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“The Federal Reserve Is Clearly Trapped”: Lawrence Lepard

“The Federal Reserve Is Clearly Trapped”: Lawrence Lepard

Friend of Fringe Finance Lawrence Lepard released his most recent investor letter this week.

Friend of Fringe Finance Lawrence Lepard released his most recent investor letter this week. He gets little coverage in the mainstream media, which, in my opinion, makes him someone worth listening to twice as closely.

Photo: Kitco

Larry was kind enough to allow me to share his thoughts heading into Q2 2024. The letter has been edited ever-so-slightly for formatting, grammar and visuals.


QUARTERLY OVERVIEW 

Globally, the stock markets continued their 45-degree angle rise during the first quarter. Crude oil, and  commodities broadly, also had a stair-step rise consistently during the quarter. Gold and silver and the  miners were an interesting dichotomy. Bullion prices were flat to slightly down in January and February,  and the miners were clobbered during those early months of Q1. However, in March the price of gold  broke through the long-standing $2,070 ceiling and the miners responded, driving the Fund up by 25.4%.  Gold miner indices were down 17% in the first two months before the March move.

Note that the gold mining stocks still have not provided any leverage to the price of gold. In fact, in the  first quarter they did not even keep pace with the increase in the price of gold. With gold up 8.1% in the  quarter, the gold mining indices were up 2%. Typically, gold miners provide 2x to 3x leverage in terms  of returns; so with gold up 8%, the miners would typically have been up 16% to 24%. This supports our  thesis that the miners are still undervalued and are going to mean revert with a vengeance as this bull  market in gold continues. The gold mining shares have a long way to go before they reflect fair value.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

AI, Gold and Nuclear War

AI, Gold and Nuclear War

So-called artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm. Meanwhile, gold has shot up like a rocket over the past couple of months.

In mid-February, gold was trading at $1,990. Two months later, gold is trading above $2,400 — a $410 gain in just two months.

So here’s a question:

Is there a connection between AI and gold? It seems like an odd question. But as it turns out, the answer is yes. And surprisingly, there has been for decades. It involves the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

In the early 1980s, the KGB was deeply concerned about the possibility of a nuclear first strike by the United States. At the time, Yuri Andropov was head of the KGB.

Andropov’s fear of a nuclear first strike by the U.S. was based in part on the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s plan to install Pershing II intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

Those missiles could be armed with nuclear warheads and could strike the Soviet Union within minutes of being launched. This put Soviet nuclear forces on a hair-trigger alert. They adopted a “launch on warning” posture.

This means that as soon as credible evidence of a planned first strike was discovered, the Soviet Union would launch its own first strike to avoid destruction of its forces.

The irony was that the U.S. had no actual plans to launch a first strike, but the Soviet Union didn’t know that. Reagan’s speeches about the “evil empire” did nothing to calm Soviet concerns.

AI and Nuclear Readiness

In response, the Soviets developed a primitive (by today’s standards) AI system called VRYAN. That’s a Russian acronym for: sudden nuclear missile attack.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Never Ending War on Cash

Never Ending War on Cash

In the last few decades, there has been a global shift towards a “cashless world,” a trend that continues to shape financial autonomy. Physical currency is becoming increasingly rare as the majority of the world’s money supply exists in electronic form. Governments and financial institutions are actively promoting a cashless society, raising concerns about individual financial freedom.

The Federal Reserve’s last annual update on physical currency in circulation reported about 2.2 trillion dollars in physical cash supply. This includes physical coins (dimes, quarters, dollars) and green Federal Reserve notes. Nevertheless, there has been a rapid shift towards electronic funds. In the current era, the total global money supply is predominantly composed of electronic funds, with physical currency representing a diminishing percentage.

The concept of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) in the last year has gained substantial prominence globally. IMF Director Kistalina Georgieva noted in her speech last year that CBDCs have already been introduced in The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Nigeria, with over 100 additional countries (including the United States) currently in the exploratory phase.

The push towards a cashless society is often justified on grounds of enhanced security, with claims that electronic transactions deter terrorism, money laundering, and counterfeiting. However, upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the primary objective is an attempt to ‘bar the doors’ and keep assets within the US Financial System. Reduced reliance on physical cash facilitates increased monitoring and taxation of financial transactions, aligning with the government’s and central planners’ interests.

Interestingly, even with the diminishing purchasing power of the US dollar, the face value of Federal Reserve notes has also been decreasing. Today, the highest denomination note produced by the Federal Reserve is the $100 note. The elimination of higher denominations, such as $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 notes, began in 1969. Discussions continue, with some advocating for the complete discontinuation of cash.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Central Banks Will Keep Gobbling Gold in 2024

Central Banks Will Keep Gobbling Gold in 2024

The first half of 2023 was a record-breaking moment for central bank gold buying, led by none other than China and Russia. Organizations like the World Gold Council reported a staggering increase compared to 2022:

“On a year-to-date basis, central banks have bought an astonishing net 800t, 14% higher than the same period last year.”

Whether or not The January Effect will apply to the gold price as we finish the first month of 2024, there are plenty of indicators that the central bank buying spree will continue for at least the first half of the new year. Accelerating de-dollarization is just one factor, as powerhouses like China and Russia continue strategically moving further and further from the grips of USD hegemony.

Of course, actions by the Biden administration to isolate Russia with sanctions in the wake of the Ukraine conflict only provide further impetus for the Russians to continue divesting in any way they can from the US dollar. Combined with a volatile ruble and a wave of new American spending to feed its proxy wars in Ukraine and Israel, it only makes sense that Russia’s gold coffers will continue to grow.

You can also bet on China and Russia buying significantly more gold than what gets reported publicly, so the real numbers are always higher than they seem. As Jim Richards has pointed out many times, such as in this tweet from Q1 last year, countries like Russia and China hold gold acquired through off-the-books buying programs that far exceed what they officially claim:

“Central Bank of Russia reported a gain of 30 metric tonnes in its gold reserves. That’s after a year of flatlining more likely due to non-reporting than non-acquisition. Nice to see Russia back in the game.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

More Golden (and Black-Gold) Proof: The Dollar is Totally Screwed

More Golden (and Black-Gold) Proof: The Dollar is Totally Screwed

Ever since day-one of the predictably disastrous and politically myopic insanity of weaponizing the world reserve currency against a major power like Russia, we warned that the USD had reached an historical turning point of slow demise and increasing de-dollarization.

We also warned that this would be a gradual process rather than over-night headline, much like the slow but steady death of the USD’s purchasing power since Nixon left the gold standard in 1971:

But as we’ll discover below, this gyrating process is happening even faster than we could have imagined, and all of this bodes profoundly well for physical gold, yet not so well for the USD.

Bad Actors, Bad Policies & Predictable Patterns

Regardless of what the media-mislead world thinks of Putin, weaponizing the USD was a foreseeable disaster which, naturally, none of DC’s worst-and-dimmest, could fully grasp.

This is because chest-puffing but math-illiterate neocons pushing policy from the Pentagon were pulling the increasingly visible strings of a Biden puppet at the White House.

In short, the dark state of which Mike Lofgren warned is not only dark, but dangerously dumb.

These political opportunists have forgotten that military power is not as wise as financial strength, which is why broke (and increasingly centralized nations) inevitably lead their country toward a state of permanent ruin preceded by cycles of war and currency-destroying inflation.

Sound familiar?

Despite no training in economics, Ernest Hemingway, who witnessed two world wars, saw this pattern clearly:

We also found “Biden’s” sanctions particularly comical, given that his former boss clearly understood the dangers of such a policy for the USD as far back as 2015:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Hope Dies, Gold Rises

Hope Dies, Gold Rises

The primary stages of grief include: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.

When it comes to grieving over the slow demise of the American economy, sovereign IOU/USD and the absolute failure of our “re-election-only-focused” policy makers, these stages of grief are easy to see yet easier to ignore.

But false hope won’t help us.

Denying a Recession

With the vast majority of sectors that make up the U.S. economy evidencing three months of negative GDP growth while a laundry list of leading homebuilder indicators (housing starts and prospective buyers) drops into recessionary red, I keep wondering when the recession debate will finally end.

Walmart is worrying, Jamie Dimon is worrying, commercial real estate delinquencies are rising and IPO markets are all but dead on arrival.

But that’s just the latest hard data.

One can cite everything from the Conference Board of Leading Indicators, negative M2 growth, yield curve movements and a drying repo market to make it empirically clear that the US is not heading for recession but has already been in one for nearly a year.

In fact, if we were to define a Depression by growth rates of inflation-adjusted GDP per capita, then factually speaking, we have also been in a quantifiable depression for the last 16 years.

Such data, of course, is depressing, but are we all still hoping for kinder facts or a political and monetary Santa Claus to cure our denial?

I for one favor preparation over denial.

Then Comes the Anger

Citizens storming the Capital, or grabbing guitars and singing “I’m taxed to no end and my dollar aint $#!T” are just the first signs of  the anger stage.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Financial System Has Reached the End

THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM HAS REACHED THE END

The world is now witnessing the end of a currency and financial system which the Chinese already forecast in 1971 after Nixon closed the gold window.

Again, remember von Mises words: “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion.”

History tells us that we have now reached the point of no return.

So denying history at this point will not just be very costly but will lead to a total destruction of investors’ wealth.

POLITICIANS LIE WITHOUT FAIL

History never lies but politicians do without fail. In a fake system based on false values, lying is considered to be an essential part of political survival.

Let’s just look at Nixon’s ignorant and irresponsible statements of August 15, 1971 when he took away the gold backing of the dollar and thus all currencies.

Later on we will show how clearsighted the Chinese leaders were about the destiny of the US and its economy.

So there we have tricky Dick’s lies.

  • The suspension of the convertibility of the dollar in 1971 is still in effect 52 years later.
  • As the dollar has declined by almost 99% since 1971, the “strength of the economy” is also declining fast although using fiat money as the measure hides the truth.
  • And now to the last lie: “Your dollar will be worth as much tomorrow”. Yes, you are almost right Dick!  It is still worth today a whole 1% of the value when you closed the gold window. 

The political system is clearly a farce. You have to lie to be elected and you have to lie to stay in power. That is what the gullible voters expect. The sad result is that they will always be cheated.

CHINA FORECAST THE CONSEQUENCES ALREADY IN 1971

So in 1971 after Nixon closed the gold window, China in its official news media the People’s Daily made the statements below:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Dutch Central Bank Admits It Has Prepared for a New Gold Standard

Dutch Central Bank Admits It Has Prepared for a New Gold Standard

In a recent interview the Dutch central bank (DNB) shares it has equalized its gold reserves, relative to GDP, to other countries in the eurozone and outside of Europe. This has been a political decision. If there is a financial crisis the gold price will skyrocket, and official gold reserves can be used to underpin a new gold standard, according to DNB. These statements confirm what I have been writing for the past years about central banks having prepared for a new international gold standard.

Wouldn’t a central bank that has one primary objective—maintaining price stability—serve its mandate best by communicating the currency it issues can be relied upon in all circumstances? By saying gold will be the safe haven of choice during a financial collapse, DNB confesses its own currency (the euro) does not weather all storms. Indirectly, DNB encourages people to own gold to be protected from financial shocks, making the transition towards a gold based monetary system more likely.

photograph of gold bars on pallets at gold vault of Dutch National BankOld gold vault of DNB in Amsterdam.

How to Prepare for a Gold Standard

In my latest article on this subject—“Europe Has Been Preparing a Global Gold Standard Since the 1970s. Part 2”—I have demonstrated that central banks of medium and large economies in the eurozone have balanced their official gold reserves, proportionally to GDP, to prepare for a gold standard (/gold price targeting system). My analysis was pieced together by scarce quotes from central banks and data of European gold and foreign exchange holdings. My conclusion was that several medium-size economies in Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Portugal) sold large amounts of gold from the early 1990s to 2008 to come on par with France, Germany, and Italy. I wrote:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Myth of the Invincible Dollar

The Myth of the Invincible Dollar

I write a lot about the national debt.

And most people don’t care.

That’s because there’s a widespread belief that the dollar is invincible.

It isn’t.

The prevailing attitude is that the US government can borrow and spend indefinitely. After all, it hasn’t caused a problem so far. But a long fuse can burn for a long time before it finally reaches the powder keg.

I don’t know how long we have before the debt bomb explodes, but I do know we get closer and closer every day. And sadly, very few people care enough to address the problem.

The recent government shutdown drama is a case in point.

A stopgap spending deal swept the shutdown threat out of the headlines, but it’s still there lurking in the shadows of the halls of Congress. If lawmakers don’t figure something out by Nov. 17, the government will be forced to shut down.

There isn’t much talk about a shutdown right now, but when people do discuss the possibility, they almost always focus on the mythical crisis that shuttering the federal government might cause. That sidesteps the real problem — out of control government spending.

Conventional wisdom is that Congress needs to do whatever it takes to avoid a shutdown. If that means maintaining spending at current levels or even increasing spending, so be it. The handful of intransigent members of Congress who want to hold out for spending cuts are always cast as the bad guys in this kabuki theater.  As economist Daniel Lacalle put it in a recent article published by Mises Wire, “The narrative seems to be that governments and the public sector should never have to implement responsible budget decisions, and spending must continue indefinitely.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Unwinding the Financial System

Unwinding the Financial System

This article looks at the collateral side of financial transactions and some significant problems that are already emerging.

At a time when there is a veritable tsunami of dollar credit in foreign hands overhanging markets, it is obvious that continually falling bond prices will ensure bear markets in all financial asset values leading to dollar liquidation. This unwinding corrects an accumulation of foreign-owned dollars and dollar-denominated assets since the Second World War both in and outside the US financial system.

Furthermore, collapsing collateral values, which are increasingly required backing for changing values in over $400 trillion nominal in interest rate swaps are a new driver for the crisis, forcing bond liquidation, driving prices down and yields higher: we are in a doom-loop.

What action can the authorities take to ensure that counterparty risk from widespread failures won’t take out inadequately capitalised regulated exchanges?

It seems that they acted some time ago by giving central security depositories (The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, Euroclear, and Clearstream) the right to pool securities on their registers and lend them out as collateral. Your investments, which you think you may own can be absorbed into the failing financial system without your knowledge.

This seems particularly relevant, given the appointment of JPMorgan Chase as custodian of the large gold ETF, SPDR Trust (ticker GLD). In a test case in the New York courts concerning Lehman’s failure, JPMC was given legal protection should it seize its customer’s assets.

This important erosion of property rights is poorly understood. But as the financial distortions are unwound, leading to unintended consequences such as bank failures and ultimately the collapse of the dollar-based fiat currency regime, the implication is that holders of physical gold ETFs will be left owning an empty shell at a time when they might have expected some protection from the collapse of the value of credit.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Gold Confiscation

Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Gold Confiscation

If you hold precious metals in your portfolio, there is a good chance you fear hyperinflation and the crash of fiat currencies.

You probably distrust governments in general and believe they are self-serving and have no interest in your economic well-being. It is likely that your holdings in gold are your lifeline – your hope to get you through these times while holding on to your wealth.

But have you ever given any thought to the possibility of having this lifeline confiscated by the authorities?

In my conversations with friends and associates, I have often raised this question. The typical responses:

“They’d never do that.”

“I’ll deal with that if and when it happens.”

“I just wouldn’t give it to them.”

I consider these “wishful thinking” responses.

It’s an interesting thought that the greatest threat to gold and silver investment might not be the possibility of losing on the speculation, but the government taking it away from you. It’s a thought that I’ve found few want to even think about, let alone discuss.

If you fall into this camp, you’re in good company. Some of the forecasters whom I respect most highly also treat it either as unlikely or at best, “something we may need to look at in the future.” To date, in conversing with top advisors worldwide, the two primary reasons they believe gold will not be confiscated are:

  1. “Confiscation would mean the government acknowledges the reality of the value of gold.”

Yes, this is quite so. They would be changing their official view… which, of course, they do all the time. But I submit that all that they need to do is put the proper spin on it.

  1. “They would meet greater resistance than they did back in ’33.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Rising GDP + Rising Yields = A MAJOR Sign of “Uh-Oh”

Rising GDP + Rising Yields = A MAJOR Sign of “Uh-Oh”

Have you heard the good news?

The Atlanta Fed GDPNow estimates a 5.9% growth in real GDP for Q3 2023. In nominal terms, we can even boast of an 8.9% surge.

What fantastic news! Growth! Productivity!

This must mean we can all breath a collective sigh of relief as Powell continues his valiant war against inflation as GDP rises, right?

I can almost hear the champagne bottles popping from the Eccles Building to the Bezos-owned Washington Post.

The financial wizards have saved us once again, right?

Wrong.

Oh, so, so, so, so WRONG.

Why?

Debt-Driven Growth is Not Growth, but a Slow Death Trap

As usual, the answer lies in math, history and, of course, THE BOND MARKET.

For years and years, I have tried to make one point (and indicator) almost reflexively clear, namely: The Bond Market Is the Thing.

This is because the bond market reflects debt forces, the most cancerous of all market killers once they metastasize from the acceptable to the fantastical, and the cheap to the unaffordable.

Today, we stare upon the greatest national and global debt bubble in history.

And the cost of that debt is getting higher, not lower.

This should be the key theme of every conversation, but instead, our citizens are arguing over gender neutral bathrooms and exciting politicos (opportunists) scurrying for power like donkeys fighting for hay.

Far better, in my opinion, if the people understood boring things like sovereign bonds

In particular, they just need to consider and understand yields on Uncle Sam’s IOU (with particular emphasis on his 10-Year UST), which tells us the market’s measurement of the cost of debt.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The West Is Losing Control Over the Gold Price

The West Is Losing Control Over the Gold Price

An important change has unfolded in the global gold market. The East has been driving up the gold price, predominantly in late 2022 and the first months of 2023, breaking the West’s long standing pricing power.

turkey goldGold bazaar in Turkey. Pricing power in the gold market has recently shifted to the East.

Until recently, Western institutional money was driving the price of gold in wholesale markets such as London, mainly based on real interest rates. Gold was bought when real rates fell and vice versa. However, from late 2022 until June 2023 gold was up 17% while real rates were more or less flat, and Western institutions were net sellers. Most likely, Eastern central banks, and Turkish and Chinese private demand, lifted the price of gold.

Introduction

For about ninety years, up until 2022, there was a pattern of above-ground gold moving from West to East and back, in sync with the gold price falling and rising. Western institutions set the price of gold and bought from the East in bull markets. In bear markets the West sold to the East. For more information read my article: The West–East Ebb and Flood of Gold Revisited.

If we zoom in on the period from 2006 through 2021 the main reason for Western institutions to buy or sell gold was the 10-year TIPS rate, which reflects the 10-year expected real interest rate (“real rate,” in short) of US government bonds.

The physical gold price was predominantly set in the London Bullion Market and to a lesser extent Switzerland. Gold trade in London can be divided in three categories:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The bell tolls for fiat

The bell tolls for fiat

The importance of Russia’s announcement that a new gold-backed trade currency is on the BRICS meeting agenda for August 22—24 in Johannesburg seems to have gone completely over everyone’s heads, with mainstream media not even reporting it. 

This is a mistake. China and Russia know that if they are to succeed in removing the dollar from their sphere of influence, they have to come up with a better alternative. They also know they have to consolidate their trade partners into a formidable bloc, so plans are afoot to consolidate BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union along with those nations who wish to join in. It will be a super-group embracing most of Asia (including the Middle East), Africa, and Latin America.

The groundwork for the new currency has been laid by Sergei Glazyev and is considerably more advanced than generally realised.

This article explains why Russia and China are now prepared to fully back Glazyev’s expanded project. For Russia, it is also now imperative to destabilise the dollar as a deliberate escalation of the financial war against America and NATO. China’s priority is no longer to protect her export trade, but to ensure that her African and Latin American suppliers are not destabilised by higher dollar interest rates.

Introduction

“The BRICS’s introduction of a gold-backed currency, which is supported by 41 countries with large and influential economies, will weaken the dollar and the euro and will benefit countries such as Iran, while Iranians in possession of gold will experience a wealth increase,” Mousavi added [the head of the South Asia Department at Iran’s Foreign Ministry]. The Russian government confirmed a day earlier that Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa would introduce a new trading currency backed by gold. 

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Modern Currency Policy: Nations Compete, Citizens Suffer

Modern Currency Policy: Nations Compete, Citizens Suffer

Below we consider how modern currency policy may not be so good for, well, the people…

This is why gold inevitably enters the conversation, for unlike policy makers, this old pet rock garners more trust.

Gold, of course, loves chaos, tanking currencies and cornered, debt-soaked nations, the numbers of which rise with each passing day.

We see currency debasement as mathematically and historically inevitable, though we have no clue (no one really does) as to the precise date, trigger or time the already teetering fiat money systems fall over the global debt cliff.

We only know that the $300+T cliff is here, and that nations are racing toward it at historical speed, with equally historical consequences.

Physical gold holders, however, enjoy a certain and calm advantage: They don’t need to be precise timers; simply patient owners.

As for more signs of the move toward weakening currencies in general, and a weakening USD in particular, let’s look at some more history and current facts.

Hot vs. Financial Wars: Today’s Evidence, Tomorrow’s Polices

As headlines change with daily Western biases regarding the military war in Ukraine, America’s financial war with the East (i.e., China) will continue into the next generation.

It’s no secret to me, or many others, moreover, that the war in the Ukraine is a US proxy war against Russia, in which Ukraine (and its citizens) are merely a convenient battering ram against Putin.

That’s just my opinion, but we’ve seen this “freedom” movie before. Many times, and in many countries, none of which ended with much “freedom” …

But as to financial wars, they too are just an extension of politics by another means, and with the growing waves of de-dollarization rising in speed and height following the predictable ripple of effects of the 2022 sanctions against Russia…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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