Gold Leaving the Leveraged Financial System …

… I love the fact that the mainstream media is beginning to make the connection between soaring gold prices, falling treasury yields, and deflation.

What comes to mind once again is the inverted pyramid of the global financial system:

… as actors in the global financial system deleverage their positions, funds tend to flow from the higher spheres (stocks, derivatives, etc.) to the lower ones (US government bonds, power money such as gold/silver).

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Gold Price Exceeds Platinum

For the first time in 2 1/2 years the gold price has exceeded that of platinum.

Back then the trend was reversed immediately.

According to Reuters this time gold is set to widen premium over platinum:

Gold prices rose above those of platinum for the first time since December 2008 late on Monday. The last time this happened, the situation reversed within a few days, and traders said then that the convergence of the gold-platinum ratio gave a clear signal to sell gold and buy platinum.

Today’s backdrop is very different.

“Gold as a defensive asset is being driven higher at the moment by risk aversion, and platinum as a cyclical asset is under pressure because growth is slowing,” said Michael Widmer, an analyst at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

“We were there around the great recession (2008), and then you had the various stimulus packages hitting the market, and you saw the prices of the two metals starting to diverge again,” he said. “The macro picture is a bit different this time around. I don’t think that it is a compelling trade.”

In contrast to the situation in 2008, gold’s premium to platinum is a function of its own strength, rather than a falling platinum price.

… interesting times.

Gold is a money commodity, platinum is not, at least it doesn’t seem to be acting like one.

In deflation money does well, all other commodities tank. I have said it many times before and over the past 3 years we have seen this theory confirmed beautifully.

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Rush to Gold Intensifies

China Business News writes Central Banks Join Rush to Gold:

Central banks are ramping up their gold buying as they seek to diversify their reserves away from the dollar and other beleaguered currencies.

South Korea became the latest government to disclose a big bullion purchase, saying Tuesday that it recently bought 25 metric tons – more than doubling its holdings to 39 metric tons. Mexico, Russia and Thailand have also been major buyers in 2011.

This year, governments have almost tripled their net gold purchases, increasing their holdings by 203.5 metric tons this year, up from a 76-metric ton rise last year, according to the World Gold Council, an industry group backed by miners.

The demand marks a major shift in central banks’ thinking about gold. Increasingly, they see bullion as protection against risks posed by declining paper currencies and global economic upheaval, and their vast resources and conservative bent make them a powerful force in the gold market.

While gold is an asset that does not generate income, that shortcoming is less glaring among historically low interest rates.

Before 2010, governments had on balance been shedding their bullion for two decades, during which gold was seen by some as a relic. According to data from GFMS Ltd., a metals consultancy, 1988 was the last year that official holdings increased.

“We definitely have seen a sea change” in central bank attitudes toward gold, said David Greely, chief commodities strategist at Goldman Sachs Group. Central bank buying provides “longer-term support for gold prices,” he said.

I have said it before and I will say it again.

In a world of debt laden governments, great depressions left and right, and the monetary disfigurement called fiat currencies, gold provides a safe haven for all those who get it.

This will all the more be the case as global bond ratings are finally being cut.

As these lines are written gold has just hit $1,711.30.

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Utah’s Gold & Legal Tender Laws

Fiat currency is demanded by individuals in exchange transactions because its acceptance in payments of debts is enforced by the state, because it is required in tax payments, and because reproducing the same currency without state approval is prevented via the threat or use of aggression. This ensures that there will always be some kind of demand for it.

(You can find some more information on the specific history of fiat money in the US in my post Government Power, Gold, Fiat Money, and the U.S. Constitution.)

The government also discourages the use of alternate media of exchange, e.g. in the case of gold in the US, through the imposition of capital gains taxes, but even without such additional hurdles there would be little to no threat to the enforceability of the fiat money system.

In fact, the US Treasury itself still mints gold and silver coins that it officially recognizes as legal tender for all debts public and private. For example, a 1 Oz American Eagle gold coin, is recognized as a $50 legal tender.

Mind you, the current value of 1Oz of gold on the open market is priced at around $1,500. So in other words you’d have to be a complete idiot were you to use that coin to buy, say, a concert ticket worth $50 or pay your taxes by supplying a commensurate number of such coins to the IRS, when you could just as well use paper money that you ascribe a much lower value to.

Recently there have been some developments in Utah toward recognizing gold and silver as legal tender for the metal value and NOT the amount minted on the coins:

The Utah Legislature on Thursday passed a bill allowing gold and silver coins to be used as legal tender in the state — and for the value of their precious metal, not just the face value of the coins.

State backers said they hope the move will help insulate Utah from a potential monetary slide as countries question the value of the dollar. Others, casting their eye nationwide, said it could spur a broader move by Congress or states to readopt a gold standard.

“Utah, if the governor signs this particularly, they’re going to change the national debate on monetary policy and get us back to basics,” said Jeffrey Bell, policy director for Washington-based American Principles in Action. Mr. Bell has been in Utah to help shepherd the legislation through.

Utah’s bill allows stores to accept gold and silver coins as legal tender. It also exempts gold and silver transactions from the state’s capital gains tax, though that does not shield exchanges from federal taxes.

It is true that merchants in Utah can now also accept a smaller amount of gold in payments, reflecting the open market price of gold, rather than its legal tender amount. But they would still be required by federal law to accept fiat currency. Individuals would also still be required to pay federal capital gains taxes on their realized gold gains.

I would say that, by and large, Gresham’s Law applies here as much as anywhere else. So long as the government aggressively enforces the use of its fiat currency and in fact requires its use in the settlement of tax debts, people will be inclined to push those paper dollars back into circulation, while hoarding the “better” money: gold and silver coins.

Thus I view the recent laws passed in the US state of Utah as a mere recognition of what already is. The exemption of gold from capital gains taxation on the state level may make it lucrative to sell gold in Utah, but that’s about the extent of the impact of this law as far as I can tell.

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Gold, Treasury Notes, Dollar – May 2011

The long term trend for gold, Treasury Notes, and the US Dollar seems to be holding up.

There has been some noticeable action in Treasury Notes most recently, in particular since February 2011 investor’s appetite has been growing again and thus rates have declined and remained within the range that has been developing since 2008:

treasury-notes-trend-since-2007

Gold’s trend has been holding up steady as always:

gold-trendline-may-14-2011

As you can see in the chart there has always been room for dips in gold, and that is not different now. It may very well drop somewhere between 1,300 or 1,400, however, so far it has always done so only to bounce back even stronger after that. In particular when the next credit crunch happens it is possible that gold will see some dips alongside all other commodities, but then come roaring back up while other commodities continue to crash. This is at least what happened in 2008 and it may well happen again.

… and the seemingly most hated currency in the world has also remained within it’s long term trading range, and it may be possible that once again it will show some significant strength for the months to come:

dollar-euro-trading-range-may-14-2011

The deflation trade has been dormant for a while indeed, but its expected trends have held up so far, and its benefits are most noticeable when everything else snaps back into the general trend of the Great Depression 2.0.

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