August 15, 2022

Gold – The Escape From Slavery

By Axel Merk

Vice President Joe Biden was accused of racism when suggesting a Romney administration would “unchain banks” that in turn might put the black audience he was talking to back into “shackles.” The political uproar overshadows a reality that knows no racial boundaries: a person in debt is not a free person; a nation in debt is not a free nation. Does it mean those with large bank accounts are free? Not so fast…

We don’t want to downplay the horrific crime of slavery, but want to provide food for thought: debt is often taken on voluntarily; once taken on, however, one is forced to work to pay off one’s debt. To be unshackled from banks and creditors, investors may want to consider living debt free and owning gold. Let us explain.

Chains and Dollar

Access to credit may fundamentally change one’s lifestyle. On the plus side, it opens the path to home ownership and access to capital goods, be that a car, or these days even a mattress or exercise machine. But it also makes the creditor, rather than oneself the boss. One symptom of the building credit bubble that caught my attention a decade ago was the rise of Spanish language billboards promoting mortgages. Proud immigrants in search of the American dream were lured into mortgages they could ill afford. Rather than focusing on feeding themselves and their family, the focus shifted to serving the bank. That shift only became apparent once the loan became too expensive to service, either because interest rates were resetting to higher levels or because someone lost their job and thus their income, but the debt remained.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett famously discusses in his annual shareholder letters that the insurance business is a great business to be in, as policyholders pay him to hold money:

“Insurers receive premiums upfront and pay claims later. … This collect-now, pay-later model leaves us holding large sums — money we call ‘float’ — that will eventually go to others. Meanwhile, we get to invest this float for Berkshire’s benefit. …”

Indeed, Buffett has said that he would never allow his firm to be in a situation where he is at the mercy of banks. It doesn’t mean he will never borrow money. But it means that when borrowing money, he always wants to be in a situation where he could pay it back if needed. Consumers have seen all too often that they only qualify for a loan when they don’t really need it. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase has said responsible banks act like mothers: they will decline your loan request if it is too risky for you.

One cannot be a truly free person with debt. While bankruptcy may have been downgraded to a mere business transaction in the U.S., some countries continue to put those that can’t pay into prison. The neighborhood surrounding Dubai’s airport has seen thousands of abandoned cars, often Ferraris or other expensive vehicles, as the formerly rich fled the country after their fortunes turned to avoid debtors prison.

Anyone is likely to argue that a nice pile of cash in a bank account will make one feel financially secure – some place that pile at $100,000. Some at a million; as a million bucks isn’t what it used to be, the wealthy often say they are not comfortable if they don’t have $10,000,00 or more. We have met people with very modest means that feel that they are wealthy; and others that have lots of money, but don’t feel wealthy. Aside from the fact that some of them might simply have a distorted sense of reality, the wealthy often also carry a great deal of debt. Those able to manage their debt thrive in this low interest rate environment. But let even a wealthy person with debt hit a road bump, say lose a job (or face an obstacle in refinancing a loan) and such a person may quickly join the lower ranks of the 99%. In our assessment, highly accommodative monetary policy is a greater driver of an increasing wealth gap than the policies of either Democrats of Republicans.

But even with $100 in a bank account, what does one really hold? One owns a promise by the bank to pay $100. The $100 bill is a Federal Reserve Note; it’s a piece of paper issued by the Federal Reserve. That $100 bill could be returned to the Fed; in return the Fed would issue a credit balance to your account (you would have to go through a bank, as the Fed won’t open accounts for individuals). The “resources” of the Fed are without limit: through its various quantitative easing programs, the Fed has increased the credit balances of the financial institutions where it has purchased securities. The Fed literally creates money out of thin air, with the stroke of a keyboard. Even prudent central banks like to see a little bit of inflation; it means that the dollar bills you hold erode in purchasing power, giving you an incentive to put the money to work to make up for the shortfall.

Importantly, the $100 bill in your bank account is really someone else’s loan – the bank’s loan, the Fed’s loan. In fact, if you take out a loan from a bank, you will pay a merchant, who will in turn deposit the proceeds in his or her bank. As such, we talk about credit in a society. For simplicity’s sake, let the banks hold 10% in reserves; $100 in bank reserves with an offsetting $100 in demand deposit liabilities can thus be multiplied into $100 in bank reserves plus $900 in loan assets with an offsetting $1,000 demand deposit liabilities through the leverage of the fractional reserve banking system as banks lend and new deposits are made in a circular fashion. Between the Fed and the banks and the banks and their depositors the system can have a multiplier effect of about 100; that is, $100 created by the Fed can lead to $10,000 in credit. That’s why we sometimes call the credit created by the Fed (the monetary base) super credit. In the current environment, banks have not been aggressive in lending, and as such, we have not seen the “velocity” of money pick up. A key reason why many are concerned about the Fed’s increase in monetary base is because it has the potential to fuel inflation. Indeed, a key reason I personally hold a lot of gold is not because of the environment we are in, but because I am concerned about how all the liquidity that has been created might be mopped up one day. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke claims he can raise rates in 15 minutes; we think there may be too much leverage in the economy to have the flexibility when the time is needed; the political will to induce a severe recession to root out inflation may not be there.

It’s all about debt. So if one doesn’t want to have debt, what is one to do? The answer is real assets that are free of claims. Real estate held free and clear might be one answer, although keep in mind that governments tax real estate, thus making home owners tenants of the government. As the housing bust since 2008 has shown, the fact that many others owe a lot of money on their property changes the dynamics of this real asset.

The purest form of a debt free asset is gold. Gold is true money, the only form of money that isn’t someone else’s liability. While central banks might be able to lower the gold price by dumping their own reserves, central banks cannot print more gold – it’s very difficult to ramp up gold production. If your bank goes broke, if Greece goes broke, gold will still be there. Some call gold a relic from the past. To us, it’s the purest indicator of monetary policy, precisely because it has little industrial use. We created the cartoon below last year after CNBC’s Steve Liesman suggested to me on the air that gold might not be accepted in a store.

Cash vs. Gold

Mind you, we are not suggesting that everyone should sell all they own and buy gold instead. Everyone should consult with his or her financial adviser for specific investment advice. Specifically, one must be keenly aware of the volatility the price of gold can have relative to the U.S. dollar; given that we have a lot of our expenses in U.S. dollars, one has to be aware of the fluctuating value of the investment relative to the U.S. dollar. But we want to get investors to be keenly aware that we live in a credit driven society. We also believe that the developed world has made too many promises, too much debt has been issued.

Governments with too much debt may a) engage in austerity to pay off their debt; b) default outright; c) default though inflation. All scenarios suggest to us to hold assets that are debt free. We see gold playing a very important part in portfolios that take the risk into account that our policy makers continue to spend and “print” more money than is prudent. We don’t need actual money to be printed – credit creation through quantitative easing – is far more powerful.

Please sign up to our newsletter to be informed as we discuss global dynamics and their impact on currencies. Please also follow me on Twitter to receive real-time updates on the economy, currencies, and global dynamics.

Axel Merk
President and Chief Investment Officer, Merk Investments
Merk Investments, Manager of the Merk Funds

Ron Paul – “U.S. Treasury Guilty of Counterfeiting Dollars”

When Ron Paul retires after his current term in Congress, one of the most notable voices for a sound currency and protection of civil liberties against a despotic government will be gone from the official Washington scene.  Although Paul was never able to rein in a government that assumes more power over our lives with each passing minute, his warnings gave Americans the opportunity to understand the threats to their financial future and personal liberties.

What may be one of Ron Paul’s last legislative efforts is his campaign to allow competing currencies in the United States in order to break the monopoly on money by the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

I recently held a hearing in my congressional subcommittee on the subject of competing currencies.  This is an issue of enormous importance, but unfortunately few Americans understand how the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department impose a strict monopoly on money in America.

This monopoly is maintained using federal counterfeiting laws, which is a bit rich.  If any organization is guilty of counterfeiting dollars, it is our own Treasury.  But those who dare to challenge federal legal tender laws by circulating competing currencies– at least physical currencies– risk going to prison.

Like all government created monopolies, the federal monopoly on money results in substandard product in the form of our ever-depreciating dollars.

Yet governments have always sought to monopolize the issuance of money, either directly or through the creation of central banks. The expanding role of the Federal Reserve in the 20th century enabled our federal government to grow wildly larger than would have been possible otherwise.  Our Fed, like all central banks, encourages deficits by effectively monetizing Treasury debt.  But the price we pay is the terrible and ongoing debasement of our money.

Allowing individuals and business to use alternate currencies, especially currencies backed by gold and silver, would expose the whole rotten system because the marketplace would prefer such alternate currencies unless and until the Fed suddenly imposed radical discipline on its dollar inflation.

Sadly, Americans are far less free than many others around the world when it comes to protecting themselves against the rapidly depreciating US dollar.  Mexican workers can set up accounts denominated in ounces of silver and take tax-free delivery of that silver whenever they want.  In Singapore and other Asian countries, individuals can set up bank accounts denominated in gold and silver.  Debit cards can be linked to gold and silver accounts so that customers can use gold and silver to make point of sale transactions, a service which is only available to non-Americans.

The obvious solution is to legalize monetary freedom and allow the circulation of parallel and competing currencies.  There is no reason why Americans should not be able to transact, save, and invest using the currency of their choosing.  They should be free to use gold, silver, or other currencies with no legal restrictions or punitive taxation standing in the way.  Restoring the monetary system envisioned by the Constitution is the only way to ensure the economic security of the American people.

After all, if our monetary system is fundamentally sound– and the Federal Reserve indeed stabilizes the dollar as its apologists claim–then why fear competition?  Why do we accept that centralized, monopoly control over our money is compatible with a supposedly free-market economy?  In a free market, the government’s fiat dollar should compete with alternate currencies for the benefit of American consumers, savers, and investors.

As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained, sound money is an instrument that protects our civil liberties against despotic government. Our current monetary system is indeed despotic, and the surest way to correct things simply is to legalize competing currencies.

Ron Paul is routinely dismissed as a naif by the Federal Reserve and Treasury.  Yet a quick look at the  chart of the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar (published by the St. Louis Fed) proves the legitimacy of Ron Paul’s concerns.  Federal Reserve policies have resulted in the systematic destruction of the purchasing power of the consumer dollar.

Will Ron Paul be successful in his quest to legalize a competing U.S. currency?  Let’s look at Paul’s track record.

Of the 620 bills that Paul had sponsored through December 2011, over a period of more than 22 years in Congress, only one had been signed into law – a lifetime success rate of less than 0.3%.   The sole measure authored by Paul that was ultimately enacted allowed for a federal customhouse to be sold to a local historic preservation society (H.R. 2121 in 2009).

Although Ron Paul’s crusade against corrupt government and the Federal Reserve is a losing battle, the value of his message is invaluable.   Ron Paul has seen the future of constant U.S. dollar debasement and positioned his personal portfolio heavily into gold and silver – something that the average American should think about.

75% Of Americans Believe The Fed Should Be Audited – Why It Won’t Happen

Most Americans under 30 have a strange sense of unease that something is very wrong with the way things are going in America.  If you are 60 or older and can remember with nostalgia how life in America was prior to the days of blatant  and corrupt crony capitalism, you know for sure we are heading in a very wrong direction at an accelerating pace.

I can remember the days when the average worker could support his family without putting his wife to work, without having to give up on having children, without having to worry about banks going under, without having to worry about an implosion of the financial system and without the expectation that the government would provide handouts to solve every little one of life’s problems.

Gradually, it has begun to dawn on the average American of all ages that the Federal Reserve may be at the heart of the nation’s financial problems.  Much has been written about this, but two graphs sum up the situation quite nicely.  Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the value of the dollar has declined to a fraction of what it was once worth and since the abandonment of the gold standard, government debt has reached levels that are no longer sustainable without further debasement of the paper dollar.  The American public is beginning to connect the dots.

Ron Paul has been a lonely voice in spreading the message about the Fed but has finally reached a milestone with the House passage of his proposed “Audit The Fed” legislation.  In an update Ron Paul notes that 75% of the American public supports his bill according to a recent poll.

Last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed my legislation calling for a full and effective audit of the Federal Reserve.  Well over 300 of my Congressional colleagues supported the bill, each casting a landmark vote that marks the culmination of decades of work.  We have taken a big step toward bringing transparency to the most destructive financial institution in the world.

But in many ways our work is only beginning.  Despite the Senate Majority Leader’s past support for similar legislation, no vote has been scheduled on my bill this year in the Senate.  And only 29 Senators have cosponsored Senator Rand Paul’s version of my bill in the other body.  If your Senator is not listed at the link above, please contact them and ask for their support.  We need to push Senate leadership to hold a vote this year.

Understand that last week’s historic vote never would have taken place without the efforts of millions of Americans like you, ordinary citizens concerned about liberty and the integrity of our currency.  Political elites respond to political pressure, pure and simple.  They follow rather than lead.  If all 100 Senators feel enough grassroots pressure, they will respond and force Senate leadership to hold what will be a very popular vote.

In fact, “Audit the Fed” is so popular that 75% of all Americans support it according to this Rasmussen poll.  We are making progress.

Of course Fed apologists– including Mr. Bernanke– frequently insist that the Fed already is audited.  But this is true only in the sense that it produces annual financial statements.  It provides the public with its balance sheet as a fait accompli: we see only the net results of its financial transactions from the previous fiscal year in broad categories, and only after the fact.

We’re also told that the Dodd-Frank bill passed in 2010 mandates an audit.  But it provides for only a limited audit of certain Fed credit facilities surrounding the crisis period of 2008.  It is backward looking, which frankly is of limited benefit.

The Fed also claims it wants to be “independent” from Congress so that politics don’t interfere with monetary policy.  This is absurd for two reasons.

First, the Fed already is inherently and unavoidably political.  It made a political decision when it chose not to rescue Lehman Brothers in 2008, just as it made a political decision to provide liquidity for AIG in the same time period. These are just two obvious examples.  Also Fed member banks and the Treasury Department are full of former– and future– Goldman Sachs officials.  Are we really to believe that the interests of Goldman Sachs have absolutely no effect on Fed decisions? Clearly it’s naïve to think the Fed somehow is above political or financial influence.

Second, it’s important to remember that Congress created the Fed by statute.  Congress therefore has the full, inherent authority to regulate the Fed in any way– up to and including abolishing it altogether.

My bill provides for an ongoing, thorough audit of what the Fed really does in secret, which is make decisions about the money supply, interest rates, and bailouts of favored banks, financial firms, and companies.  In other words, I want the Government Accountability Office to examine the Fed’s actual monetary policy operations and make them public.

It is precisely this information that must be made public because it so profoundly affects everyone who holds, saves, or uses US dollars.

Will the bill pass the senate, considering the incestuous and corrupt self dealing relationships between too big to fail banks, government and politicians?  Probably not in our lifetimes, but at least public awareness of the problem is growing.  Ron Paul might have added in his update that the vast majority of Americans no longer believe they are ruled with the consent of the governed.

Would Auditing The Fed Send Gold Higher?

By Vin Maru

The House Passes H.R. 459 Bill from Ron Paul to Audit the Fed

July 25, 2012 should go down in history as the date the Federal Reserve may become fully accountable to the US government. A motion to pass the bill as amended was unanimously approved by the house to require a full audit of the boards of governors of the Federal Reserve System and banks. This will be done by the Comptroller General of the US before the end of 2012 and they are required to issue their report within 12 months of enactment.  The votes in the House in the bill’s passing this was 326 yea votes to 99 nay votes with 7 non votes.  Interestingly enough it was the Republicans that strongly supported this bill with 239 yea and 1 nay vote, while the Democrats voted 88 yea and 98 nay.

There are many hurdles ahead of this bill before it takes effect; it still has to be ratified by the Senate and the President.  However, finally getting approved in the House is a step in the right direction.  Even if it does pass how much effect will the audit have in reality?  Probably not much since the banking institution known as the Federal Reserve operates outside of any law.  Even if they are found guilty of any wrong doing in managing the value of the US dollar or being involved in rigging the Libor rate, who will be there to prosecute them?  Remember they operate outside the law, so even if they are found guilty, it will be the US citizens and holders of paper/digital US dollars that will somehow pay for it.

In a world where bank’s losses are socialized, the Federal Reserve (the banker for banks) misconducts have always been socialized on the people.  Of course, this socialization of losses by the Fed has been taking place ever since its illegal inception.  In 1913, the Federal Reserve stole the power to issue and control money by introducing the Federal Reserve note, something we call the US dollar.  Since then, it is estimated that the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power by way of inflation (the increase of the money supply), so it really has only 5% left to go.   As the value of the US dollar moves towards its intrinsic value of zero, gold and silver as true money has only one way to go and that is up.

Usually first reactions are correct and looking at this news the value of the US dollar reacted negatively, while gold went higher in most major currencies around the world.

Could This be the Catalyst that Gold Needs for a Major Break Out to the Upside?

In a manipulated market, it’s tough to say, but the fact that there is support for auditing the Fed and making it accountable is definitely a step in the right direction.  With the recent news about major banks manipulating the Libor rate, any investigation into the Fed’s involvement is most welcome and has to be gold-positive.  Recently, we have been writing about how gold is moving towards the financial system with several different proposals for making it a tier 1 asset class and its use as collateral by financial institutions. If these proposals take effect, they are planned for January 2013, which coincides nicely with this audit being completed by the end of 2012.

Normally, the summer doldrums represent the lows in price for precious metals with a significant rally occurring in the fall and winter.  With this recent down turn, we have most likely seen the lows, and there are many catalysts for G&S to move higher into next years.

For example:

1. Food inflation is rising with this drought.

2. Gold could carry a zero risk weighting on bank books by Jan 2013 (BIS and FDIC are proposing this).

3. Paper currencies are Fiat, essentially worthless, but they will be used to create inflation, there is no other choice at the moment—QE to Infinity.

4. Market manipulation by bullion banks will be overrun by physical buyer (mostly now coming from central banks).

5. The investment community is only 1% invested in gold; historically this has been 5-10%.

6. Political tensions with Iran could heat up again later this year or early next, causing higher oil prices and as such gold.

7. More banking manipulation and scandals are emerging this summer, the Libor scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.

8. They system for true price discovery is broken, regulators have failed and the LBMA & Comex have lost all control and credibility.

9.  The price suppression by the west will be overrun by the East and physical buyers. The West cannot win this paper game.

10. MOST importantly: GOLD and SILVER is a hard asset and it has a history of over 5000 years being REAL MONEY. This paper/digital money has been only in place over the last 100 years and is doomed to fail.

Now is the time to be investing in gold and silver, during this consolidation.  A long period of consolidation is usually followed by a major move either to the upside and downside.  Given gold and silver’s favourable fundamentals, the break out will most likely be to the upside as gold moves towards the financial system.  Today’s positive price action could be the start of a new trend higher going into the fall and early next year.  If this trend plays out, there will be several opportunities to trade in and out of several precious metals ETFs.  The gold miners are great value compared to gold and we have been evaluating several that have great upside potential and production growth.

The key is to be ahead of the curve before it happens, take a position and place a tight stop loss in case this is a fake break out and gold continues to correct lower against its fundamentals.  If the correction in gold is over and we are at a start of a new trend higher over the next year, this summer will prove to one of the best buying opportunities we have seen in a very long time.  Significant profits could be made buying gold and many of the producers during the summer doldrums and then selling into the fall and winter, the only question is are you positioned to take advantage of a trend change in gold when it happens.

If you enjoyed reading this article and are interested in protecting your wealth with precious metals, you can receive our free blog by visiting TDV Golden Trader.

Cheers

FDIC Assigns Gold A “Zero Risk Rating” When Calculating Bank Capital

Although Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke refuses to acknowledge that gold is money, another major regulatory agency views the value of gold money as a risk free asset for calculation of Tier 1 regulatory capital by banks.   Meanwhile, as Ben Bernanke dismisses the value of gold, other central  banks around the world continue to increase gold reserves.  As the world financial system spirals closer to a complete breakdown, it is the holders of paper currencies that are squarely placed at the highest point of the risk spectrum.

TDV Golden Trader examines the current state of the financial system, the role of gold in wealth preservation and suggestions for protecting your gold from government confiscation.

Gold Becomes a Tier 1 Asset Class for Banks

Despite what the Main Stream Media (MSM) or “Financial Pundits” tell you, the gold bull market is far from over.  In fact, it is just starting, in our opinion.  While the misdirected financial world tell you that gold is in a bubble and it has burst, the central bankers and government organizations all know it is far from over.  In fact, gold is moving towards the banking system and not away from it.  We all know that many central banks are now net buyers of gold and their holdings are increasing as their need to diversify away from risky assets and foreign bonds only grows.

Central banks around the world are continuing to stock up on gold. We can now add Kazakhstan’s central bank to the grow list of bankers wanting to hold gold as a part of their currency reserve.  The Kazakh central bank intends to have 20% of reserves in gold, this is up from the current 14-15% currently held.  They plan to purchase 20 tonnes of gold this year, mostly from local producers.  They also mentioned a few weeks ago that they would cut their Euro holding to 25 % from 30%.  We can also add Kazakhstan to the growing number of central bankers which are building up gold holdings including China, Russia, Mexico, Colombia and South Korea.

The price of gold is now hitting all time highs in India, one of the biggest buyers of gold around the world.  Prices have reached an all-time high of $544.74 US (Rs 30420) per 10 grams.  With a slowing economy and low demand for the Indian rupee, it has been losing value lately and still remains weak.   However, gold demand is still robust even at these elevated prices as investors in India still consider gold a safe haven as it counters the effects of inflation and exchange rate fluctuations.

Over the past five years, gold has provided Indian investors with a 27.19% annualized return versus a pathetic 2.67% in the equity market.  This trend and move to gold has only grown in the last year.  Gold assets under management by funds have increased almost 100% $1.83 billion by April 2012, last year the value was $981 million.  In 2011, the gold ETFs in India saw a net inflow of $725 million.  For thousands of years the Indian culture has had an affinity for gold, and that will never change, and neither will their demand for physical at elevated prices.  Why?  Indians understand that gold is money and a true form of saving.  It’s the only way to protect assets and wealth from government theft, something the West is still learning.

Even the good ol’ USSA is starting to recognize gold as a tier one asset class. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) just issued a notice regarding a new policy proposal on how banks should revise the measurement of risk-weighted assets by implementing changes made by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) to international regulatory capital standards and by implementing aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Under the proposal the following assets would carry a zero percent risk weighting, notice how gold bullion is listed as the second item:

A. Zero Percent Risk-Weighted Items

The following exposures would receive a zero percent risk weight under the proposal:

  • Cash;
  • Gold bullion
  • Claims on certain supranational entities (such as the International Monetary Fund) and certain multilateral development banking organizations
  • Claims on and exposures unconditionally guaranteed by sovereign entities that meet certain criteria (as discussed below).

So regardless of what the MSM says, we continue to see more central bankers buying and hoarding gold.  New proposals by government banking agencies are being introduced into the system and gold is included as a tier one asset to hold with ZERO RISK.  All the signs are in place and what the MSM hasn’t been told yet is that gold is coming back into the banking system.

We are in a world where currency wars are being fought daily, and as the system continues to collapse under its own weight of paper printing, gold will be the go to asset and possibly the last man standing.  Don’t be fooled by what the MSM says, they rarely know what they are talking about and are paid to misdirect the puppets. Gold is here to stay.

European Capital Controls and a Flight to Safety

The Greek Elections are over and the pro-bailout New Democracy party won with approximately 29.7% of the vote.  By winning the popular vote, they were given a 50-seat bonus.  This combined with the support of the Pasok Socialist (who took 12.3% of the vote), will have 162 seats in the 300 seat parliament.  Combined, they have the ability to pass government policy with a majority vote, so they can now rig policy for keeping with the Euro.

The Euro experiment may have been saved from breaking up for now, but the bailouts will continue for the foreseeable future.  Since the socialists are realizing that austerity is not working, a new movement and calls for a policy of growth are afoot.  We can expect lots more money printing coming out of Europe now and in the foreseeable future.   While in a normal world that would hurt the Euro, the markets relief that the Euro will not collapse immediately should stop the downward pressure on the Euro. In fact, we could see a slight bounce off the recent lows from this news, but I suspect that will be short lived.  None of the problems have been addressed and printing money to fund the bailout will still be the cure central bankers will prescribe to the Euro financial system mess.

Capital controls are already in place within Euroland and this trend is growing quickly as the hot days of summer go on.  Recently, major Italian banks have given notice that customer’s accounts would be frozen for one month because of financial difficulties. This caught many bank customers off guard and completely unaware that they would not have access to their funds.  This should not be startling news for TDV subscribers as we have been warning for months that capital controls are coming and Europe is fast out of the gates in implementation.  For weeks, Europe has been planning bank withdrawal restriction to deal with Greece exit, the only one that hasn’t told you about it is the MSM.

Recently, a businessman was stopped at the Swiss border with £1.6m worth of gold in his car only to have it confiscated by the authorities and was subsequently charged with smuggling.  Italians know very well that the trend of confiscation by the “Mafia” government has only grown recently.  They have been exporting gold to Switzerland and this trend has grown 35% year over year in February 2012.  About 120 tonnes of gold have left Italian boarder in 2011, that is up 65% from 2010.  The Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has been promising a crackdown on tax evasion as he continues to fight the trend of people wanting to avoid paying extortion fees (taxes).  It was estimated that more than £96 billion [€119.6bn] in taxes were dodged in Italy during 2009.

As much as we like gold as an investment and store of wealth, you must take the necessary precaution of protecting your gold from confiscation.  As desperate European governments continue to steal your wealth via inflation and outright theft, you must create a plan of protecting your gold.  Keeping it close at hand where only you have access to it is the first step.

Secondly, you should consider diversifying your precious metals holding internationally, which seems to be more difficult as capital controls in Euroland become stricter.  At TDV, we saw this trend coming a long time ago and have been warning subscribers to plan ahead.  Earlier this year, we published a 100 page report on how to diversify and internationalize your precious metals holding called Getting Your Gold Out Of Dodge (GYGOOD).  If you live in Europe and are interested in protecting your precious metals, this report is something you should consider getting right away; your time to act may be limited by your own government.

Gold Update

The price of gold is still consolidating.   The price needs to stay above support at the 50 dma of $1615.  If this support holds, then it could move toward resistance at $1675 and the 200 dma.  A break below $1610 could trigger selling and the price could still see one more wave of selling to test support at $1530 or slightly lower again.   If we do get one more wave of selling, I suggest you consider backing up the truck as this could be that last time we see prices this low, possibly forever.

Gold And The Dow Both At 12,000? – Here’s How It Could Happen

During his almost 20 year reign as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan’s easy money policies seemed to work like magic.  Ever lower interest rates and easy bank lending resulted in vast asset price inflation of both stocks and housing.  Flipping stocks and houses became the national past time as the asset bubbles continued to grow.  The average American envisioned a cushy retirement buoyed by ever rising housing values.

In 2004 George Bush nominated Alan Greenspan for an unprecedented fifth term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, convinced that the “maestro” would continue to ensure a permanent national prosperity.  By the time Greenspan retired in January 2006, he had attained rock star cult status.  Who would have thought that a mere two years later, the 20 year Greenspan cycle of false “prosperity”, engineered through excessive borrowing, consumption and leverage would explode, hurtling the world into financial chaos?

Even worse, who would have thought that the same failed policies would be continued by Greenspan’s successor?  Bernanke’s attempts to re-inflate the burst bubbles of a past era are being defeated as a debt choked system crashes asset values as it deleverages.  Bernanke has proven himself to be equally maladroit at recognizing both housing bubbles and liquidity traps.

Meanwhile, the debt laden sovereign nations of the Eurozone are waking up to discover that their credibility in the bond markets has been vaporized.  How will it all end?  Some see hyperinflation in our future, others an all encompassing deflationary crash.  Either way, Vin Maru at TDV Golden Trader sees the Dow/gold ratio moving towards 1:1.

The Dow/gold Ratio Will Move Towards 1:1, Are You Positioned To Profit From It?

After spending the last month consolidating (around 8:1) the Dow/gold ratio broke down on Friday to close at 7.47.  This is a major shift, as the upward trend line in favour of the Dow since September has been broken with a significant drop.  This is a significant event that should trigger the selling of the boarder equity sector as money moves out of the Dow and S&P and into gold and related equities. Gold has once again become a safe haven as uncertainties around the Euro and fiat paper currencies persist. In addition, the growing consensus of a global economic slowdown and possibly a recession in the U.S. in the coming quarters, is bullish for gold.

Gold is on the rise, especially compared to the Dow, as we move from a 7.5 ratio (Dow at 12,000 and gold at $1600) towards a 5:1 ratio and lower in the coming year.  Within a few years, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Dow to Gold ratio of 1:1. History tells us that this ratio should be revisited again in the coming years.  If the longer term chart of the Dow/gold ratio is any indication of how quickly it will happen, it will be sooner rather than later. If you are invested in the broader stock market or mutual funds, this is the time to act and protect your wealth.  Once the final waterfall on the Dow develops and gold begins rising, it can move very quickly. By all indications on the charts and given the current market conditions, we believe it has already started.

HOW DO WE REACH THE DOW/GOLD RATIO OF 1:1?

The Inflationary Path

With the Dow now slightly above 12,000 and gold around $1620, the ratio is contracting fast as we move towards and below 5:1 in the coming years. How this will manifest itself is anyone’s guess at the moment.  If the Dow remains at 12,000, in an inflationary environment, gold will gravitate towards to the 1:1 ratio as it moves to a fair market value based on the outstanding debts and currency units floating around in the system. In the coming years, if the central bankers continue the path of papering over the financial mess that they have created, gold can easily reach $10K+. During a currency event, gold could climb to that price objective and it will take silver along with it.  If we return to the historical gold/silver ratio of 15:1, we could easily see silver at over $650 per ounce. Silver has been trading at around 55:1, and a currency event could move it towards the 15:1 ratio. At today’s price, silver has a lot of upside compared to gold.

Under this scenario, this assumes that currency inflation remains constant and that the financial markets continue to leave the Dow at 12,000.

The Deflationary Path

A deflationary spiral that unwinds debt around the world and leads to revaluations of paper currencies could also be in the cards.   The unravelling of the Euro could cause just such an environment. In this case, central bankers will not be able to stop the deflationary spiral that ensues as individuals start opting out of the paper/debt based system.  The bankers are pulling out all the stops and printing endless amounts of money to prevent this, but psychological forces can easily overwhelm this; economic law has a way of correcting imbalances created by man.   Under this scenario, the Dow will crash in a deflationary spiral towards gold’s price and possibly meet somewhere in the middle or at the lower end of gold’s trading range.

WATCH FOR 1:1

Either way, history has shown us that we are moving towards a long term cycle of low stock prices and higher gold prices; this should play out in the next few years, as it has already has started.  Trying to predict the price of gold is futile, what is most important is the Dow/gold ratio if 1:1.  Once we reach that objective or close to it, it will be time to get out of gold and move to other undervalued asset classes such as the Dow, until then stay long gold and short the Dow.

Once a trend based on fundamentals is in motion, it is very difficult to stop, as much as the masters of the paper universe would like to maintain control.  If a loss in confidence by the population of the world in purchasing power of fiat currency and  the value of the assets based on that paper price starts, (something we think has already started) then the there is no stopping this trend.  All the bankers can do is try and maintain the illusion of control, but eventually their efforts will fail.  The gold market senses this. As a result gold and gold related equities will outperform every other paper market and asset class moving forward for the next few years.  The price action on June 1, 2012 is just the beginning for the golden days ahead; just make sure your financial survival kit contains a percentage of gold, it may be the only thing that maintains its value as the paper currencies and paper assets around the world devalue compared to gold.

STRATEGY FOR HEDGING YOU PAPER ASSETS

Many of our readers already have a long position in physical gold and positions in several key mining companies and juniors.  We have kept a core position in the gold sector and will continue to add on additional weakness.  We are also evaluating potential gold producers and precious metals juniors/explorers which will have significant upside in the coming years as the nominal value of gold rises compared to other asset classes.

If you are looking for ideas and strategies for protecting your wealth and trading opportunities in the precious metals sector, please visit our site and sign up for our regular updates and blog posts.  We regularly provide technical analysis on the price of gold and the HUI index which can help you identify good entry and exit points for trading.

Fed Manipulating Markets In Zero Sum Game To Create Higher Inflation

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney recently said that “You know, I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am.”  If only the Federal Reserve Chairman could be so restrained.  Based on recent comments from Fed Chairman Bernanke, it seems likely that he would gladly set both his hair and beard on fire in order to accomplish his mutually exclusive goals of increasing employment while maintaining price stability.

With a stubbornly high rate of unemployment, massive fiscal deficits, very slow economic growth, declining incomes and debt levels that are strangling the U.S. consumer, the Fed is facing a quandary.  How can economic growth be stimulated without simultaneously igniting inflation?

Lower interest rates, the most powerful tool in the Fed’s arsenal, has already been fully exploited while providing  a zero net benefit for consumers.  The zero sum game of lower rates did not prevent the housing market from crashing, has not helped it to recover and has resulted in dramatically reducing interest income for millions of consumers.  Every dollar of interest saved by one consumer means one less dollar of income for savers, many of them retirees who suddenly have seen their CD rates drop to near zero.

With rates at zero, the Fed is now forced to use the last resort option of QE, risking higher inflation as it stokes the economy with digitally created dollar bills.  Increased inflation is the high risk option that the Fed is willing to take as explained in  Bernanke Seen Accepting Faster Inflation as Fed Seeks to Boost Employment.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke spent six years pushing for an inflation goal. Now that he has it, some investors are betting he’ll breach the 2 percent target in the short run to lower unemployment.

“The chairman seemed to suggest they will tolerate a misdemeanor on inflation as unemployment continues to fall toward their goal” over several years, said Mark Spindel, chief investment officer at Potomac River Capital, a hedge fund that manages $250 million in Washington.

Policy makers at a March 13 meeting probably won’t deviate from their commitment to hold the main interest rate close to zero at least through late 2014, even if their forecast shows a burst of energy-driven inflation, said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey. They’ll probably be more concerned that rising prices will hold back real spending, impeding growth and improvement in the job market, he said.

Crude oil prices have risen 32 percent since the end of the third quarter of 2011 and 6 percent this year. Energy prices could hold the Federal Open Market Committee’s inflation target benchmark, the personal consumption expenditures price index, above the Fed’s 2 percent inflation objective for much of 2012, Crandall said. The PCE rose 2.4 percent for the 12 months ending in January.

Also, workers have weak leverage for increasing wages to compensate for higher costs. Real average weekly earnings have fallen for 10 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. As energy costs eat up more of consumer expenditures, companies have difficulty raising prices on other goods and services.

“To the extent that PCE inflation is somewhere around 3 percent while unemployment is still above 8 percent, I think there will still be no reaction from the Fed,” said Worah, who’s based in Newport Beach, California.

The expectation among investors that the Fed will allow for a temporary overshoot on the price goal has been “unambiguously bullish” for Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, Worah said.

Gold, up 18% over just the past year, is also telling us that the Fed is likely to shoot past its goal of attaining a 2% inflation rate.  Furthermore, the Fed’s goal of accepting increased inflation as an acceptable risk for increased economic growth is a self defeating zero sum game.  By driving up inflation, the Fed has increased living costs for the average consumer, negating any positive net affect from stronger economic growth. Consumers, whose spending makes up 70% of GDP, ultimately can’t spend more without real income growth.

In an interview with CNBC, Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, and a frequent critic of destructive Federal Reserve monetary policies, says the Fed is manipulating interest rates for the sake of achieving “desirable macro outcomes”.  Discussing the Fed’s latest scheme to expand money printing, known as “sterilized bond-buying”, Grant says he is uncomfortable with the program which will create inflation and distortions that will destabilize the entire debt market.

Grant also feels that Bernanke, a self proclaimed “expert’ on the depression of the 1930’s is making fundamentally flawed decisions to forestall Depression II that many feel is looming in front of us.  According to Grant, Bernanke can’t “stop talking about the ’30s”, but when the economy fell off a cliff in 1920 – 1921, the government actually balanced the budget and the Fed raised interest rates and the economy soon recovered on its own and not due to running “immense deficits”.

The full interview with Grant is worth listening to. Please click on this link if the video below does not play.


The Fed has only one hand left to play and it will continue to print money, a fact that has not gone unrecognized by the gold and precious metals markets.

Bernanke Broods Over New Ways To Print Money – Waiting For Gold To Explode

Perhaps it was the realization that the U.S. Federal Reserve was losing to the ECB in the money printing race.  Perhaps it was the realization that the only way to prevent a debt imperiled economy from imploding was by supplying new doses of the only remedy left in the Fed’s medicine bag.  In any event, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke made it clear today that his determination to continue quantitative easing has not diminished.

In an effort to silence critics who equate QE with currency debasement and inflation, the Chairman has come up with an improved version of QE that will boost the economy without creating inflation or boosting oil prices – in effect, the modern equivalent of turning lead into gold.  The new and improved version of QE even comes with a new and impressive sounding moniker -“sterilized bond-buying”.

The Wall Street Journal’s explanation of how this new money creation engine of the Fed would actually work probably left many lesser mortals scratching their heads.  See if you can follow how new money creation by the Fed creates wealth and prosperity, while maintaining a sound dollar and zero risk of inflation blow-back.

Third, in the new novel approach, the Fed could print money to buy long-term bonds, but restrict how investors and banks use that money by employing new market tools they have designed to better manage cash sloshing around in the financial system. This is known as “sterilized” QE.

The Fed’s objective under any of these programs would be to reduce the holdings of long-term securities in the hands of investors and banks. The Fed believes that reducing the amount of long-term bonds in the hands of investors drives down long-term interest rates, encourages more risk-taking, and thus spurs spending and investment by households and businesses.

Under the third approach, the Fed would create new money as it buys long-term bonds. But then it would effectively lock up the money rather than letting it loose in the broader economy. The Fed would do this by borrowing the money back from investors for short periods—say, 28 days—in exchange for some low interest rate it would pay investors.

Will this new genius wealth creation mechanism of the Fed actually work or will it wind up driving gold into the stratosphere as the average American finally begins to realize that not only does the Emperor have no clothes, but that he is also delusional?

Here’s the take on the new and improved QE (sorry, I meant to say “sterilized bond-buying”) by astute observer Jim Sinclair, who is never at a loss to expound on the monetary mess we are in.

This would be a hat trick because it assumes the Fed would borrow back funds they have created by good ole debt monetization. It assumes there is no purpose to QE in the first place. It is monetary double talk beyond MOPE or maybe MOPE at a spiritual level. It is an attempt to intellectually cloud the process and to give plausible believability to PR lies.

This is a statement that says we will step on the gas and then equally apply the brakes which means you go absolutely nowhere. It is a statement that is total gobbledegook to deflect the fact that QE is going to infinity. It is a statement that only those who do not understand monetary science might give credibility to.

The claim that QE can be controlled by equal stimulation and draining adds up to nothing whatsoever. The idea that the Fed could so perfectly orchestrate pulling and pushing is denied by the fact of where we are right now.

Only gold can protect you from this sinking ship without hope of rescue as there is no captain at the helm.

I am horrified by today’s total distortion of fact of how the monetary mechanism works by the Federal Reserve. We will win the war by jamming the accelerator to the floor and jumping on the brakes simultaneously, therefore stimulating the dead cat bouncing economies of the Western world to prosperity and avoid sovereign debt failure.

My god that is nonsense.

Meanwhile, for those keeping score, the European Central Bank has powered ahead of the Federal Reserve in the money printing race.  The Fed’s balance sheet has ballooned to triple its size from 2008 as the Fed printed $2 trillion in new dollars to purchase mortgage backed securities and treasury debt (effectively financing 40% of the U.S. Government’s deficit).  As of the end of February, the Fed’s balance sheet stood at $2.94 trillion.

Faced with the total collapse of the banking system, wild money printing by the European Central Bank (ECB) makes the Fed look like an amateur.  After dishing out $1.4 trillion to 800 problem banks since December, the ECB’s balance sheet has exploded to $3.96 trillion.

Other central banks worldwide are following the desperate actions of the Fed and the ECB.  The combined balance sheets of the ECB, Federal Reserve, England, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and China and Great Britain has expanded from $6 trillion in mid 2007 to over $15 trillion today.

Most of the central bank money has been used to liquify insolvent banks by purchasing bank assets of dubious value.  A good portion of the funds received by banks has in turn wound up as idle excess reserves, as the banking industry refuses to expand lending to already over-leveraged or insolvent borrowers.

There will be one surefire way to determine when the money created by the central banks eventually works it way into the real economy – the price of gold will explode upward with a concurrent rise in inflation and wide spread debasement of virtually every world currency.  In the meantime, as we watch the “QE to infinity” process unfold before our eyes, gold remains on the bargain table.

The Federal Reserve Can’t Produce Oil, Food Or Jobs But They Will Continue To Produce Dollars

Federal Reserve

No bull market goes straight up without normal price corrections along the way.  The recent sharp pullback in silver prices and the more subdued correction in gold prices are likely to be viewed in hindsight as a superb buying opportunity.

Simple trend line analysis suggests that current prices for gold and silver are in a buying range.  Using the SLV and GLD as proxies for the metals, we can see that the recent sell off has brought prices to trend line support.   Combining the “trend is your friend” theory along with solid fundamental underpinnings for gold and silver, higher prices seem inevitable.  For patient long term investors, especially in the gold market, every pullback of the last decade has simply been another opportunity to exchange depreciating paper dollars into a better store of value.

The SLV recently hit its trend line in the low 30’s.

SLV - COURTESY ETRADE.COM

The GLD’s long term trend line does not even hint of parabolic price movement, contrary to mainstream press reports warning the public of the dangers of gold investing.

GLD - COURTESY ETRADE.COM

Despite the assertions of Fed Chairman Bernanke that inflation is not a problem, any one outside of the academic inner circle of the Federal Reserve sees inflation everywhere they look.  Soaring gasoline and heating costs have decimated family budgets and retail food inflation is projected to hit 4% or higher in 2011.  Constantly higher inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has prevailed ever since the U.S. officially went off the gold standard in the early 1970’s.  (See also Why Higher Inflation and $5,000 Gold Are Inevitable).

This week we have seen announcements of higher prices by Starbucks, Smucker Co, Nestle, McDonald’s and Whole Foods.  Walmart previously warned that the debasement of the dollar was translating into higher retail prices on imported items.  The upward price spiral in the cost of necessities is especially burdensome since incomes for the majority of Americans are not increasing.

In an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal this week, Ronald McKinnon persuasively suggests that the United States is entering 1970’s type stagflation, the result of high inflation, high unemployment and stagnant demand.  According to Mr. McKinnon,  “the U.S. economy again seems to be entering stagflation. April’s producer price index for finished goods, which excludes services and falling home prices, rose 6.8%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that intermediate goods prices for April were rising at a 9.4% annual clip. Meanwhile the official nationwide unemployment rate is mired close to 9%.”

McKinnon argues that stagflation is being caused by the Fed’s zero interest rate policies (which besides robbing retirees and savers), has cause a global flood of hot money that has resulted in surging inflation in Asia and Latin America and a 40% rise in commodity prices over the past year.

The Federal Reserve’s policy options at this point seem limited to continuing their policies of cheap money and dollar debasement.  The Fed cannot produce oil as Bernanke recently commented.  Nor can the Fed produce food, jobs or higher housing prices.  The one thing the Fed can and has done is to produce paper dollars in extraordinary quantities.  Debt, when allowed to expand to levels that make repayment impossible, leaves the debtor with no good options – a point that we are rapidly approaching. (See also Why There Is No Upside Limit To Gold and Silver Prices).

Federal Reserve May Cause Stampede Into Gold and Silver This Week

At the end of a two day Federal Reserve policy meeting, Fed Chairman Bernanke has scheduled a news conference on Wednesday that has the potential to rattle markets worldwide.   Every analyst and investor at the news conference is certain to focus their questions on Fed plans after the scheduled completion of QE2  in June.

Current market expectations are that the Fed will not announce a new program of asset purchases and will initiate steps to slowly reduce the size of its bloated $2.5 trillion balance sheet.  Through the end of June, the Fed will have purchased $600 billion of treasury debt using newly created dollars, after having purchased $1.7 trillion of assets under QE1.

The Federal Reserve has been supporting the skyrocketing federal deficit by purchasing 85% of all new treasury debt since QE2 was initiated.   Some analysts think that interest rates on US debt will increase once the largest buyer of treasury debt steps aside.  The withdrawal of massive stimulus by the Fed could also cause a sell off in stocks and bonds, and result in lower housing prices and higher unemployment.  Under this scenario, another round of quantitative easing by the Fed would become inevitable.

Chairman Bernanke’s comments on the Federal Reserve’s exit strategy from a super easy monetary policy could cause major moves in many markets, especially precious metals.  If the markets sense that the Fed may need to initiate another round of quantitative easing, gold and silver prices will explode to the upside.  This prediction is based on the results of the current QE2 program which benefited certain asset categories but did little to help the average American.

Since last August when it became clear that the Fed would initiate QE2, we have witnessed the following results.

  • Home prices have continued to decline.
  • The 30 year mortgage rate has increased from 4.2% to 4.8%.
  • New housing starts declined to all time lows.
  • The 10 year treasury note rate has increased from 2.6% to 3.4%.

The Fed has continued its policy of near zero short term interest rates at the expense of consumers who receive virtually no return on savings.  Banks, meanwhile have increased US treasury and agency securities to a massive $1.7 trillion, benefiting from the spread between short and long rates.

The Fed’s policy of overt currency debasement, while helping to increase exports and earnings for multinational corporations has resulted in the dollar declining to the all time lows reached in early 2008.   Foreign countries with dollar reserves are protecting themselves by diversifying out of dollars and into other currencies and hard assets.

The lower value of the US dollar, while helping multinational corporations, has resulted in higher oil and food costs which has put  additional strains on consumers already burdened with excessive levels of debt and declining incomes.

Unemployment has remained stubbornly high despite unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus.  The Fed can print money but it cannot directly create an increase in real incomes for the average American family.  Nor can the Fed fool the people – recent Gallup polls show that almost half of the public has little faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to do the right thing.

The Fed’s explicit policies of dollar debasement and zero interest rates risks triggering a major collapse in the value of the dollar.   Since last summer the dollar has seen a decline of 16% as investors do the logical thing and dump dollars.

Huge US  budget deficits, uncontrolled spending  and money printing by the Fed resulted in a warning by S&P that a credit downgrade on US debt was possible, putting further pressure on the US dollar.

QE2 liquidity did result in higher stock and precious metal prices benefiting a minority of Americans while doing nothing to solve the problem of too much debt and too little income.  Reliance on the Fed to come to the rescue with ever increasing amounts of cheap money has become the last resort, self defeating option.

The gold and silver markets are reflecting the failure of  unsustainable fiscal and monetary policies which virtually guarantee further appreciation in the precious metals sector.  Any pullback in prices should be viewed as a long term buying opportunity.