Thursday, December 14, 2017

Investing Overseas, and Why You Should Buy Gold

Business Insider executive editor Sara Silverstein talks about the iPhone X, the release of which many people thought would trigger a so-called upgrade supercycle. She breaks down a recent UBS report arguing that this isn't true, citing data showing that iPhone sales will remain flat from a year ago. UBS says that people are still most concerned about price and battery life, not the newly announced functions that Apple has been advertising so heavily. UBS still has a buy rating on the stock, despite the firm's reservations over the upgrade cycle.

Silverstein sits down with Jim Rickards, the editor of Strategic Intelligence and the author of Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis. He breaks down his $10,000/oz price target for gold, saying that some central banks may have to resort to the gold standard to restore confidence in the markets. Rickards says that $10,000 is the perfect pricing in order to to avoid a disaster scenario. He says what reflects reality is "complexity theory," which has been successful in other fields, and for which he's been a pioneer for bringing to financial markets. Rickards shares his thoughts on the Fed, and questions why the central bank is unwinding its balance sheet while economic growth is slow. He says it's because the Fed is already preparing for the next recession.
In the Fidelity Insight of the week, Silverstein speaks to Bill Bower, a portfolio manager at the firm. He'd just returned from a visit to Japan, and tells Silverstein that when he invests there, he likes to look at individual stocks. Bower says that he's looking at secular growth ideas in factory automation, as well as more value-based names in the financial sector. He says that he's taken a recent liking to financials in European, where he sees opportunities due to earnings growth. In general, when Bower invests internationally, he's more interested in secular ideas than cyclical ones. He's specifically intrigued by China, which he says will transition from a centrally-planned economy to a consumer, and notes that technology and the internet caters to that space.

- Source, Business Insider

Monday, December 11, 2017

James Rickards: Predicting the Fed's Next Move

Everyone is wondering what the FED will do next? How will 2018 unfold, and can any profit be made from it, or are we simply staring down the barrel of a complete and utter collapse?

The FED is sending warning singles to anyone who cares to listen, and rates could move in a massive way throughout 2018. Jim Rickards breaks this down and much, much more with Albert Lu of The Power and Market Report.

- Source

Sunday, December 10, 2017

James Rickards Final Warning for 2018

James Rickards has been screaming to the rafters, to anyone who will listen. A crisis is coming and 2018 is going to be an ugly year. The geopolitical instabilities that we are witnessing have never been higher, and the pot is about to boil over. Don't say you haven't been warned.

- Video Source

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thanks to the FED: A Major Gold Rally is Coming in 2018

For more than a month gold prices have been unable to break above the $1,300 level but one expert is not too concerned, noting that $10,000 gold may be on the horizon. Speaking with Kitco News, best-selling author Jim Rickards said the Federal Reserve could “catalyze a major gold rally.” Markets are pricing in a nearly 100% chance the Fed will hike rates in December and if they don’t, Rickards said the metal may skyrocket. After that, he wouldn’t be surprised to see prices jump even further up. “My intermediate target is $10,000 an ounce.”

- Source, Kitco News

Monday, December 4, 2017

Jim Rickards on Bitcoin, Gold, and Fed Printing Money

James Rickards and Alex Stanczyk break down the current markets that we live in. How does gold play a role in these turbulent times and what can you do to protect yourself against the coming collapse?

Can the FED stop it, or will their uncontrolled money printing be the end of us all?

- Video Source

Friday, December 1, 2017

Enough About Bitcoin, Gold Is Headed to $10,000

The Federal Reserve could provide the ammo that blasts gold into its next major rally - a rally that could push prices up as high as $10,000 an ounce, according to one famed investor.

On the sidelines of the Silver and Gold Summit, best-selling author Jim Rickards told Kitco News that he is not convinced the Fed will raise rates next month at its monetary policy meeting, despite markets pricing in a nearly 100% chance.

The reason for his contrarian view is based on inflation, which will be in the spotlight this week with Thursday's release of the October core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Index. Core PCE is the central bank's preferred inflation measure as it strips out volatile energy and food prices.

"The Fed has a dual mandate: job creation and price stability. Job creation was mission accomplished a long time ago; that is not even a concern. Disinflation is a real concern," he said. "PCE core has gone down to flat nine months in a row from 1.9% to 1.3%, moving away from the Fed's target."

Rickards said that he expects the report to show PCE annual inflation growth of 1.3% or lower, adding that if this happens, there is no way the central bank will raise rates at its December meeting.

Because expectations are so high for a rate hike, Rickards said markets will take a "180-degree turn" if the Fed doesn't pull the trigger, which will drive gold prices higher.

"The euro will rally, the dollar will come down, [bond] yields will come down. That will catalyze a rally in gold," he said.

Rickards isn't the only one raising concerns over weak inflation pressures. Last week, the central bank showed ongoing concern of falling price pressures, as seen in its latest monetary policy meeting minutes.

"With core inflation readings continuing to surprise on the downside, however, many participants observed that there was some likelihood that inflation might remain below 2 percent for longer than they currently expected," the central bank said in the minutes. "A few other participants thought that additional policy firming should be deferred until incoming information confirmed that inflation was clearly on a path toward the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective. A few participants cautioned that further increases in the target range for the federal funds rate while inflation remained persistently below 2 percent could unduly depress inflation expectations."

Since the release of the dovish minutes, gold has managed to push into striking distance of $1,300 an ounce. December gold futures last traded at $1,295 an ounce, up 0.60% on the day.

For Rickards, gold's struggle around $1,300 an ounce is a minor resistance point in what he sees as a much larger rally. In his latest interview, he maintained his view that gold prices could reach $10,000 an ounce.

"It's not a made-up number; I don't do it to get headlines," he said. "It is the price gold would have to be to avoid deflation."

- Source, The Street

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Golden Catalysts Lay in Wait

The physical fundamentals are stronger than ever for gold. Russia and China continue to be huge buyers. China bans export of its 450 tons per year of physical production.

Gold refiners are working around the clock and cannot meet demand. Gold refiners are also having difficulty finding gold to refine as mining output, official bullion sales and scrap inflows all remain weak.

Private bullion continues to migrate from bank vaults at UBS and Credit Suisse into nonbank vaults at Brinks and Loomis, thus reducing the floating supply available for bank unallocated gold sales.

In other words, the physical supply situation has been tight as a drum.

The problem, of course, is unlimited selling in “paper” gold markets such as the Comex gold futures and similar instruments.

One of the flash crashes this year was precipitated by the instantaneous sale of gold futures contracts equal in underlying amount to 60 tons of physical gold. The largest bullion banks in the world could not source 60 tons of physical gold if they had months to do it.

There’s just not that much gold available. But in the paper gold market, there’s no limit on size, so anything goes.

There’s no sense complaining about this situation. It is what it is, and it won’t be broken up anytime soon. The main source of comfort is knowing that fundamentals always win in the long run even if there are temporary reversals. What you need to do is be patient, stay the course and buy strategically when the drawdowns emerge.

Where do we go from here?

There are many compelling reasons why gold should outperform over the coming months.

Deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia will only accelerate Russia’s efforts to diversify its reserves away from dollar assets (which can be frozen by the U.S. on a moment’s notice) to gold assets, which are immune to asset freezes and seizures.

The countdown to war with North Korea is underway, as I’ve explained repeatedly in these pages. A U.S. attack on the North Korean nuclear and missile weapons programs is likely by mid-2018.

Finally, we have to deal with our friends at the Fed. Good jobs numbers have given life to the view that the Fed will raise interest rates next month. The standard answer is that rate hikes make the dollar stronger and are a head wind for the dollar price of gold.

But I remain skeptical about a December hike. As I explained above, the market is looking in the wrong places for clues to Fed policy. Jobs reports are irrelevant; that was “mission accomplished” for the Fed years ago.

The key data are disinflation numbers. That’s what has the Fed concerned, and that’s why the Fed might pause again in December as it did last September.

We’ll have a better idea when PCE core inflation comes out Nov. 30.

Of course, the Fed’s main inflation metric has been moving in the wrong direction since January. The readings on the core PCE deflator year over year (the Fed’s preferred metric) were:

January 1.9%

February 1.9%

March 1.6%

April 1.6%

May 1.5%

June 1.5%

July 2017: 1.4%

- Source, Jim Rickards via the Daily Reckoning

Sunday, November 19, 2017

James Rickards: The FED, Gold and War

Author and analyst Jim Rickards joins us to discuss Fed policy, the gold price and the possibility of renewed war on the Korean Peninsula.

- Source, Sprott Money

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How Quantitative Tightening Will Be Inflationary, Than Deflationary

We recently had our quarterly advisory board discussion with special guest Ben Hunt, author of Epsilon Theory, a newsletter and website that examines markets through the lenses of game theory and history.

What we talked about during the call: How Quantitative Tightening will actually be inflationary, rather than deflationary. How narratives, not reality, drive markets. Why the US might go to war with North Korea in Q1 2018. How and when de-dollarization will happen.

- Source, In Gold We Trust

Monday, November 13, 2017

The World Continues to Disintegrate, Gold to Catapult Higher in 2018

ABC Bullion's Chief Economist Jordan Eliseo was fortunate enough to interview Jim Rickards, one of the world’s leading precious metal analysts and author of New York Times Bestsellers including the Death of Money, and Currency Wars. 

Jim shared his views on a variety of topics, including the performance of gold in 2017, US Monetary Policy, developments in Catalonia, the outlook in China, the potential for military conflict in Korea, and gold price drivers between now and the end of 2018.

- Source, ABC Bullion

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Prepare for a Chinese Maxi-devaluation

China is a relatively open economy; therefore it is subject to the impossible trinity. China has also been attempting to do the impossible in recent years with predictable results.

Beginning in 2008 China pegged its exchange rate to the U.S. dollar. China also had an open capital account to allow the free exchange of yuan for dollars, and China preferred an independent monetary policy.

The problem is that the Impossible Trinity says you can’t have all three. This model has been validated several times since 2008 as China has stumbled through a series of currency and monetary reversals.

For example, China’s attempted the impossible beginning in 2008 with a peg to the dollar around 6.80. This ended abruptly in June 2010 when China broke the currency peg and allowed it to rise from 6.82 to 6.05 by January 2014 — a 10% appreciation.

This exchange rate revaluation was partly in response to bitter complaints by U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner about China’s “currency manipulation” through an artificially low peg to the dollar in the 2008 – 2010 period.

After 2013, China reversed course and pursued a steady devaluation of the yuan from 6.05 in January 2014 to 6.95 by December 2016. At the end of 2016, the Chinese yuan was back where it was when the U.S. was screaming “currency manipulation.”

Only now there was a new figure to point the finger at China. The new American critic was no longer the quiet Tim Geithner, but the bombastic Donald Trump.

Trump had threatened to label China a currency manipulator throughout his campaign from June 2015 to Election Day on November 8, 2016. Once Trump was elected, China engaged in a policy of currency war appeasement.

China actually propped up its currency with a soft peg. The trading range was especially tight in the first half of 2017, right around 6.85.

In contrast to the 2008 – 2010 peg, China avoided the impossible trinity this time by partially closing the capital account and by raising rates alongside the Fed, thereby abandoning its independent monetary policy.

This was also in contrast to China’s behavior when it first faced the failure of its efforts to beat impossible trinity. In 2015, China dodged the impossible trinity not by closing the capital account, but by breaking the currency peg.

In August 2015, China engineered a sudden shock devaluation of the yuan. The dollar gained 3% against the yuan in two days as China devalued.

The results were disastrous.

U.S. stocks fell 11% in a few weeks. There was a real threat of global financial contagion and a full-blown liquidity crisis. A crisis was averted by Fed jawboning, and a decision to put off the “liftoff” in U.S. interest rates from September 2015 to the following December.

China conducted another devaluation from November to December 2015. This time China did not execute a sneak attack, but did the devaluation in baby steps. This was stealth devaluation.

The results were just as disastrous as the prior August. U.S. stocks fell 11% from January 1, 2016 to February 10. 2016. Again, a greater crisis was averted only by a Fed decision to delay planned U.S. interest rate hikes in March and June 2016.

The impact these two prior devaluations had on the exchange rate is shown in the chart below.

Major moves in the dollar/yuan cross exchange rate (USD/CNY) have had powerful impacts on global markets. The August 2015 surprise yuan devaluation sent U.S. stocks reeling. Another slower devaluation did the same in early 2016. A stronger yuan in 2017 coincided with the Trump stock rally. A new devaluation is now underway and U.S. stocks may suffer again.

By mid-2017, the Trump administration was once again complaining about Chinese currency manipulation. This was partly in response to China’s failure to assist the United States in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and missile testing programs.

For its part, China did not want a trade or currency war with the U.S. in advance of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which begins on October 18. President Xi Jinping was playing a delicate internal political game and did not want to rock the boat in international relations. China appeased the U.S. again by allowing the exchange rate to climb from 6.90 to 6.45 in the summer of 2017.

China escaped the impossible trinity in 2015 by devaluing their currency. China escaped the impossible trinity again in 2017 using a hat trick of partially closing the capital account, raising interest rates, and allowing the yuan to appreciate against the dollar thereby breaking the exchange rate peg.

The problem for China is that these solutions are all non-sustainable. China cannot keep the capital account closed without damaging badly needed capital inflows. Who will invest in China if you can’t get your money out?

China also cannot maintain high interest rates because the interest costs will bankrupt insolvent state owned enterprises and lead to an increase in unemployment, which is socially destabilizing.

China cannot maintain a strong yuan because that damages exports, hurts export-related jobs, and causes deflation to be imported through lower import prices. An artificially inflated currency also drains the foreign exchange reserves needed to maintain the peg.

Since the impossible trinity really is impossible in the long-run, and since China’s current solutions are non-sustainable, what can China do to solve its policy trilemma?

The most obvious course, and the one likely to be implemented, is a maxi-devaluation of the yuan to around the 7.95 level or lower.

This would stop capital outflows because those outflows are driven by devaluation fears. Once the devaluation happens, there is no longer any urgency about getting money out of China. In fact, new money should start to flow in to take advantage of much lower local currency prices.

There are early signs that this policy of devaluation is already being put into place. The yuan has dropped sharply in the past month from 6.45 to 6.62. This resembles the stealth devaluation of late 2015, but is somewhat more aggressive.

The geopolitical situation is also ripe for a Chinese devaluation policy. Once the National Party Congress is over in late October, President Xi will have secured his political ambitions and will no longer find it necessary to avoid rocking the boat.

China has clearly failed to have much impact on North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions. As war between North Korea and the U.S. draws closer, neither China nor the U.S. will have as much incentive to cooperate with each other on bilateral trade and currency issues.

Both Trump and Xi are readying a “gloves off” approach to a trade war and renewed currency war. A maxi-devaluation of the yuan is Xi’s most potent weapon.

Finally, China’s internal contradictions are catching up with it. China has to confront an insolvent banking system, a real estate bubble, and a $1 trillion wealth management product Ponzi scheme that is starting to fall apart.

A much weaker yuan would give China some policy space in terms of using its reserves to paper over some of these problems.

Less dramatic devaluations of the yuan led to U.S. stock market crashes. What does a new maxi-devaluation portend for U.S. stocks?

We might have an answer soon enough.

- Source, Jim Rickards via the Daily Reckoning

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Markets Await Trump’s Decision on Fed Chair

President Trump is expected to nominate the next Federal Reserve chair within a matter of days.

As I’ve explained before, Donald Trump has the opportunity to appoint a higher percentage of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system at one time than any president since Woodrow Wilson.

President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act during the creation of the Fed in 1913 when they had a vacant board. At that time, the law said the secretary of the Treasury and the comptroller of the currency were automatically on the Fed’s board of governors. But besides that, President Wilson selected all of the other participating members.

Due to vacancies he inherited and key resignations, Trump now has the opportunity to fill more seats on the Fed’s Board of Governors than any president since then.

That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

To review, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors is made up of seven appointees. That means that they can make a majority decision with four votes. If you’re reading about the Fed, you might also see reference to “regional reserve bank presidents.” These are roles within the Federal Reserve System, but the real power is found on seven-member Board of Governors.

Trump will own the Fed.

Meaning, whatever the president wants monetary policy to be, he’ll get. In other words, Donald Trump will be able to shape the Fed’s majority. But the tricky part is figuring out how he plans to shape it…

During the campaign season, Trump called China and other nations currency manipulators. That signaled he believed the dollar was too strong and wanted it to weaken. But then the North Korean nuclear crisis rose to the fore.

Trump backed off his threats against China because China has the most economic influence over North Korea, and Trump wanted China to use that leverage to convince the North to back off its nuclear program.

But China didn’t deliver as Trump had hoped, and a trade war with China is now likely. That’s especially true now. Chinese president Xi Jinping has solidified his hold on power after the Chinese Politburo re-appointed him yesterday. Xi had avoided rocking the boat in recent months while his position was uncertain. But now that his lock on power is secure, Xi can afford to be much more confrontational with Trump.

Trump’s trade policy has led many to believe that Trump will appoint a lot of “doves” to the Board. But don’t be surprised if Trump goes with a hard-money board. In fact, that’s what I expect. These will be hard-money, strong-dollar people, contrary to a lot of expectations.

Trump advisers include hard-money advocates like Dr. Judy Shelton, David Malpass, Steve Moore and Larry Kudlow. I expect Trump to heed their advice.

Which brings us to Janet Yellen and the next Federal Reserve Chair…

Janet Yellen’s term as chair is up at the end of January — just over three months from now. Whoever President Trump appoints to replace her will be subject to Senate confirmation.

Because that process takes time, that means the president has to name Yellen’s successor around November or December.

And again, he’s expected to make that announcement by Nov. 3, before he heads to China.

The market is tightly focused on President Trump’s pick. As of October 23, betting markets had the approximate probabilities as follows:

Jay Powell — 51%

Janet Yellen — 17%

John Taylor — 15%

Kevin Warsh — 11%

Gary Cohn — 4%

Neel Kashkari — 2%

Powell’s main qualification seems to be that he’s just like Yellen except he’s a Republican. So, if we combine their votes, that a 68% chance that policy will continue unchanged, which means more rate hikes ahead.

The next in line is John Taylor, who is considered the most hawkish of the group. If we add his votes to the Powell + Yellen pool, that an 85% probability that policy will either be the same or tighter.

No relief for gold in the Fed sweepstakes.

Now, as I’ve been saying for months, my money’s on Kevin Warsh. Warsh is the likely next chair of the Fed.

Warsh has previously served on the board. After being nominated by President George W. Bush he was a Fed governor where he served from 2006 until he resigned early in 2011.

Kevin Warsh is a pragmatist, not an ideologue like Yellen. He’s not beholden to obsolete Fed models like Phillips curve that says low unemployment means higher inflation. Warsh understands that disinflation is a serious problem for a country with a 105% debt-to-GDP ratio, like the U.S.

Warsh and the pragmatists understand that inflation is needed for the U.S. to have any hope of getting the debt problem under control.

Warsh believed that the Federal Reserve should have raised interest rates a long time ago. But with disinflation a much more pressing concern than inflation right now, being a pragmatist means he won’t commit to tightening if conditions don’t warrant it.

We’ll see how this all plays out probably late this week or early next before Trump leaves for China.

But it’s important to realize that institutions boil down to people. And there’s going to be a lot of turnover at the Fed under Trump. It’s not just limited to his choice of Fed chair.

Yes, Yellen will likely be out. But so are Fed officials that align with her, like Vice President Stanley Fischer, who announced his resignation in September.

As I indicated, the new, emerging Fed will have less faith in traditional models. For example, in September, Fed governor Lael Brainard delivered one of the most significant Fed speeches ever. Translating from Fed-speak to plain English, she more or less admitted the Fed has no idea how inflation works.

Brainard pointed out that the Fed began its current monetary policy tightening cycle in the belief that tight labor markets implied inflation was coming with a lag. The Fed raised rates in December 2015, December 2016, March 2017 and June 2017 in part to get out ahead of this coming inflation.

Instead the opposite happened.

The Fed’s favorite measure of inflation plunged from 1.9% to 1.3% between January and August 2017 even as job creation continued and the unemployment rate fell. In other words, the relationship between tight labor markets and inflation turned out to be the exact opposite of what the Fed believed.

Their models are in ruins.

Of course, this is what I’ve been telling my readers to expect all year. The Fed was tightening into weakness, not strength, and would soon have to flip back to ease in order to avoid an outright U.S. recession. And ease is exactly what Brainard called for in her speech.

In the meantime, a lot of uncertainty over the Fed’s direction will hover over the market, as if there wasn’t enough uncertainty in the market already.

But one thing is certain:

The next Fed head will have a lot on his (or her) plate.

The biggest winner will be gold. The time to enter your gold position, if you don’t already have one, is now.

- Source, James Rickards via the Daily Reckoning