Monday, October 20, 2014

Gold: Time to Prepare for Big Gains?

By Casey Research


Years of a severe downturn in the gold market have left very few bulls to speak out in favor of the yellow metal. Here are some positive opinions on the future of the precious metal, from the recently concluded Casey Research Fall Summit.

David Tice, founder of the Prudent Bear Fund, believes we are heading for a “global currency reset” that will reduce the role of the dollar in global trade. Central banks, he says, don’t possess all the gold they claim to, and the unwinding of the paper gold market probably isn’t far down the road—it could even ignite the next major crisis.

The paper gold market (for example, exchange-traded funds like GLD) has massive leverage, with a ratio of 90:1 or 100:1 of paper claims on gold bullion. If only a small fraction of owners convert their paper to physical gold, says Tice, it will create a “no bid” price environment and cause the price of gold to explode.

He believes that once the paper gold market collapses, gold will be priced on the basis of supply/demand for the physical metal—which means it could be headed for $3,000 to $8,000 per ounce.

Ed Steer, editor of Casey Research’s popular e-letter Gold and Silver Daily, is equally bullish on gold… in the long term, because right now, he believes the gold market to be rigged: “Central banks intervene; that’s what they do.”

They control not only gold, but also silver, platinum, palladium, copper, and oil. He says there are two possible reasons that Germany hasn’t gotten its gold back that it had stored in the US—either the gold doesn’t exist or there’s so much paper written against it that it can’t be moved for collateral reasons.

While there’s not much an investor can do about gold manipulation, Steer believes that the manipulators’ schemes will blow up in their faces sooner than later.
Summit regular Rick Rule, chairman of Sprott US Holdings, isn’t worried about the bear market in gold.

“What matters is your response to the bear market,” he says. “If you have the wits, courage, knowledge, and cash to take advantage of them, bear markets are great.”
He’s keeping his eyes peeled on junior gold mining stocks, which, he says, are hugely attractive right now.

“Our market has fallen by 75% in three years. That means it’s 75% more attractive than in 2010, when we were all in love with it. Within a few years, we’ll look back on today’s low prices as the good old days.”

Louis James, chief investment strategist of Casey’s Metals & Mining division, also welcomes the opportunities to buy low that the current slump in gold prices provides.

He personally owns stock of three of the junior miners present in the Map Room at the Casey Fall Summit. All three of them have exceptionally high-grade projects that are delivering what they promised.

To get all of Louis James’ stock picks (and those of the other speakers), as well as every single presentation of the Summit, order your 26+-hour Summit Audio Collection now. It’s available in CD and/or MP3 format. 


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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Broken State and How to Fix It

By Casey Research


The United States of America is not what it used to be. Unsustainable mountains of debt, continuous meddling by the government and Fed to “stimulate the economy,” and the US dollar’s dwindling status as the world’s reserve currency are very real threats to Americans’ standard of living. Here are some opinions from the recently concluded Casey Research Fall Summit on the state of the state and how to fix it.

Marc Victor, a criminal defense attorney from Arizona and a staunch liberty advocate, says there’s really no such thing as “the state”—“it’s just some people bossing other people around.”
Not everyone wants to fix things, he says; the bosses like the status quo. For example, aside from drug lords, DEA agents are the ones benefiting most from the “War on Drugs.”

Victor believes that democracy and freedom are incompatible, since “democracy is majority rule, and freedom is self-rule.” If you want to bring true freedom to America, he says, winning hearts and minds is the only way to reboot this country and create a free society.

Paul Rosenberg, adventure capitalist, Casey Research contributor, and editor of “A Free Man’s Take,” views America’s future similarly. He thinks the United States is in a state of entropy.
The bad news, says Rosenberg, is that there will be no revolution. The good news is that the peak of citizens’ obedience to the state is behind us, and people are getting fed up with the government’s shenanigans.

Real change is slow, he says, so we must work persistently to create a better world.

Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, says the problem is liberal economic policy: Red states in the US, he says, have blown away blue states in job creation since 1990. Texas alone accounts for the entire net growth of the US economy over the past five years.

As another proof point in favor of a free-market economy, Moore emphasizes that both Obama and Reagan took office during terrible economic times. While Obama has raised taxes and instituted Obamacare, Reagan cut taxes and regulation. As a result, the Reagan economic recovery was almost twice as robust as the Obama “recovery.”

One of the US’s biggest problems, says Moore, is that companies can’t reinvest profits because dividend, capital gains, and income taxes all have increased under Obama. Corporate taxes in the rest of the world have dramatically declined in the last 25 years, but in the US, they haven’t budged. The average corporate tax rate around the world is 24%—in the US, it’s 38%.

Overall, though, Moore is bullish on the US economy. American companies, he says, are the best-run in the world, if only the US government would adopt less economically destructive policies.

Doug Casey, chairman of Casey Research, legendary speculator, and best-selling financial author, isn’t so optimistic. First of all, he says, we’re in the Greater Depression right now, which began in 2008. He fears it’s too late to repair America, but says if anyone would attempt to do so, the following seven-step program would help:

  • Allow the collapse of “zombie companies” (companies that are only being held up by government handouts and other cash infusions).
  • Abolish all regulatory agencies.
  • Abolish the Federal Reserve.
  • Cut the size of the military by at least 90%.
  • Sell all US government assets.
  • Eliminate the income tax.
  • Default on the national debt.

Of course, says Casey, that’s not going to happen, so individual investors shouldn’t hope for a political solution or waste their time and money trying to stop the inevitable collapse of the US economy. The only way to save yourself and your assets is to internationalize.

He recommends owning significant assets outside your home country: for example, by buying foreign real estate. You should also buy and store gold, “the only financial asset that’s not simultaneously someone else’s liability.”

Casey’s suggestions include going short bubbles that are about to burst (like Japanese bonds denominated in yen), selling expensive assets like collectible cars and expensive real estate in major cities, as well as looking toward places like Africa as contrarian investment opportunities.

Nick Giambruno, senior editor of International Man, agrees that internationalizing your wealth—and yourself—is the most prudent way to go for today’s high-net-worth investors. It ensures that “no single government can control your destiny,” and that you put your money, business, and yourself where they are treated best.

You should internationalize each of these six aspects of your life, says Giambruno: our assets; your citizenship; your income/business; your legal residency; your lifestyle residency; and your digital presence.

Regarding your assets, you can find better capitalized, more liquid banks abroad, and using international brokerage accounts can provide you access to new investment markets.
To hear all of Nick Giambruno’s detailed tips on how to go global, as well as every single presentation of the Summit, order your 26+-hour Summit Audio Collection now. It’s available in CD and/or MP3 format.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thoughts from the Frontline: Sea Change

By John Mauldin



You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows.
– Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” 1965
Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made.
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

– William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Did you feel the economic weather change this week? The shift was subtle, like fall tippy-toeing in after a pleasant summer to surprise us, but I think we’ll look back and say this was the moment when that last grain of sand fell onto the sandpile, triggering many profound fingers of instability in a pile that has long been close to collapse. This is the grain of sand that sets off those long chains of volatility that have been gathering for the last five years, waiting to surprise us with the suddenness and violence of the avalanche they unleash.

I suppose the analogy sprang to mind as I stepped out onto my balcony this morning. Texas has been experiencing one of the most pleasant summers and incredibly wonderful falls in my memory. One of the conversations that seem to occur regularly among locals who have a few decades under their belts here, is just how truly remarkable the weather has been. So it was a bit of a surprise to step out and realize the air had turned brisk. In retrospect it shouldn’t have fazed me. The air has been turning brisk in Texas at some point in October for the six decades that my memory covers, and for quite a few additional millennia, I suspect.

But this week, as I worked through my ever-growing mountain of reading, I felt a similar awareness of a change in the economic climate. Like fall, I knew it was coming. In fact, I’ve been writing about it for years! But just as fall tells us that it’s time to get ready for winter, at least in more northerly climes, the portents of the moment suggest to me that it’s time to make sure our portfolios are ready for the change in season.

Sea Change

Shakespeare coined the marvelous term sea change in his play The Tempest. Modern-day pundits are liable to apply the word to the relatively minor ebb and flow of events, but Shakespeare meant sea change as a truly transformative event, a metamorphosis of the very nature and substance of a man, by the sea.
In this week’s letter we’ll talk about the imminent arrival of a true financial sea change, the harbinger of which was some minor commentary this week about the economic climate. This letter is arriving to you a little later this week, as I had quite some difficulty writing it, because, while the signal event is rather easy to discuss, the follow-on consequences are myriad and require more in-depth analysis than I’ve been able to bring to them on short notice. As I wrestled with what to write, I finally came to realize that this sea change is going to take multiple letters to properly describe. In fact, it might eventually take a book.

So, in a departure from my normal writing style, I am going to offer you a chapter-by-chapter outline for a book. As with all book outlines, it will be simply full of bones but without much meat on them, let alone dressed up with skin and clothing. I will probably even connect the bones in the wrong order and have to go back later and replace a leg bone with a rib, but that is what outlines are for. There is clearly enough content suggested by this outline to carry us through the next several months; and given the importance of the subject, I expect to explore it fully with you. Whether it actually becomes a book, I cannot yet say.

I should note that much of what follows has grown out of in-depth conversations with my associate Worth Wray and our mutual friends. We’ve become convinced that the imbalances in the global economic system are such that the risks are high that another period of economic volatility like the Great Recession is not only likely but is now in the process of developing. While this time will be different in terms of its causes and symptoms (as all such stressful periods differ from each other in many ways), there will be a rhyme and a rhythm that feels all too familiar. That should actually be good news to most readers, as the last 14 years have taught us a little bit about living through periods of economic volatility. You will get to use those skills you learned the hard way.
This will not be the end of the world if you prepare properly. In fact, there will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the coming volatility. If the weatherman tells you winter is coming, is he a prophet of doom? Or is it reasonable counsel that maybe we should get our winter clothes out?

Three caveats before we get started. One, I am often wrong but seldom in doubt. And while I will marshal facts and graphs aplenty to reinforce my arguments, I would encourage you to think through the counterfactuals presented by those who will aggressively disagree.
Two, while it goes without saying, you are responsible for your own decisions. It is easy for me to say that I think the bond market is going to go in a particular direction. I can even bet my personal portfolio on my beliefs. I can’t know your circumstances, but if you are similar to most investors, this is the time to make sure you have a truly balanced portfolio with serious risk management in the event of a sudden crisis.

Three, give me (and Worth, whom I am going to draft to write some letters) some time to develop the full range of our ideas. To follow on with my weather analogy, the air is just starting to get crisp, and winter is still a couple months away. Absent something extraordinary, we are not going to get snow and a blizzard in Dallas, Texas, tomorrow. We may still have some time to prepare, but at a minimum it is time to start your preparations. So with those caveats, let’s look at an outline for a potential book called Sea Change.

Prologue

I turned publicly bearish on gold in 1986. At the time (a former life in a galaxy far, far away), I was actually writing a newsletter on gold stocks and came to the conclusion that gold was going nowhere – and sold the letter. I was still bearish some 16 years later. Then, on March 1, 2002, I wrote in Thoughts from the Frontline that it was time to turn bullish on gold. Gold at that time was languishing around $300 an ounce, near its all-time bottom.

What drove that call? I thought that the future directions of gold and the dollar were joined at the hip. A bit over a year later I laid out the case for a much weaker dollar in a letter entitled “King Dollar Meets the Guillotine,” which later became the basis for a chapter in Bull’s Eye Investing. As the chart below shows, the dollar had risen relentlessly through the early Reagan years, doubling in value against the currencies of America’s global neighbors, causing exporters to grumble about US dollar policy. Then the bottom fell out, as the dollar made new lows in 1992. From 1992 through 2002 the dollar recovered about half of its value, getting back to roughly where it was in 1967. Elsewhere about that time, I predicted that the euro, which was then at $0.88, would rise to $1.50 before falling back to parity over a very long period of time. I believe we are still on that journey.



One of the biggest drivers of economic fortunes in the global economy is the currency markets. The value of your trading currency affects every aspect of your business and investments. It is fundamental in nature. While most Americans never even see a piece of foreign currency, every time we walk into Walmart, we are subject to the ebb and flow of global currency valuations, as are Europeans and indeed every person who participates in the movement of goods and services around the globe. In fact, globalization means that currency values are more important than ever. The world is more tightly interconnected now than it has ever been, which means that events which previously had no effect upon global affairs can trigger cascades of events that affect everyone.

I believe we are in the early stages of a profound currency-valuation sea change. I have lived through five major changes in the value of the dollar in the 45 years since Nixon closed the gold window. And while we are used to 40% to 50% moves in the stock market and other commodity prices happening in just a few years (or less), large movements in major trading currencies typically take many years, if not decades, to develop. I believe we are in the opening act of a multi-year US dollar bull market.

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