June 19, 2024

Paper Money Collapses in Value as Gold and Silver Soar

Most people under the age of 50 have probably never seen government currency backed by a tangible asset such as silver.  The $1 dollar Silver Certificates, last produced in 1963, were backed by silver on deposit in the US Treasury and payable in silver to “the bearer on demand”.

The promise to redeem  Silver Certificate dollars for silver was withdrawn by the US Government and holders of such dollars had to be satisfied that the value of their dollar was now backed by the “full faith and credit” of the US Government.  Redemption of Silver Certificates for silver coin ended in 1964 and redemption of Silver Certificates for silver bullion was ended in 1968.

The era of currency backed by real money such as gold or silver ended and the dawn of a fiat currency system began.  The result for holders of currency backed by nothing more than promises has been disastrous as the value of paper dollars has seen its purchasing power virtually disappear.

As the quantity of dollars has grown exponentially, their value has correspondingly diminished, leading to a large increase in general price levels.

Chart pbs.org

Despite the obvious increase in prices and the collapse of the value of the dollar, the Federal Reserve tells us they now need to engage in money printing quantitative easing in order to create inflation to help the economy.  Fed Chairman Bernanke ensures us that the Fed is committed to keeping inflation low.

“Although asset purchases are relatively unfamiliar as a tool of monetary policy, some concerns about this approach are overstated. Critics have, for example, worried that it will lead to excessive increases in the money supply and ultimately to significant increases in inflation. Our earlier use of this policy approach had little effect on the amount of currency in circulation or on other broad measures of the money supply, such as bank deposits. Nor did it result in higher inflation. We have made all necessary preparations, and we are confident that we have the tools to unwind these policies at the appropriate time. The Fed is committed to both parts of its dual mandate and will take all measures necessary to keep inflation low and stable.”

The Fed has not succeeded at keeping inflation low in the past and now seems obsessed with inflating asset values to prop up a weak economy.  It’s all about trust with fiat money, and the Fed Chairman seems to be losing credibility.

The price movements in gold and silver are strong indicators that no one is being fooled by the Fed Chairman’s words.  Investors are watching “what they do – not what they say”.   Expect gold and silver prices to be dramatically higher over time, with an initial objective of $5,000/oz for gold.

Gold and Silver Recap: G20 Aftermath and Silver Price

Well it looks like the G20 worked.  Talk of ending competitive devaluation seems to have put a bit of zip into the dollar, and other currencies.  This has hurt gold, particularly towards the end of the week.

Oddly it didn’t touch silver, the purer inflation play.  So the view is that the end of the world is much less nigh than it was last week, but inflation is still on the way up.  Or perhaps the investors are confused as I am.  It’s usually the second answer when the market is spinning around in the short term.  In the long term the market may be the most rational engine for progress, but in the short term it is irrational and emotional.  Of course it is in the medium term that rational speculators make their money.

Precious Metals London Fix Prices
Gold $1,388.50 -7.00 (-0.50%)
Silver $26.79 +0.65 (+2.49%)
Platinum $1,712.00 -52.00 (-2.95%)
Palladium $703.00 +16.00 (+2.33%)

Talking about the long run, there’s even talk of gold being reintroduced to the international monetary system, from the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.  “The [new monetary] system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values.”  Wow.  Sounds like the London Gold Pool of the 1950s and 1960s, although the United States tried throughout that time to stop private individuals buying gold.  He then says to the fiat money stalwarts “Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.”  Too true.  And silver.

But in the actual precious metals market the real movers were still private individuals rather than governments, with many metals traders warning that there is a big wall of consumer money coming in to the precious metals markets in the shape of planned commodity funds.  Could this be the start of the last leg when the main street investors buy into the death of fiat currency argument?

The silver market still went up, which on the face of it is a puzzle.  If the reason why gold went down was that the market believed that governments weren’t racing to finish off the purchasing power of their currencies, why is silver still going up?  Surely it should be going down.  More.

My theory is that this could be an unwind from the silver price fixing allegations as the action was at the start of the week.  There is also a potentially large overhang of short future positions, which essentially means that there are a lot of people who are selling silver without having bought it.  If they all have to close their positions at once, or buy the silver, then the price could shoot up.