commitment of traders report (COT), has been a pretty reliable gauge for precious metals’ “short-term trajectory.” However, since speculators are “exuberantly long” silver at this time, this could imply that a correction is coming.
  • Although no one is predicting a heavy fall for precious metals, a commodity specialist from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC Standard) thinks now is probably not the time to buy, reports News Markets. The bank pinpoints an already crowded market for this trade, as speculators have increased their long positions.

 

Gold and silver prices to continue higher through 2016: BLANCHARD

Blanchard & Company, CEO David Beahm says tepid GDP a sign of more highs for precious metals

NEW ORLEANS –

After a 30-year record price increase in gold during the first quarter of 2016, Blanchard CEO David Beahm feels both gold and silver are poised to attain to higher highs during the remainder of 2016 for several reasons, including decreased consumer spending evidenced by weak GDP growth, and a stagnant global economy that has generated new negative-interest stimulus efforts by various central banks.

“Gold prices should continue to climb throughout 2016 as investors look for stable assets during what appears to be a troubling time ahead,” Beahm said. “Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of America’s total GDP, but through the first quarter of 2016 it is about one-third less than predictions for the year and well below its performance in 2015. This is not a sign that the economy is flourishing – quite the contrary in fact.”

Beahm said that the outlook for any real overall growth in GDP is dependent upon increased consumer spending because economic headwinds from abroad, business capital spending, financial market turmoil and inventory accumulation are playing a big role to stymie growth without it. Gold and silver have already benefitted from this lack of growth and should continue to over the long-term.

“As we await first quarter GDP data and the inevitable revisions to forecasts for the second quarter and beyond, here is a sobering factoid – despite having some the smartest minds in Washington, in five of the last seven recessions the Fed was oblivious to them at the beginning of the quarter each began,” Beahm said. “With equities markets near all-time highs, yet fundamental economic data painting a less rosy picture, Blanchard sees precious metals that are still at attractive price levels with lots of upside.”

Beahm also said that the global attempt to re-energize economies using negative interest rates is going to fail investors, with the outlook for savers being particularly bleak.  “As governments consider the idea of negative rates, investors should realize there is a distinct possibility that this may be a stimulus effort of last resort as economies slow down. Precious metals are the right investment diversifier to protect wealth when inflation increases and the economy gets volatile,” Beahm said.

China – still the heavy metal, gold and silver rock star

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

FH1

I want to begin with a quote from a recent Cornerstone Macro report that succinctly summarizes the research firm’s view on growth prospects in emerging markets, China specifically. Emphasis is my own:

Our most out-of-consensus call this year is the belief that China, and by extension many emerging markets, will see a cyclical recovery in 2016. We understand the bearish case for emerging markets on a multiyear basis quite well, but we also recognize that in a given year, any stock, sector or region can have a cyclical rebound if the conditions are right. In fact, we’ve already seen leading indicators of economic activity and earnings perk up in 2016 as PMIs have rebounded in many areas of the world. That is all it takes for markets, from equities to CDS, to respond more favorably as overly pessimistic views get rerated. And like in most cyclical recoveries that take place in a regime of structural headwinds, we don’t expect it to last beyond a few quarters.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll say upfront that Cornerstone’s analysis is directly in line with our own, especially where the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) is concerned. China’s March PMI reading, at 49.7, was not only at its highest since February 2015 but it also crossed above its three-month moving average—a clear bullish signal, as I explained in-depth in January.

I spend a lot of time talking about the PMI as a forward-looking indicator of commodity prices and economic activity. As money managers, we find it to be far superior to GDP in forecasting market conditions three and six months out. In the past I’ve likened it to the high beams on your car.

FH2

We were one of the earliest shops to make the connection between PMIs and future conditions, and we continue to be validated. Just last week, J.P.Morgan admitted in its morning note that “stocks are taking their cues from the monthly PMIs,” the manufacturing surveys in particular, as opposed to GDP.

We eagerly await China’s April PMI reading and are optimistic that this cyclical recovery has legs.

Cornerstone’s outlook is supported by a recent study conducted by CLSA, which found that 73 percent of “Mr. and Mrs. China” expect to be better off three years from now, while only 3 percent expect to be worse off:

Optimism is strongest among those in higher-tier cities, reflecting the disparity in economic vibrancy across tiers: as many as 80 percent of families in first-tier cities have optimistic outlook. The figure is lower, albeit still strong, at 68 percent among families in the third tier.

More than half of those surveyed said they expected to be driving a nicer car and living in a bigger home in the next few years, which is a boon for materials and metals such as platinum and palladium, used in catalytic converters.

As a reflection of growing demand for new homes, house prices in China are climbing right now in first-tier and, to a lesser extent, lower-tier cities, a sign that more and more citizens are seeking the “Chinese dream.”

FH3

China’s Insatiable Appetite for Metals

China’s appetite for metals—gold, silver, copper, iron ore and more—is growing, another sign that the Asian giant is in turnaround mode.

China is the world’s largest importer, consumer and producer of gold. Last year, physical delivery from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) reached a record number of tonnes, more than 90 percent of total global output for 2015. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China continues to add to its reserves nearly every month and is now the sixth largest holder of gold—the fifth largest if we don’t include the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As of this month, the bank holds 1,788 tonnes (63 million ounces) of the yellow metal, which amounts to only 2.2 percent of its total foreign reserves, according to calculations by the World Gold Council.

Now, in a move that’s sure to boost China’s financial clout in global financial markets even more, the country just introduced a new fix price for gold, one that is denominated in Chinese renminbi (also known as the yuan).

Gold is currently priced in U.S. dollars. That’s been the case for a century. But since gold demand has been shifting from West to East, China has desired a larger role in pricing the metal. The Shanghai fix price is designed with that goal in mind.

It’s unlikely that Shanghai will usurp New York and London prices any time soon, but over time it will allow China to exert greater control over the price of the commodity it consumes in vaster quantities than any other country.

China’s gold consumption isn’t the only thing turning heads. I shared with you last week that the country imported 39 percent more copper in March than in the same month last year. (Shipments also rose 18.7 percent in renminbi terms in March year-over-year.)

The heightened copper demand has fueled renewed optimisim in the red metal. Prices are up 6 percent month-to-date.

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Caixin reports that China’s iron ore imports are surging on lower prices. In the first two months of 2016, the country purchased 86 percent more iron than it needs. What’s more, total imports were up 84 percent from the same time last year.

Steel production, which requires iron ore, is likewise ramping up.  Output is currently at 70.65 million tonnes, an increase of nearly 3 percent year-over-year.

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For reasons unknown, China has also been growing its silver inventories pretty substantially for the past six months, according to an article shared on Zero Hedge. This month, as of April 19, the Shanghai Futures Exchange added a massive 1,706 tonnes, which is a 452 percent increase from the amount it added in April 2015. Shanghai silver inventories are now at their highest level ever.

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Though unconfirmed, it’s possible this silver will eventually be used in the production of solar panels, every one of which uses between 15 and 20 grams of the white metal. China is already the world’s largest market for solar energy—it surpassed Germany at the end of last year—with 43.2 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. (By comparison, the U.S. currently has 27.8 GW.) But get this: It plans on adding an additional 143 GW by 2020, which will require a biblical amount of silver.

Not to be outdone, India also plans significant expansion to its solar capacity, with a goal of 100 GW by 2022, according to the Indian government.

Metals Still Have Room to Rock

We know that money supply growth can lead to a rise in commodity prices. Note that Chinese money supply peaked in 2010 and has since fallen, along with commodity prices.

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New bank loans in China have spiked dramatically this year while money supply has grown more than 13 percent year-over-year, which is good for metals and manufacturing.

The increase in metals demand, not to mention the weakening of the U.S. dollar, has allowed silver to become the top performing commodity of 2016 after overtaking gold.

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Despite the rally, gold doesn’t appear to be overbought at this point, based on an oscillator of the last 10 years. We use the 20-day oscillator to gauge an asset’s short-term sentiment. When the reading crosses above two standard deviations, it’s usually considered time to sell. Conversely, when it crosses below negative two standard deviations, it might be a good idea to buy.

Silver is currently sitting at 1.2 standard deviations, suggesting a minor correction at this point would be normal.

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Time to Take Profits in Oil?

The same could be said about Brent oil, which has returned 61 percent since hitting a recent low of $27.88 per barrel in January. This has driven up the Russian ruble and energy stocks. (We’ve recently shown the correlation between world currenices and commodities.)

The rally has been so strong over the past three months that it’s signaling an opportunity to take profits or wait for a correction. Based on the 20-day oscillator, Brent’s up 1.3 standard deviations, which suggests a correction over the next three months.

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Oil has historically bottomed in January/February. The rally this year has not disappointed. Further, it has helped many domestic banks that have been big lenders to the energy sector. High(er) oil prices translate into stronger cash flows for loans.