Gold Prices Hit All Time Record High

Today gold bugs are happy as Gold Prices Surge, Top $1,270:

NEW YORK (TheStreet ) — Gold prices were popping Tuesday as investors turned to gold as safe-haven asset after a slew of disappointing economic data.

Gold for December delivery was adding $27.30 to $1,274.40 an ounce — a record high — at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The article obligatorily drones on about the cause for the gold price surge now suddenly being inflation fears again, which is of course the purest nonsense as I outlined a while back.

These people try to fit in day to day events into their tiny mental box and spout out knee jerk platitudes as quickly as they possibly can, whenever they observe one isolated incident. Gold prices rising? Inflation! Economy not growing meanwhile? Stagflation! Interest rates dropping. Deflation! Prices not rising quickly enough? Disinflation! Dollar AND gold up?? How weird!!

Few people ever dare to go ahead and attempt to explain the big picture, that is why since 2007 Treasury yields and mortgage rates have moved near or BELOW historic lows, why the dollar is up, gold is up, silver is up, and soft commodities, stocks, and home prices are down, rents are falling, and why you can get a meal at Taco Bell for under $1 …

The answer is one word: Deflation.

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McCullough: Is this finally the economic collapse?

McCullough of Hedgeeye writes Is this finally the economic collapse?:

FORTUNE — The Great Depression. Wall Street in 1987. Japan in 1997. Points of economic collapse are generally crystal clear in the rear-view mirror. Professional politicians in Japan have been telling stories for 20 years as to why they can prevent economic stagnation. In the US, the storytelling started in 2007. All the while, stock market and real-estate prices have repeatedly rallied to lower-highs, then collapsed again, to lower-lows.

Despite the many differences between Japan and the US, there is one similarity that continues to matter most in the risk management model my colleagues and I use at Hedgeye, our research firm — debt as a percentage of GDP. Now that the US can’t cut interest rates any lower, the only option left on the table is what the Fed just announced it would start doing — buying Treasury debt. And that could lead the country to the brink of collapse: According to economists Carmen Reinhart & Ken Rogoff, whose views we share, crossing the 90% debt/GDP threshold is the equivalent of crossing the proverbial Rubicon of economic growth. It’s a point from which it’s almost impossible to return.

On July 2nd, we cut both our third quarter 2010 and full year 2011 GDP estimates for the US to 1.7%. At the time, the consensus around US economic growth estimates was about 3%. Now we’re starting to see both big brokerage analysts and the Federal Reserve gradually cut their GDP estimates, but not by enough. Even our estimate for 2011 is still too high.

Slowing growth, both domestically and in China, is core to our bearish views on both the strength of the US dollar and US equities. There will be a downward bias to our US growth estimates as long as debt-financed-deficit-spending continues to be the solution politicians and central bankers turn to as a fix to our financial crisis.

Markets trade on expectations. Yesterday’s zig-zag in the S&P 500 was unlike most sleepy August trading days in America. That’s because the ‘government is good’ crowd leaked word that this second round of “quantitative easing,” known as QE2, was coming, and that Ben Bernanke was going to respond to our buy-and-hope begging. (The first round of quantitative easing was the Fed’s unprecedented purchase of agency debt to prop up the housing market, along with credit facilities for big banks, which began in 2008 and ended earlier this year.)

To think that we have institutionalized market expectations to this degree is downright frightening. It seems impossible but true that all rallies start and end with rumors about what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, a humble looking man of government, had to say at 2:15 PM EST yesterday afternoon, or any other day he makes a statement.

So now what?

With 40.8 million Americans on food stamps (record high) and 45% of the unemployed having been seeking employment for 27 weeks or more (record high), what’s left if (or when) QE2 doesn’t kick start GDP growth? Should we start begging for QE3? Should we cancel the bomb of the National Association of Realtors’ existing home sales report, scheduled for public release on August 24th? Or should we bite the bullet and accept that current economic policy dictates 0% returns-on-savings, even as Washington continues to lever-up our future to the point of economic collapse?

Before the Fiat Fools — Hedgeye’s name for political actors and bankers who have placed their hopes of economic recovery in printing endless supplies of new cash — run out campaigning for QE3, maybe they should analyze some real time market results to yesterday’s announcement of QE2:

1)The US dollar is battling for resuscitation after 9 consecutive down weeks — down 9% since June.

2) US Treasury yields are making record lows on the short end of the curve, with 2-year yields striking 0.49%.

3) The yield spread (in this case the difference in return between 10-year and 2-year Treasury bills, which shows a long-term confidence when high) continues to collapse, down another 4 basis point day-over-day to 223 basis points.

4) The S&P 500 is down below its 200-day moving average (a common signpost for the health of a market or stock) of 1115.

5) US Volatility (VIX) is spiking from its recent stability.

6) In Japan, long time quantitative easing specialists found their markets closing down overnight by 2.7%, which makes them down 11.9% for the year to date.

Lest our doom and gloom seem built entirely on technical measurements, what they boil down to is actually quite simple — an idea about our country which dates back to 1835. Alexis De Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, which was published that year, seemed to warn of this day when he wrote: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

What I have seen mentioned on several occasions now is the 90% debt threshold as the “ok-now-we’re-definitely-screwed”-indicator. I think it’s based on historical research but then it seems a little arbitrary in the big picture because the true public US debt is of course already waaaay past that, more like 385% of it.

I agree on most of the market outlook, and in particular I have been following and predicting ongoing strength in Treasurys, alongside consistently falling mortgage rates and interest rates in general.

It seems like the author is suggesting some weakness in the dollar when actually the Dollar has just been taking a little break for a few weeks from a fundamental rally. A rally that I expect to resume against other major currencies (including the Yuan, but probably excluding the Yen), when the market begins to tank seriously again.

And here’s Mish, as always an avid watcher of the Yield curve, noting that 2 Yr Yields are below 0.5% for the first time ever:

Yield Curve as of 2010-08-06

Curve Watchers Anonymous is once again watching the yield curve. Here are a couple of charts.

The above chart shows today’s reaction to the monthly jobs report: Jobs Decrease by 131,000, Rise by 12,000 Excluding Census; Unemployment Steady at 9.5%; June Revised from -125,000 to -221,000

The following chart shows the yield curve over time.

click on chart for sharper image

The chart depicts weekly closes. 10-year yields did slightly exceed 4% in April but those highs do not show in the above chart. Thus, the decrease in yields is even more dramatic than shown.

Note the huge rally on 5 and 10 year treasuries as compared to the 30-year long bond. It appears as if someone is putting on a long-10 short-30 spread.

If the economic data continues to be poor (and I believe it will be), the low in 10-year yields may not even be in even if the low in the 30-year long bond is in.

So much for the idea that an end in the Treasury rally is near … expect the Dollar to catch that wind again soon.

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Mish on Tech Ticker on Stimulus & Markets

There’s no hotter debate right now than stimulus vs. austerity, as folks like Paul Krugman and even Barack Obama call for more spending to fix the economy.

Michael “MISH” Shedlock is not having any of it, arguing that the financial pump has failed, and that the only way to get the economy back on track is to pursue a policy of less government, and less spending, with a special focus on reforming pensions, public sector unions, and other institutions that drain the government of its resources.

As evidence: Japan. The country has now seen multiple decades of recession despite massive pumping on both the fiscal and the monetary side.

But at least Japan hasn’t had a debt crisis yet, right? The key word there, says Mish is “YET.” The fiscal situation in Japan is getting more and more tenuous, and it’s no sure thing that the market will retain its confidence in the Japanese government’s ability to finance its debt. And of course the same thing could happen here.

But for now in the US the big risk is deflation, which you can see in housing and other economic categories. Spending won’t solve this problem; actual economic adjustment is what’s needed to start growing again.

The bulls have pushed aside the bears on Wall Street — for now. Signs of optimism following three consecutive winning days in the stock market have replaced the doom and gloom mood so prevalent in the two prior weeks.

Having already heard the bullish case from Doug Kass and James Paulsen earlier this week, Tech Ticker decided to invite Mike “Mish” Shedlock, author of Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis, back on the show to hear the other side of the argument.

Is he bearish? You bet!

“The optimism out there is rather insane,” he says. There’s only a 15-20% chance of the market rallying, Mish tells guest host and Business Insider deputy editor Joseph Weisenthal. “It’s more likely we go down there and test the March lows, and there’s a decent chance actually that we break those lows,” he says.

Mish says “it is nuts to be net long” stocks right now in the face of all these headwinds:

— Slowdown in Europe as austerity measures take hold.

— Slowdown in U.S. as stimulus fades, housing remains weak, state and local governments cutback

— China looks to cool its economy in the face of growing housing bubble

Until Mish sees signs of sustainable job growth, he’ll be firm in his bearish stance. “Without a driver for jobs I don’t know how someone could be bullish on the stock market.”

If not stocks, then what?

Mish is sticking with what’s worked this year: Treasuries and gold. Treasury yields are still near record lows, but he think with the macroeconomy the way it is, it’s very possible, “the bull market in Treasuries is not over.” As for gold, he’d buy on the dips.

On Thursday, a slew of retailers posted monthly same-store sales. They were described best as a “mixed bag.” There was no obvious trend in terms of up or down, even within specific categories of retailers. But bulls on the economy should be disappointed.

For one thing, notes Mike “MISH” Shedlock author of Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis, the same-store sales gainers benefited by the general reduction in store locations. Essentially, survivorship bias is skewing the numbers. If somehow you could take into account all the locations that had been shuttered, you’d see that things were much worse.

And there’s evidence for this, notes Mish. State sales tax collections remain depressed, with no indication of a rebound. That, more than the corporate numbers, is the key thing to pay attention to.

And with states thirsting for cash, this is a crucial problem that will play out in terms of further budget cuts, and a further drag on the economy.

Ultimately it’s all about jobs. Without a jobs recovery, there will be no consumer recovery, and without a consumer recovery, there’s little reason to be excited about the market or the economy.

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Coprorate vs Treasury Spread

Since the beginning of April, the price of Treasury Bonds has risen while that of corporate bonds has dropped. The action has, once again, been a good predictor of the recent weakness in equities.

corporate-bonds-vs-treasuries-06-05-2010

As I noted in September last year: Keep an eye on the bond market.

corporate-bonds-vs-treasury
Click on image to enlarge.

The question is where are corporate yields headed and where are Treasury yields headed. So long as the spreads remain flat or continue to narrow, stocks will probably move sideways or spike up a little more.

The time of flattening spreads seems to be over for now … what this means for equities is obvious.

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The Unstoppable Dollar Rally; Gold & Treasury Snapshot; The Great Depression 2.0 in Full Swing

The Dollar Rally

I will be focusing on the Euro/Dollar, but what I will be saying is not necessarily limited to the Euro, but applies many other currencies (except maybe the Yen).

The Dollar has now reached a 4 year high against the Euro:

dollar-euro-06-05-2010

Those who kept on talking about a Dollar crash from 2008 on where a bit late in the game. The Dollar crash, that was a result of expansive and inflationary government induced credit and monetary expansion with the naturally ensuing business cycle, has already happened through the 2000s. The Dollar has essentially bottomed out in April 2008.

Since then it has moved up and down, but up on the net. A trading range seems to be emerging that I expect we will continue to stay within for years to come.

Thus, my (and other people’s) predictions of a coming Dollar rally were essentially nothing but an expectation that the fundamental long term trend that began in 2008 will continue:

3% Bullish Sentiment on Dollar – Indication of a Coming Dollar Rally

Has the Dollar Rally Started?

Here is another thing from January this year that I dug up from my Campaign for Liberty inbox, it’s a response I gave to John Dennis who asked me why I expect the Dollar to go up (, and who by the way is running for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco this year):

John,

I am sorry I haven’t been checking my C4L inbox regularly. I will follow it more closely now. Keep me posted about upcoming meetings if possible.

Reasons why I think the Dollar won’t collapse (against the other major currencies, that is):

  • The debt load in the US is rather crushing, the general direction of credit is currently a net contraction with upticks from time to time which by no means are changing the general trend
  • The major Dollar crash HAS ALREADY happened from 2001 through 2008, years of massive credit and money expansion, but now we are on the other side of peak credit
  • The true money supply growth rate is now coming down in spite of massive and futile attempts to reflate and to destroy the Dollar
  • The global debt pyramid is one that builds on the dollar, that means that in an environment of global delevaraging, people divest from foreign currencies and need to get back in the dollar before doing anything else
  • China is inflating to the tune of 30% money supply growth, I believe that were China to depeg the Yuan might crash
  • Bullish sentiment on the Dollar is at an all time low, I believe a few months ago it was at 3%! Everyone and their mother are predicting a Dollar collapse; this is a strong indicator for a massively oversold asset …
  • On a side note: All paper currencies move toward zero in the long run when measured against gold, but they fluctuate amongst each other on their way down, the US currency is a bad one, but that doesn’t mean all other currencies are being printed by saints

Time will tell what to expect.

I think is far as politics and this matter are concerned, Libertarians are opening themselves up to attack when they continue to predict a Dollar crash that may not happen anytime soon. On top of that, People can’t relate to the argument that says “what they are doing is destroying the Dollar”. Most people don’t get all the intricacies that are involved and tune out I believe.

We have so many better things to talk about that visibly affect everyone in their day to day lives.

Thanks for the interest.

Regards,

Nima

EconomicsJunkie.com

By the way: Good luck, John! Even though political action is futile, it would sure be nice not to have to see this pompous and terribly arrogant witch in the news anymore. :)

The Gold Rally

Those who predicted a dollar crash, thought it would coincide with a gold and soft commodity rally. And then there were those who said that a strengthening Dollar would make the gold price fall.

I have been saying again and again that I think strength in the Dollar may actually coincide with strength in gold and silver, while soft commodities and stocks will tank. Thus I responded to an article on Minyanville whose author predicted the Dollar rally but also expected gold to fall at the same time:

I agree with his bullishness on the dollar. I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions on gold. I think gold may actually do OK during a dollar rally. Maybe it will drop a little, maybe rise a little, but it will most definitely outstrip other commodities. In fact, I think a smarter play when betting on a dollar rally would be to short any other commodity BUT gold.

Gold is a money commodity. A dollar rally would be a sign of further delevaraging and deflation. During deflation cash is king. And gold is the king of all cash.

Here’s gold over the past year:

gold-06-05-2010

And here is gold VS oil (an example for a soft commodity) since the Dollar rally resumed:

gold-vs-oil-06-05-2010

This is important to understand: All fiat currencies move down against gold in the long run. This is completely inevitable. However, they fall at differing rates.

The Treasury Rally

What about Treasury yields?

treasurys-06052010

Flat since Dollar rally resumed. I expect the support to give way sooner or later. The way down is pretty much wide open then. On December 18th 2008 they dropped as low as 2.04% as the reality of Deflation was all to visible to everyone. Since then we have seen numerous efforts to bailout businesses and all the wildly unimaginative interventionist measures that already caused the Great Depression in the 30s.

People have been outdoing each other in calling an end to the recession and bureaucrats and central bankers have been lauding themselves about successfully preventing another depression. The funny irony is that they have in fact beautifully set the stage for The Great Depression 2.0 with all its unsurprising and predictable side effects …

Once existing stimulus programs and credit expansion attempts subside, there won’t be much left to pick up the slack. The consumer won’t be able to go back to business as usual unless he goes through a long period of reduced consumption, deleveraging, and savings, a period during which the majority of production and spending inside the US will have to be focused on capital goods, so as to restore a balanced ratio between the production of consumer goods and the production of capital goods.

At the point when these government stimuli wind down, Keynesian clowns will be jumping out of the bushes left and right, and demand that the government take on more debt and spend more money. But at some point their mindless tirades will no longer appeal to an overtaxed and overleveraged populace. Their ivory tower nonsense will be way too far detached from simple realities.

Any temporary recovery we witness now, is likely to be remembered as just that, a temporary phenomenon. All actions taken so far have set the perfect stage for a double dip recession of enormous proportions, the worst possible prolongation of the necessary correction.

If it was our dear government’s objective to repeat the playbook from the Great Depression one by one, then they have indeed succeeded phenomenally.

And here is Chief Clown Krugman, once again doing his duty in filling the role:

A similar argument is used to justify fiscal austerity. Both textbook economics and experience say that slashing spending when you’re still suffering from high unemployment is a really bad idea — not only does it deepen the slump, but it does little to improve the budget outlook, because much of what governments save by spending less they lose as a weaker economy depresses tax receipts. And the O.E.C.D. predicts that high unemployment will persist for years. Nonetheless, the organization demands both that governments cancel any further plans for economic stimulus and that they begin “fiscal consolidation” next year.

Hmmm, I thought the government has solved the crisis with its heroic spending intervention? Why don’t we all just lean back and let that magic Keynesian multiplier do its work in getting us back on track? Why spend even more when the crisis has been solved, when Big Government has saved us, as Krugman himself proudly pronounced not too long ago?

So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government.

One might object that this all makes perfect sense since Krugman is actually not an economist, but rather a propagandistic, dishonest, and filthy mouthpiece for any Democratic agenda you throw at him. But that’s not a very nice thing to say about this poor fellow so I would never go down that path … oh wait, I just did it, damn, sorry Paul! It’s just … could you maybe try to be a bit less predictable??

And yes I know I know, he goes on in there talking about how the situation remains terrible and how we must remain careful and bla bla bla, but that nonsense just doesn’t matter. He did lead his readers to believe that “big government saved the day”! He did say that we’re NOT going to have another Great Depression. That’s the essence of his message.

Here is a good discussion about it on yahoo:

The truth is, we’re seeing precisely the expected scenario in action, the Japanese model:

From 1989 on, the Japanese government has launched one stimulus after another to no avail, leaving Japanese taxpayers with the largest public debt per capita of all industrialized nations.

A burden that the US government seems to be more than willing to have its taxpayers shoulder over the years to come unless someone picks up a history book and tries not to feverishly repeat mistakes others made in the past.

Thus the long term outlook for the US economy is the fate Japan took: A long lasting correction supercycle with one failing “stimulus” program after another, and with on and off periods where the economy slips out of and back into recessions from time to time.

Reality is kicking in again. We’re slipping out of a small break we took from recession, and back onto the inevitable path. As a result of foolish government intervention we are now, once again, in worse shape than we were at them time the real correction was supposed to occur. And this is rather likely to be reflected in consumer behavior, and by extension also in Treasury yields.

China

An interesting side effect of the Dollar rally is what’s happening to Chinese exports. Since its currency is pegged to the US Dollar, the Yuan is strengthening against the Euro which is hurting the powerful Chinese export lobbyists.

This is yet another case for a coming Yuan devaluation against the Dollar, that I already talked about almost 1 year ago:

The stabilization of the Dollar against the Yuan has almost coincided the reversal of the Dollar’s fall against other major currencies. It thus appears as if, since mid 2008, the Yuan/Dollar peg has been reinstated and continues to be in place as these lines are written. What is also noteworthy is that the US current account deficit has been declining sharply since then.

A first look at the above chart leads one to believe that Chinese and US authorities aimed at putting an end to the fall of the Dollar, and thus intervened accordingly. However, another possibility which I would like to propose is that the Dollar had fundamentally and truly begun to stabilize at the level of RMB 6.83 at that point and was actually in for a major revaluation upwards. Thus the current intervention by Chinese authorities could actually be aiming at a stabilization of its own currency at a higher level than the market would mandate.

Some points fundamentally support the thesis that the dollar should gain in value against the major currencies:

– Global deleveraging is driving investors from other currencies back to the Dollar
Deflation hitting the US first, and other countries only later
– Imports into the US are falling rapidly
– Significant domestic spending sprees by the Chinese government

All this may indicate that if the Chinese government were to let the Yuan float freely at some point, it may actually drop significantly against the US Dollar. Such an event could possibly be the ignition for a significant Dollar rally in the years to come.

Bottom line: The supposed Yuan devaluation everyone seems to be expecting, were the Yuan to be freely floated, is simply not gonna happen!

That’s all I have to say for now. Have a good weekend everyone!

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