May 26, 2022

Fed’s Open Ended Money Printing Will Destroy The Purchasing Power Of U.S. Dollar

By Axel Merk

May we suggest a Twitter version of today’s FOMC statement: “Don’t worry, be happy! ” – No, the economic outlook hasn’t improved. In fact, the Fed may want you to take a valium to stomach the ride ahead. Alternatively, if you don’t get mollified by the Fed’s “communication strategy”, you may want to consider taking action to protect the purchasing power of your hard earned dollars.

Here’s the challenge: the Federal Reserve (Fed) wants to keep interest rates low across the yield curve (from short-term to long-term rates) to aid the economic recovery. But good economic data might send the bond market into a tailspin, i.e. raise long-term rates and thus cause massive headwinds to the economic recovery. We got a taste of how quickly the bond market can sell off earlier this year when the economy appeared to pick up some steam. Higher interest rates would further encourage the major deleveraging that market forces still warrant, not a desirable scenario from our understanding of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s thinking.

Engaging in further rounds of asset purchases (“Quantitative Easing”, “QE3”, “QEn+1”) may alleviate some of those upward pressures on interest rates, but the moment a program is announced, the market prices it in and looks ahead, threatening to mitigate any lasting impact of QEn+1. Picture the Fed as trying to hold a carrot in front of the donkey, well, market, to make us believe another stimulus is coming, without actually giving it. That way, the Fed can print less money to achieve its goals. The Fed calls it communication strategy.

Some have suggested a more open-ended approach to asset purchases. But that would likely come with some sort of guidance as to when to stop it, such as when a certain level of unemployment or nominal growth is reached. Given that everything Bernanke has done has been signaled well ahead of time (the blogosphere is full of the “best kept secret”, the likelihood of more QE), introducing a completely new concept is rather un-Bernanke-ish. You may not agree with Bernanke, but as an investor please don’t act surprised.

In recently released FOMC minutes, the Fed tells us that it might communicate to the market that rates may remain low even as the economy recovers. Bingo! We have long argued that Bernanke considered the early monetary tightening during the Great Depression as a grave mistake, as it undid all the “progress” that had been achieved. But more to the point, the Fed needs to get our attention away from the economy. By keeping the link to the economy, the Fed will always struggle to keep the upper hand on the bond market. So forget about the carrot: we need valium, not carrots. By communicating with the market that rates will remain low independent of how the economy might perform, the bond market just might not be selling off as aggressively as economic growth picks up.

That’s exactly the path we believe the Fed is going to go down. It will be interesting, however, to see what the Fed’s explanation will be. We doubt they will use the valium analogy. Some Fed watchers would like to see a nominal GDP target or something similar, but don’t bet your donkey on Bernanke going that far.

The basic challenge is – and we are interpreting here as we don’t think the Fed or any central banker in office would ever frame it this way: the Fed wants to have inflation, wants to move the price level higher to bail out home owners, wants to push up nominal wages, and wants to push up nominal GDP to make the debt burden more bearable. But the Fed doesn’t want the market to price in inflation, as that would push interest rates up.

That’s why we may be heading ever more into the “Land of Make-Believe.” But as investors enjoy their valium, the U.S. dollar is at risk of melting away under their feet. Drugged up, we are too busy laughing at Greece and doling out advice to Europe to notice that our “don’t worry, be happy” approach might lead to rather unhappy purchasing power. If you think you are above the fray, let me just ask whether you have watched the euro in recent months? As of late, that perceived weakling of a currency appears to be giving the greenback a run for its money. We are not suggesting that investors dump their U.S. dollars and exchange them all for euros. However, we would like to encourage investors to consider embracing currency risk, for example through a managed basket of currencies, as a way to manage the risk posed to the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar. Adding currency exposure to a portfolio may have valuable diversification benefits.

Some sympathize with the ever greater complexity of monetary activism around the world. But it’s really rather simple: there’s too much debt in the world. To deal with the debt, countries may deflate, default or inflate. In the US, we have what both Bernanke and his predecessor Greenspan have called the printing press; as such, so their argument goes, the U.S. dollar is safe – in nominal terms at least. Greece is not capable of procuring valium, which creates a different set of challenges. But stop pitying Greece and consider taking action to protect your purchasing power at home.

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

Why Gold Will Outperform Bonds

By Vin Maru

This past week was a major catalyst for the precious metals, as they closed the week up strongly based on strong fundamentals for the sector. We have been anticipating the next catalyst for the PM sector to start making a strong advance, and we got it with a coordinated effort from central banks around the world. They will print whatever is necessary to fight off deflation and another financial collapse. Here are a few headlines we saw from the media lately:

“Gold Prices Gain on German Ruling”, “ECB to launch ‘outright monetary transaction’ plan”, andIMF’s Lagarde backs ECB-bond buying plan”

This afternoon, the FOMC meeting concluded and was followed by a press conference by Ben Bernanke. The precious metals market has been on a strong uptrend over the last month in anticipation of additional bond buying and stimulus (AKA Quantitative Easing).  Over the last month, the fed has hinted that they will stimulate if needed but never actually pulled the trigger. Precious metals still rose in anticipation of coming QE.  Well, he finally did it and the metal prices are up on this news, below is some commentary on what the fed announced. See Reuters article about this QE.

This looks to be stimulus like the original QE 1 and 2 and this is super bullish for gold, like it was back in 2009 and 2010.  This starts off another major uptrend for gold and it will be going to $3500 over the next few years.  Now is the time to be getting invested again, it’s almost an all in moment on any pullback and then its onwards and upwards from here.  We can expect this QE to last indefinitely just like we can expect a low interest rate environment for an extended period of time.  It’s QE to infinity and gold will definitely shine.

ECB Bond Buying Program

With headlines like these, the world markets are proven to be irrational in their approach to dealing with debts; the central banks around the world will print and by up bonds as needed. The West may have saved themselves for the moment, but this really opens up the door for moral hazard and the mindset that debts don’t matter has been rationalized around the world. The Western central planners rationalize their action by stating the bond buying program will be sterilized. The hazard is that other central bankers around the world will also engage in sterilized bond buying and supporting of governments, all of which is backed by nothing except faith. They claim the bond buying is sterilized because the central banks print money to buy bonds of the governments to keep yields low and then make up new bonds to sell to other central banks and all of this financial alchemy is based on buying and selling of foreign currency bonds. To learn more about currency intervention and how the bonds could be sterilized, you can read about it here.

They claim the net effect is there is no increase in the monetary base, but any rational human can see this is pure manipulation and gaming the system. With no new monetary base, the money supply in the system does not increase and it is very similar to Operation Twist. The net effect of the new bond buying program is there will be no direct stimulus to the economy and the governments will continue to be supported by the central banks. The new bonds issued by the government will carry lower interest rates, which will then be supposedly paid back to the CBs over an extended period of time. The old government debt will be rolled over and extended from this bond buying program and only small amounts of additional interest will be paid on these new bonds, which tax payers will eventually have to pay one way or another. The governments will then have to accommodate the additional interest payments on the new debt which could eat into budgets, so they will either tax more or reduce some of their spending. The paper currency Ponzi scheme will be allowed to continue and coup d’état over the financial system has been accomplished by the central bankers. The idea is that bad loans and debts do not matter anymore in an attempt to keep the system afloat, eventually that will fail and precious metals will prosper as a result.

With keeping interest rates low, bonds have virtually no upside from here since interest rates can’t go much lower from here.  Savers will be forced to speculate in order to create yield and precious metals will benefit over the next few years from a negative yield interest rate environment.  Business with tons of cash on the sidelines will be forced put that money to work in search of economic returns and banks with tons of cheap cash on hand will be loaning out more money to qualified people and businesses. Deflation and collapse is no longer an option, the system will be supported and soon the market will be talking about expansion and growth again. Money will be put to work even though the western economies may stagnate over the next decade. The market will soon look beyond the Euro and US mess and move forward in search of yield.  It may continue looking at emerging markets for growth and opportunities, but it definitely look to precious metals for safety from the depreciation of paper currencies.

Once we start seeing this money turning over in the system, the velocity of money will increase significantly which will then lead to higher inflation, this is when we can expect gold to really shine.  While the upside for bonds will be limited in a low interest rate environment, the upside for gold is unlimited from endless printing of fiat currencies and bonds by all central bankers and governments around the world.  The upside for the price of bonds is limited to interest rates going to zero and they can be printed to infinity.  The amount of gold available in the world is fixed to current inventory plus expected additional supply.  Because supply is limited, gold’s price could go to infinity to equally match the unlimited printing of bonds and currency units which are used to purchase them. So in the end, bond prices are limited on the upside while supply is infinite, while gold supply is limited and it’s price is limitless in a world based on fiat currencies—which would you rather own?

Gold Update

In the last 2 weeks, gold has made a great break out move above $1620 and then $1660-$1680. The price is now holding strong above $1720 as central bankers are planning on bond buying programs and additional stimulus in a coordinated effort to avoid a deflationary spiral. This opens up the door to QE to infinity, they will print since there is no other option and precious metals will benefit from this. Gold and silver are going much higher in the years to come, but it won’t be in a straight line. Expect volatile moves to the upside and swift corrections, but the general trend for the next few years is towards higher prices. Keep with the trend and buy the dips and sell into major strength if you plan on trading the paper markets. If you purchased the physical metals during this past summer, you may want to consider holding on to them, we may not see these prices again, ever.

The RSI is rising and starting to move above 80, which could be getting into overbought territory, however the MACD is in a slow steady trend higher over the last couple of months. Look for new support to be around $1680 (which would be a good opportunity to add to positions) and short term overhead resistance to be at $1780-1800 (sell trading positions currently open) which has been overhead resistance back in November and February, at which time we could see a significant correction. If the gold market clears $1800 and holds on a closing weekly basis, we could retest the previous highs and go on to make new highs .

The HUI Gold Miners Index

The HUI clearly broke the downtrend line by gapping up above it late last week. The RSI is still rising and so is the MACD. If gold makes a move to $1800, expect the HUI to rise towards 500 before taking a break and correction. This would be a great time to sell open trading position in the next few weeks, especially after any news from the Fed about stimulus and QE. The fact that gold and the HUI has risen so much in the last month based on expectations for QE and the indicators are getting close to  overbought territory.  We may see an initial jump in price for the HUI index after any announcement, then a minor correction as much of this news could be priced into the metals and the miners.  Watch the reaction of the metals and the HUI later this week and next, but if the advance higher starts stalling out, you may want to consider closing trading positions and book some profits.

More than likely towards the end of this month/early next month, we could start to see a minor correction going into October and November as election approach, the market may take a breather. We may also see some strong year end selling this year, especially coming from the US as their tax laws on capital gains are scheduled to change next year. It would be a good time to start new positions or add to current holdings during that correction.  We can expect the trend to continue higher as the metals go on to make higher highs and higher lows over the next 6 to 9 months.

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