Sunday, 22 September 2013

NOTICE TO READERS

For new Broad Oak posts on this topic, please go to the main page (see picture link on right), and then click on the relevant topic label listed there.

This page is developing as a non-posting resource. Over time, we will be adding links to blogs and sites, for those who like to research in depth or be kept up to date with news.

Thanks, and see you on the Broad Oak main page:  http://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.co.uk/

(Pic source)
 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Take a bullion pill in case of an inflation "burp", otherwise hold cash?

The following article is reproduced with the kind permission of The Gold Report:

James Dines Follows His Prediction of a Commodity Crash with Another One the Mainstream Media Is Ignoring

Source: JT Long of The Gold Report (5/3/13)

James DinesWhen the metals markets tumbled in mid-April, The Gold Report reached out to "the original investor bug" and author of The Dines Letter, James Dines, for perspective. He predicted a crash in commodity prices two years ago based on his analysis of a weak Chinese economy. Next, he says, will be a bond market bust once interest rates start to climb. This will lead to "a stampede to get out of bonds like a herd of elephants attempting to exit through a revolving door." How can investors protect themselves? That is Dinesism #38.

The Gold Report: What does it mean that leading stock market averages have been in Uptrends, while commodities markets are in Downtrends?

James Dines: Our "Sell" signal on China's economy in The Dines Letter (TDL) of Sept. 16, 2011, is still stubbornly resisted by the mainstream press, which instead persists in calling for 7.5% growth by China Since we perceive China as a barometer for the commodities markets, it followed that there would be a decline in raw-materials prices.

We find it astonishing that we seem to be the only voice in the world's mainstream press calling commodities markets in the last two years "a crash." Cotton down 70% from its high is merely one example. It's not in the world's headlines yet, but we find it remarkable that virtually all commodities are down, worldwide, even including precious metals, oil, uranium and rare earths. How could leading market averages be in Uptrends, presumably forecasting a business upturn, even while commodities have plunged? After all, to market things, they need to be made, with commodities, do they not? China was the biggest consumer of commodities, so we infer China's economy is in trouble, especially its banks and real estate, as predicted in our 2013 Annual Forecast Issue (pages 26-29; also The Dines Letter of Mar 15, 2013, page 7). So our next "Buy" signal on China will be crucial in attempting to discern the cyclical advent of the next raw-materials upturn.

Because of excessive government interference with interest rates, those desperate for income—including pension funds—have pushed prices of virtually all secure sources to nosebleed heights. When the Fed eventually does raise interest rates, the bond bubble will be pricked and the stampede to get out of bonds should be like a herd of elephants attempting to exit through a revolving door. What to do in such a bond market crisis? Aside from TDL's blue-chip recommendations, we always recommend dispersing assets in several "friendly" countries. Also, diversifying in golds and silvers, including Saint-Gaudens double-eagle gold coins, rather than just keeping capital entirely in fiat currencies.

The world is in what we call "The Second Great Depression," comparable with the first one, in the 1930s. As laid out in my final business book, "Goldbug!," doubling the money supply in 1922 to pay for World War I caused a great inflation that after 1929 was corrected by the First Great Depression, in the 1930s. The similar printing of enormous quantities of paper money, not backed by anything except more paper, has also resulted in the current Great Deflation, still deepening, worldwide. The soup kitchens of the 1930s have been replaced by food stamps, but the resemblance is not coincidental.

Realizing that Keynesian economics failed to end unemployment after the 1932 crash, until World War II began around 1940, enabled us to predict with specific clarity that it would not work these days either. Indeed. Historically, large quantities of printing-press money has failed to reduce the downward trend of Americans with jobs in recent years. Few believed our prediction of "The Coming End of the Age of Jobs," or that it would lead to "The Coming New Social Order," but it is already unfolding. Unemployment in Europe already ranges between 20% and 50%, depending.

It is difficult for investors to protect themselves in this situation, but we cover it as best we can. We have recommended blue-chip stocks that have a dividend yield higher than that of U.S. Treasury paper, because they are proxies for institutions seeking to park their cash in areas other than overpriced bonds. That should end when the Federal Reserve finally allows interest rates to rise, but its fanaticism in continuing to suppress rates despite the Keynesian method not working represents a triumph of hope over experience—and will not end well.

Especially shocking is the delusion that adding inflation to a deflation would somehow cancel each other out, but is in fact the futile attempt to cure a problem with its cause. Overprinting paper runs at increasing risk of an eructation of "hyperinflation"—please note it is a word not used anywhere in the mainstream press these days. Predicting a hyperinflation is so daring in today's environment that we might be mistaken, so we will have to get closer toward the end game to be more confident of it. We hope we are mistaken.

TGR: What will be the next big sector?

JD: We refer you to Dinesism #38, of the 65 that guides our methodology: "Rich or poor it's good to have a lot of cash." And you may feel free to quote us on that. Also, parking some long-term capital in gold and silver, especially during pullbacks, would be useful if a hyperinflation eructs.

James Dines is legendary for having made correct forecasts that were in complete contradiction to the rest of the financial community. He is the author of five highly regarded books, including "Goldbug!," in addition to his popular newsletter, The Dines Letter, and videotaped educational series. Dines' highly successful investment strategies have been praised by Barron's, Financial Times, Forbes, Moneyline and The New York Times, among others.

Want to read more Gold Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Streetwise Interviews page.
DISCLOSURE:
1) JT Long conducted this interview for The Gold Report and provides services to The Gold Report as an employee.
2) James Dines: I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this interview. Comments and opinions expressed are my own comments and opinions.
3) Streetwise Reports does not make editorial comments or change experts' statements without their consent.
4) The interview does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility. By opening this page, each reader accepts and agrees to Streetwise Reports' terms of use and full legal disclaimer.
5) From time to time, Streetwise Reports LLC and its directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles and interviews on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned and may make purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Why buy gold?

Gold is a condensed way to hold your wealth.

Currently the most popular US gold coin, the American Gold Eagle, retails for around $1,800. A recent Federal Reserve survey says that the median US family had a net worth of $126,400 in 2007. Today, that would buy 70 gold eagles and some change. Everything you have, in two handfuls: two 4-inch-long rolls, weighing 43 ounces each.

Actually, less: the same Fed survey shows the average family net worth was down to $77,300 in 2010. That's 41 gold eagles and change; or, a handful of coins 4.63 inches long and weighing less than 50 ounces. It doesn't rust or rot, and although the value will vary, it'll never be worthless.

But there you are, gold in hand, standing in the street. You can't eat or wear the stuff, it won't cover your heads or cook your food. It doesn't earn interest, and unlike farm animals, it doesn't breed. And it doesn't protect you and your loved ones. Your 50-ounce stash against a 40-ounce, fully-loaded 1911 Colt 45? You'd be lucky to walk away empty-handed.

It preserves wealth, but not necessarily for you. Three years ago in central Britain, a man with a metal detector discovered a hoard of well over a thousand intricately-worked gold items. Together they weigh some 6.3 kilos - worth a third of a million dollars in scrap value (but over $5 million because of their history and artistry). The magnificent Anglo-Saxon treasure dates from the 7th or 8th century.


The key point is, whoever buried it didn't come back.

Gold doesn't ensure your survival if society breaks down altogether, but it can help protect you from the wipeout that happens when paper money becomes worthless. However, remember how the hungry Esau sold his inheritance to his brother Jacob in exchange for a bowl of stew: it's not enough to have gold, you need someone to sell it to, and at a fair price.

So ignore the apocalyptic prophets; gold is for troubled times, not for utter disaster, and it's not the only thing you should have. As Eric Sprott said recently, "most ... experts say that you should have 5% or 10% of your money in gold".

The question is, how to hold it.

Via a broker? MF Global held gold in a client account (effectively, as trustee) for investor Gerald Celente, yet the holding was seized by the firm's creditors when it collapsed in 2011.

Via a depository? Congressman Ron Paul has tried to get the Federal Reserve to open its vaults to auditors to find out how much is actually there; we're still waiting, and Germany is getting worried about its holding in the US. It is even rumoured that China has "lost" 80 tons from its own national treasury. Attractive stuff, is gold.

How else? An August 2012 article in Investors Chronicle looks at other ways: gold funds, gold bars, coins. Even then, you need to be confident that the fund holds 100% of its stock, 24/7 - you'll recall that fractional reserve banking began among gold dealers who took advantage of the fact that their customers usually didn't all want access to their metal at the same time. And it's worth noting that some outright physical fraud is now going on: tungsten has the same density and is far cheaper, so selling a gold-wrapped bar of tungsten represents a fat profit for criminals.

In these times of weakened trust, perhaps you could accumulate some gold coins from a reputable dealer, and keep them safe somehow - and don't tell those who don't need to know.

________________________________________
Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Is there enough cash to support the markets?

I was struck by comments on King World News from Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management, regarding global asset allocation:

Right now the world’s assets are about $150 trillion. Of that number, $60 trillion is in cash, $40 trillion is in bonds, and $40 trillion is in stocks. But, remarkably, only $2 trillion or just a bit over 1% is in gold.

In chart form, this is what that looks like:



That looks like a lot of cash to me.

In our developed economies, it's said that only some 3% of total "money" is in the form of notes and coins, so as long as there's enough electrons to whizz round the wires the system can operate.

Where does the rest go?

In poorer countries, presumably more money is in tangible form; but worldwide there must be a lot lying fairly idle in bank accounts, daydreaming about whether it's a wave or a particle.

From that, two further questions occur to me:

1. Government deposit protection schemes have fairly low limits (from a rich person's perspective), and many banks are thought to be very shaky. Where do the rich park their cash? Is there a select group of supersafe banks, and if so, details please.

2. Some investors - such as John Burford - are waiting like trapdoor spiders for a major market decline, so they can rush out with the cash in their war chest and grab assets at bargain prices. But if there are hordes of people like him, but with zillions more to play with, then potentially there's so much support that we won't see a crash happen for long enough for ordinary investors to get in. Instead, there'll be a lot of fast trading and large sums will be won or lost on fleeting and marginal differences in a thin market. In other words, something like what is happening already.

There's another aspect that may have altered the character of the markets, which is the growth in wealth inequality.

When a small fraction of the populace owns most of the financial assets, it's running out of middle-class suckers to fleece. As the supply of victims dries up, there is little incentive to participate in the market; and if one has enough wealth, one doesn't need to surrender much of it to pay the bills.

So unless the wealthy are addicted to gambling, I'd expect them to let their portfolios quieten down; in fact, they're probably wondering why their investment managers are charging quite as much as they do, and whether they really have to keep turning over the money and incurring dealing charges and fees each time.

Besides, there's more fun ways to gamble. Oz billionaire Kerry Packer is said to have challenged a Texan millionaire double or quits on the latter's entire $60 million fortune, on the toss of a coin. Whether he'd have offered the challenge on the basis of risking all his own, I can't say.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: Mostly in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), but now planning to build up some reserves of physical gold via regular saving.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Is gold still fairly priced?

The nominal price of gold has soared over the last decade, prompting some to worry that it may be something of a bubble. And ceratinly its price path is erratic, reflecting sentiment more than monetary fundamentals.

But whether you look at the US monetary base, or alternatively at the growth of total credit market debt, gold is slightly below its 42-year average in relation to these benchmarks:



I didn't have the money in 2005 to pile in as I wanted to; but I'm starting to buy small amounts of physical gold now - no longer to make a killing in real terms, but as a hedge against inflation.

Why? A number of reasons:
  • the British Government is still not offering index-linked National Savings Certificates (I've written about this to my MP, who has written to the Chancellor, who has not replied so far);
  • the high streets around my area are still boasting a number of shops buying gold, not selling it;
  • China has (some time ago) announced its determination to build up a stock of 10,000 tonnes;
  • other central banks are buying;
  • you can still purchase gold in the UK without VAT.
There are so many prophets around, but which one of them will turn out to be correct? My feeling is that we face a deflationary/stagnatory phase, which will become so painful and (in a sort-of democracy) unsustainable that somehow or other, the monetary floodgates will open.

In the medium term, I kind of expect UK housing (ex-London and some other chi-chi areas) to cheapen as unemployment, uncertainty and bank crises continue; by the time we get to sub-Weimar I hope to have moved house (using much of our spare cash) and then with what's left I'll hope to be in fairly defensive stocks (utility companies etc), gold and maybe Marc Faber's beloved emerging markets.

For now it's cash, plus gold plus anything officially guaranteed to hold its value.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: Mostly in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), but now planning to build up some reserves of physical gold via regular saving.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Steve Keen: Dow to drop 35%, housing 40%?

Australian economist Steve Keen has previously argued that it is far more beneficial to bail out consumers than the banks, and now has made it part of a manifesto for avoiding a worse-than-the-1930s economic depression.

As part of his analysis, he looks at the Dow:

... and the US housing market:


If his exponential trend lines are correct, stocks will have to fall by a further 35% and houses 40%, ignoring overshoot.

If that seems overly pessimistic, consider James Howard Kunstler, who revisits his "Dow 4,000" mantra and modifies it to 1,000 by 2014. Unbelievable? Only if you think tomorrow will be no worse than yesterday, and ignore how freakish the whole period from the mid-1980s has been. I had a go at reading the patterns back in February 2011 and the next Dow low looked around 4,500 - adjusted for CPI, in view of our inflation-happy leaders.

What would I know about it, you may say. Well, what does anybody know, and more pertinently, what do they know?

I have to say that I may soon need to modify my investment disclosure, as it may be prudent to begin buying physical gold in regular small quantities, against the possibility of a serious market breakdown and savaging of the value of cash. The gold price is still rather rich for my taste, but what's the alternative?

Do you really think our politicians, bankers and economists have a credible plan to sort out the problems? I like Keen's, but I'll give you long odds against it ever happening. Still, better noble failure than dishonourable compromise, I think the Japanese would agree: 判官贔屓.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Foreign demand to support the price of gold?

I start with an entertaining and informative investor newsletter: David Collum's annual personal investment report, which is worth reading in full. The prose is very sparky and the scorn and indignation laid on good and thick.

For the impatient, I can report that he begins by describing his own asset allocation:

With rebalancing achieved only by directing my savings, I changed nothing in my portfolio year over year. The total portfolio as of 12/31/11 is as follows:

Precious Metals et al.: 53%
Energy: 14%
Cash Equiv (short duration): 30%
Other: 3%


... which tells you where he stands in the bull/bear debate.

Now, here's a sweet little piece of possible future villainy:

[The Chinese] are rumored to have 1,000 tons of gold with a target of 8,000 tons. How do they buy 7,000 tons? They bid for it like everybody else. Chinese citizens have been encouraged to save using gold (a defacto gold standard and covert accumulation). Although the gold bugs in the US occasionally discuss confiscation, I think the Chinese proletariat are the ones being set up. 

That is so nasty and cynical that it seems almost inevitable.

And easy:

7,000 metric tonnes of gold at current prices ($50,290.84 per kilo at time of writing) is worth a shade over $352 billion.

This IMF report from 2010 (fig. 3, p. 27) estimates Chinese household net savings at some 15% of GDP, and  World Bank data estimates GDP in 2010 to be the equivalent of US $5.88 trillion. So the dollar equivalent of Chinese net household savings is around $882 billion.

So if Chinese convert merely 40% of their personal cash to gold (which David Collum seems to have done already), the target will be met. Theoretically, it's doable today. Meanwhile I still see not just one, but a number of shops offering to buy gold in my neighbourhood. Perhaps the gold is heading East, like the copper wiring from our railway signals and the wrought iron manhole covers from our streets.

It's not just China that's importing gold, of course; Indians (for example) save a third of their income in gold.

So it seems to me that the gold price won't crash back to the levels of some years ago.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Is gold still fairly priced?

At the time I first accepted Richard Daughty's argument that gold represented a great buying opportunity, I didn't have the money available. So, seeing the phenomenal rise in the price over the last few years, have I missed the boat?

It depends. Yes, if what I want is the chance to buy in well below trend and "make a killing"; but perhaps not, even now, if I'm merely seeking something that may protect my savings against inflation.

There are so many ways to define inflation, especially if you are a government incentivised to keep the official figure low. But let's take a look at one monetarist measure, the Mises Institute's "True Money Supply", and compare that to the price of gold since 1971 (the year of the "Nixon shock"):



According to the above, gold is just about on its long-term trend line; not a bargain, but that's not the issue here. However, that trend does include the dramatic spike of 1980, from which peak it took some years to climb down. So let's re-do the line from 1985 onwards:





Seen this way, we're a little above average at the moment, which is perhaps why Marc Faber is hoping for a near-term pullback of $100 - $200; but it's not egregiously high, which doubtless explains why he still sees it as his favourite investment.

Another straw in the wind is a comment by an investment banker on a recent blog-piece of mine entitled "Cash: the investment of the century". "Wolfie" says (Aug. 17):

"I'm currently 100% cash but I think the time has come to break cover and take a 30-40% gold holding. A storm gathers."

I certainly have to take seriously an industry insider who is clearly as bearish and cash-based as myself, but wouldn't you know it, I've been in the USA for the last fortnight and unable to do anything about it up till now.

Perhaps it's "a sign" that I was in NY for Tuesday's 'quake and had to fly out of Newark two days early, just ahead of Hurricane Irene. In any case, I'm now considering following Wolfie's suit sometime soon, even though I don't like the price much. For in the mass of unused money in bank holdings lodged with the Federal Reserve, and also with the more fortunate of transnational corporations who have been fleecing the American consumer for decades and blaming the Chinese who get to see only 15% of the action, lies true storm force potential.

I think we have some time yet before the cloud of cash makes landfall - I've been eyeing 2016 as the approximate end of the real underlying recession - but I shan't delay my preparations quite that long. As the ancient Greek saying goes, there is no borrowing a sword in time of war.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Gold and its correlation to debt and GDP - updated

Jesse offers a chart showing an apparently close relationship with the price of gold and the growth of US official debt, thus:


He wonders how this might look in relation to debt/GDP, and I give below gold's correlation with GDP and with debt in its broadest sense (TCMDO, ignoring intragovernmental lending) in the period 1952 - 2010:



I would suggest that gold's basic correlation is with GDP, but with wild swings reflecting debt-fuelled manias and financial crises. On this showing, and despite what looks like a meteoric rise over the last few years, gold is merely coming home and is not yet overpriced in the long view. This, as I understand him, is what Dr Marc Faber also thinks.

Not having had the money at the right time, I missed the opportunity to climb aboard gold when it was severely underpriced; but may do so soon, merely to preserve some of the value of our savings.

I'm not so much a gold bug as a most-everything-else bear. When the system stops lending cheap money to the riverboat gamblers with dusty top cards on Wall Street, I'll be interested in genuine investment.

UPDATE:

Here's the price of gold compared to the growth in Total Public Debt Outstanding since fiscal year 1929 - this includes intragovernmental debt (please click to enlarge):









INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None - YET. Still in cash (and some inflation-linked government savings certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

US university invests heavily in gold

The University of Texas has doubled its holdings of gold in 2010, bringing the total to nearly $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash, and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The uselessness of gold

An article by Elliot Turner last week ("Why I Sold My Gold") echoes what I've been saying for a while:

No one knows what will happen in the event of chaos, but to me the only real answer would be to buy a cave stocked with canned goods. Forget about gold, as that would do nothing in a state of anarchy. Gold ultimately relies on the same psychological comfort that fiat currencies do in universal acceptance, and therein lies the gold as currency paradox.

I'd suggest that gold is not a protection against disaster per se, but a speculation during moderate troubles, and a store of wealth for a future time after disaster, when recovery has happened. But as with the Staffordshire Hoard, that latter time may be a long, long while later and you may not be there to benefit.

So I propose a new currency valid in good and bad times:

"Ah," you may say, "but this currency is perishable." So was the scrip issued in Wörgl in 1932-33; in fact, a negative interest rate was built into the scheme to encourage circulation instead of hoarding during a deflation. It worked wonderfully - so well that it displeased the local socialist party and the central bank.

Which leads me to think that the true measure of a currency's virtue, as of a man's, is not its supporters but its enemies.

Footnote:

The Heinz will also be superior to the current pound (= 100 pence) in terms of giving change, as was the old British pound. The latter was worth 240 pence, each penny legally exchangeable (until the end of 1960) for 4 farthings, thus £1 = 960 farthings.

You can get two 400g cans of Heinz beans today for less than £1, and each tin contains over 400 beans. So the modern pound must buy you c. 960 individual baked beans. I therefore propose to call a single baked bean a "farting".

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Has gold ended its bull run?

The price of gold has soared in the last decade. Can it continue?

Two views make a market, as the saying goes. in "Gold's Run is Over -- I'd Much Rather Own This Stock", Tim Begany writes:

"Gold is the worst investment around. Anyone buying it now is doing so at their own risk, near the end of a bull run that's apt to end badly.

A major clue gold's time is up: institutions and hedge funds are starting to get out.

In October, for example, these big players reduced their long gold futures by -9%. Meanwhile, small investors added +5% to their long gold positions. It's a familiar pattern in which large investors exit the market of an overheated asset in a timely fashion, leaving the little guy to drive the final run-up to the big pop.

I give gold up to another year, maybe two, before it peaks. From there, it's all downhill."

Tim prefers shares in an ex-bankrupt company - Owens-Corning (NYSE: OC) - that makes insulation for buildings.

Bargain-hunting among distressed firms can be rewarding. The financial journalist George Goodman (aka "Adam Smith") once interviewed a fund manager who'd bought stock in the Santa Fe railroad, then bankrupt. The manager explained that the land, buildings and rolling stock had substantial value that was not yet reflected in the share price. This was decades before Warren Buffett and George Soros (an ex-railway porter) discovered their recent interest in choo-choos - maybe for similar reasons. (But it's worth noting that Soros recently sold his holdings in Canadian Pacific - cold feet?)

And it's true that the ratio of the Dow to gold has dropped below the long-term average since the closure of the "gold window" in 1971:


- though the ratio hasn't fallen to its 1980 low. It's also true that gold has outpaced inflation in a way not seen since the end of the 1970s:

So why do the gold bugs still have a voice?

I'd say it's because, as in 1980, these are not "normal" times. JK Galbraith said "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable" and all their cyclical predictions are junk when an asteroid is spotted coming in our direction. That asteroid is a combination of the vast debts of Western nations, the dependence of much of their populations on wealth transfers within those economies, and globalized trade.

Can we deflect it with rockets of bailout and default? The bailouts appear to be devaluing our currencies and may end with high inflation in necessary commodities; sovereign debt defaults would affect not only international relations but the mutual and pension funds on which many of us hope to live in retirement. If the biggest banks are allowed to fail and their shares go to zero, what will that do to Everyman's portfolio?

Gold is a speculation unlike most others: it's a vote of no confidence. As such, it's a systemic indicator, not an ordinary item of trade. At this level of the debate, graphs are meaningless. Among the bears, opinion is divided between people like Peter Schiff who think we can make something out of this crisis, and those like Michael Panzner who believe that when a civilization falls, even the richest citizen can lose all. For example, the biggest-ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold was discovered last year, not far from where I live. It's thought to be from the Kingdom of Mercia in the 7th or 8th century. The people who put it there never came back.

We should turn our minds from playing with money to repairing the framework of our nations, and preserving our liberty and democracy.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Gold is merely the thermometer of inflation?

The vitally important inflation / deflation debate continues. In my last post, I relayed one view, which is that the very rich and powerful will not permit runaway inflation, because it erodes the value of money and the rich have most of the money.

As a corrective, I give below the latest video from the National Inflation Association (NIA), a US group that has warned about credit growth and inflation for a long time. Their motivation appears to be patriotic - a return to sound money as part of what makes individual prosperity and freedom possible.

The NIA argues that the rise in the price of gold is not because of mass speculation, for although a lot of gold has been bought recently, a lot has also been sold. What may be happening now is a transfer of privately-held gold from relatively poor people who need to raise money, to investors who are looking ahead to a time when cash will rapidly depreciate. Think of all those gold-buying outlets (or inlets) you now see on your High Street. As someone said a while ago, the mania will be when those shops start selling you gold instead of buying it from you.

As many have now said, trading nations around the world are devaluing their currencies to keep pace with one another, for fear that their exports will be hit if they don't. So the soaring value of precious metals can be seen as a better indication of inflation than currency exchange rates.

You may think that if currencies are depreciating, then surely prices of goods and services in general must also increase rapidly, and we don't see this yet. But we are in a recession and the threat of unemployment is keeping down wage demands; the self-employed are willing to lower their rates, perhaps especially if paid in cash; and traders in items such as cars and computers are offering discounts to clear stock and keep paying their overheads.

However, the NIA and others say there will come a time when the system begins to crack. Governments are buying their own debt, or lending money to banks to do it for them, to maintain the appearance of normality and control; this can't go on forever. The prediction is that we will get either default or hyperinflation. So the gold bugs say buy gold, silver, maybe oil and agricultural commodities etc - anything tangible that can't be multiplied at will.

I don't think (feel) that the turning point is imminent, because of recession and the attempts by some governments (such as the UK) to retrench. But I fear that these last-ditch attempts are untimately doomed to partial or complete failure. In that case, the gold bugs will probably be vindicated.

The other thing I'd say, as I've said before, is that if the system really does come under severe strain, the price of gold may not be the most important of your concerns. If you accept the inflationists' thesis, you will be quietly making preparations to cope with emergencies of different kinds.



DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Gold up, shares down?

Hot on the heels of China, which has recently increased its gold hoard to over 1,000 tonnes and intends to accumulate far more, comes Russia, which has acquired an extra 10% in the last seven months.

This is at a time when the wealthy are turning pessimistic about the economy again. As I said two years ago, generally I now see newspapers as useless, except for tidbits like that: "Other than weather forecasts, the last usable information I can remember is from the summer of 1987, when I learned that Sir James Goldsmith had sold all his shares on the Paris Bourse, which confirmed my feelings about the way the market was going - but that item came from Private Eye magazine." The current pessimism is reflected not only in last night's close on the Dow (now below 10,000 again), but also in a surge in demand for safe government bonds, as "Jesse" reports.

I said a few days ago that the price of gold was well above its inflation-adjusted trend, but the interest of foreign countries, bearish millionaires and speculative funds boosted by cheaply borrowed money may keep the market buoyant for some time yet.
And I'm sure we'll all be watching the stockmarket with some interest this autumn.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Gold, inflation and the Dow Jones Industrial Index

I give below two charts that look at how gold has fared since President Nixon de-linked it from the dollar in 1971. In inflation terms (as measured by the US CPI-U), gold now worth is almost twice as much as its long-term average; but in turn, the Dow is still running very high against gold.

It may or may not be the case that gold is overpriced (perhaps we should be looking at inflation as measured by average earned income, or GDP, or something else) but either way, the Dow is still extraordinarily high. It does indeed look as though there was a "new paradigm" from the early 1990s; but perhaps a dangerously misleading one. Will gold double? Will the Dow halve?





DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Gold and Goldman Sachs

It appears that Goldman Sachs will simultaneously predict a rise in the value of gold, and a fall, depending on how valuable a client you are. Mind you, that could reflect the difference between the advice one gives to active traders as opposed to buy-and-holders, so it's not enough evidence to convict, I think.

I looked at gold's longer-term price history in February of last year, starting in 1971 when President Nixon finally severed the official link between the US dollar and the precious metal on which it used to be based. Since then, and adjusted for the American Consumer Price Index, gold has averaged 2.8 or 2.9 times its September 1971 price. I reproduce the graph below:

In September 1971, gold was trading at $42.02 per ounce, when the CPI index was at 40.8 . As I write, the New York spot price is $1,232.40 and July 2010's CPI figure is 218.011. So "in real terms" gold is now worth 5.49 times as much as in the autumn of 1971, i.e. nearly twice its long-term, inflation-adjusted trend.

As I've said before, we're now not looking at gold as a "good buy" because it's undervalued, which it isn't (it was, 10 years ago). Instead, it's assuming its role as a form of insurance against economic breakdown. I've noted recently, as doubtless you have too, how shops and internet sites have been springing up, offering to buy your gold. There must be a reason - though remember that these purchasers often don't give you the full melt-down value of your jewelry, so there's a profit margin for them already.

It may be a sign of the times, but that also means that it's a temporary phenomenon. Unless you're willing to keep a sharp eye out for price movements and can sell fairly quickly when you have made a gain, perhaps you should keep out of this speculative market.

Unless you believe the future is rather more catastrophic. In that case, as some are now advising, you may wish to build up your personal holding of the imperishable element. But consider the ancient buried hoards that have been discovered over the last few years by people with metal detectors: presumably those ancients thought they'd come back for their goods, but were overtaken by events. If you really have the disaster-movie outlook, maybe there are other, more useful things you should be doing to ensure that you survive and thrive.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Is gold a safe haven?

I've looked at gold a number of times on Bearwatch, trying to see whether it's a protection against inflation and/or falls on the Dow Jones Index.

The trouble is, there's so much wealth in the world that the relatively small market in gold can be manipulated by speculators, so it doesn't compensate for inflation etc in a smooth way.

It is also, many suspect, manipulated by central banks and governments, in order to preserve the illusion that the economy is under control. Sharp rises in the price of gold are traditionally seen as a vote of no confidence in national economic management, especially paper money (the last official link between gold and the US dollar was broken in 1971).

The graph below correlates gold and the Dow since the beginning of the 20th century. It's interesting because it shows how major crises impact on investment and gold.



It's also interesting because it suggests some sort of cycle, and the logarithmic scale makes the peaks link up in a straight line. Less so the troughs - many "gold bugs" keep looking back to the panicky spike in the gold price in 1980, which was clearly very exceptional (though the gold bugs still hope it's a benchmark for the future).

Beware: the human mind is very good at perceiving patterns, and will force them onto random data, which is why people used to think they could see canals on Mars.

Having said that, note the green line on the graph, which indicates the long-term trend. In particular, note that the blue line is now well below it, though nowhere near previous troughs. This could mean that gold is overpriced, yet still in the zone where a "bigger fool" may come along and pay even more for it. Such is our vanity, we tend to think we'll never be the biggest fool, ourselves.

On the other hand, since this graph relates gold to the Dow, it could suggest that the Dow is underpriced, and I have been reading a number of commentators who expect a continuation of the recent recovery in the stockmarket, though this opinion is not universally shared.

A further caveat: the graph looks as though it's a fairly regular cycle, but there are features of our present situation that are not cyclical, at least not in the usual few years/couple of decades frame. Some see the downwave of several longer-term cycles coming together in the not-too-distant future - here's an example from Charles Hugh Smith:

Here are some other reasons why the present recession (I believe it hasn't finished and has only been disguised by recent official financial intervention) may not be part of the "normal" business cycle:

  • The ratio of total personal and public debt to GDP is the highest in modern history - higher even than just before the Great Crash of 1929
  • There's been a social change in the West over the last generation or two, that has seen families become dependent on two earned incomes instead of one, so the option to earn more by sending one's partner out to work has already been exercised by many
  • In developed and developing economies (e.g. China), the average age of the population is increasing. This means that more of the populace is looking to spend money on their needs (and older people need more healthcare), and fewer are in work and saving money
  • National economies have become much more closely linked with one another. Many Western economies are in a similar, difficult financial situation and many Eastern economies have come to depend on trade with us, so that global fortunes are co-dependent in some ways. Investors may not be able to escape these problems by moving their money into other countries
  • International trade has put highly-paid Western workers in much closer competition with workers in other countries where wage levels are far lower. Western wages per hour, already stagnant in real terms since somewhere in the 1970s, must (I believe) eventually come closer to Eastern pay rates; yet mortgages and other personal debts won't reduce just because the pay packet gets smaller
  • Developed nations have set up expensive public systems of health treatment, education and social welfare benefits. It is going to be extremely hard to reduce these commitments in order to reduce taxation

Respected commentators like Mike Shedlock and Marc Faber (see yesterday) believe that the US, UK and other countries will not be able to square the circle. They differ only in how they think the disaster will play out.

In short, I would say that investing in gold is indeed a speculation, and to get into that market now appears to be coming a little late to the party, but if you share the wider outlook of many of the "bears" I've been following for the last 3 years, it may still be worth considering as an insurance against disaster. Perhaps we're at the point where we might even be prepared to accept a degree of loss on such a speculation, rather than lose far more if we remain in cash and see inflation destroy the value of money.

Investing in gold isn't the only precaution to consider. Look at what Faber says in the interview I posted yesterday - he's thinking in much bleaker terms and talks about buying agricultural land, moving out of the city etc. Faber isn't the only gloomy one: US Congressman Ron Paul is predicting social unrest when the government begins to fail on its commitments to citizens.

In short, the recent past is no guide to the future. Those graphs issued by investment funds and financial retail outlets, showing growth over 3 or 5 years (or whatever carefully-selected period makes their recommendation seem promising) are, in my opinion, pretty much useless. Whichever view you take, it is now important to make that a wider, longer view, because macroeconomic factors have become more significant.

And yes, the doomsters could also still be wrong, either about how things will go, or how soon, or both.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

China and gold mining in Alaska

China has reached her first gold target, expanding holding from 600 tonnes to 1,000 as of last month. But she has stated her intention to boost stocks by 10,000 tonnes over the next decade. This source reports on a new long-term contract to purchase gold ore from the Kensington Mine in Alaska.

The mine is about 400 miles from the Klondike, so unfortunately not quite justifying the inclusion of photos of grizzled - they always are, aren't they? - prospectors from the late nineteenth century.

Another difference - perhaps typical of the modern (what is post-modern?) age - is that this is a high-level government deal. It's not about the individual struggle for enrichment and independence. Central banks have also reversed their long-term policy of releasing gold onto the market to depress its value and are now beginning to buy, as Mark O'Byrne suspected 18 months ago.

These developments are likely to support the price of gold, even though it has quadrupled (in dollar terms) in the last 10 years. But the expansionary plan could also be seen as a straw in the wind, for those who see gold as a store of wealth in increasingly uncertain times.

Just for fun (and a little right-brain stimulus), here's a picture of Chinese gold prospectors in California:

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

"Jesse" predicts gold will appreciate 500%

We've seen the price of gold in dollars quadruple since the beginning of the new Millennium. Compared to inflation, gold is above its long-term average - but still below its 20th century peak in 1980, when the American economy was under severe strain.

Some "gold bugs" think that our current and worsening problems will cause a very significant flight to the historic preserver of wealth - in my previous post I link to one who predicts $50,000 per ounce (in real terms, apparently). I find it hard to believe that you will be able to buy a 3-bed semi in Birmingham for a handful of gold weighing little more than a packet of winegums.

But the total private and public debt in the USA is now far higher than before the Crash of 1929, and similar problems affect us here in the UK and across much of Europe. In today's Daily Mail, Peter Oborne (not normally an alarmist commentator) discusses the danger of a return of recession and of the Euro collapsing, and the risks of depositing more than £50,000 with any one bank, especially Santander and its subsidiary Abbey National. Against such a background, we could see a scramble into anything that offers a secure nest for our savings.

On the internet, "Jesse" (to all appearances a technically expert and sober-minded investor) is bullish on gold without going quite as far as the most excited of the gold bugs:

Gold has been gaining, on average about 70% every three years. So what is the end point?

Just for grins, I would expect gold to hit $6,300 near the end of this steady bull run, but will the bull market will end in a parabolic intra-month spike towards $10,000. This is likely to occur around 2018-2020.

Three points I'd make:

1. There is something like 100 ounces of gold "on paper" for every ounce of gold you can hold in your hand. I now often see online comments recommending the possession of physical gold because of concerns over delivery on all those paper promises. This then gives you the challenge of getting it and storing it safely, plus being taxed on gains if it appreciates; and remember that President Roosevelt confiscated gold from private investors in 1933. (UPDATE: Note that Saudi Arabia revealed this week that it is sitting on twice as much gold as we previously thought.)

2. There are other assets that have intrinsic value - farmland, houses etc - and even if they may lose some wealth, they won't lose it all. The billionaire Duke of Westminster is in no hurry to get rid of his properties in London's Mayfair and Belgravia, the foundation of the family fortune established when Sir Thomas Grosvenor married heiress Mary Davies in 1677, so acquiring 500 acres of then-rural land near the capital.

3. If you're looking to preserve what you have, rather than beat someone else in the investment game and take their stake, there is a government-backed product designed to achieve this: the NS&I Index-Linked Savings Certificate. We can argue about what is the correct measure of inflation, and if the Russians invade all British government promises are void*; but otherwise it's a safe bet and all you have to do is give up some spending now to have its true worth again later on.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.
*It's how my mother's family lost their farm in East Prussia, now a heavily-militarised sliver of Russian Federation land with access to the vital open-in-winter Baltic seaport of Kaliningrad. The Russkies threatened to base missiles there in 2008 in a Cuban Crisis-style response to US plans for missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Perhaps some wealth in portable form wouldn't be a bad idea, after all - it would certainly have helped my family on their flight westwards.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Fun with gold

As the crisis continues, the gold bugs cheerily anticipate rocketing gold prices. Some fling about wild notions like $50,000 per ounce, others try to be a bit more sober (or less drunk) and guess at $10,000. But there are so many imponderables, as I comment:

Can of worms, FOFOA. We live in a relativistic universe. How does gold relate to other things? And which other things in particular? And what is the role of debt in pricing?

Imagine a worldwide Jubilee Year: all debts paid or defaulted and no new debts contracted. What would assets be worth then? What, for example, would houses be worth if no-one had a mortgage?

Besides, in the past, far less of life was monetized. You could go into the woods, clear land, build a house, grow crops, keep animals. Money (or trade tokens like conch shells) was only to facilitate the exchange of surplus production. Now, money seem to be more important than people themselves.

Whether gold has any use depends on context. If we are hit by major ecological/economic disaster, gold may be no more than the equivalent of a word in a long-dead language.

But just for fun, let's assume everybody trades gold for productive land (arable/pasture/wood). Playing around with figures trawled on the Net I find that the ratio of gold above ground to said land is about 1 kilo to 73.5 acres, or 13.6 grams of gold per acre.

This farmer (http://thebeginningfarmer.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-much-land-do-you-need.html) reckons maybe 160 acres to support a family - though that depends on the standard of living you'd expect (Papua New Guinea would set a different standard). Say a couple of kilos of gold. At today's gold prices, that family farm would have to cost about $88,000 US.

Latest (Jan. 1) estimates from the US Department of Agriculture value US agricultural land and buildings at $2,100 per acre. The same 160-acre farm would therefore currently be priced at some $336,000, or c. 52 grams of gold per acre.

So if (as seems most unlikely) gold was simply used as a medium of exchange for farmland, gold would shoot up to 4 times its present level. Say $5,000 dollars an ounce. On the other hand, in an equalized world unencumbered by debt, maybe farmland in the US would simply drop in value by 75% as priced in weight of gold.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Very uncertain times

May I draw your attention to an interview with Dr Marc Faber on CNBC on 21st April (see videos on sidebar)?

Dr Faber is a highly respected commentator and his predictions of economic disaster, though cheerily delivered, are perfectly serious (he has a European way of giving bad news with an ironic smile).

He believes - and has done for a long time - that governments will try to inflate their way out of the long-developing overspending mess, and that eventually all "fiat" money (currencies not backed by anything that restricts the growth of the money supply) will become worthless. Then there will be a crash of epochal proportions, and the social consequences will be very painful (which is why his website is called GloomBoomDoom.com).

As he says in this interview, his view is that gold and silver are not to be considered as commodities like oil and corn, but as a form of money that governments cannot multiply as they do with their sovereign currencies. He advises (please remember that I cannot advise you here on this blog) investors to build up their holdings of physical gold and silver - "physical" because there is much speculation in this market and many times more in contracts than can be actually delivered. After that, maybe some investment in precious metal exploration companies.

Given Dr Faber's view of the real practical consequences of economic collapse, I think it is not irrelevant that he lives in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, an area that can provide the needs of life locally and that is close to several international borders.

We may still have time - Dr Faber thinks that with continued monetary inflation, we could still see markets go up for quite a period; but from all that he says, and all that I have thought (and said) for years now, we appear to be facing a prolonged period of high volatility and the danger of sudden and savage reverses in valuations. Until inflation takes off, it can be good to hold cash; but if Dr Faber is correct, ultimately cash will be the worst possible investment.

I would also say that before considering your investment portfolio, there may be other issues to resolve - where you should live, what work you should do, what skills you should acquire, security precautions you should take, emergency provisions you should stock up with. Even if disaster does not strike with full force, big rises in fuel costs would transform the conditions of our daily life.

It is curious that we are now expected to be exercised by climate change issues, yet the media have yet to come to grips with our economic climate. It is still not generally known that the good old days (as remembered) of the Conservative boom in the 1980s (and mid-90s) was because of excessive bank lending, which caused both housing and the stockmarket to become heavily overvalued. This process of inflating the economy until it pops (as it must, one day, but who knows exactly when), has being going on for decades.

I've tried to get the message across to the public; perhaps I should spend my time quietly advising my clients, instead. Anyhow, I've told you, now.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A dire warning

Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management lays out his reasons for investing in physical gold. You may or may not accept his argument, but his analysis of worldwide economic problems is deeply troubling.

Whether or not gold is the right prescription, I am very much afraid that he may be making the right diagnosis and prognosis. Do have a look.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Gold: NOT a no-brainer choice this time? The Chinese may not agree...

Australian blogger The Contrarian Investor points out differences between now and the 1930s that mean gold is merely another speculative investment, not the sure-fire winner it was then.

Having said that, there is a strong psychological / political / historical / economic strand in gold, and it is significant that central banks are now net purchasers. And China recently announced its intention to increase holdings from 1,000 tonnes to 6 or 10 times that over the next decade, having already boosted them from a level of 600 tonnes in 2003. China is now the world's largest producer of mined gold.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

More on gold

During this crisis, we hear more from the "gold bugs" - people who are convinced that most modern currencies will become worthless, because they are "fiat money", i.e. the government can make unlimited amounts of them since they are not related to anything in fixed supply, such as gold (or land, when the Nazis restructured the mark).

One such is an American called Jim Willie. He reminds us of debt problems, not only in the USA and Britain, but Spain, Greece etc. Even Swiss banks are under pressure, because of loans to small European countires whose currencies have since devalued. Willie thinks the Euro will unravel because of the difficulties of a number of its member economies, and that Germany will reintroduce the mark, perhaps under some reassuringly Euro-like pseudonym.

Germany happens to have the world's second-largest official holding of gold - 3,400 tonnes compared to the USA's 8,100 (assuming we are being told the truth about how much the USA actually has in its vaults, and that is a matter of serious debate). This article reports China's ambition to increase its own holding of gold, from around 1,000 tonnes now to perhaps as much as 10,000 tonnes in 10 years' time.

The gold mania is not universal. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard predicts that the price of gold will actually fall next year - among other bad things such as the collapse of America's social security pension fund. He may be right. In a panic, people want ready money, so maybe cash will (for a time) be king. But when an economy is in dire straits, its government will do whatever it can to ease the pain, and many think that the strategy will be to increase the money supply, or even introduce a new form of the currency, as has just happened in North Korea.

The attraction of gold is for pessimists. It doesn't earn any interest, so mainly it is seen as a last-resort store of value when the money system breaks down (and it's nice to wear and show off). It is perfectly possible that you could make a loss on gold, but it will never be worth nothing at all, unlike the old US Continentals, or Confederate money after the North won the Civil War. In this context, it's worth noting that Reuters news agency reported back in September that Hong Kong moved its gold reserves out of London and into the gold depository at its Chek Lap Kok international airport. A sign of something, but what?

Gold is not the only tangible store of value, of course. Agricultural land, houses, food, medicines etc all have intrinsic value, i.e. they are worth something because of what they can do for you themselves, not just because they can be exchanged for something else.

Inflation remains a serious long-term threat. Comparing the past and present value of cash is difficult, because the economy has increased in size and changed in nature; but depending on the measure you use and looking at what has happened since 1971 (when I started at college), the British pound has lost 90% - 96% of its buying power. It's still (until April next year) possible to retire at age 50 in this country, so if history repeats itself, you could see a similar devaluation during a long retirement.

In short, it's not about the value of gold, but the unreliability of money.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The inflation-deflation debate

Sheffield-based analyst Nadeem Walayat demonstrates that, apart from a blip a few months ago, the long-term inflationary trend in prices continues. Whether you look at CPI or RPI (the latter includes mortgage costs), household bills are rising.

He also examines the trend in UK public debt, which again seems to be rising unstoppably. The Chancellor has predicted growth for the UK economy, but that growth is more than paid for by borrowing, so overall we will be worse off. Controversially, Walayat suggests that the motive is political: deliberate damage to the economy in order to leave the next (presumably Conservative) government "scorched earth". We must hope that British governments do not really operate so irresponsibly.

Walayat concludes with a look at some commodities that investors may choose as hedges against inflation: energy (natural gas), gold and silver. He offers some technical comments on fund charges and whether the way the fund invests is likely to track the real progress of the commodity's price. He feels that gold and silver funds correlate better with actual prices in these markets, though he warns that theft and fraud are always possible.

But the readers' comments are worth looking at, too. "Raleigh" points to an estimated $6 trillion reduction in the value of US housing, which more than offsets the recent $1 trillion increase in US government borrowing as a result of the banking crisis. His view, if I understand it correctly, is that such net deflation will put a downward pressure on prices and wages.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Janszen: Gold is not overpriced

"Gold ads bug us from the TV and radio. To the new gold experts this means gold sentiment is now too bullish. We’re due for a crash.

Have they noticed that the gold ads are about selling not buying gold?"

In a long but well-worth-reading article, Eric Janszen of iTulip maintains that despite eight years of rising prices, gold is not undervalued, because the economic system is unstable. He points out that, for the first time in many years, central banks have started to buy gold.

Unlike many commentators, he doesn't support the notion that the dollar will collapse, because other major economies (e.g. China and Japan) have become dependent on the USA to buy their exports. Global inter-linking means that the coming bust will not take the same form as previous ones.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Dollar to rise against the Euro; gold against BOTH

Goldseek.com today gives an extract from Steve Saville's 6 May article in "Speculative Investor", explaining why he thinks the US$ will rise against the Euro - he thinks the latter should depreciate relatively by 20%.

Again, read more closely - Saville says he expects both currencies to drop against gold, it's just that the Euro has further to fall.

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.