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One Day the Volcano Will Erupt – Precious Metals Supply and Demand

One Day the Volcano Will Erupt – Precious Metals Supply and Demand

Keynesian Rot

The prices of the monetary metals rose $11 and ¢27 last week. The supply and demand fundamentals is the shortest section of this Report [ed note: we are excerpting the supply-demand section for Acting Man – readers interested in the other part of the report can find it here].

The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 – prior to the cataclysmic event, numerous small earth quakes and steam venting from fissures warned that something big was about to happen, even if no-one suspected the actual magnitude of the outbreak. The eruption was so powerful that a fairly large chunk of the mountain went missing in the proceedings. There are always accidents waiting to happen out there somewhere, and the modern-day fiat money system is clearly one of them. There will be warning signals before it keels over – in fact, the final cataclysm usually happens fairly quickly, while the period that leads up to it tends to be a drawn-out affair. [PT]

This is because the actual data can be seen in a simple chart for each metal. If central banks were really buying mass quantities of gold in anticipation of a new gold-based global monetary system, or India were really importing all marketable gold, or the mainstream American public were desperately trading its dollars for gold, or China were really buying up all the physical gold to prepare for a gold-backed yuan (while selling paper gold, natch)…

…then the data would show this.

Mount Saint Helens was quiescent for a long time, until all of a sudden in 1980 it went wild with activity. There was an earthquake, then steam venting, then the side of the mountain began to bulge, then a second earthquake triggered that side to collapse. Then the volcano finally exploded.

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

2019 Outlook: The State of Sound Money in the United States

2019 Outlook: The State of Sound Money in the United States

The Great Recession, coupled with the “Ron Paul Revolution,” prompted a renaissance of the sound money movement in the United States.

As Germany, Russia, and China — to name a few — continue to increase their gold holdings, the hegemonic power of Federal Reserve Notes (referred to today as the dollar) is slowly slipping away.

Simultaneously, whispers—once relegated to fringe corners—of restoring sound money have become passionate, concerned, and loud.

The destruction of sound money over the past century stems from actions at the federal level, but there are steps which states can take —and even have already taken —to move toward real, sound, constitutional money.

As state legislatures reconvene in the next few weeks, let’s take a look at the current state of play…

Since 2016, sound money has made a splash on the state level. According to the 2018 Sound Money Index, a new ranking of all 50 states on the extent to which they have implemented the pro-sound money policies, there are currently 38 states with an exemption of sales and use tax on the purchase of gold and silver.

Since 2016, legislators in 10 different states have introduced bills, seven of which were signed into law, to restore sound money by eliminating taxes on gold and silver within their borders.

In 2017, a quarter of all states without a sales tax exemption on gold and silver introduced new measures to eliminate the tax against the monetary metals. As states continue to make inroads on the sales tax issue, Tennessee and West Virginia are expected to introduce bills to remove sales and use taxes on sound money in 2019.

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

A Golden Renaissance – Precious Metals Supply & Demand 

A major theme of my work — and raison d’etre of Monetary Metals — is fighting to prevent collapse. Civilization is under assault on all fronts.

Battling the barbarians at the gate… [PT]

There is the freedom of speech battle, with the forces of darkness advancing all over. For example, in Pakistan, there are killings of journalists. Saudi Arabia apparently had journalist Khashoggi killed. New Zealand now can force travelers to provide the password to their phones so the government can go through all your data, presumably including your gmail, Onedrive, Evernote, and WhatsApp.

China is now developing a “social credit” system, to centrally plan the economy and control citizen behavior. Canada has made it a crime to call someone by the wrong gender pronoun. Even in the US, whose First Amendment has (mostly) stood as a bulwark against censorship now has a president who threatens antitrust action against Amazon, because its CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, which prints things he does not like.

On college campuses, professors are harassed if they say one thing that the professional sensitives are sensitive to. If a controversial speaker is invited, he risks an angry mob coming to disrupt his talk (or worse).

Sacrifices on the road to Utopia. [PT]

Then, there is the nearly-over war against patients’ rights to purchase health care services from the provider of their own choosing, and health care professionals’ right to sell services to patients at a price they prefer. In the US, insurance companies are still forced (as under Obamacare) to provide insurance to anyone who applies, even those who have pre-existing conditions. This would be like forcing home insurance companies to issue policies to people whose houses are currently on fire. It is not insurance, but an unfunded welfare program.

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

What Can Kill a Useless Currency, Report 28 Oct 2018

There is a popular notion, at least among American libertarians and gold bugs. The idea is that people will one day “get woke”, and suddenly realize that the dollar is bad / unbacked / fiat / unsound / Ponzi / other countries don’t like it / <insert favorite bugaboo here>. When they do, they will repudiate it. That is, sell all their dollars to buy consumer goods (i.e. hyperinflation), gold, and/or whatever other currency.

Redemptions Balanced With Deposits

No national currency is gold-backed today. In a gold backed currency, each currency unit begins life with someone who chooses to deposit his gold coin in exchange for the paper currency. And it ends life with someone redeeming the paper to get back the gold coin. A good analogy is bone in the human body. One process is constantly removing bone material. And another process is growing more. What seems to be a static bone, with fixed length and mass, is constantly being torn down and rebuilt. The seemingly stable bone is actually in equilibrium between two opposing forces.

So it is with the gold standard. Some people are redeeming paper to get the gold coin. Others are depositing gold coins to get paper. The seemingly stable gold standard is actually in equilibrium between two opposing processes.

We often hear that governments hate the gold standard because they cannot print gold. This is true, but there is another reason. When people don’t like the interest rate or the soundness of the banks, they withdraw their gold coin. What had seemed to be stable, is no longer. This has nothing to do with quantity of currency or gold. It has everything to do with honesty.

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

You Can’t Eat Gold 

“You can’t eat gold.” The enemies of gold often unleash this little zinger, as if it dismisses the idea of owning gold and indeed the whole gold standard. It is a fact, you cannot eat gold. However, it dismisses nothing.

This gives us an idea. Let’s tie three facts together. One, you can’t eat gold. Two, gold is in backwardation in Switzerland. And three, speculation is a bet on the price action.

The fact that gold is inedible is supposed (by the enemies of liberty) to be proof positive that a gold standard wouldn’t work. Of course, there’s always the retort: You can’t eat dollars!

That may be emotionally satisfying, but there is a deeper issuer that the anti-gold crowd is missing. Yes, money makes terrible food but, also, food makes terrible money. A car makes a lousy airplane. And a shoe makes an awful TV. Cow poop is putrid as food for people, but it works well as fertilizer for plants. Each thing fits a particular purpose.

Why does food make terrible money? One reason is that it’s perishable. No one—other than a refrigerated warehouse—can make a bid on food beyond his own short-term needs. Without this robust bid, food has limited marketability. That is, it has a wide spread between its bid and offer prices.

Think of it in human terms, or even personal terms. Suppose you strolling along the sidewalk, and you’re hungry. You see a restaurant sign, “Hamburger + fries + drink $10.” You would pay the offer price. The next restaurant is going out of business, and its sign says, “All inventory must go! 50 hamburgers and 50 pounds of fries for $100!” You would not pay it (unless you were with 49 friends).

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

Why did JP Morgan say “Money is gold, nothing else”?

Why did JP Morgan say “Money is gold, nothing else”?

There’s a story about JP Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, from the Panic of 1873. Carnegie was a client of the Morgans, with $50,000 on deposit plus some stocks. After selling his $10,000 interest in a railroad, Carnegie supposedly came by the office to pick up a check for $60,000. To his surprise, JP Morgan handed over a check in the amount of $70,000, explaining that the bank had underestimated how much cash Carnegie had on deposit. Given what seemed like an obvious overpayment, Carnegie refused to take the extra funds at first. He said, “Will you please accept these ten thousand dollars with my best wishes?” But Morgan replied, “No, thank you. I cannot do it.”

A clue as to why JP Morgan would so magnanimously Carnegie more than he expected, is found in his famous 1912 testimony before Congress, when he brought up the subject of character:

Q: Is not commercial credit based primarily upon money or property?

JPM: No, sir. The first thing is character.

Q: Before money or property?

JPM: Before money, or anything else. Money cannot buy it.

In light of this exchange, it’s clear that JP Morgan acted the way he did with Carnegie because he wanted to preserve his reputation of high character. Character, after all, was in his mind crucial to creditworthiness.

Why is character so important? Because credit is all about trust. When a bank extends credit to a debtor, the bank is trusting that he will honor his word, and repay the debt on time. It doesn’t matter if the debtor is wealthy. If he is dishonest, he’ll have a hard time getting credit. It makes sense. As JP Morgan said later on in his testimony: “A man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom.”

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

A Dire Warning

A Dire Warning

Let’s return to our ongoing series on the destruction of capital, and how to identify the signs. Steve Saville posted a thoughtful article this week entitled The “Productivity of Debt” Myth. His article provides a good opportunity to add some additional thoughts.

We have written quite a lot on this topic. Indeed, we have a landing page for marginal productivity of debt (MPoD) with four articles so far. Few economists touch this topic, perhaps because MPoD shows that our monetary system is failing. We encourage you to do a Google search, and you will see scant mention other than articles by Keith and Monetary Metals. This is tragic. Every monetary economist should be bellowing from the rooftops about the falling marginal productivity of debt!

So when Lacy Hunt wrote in the Hoisington quarterly letter about Diminishing Returns – Consequences of Excess Debt (p. 4), several readers forwarded the link to us. And this week Steve Saville wrote a response to Lacy’s discussion.

We have our own concerns with Lacy’s approach. One is his statement:

“In addition to capital, output is a function of labor, natural resources and technology. Thus, one of these latter three factors must accelerate in order to offset the overuse of debt…”

Unless one considers entrepreneurial innovation to be just a type of “technology”, this formulation is missing something even on its own stated terms. But more broadly, it does not address the problem of interest rates. If companies can borrow at 2%, then there will be scant business opportunities that generate more than about 3%. The marginal productivity of the entrepreneur is brought down by the falling interest rate. The same “inputs” of labor, resources, and technology will yield different results at different interest rates.

Marginal Productivity of Debt

However, today we want to address the points raised by Steve. All indented quotes below are his.

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

Getting High on Bubbles

Getting High on Bubbles

Back in the drug-soaked, if not halcyon, days known at the sexual and drug revolution—the 1960’s—many people were on a quest for the “perfect trip”, and the “perfect hit of acid” (the drug lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD). We will no doubt generate some hate mail for saying this, but we don’t believe that anyone ever attained that goal. The perfect drug-induced high does not exist. Even if it seems fun while it lasts, the problem is that the consequences spill over into the real world.

Today, drunk on falling interest rates, people look for the perfect speculation. Good speculations generally begin with a story. For example dollar-collapse. And then an asset gets bid up to infinity and beyond (to quote Buzz Lightyear, who is not so close a friend as our buddy Aragorn). It happened in silver in 2010-2011. It happened more recently in bitcoin.

Most speculators don’t care about the economic causes and effects of bubbles. They just want to buy an asset as the bubble begins inflating, and sell just before it pops. But bitcoin and many gold proponents are different. They promise that their favorite asset will cure many social ills, fix many intractable problems, and increase liberty. Oh yeah and get-rich-quick.

We been pounding the table for going on a decade, sometimes even bellowing from the rooftops, that gold does not go up. Even the gold bugs claim that the dollar is collapsing. Our point—which has so far gone unanswered—is that you cannot use something which is collapsing to measure other things. Especially not the economic constant (gold). Either the dollar is collapsing, in which case if gold is going up then the dollar could not be used to measure this. Or else it’s not collapsing, in which case maybe it could measure gold—but then remind us why these folks are buying gold.

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

Slaves to Government Debt Paper, Report 25 Mar 2018

Slaves to Government Debt Paper, Report 25 Mar 2018

Picture, if you will, a group of slaves owned by a cruel man. Most of them are content, but one says to the others, “I will defy the Master.” While his statement would superficially appear to yearn towards freedom, it does not. It betrays that this slave, just like the others, thinks of the man who beats them as their “Master” (note the capital M). This slave does not seek freedom, but merely a small gesture of disloyalty. Of course, he will not get his liberty (but maybe a beating).

Today we do not have slavery, but we are shackled nevertheless. Savers are forced to use the government’s debt paper as if it were money. Most are content, but one says “gold will go up.” He does not expect a beating (but maybe a price suppression).

The slave cannot escape from his bondage, until he stops thinking of the brute as “Master” with a capital M. Freedom does not come from a little show of resentment. So long as malcontent slaves are content to limit themselves to petty disobedience, the Master is content that his rule is absolute. Freedom first takes an act of thinking. One must see the brute for what he is.

Today’s investor cannot escape from the bondage of the Federal Reserve, until he stops thinking of the dollar as “Money” with a capital M. So long as malcontent investors are content to limit themselves to betting on the dollar-price of gold, the Federal Reserve is content that its rule is absolute. Freedom takes an act of thinking. One must see the dollar for what it is.

The slave must stop using the brute’s whip to tell him what’s good and what’s bad. The investor must stop using the Fed’s credit paper to tell him what’s up and what’s down.

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

Repetitive Patterns in the Money Supply – Will Coins Become Extinct?

Inflation over time raises the cost of raw metal and we see that such coins vanish from the money supply. Britain is the latest in line to eliminate the 1 & 2 pence coins. They are costing more to produce than they are worth. I have written about the monetary reform Act of 1857 when the penny was drastically reduced in size. Canada eliminated the penny as well.

The United States dropped copper from the penny in 1982. Today, the penny is made of 97.5% zinc. It is copper-plated to give the appearance that it is still really copper. Throughout history, the supply of copper, gold, and silver, have all risen and fallen at different times based on their own cycle. Where the Persians had excess gold, the Greeks only had silver mines. The Romans had neither silver nor gold and began their monetary system with bronze.

We can see how the three empires began with gold, then silver, and finally bronze and modern society turned to paper starting with the Chinese during the 13th century. The main coin of the Persians was known as the gold Daric, whereas the dominant coinage among the Greeks was the silver Athens tetradrachm known as the Owl. The Romans were the last to depart from the Bronze Age. Their coinage remained bronze until silver was introduced and struck in Greek denominations beginning in 280BC, which was just one 51.6-year wave from Alexander the Great (336-323BC).

As-Decline (1)

We can see the same process of the rising cost of copper that prevailed during the early Roman Republic. The Roman As drops from 280BC with a weight of 341 grams to 10.6 grams by the time of Augustus (27BC-14AD). The drastic decline was been 280BC and 115BC, which was about 19 waves of 8.6-years.

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

Take It To The Bank: Interest Rates Won’t Rise, Report 11 Feb 2018

How Not to Predict Interest Rates

We continue our hiatus from capital destruction to look further at interest rates. Last week, our Report was almost prescient. We said:

The first thing we must say about this is that people should pick one: (A) rising stock market or (B) rising interest rates. They both cannot be true (though we could have falling rates and falling stocks).

We write these Reports over the weekend. At the time of last week’s writing session, Friday’s close on the S&P was 2757 (futures). Monday this week saw a crash, with the S&P down to 2529 at the low point in the evening. That is a drop of -8.3%.

We are not stock prognosticators, and we will neither tell you “short the market” nor “buy the dip”. We have a different point to make.

Rising interest rates, by a variety of mechanisms, cause stocks and all asset prices to go down. We have touched on a few in this Report. One is that investors have a choice between the risk-free asset—the Treasury bond—and anything else (note: the Treasury bond is not risk free, but if it defaults then everything else will be wiped out in the collapse). Why would they accept a lower yield on stocks along with the greater risk? Another is that corporations can borrow to buy their own shares. Management may do this if the interest rate is lower than their shares yield. But they can sell shares to pay off debt if the shares have lower yield than the interest rate.

Let’s look at a few more.

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

Reckless Deficit Spending by Congress Set to Wreck the Dollar

Reckless Deficit Spending by Congress Set to Wreck the Dollar

U.S. equities got a free ride on the Trump train after his election, even as Federal Reserve officials hiked interest rates. That ride may have ended last week.

Hiked Rates

If commentators are correct and the blame for recent selling in the stock market falls on the burgeoning fear of rising interest rates, it looks like Fed tightening is finally having the effect many predicted when the cycle began.

Most currently expect the FOMC to continue with hikes at about the same pace set in 2017. They have gotten away with several hikes, but attempting several more will be harder for them.

The question is whether the Fed’s tolerance for pain is any higher under new chairman Jerome Powell. We’d wager that it won’t take much in the way of flagging stock prices and slowing growth to have them reversing course and punching the stimulus button.

No one should bet that last week’s rally in the dollar means the bottom is in. The next few years look downright terrifying for the greenback. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Congressional Republicans embarrassed themselves last week by proving the lip service they pay toward fiscal conservatism is nothing but lies. The Republican leadership shepherded through $300 billion in additional spending. Furthermore, they once again completely suspended the limit on borrowing;
  • The Treasury will be issuing staggering amounts of new debt to fund the Congressional spending spree. Last fall’s tax cut may be good news for taxpayers, but it will also magnify federal deficits. Net new debt in 2018 is expected to be $1.3 trillion – the highest since 2010!
  • President Trump will soon begin the push for a trillion-dollar infrastructure program. That will almost certainly be paid for with additional borrowing.
  • The creditworthiness of the U.S. is once again back in the news. Rating agency Moody’s raised the idea of a downgrade for U.S. debt last week.

Debt

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

How The Investor Fundamentally Changed The Silver Market

How The Investor Fundamentally Changed The Silver Market

While silver investors continue to be discouraged about the low price, the market has experienced a fundamental change that needs to be understood.  Ever since governments removed silver from official coinage, over 50 years ago, the market has been supplemented by several billion ounces of silver.  The majority of that supply has been depleted.

The reason the United States and other countries stopped producing official silver coinage wasn’t due to any monetary conspiracy; rather it was based on a straightforward problem; supply versus demand.  Because industrial silver consumption had skyrocketed after World War 2, the silver market would have suffered deficits if the U.S. Treasury didn’t sell silver into the market.

It was quite simple; there just wasn’t enough silver to go around.  So, governments started to reduce, then eliminate silver from their coinage in the 1960’s.  A lot of this silver, known as “junk silver,” was either purchased by investors or remelted and sold back as supply into the market.  While there is no way of knowing how much of the older official junk silver remains in the market, the majority of it was recycled for much-needed supply.

We can see the dwindling down of government stocks and older official silver coinage in the following chart:

The BLUE bars represent silver scrap supply, and the OLIVE colored bars show the amount of net government silver sales.  From 2000 to 2013, governments sold 636 million oz (Moz) of silver into the market.  Net government sales were from stockpiled silver and older official coins.  However, in 2014, this supply totally dried up.  For the past four years, there haven’t been any government silver sales.

Another interesting aspect of this chart is the declining amount of silver scrap supply.  Even though the price of silver during the 2015-2017 period was much higher than from 2000-2007, scrap supply is considerably less.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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