December 5, 2022

Gold and Silver Decline As World Turns Upside Down After Resolution of Debt Crisis

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

A default on Greek debt was supposed to have set off a chain reaction collapse of other weak sovereign debtors including Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy.   European banks holding huge amounts of Greek debt would be rendered insolvent pushing Europe into a banking crisis.  U.S. banks, holding large positions in credit default swaps and derivatives would follow the European banks into a downward spiral as both confidence and liquidity evaporated.

Money market funds, piled high with toxic debt securities issued by insolvent European banks would be facing a massive run by nervous shareholders.  Central banks, the last great hope of insolvent nations, would be forced to come to the rescue with oceans of printed money.  Nervous holders of paper currencies would rush into gold driving prices sharply higher.

The plausible scenario of default by insolvent members of the European Union suddenly got turned upside with stocks exploding higher and gold prices hitting a six week low.

BloombergGold Falls to Six-Week Low Amid Reduced Concern Greece May Default On Debt

Gold futures tumbled to a six-week low as Greece progressed in staving off a default, curbing demand for the metal as an investment haven.

Greece may get as much as 85 billion euros ($124 billion) in new financing, including a contribution from private investors, in a second bailout aimed at preventing default and ending the euro region’s debt crisis, according to an Austrian Finance Ministry official. Gold dropped 2.2 percent last month.

“Gold’s inability to extend further gains in recent sessions, despite a weaker dollar, could be a warning sign heading into the third quarter,” Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) said in a report.

The Austrian finance official effectively said that the euro region’s debt crisis was solved by extending further credit to a blatantly insolvent Greece – too much debt was cured with more debt.

The extend and pretend policies, used extensively by policy makers in every past crisis would be employed again, this time to a nation with the lowest rated sovereign debt in the world.

The success of extending further loans to Greece would be guaranteed by the sale of Greek national assets and forcing every citizen of Greece to endure a depressionary lifestyle.  Other members of the EU facing a debt crisis could be handled in the same manner.  The European Central Bank and Wall Street popped the champagne corks and celebrated the end of the debt crisis.

The surreal events of the past two weeks only reinforce the certainty of a greater debt unwind at a fast approaching future date. Expecting Greece to repay its obligations is simply not economically feasible.  Greek citizens, rioting against austerity measures, have made it clear that default is the best option.  Political leaders of Greece, the birthplace of democracy, must eventually accept the public will.

The debt crisis has not been resolved, it has been expanded.  Investors foolish enough to convert precious metal holdings back into paper currency are giving serious long term gold and silver investors a gift opportunity to accumulate at bargain prices.

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,483.00 -31.75 (-2.10%)
Silver $33.85 -0.88(-2.53%)
Platinum $1,708.00 +12.00 (+0.71%)
Palladium $750.00 +11.00 (+1.49%)

Gold  and silver both declined on the week by over 2%, while platinum and palladium saw modest gains.

As measured by the closing London PM Fix Price, gold has declined by $69.50 since June 22.

Silver has now declined three weeks in a row.  Since June 1st, as measured by the London PM Fix Price, silver has declined by $4.10 per ounce or 10.8%.

Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium All Decline On Week

It was a dismal week for precious metals as prices declined across the board.  Platinum declined by over 3%, palladium and silver by 2% and gold by 1.5%.

As measured by the London PM Fix Price, gold declined on the week by $22.75 after a gain of $8.25 last week.  After closing Wednesday at $1,552.50 gold was hit by selling that drove the price down by $37.75 at Friday’s close.  Gold has now dipped below its 50 day moving average as it has done on numerous occasions since early 2009 but remains solidly above the 200 day moving average.  Since early 2009 the price trend of gold has remained in a solid uptrend and every sell off to the 200 day moving average was followed by significant upward price moves.  The 200 day moving average for gold is currently at $1,410.

 

Gold - Courtesy Stockcharts.com

Silver declined modestly on the week, losing $0.66 and has remained in a tight trading range over the past two weeks between $36.22 and $34.68.

Platinum was down $55 on the week, closing at $1,751, after losing $78 in the previous week.  Palladium was also weak, falling $15 to $739 after retreating $61 in the previous week.  Both metals have large industrial uses and sold off as numerous economic indicators suggest a slowing world economy.

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,514.75 -22.75 (-1.48%)
Silver $34.73 -0.66(-1.86%)
Platinum $1696.00 -55.00 (-3.14%)
Palladium $739.00 -15.00 (-1.99%)

Markets had been positioned for an improving economy, higher interest rates, higher inflation and additional monetary stimulus by the world’s central banks.  Since early May, the consensus has reversed considerably.  Commodity prices have declined substantially and U.S. interest rates, contrary to the expectations of many, have declined sharply.  Contributing to the sell offs in equity and precious metal markets were midweek comments by Fed Chairman Bernanke that, despite lower expectations for economic growth, the central bank had no plans for QE3.  Markets, confronting the loss of both fiscal and monetary stimulus along with slower economic growth, sold off sharply.

The Dow Jones has plunged over 900 points since early May.

 

DOW JONE - COURTESY YAHOO.COM

Commodities have tanked by 16%.

 

COMMODITIES - COURTESY YAHOO.COM

Oil, after peaking in early May at over $112 per barrel, has declined to the low $90’s.

 

OIL - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Interest rates, expected to soar after QE2 ended, have declined substantially with the 10 year Treasury note dropping from 3.6% to 2.9%.

10 year treasury - Courtesy yahoo finance

 

The massive amounts of debt in the system can no longer be supported by economic growth.  Bernanke knows this which is why he is terrified of deflation.  The collapse of asset bubbles have resulted in debt that is now unsupported by collateral value, threatening the solvency of banks and countries.

As the current market sell offs turn into a rout, the Fed will again turn to the only option left – money printing on a scale that will dwarf QE2.  As reported by Bloomberg, former Fed Governor Lyle Gramley said,  “The hurdle for QE3 is obviously high. But if large downside risks materialize and the economy slows enough so that the unemployment rate starts to increase again, QE3 would have to be considered.”

The Federal Reserve can’t create jobs, increase incomes, reduce unemployment or maintain the integrity of the dollar.  The one thing the Fed can and will do is produce dollars in infinite quantities to prevent a 1930’s type debt induced deflationary depression.

Gold Gains Slightly On Week While Silver, Platinum and Palladium Decline

Precious metals had a tough week as silver, platinum and palladium all declined, while gold registered a small gain.

As measured by the closing London PM Fix Price, gold gained $8.25 on the week after declining by $10.75 in the previous week.  Gold remains in a solid long term uptrend.  Since early 2009, gold has remained above its 40 day moving average and every dip to the 40 day moving average has followed with rallies to new highs for gold.

Gold’s last decline to the 40 day moving average in January of this year was subsequently followed by a rally of over $220 per ounce.  A correction to the 40 day moving average would bring gold back to the $1,400 level.

 

GOLD - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Gold has held above $1,500 as world financial markets, oil and other commodities have declined substantially over economic worries.   As the European Central Bank struggles to prevent a Greek default that could trigger a series of other sovereign defaults, debt yields are soaring not only in Greece but also Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland.

Markets are beginning to reflect the unavoidable truth that we are reaching an end game where sovereign governments have become the new systemic risk to the financial system.  As debt burdened governments face the prospect of financial collapse and political unrest, the only option will be to sell new debt to the central banks who will buy the debt with newly printed money.  As central banks worldwide compete with each other in massive currency debasement, gold will soar to new highs beyond predictions of the boldest gold bulls.

As the slow motion collapse in Europe unfolds, investors in the U.S. seem resolute in the belief that “it can’t happen here, we are not Greece.”  This argument is rejected by Bill Gross who runs Pimco, one of the largest bond funds in the world.  According to Gross, who recently announced that he would stop buying U.S. Treasury debt, the U.S. is actually in worse shape than Greece.

The total debts of the U.S. government, including off balance sheet obligations for open ended social programs, totals $100 trillion.  Gross notes that “To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption.  That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country.”

Critics who dismiss the warnings of Bill Gross point to the current level of low yields on U.S. treasury debt.  Why would the U.S. be able to sell its debt at such low rates if the finances of the United States are worse than Greece?  The answer is that crises develop in a linear fashion.  Investors don’t worry about credit risk until the crisis is upon them and suddenly everyone wakes up and panics.

Carmen Reinhart of Harvard and formerly of the IMF correctly predicted that a sovereign debt crisis would follow the financial crisis of 2008.  In a study of bond markets as a forecasting tool, Reinhart showed that rates are a poor forecaster of  repayment risk.  According to Reinhart, “Very often, interest rates are a coincident, rather than a leading indicator” of a looming financial crisis.

Preserving wealth during the next financial meltdown will require taking steps before the inevitable crisis develops.

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,537.50 +8.25 (+0.54%)
Silver $35.39 -1.99(-5.32%)
Platinum $1,751.00 -78.00 (-4.26%)
Palladium $754.00 -61.00 (-7.48%)

Platinum had a volatile week, declining by $78 on the week to $1,751.00.  After moving up by $650 per ounce between July 2009 and May 2010, platinum has been consolidating its gains.  During 2011, platinum has remained in a narrow but volatile trading range between $1,700 and $1,850 per ounce as traders try to sort out whether the predominant demand for platinum is industrial usage or investor demand.

PLATINUM - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Palladium had the biggest decline in the precious metals group, falling by $61 per ounce for a loss of 7.48%.  After reaching a high on the year of $858 in February, palladium has been correcting in a sideways pattern.

 

PALLADIUM - COURTESY KITCO.COM

Silver declined by $1.99 on the week to $35.39 after a gain of $2.19 in the previous week.  After the sharp decline in early May, silver has been building a base in the $34 to $38 range.

 

SILVER - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Gold Down Slightly On Week While Silver, Platinum and Palladium Advance

Gold pulled back slightly on the week while silver, platinum and palladium registered strong gains.

As measured by the London PM Fix Price, gold gave up $10.75 on the week, while silver advanced by $2.19 for over a 6% gain.  Gold remains in a solid uptrend while silver has traded in a narrow range in the mid to high $30’s after the early May sell off.

Platinum continued its winning ways with a $22 dollar gain after picking up $21 in the previous week.  As noted last week, platinum sells below the price at which new mine expansion is profitable.   A price of $2,100 per ounce in necessary in order to motivate platinum miners to expand exploration and production.

In addition, the platinum to palladium ratio is only 2.2 compared to a historical ratio of 3.0 to 4.0, suggesting that platinum is undervalued relative to palladium. Platinum prices have been in a narrow price range between $1,500 and $1,840 since the beginning of 2010.   A breakout above $1,900 could lead to sharply higher prices.

After advancing by $13 per ounce last week, palladium jumped by $45 on the week.  Palladium had a huge run from 1996 to 2000 when the price moved up from $100 to $1,100.  During the worst part of the financial crisis in 2008, palladium dipped below $200 but has since been in a strong uptrend.

 

Palladium - Courtesy kitco.com

Although some might have expected gold to move up strongly in the face of steep sell offs in the financial markets and the looming threat of a debt ceiling stalemate, the uptrend in gold remains intact.

Anyone doubting the long term value of gold as a store of value versus the paper dollar can reflect on this week’s USA Today column  disclosing the precarious state of U.S. government finances.  Unfunded and off balance sheet financial commitments of the U.S. for government pensions, social security and medicare amount to $527,000 per household.

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,529.25 -10.75 (-0.70%)
Silver $37.38 +2.19(+6.22%)
Platinum $1,829.00 +22.00 (+1.22%)
Palladium $815.00 +45.00 (+5.84%)

The Government has clearly made promises that are economically unfeasible.  What will happen when millions of people, with a strong sense of entitlement and blind belief in the Government, suddenly stop receiving benefit checks?  Or if the checks do keep coming (by virtue of the printing press) of what value will they be?

Gold Advances On Week, Silver Retreats As Financial Crisis II Looms

Gold, platinum and palladium all advanced on the week while silver gave up most of the previous week’s gains.

As measured by the London PM Fix Price, gold gained $7 on the week to $1,540.00 while silver pulled back by $2.50 to $35.19.   Platinum moved up by $21 to $1,807.00 and palladium gained $13 to $770.00.  After the London close, prices of precious metals moved up strongly in New York trading, especially silver, which last traded at $36.39, up $1.20 from the earlier London closing price.

Financial markets worldwide pulled back sharply as the stock traders finally began to acknowledge the fragility of the world’s paper back financial system.  Governments that have borrowed and spent trillions of dollars to stimulate economic growth and support a fragile banking system now find themselves reaching the limits of their borrowing capacity.

It is becoming obvious that the financial crisis of 2008 was just a warm up act to the real financial nightmare that is looming ahead.  Despite trillions of dollars in stimulus spending, coordinated with a money printing campaign by world central banks, the economies of the U.S. and Europe have not recovered.  Unemployment continues to grow, real estate values continue to plunge, debt levels have reached unsustainable levels and real incomes for the majority of workers continue to decline.

There are numerous events that could trigger the second financial crisis  There is no way of knowing which specific event will trigger the next crisis,  nor does it matter.  What does matter is the manner in which Financial Crisis II will be dealt with by world governments and central banks.  Unable to raise taxes or take on trillions more in borrowing, monetary authorities will exercise the last resort option of money printing on a massive scale to avoid a total collapse of the world monetary system.  The gold market is already reflecting this scenario as one of the few safe havens against paper currencies that have little intrinsic value.  When Financial Crisis II gets under way, uninformed talk of a “gold bubble” will quickly disappear as investors will buy gold at any price to preserve their wealth.

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,540.00 +7.00 (+0.46%)
Silver $35.19 -2.50(-6.63%)
Platinum $1,807.00 +21.00 (+1.18%)
Palladium $770.00 +13.00 (+1.72%)

Will platinum, which has lagged the price rallies in other precious metals, start to play catch up?  According to the Wall Street Journal, due to rising production costs for platinum, a price of $2,100 per ounce is necessary to encourage increased mine production.

The historical price ratio of platinum to palladium also suggests that platinum prices could rally significantly.  The Wall Street Journal notes that when palladium reached $860 per ounce in February, the ratio was 2.15 compared to 2.12 today.  The historical average of the platinum/palladium ratio is 3.0 to 4.0, suggesting that platinum is undervalued.

 

PLATINUM - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

Precious Metals Stage Impressive Rally – Are Gold Stocks Next?

As measured by the closing London PM Fix Price, precious metals staged impressive gains this week, rallying across the board.  Ongoing concerns about the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the debt limit ceiling stalemate in the U.S. and a weak dollar all contributed to continued fundamental demand for the metals.

After the London close, precious metals continued to gain in New York trading with gold at $1,537.00, silver at $38.15, platinum at $1,805.00 and palladium at $766.00.

The star of the week was silver which gained $2.89 per ounce for a gain of 8.3% on the week.  Although the correction of silver in early May was dramatic, the sharp pullback has provided long term investors with an opportunity to add to positions.  Silver fundamentals remain strong as detailed in a recent report by the Silver Institute in which it was noted that demand remained robust despite higher prices.  In addition, although higher prices has lead to increased mine exploration and production, new silver production during 2010 rose by only 2.5%.

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,533.00 +42.25 (+2.83%)
Silver $37.69 +2.89(+8.30%)
Platinum $1,786.00 +19.00 (+1.08%)
Palladium $757.00 +23.00 (+3.13%)

Gold has recovered nearly all of its early May price correction and is now only $8 off its high of $1,541.00 as measured by the London PM Fix Price.  The trend in gold remains solidly bullish and any price corrections should be viewed as a buying opportunity.

 

GOLD - COURTESY STOCKCHARTS.COM

 

Gold stocks, many of which have trailed the returns of gold bullion, may also be viewed as attractive at this point. As measured by the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX),  gold stocks are moving up after making multiple bottoms at the $55 support level.

 

GDX - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

Many of the gold mining stocks are selling at steep discounts to their gold reserves and represent solid values. Earlier this week, Kinross Gold, which sells at the equivalent of $250 per ounce, was a featured story. Value investor David Steinberg of DLS Capital Management, has a price target on Kinross of $27 per share. Kinross closed today at $16.11.

Precious Metals Little Changed On Week While Investors Ponder Government Defaults

Precious metal prices traded in a narrow range this week.  As measured by the closing London Fix Price, gold, platinum and silver declined slightly while palladium gained $16 per ounce.

After the London close, prices of precious metals rose across the board in New York afternoon trading.  Gold closed at $1,514.50 up $19.70, silver at $35.26 up $.12, platinum at $1,775 up $8 and palladium at $739 up $8.   Buying in the precious metals may have been prompted by late day worries over the downgrade of Greek debt by Fitch Ratings as well as concerns over the worsening state of public finances in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Yields of 25% on short term debt Greek debt imply that the markets are are pricing in a very high probability of default by Greece.  What markets do not seem to have priced in is the contagion risk of Greek default and what impact that would have on investor confidence, world financial markets and the global banking system.

Meanwhile the U.S. debt crisis continues to brew as the debt ceiling limit was reached with no indication of a resolution by Congress.  If the past is any guide, Congress will let the debt bomb/deficit crisis simmer until the last minute when the debt ceiling will be raised yet again under the guise of “future fiscal restraint” and the deficit spending and borrowing will continue as usual.

Ignoring the eroding financial condition of the U.S. today only ensures that the inevitable financial crisis will be more devastating than one might chose to contemplate.  The timing may be uncertain but the outcome is not.

The American Precious Metals Exchange (APMEX) included a chart in one of its latest email newsletters that depicts the gap between the growth of  U.S. GDP and debt.  The chart graphically illustrates the extent to which the U.S. has been living beyond its means and using trillions in deficit financing to do so.

DEBT VS GDP - COURTESY APMEX

APMEX also notes that  “If there is no resolution (of the budget ceiling) by August 2nd, there could be disastrous ramifications for the U.S. and the global economy. The U.S. will be in default on its promises to pay. The value of the dollar could drop dramatically.”

 

Precious Metals Prices
PM Fix Since Last Recap
Gold $1,490.75 -15.00 (-1.00%)
Silver $34.80 -1.40(-3.87%)
Platinum $1,767.00 -7.00 (-0.39%)
Palladium $734.00 +16.00 (+2.23%)

Precious metals, silver in particular, have been undergoing corrective price action during May, but the fundamental reasons for owning precious metals grows stronger by the day.   Demand for precious metals remains strong.  The World Gold Council’s latest report shows that global demand for gold increased by 11% in the first quarter, while buying by Chinese investors reached all time highs.  The trend is still your friend in the precious metals markets and price weakness should be viewed as an opportunity to increase long term positions.

Perth Mint Introduces Australian Platypus Platinum Bullion Coins

On March 1, 2011, the Perth Mint of Australia introduced a new platinum investment coin to complement the gold and silver offerings of their official bullion program. The Perth Mint has not offered a platinum investment coin since the withdrawal of the Platinum Koala in 2000, however they do produce certain platinum numismatic coins.

The Australian Platinum Platypus contains one troy ounce of 99.95% platinum. The design features the native aquatic mammal diving beneath the water. Above the scene is the inscription “Australian Platypus” with the date of issue, bullion weight, and purity indicated below. The other side of the coin features a portrait of Elizabeth II with the legal tender face value of “100 Dollars”.

The current market price of platinum is $1,835 per troy ounce. Last year the price of platinum rose by 18.08%, under performing gold, silver, and palladium. For the year to date, platinum has risen about 6%. This compares to gains of 1.24% for gold, 15.25% for silver, and 1.77% for palladium.

A maximum of 30,000 Platinum Playpus coins will be issued by the Perth Mint during 2011. All future annual releases will carry the same limit.

Other world mints that offer platinum bullion coins include the Royal Canadian Mint with their Platinum Maple Leaf offering. In the past, the United States Mint has American Platinum Eagle bullion coins, however these have not been issued since 2008. Initially, production was halted in an effort to deal with surging demand for gold and silver bullion coins.

US Mint Platinum Bullion Coins a No-Show for 2010

For the second year in a row, the United States Mint did not offer platinum bullion coins for precious metals investors. Bullion products available from the US Mint during 2010 included only gold and silver coins.

The American Platinum Eagle was last available to the US Mint’s network of authorized purchasers in November 2008 when the last 800 one-half ounce coins available had been sold. Immediately following the sell out, the Mint announced the delayed launch of 2009-dated bullion coins, including the Platinum Eagles.

Since that time, Platinum Eagle bullion coins have not been available in any format. When the coins were previously available, authorized purchasers were able to buy the coins from the Mint based on the market price of platinum plus a mark up of 4%, 6%, 10%, and 15% for one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce bullion coins. Of the United States Mint’s eleven authorized purchasers, five are approved to order platinum coins.

Collector versions of the American Platinum Eagle have been available for the past two years in limited quantities. The one ounce 2009 Proof Platinum Eagle went on sale December 3, 2009 and sold out of the maximum authorized mintage of 8,000 coins within a week.The coins were priced at $1,792 each.

The 2010 Proof Platinum Eagle was offered on August 12, 2010 with a maximum mintage of 10,000. Priced at $1,892 each, these coins also sold out in about a week.

Will the US Mint release 2011 Platinum Eagle bullion coins? Or will the coins fail to make an appearance for the third year in a row?

Platinum Price Underperforms Gold, Silver, and Palladium

In what has been a strong year for precious metals, platinum is showing only a modest gain of 13.35% for the year to date. This is below the gains experienced for gold and silver, and far below the nearly 75% gain for palladium.

After peaking at $2,273 per ounce in March 2008, platinum dropped precipitously to a low of $763 per ounce by October of the same year. While other precious metals have reattained their 2008 high water marks and then some, platinum has lagged behind.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium Performance (London Fix Prices)

Dec 31, 2009 Nov 18, 2010 Change Percent
Gold 1,087.50 1,350.25 262.75 24.16%
Silver 16.99 26.57 9.58 56.39%
Platinum 1,461.00 1,656.00 195.00 13.35%
Palladium 393.00 684.00 291.00 74.05%

The relative under performance of platinum compared to palladium can be explained by the supply and demand situation. While platinum is forecast to be in a surplus of 290,000 ounces for the year, palladium will be in a deficit of around 200,000 ounces. There has been more demand for palladium, which is used in catalytic converters for gas powered automobiles, than platinum, which is used in diesel devices. Palladium recently hit a nine year high above $700 per ounce.

The ratio between the price of platinum and palladium is 2.42, which is the lowest ratio is more than seven years.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium Chart (COMEX Prices)

Gold and silver prices have benefited from strong demand from investors. Global fiscal imbalances and currency tensions have brought attention to these metals’ historic status as stores of value and inflation hedges. Due to platinum’s predominantly industrial uses and the supply surplus noted, it has not been as significant a beneficiary.

The price difference between platinum and gold is currently $305.75. When platinum reached its peak price in March 2008, the difference had expanded to $1,289. The metals traded close to parity in mid-December 2008.