July 17, 2024

Gold Currency – An Escape From A Failing Paper Money System

Fed Chairman Bernanke’s statement that “gold is not money” seems to be an increasingly lonely position.  No less an authority than Alan Greenspan, his predecessor at the Federal Reserve, directly contradicted Bernanke by calling gold a “currency.”

In remarkably candid language, Greenspan spoke in Washington about the Euro ‘Breaking Down’, the European banking crisis and the deterioration of the fiat money system.

“The euro is breaking down and the process of its breaking down is creating very considerable difficulties in the European banking system,” Greenspan said today in Washington.

A lack of confidence in euro-denominated debt is straining the region’s banks, Greenspan said. “That stuff has always been thought of as the ideal collateral and now it’s getting highly questionable,” he said in a question-and-answer session at the Innovation Nation Forum in Washington.

Greenspan also said that he did not think gold, which reached a record above $1,900 an ounce this week, was in a bubble.

“Gold, unlike all other commodities, is a currency,” he said. “And the major thrust in the demand for gold is not for jewelry. It’s not for anything other than an escape from what is perceived to be a fiat money system, paper money, that seems to be deteriorating.”

While Bernanke contemplates additional ways to debase the US currency his counterparts at other Central Banks are retaining gold to help manage debt and adding to their gold reserves at a record pace.  Meanwhile, before providing more bailout funds to insolvent member of the European Union, the German labour minister is demanding that gold be put up as collateral.

Central banks, net buyers of gold for the first time in a generation, are likely to retain their holdings even if they need to raise cash to counter an escalating debt crisis, according to Morgan Stanley.

“Once they’ve sold, that’s it, and buying back would be extremely expensive,” Peter Richardson, chief metals economist at Morgan Stanley Australia Ltd., said in an interview. “They would rather have the backing of a rising asset within their reserve portfolios than use it to reduce debt.”

“Under conditions of austerity we’re going to see a further deterioration of debt,” said Richardson, who has studied metals markets for 20 years. “Rising risk argues in favor of holding on to their gold reserves rather than selling them because they’ve only got one shot at selling.”

“The European central banks won’t sell their gold because while it may be a means to raise cash, it definitely won’t be enough to settle their debts,” said Duan Shihua, head of corporate services at Haitong Futures Co., China’s largest brokerage by registered capital. “Besides, none of the central banks believe in the currencies of other countries.”

Bernanke can deny reality and history by saying that gold is not money while he wildly prints more paper currency, but the rest of the world isn’t buying it.

Fed Lays Groundwork For Price Explosion In Gold

Gold hit another all time high of $1,779.10 before pulling back to close at $1745.10, up $26.90.  Gold has advanced strongly over the past year as the Federal Reserve engaged in quantitative easing and extremely loose monetary policy.  Over the past 30 days gold has gained $198 and over the past year, a stunning $548.70 per ounce.

At the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Tuesday, the Fed announced that it would maintain its zero interest rate policy through the middle of 2013.   The Fed does not normally make commitments that limit future policy flexibility and three of the seven members of the FOMC  voted against the pledge to maintain zero interest rates.

The Fed has held interest rates at zero for 32 months now with little to show for it as debt burdened consumers continue to reduce spending.  With inflation running at 5 to 10% (depending on whose stats you believe), real interest rates are negative and savers are seeing the purchasing power of their dollars destroyed by Fed policies.

The FOMC also said that they expect “a somewhat slower pace of recovery over the coming quarters” and that future action might be taken to “promote stronger economic recovery.”  Since the Fed has already exhausted all normal policy tools, the FOMC seems to be positioning itself for another round of quantitative easing.  Some analysts speculate that the Fed will discuss further easing measures later this month at the Fed’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where QE2 was launched.

Further fiscal stimulus seems improbable given the restrictions put on future spending by Congress as part of the debt limit agreement.  In a sign of how desperate the financial condition of the United States has become, all eyes are now turned towards the Fed.

Since zero interest rates and two rounds of money printing have done little to turn around the US economy, the expectation is that the Fed will need to do more of what failured before, except on a grander scale.  I expect that as the economy continues to weaken, the Fed will announce a “shock and awe” campaign of massive money printing accompanied by an explicit statement that they are committed to higher inflation.

Federal Reserve policies have been the primary factor pushing the price of gold higher.  The inevitable announcement of further quantitative easing will be trigger that pushes gold prices thousands of dollars higher.

Consider the statement of the former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan who on a “Meet the Press” interview arrogantly proclaimed that the United States could never default because “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default.”  This is what the United States has come to under the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve and a government that believes prosperity can be created by oceans of debt.  Is it any wonder that the currency is collapsing and the purchasing power of the dollar declining precipitously?

Meanwhile, Kenneth Rogoff (of This Time It’s Different fame) who attended Harvard with Bernanke, tells Bloomberg that the Fed should explicitly set a high inflation target and engage in massive quantitative easing.

Federal Reserve policy makers are likely to embark on a third round of large-scale asset purchases, moving “more decisively” to secure the U.S. recovery, said Harvard University economist Kenneth Rogoff.

“They certainly should do something right away,” said Rogoff, a former International Monetary Fund chief economist who attended graduate school with Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

“Out-of-the-box policies are called for, especially much more aggressive monetary policy, however unpopular that may be,” said Rogoff, 58, a former Fed economist who like Bernanke earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Fed is “going to move more decisively,” Rogoff said.

Rogoff recommended the Fed say in “very clear statements” that it’s trying to create “moderate inflation.” “In the classic classroom QE, it’s open-ended,” Rogoff said. “You say, ‘I’m trying to create inflation of, let’s say 2 or 3 percent, and I’m going to do whatever it takes.’”

The extreme policy measures recommended by Greenspan and Rogoff prove that the US has already passed the tipping point and has only one policy option left.  If the Fed does not print like crazy, the whole rotten edifice of towering debts will collapse, plunging the country into a deflationary collapse.

Gold will have price corrections as it continues to move upward but the ultimate price will be many thousands of dollars higher than today.  Gold investors should continue to accumulate positions, especially on price weakness and enjoy the unfolding of one of the greatest bull markets in history.