Gold back over $1280; Silver over $17; U.S. recovery fragile and vulnerable

Gold Today –New York closed yesterday at $1,279.30. London opened at $1,278.00 today. 

Overall the dollar was stronger against global currencies, early today. Before London’s opening:

–         The $: € was stronger at $1.1732 after the yesterday’s $1.1760: €1.

–         The Dollar index was stronger at 93.70 after yesterday’s 93.61.

–         The Yen was weaker at 109.98 after yesterday’s 109.75:$1.

–         The Yuan was much stronger at 6.6594 after yesterday’s 6.6782: $1.

–         The Pound Sterling was weaker at $1.2980 after yesterday’s $1.3005: £1

Yuan Gold Fix
Trade Date     Contract Benchmark Price AM 1 gm Benchmark Price PM 1 gm
      2017    8    10

     2017    8    9           

     2017    8    8

SHAU

SHAU

SHAU

/

273.77

273.21

Trading at 275.75

273.69

272.70

$ equivalent 1oz at 0.995 fineness

@   $1: 6.6594

       $1: 6.6782

       $1: 6.7059     

  /$1,270.07

$1,262.21

Trading at $1,282.92$1,269.70

$1,259.84

Please note that the Shanghai Fixes are for 1 gm of gold. From the Middle East eastward metric measurements are used against 0.9999 quality gold. [Please note that the 0.5% difference in price can be accounted for by the higher quality of Shanghai’s gold on which their gold price is based over London’s ‘good delivery’ standard of 0.995.]

 New York closed just under $10.00 higher than Shanghai’s close yesterday. Then today sees Shanghai lifting the gold price even higher as you can see. London is still lagging but not by much as it opened

We were looking to see if this was a jump on the back of the deteriorating situation with North Korea. We would have thought that if this were so, the gold price would have jumped higher. So far the evidence is not there.

London is $5 lower than Shanghai, but raced to catch up and at one point in London was the same as Shanghai’s earlier trading levels.

Silver Today –Silver closed at $16.86 yesterday after $16.38 at New York’s close Tuesday.

LBMA price setting:  The LBMA gold price was set this morning at $1,278.90 from yesterday’s $1,267.95.  The gold price in the euro was set at €1,091.03 after yesterday’s €1,080.30.

Just before the opening of New York the gold price was trading at $1,280.60 and in the euro at €1,092.38. At the same time, the silver price was trading at $17.10. 

Price Drivers

The gold price in dollars is now at $1,280, so the answer to yesterday’s question, “Will it run higher in the $1,270s?” was given in a day! So, where next?

The Yuan continues to strengthen strongly against the dollar, which itself is strengthening against other currencies.

The Fed

Members of the FOMC are talking to the media in very dovish manners. The evidence that inflation is falling has clearly disturbed them. After the 2015, 2016 steady building of inflation, it is falling back again. This implies that we may well not see another rate hike in 2017. They still feel that a start to the Fed’s Balance Sheet tightening will be made. After all, it will be slight and the Fed believes it will have barely any impact on markets.

While academically that may be true, psychologically it may be a mistake. The recovery remains vulnerable and fragile. Any hint of tightening may well cause a market reaction when they broach that subject with action. Meanwhile, the earnings picture is pointing to it peaking in the near term, if it has not already done so. This makes equity markets toppy. They could turn mercurial if evidence arrives that tightening, even slightly, is about to happen.

Gold will benefit from any stalling of Fed tightening. Real interest rates continue to be negative but if inflation falls back further until rates are not negative, we fully expect the Fed to turn back to the easing path.

North Korea

It is apparent that North Koreans are being fed propaganda that the U.S. is its main enemy and about to invade the country. This distracts from the dire economic state of the country. President Trump is reinforcing that idea with his responses. His words would, in the North Koreans eyes, justify continuing on the threatening war path. The President of the country is seen as a psychopath and intent on going ahead with his threats.

China, on the other hand, will not allow that buffer state to be destroyed, bringing the U.S., militarily dominated South Korea to its doorstep. This formula will lead to conflict, we now believe. But the markets have not yet responded to this potential. Gold has not jumped as it would have done if markets were reacting. The rise overnight in the gold price in the U.S. was not via physical buying but a dealer’s response to the North Korean situation. On the other hand the rise in Shanghai prices would be based on physical dealings. A $10 rise in Shanghai falls far short of a ‘war fear’ rise.

As we said yesterday, “Gold will benefit if war does break out as the war hurts financial markets the whole world over.”

Gold ETFs – Yesterday there were no changes in the holdings of the SPDR gold ETF or the Gold Trust holdings yesterday. The SPDR gold ETF and Gold Trust holdings are at 786.869 tonnes and at 211.43 tonnes respectively.

Julian D.W. Phillips  GoldForecaster.com | StockBridge Management Alliance

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Gold and silver surge despite more big sales out of GLD

 Gold Today –New York closed the day before yesterday at $1,248.40. London opened at $1,262.00 today. 

Overall the dollar was weaker against global currencies, early today. Before London’s opening:

         The $: € was weaker at $1.1728 after the day before yesterday’s $1.1654: €1.

         The Dollar index was weaker at 93.50 after the day before yesterday’s 93.97

         The Yen was unchanged at 111.25 after the day before yesterday’s 111.25:$1. 

         The Yuan was stronger at 6.7377 after the day before yesterday’s 6.7506: $1. 

         The Pound Sterling was stronger at $1.3138 after the day before yesterday’s $1.3031: £1.

Yuan Gold Fix
Trade Date     Contract Benchmark Price AM 1 gm Benchmark Price PM 1 gm
      2017    7    27

     2017    7    26           

     2017    7    25

SHAU

SHAU

SHAU

/

272.64

274.40

Trading at 275.00

271.95

273.84

$ equivalent 1oz at 0.995 fineness

@    $1: 6.7377

       $1: 6.7506

       $1: 6.7504     

  /

$1,251.19

$1,259.36

Trading at $1,264.49

$1,248.01

$1,256.78

Please note that the Shanghai Fixes are for 1 gm of gold. From the Middle East eastward metric measurements are used against 0.9999 quality gold. [Please note that the 0.5% difference in price can be accounted for by the higher quality of Shanghai’s gold on which their gold price is based over London’s ‘good delivery’ standard of 0.995.]

 The reaction to the Fed’s inaction not just on rates but on the timing of the contraction of the Fed’s Balance Sheet, interrupted the gold price relationship between global markets. New York closed at the same level as Shanghai yesterday, but London opened at just $2.50 below Shanghai’s trading level this morning. The price differentials between the global markets were nearly eliminated on the back of the Fed’s inaction. We look today to see just how global markets interact and to see if they are really narrowing their differences.

If you had been following our commentary in the Gold Forecaster newsletter on China and the shift of pricing power to the east, you would not have been tempted to sell your holdings of gold or silver!

It is clear that it is now necessary to understand what drives each gold market across the world if one is to understand the gold price and where it is going. To focus on just the U.S. market, as if it is the only gold price driver, is to make yourself vulnerable to grave portfolio mistakes on gold. One cannot be this parochial any more, as the U.S. lost that pricing power a while ago.

To ignore the deep fundamentals driving each market would do the same. To ignore other global gold markets would do the same too.

Silver Today –Silver closed at $16.45 the day before yesterday after $16.40 at New York’s close Monday.

LBMA price setting:  The LBMA gold price was set this morning at $1,262.05 from yesterday’s $1,245.40.  The gold price in the euro was set at €1,077.11 after the day before yesterday’s €1.074.68.

Just after the opening of New York the gold price was trading at $1,263.52 and in the euro at €1,078.78. At the same time, the silver price was trading at $16.78. 

Price Drivers

The Fed decided not to raise rates, as expected but only said they would start lowering the Fed’s Balance Sheet, relatively soon. This disappointed markets including the global gold markets that are taking the gold price above previous resistance levels into the $1,260 region.

But once again the biggest feature of the day was the softening dollar. It has confirmed it is in a ‘bear’ market and will decline over the next few years. More and more analysts including major institutions are now talking the dollar down, over the long term.

Bear in mind the analogy that the currency world has had the dollar, almost as the tree trunk, while other currencies have been the branches of that tree. If the trunk withers what will happen to the branches? The only way to save the tree is to replace it with several trunks. These will come from the main trading blocs of the world. The euro will be joined by the Yuan [which now accounts for just under 2.00% of global trade pricing – it could be more if we include oil] with the dollar in a diminished role.

Gold will then become the facilitator between currencies to reinforce confidence in them.

Gold ETFs – In the last two days we have seen sales of 14.20 tonnes of gold from the SPDR gold ETF (GLD) sales of 0.99 of a tonne from the Gold Trust (IAU). The SPDR gold ETF and Gold Trust holdings are a 785.424 tonnes and at 210.87 tonnes respectively.

Despite these ongoing, heavy, persistent gold sales from the SPDR gold ETF the gold price has risen through more levels of heavy resistance. There is no doubt in our minds that if the gold price holds above $1,260 and rises, these investors will return to gold and drive gold prices higher.

With U.S. sales of gold now greater than has been acquired in 2017 and accounting for longer term holders of gold, we believe that U.S. gold investors are now close to being sold out.

Since January 6th 2017 No tonnes of gold have been added to the SPDR gold ETF and the Gold Trust. In fact, in this year 2017 the level of gold in those funds is now -6.168 tonnes.

Julian D.W. Phillips 

GoldForecaster.com | StockBridge Management Alliance 

6 Things Precious Metals Naysayers Get Dead Wrong

by: Stefan Gleason*

Gold attracts its fair share of detractors. But the most common objections to gold as money, and as a safe-haven asset within an investment portfolio, are misplaced. Anti-gold myths are ubiquitous.

Mega billionaire Warren Buffett remarked derisively of gold that it “gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again, and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility.”

That brings us to the first thing precious metals naysayers get wrong…

Myth #1: “Gold has no utility.”

Warren Buffett is without question one of the world’s greatest investors. But he is not without biases.

Buffett’s primary business interests are in banking and insurance.

Facts vs Myths

He has literally made fortunes off the fiat monetary regime. He took part in (and benefited from) the government bailouts of the financial system. He (along with most other Wall Street and banking titans) supported Hillary Clinton for president.

So maybe, just maybe, Buffett’s hostility to gold has something to do with his deep, symbiotic connections to the political, banking, and monetary establishments!

In any event, the claim that gold has no utility is false. It’s been chosen by the market as money because of its many useful features, including fungibility, divisibility, durability, and rarity. Gold also functions as a store of value precisely because it, unlike Federal Reserve notes, has uses beyond that of a currency.

Even if gold weren’t hoarded in vaults, people would still dig it out of the ground at great cost for its uses in electronics, jewelry, art, and architecture. In an economic sense, $50,000 in physical gold is just as useful as a $50,000 sports car – as determined by the market.

Myth #2. “Gold is the money of the past. Digital crypto-currencies are the money of the future.”

Every generation comes up with some new reason to regard gold as a “barbarous relic.” Previously it was the advent of paper money. Then the creation of the Federal Reserve. Now the rise of internet-based crypto-currencies is hailed by some as a technology that will render gold obsolete as money.

The reality is that no paper or electronic or currencies ever have or ever could replicate the unique monetary properties of gold. Central banks continue to accumulate it. And new crypto-currencies actually backed by gold and silver are in the works.

A crypto-currency that combines the convenience of digital transactions with the security of metals backing could ultimately knock Bitcoin off its perch – and be a source of billions of dollars in new demand for gold and/or silver.

Myth #3. “Precious metals markets can’t go up while the Fed is raising interest rates.”

This persistency of this myth is surprising given how often in market history it has been dispelled. Gold prices hit a major bottom in December 2015 just as the Fed initiated its first interest rate hike. Gold and silver rallied big during the rate hiking campaign from 2014 to 2016. Back in the late 1970s as interest rates rose dramatically into the double digits, gold prices rose in tandem – until, finally, nominal interest rates actually exceeded the inflation rate by 1980.

The direction of the gold price is keyed into real interest rates, not nominal rates. When real rates are negative or inflation expectations are rising, that tends to be bullish for precious metals.

Gold Vs U.S. Real Interest Rate

Myth #4. “If the economy crashes, then so will gold.”

Gold is one of the least economically sensitive assets you can hold as an investor. The yellow metal exhibits virtually no long-term correlation with the stock, bond, or housing markets – and a relatively low correlation with industrial commodities such as oil and copper.

When every sector of the stock market including mining stocks crashed in 2008, gold itself managed to eke out a positive gain for the year. Gold isn’t impervious to economic shocks that may affect things like demand for jewelry, but safe-haven buying by investors is often more than enough to pick up the slack.

Myth #5. “Ordinary investors can’t win in gold and silver markets that are manipulated.”

A distinction needs to be made between physical metals markets and manipulated paper markets. Most of the manipulation that occurs in futures (paper) markets is done for short-term technical purposes – to game a few cents on bid/ask spreads, break resistance levels, force options to expire worthless, etc.

Ordinary investors absolutely should not try to trade the paper markets. They won’t beat the big banks and other institutional traders at their own game.

To the extent that paper prices are artificially suppressed, however, that’s actually an advantage for buyers of physical metal.

They can obtain it at a discount.

Meanwhile, artificially low prices serve as a disincentive to new mining production, which makes the long-term supply/demand fundamentals for gold and silver even more favorable.

Myth #6. “Gold pays no interest so it’s therefore a poor investment.”

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shares pay no interest or dividends. Venezuelan junk bonds yield more than 50%. Which is the better investment?

Obviously, the size of the nominal yield doesn’t in itself tell you whether a financial asset is a good investment. Even the “safe” yield provided by U.S. Treasury securities isn’t safe from inflation. Or from taxation.

Since physical precious metals aren’t debt instruments and therefore pay no interest, their inflationary upside potential is all tax-deferred growth. You owe no taxes until you actually sell (or take distributions from a traditional IRA).*

Gold poised to attack $1,300

Gold Today –New York closed at $1,279.60 yesterday after closing at $1,278.20 Friday. London opened at $1,289.50 today. 

Overall the dollar was weaker against global currencies, early today. Before London’s opening:

         The $: € was slightly stronger at $1.1246 after yesterday’s $1.1264: €1.

         The Dollar index was slightly weaker at 96.73 after yesterday’s 96.77

         The Yen was stronger at 109.52 after yesterday’s 110.51:$1. 

         The Yuan was stronger at 6.7954 after yesterday’s 6.8036: $1. 

         The Pound Sterling was barely changed at $1.2904 after yesterday’s $1.2905: £1.

Yuan Gold Fix
Trade Date     Contract Benchmark Price AM 1 gm Benchmark Price PM 1 gm
      2017    6    6

     2017    6    5

     2017    6    2

SHAU

SHAU

SHAU

 

 

281.27

278.34

 

Trading at 283.60

281.35

277.96

 

$ equivalent 1oz at 0.995 fineness

@    $1: 6.7954

       $1: 6.8036

       $1: 6.8153     

 

   

 

$1,280.86

$1,265.28

 

Trading at $1,293.08

$1,281.23

$1,263.55

Please note that the Shanghai Fixes are for 1 gm of gold. From the Middle East eastward metric measurements are used against 0.9999 quality gold. [Please note that the 0.5% difference in price can be accounted for by the higher quality of Shanghai’s gold on which their gold price is based over London’s ‘good delivery’ standard of 0.995.]

 While New York saw the gold price rise a little it was Shanghai that gave the spurt to the gold price trading at $1,293 late in their day today. London was pulled up at the opening to just $4 below Shanghai.

Silver Today –Silver closed at $17.57 yesterday after $17.52 at New York’s close Friday.

LBMA price setting:  The LBMA morning gold price was set today at $1,287.85 from yesterday’s $1,280.70.  The gold price in the euro was set at €1,144.40 after yesterday’s €1,137.04.

Ahead of the opening of New York the gold price was trading at $1,294.15 and in the euro at €1,148.62. At the same time, the silver price was trading at $17.73 

Price Drivers

Mainland China is set to import about 1,000 metric tons from Hong Kong in 2017, says, president of the Hong Kong gold exchange. That compares with net purchases of 647 tons last year and would be the biggest since 2013, data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department confirmed.

Local consumption was up 15% in the first quarter, with sales of bars for investment climbing more than 60% and dwarfing a 1.4% rise in jewelry buying, according to data from the China Gold Association.  

Imports from Switzerland topped 100 tons in the first four months of the year, according to calculations on data reported by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. In December, China imported 158 tons from Switzerland, taking the total for the year to 442 tons, up from 288 tons in 2015.

One has to be guarded about figures from Hong Kong being representative of Chinese demand. Gold enters China from Switzerland but also through Beijing and other ports of entry. In addition, the country mines around 450 + tonnes a year. It also imports gold directly from mines it owns outside the country. So the figures mentioned here are  just part of the picture. What we do learn from these is that Chinese demand is running close to record levels. The government has encouraged this as a matter of policy, so as to build up the nation’s gold. Gold is not allowed to be exported from the country. The volatility of the Stock Exchange there is a discouragement for long term investors and is not regarded as competition for gold, as in most parts of Asia gold is not bought for profit but for financial security.  As the Chinese middle classes burgeon so more and more gold investors arrive in the market. On top of this present middle classes continue to buy more.

India

Ahead of GST, jewelers increased their purchases to replenish inventory, so as to profit from demand for gold after the additional GST was imposed. From a year ago the gold imports surged four-fold to 103 tonnes. Now that the GST rate increase has happened, it is likely that internal gold demand will jump until these extra stockpiles are reduced. We fully expect Indian gold imports to slow until the harvest time is over, round about September.

With the forecasts for the monsoon positive this year and indeed having already started in  some regions, we believe demand later in the year will increase strongly.

Inflation in the E.U. and U.S.

The Federal Reserve’s preferred price measure rose 1.7% in April from a year ago, down from 1.9% in March and 2.1% in February. Core inflation, which strips out volatile oil and food costs, also slowed to the weakest annual pace since 2015. This raises questions about next week’s rate hike.

In the Euro zone, while producer prices rose 4.3% from a year earlier in May, that pressure has yet to flow through to consumer inflation. Euro zone inflation decelerated to 1.4 % in May, the weakest reading this year, from 1.9% a month earlier. We do not expect the E.C.B. to begin slowing their stimulus program until there is a marked change in this figure.

Gold ETFs – Friday, saw no purchases of gold into the SPDR gold ETF, but saw purchases of 0.66 of a tonne of gold into the Gold Trust. Their holdings are now at 851.003 tonnes and, at 205 tonnes respectively.

Since January 6th 2017 43.759 tonnes have been added to the SPDR gold ETF and the Gold Trust.

Julian D.W. Phillips  – GoldForecaster.com | SilverForecaster.com | StockBridge Management Alliance 

Deliberations on the U.S. Fed rate rise and gold

Two articles published by me on sharpspixley.com in the aftermath of this week’s FOMC meeting announcing a 25 basis point U.S. interest rate rise and looking ahead to three more in 2017.  Despite virtually every analyst and commentator predicting the increase which should have suggested that the rise had already been discounted in the recently weaker gold price the news precipitated a further $20 plus fall despite this.  This totally disregarded the Fed predicting three rate rises in 2016 the last time it increased rates by 25 basis points, exactly a year ago, and then failing to raise rates at all until now.  How short memories are – particularly in the financial world.  And how poor the Fed’s record has been in predicting the path of the U.S. economy.  Perhaps it will be all-change in 2017 under the somewhat unpredictable President-elect Trump, but we see some hopes being damped.  Whether gold will benefit, or continue to weaken, will probably depend on the big money which is likely to continue setting paper gold prices which still dominate, although Shanghai is doing its best to bolster prices – so far to little avail.

The first of the two Sharps Pixley articles written a couple of hours after the rate increase decision was announced, and the accompanying Fed forecast can be read by clicking on this link: Gold hammered on U.S. Fed rate decision.

The second was written the following morning (UK time) as the gold price continued to weaken and the dollar index to strengthen.  Indeed much of gold’s fall could be put down to dollar strength rather than gold weakness, although offloading of gold from the big gold ETFs did continue which will not have helped sentiment.  To read this article click here: Gold and silver dip further as dollar continues on upwards path.

Today the rise in the U.S. dollar index appears to have halted and precious metals prices appear to have stabilised.  Whether that will continue into next week we do not know given the gold bears appear to be in the ascendant, but there is an impression gold has been oversold, the dollar overcooked and maybe, just maybe, something of a precious metals recovery is already under way.

Gold and silver holding up ahead of Fed announcement

Gold Today –New York closed at $1,158.60 yesterday after closing at $1,162.20 on the 12th December. London opened again at $1,160.00 today.

Overall the dollar is slightly weaker against global currencies today.

         The $: € was weaker at $1.0649: €1 from $1.0643: €1 yesterday.

         The Dollar index was slightly weaker at 100.87 from 100.97 yesterday. 

         The Yen was stronger at 114.95: $1 from yesterday’s 115.30 against the dollar. 

         The Yuan was weaker at 6.9025: $1 from 6.9009: $1 yesterday. 

         The Pound Sterling was slightly stronger at $1.2656: £1 from yesterday’s $1.2672: £1.

 Yuan Gold Fix

Trade Date Contract Benchmark Price AM 1 gm Benchmark Price PM 1 gm
      2016  12    14

      2016  12    13

      2016  12    12

SHAU

SHAU

SHAU

264.98

265.04

264.34

264.99

264.93

264.12

$ equivalent 1oz @  $1: 6.9025

      $1: 6.9009

$1: 6.9138

  $1,194.03

$1,194.58

$1,189.20

$1,194.08

$1,194.08

$1,188.21

Please note that the Shanghai Fixes are for 1 gm of gold. From the Middle Eat eastward metric measurements are used against 0.9999 quality gold. [Please note that the 0.5% difference in price can be accounted for by the higher quality of Shanghai’s gold on which their gold price is based over London’s ‘good delivery’ standard of 0.995.]

 Shanghai prices held $30.48 higher levels than prices in New York. London opened at a higher discount to Shanghai of $29.08.  

It is again reported that the requirement for importing gold into China is a ‘licence for each batch’ of gold imported. Yes, the PBoC can restrain these licenses to limit imports, but it is unlikely that they would hold back such licenses. There is no confirmation of the refusal to issue licenses by the PBoC to gold importers, so we would question such control until there is evidence.

The withdrawals from the SGE were at record levels in November and the declining Yuan would boost demand in December too, but we would like to see the SGE withdrawals for December before we accept that the PBoC is holding imports back.

Some report the ‘premium’ of SGE prices over London is entirely due to such restraint and this would be logical, but take a look at Yuan prices  and you will see the declining prices on the SGE and the relative stability of  Yuan prices argues for steady to declining demand. That’s why we see Shanghai reflecting prices of physical gold as opposed to those of ‘paper’ gold.

This stability of prices is shown in the unwillingness of Shanghai prices to decline when London and New York declined, not in rising prices in China.

LBMA price setting:  The LBMA gold price setting was at $1,160.95 this morning against yesterday’s $1,157.35. 

The gold price in the euro was set higher at €1,090.45 after yesterday’s €1,090.40.Ahead of the opening of New York the gold price was trading at $1,161.95 and in the euro at €1,091.75.  At the same time, the silver price was trading at $17.10.

Silver Today –Silver closed at $16.91 at New York’s close yesterday from $17.07 on the 12th December. 

 Price Drivers

The Fed’s announcement is what will move markets today, not the rate hike itself, as this has been discounted already. If there is no rate hike then that’s a different matter.

Gold markets are marking time ahead of the announcement later today. This is the last statement they will make before Trump takes power. Will that change things, or some part of the statement, reflect this? We doubt it, but nothing is certain these days. Trump has already pointed fingers at the Fed saying they are the cause of the current ‘bubbles’ in markets.

What is likely is that the Fed will continue to wait to see the evidence on which it will act and that points to no more hikes until the second half of 2017. On balance the slow pace of interest rate hikes is positive for gold, particularly in the light of the cuts in production put forward by oil producers. Higher oil prices will spur [bad] inflation making it likely that interest rates are lower than inflation as growth will be badly impacted by higher oil prices.

As you see below, even the sellers of gold have paused waiting for the Fed. Do not be surprised to see a surprising gold market today!

Gold ETFs – Yesterday, there were no sales or purchases from or into the SPDR gold ETF but a sale 0f 0.51 of a tonne from the Gold Trust holdings, leaving their respective holdings at 856.259 tonnes and 196.95 tonnes. The slowing of sales to such low levels is proving supportive of the gold price.

Silver –Silver is continuing to look solid above $17.00 but this could change in a heartbeat.  

 Julian D.W. Phillips GoldForecaster.com | SilverForecaster.com | StockBridge Management Alliance 

To ensure you can benefit from the future higher gold prices we will see then, you need to hold it in a manner that makes sure it can’t be taken from you. Contact us at admin@stockbridgemgmt.com to buy physical gold in a way that we feel, removes the threat of it being confiscated. We’re the only storage company that offers that! – We’re Shari’ah compliant!]

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Global Gold Price (1 ounce)
  Today yesterday
Franc Sf1,173.28 Sf1,174.28
US $1,161.95 $1,158.70
EU €1,091.75 €1,092.29
India Rs.78,379.34 Rs. 78,297.99
China Y 8,021.75 Y 7,998.51

 

September Fed rate rise spectre knocks gold and stocks – again

You put the Jack back in the box and it then jumps out at you again.  As the September FOMC meeting approaches the fear that the U.S. Fed will make a move towards raising interest rates at that meeting has surfaced yet again and is playing havoc with the markets.  Gold slid back to the high $1,320s, silver was testing $19 on the downside, the Dow plunged almost 400 points, the S&P 500 fell over 50 points and the NASDAQ over 130 points.  Crude oil fell around 3.7%, while the US Dollar Index climbed back to the mid 95s from a 94.99 close a day earlier.

Now maybe that should all be a warning to the FOMC.  Apparently the downturn in the markets was because it was announced that the normally dovish Fed Governor, Lael Brainard, is due to speak at an event on Monday.  The fear is that she may say something that is less dovish than her usual stance and that could trigger further falls as analysts and traders try to read that as foreseeing a Fed rate rise announcement at the meeting, despite this likelihood having been previously discounted because of a lower than anticipated nonfarm payroll increase a week ago followed by a fall in Services PMI.  Manufacturing PMI had already been looking weak as well.

From gold and silver’s point of view maybe the sooner the Fed does implement its second rate increase in a year (as opposed to the four rises it had been targeting at the end of last year) the better.  If there is to be another rate rise this year it’s likely to be another tiny 25 basis point increase which will still leave rates in effective negative territory taking real inflation into account, but if the rumour that such an increase might happen (and analysts apparently only give it a 24% chance that it will) can knock the markets back so much in a single day, what would the fact do?

Many well respected commentators and analysts have been predicting a stock market crash now for some time – and one that would rival, or even exceed, that of 2008 and if they are correct in their judgement it might only take a trigger like the next Fed rate increase to bring the whole house of cards crashing down.  Can the Fed afford to take that risk?  It certainly could talk itself into so doing having for so long preached interest rate normalization without doing anything apart from various board member statements being seized upon.  We have commented before as to whether FOMC committee members should be allowed to make statements between meetings as every nuance of what they say is picked up by the markets and tends to move them sharply one way or the other.  It is too easy to manipulate markets so – but then this could be deliberate Fed policy as yet another means of keeping people guessing, although the potential for thus influencing the markets, and the dollar, by individuals cannot be ruled out.  There’s an awful lot of money at stake here!  See: Fed member statements move gold price up or down. Should this be allowed?

Gold Jumps on Latest U.S. Data

Gold continues to be strongly driven by speculation as to if and when the U.S. Fed will decide to increase interest rates.  But this mood is very much data driven and while some positive figures last week, coupled with what were taken as some potentially hawkish statements by the Fed Chair and Vice Chair, had led to some sharpish falls in the gold price on the expectation that this had put the possibility of an interest rate increase announcement following the FOMC meeting to be held on September 20th and 21stback on the cards.  But data this week in the form of a poor ISM manufacturing figure, and now a considered-weak nonfarm payrolls increase, have reversed the gold price movement as now a September rate hike announcement is seen as unlikely again.

The latest employment figure suggesting the U.S. had added 151,000 jobs during August, as against expectations of 175,000 to 185,000, with a jobless rate of 4.8% saw gold spike by nearly $20 at one time to above $1330, on the publication of the announcement, before starting to slip back a little again.  Traders and analysts now appear to see no Fed rate increase announcement until the December FOMC meeting – to be held on the 13th and 14th of that month – if then.  That will be yet another blow to the Fed’s economic forecasting credibility given that it has consistently over-estimated U.S. growth and had suggested at the end of last year there would be three or four rate increases this as it moved to ‘normalize’ rates, while so far there have been none.

It is actually a moot point as to whether the U.S. economy is actually in recession or not.  The stock market certainly suggests otherwise but this is buoyed up by low interest rates and Fed monetary policy, whereas some other key indicators make more negative reading.  Apart from the slower than anticipated job growth and the Chicago PMI downturn to below 50, it is apparent that the stronger dollar is impacting manufacturers who export adversely, while the latest domestic news from the auto industry in that sales turned down 4.2% in August.  Reuters reports that some carmakers say the industry has peaked and that a long-expected decline due to softer consumer demand had begun.  All is not well in the world’s largest economy!

Gold – the Real and Honest Currency

Mike Gleason* of Money Metals Exchange interviews Michael Pento of Pento Portfolio Strategies who has some extremely interesting views on the U.S. economy, the data which supports it, and on gold.

Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to be joined by Michael Pento, president and founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies and author of the book The Coming Bond Market Collapse: How to Survive the Demise of the US Debt Market. Michael is a money manager who ascribes to the Austrian school of economics and has been a regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business News, among others.

Michael, it’s good to talk to you again. Thanks very much for joining us today and welcome back.

Michael Pento: Thanks for having me back on.

Mike Gleason: Well to start off here, Michael, I want to get your thoughts on some of the economic data we’re seeing out there and maybe you can explain some of the market action to us because there seems to be a lot of confusion. Now as you pointed out in an article you wrote earlier this week, we have a big disconnect between what the payroll reports and the employment numbers are showing compared to the tax receipts the Treasury Department is collecting. Talk about that if you would and also let us know what conclusions you’re drawing from these numbers.

Michael Pento: Well unfortunately, the conclusions I’m drawing is that the payroll numbers aren’t telling the truth. If you listen to the Labor Department, the number of net new jobs created year-over-year this fiscal year so far – it’s going to end at the end of September, so we have almost all the data in – there has been 1.66 million net new jobs created. One would assume if you have all these people in a net basis in the workforce that tax receipts would be increasing, and yet, you see corporate receipts are down 12.8% year-to-date and individual tax receipts are down 0.4% year-to-date. Furthermore, there’s something called the FUTA tax, and that’s basically a tax on, employment insurance tax on, the first $6,000 of anyone employed. So unless these people that are employed, supposedly full time and gainful employment, are earning less than $6,000 a year, these people should be paying into this pool. And those receipts are actually down year over year.

So I believe that the Bureau of Labor statistics is inflating this data and I believe the quality of the data, in other words, the number of jobs created and the quality of those jobs are mostly part time in nature and very low paying service sector jobs, which by the way, would also explain the absolute lack of productivity. Don’t forget, in case you don’t know, in case your audience isn’t aware, productivity has dropped for three quarters in a row, and a productivity of part time bar maids is not very high. That would explain the discrepancy between the two numbers that I just described between the Bureau of Labor statistics and the tax receipt data, and it also explains why I think this economy is most likely in a recession right now.

Mike Gleason: There’s something else here that doesn’t seem to add up. We continue to see records in the stock market, but earnings are not keeping up with the rise in share prices. It’s hard to know who’s actually buying shares. Zero Hedge has reported that retail investors don’t seem to be buyers. So is it possible that the fed might be actively playing in this market? We do know the Swiss Central Bank has been buying U.S. stocks and certainly Bank of Japan is a huge buyer.

Michael Pento: Sure. Really, is it that much of a stress to believe that the Federal Reserve is doing exactly what other central bankers are doing? I think we’re all headed towards helicopter money. This is where this is all going to head up. So if you look at earnings on the S&P 500, it is down 5 quarters in a row and most likely it will be 6 quarters after this earning season is wrapped up. So if you have 6 quarters in a row of falling earnings, what is supporting the stock market, which is, by the way, trading at record highs? If you look at median PE ratios, if you look at price to sales ratios, if you look at total market cap to GDP ratios, this is the most expensive market in aggregate that we have ever had in history. It’s even more expensive when you think of the fact that you have earnings that are most likely falling, that means negative, 6 quarters in a row.

So who is inflating the stock bubble? It has to be the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank, the European Central Bank, and the Fed, even if they’re not directly buying ETS as they are over there in the maniacal inflation seeking retirement colony in Japan. You at least have to admit that keeping interest rates near zero for 90 months and inflating the Fed’s balance sheet by $3.7 trillion has bent down the yield curve to almost a flat level where it sits now at a 10-Year around 1.5%. That has forced everybody in a wild search for yield and where are they going? They are going every place from municipal bonds to collateralized loan obligations to REITs to every type of fixed income proxy there is, even to high performance sports cars and art. So every asset is in a bubble thanks to the fact that risk-free, so called risk-free, rate of return has been pushed down to near zero for 90 months on a worldwide basis.

Mike Gleason: You’ve written a book about the coming bond market collapse and I want to get your comments on that market here. We continue to see bond prices holding strong and even rallying. Central banks have been huge buyers, but it appears even the private sector can’t get enough of them. Investors are taking bonds with negative yield in many cases and I’ve seen reports that offerings have even been over-subscribed. Has the ongoing strength in bonds surprised you and have you revised any of your thinking on the dire predictions about the bond market? Because there is an argument out there, Michael, that the central banks can continue to buy bonds with newly created electronic money until the moment the electricity goes out.

Michael Pento: Well they certainly can. I wrote the book in 2013. I never expected that yields would go into negative territory. So I was prescient, I was definitely ahead of the curve, calling this a bond bubble when nobody else was calling this a bond bubble, but what has occurred basically, quite simply, is that the bond bubble is more elastic than I thought and has gotten much, much bigger. Look at the amount of global debt. Global debt right now is $230 trillion, up $60 trillion since 2007. That is 300% of global GDP.

The U.S. debt is 350% of GDP. The average ratio of U.S. debt to GDP is 150% and that existed for decade after decade after decade prior to going off the gold standard in 1971. So we went from 150%, which is sort of the average, the normal, to 350% debt to GDP. And there’s a massive accumulation of this debt. But by the way, this is not debt that’s been taken on by you put your savings in the bank and you have robust GDP growth, you save a little money, and that money is loaned out to the private sector for what? Capital good creation and for engendering productivity enhancements. This massive accumulation of debt isn’t at all that genre, it’s unproductive debt that is only made serviceable by unprecedented increases in base money supply. This is the perfect recipe for stagflation.

So if you add a massive increase of unproductive debt, and I gave you the numbers, $230 trillion – totally unproductive debt going to share buybacks and hole digging and pyramid building – this debt is not going to be accompanied by any type of GDP growth. It’s unserviceable unless central banks continue their torrid and unprecedented pace of quantitative easing. Just put a figure on that. There is now occurring $200 billion of quantitative easing every month, every month. So worldwide, central bankers are engaged in QE to the tune of $200 billion a month of central bank credit creation. So if you have stagflation, no growth, and a massive and unprecedented and intractable increase in the base money supply, of course you’re going to get inflation. You have to get a rapid rise inflation. And when that occurs, you’re going to have a collapse in the bond market, the likes of which we have never seen before.

Let me just quickly take you to Japan, an example I love to use. 250% debt to GDP, that’s just federal debt, that’s not gross debt, it’s just federal debt. You have an inflation target of 2% and you have a perpetual recession, never ending. It’s been going on and off since 1989. What happens when the BOJ, the Bank of Japan, successfully achieves a 2% inflation target … And don’t be misled for a second, no central bank can peg an inflation target, it will go to 2% and then keep on going. Here you are holding a Japanese JGB, ten year note, going out ten years, yielding negative ten bases points, inflation is rising, going north of 2%, and you’re dealing with an insolvent nation. The debt you hold is that of an insolvent, broke nation that is going to default.

What are you going to do? You’ll panic out of that note. You will sell that to anybody because you know that the central bank of Japan, the BOJ, will be getting out of the monetary monetization business. That’s what I predict will happen. It’s going to happen in Europe, it’s going to happen in Japan, it’s going to happen in the United States. And when that happens, when yields spike, it will reveal the insolvency of that global $230 trillion debt condition.

Mike Gleason: Let’s pivot and talk about the metals, specifically, certainly, we’ve seen some very strong action this year, which began back in January and February when we spoke to you last. Gold is up about 25% for the year, silver’s up about 40%, but both metals have come under pressure here over the last couple of weeks. The mining stocks, which have been on absolute tear, have pulled back as well. Do you expect this to be a prolonged correction in the metals with prices maybe heading lower into September or October? What are your thoughts there on the metals?

Michael Pento: Well let’s give you the reason. First of all, I am not a Pollyanna about any asset class. If I thought that the Federal Reserve was going to be able to engage in a protracted, steady increase in the Fed funds rate in the matter they did between 2004 and 2006, if I thought that they were going to be able to do this in the context of steadily increasing GDP growth, then I would tell you, “You better get the hell out of gold and gold mining shares as quickly as possible”. I can tell you right now, I don’t believe that’s the case.

So the pullback I see right now is healthy in nature, it’s way overdue, and it was engendered by, it was caused by, a plethora of talking heads from the FOMC, Federal Open Market Committee, coming out and it was perfectly timed up until this Jackson Hole meeting, which is occur on Friday, to tell Wall Street that they are way too quiescent in their view that the Fed is not going to raise interest rates in 2016. They haven’t done so yet. They did once, as you know, in December of 2015. The market fell apart. And they threatened four rate hikes this year and we are now coming up to September and have no rate increases so far.

I believe they may raise once in December after the election. That all depends if the economic data turns around. If you look at what’s happened with GDP, if you look at Q4 GDP 2015, Q1 and Q2 (of this year), we are now displaying zero handles on Gross Domestic Product. And if you look at the latest data on housing, existing home sales – which is by far the much bigger portion of home sales, vis a vis, new home sales – and if you look at mortgage applications, mortgage applications are now down year-over-year and existing home sales are down year-over-year.

That says that the all-important housing market is rolling over, people cannot afford home prices, and I think after that brief blip up in data that you see in July, Q3 will also be very anemic and the data between now and the end of the year will most likely not allow the Fed to raise interest rates between now and the end of the year, but even if they go once in December, the most salient point I can make to your investors is that the central bank will be very clear that this is not part of a protracted, elongated rate hiking campaign.

In other words, they’re going to go very, very, very slowly, as they’ve evidenced so far, and the terminal point, which they call the neutral Fed Funds Rate, will be much slower than at any other time in the past. You think about in history neutral Fed Funds rates are usually 5% to 6% on the overnight lending rate. They’re at 3%, that’s their target right now, and I believe, after these next few meetings in September and December, Janet Yellen will come out and tell you that the terminal rate, the neutral target rate, is something in the neighborhood of 2%, so they’ll be lower for longer and have a much lower terminal rate. By the way, I don’t think they ever get there. As I said before, I think the economic data turns profoundly negative between one or two more rate hikes. We enter into an inverted yield curve, we enter into a fully manifested recession, and that means the Fed joins the ECB and BOJ back into quantitative easing.

Mike Gleason: Well as we begin to close here, Michael, I would certainly think that a negative real interest rate type environment is likely to continue. Sounds like maybe that’s what you’re predicting. What do you think that’s going to mean for the metals? And also, just give us your thoughts on the whole election as we move towards the election season here in November.

Michael Pento: Well first of all, I’d like to tell you that I believe that nominal rates are going to stay very low and I believe stagflation is going to be coming more and more into the fore. You’re looking at real yields, which will be moving further into negative territory. Anybody who knows anything about gold will tell you that this real and honest currency is absolutely essential during times when nominal rates are negative and real interest rates are even further negative, and that’s exactly the condition that we are headed into. If you look at nominal GDP, it’s just 2.4% year-over-year. If inflation is higher than 2.4% then we are now in a recession.

I also want to give you one more data point. I know it’s very data heavy, but that’s how I am and that’s how your audience is going to be able to grasp why it’s so essential to maintain their position in gold and in the miners. Core inflation is up 2.3% year-over-year. Real GDP is up just 1.2%. So inflation is twice as high as real GDP. That’s stagflation, that condition is going to get worse, that is going to make real interest rates even lower, and that is going to force people more and more into the protection of gold.

And I want to also touch before we end, you asked me about the election. Donald Trump is on record saying that he’s the king of debt and that he loves debt. He is also on record saying that if the U.S. ever enters into another 2008 type scenario, that we can default upon that debt. Now if you ever wanted to have another reason to own gold instead of treasuries that yield almost nothing is the fact that the nominal yield you’re getting, which is practically zero, if even that nominal yield has been threatened to be defaulted upon. So while Trump is a deficit lover, so is Clinton, who I believe will, by the way, unfortunately, win the election. So I believe both of these candidates are lovers of debt. Both of these candidates will be vastly increasing to the amount of debt deficits that we run up, which by the way, will be and must be monetized, and according to Mr. Trump, will be defaulted upon. At least he’s being honest.

Mike Gleason: Well we’ll leave it there. Excellent stuff Michael. We always appreciate your insights and thanks for being so generous with your time. As always, we really enjoy your commentaries, and on that note, if people want to both read and hear more of those from you and want to follow your work or learn more about your firm, tell them how they can do that.

Michael Pento: The website is www.PentoPort.com. My email address is mpento@pentoport.com. And the office number here is 732-772-9500. Love to have you subscribe to my podcast. You can read my commentaries online all over the place. I’d love to be also be able to help you manage your money through this tumultuous time that we’re going through, which will get much worse.

Mike Gleason: Again, great stuff Michael. Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. I look forward to catching up with you again soon. Hope you have a good weekend and thanks for the time today.

Michael Pento: Thank you Mr. Gleason.

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

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

 

Dovish Fed and Brexit drive gold and silver upwards. $1300 in sight?

Edited and updated version of Julian Phillips’ latest commentary following the dovish Fed comments implying perhaps only one rate increase this year, if that.

With the Fed completing its two-day meeting today markets held their breath to see if any surprises would be sprung on us. We didn’t expect any. But we may hear Mrs. Yellen be less optimistic than the market expects and hopes. The persistent desire for higher interest rates, which the Fed indicated was on the way in summer, may well miss summer and autumn. We see winter as an appropriate time because of the cold damage winters can cause. The U.S. economic recovery may well be looking OK but the data threatens to weaken. In itself this prospect has so far put the Fed off raising rates. In the event gold surged to the high $1,290s

The global economy continues to weaken and will affect the U.S. Most importantly, a rate hike would cause the dollar to rise, something that will damage the U.S. economy.  In the event gold surged up to the highish $1.290s making another tilt at $1,300, before being brought back down a few dollars in later trade.  It will be interesting to see what the Asian and European markets make of the latest Fed inaction overnight and tomorrow.

Global financial markets are tensioning up in preparation for next week’s Brexit vote, with the Yen hitting new recent highs at 106.21: $1, as global equities continue to rise slightly to ‘toppy’ areas.

As we have said in the past, equities are rising because they are the only place left where there is yield, not because a rosy future lies ahead. The huge danger in this is that if and when interest rates do rise, both bonds and equities will tumble!

Yesterday, we mentioned ‘a potentially devastating set of ‘ripple’ effects’’. We need to emphasize this. We are not simply talking about the ripples setting off other crises elsewhere, we are taking about a group of crises being set off and when synergized together, create an even larger global crisis in which precious metals will blossom.

Gold ETFs – On Tuesday the holdings of the SPDR & gold Trust rose yet again as 2.376 tonnes was purchased into the gold ETF, leaving its holdings at 898.671. No purchases or sales were made in the Gold Trust, leaving its holding at 196.90 tonnes.  This persistent buying is not simply holding prices up, but steadily draining London’s physical gold liquidity. We are under no illusion that once the ‘season’ for gold begins in September. Market physical shortages will shine through.

Silver –Silver is again marking time without making as strong a move as gold.

 

Regards,

Julian D.W. Phillips

GoldForecaster.com | SilverForecaster.com | StockBridge Management Alliance

Jobs, Brexit and Gold – the unholy trio that are upsetting the Fed applecart

As maybe I’ve mentioned before, of the plethora of supposedly independent information and reports which come through to me in my daily emails, one I will always read assiduously is Grant Williams’ Things that make you go hmm… twice monthly (usually) newsletter.  Not only does he take a pretty jaundiced view of much of what passes for mainstream economic analysis and media comment, but he expresses his opinions forthrightly and with good humour as anyone who has attended one of his conference presentations will be well aware.

Grant is both a Singapore-based fund manager and very well followed commentator on geopolitics and economics and he occasionally touches on gold as a part of this terrific coverage in his subscription-based newsletter.  He makes you sit up and think – and understand that much of what data is released by governments, central banks and government funded economists is more akin to some of the claptrap often put out by junior mining and exploration companies (and some bigger ones too) and their PR companies in trying to hoodwink investors by putting a strong positive spin on financial and drilling results which often, on deeper analysis, should be suggesting quite the opposite.

His latest newsletter, entitled ‘The 60 Second Excitement’ looks in some depth, inter alia, at the latest U.S. non farm payroll figures, the possibility of a Brexit (Britain leaving the European Union) and their combined effect on the gold market, gold stocks and the gold price should the initially unexpected materialize – as it has already done with the U.S. jobs figures.

Let’s take all these in order:

Firstly the latest U.S. jobs statistics which showed an increase in non-farm payroll figures for April of only 38,000 – hugely below the consensus expectation of 160,000 – coupled with also reducing the figures for the prior two months as well.  Yet in Fed terms the positive spin was that the overall unemployment rate fell to 4.7% (below the Fed 5% target),  but conveniently ignoring the incontrovertible fact that according to government stats this relatively low unemployment rate has only been achieved by an ever-continuing rise in the percentage of people who have somehow withdrawn from the labour market altogether.  One is thus drawn to John Williams’ (no relation to Grant or myself – we Williamses seem to be getting around!) Shadow Stats, which looks at such government statistics more in the way they used to be calculated before goalposts were moved (several times in some cases).  According to Shadow Stats the U.S. unemployment rate is, in reality, is somewhat north of 20%, which would seem confirm reality rather than manipulated government statistics.

Prior to the latest jobs announcement observers had seen the likelihood of the Fed raising rates 25 basis points in June much more likely and gold had been suffering as a consequence.  After the jobs announcement the likelihood of a June rate rise receded substantially, although some observers feel a July rate rise still on the cards if U.S. economic data between now and then looks supportive – and if the U.K votes to stay in the European Union in the referendum on June 23rd.  Others think September, or even later, will see the next Fed rate rise.  Undoubtedly the Fed has talked itself into imposing another rate increase this year, or perhaps two, just to maintain what little credibility it may have left in its ability to really jumpstart the U.S. economy and promote sustainable growth.

But now back to Brexit.  As we have pointed out here before there’s a substantial underswell amongst the British public of anti-EU feeling.  Whether this will express itself in a Brexit vote remains uncertain – a set of opinion polls published today (so after the latest TTMYGH newsletter was written) – suggest that the Brexit vote may indeed carry the day, although the high powered government-based Remain propaganda machine may yet prevail.  But if the Brexit option does emerge triumphant in just over 2 weeks’ time, with its decidedly uncertain, and almost certainly immediately negative impact on the U.K. economy, there are a growing number who believe the impact on the whole European Union concept – and even on the global economy – could actually be even more severe.

There has been a huge ‘project fear’ campaign unleashed on the U.K. electorate by the Remain camp, but as Grant Williams points out all the statistics being put about predicting doom and gloom for the U.K. economy as a whole and for the wealth of the person in the street, are totally unquantifiable – much as the positive spin on some drilling results from exploration juniors could be equally speculative but on the positive side.  Not that the pro-Brexit campaigners are not equally guilty of disseminating unquantifiable statistics and suppositions of their own.

So what has all this to do with gold?  Gold tends to thrive on uncertainty and the Fed’s dithering over rate increases, growing concerns about whether the U.S. economy is actually growing, and the potential effects of a Brexit should it come about – which looks to be much more of a possibility now than it did only a couple of weeks ago, are all uncertainties gold could thrive on. Add to that the apparent beginnings of a downturn in global gold production and doubts about continuing supply availability, coupled with what has been enormous gold ETF demand so far this year, and this is all gold supportive.  True, Asian demand has slipped.  Indeed this fall in demand from the East coupled with the huge ETF demand shows there has been something of a reversal in gold flows with more flowing into the Western gold ETFs than into India and China combined.  But virtually no-one believes that Asian demand will not pick up again – quite probably later this year and if this is accompanied by a continuation of ETF inflows the doubts about availability of unattributable (i.e. freely available physical gold) will multiply.

Grant Williams also points to another supportive phenomenon in the performance of gold stocks which have been hugely outstripping the rise in the metal price, and which have been remaining relatively strong even through the recent correction in the gold price.  Some of the biggest gold stocks of all have more than doubled and the most significant gold stock indexes and ETFs have been outstanding performers vis-à-vis the gold price itself.  Gold stocks are often the precursors of significant moves in the gold price rather than just being followers.

But while the TTMYGH newsletter highlighted just the three factors noted above, Grant Williams goes on to end with the comment: There are plenty more (such factors).  He mentions China, the upcoming US elections, the explosion in corporate debt levels and perhaps the biggest problem of all—unfunded pension liabilities—which will all have a big part in determining what kind of outcome the world gets as the ghosts of 2008 return.  You have been warned.

The above article is a lightly edited version of one I posted onto the info.sharpspixely.com site a day earlier

Weekend reading on gold

Lawrieongold readers may be interested to read my two most recent articles on SeekingAlpha.com and Sharpspixley.com which both look at specific aspects of the current  gold and gold stocks markets.

To read the Seeking Alpha article click on Billionaires, Gold And Gold Stocks… They Are In For The Long Term, Should You Be Too?.  This in a way comments on some recent media decrying the idea of following some highly publicised media coverage of some huge investments in gold and gold stocks by some high profile billionaires.  My view is that it’s not too late to follow their example as they are for the most part investing in gold for the long term.  They see a whole lot of factors ahead which will support a rising gold price over the remainder of this year and into the years ahead.

For the Sharps Pixley article click on Reversing gold flows could lead to Perfect Storm.  This article examines the changes in gold flows which have been taking place this year which have seen the main area of demand in the West, rather than in the East which has been the case for the past several years.  This has been due to weak Asian demand coupled with enormous investment demand in the U.S. and Europe exemplified by the big move back into gold ETFs and in coin sales.  It also takes a look at the  recent Swiss data which saw big gold imports from the UAE and Hong Kong – normally major recipients of gold from the Swiss refiners, and a very big export figure for gold into the U.K. – again a huge reversal of the normal flows.  Is this an indicator that London is actually short of unattributable physical gold?

Readers are reminded regarding this latter possible conclusion by my earlier article: Switzerland gold data raises new doubts about London’s Gold Stocks

In my view these are very interesting times for the gold market, which could result in some good upwards momentum, particularly given the recent weak U.S. employment data which could yet again dissuade the Fed from raising interest rates in the near future.  And if and when the Fed does raise rates, probably by a paltry 25 basis points again, should gold investors be worried.  Consider what happened to the metal price when the Fed raised rates in December.  It was closely followed by one of the biggest gold price surges in years rather than knocking the price back as most analysts were predicting.  The weakness in price mostly occurred prior to the event and strength afterwards.

Readers may also want to look at the possible impact of a Brexit should the U.K. public vote to withdraw from the EU in 3 weeks time.  This now looks to be a definite possibility, while only just over a week ago many commentators had virtually written this possibility off as highly unlikely.  There is an underswell of resentment regarding EU membership in the U.K. which only now seems to be becoming apparent.  See: Brits and Europeans may find gold attractive as Brexit possibility looks stronger.

All good weekend reading!

David Morgan talks gold and silver and where he thinks they are headed

Mike Gleason of Money Metals Exchange in the U.S. interviews David Morgan of the The Morgan Report to get his take on the advance in the metals so far this year, how long it’s likely to continue, and whether or not the Silver Guru is concerned.  The interview was conducted ahead of this week’s FOMC meeting and gold’s pullback before it and pick-up after.

David Morgan

Mike Gleason: I’m happy to welcome back our good friend David Morgan of TheMorganReport.com and author of the book The Silver Manifesto. David it’s a pleasure to talk to you as always, how are you?

David Morgan: I’m doing well, thank you for having me on your show.

Mike Gleason: Well to start out I’ll ask you to comment on the market action here in 2016 so far. Now, gold and silver have done quite well, we had gold advancing on weakness and concerns in the equities markets earlier in the year. Now over the last week we’ve seen it continue to do well even as stocks rebounded after a strong employment report. One would think it’s a bullish sign when we get good price action even with supposedly negative news for precious metals coming out. So give us your thoughts on the market action so far this year, David, and specifically why do you think the metals have done so well here in the early part of 2016?

David Morgan: Well a couple things, one to quote The Economist magazine, which is a pretty well-known and revered publication. They stated that, “This is the best start of gold mark in 35 years.” On top of that, the main reason is because the overall equity market has basically gone 20% down. From a technical perspective, you have a top in the stock market in the United States and other markets around the globe. So the most negatively correlated asset to equities is gold itself, not gold stocks.

That’s basically it. I think it’s pretty simple. I don’t think you need to look much further than that. I would add on another real key element to knowing that things are finally off the bottom and going to continue, backing and filling, up and down – but nonetheless, the bottom is in – is the volume. The volume is substantial. The amount of flows into the gold ETF is the greatest that it has been since 2009, which is after the 2008 crisis but the first one that was off the bottom were the precious metals.

Most of us know that gold basically bottomed in 2008 along with silver. Silver went from basically the $9 level and over several months made it all the way to $48. Gold bottomed, and I forget the number, but it went up to $1,900. Are we going to repeat that? I think in the long-term yes, but in the short-term, gold’s ahead of silver.

Mike Gleason: That leads me right into my next question. We do have gold outperforming silver so far this year, which generally we don’t see when the metals as a whole are rising. That means that the gold to silver ratio has actually even gotten a bit higher, sitting at about 82 to 1 as we’re talking here [It’s since come back to around 78 – Ed.]. Are you concerned that silver is lagging gold a little bit?

David Morgan: I am concerned. I believe that we have a non-confirmation. I like to see that the whites the yellow or vice versa and that non-confirmation does concern me. I think that we want to see silver over $16 and then things will proceed upward, probably even more than they have so far. In other words, silver will either play catch up or it won’t. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean gold won’t continue (going up). What it does mean is that there might be some more work to be done.

As far as how these markets come off of bottoms, usually what happens is the big money, the smart money moves into like the large gold stocks, and they have. We’ve seen very big volume into the large top tier mining companies, and they have moved substantially higher on a percentage basis. You’ve seen that across the board, you haven’t seen those smaller stocks come up as strongly.

Silver of course is a subset of gold. It’s 85% correlated with gold. And the silver stocks have performed well. So we’re really just kind of keeping our eye on silver. It doesn’t mean much other than we need to pay attention because it could indicate that again, we might see kind of a pull back, and we might come back all the way to where this launch took place. Technicians can always pick their sweet spot. I’d say about the $1,200 level. I put that out for our members that I was long gold at $1,200. Obviously that’s paying off well so far and of course I’ve put my stops up, so I’ve protected the profit.

Mike Gleason: Certainly the mining stocks do quite well, you eluded to that a moment ago. They seem to be leading the bullion a little bit. Is the worst behind us in the mining industry or is there still more carnage coming?

David Morgan: Great question, and of course you have to really answer it correctly, you have to answer on a case-to-case basis. But from a broad brush perspective, yes the worst is behind us for the miners. There are of course case-by-case basis that companies that won’t make it that need either a merger and acquisition type of situation that they have assets of value or they just can’t get loans at this point in time to continue their projects.

And that means that there will be some even though that from, again a broad perspective things have bottomed on individual cases, that there may be some favorites out there in the lower tiers, not to mid-tier so much as the speculative tier that may not make it even though gold and silver look to continue onward. Again, I can’t give a specific answer. I will give the fact that for example that we had SVM as a short term trade for our members, the members of our website. And that stock doubled and that happened while silver basically did very little and gold was just starting it’s move.

So the equities can really take off. Silver sat there from what you said, just under $14 to not quite $16, and I don’t know what the percentage is, 2 bucks on $14. 100% or a double on a silver stock, that’s a pretty liquid stock, is definitely an outperformer to what the metal itself has done.

Mike Gleason: We have a mutual friend, Steve St Angelo who runs the fantastic SRSrocco Report website, he’s a bit of a peak silver guy. Where do you come down on that? We’ve seen declining production coming from places like Mexico, a huge silver producer, and other countries that produce a lot of silver, certainly here in the States. Looks like our supply is dwindling, mine production is dwindling. Where do you come down on that? What are thoughts on the potential for peak silver?

David Morgan: Well, first of all, Steve and I are pretty close and we do talk I guess every month or so. I don’t agree with him totally. Again, it’s an economics situation, so if you look at it from today’s perspective, when you’re looking at sub $16 silver, that statement could look very very accurate, but if you got to $40 silver again then all the dynamics change. Because what’s very uneconomic today would become very economic at those prices.

If you want the details, what we really think, we did a whole chapter on it in the book The Silver Manifesto. And we go through and based on our work and our projections on where we think the metals are going, we think that the peak silver scenario is probably a few years out.

Mike Gleason: Certainly though, and I guess you hit on the point that at sub $16 silver, there is a finite supply of the metal out there, meaning the prices can stay this low forever and there still be supply, is that basically what you’re saying?

David Morgan: That’s basically it. If you want to be a super deep thinker, you could argue that it’s never going higher than that, and if it didn’t a lot more mines would be out of business. I don’t take that view. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the price has to go higher, but it pretty much is a strong indication that it will.

Mike Gleason: Negative interest rates are in the news both in Europe and now here in the States, which is obviously fueling the metals markets, gold in particular. Negative interest rates on cash means that gold and silver actually pay a higher rate of interest. What are your thoughts there, on the Fed, the likelihood that they are done with the interest rate hikes or even experiment with negative rates like central bankers are doing over there in the EU?

David Morgan: Yeah, tough question, and I will answer it. In my views because this is opinion and I’ll give you my thinking. Obviously the negative interest rate scenario is one that I don’t think the central banks have really thought through very well. The idea, first of all if we back up and look at all those with debt problems say, “How are we going to solve this debt problem?” “Oh, borrow more money and then increase the debt load.” That was basically what took place during the financial crisis with Hank Paulson that put out this TARP situation.

Then we go to QE1 and we add more debt to our debt problem and that doesn’t work so what we should do now is add even more debt to the debt problem, which was QE2, and that’s when silver took off from $26 to $48 because people anticipated inflation in the marketplace on Main Street, not just on Wall Street. It didn’t take place on Main Street, but it did take place on Wall Street, so the market backed off for that one and several other reasons.

So now we’re in a situation, well if adding debt to debt doesn’t work, what we need to do, and if a zero interest rate policy, let’s just take interest rates negative and that’s certain to work. And of course my view of certain not to work. As far as coming around to the question, the U.S. has already raised interest rates on a very very modest level. I think it was done more as a trial balloon more than anything else.

I’m still of the belief or the opinion that the United States will not go to negative interest rates for a while, if ever. They may get there, but I still think that the reason that these interest rates are being raised by the Federal Reserve is to provide strength to the U.S. dollar because what’s really happened as my friend Hugo Salinas Price pointed out recently in one of his articles is there’s been a massive exit out of the U.S. dollar by the Chinese, something on the order of a trillion dollars.

And that didn’t move interest rates, which is almost impossible. Anytime any market creates freely and there’s a massive buyer, a massive seller, it will change the price and interest rates is the price of money. So it certainly should have changed the price and it didn’t. There’s other interviews you can find on the internet regarding the mechanics of that and why it did or didn’t happen. My view is that the U.S. Fed, although they’ll never say this publicly, is concerned that they have to keep the dollar game going as long as they possibly can. So to make it the strongest kid on the block by keeping interest rates positive or perhaps even raising them again somewhere down the road, perhaps once again before the end of this year will give the illusion that the dollar has strength and the illusion that our economy might be doing better than other places on the globe. Which is really a fallacy, but nonetheless, perception is everything in today’s Orwellian society.

So I have a different view, Mike, I think they’re going to stay the same or even perhaps increase again. I’m a very very lone wolf on this. I don’t know many people that are saying what I just said, but that’s my view.

Mike Gleason: Switching gears here a little bit, we’ve seen a big drop in the registered stocks of gold in the COMEX and a seemingly ridiculous situation where more than 500 ounces of paper gold are backed by a single ounce of physical gold in exchange warehouses. What do you make of that? Is there any reason for alarm there? This is something that’s been talked about for a long time. Could we be at a tipping point as to the ability of the future’s markets like the COMEX to remain a trusted price-setting mechanism for physical gold and silver?

David Morgan: Yeah, great question. I wish I had an absolute for everyone. First of all, there’s a considerable concern. The actuality of it taking place I think is rather low for a couple of reasons. One is if you read the contract that everybody signs, well they’re just an individual investor and trade, one contractor at a time or a mini contract. Or they’re a huge institution that trades thousands of contracts at a time or even a central bank that “hedges” in the thousands upon thousands of contracts at a time. The rules are what they are, which means that you can settle in cash.

So if there were a stand-for-delivery mechanism, which exists, AND it was above and beyond what the physical amount of gold in the CME is, there would be paper settlement. And I’m sure that the mainstream press would probably spin it to where they would make it sound as positive as possible, something along the lines of, “Rogue trader stands for delivery, contracts settled by law with the price.” And they won’t say paper price. And “how dare they stand for delivery when everybody knows that a gold contract is just a paper mechanism to set the price and nothing to do with the physical demand.” Which of course is true and false.

Less than 1% of all the trading ever results in standing for delivery and taking physical metal. Nonetheless, over the years it has taken place. And the amount of gold that exists on the CME is pitifully small, so certainly someone could stand for delivery or a few people or entities and really cause some havoc. But the next question is this: who would be willing to do that? And the answer is I don’t know. But most of the bigger players would be unwilling to do it because the negative press would be so great and probably the phone calls that you would never hear about in the public domain, about you know, it’s not going to happen, Bank X or hedge fund Y or money manager Z. We’re not going to let this happen.

I am suspect, and I hate to sound so cynical, but I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and I’ve seen a lot of things. You look at what happened in the silver market back in late 70’s, and if you read the bookSilver Bulls, which I have several times, written by Paul Sarnoff, you get a pretty good idea of the day-to-day what took place during the Hunt brothers situation and what kind of conversations took place.

On a personal level, I would love to see it. I would love to see someone stand for delivery on that pitifully small amount of gold and see what the heck happens, but is it going to? I don’t think it will Mike. It could. Again, I’d like to see it happen, but the outcome is not quite as optimistic, and I could be wrong. This purely my opinion, but I think if it were to take place, first of all, I just don’t think it could. I think there’ll be too many roadblocks, but let’s say that it did take place.

If it were to occur, it’d be what I just said, I want to repeat slightly that the spin on it by the mainstream would be severe and they would try and make it look as if these gold bugs were causing problems and these speculators were putting misery in the markets and on and on. So it could have, to the general public, more of a negative outlay that it would be to us that understand the financial markets and how important honest money is than we might like to think.

So I would really want to think that one through. We just have to wait and see what takes place in the future.

Mike Gleason: Very interesting take on all that. That’s pretty insightful. I think you’re probably right. I think we see it much the same way. But it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. Well as we begin to wrap up here, David, how do you envision the year playing out in the metals? Do we get follow through after the strong start this time because in 2014 and 2015 both, gold and silver did well in January and February only to fall off to close the year lower. So will 2016 be a different story? Will we see a strong performance in the metals continuing this time? And if so, why do you believe that will happen?

David Morgan: A great refresher for everyone, yes I think we’ll have a good year but not a great year. I think the reason being is what I outlined. The biggest push for gold is a negative equity market. It’s certainly in the cards. If you look at the rollover, the moving averages, the chart pattern, everything that I know after years is the fact that the stock market looks as if it’s peaked here. And if that’s true, then you’re going to see more and more come into the gold market. Plus we have such a big start with the gold market, best in 35 years and volume. In other words, more and more are coming in the gold sector, which is primarily the large money which primarily invest in gold through the paper system meaning the ETFs.

So I think we are on our way. I don’t think it’s going to be substantially huge. I think it’s going to be good. And I do think this year finally we’ll see higher prices at the end of the year than the beginning of the year. My forecast for The Morgan Report was you could have all of this assured back in January and hope you will get carried through in like the middle of March or maybe even April, middle of April, which I still hold to.

I think there will be the pullback summer doldrums type of thing. A lot of these companies and the gold market and probably the silver market will come off wherever they peak but they will be higher than the end of the year last year and then they’ll just kind of wallow around, and then I think you will see a final finish for 2016 that’s positive like we usually see. The seasonality and the precious metals is usually that you get a pretty good lift near the end of the year, and of course that has not been the case as you pointed out for the last several years.

In fact, in a few of those years, we got the lowest print of the year on the last trading day in the market. Going back to the CME question, most of these traders take pretty long holidays and they just don’t trade. They close their positions and they’re free of any obligations, and they’re off on holiday. So the trading platform is extremely thin, which means there are very few participants, which means it’s very easy to move the market either up or down. And most of these guys choose to move it down, so you can get a very low print at the end of the year for gold or silver.

Then the mainstream financial pundits can say, “My, my look at gold close at a new low this year,” Of course it’s all true, but it’s easy to do because of the way the market is mechanically set up.

Mike Gleason: The heavy volume that we’ve seen there in the ETFs, it will be interesting to see if that’s continues. Obviously that’s a good sign that there’s maybe more interest among the gold-buying community.

Well it figures to be quite an interesting ride this year. We have the contentious presidential election, Fed backpedaling on interest rate hikes, a global economy that seems to be rolling over, and who knows what else. There are a lot of things to keep an eye on, and we always appreciate your thoughtful analysis here on the Money Metals podcast. Now before we let you go David, please let folks know how they can follow you there at The Morgan Report because this figures to be a great time for people to dive deeper into the metals.

David Morgan: Absolutely. I would like to suggest to everyone that we have, in fact, me, I basically did it all on my own this time although I’ve got talent fairly deep, a new report called “Riches in Resources.” And the “Riches in Resources” report is like eleven pages long and it will provide good information to you about the big picture on down, which means you’re going to learn from the beginning about what happens at the end of the age of empire and what the progression is to a state of empire and then it moves from there down into the resource sector, then into the gold and silver story, the dollar story, the debt problem, and then it moves forward into the mining sector and what we do here at The Morgan Report. It gives you opportunities to make money in this market, not only through a subscription on The Morgan Report as a website member, but also we just give you some freebies on how you can make money in that report. Just a very, very easy situations if you are inclined to purchase gold and silver.

So we just finished it. It’s going to be available. It’s a double opt-in. Go to TheMorganReport.com. Go to the right hand side, get your pre-special report, Riches in Resources. All you need is a first name and your primary email address and we’ll send that to you in your inbox.

Mike Gleason: Well great stuff, David. Thanks so much. We really appreciate it and hope you have a great weekend. Take Care.

David Morgan: Thank you.

 

Gold pre- and post- Fed non-decision: Surge back to $1,270

Here are links to a couple of my posts which are up on the sharpspixley.com website.  The first was written prior to the latest U.S. Fed Open Market Committee meeting looking at the nervousness ahead of the meeting which had seen gold fall back to the $1,230s.  while the consensus had always been that the Fed would do little or nothing, which indeed proved to be the case, there were still some predicting a more hawkish stance which did ahave an adverse effect on precious metals.

See: Tense time for gold bulls

In the event, as noted above, the Fed was cautious on any progress on the U.S. economy and on potential global reaction to any suggestion that the next rate increase might be sooner rather than later.  The non-decision by the Fed boosted equities and saw gold as a major beneficiary shooting up to around $1,270 at the time of writing.  What this observer thinks this means for precious metals is covered in the article.

See: Gold back at $1270 level after cautious Fed statement

Gold may have found a foundation above $1,200.  

Gold TodayGold closed in New York at $1,208.20 up from Tuesday’s $1,199.60. In Asia, it held close to that level, but pulled back to $1,204 in London to be set at over $1,212 this morning but then slipped back to $1,204 before London opened. Then the LBMA set it at $1,204.40 up from $1,202.00 up $2.40, with the dollar index stronger at 96.85 up from Monday’s 96.54.

The dollar is slightly stronger again, against the euro at $1.1116 up from $1.1144 on Wednesday. The gold price in the euro was set at €1,083.48 up from €1,078.51.

Ahead of New York’s opening, the gold price was trading at $1,207.15 and in the euro at €1,087.82.  

Silver Today –The silver price stood in Asia at $15.27 up 5 cents at the close in New York.  Ahead of New York’s opening the silver price stood at $15.32.

Price Drivers

Wednesday saw no purchases into the SPDR gold ETF but a purchase of 0.80 of a tonne into the Gold Trust, still waiting for gold to build a bottom. The holdings of the SPDR gold ETF are now at 710.954 tonnes and at 180.39 tonnes in the Gold Trust. Investors into these ETFs are certainly not sellers right now.

The gold price is holding over $1,200 settling and building a bottom there. This is reassuring bulls and worrying bears. We take note of the fact that U.S. investors have turned bullish on the physical side and we take further note that U.S. investors are not in a position to drive the gold price down with large physical sales. The ongoing weighty exports from London to Switzerland and to the Far East add to the draining of liquidity from the gold market in favor of Asia. Likewise, China’s demand at 215 tonnes of gold in December 2015 confirms just how great that demand is!

In India, current demand when extrapolated points to 1,000 tonnes being ‘officially’ imported ignoring a vast amount over and above that through smuggling into the country to gain the 10% of unpaid duties.

When totaled for 2016 we see a picture of ongoing demand into Asia taking all of the newly mined gold supplies off the market. Against this, how can sellers dominate the prices of gold and silver?

The Fed and Japan

The news out of the Fed Minutes and out of Japan gives some clarity on the way forward for the gold and silver prices. The Fed’s worry and uncertainty on the way forward for the U.S. economy, due to influences outside the U.S. is new to the usually introverted and myopic investor opinions. While such a viewpoint is new, it is likely to be a feature of Fed and Treasury actions going forward. U.S. investors are used to the nation leading the world on the economic and monetary fronts. For investors to recognize that the U.S. is very much a part of the global economy and influenced by it is a difficult departure for them.  To us it is a forerunner to major structural changes in the monetary world.

As to Japan’s disappointing export performance [falling 14%] just reported, this confirms that it will take far more than monetary stimuli and exchange rate weakening action to bring about an economic revival in Japan. With the dislike of Japan by China, the current driver of global growth, these numbers are indicative of a much longer term picture.

Silver – The silver price continues to hold strongly above $15.00 and we expect will do so while gold is in this Technical pattern.

 

Julian D.W. Phillips

GoldForecaster.com | SilverForecaster.com | StockBridge Management Alliance

Steve Forbes speaks out – on the U.S. Presidential race, the Fed and on Gold and a Gold Standard

Steve Forbes Pulls No Punches in Interview with Money Metals Exchange‘s Mike Gleason*

Mike Gleason, Director, Money Metals Exchange: It is my great privilege to welcome Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine, CEO of Forbes, Inc. to our Money Metals Exchange podcast. Steve is also author of many fabulous books, including Flat Tax Revolution, How Capitalism Will Save Us, and his latest work, Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity. He’s also a two-time Presidential candidate, having run in the Republican primaries in both 1996 and 2000. It’s a tremendous honor to have him with us today. Mr. Forbes, thank you so much for joining us and welcome.

Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes, Inc.: Good to be with you, Mike. Thank you.

Steve Forbes
Steve Forbes

Mike Gleason: I want to start out by getting your take on the 2016 Presidential election cycle, especially given your first-hand experience in the whole process. We’re seeing an anti-Washington voter revolt of sorts… it’s the anti-establishment candidates that have been getting all the momentum. This is especially true on the Republican side, where we see an outsider like Donald Trump currently leading and guys like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and others having garnered a lot of support. But also on the Democratic side we’re seeing admitted Socialist Bernie Sanders starting to overtake Hillary Clinton with his outsider bid. What’s driving this phenomenon, and is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Steve Forbes: What it demonstrates is the intense, deep voter dissatisfaction with where the country is and fears about the future. There’s contempt for the political class for not being able to handle things. There’s the feeling that those who are in charge either don’t know what to do, or if they do they don’t know how to do it, so people are looking for outsiders for a fresh perspective. Just as in business where incumbents get too comfortable, you always find the entrepreneurial outsiders to challenge the status quo and upend things, and you’re seeing the same thing happening on the political side.

So who knows if Trump will go all the way, how far Bernie Sanders will go, but it’s a way of (at least for now) voters expressing dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and saying we want positive change. You cannot continue doing what you’re doing.

Mike Gleason: The issue of sound money has been getting more attention during the GOP debates than it has in several decades. It’s quite encouraging to us at Money Metals Exchange, as proponents of precious metals ownership, to hear Cruz, Paul, Carson, and even Trump bring up issues related to sound money such as reigning in the Federal Reserve. returning to some sort of a gold standard, and adoption of other measures to get America’s fiscal house back in order. I’m guessing you probably felt like a lone voice in the wilderness when you raised these subjects during your Presidential runs. So among the current candidates, who do you think best understands the problems created by our current monetary policy and might actually do something about it if elected President?

Steve Forbes: I think it’s encouraging that a growing number are recognizing there is a problem. Even before you get to solutions you’ve got to recognize and acknowledge that the way things are being done is not working and that the Federal Reserve has been a huge factor in the sluggishness of the U.S. economy; very, very destructive actions they’ve taken. I was delighted that Ted Cruz in one of the debates brought up the idea of a gold standard. Rand Paul of course was suckled on the idea of safe and sound money. Ben Carson has made reference to it. Donald Trump has made noises about the Federal Reserve. I think that’s a good sign.

One of the things that really most of the economics profession doesn’t seem to get is that money is simply a means for us to buy and sell with each other. It’s like a claim check. You go to a restaurant, check your coat, the claim check has no intrinsic value, but it’s a claim on the coat. Money is a claim on products and services. It has no intrinsic value. What it does, it’s like a claim check on products and services. It works best when it has a fixed value.

Money measures value the way scales measure weight or clocks measure time or rulers measure space and length, and it works best when it’s stable. The best way to get stable money, as we explained in our book Reviving America, is precisely to link it to gold the way we did for a hundred and eighty years. It works. Gold is like a ruler. It has a stable value. When you see the price fluctuate, that means that it’s the dollar’s value that’s fluctuating, people’s feeling about it for the present and for the future. But gold is like Polaris. It’s the North Star. It’s fixed.

Mike Gleason: That leads me right into my next question here. About a year ago you and Elizabeth Ames co-wrote the book titled Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy and What We Can Do About It. You proposed a modified gold standard… and I’ll quote here, and then I’d like to get your comments.

The twenty-first century gold standard would fix the dollar to gold at a particular price. The Federal Reserve would use its tools, primarily open market operations, to keep the value of the dollar tied at that rate of gold.

What would be the main benefits of such a reform? And also I’m curious why you stopped short of calling for an end to the Fed all together and a return to true free markets when it comes to gold and the rate of interest?

Steve Forbes: In terms of the role of the Federal Reserve, I think you’ve got to take one step at a time. One of the fears is that if you didn’t have the Fed you get a panic, which happens for whatever reason every few years, the thing would spin out of control. I think the key thing now is to get the dollar fixed in value, which we propose in that book, whether it’s a thousand dollars an ounce or eleven hundred dollars an ounce.

I think the best way to understand this is to imagine what would happen if the Federal Reserve was in charge of the time bureau, and the Fed decides to float the clock, sixty minutes to an hour one day, thirty-five minutes the day after, ninety minutes the day after that. Everyone would know that if you had a fluctuating clock, if your timepieces couldn’t keep accurate time, life would be chaotic. The same is true of money when it has a floating value. If you had the floating clock, imagine baking a cake. It says bake the batter thirty minutes. Is that inflation adjusted minutes, nominal minutes, a New York minute, a Mexican minute?

Gold is the best way to fix that value. The only role for the Fed, at least for now, would be to keep that fixed value and then deal decisively with the occasional panic, just as the British showed us a hundred and fifty years ago. If you have a panic where banks need the temporary liquidity, they go to the Fed with their collateral, borrow the money at above market interest rate, and then, as the crisis recedes, they quickly pay it back and it’s done. So the Fed’s role could almost be done by summer interns if they knew what they were doing, so it would not be the monster that it is today where the Fed tries to dictate where credit goes, what happens to the economy, etc. It’s really bizarre and destructive.

Mike Gleason: They certainly have a whole lot of control and a lot of people have a lot of interest in Fed policy, way too much for our liking, and I’m sure yours as well.

Steve Forbes:One other example on that is Janet Yellen, the head of the Federal Reserve, says that we should have two percent inflation, which in her mind is seeing the prices rising two percent a year. If you take a typical American family making fifty thousand bucks a year, that means their costs would go up a thousand dollars a year, two percent of fifty thousand. Who gave her the authority to raise the cost of living, which is an effective tax, a thousand dollars on a typical American family? Yet Congress, they just nod their heads. It’s a travesty.

Mike Gleason: I’ve always wondered if two percent is good, isn’t three percent better? What about four percent? It seems like it could just go on and on and get higher and higher.

Steve Forbes:Yep, which is what happens. An unstable dollar, whether it’s weak or strong, is like a timepiece, a watch that is too slow or too fast. Neither one is going to help you.

Mike Gleason: The equity markets have been quite vulnerable here in the early part of 2016 and a lot of that seems to stem from these over-valuations we were starting to see. Do you believe the recent pullback is just a short-term market cleansing? Or do you expect a bigger, more dramatic event to occur with this just being the tip of the iceberg?

Steve Forbes: Well, when you get a big change in the stock market it’s usually because of a surprise. People talk about oil, people talk about China, the pressure on earnings, those things are already known. It’s the unknowns that hit you. I think one of the things that has hit the markets – and they can’t be able to know the exact consequences – is precisely what’s happening in our politics. The idea of Bernie Sanders winning is still remote, but now you can’t rule out the possibility. What does Donald Trump want to do about trade? Well he’s been all over the map, to be blunt about that. He says he’ll negotiate it, but with that kind of uncertainty, people stay on the sidelines.

Mike Gleason: Looking at the current economic landscape and the debt-based dominated markets that we have now, the situation appears to have only worsened since the ’08 financial crisis, how do you envision this playing out? Are we looking at some kind of economic collapse again or will the Fed and the central planners be able to keep the wheels on this thing?

Steve Forbes: Those words “central planners” get to the very problem with the Fed. The idea that the economy is a machine is a preposterous one. The economy is individuals. The idea that you can control people the way you can modulate an automobile is… that’s how you get tyranny. That’s why in the third part of our book, Reviving America, we talk about Soviet style behavior by the Federal Reserve and by economic policymakers. When you look at the great disasters of the past – like the Great Depression, the terrible inflation of the 1970s, what happened to us in the panic in 2008-2009 – all of those had at their roots disastrous government policy errors.

Mike Gleason: I want to talk to you about the role that gold, and to some extent silver, can play into all of this. In your book you’ve written about gold and its role in an investor’s portfolio, but we shouldn’t necessarily look at it as an “investment.” Talk about that and then also whether you view gold ownership as more or less important now versus say ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.

Steve Forbes: In terms of gold, unless you’re a jeweler, I see it as an insurance policy. It doesn’t build new factories or things like that, new software. What it is is insurance that if things really go wrong you’ve got something that will balance your portfolio. So whether it’s five percent, ten percent, it shouldn’t be dominating your portfolio. But since you cannot trust this right now, what politicians do, what you have working out here is a situation where yes, the price of gold has come down since 2011 when it looked like the U.S. Government might default, but today in this kind of environment, is probably a good time. Not that you’re going to make quick money on it, but it’s like an insurance policy. You hope it doesn’t have to be used, but if it does you’ve got it.

Mike Gleason: We talked about how anti-establishment forces are starting to get some momentum. Do you see any real change coming about in our monetary system without some kind of crisis event forcing it? Generally it seems like things don’t change unless they’re forced. What do you think, is now maybe the time in Washington for some of these politicians to seize on the fact that a lot of Americans are very frustrated and maybe there is the ability to get some traction with some of these radical reforms and getting us back to sound money?

Steve Forbes: Well, this is one of the reasons why we did the book. It was to lay out what needs to be done so, if the opportunity or the crisis arises, we have the tools to do it. We had this terrible crisis in 2008-2009, but because policymakers were still holding these obsolete theories and dangerous notions about money, which got us in the crisis in the first place, they not only made mistakes, they invented new mistakes such as Quantitative Easing or zero interest rates.

Zero interest rates sounds great, like price controls sound great. You’re in an apartment, you only pay ten dollars a month, boy, that sounds great if you don’t mind having no maintenance. But when you suppress prices you distort the marketplace, deform the marketplace, people don’t invest, and you get stagnation. If the Federal Reserve announced that it was going to put price controls on Big Macs at McDonald’s and what you pay for a rental car and things like that, people would say that’s outrageous. And the Fed would say we want to suppress prices to stimulate the economy so you have more money to spend. We know it just wrecked the economy.

Yet when they do the same thing with interest rates, Congress hardly says boo! The Fed has distorted markets to the point where on zero interest rates, what the Fed in effect did was seize almost four trillion dollars of assets out of economy, made it very easy for those assets to go to the government and the large companies, and starved credit to small and new businesses.

Just one statistic, in the last five years the growth of credit to government has gone up thirty-seven percent, growth of credit to corporations thirty-two percent, growth of credit to small businesses and households only six percent. As you know, small and new enterprises are where the bulk of the jobs are created. So the Fed is in the business of credit allocation. That is profoundly wrong and must be changed.

Mike Gleason: We’re talking here in advance of the January Fed meeting. By the time this interview will air that decision will be known. But just more generally speaking, where do you see Fed policy going here? Are they truly stuck between a rock and a hard place? What do you think their policies are going to be as we go throughout the year?

Steve Forbes: They’ll be tempted to stop allowing the market interest rates in the name of saving the economy, which is like taking an anemic patient, a patient suffering from anemia, and bleeding them. With the Fed the “rock and a hard place” (idea) is only in their minds. What they should do is just step aside, let borrowers and lenders determine what interest rates should be, and let the markets function again instead of trying to control them like commissars in the old Soviet Union. Free markets always work when you let them, but the Fed has to be pushed on that.

Mike Gleason: As we begin to close here, what do you think it’s going to take for gold and silver to become a mainstream asset class again? For example, will it be China or Russia backing its currency with precious metals because the devaluation has gone too far too fast? Something like that? What are your thoughts there as we wrap up?

Steve Forbes: Well I think if they see precious metals for what their historic role has been, we have gold-based, gold-backed money today. Remember, gold is a ruler. Because it’s got that fixed value, it makes sure that the politicians don’t muck around with the integrity of the U.S. dollar. We had a gold standard from the 1790s right through the 1970s, a hundred and eighty years, and it worked very well. We had the most phenomenal growth of any country in the history of the world.

Since then we’ve had more financial crises, more dangerous banking crises, lower economic growth, and we see the stagnation that we have today. So maybe the Russians will get it, maybe the Chinese will get it, but the reason we have this book Reviving America, is to help activist citizens have the tools they need to push and get integrity back to the U.S. dollar, get rid of this horrific tax code, and get patients in charge of healthcare again. We do those things and you’ll see the American economy will roar off like a rocket. You should have your gold as that insurance policy and life will be good again.

Mike Gleason: Mr. Forbes, I can’t thank you enough for your fantastic insights and for being so generous with your time. I very much enjoyed reading your latest book in advance of this interview. You give the reader a great explanation of the history behind all of this, and then also more importantly some practical things that they can do to protect themselves, and we certain urge everyone to check that out.

It was great speaking with you today and we wish you and your family and your team there at Forbes and Forbes.com all the best. Thank you so much, and thank you for your continued efforts to spread the ideals of free market and liberty. It’s been a real pleasure to talk with you.

Steve Forbes: Great pleasure to talk with you. Don’t lose faith. Markets are people, and people thrive most when they are free.

Mike Gleason: Excellent way to end. That’ll do it for this week. Thanks again to Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes, Inc, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine, and best-selling author, including his latest work,Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity. You can obtain a copy of your own at Amazon.com, download it onto your Kindle or iPad, or purchase it at other places where books are sold.