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9.18.18 - Silver's Discount Biggest Since the 1990s
Gold last traded at $1,202 an ounce. Silver at $14.18 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded steady Tuesday on a flat U.S. dollar. U.S. stocks rose as the latest tariffs on U.S. and Chinese goods are not as bad as previously feared.
Gold Continues ‘Slow Dance’ Around $1,200 Despite Fund Exodus -Bloomberg
"Gold is sticking to a narrow trading range around $1,200 an ounce even after holdings in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds plunged to their lowest in a year. The metal is 'continuing its slow dance around $1,200,' Carlo Alberto De Casa, chief analyst at London-based brokerage ActivTrades, said in a daily note. A slide in bullion-backed ETFs hasn't been enough to move the metal out of the recent range....The dollar's strength since late April in particular has held back any potential advances in the gold price despite potential triggers ranging from political uncertainty in Europe and the expanding global trade tensions. Still, traders and analysts of the precious metal have held a majority bullish outlook for the last four weeks, according to Bloomberg’s weekly survey."
Silver's Discount to Gold Is the Biggest Since the 1990s -Bloomberg
"With gold the most expensive relative to silver in more than 20 years, investors in exchange-traded funds are betting on the cheaper metal. Bullion is about 85 times more expensive than silver per ounce, a ratio not seen since 1995. Both metals have been hammered this year, falling as the dollar rose and investors opted for the yield offered by stocks and bonds....The cheaper metal typically trades as a higher-beta asset, meaning an upturn in precious metals would tend to benefit long positions in silver more. 'Smart investors and long-term investors are seeing a lot of value in silver at these levels,' said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt by phone. He expects silver to rise 17 percent by the end of the year, twice as much as gold. 'Silver prices are low in both relative and absolute terms.'"
Democrats hold the upper hand in Arizona, Tennessee Senate races -CNN
"Democrats hold an advantage in two states that are critical to the party's chances of taking control of the US Senate, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS. The surveys show Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and former Gov. Phil Bredesen leading their Republican opponents for open seats Arizona and Tennessee, where sitting Republican senators are retiring....Arizona and Tennessee are two of the four states where Democrats are widely seen as having at least some chance of picking up Senate seats in November's election. The others are Texas - viewed as more of a long-shot - and Nevada - generally viewed as the Democrats' best chance for a Senate pickup. In order for the party to have any shot at taking control of the senate, it's almost certain that at least one seat from Arizona or Tennessee would need to go Democrats' way....The Republican incumbents for these seats - Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee - have both been publicly critical of Trump. Approval ratings of the president are closely tied to preferences in the Senate race, according to the poll."
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Are you really into socialism? You're probably not. -USA Today
"The term 'socialism' has lost its sting in American politics, particularly among the young. However, few Americans who claim to be socialists are truly such, if the term is to retain its value in describing a particular form of political economy. It’s become more of a political fashion statement. A way of saying: 'Hey, look at me. I’m a rebel with a cause.'....American conservatives believe that markets are the most productive and fair way of allocating resources, and the only way compatible with individual liberty...American liberals believe that markets are necessary for economic growth, but do not trust them, particularly in terms of fairness. So, they favor significant government regulation to protect consumers, small savers and investors, and workers. They also advocate extensive welfare and safety net programs, and redistributive tax policies. True socialists believe that markets are neither productive nor fair. Instead, they are intrinsically and irredeemably exploitive. Rather than markets, government should make the decisions about the allocation of resources and actually own and operate monopoly corporations in key industries....Americans who claim to be socialists bristle when Venezuela is cited as an example of what true socialism reaps. But that's been the historic norm. When markets are dispensed with as the principal means of allocating resources, shortages and repression usually follow. That's a lesson that shouldn't be shunted aside in a desire to make a political fashion statement."
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9.17.18 - Everything You Need to Know About the Midterms
Gold last traded at $1,205 an ounce. Silver at $14.22 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices jumped higher Monday on a sharply weaker dollar. U.S. stocks fell amid steep losses in tech shares and increasing tensions between the U.S. and China.
Everything you need to know about the Midterms -The Guardian
"The votes on 6 November will give US voters their first chance to pass judgment on Donald Trump since he took the White House. The key question in these elections is: will Republicans will be able to keep control of both chambers of Congress? Just 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and all of the 435 seats in the lower House of Representatives are up for grabs. To take control of the legislative agenda and block Trump's ability to implement his programs, the Democratic party needs to control both houses. With a Senate majority, the Democrats would be able to block cabinet and supreme court appointments...The Grand Old Party (GOP) does have a big advantage over the Democrats in this showdown, because the Democratic party is defending 26 seats (including two independents, who usually vote with them) while the Republicans only have to defend nine....American voters are usually reluctant to eject a sitting representative. So for Democrats, some of their best hopes are in seats where the incumbent is not standing again. The good news for Dems is that a record 39 Republicans - many of whom were anti-Trump - have chosen to bow out instead of contest their seats in November, and some of those are in key swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania."
How The Mid-Term Elections Will Affect Your Bottom Line -Swiss America Special Report
"America at this moment seems to be flying higher and faster than any major nation in history, piloted by businessman-negotiator President Donald Trump. Unemployment is at record lows, with more jobs than job-seekers for the first time in decades. Economic growth is soaring above 4 percent. Industries that globalist politicians said would never return are returning. Most passengers are full of optimistic 'animal spirits' as we appear headed to a brighter tomorrow. But, what happens in the mid-term elections, just fifty days away, could quickly thrust the economy into reverse, potentially sending the financial markets into a tailspin. The emergence of a socialist Democratic Party could have huge consequences that will affect every American investor and saver. How will the mid-term elections affect YOUR investment portfolio? Find out in our brand new Swiss America Special Report. Get it today by calling 800-289-2646 or registering HERE.
Gold Prices Reclaim $1,200 Ahead of New U.S. Tariffs on China -Investing
"Gold prices edged higher on Monday, reclaiming the key $1,200-level amid renewed fears over an escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies. Market focus will largely be attuned to the next potential steps in the tit-for-tat trade dispute between the U.S. and China. U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to announce new tariffs on about $200 billion on Chinese imports as early as Monday, according to a senior administration official. The tariff level will probably be about 10%, the Wall Street Journal reported, far below the 25% the administration said it was considering for this possible round of tariffs. The WSJ later reported that China may decline to participate in proposed trade talks with the U.S. later this month if the Trump administration moves forward with additional tariffs on imported Chinese goods, as Beijing won't negotiate under threat. Officials are also considering potential retaliation steps, the report said."
A World With Fewer Babies Spells Economic Trouble -Bloomberg
"Forget the prophecies saying overpopulation will starve the planet. The human race is approaching the point where it's no longer reproducing enough to expand the global headcount. In the world's biggest economies - the U.S., China, Japan and Germany - it's already happening or will soon. Economists say these countries could see slower economic growth unless they increase their working-age populations....Lower fertility rates - the number of live births per woman - could also threaten safety-net programs like pensions and health care. How big is the dropoff? Fertility rates have dropped globally to about 2.4 this decade, from 5 in the 1960s, according to the World Bank. That's getting close to the rate, about 2.1, required to keep the world's population stable in the long run....The United Nations calculated the world's population as of 2017 at 7.6 billion people, a number it projects will grow to 11.2 billion at the end of this century, after which it could begin to fall. But a lot of countries are going to shrink before then. With a fertility rate of only 1.6, China's population will drop 28 percent by 2100, ceding the title of world's most-populous nation to India, the UN predicts. With a fertility rate of 1.4, Japan's population will plunge 34 percent by 2100. The U.S.'s headcount is expected to keep growing, despite a low fertility rate of 1.8, because of large numbers of immigrants....Fewer workers also mean less tax revenue for retirement and health-care programs. And that means governments might have to cut benefits, raise taxes or borrow more, pitting the old and young against each other."
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9.14.18 - US Mid-Terms Loom, Gold Price Ticks Up
Gold last traded at $1,201 an ounce. Silver at $14.14 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices were steady Friday despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks traded lower after reports that President Trump wants to move forward with tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
Trump To Proceed With $200BN More In China Tariffs Despite Talks; Stocks Tumble -Zero Hedge
"So much for the optimism that followed the WSJ report that the Trump administration is willing to offer China an olive branch in trade talks in hopes of avoiding further escalation.Bloomberg reports that President Trump has instructed aides on Thursday to proceed with tariffs on about $200 billion more in Chinese products despite Steven Mnuchin’s attempt to restart talks with Beijing to resolve the trade war. The announcement of the new round of tariffs - which had been anticipated by most as a late September event - had been delayed as the administration considers revisions based on concerns raised in public comments, Bloomberg sources said....Commenting on the latest 'news', Bloomberg's Ye Xie writes that while Trump is sending Steven Mnuchin out as a good cop to keep the dialogue with Beijing going, 'he himself is playing the bad cop by moving to imposing additional tariffs. Barring someone stealing documents from his desk, it's highly likely that he will go ahead and pull the trigger.' In kneejerk reaction to the news, US stocks, and the Chinese yuan tumbled having priced in a far more favorable outcome in recent days."
The Rate Hike That Will Trigger a Bear Market -Daily Reckoning
"The Federal Reserve will almost certainly raise its benchmark rate in under two weeks - for the eighth occasion since December 2015....But how many additional rate hikes can it endure before collapsing under the strain? Two… three… four… maybe more? ....Mr. Barry Bannister directs investment firm Stifel's institutional equity strategy division. He was one of few who accurately foretold February’s correction....When the Federal Reserve's target rate rises above the neutral rate, trouble is on tap, says Bannister...Observe the results once the fed funds rate (blue) crosses the neutral rate (red)."
"The fed funds rate has been below the neutral rate for a decade running. But the Federal Reserve has been hard at hiking rates since December 2015. And the fed funds rate now eyes the neutral rate, as the chart reveals....We will likely be treated to the second rate hike in December - 80.1% are the odds given today. Thus the Fed will likely cross the neutral rate by year's end. The bear market follows if the foregoing holds."
US mid-terms loom, gold ticks up, and the global economy roars on -Proactive Investors
"Gold, that great barometer risk, hasn't exactly soared away as the Trump presidency has bedded down...The current price of US$1,205 per ounce represents something of a recovery on recent weeks....Still, there are significant challenges to the Trump regime ahead, not least the mid-term elections, which are now just two months away. Several polls are predicting a bad outcome for Mr Trump, though needless to say he himself doesn’t see it that way and, what’s more, in recent years the accuracy of polling itself has been called into question....Whether a Democratic victory is really something that would be desired by markets is another matter. ING released analysis this week citing the mid-terms as a serious consideration for turning bearish on the dollar. 'Time to ditch the dollar?' wrote ING, arguing that uncertainty around the mid-terms will be compounded by a renewed focus on ballooning US deficits, by trade and tariff considerations, and potentially by the idea that the current boom in the US economy will be as good as it gets....Mr Trump, like his Republican colleagues, professes great respect for the US constitution...Nevertheless, his previous attacks on the free press and on some of the country’s great institutions do raise questions in the minds of market participants. And the resultant is more conducive to a stronger gold price than it is to economic growth."
The End of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job -Forbes/Forbes
"EVERYONE, REGARDLESS of age, income and occupation, will find this short, pithy and wisdom-rich book by John Tamny, The End of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job, inspiring and instructive. Its thesis is simple yet profound: Greater prosperity gives more and more people the opportunity to match work with passion, the kind of work that 'has you excited on Sunday nights.' Critical to this 'luxury' is a growing economy. 'The freer people are to earn as much as they can and keep it, the more likely it is that everyone will have the opportunity to make a living from his own unique skills and intelligence.' The way the author - a longtime and valued contributor to both Forbes magazine and forbes.com - illustrates this optimistic viewpoint is exciting and original...Sports is one area that's been expanding as we've become more affluent, with vastly greater needs at all levels of play for coaches, assistants, training specialists, scouts and nerdy number crunchers to better evaluate players and prospects, as well as for agents, lawyers, marketers, publicists and broadcasters....Tamny entertainingly discusses the creation of numerous new kinds of jobs, such as coaches for teams of video game players (one competition can attract tens of thousands of fans) and dog walkers, as well as the rising remuneration (often in six figures) and sophistication of traditional, once seemingly simple tasks such as caddying (pro golf caddies are trusted and crucial advisors to players). Tamny closes his enjoyable work with this thought: 'In an economy of individuals, we're all better off when each person gets to pursue what most amplifies his unique skills and intelligence.'"
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9.13.18 - Will a Cyberattack Trigger the Next Crisis?
Gold last traded at $1,208 an ounce. Silver at $14.24 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back on weaker-than-expected inflation data. U.S. stocks were boosted by lower rates stemming from mild inflation data as well as a rebound in Apple shares.
A cyberattack could trigger the next financial crisis, new report says -CNBC
"When it comes to a financial crisis, everyone seems to agree that the next one will not come in the same form as the one that hit 10 years ago this week, which was tied to a housing bubble and shoddy mortgage lending practices....On Wednesday, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., which provides clearing and settlement for the financial markets in the U.S., released a report, entitled 'The Next Crisis will be Different: Opportunities to Continue Enhancing Financial Stability 10 Years After Lehman's Insolvency.' Cyberthreats have consistently been ranked as the number one concern by respondents to Depository Trust's Systemic Risk Barometer since the survey began in 2013....The good news is no incident, not even last year's much-publicized hack of credit reporting giant Equifax, has yet had systemic effects. The bad news is we have already had incidents that have disrupted corporate activities. The oversight council report notes that an outage at Amazon's cloud computing service disrupted thousands of websites for four hours."
How to Fight the Next Crisis -Bloomberg
"The time for remedies is before disaster strikes. Ten years after the fall of Lehman Brothers, trouble is brewing again, though this time the U.S. hasn't slid into a recession. In fact, growth is so strong in America that the Federal Reserve is trying to preempt inflation by raising interest rates, and that’s attracting speculative investors from the rest of the world to the U.S. - to the detriment of emerging markets. Argentina and Turkey are most under pressure, followed by Brazil, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and others. 'We are having a confidence crisis in emerging markets, with some level of contagion being present,' says Pablo Goldberg, a portfolio manager at BlackRock Inc. in New York....Ray Dalio is worried about the world's preparedness to fight the next global conflagration. 'There's a cycle here,' says Dalio, founder and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates LP, the world's biggest hedge fund firm. 'What they did was to write regulations that reduced the chance of a financial crisis but significantly limited the flexibility in dealing with it.'....Is what's been done enough, though? The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis calculates there's still a two-thirds probability of another major financial crisis in the next century....Pay attention to the stresses in Ankara, Buenos Aires, and elsewhere. Because when the next global financial crisis breaks out, it will be hard to stop."
The monopoly-busting case against Google, Amazon, Uber, and Facebook -The Verge
"Antitrust crusaders have built up serious momentum in Washington, but so far, it’s all been theory and talk. Groups like Open Markets have made a strong case that big companies (especially big tech companies) are distorting the market to drive out competitors. We need a new standard for monopolies, they argue, one that focuses less on consumer harm and more on the skewed incentives produced by a company the size of Facebook or Google. Someday soon, those ideas will be put to the test, probably against one of a handful of companies. For anti-monopolists, it’s a chance to reshape tech into something more democratic and less destructive. It’s just a question of which company makes the best target. To that end, here’s the case against four of the movement’s biggest targets, and what they might look like if they came out on the losing end....According to Open Markets’ Matthew Stoller, the best long-term remedy for Google’s dominance has more to do with Google’s acquisitions. 'If you’re looking for a silver bullet, probably the best thing to do would be to block Google from being able to buy any companies,' says Stoller. 'Suddenly, you have to compete with Google, you can’t just be bought out by Google.'....Amazon makes life hard for its competitors - and by now, the company is competing against nearly everyone. The most notorious example is the company’s wholesale pillaging of Diapers.com in 2010, which saw Amazon drop diaper prices by as much as 30 percent and matching Diapers.com’s pricing move for move until the smaller outfit agreed to be acquired....Sitting between one-off customers and independently contracted drivers, there are lots of ways for Uber to subtly manipulate the market for its own benefit. The most notorious method was surge pricing, which added a multiplier whenever the supply of nearby drivers was running low....In some ways, Facebook is the most urgent case. It’s inescapable, opaque, and it wields immense power over the fundamental functions of our society. More than any other tech giant, Facebook’s power feels like an immediate threat and the most plausible first target for congressional action."
A Misunderstood Case of Poverty -National Review
"I often am perplexed by the ways in which we try to put poverty into a social and economic context. For example, once a year or so, the newspapers will be full of stories about a study concluding that a minimum-wage worker cannot afford the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in any American city. Dig in just a little bit and the claim is clarified: A minimum-wage worker cannot afford the rent on a two-bedroom apartment at the 40th percentile or above without spending more than 30 percent of his income on rent. It is difficult to imagine a more useless datum....Matthew Desmond is the author of Evicted, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017. He has an essay in The New York Times Magazine this week that is by turns touching and maddening....Desmond tells the story of Vanessa Solivan and her three children and their economic struggles. Solivan is a home health aide, a job for which she is paid between $10 and $14 an hour, depending on the reimbursement rate of the patient in question. She works part time, between 20 and 30 hours a week. Desmond writes that the federal government estimates that Solivan would need to earn $29,420 to meet her family’s basic needs. This is written under the headline: 'Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not.'.... As Desmond notes, our welfare programs favor the employed, and as such Solivan would receive about $5,200 in Earned Income Tax Credit benefits, raising her total income, absent any other benefits, to $29,200, just a few dollars shy of that $29,420 estimate of her family’s basic needs. Which is to say, a job looks like a pretty good solution, if not quite a complete solution, to poverty in her case, provided it is a full-time job....Two $12-an-hour workers (married, say) working full-time jobs would bring in about $48,000 a year - or about 40 percent more than the median household income in Trenton, N.J., where Solivan lives. So maybe the headline should instead be amended to read: 'Having Two Full-Time Earners in a Household Is Actually a Pretty Good Solution to Poverty,' or, if we want to get radical, 'Marriage and Full-Time Employment Together Are a Pretty Good Solution to Poverty.'....Did anybody listen when conservatives were pointing out that the structure of the Affordable Care Act would give employers incentives to prefer part-time workers to full-time workers? Or when your correspondent argued that federal and local policies intended to keep the price of houses high and rising inevitably are going to be hard on the poor?"
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9.12.18 - Warren Buffett: Why Market Bubbles Happen
Gold last traded at $1,210 an ounce. Silver at $14.29 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Wednesday on bargain-hunting and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks traded lower despite upbeat U.S.-China trade proposal news.
Here’s why one analyst just made a ‘rare’ call to buy some gold -Marketwatch
"Gold prices have dropped this year, but it could be a hedge against a market correction, analyst writes....'Investors do not seem prepared for anything but a continuation of the current upward trend, something that is hard to fathom if U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods go into effect,' wrote Lisa Shalett, head of investment and portfolio strategies at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. In such an environment, Shalett suggested that gold could have an important place in one’s portfolio....'We believe it can be used tactically as a potential hedge for a stock market correction and/or a reversal in the dollar and real interest rates.' She's recommending investors take profits on their U.S. equities exposure, while 'tactically deploying' 3% to 5% of the portfolio to gold...'In the current environment, we see gold as oversold and the likely beneficiary if recession fears rise and real rates begin to fall, if the U.S. dollar weakens, if market volatility picks up, if there is broadening contagion in emerging markets or if there is an inflation shock.'"
America moves closer to being a cashless society -Marketwatch
"Cashless commerce is popping up around the country, particularly in restaurants catering to a younger crowd, which is likely to leave home without any greenbacks, or even a wallet, and instead choose to live life with a smartphone and a few credit or debit cards attached. Businesses who've gone cashless rave about the results....Cash sure seems to be on the ropes. The dollar value of cash transactions sank 7% from 2010 to 2015, according to The Nilson Report, while credit and debit card payments rose nearly 50%. Meanwhile, ATMs, which had their 50th birthday last year, are disappearing around the block and around the world, signaling the decline of the 'cash run.' So you’re saying cash is over? Not exactly. The Federal Reserve said in 2016 that 35% of U.S. transactions were still made in cash....Forces will undoubtedly continue nudging us toward a cashless life, which comes with plenty of benefits. Just remember that cashless spending is frictionless - it's just a swipe of a card or a wave of your phone. So, if you're already prone to overspending, get creative about curbing those tendencies and making sure your savings goals are on track."
Convenience is the primary driving force toward cashlessness, but along with this benefit comes a major loss of privacy. There are many other rights that are voluntarily given up in a cashless society, which are covered in detail in our free special report THE SECRET WAR, PART II: Weapons of Cash Destruction.
Crypto's 80% Plunge Is Now Worse Than the Dot-Com Crash -Bloomberg Quint
"As virtual currencies plumbed new depths on Wednesday, the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index extended its collapse from a January high to 80 percent. The tumble has now surpassed the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 78 percent peak-to-trough decline after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. Like their predecessors during the Internet-stock boom almost two decades ago, cryptocurrency investors who bet big on a seemingly revolutionary technology are suffering a painful reality check, particularly those in many secondary tokens, so-called alt-coins. 'It just shows what a massive, speculative bubble the whole crypto thing was - as many of us at the time warned,' said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst in London for Markets.com, a foreign-exchange trading platform....The virtual-currency mania of 2017- fueled by hopes that Bitcoin would become 'digital gold' and that blockchain-powered tokens would reshape industries from finance to food - has quickly given way to concerns about excessive hype, security flaws, market manipulation, tighter regulation and slower-than-anticipated adoption by Wall Street."
In our 2018 newsletter, The Future of Money, we discussed in detail the rise and anticipated fall of cyrptocurrencies and warned our clients to avoid bitcoin due to the high volatility. The blockchain technology behind bitcoin and other cryptos may have a future as an alternative international payment system, but they can never replace physical gold as a universal form of global money.
Warren Buffett on why bubbles happen: People see neighbors 'dumber than they are' getting rich -CNBC
"Warren Buffett warns that another financial crisis is inevitable....This week marks the 10th anniversary of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, which many investors regard as the seminal event of the financial crisis. Buffett was asked by CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin if he is worried another crisis will happen again. 'Well there will be one sometime,' Buffett said. The Oracle of Omaha explained another bubble is unavoidable due to human nature, jealously and greed. 'People start being interested in something because it's going up, not because they understand it or anything else. But the guy next door, who they know is dumber than they are, is getting rich and they aren't,' he said. 'And their spouse is saying can't you figure it out, too? It is so contagious. So that's a permanent part of the system.'"
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