“I can’t really explain the current rally. All I know is that prices are dictating policy at the moment. We can deny it. We can rail against it. We can call it a conspiracy.
But in the “other” famous words of Bill Clinton: “What is…is.”
The markets are currently betting the economy will begin to accelerate later this year. The “hope” that Central Bank actions will indeed spark inflationary pressures and economic growth is a tall order to fill considering it hasn’t worked anywhere previously. If Central Banks are indeed able to keep asset prices inflated long enough for the fundamentals to catch up with the “fantasy” – it will be a first in recorded human history.
My logic suggests that sooner rather than later somebody will yell ‘fire’ in this very crowded theater. When that will be is anyone’s guess.
A big move is coming in the S&P 500 and it will take everyone’s breath away. Simply put: The S&P 500 has traded in a multi-year consolidation range with a high of 2134 and a low of 1810. A breakout or breakdown out of this range could result in a measured technical move of the height of the range, i.e. 2134 – 1810 = 324 handles. Consequently a break toward the upside would target 2458 (15% above all time highs) and conversely a breakdown would target 1486 and represent a 30.4% correction off of all time highs.
I’ve outlined the bear arguments in detail in Feeding the Monster, so I won’t bother rehashing them here. However, in analyzing the larger market structures an interesting duality is emerging: A fight for control between the historic precedence of earnings and technicals and a very much divergent development in money supply, one of the key drivers behind stock prices since the financial crisis.
While ending the Fed may still seem like a pipe dream, at least until the market's next major crash at which point the population may finally turn on the culprit behind America's serial boom-bust culture, the U.S. central bank, Levin's proposal would get to the heart of the most insidious conflict of interest in the US: the fact that the Federal Reserve works not for the people of America, but for its owners - the banks.
As the stock market gyrates higher and lower in a fairly narrow range, the spokesmodels and talking heads on CNBC breathlessly regurgitate the standard bullish mantra designed to keep the muppets in the market. They are employees of a massive corporation whose bottom line and stock price depend upon advertising revenues reaped from Wall Street and K Street. They aren’t journalists. They are propagandists disguised as journalists. Their job is to keep you confused, misinformed, and ignorant of the true facts.
I have often written about the emotional and psychological factors that inhibit long-term investment performance (most recently here). Despite repeated studies that suggest investors should just buy “passive index” funds and “hold on” until eternity, the reality is that it simply does not work that way.
If you were raised in a religious household, or were sent to a Catholic school, you have heard of the seven deadly sins. These transgressions — wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony — are human tendencies that, if not overcome, can lead to other sins and a path straight to the netherworld.
In the investing world, these same seven deadly sins apply. These “behaviors,” just like in life, lead to poor investing outcomes. Therefore, to be a better investor, we must recognize these “moral transgressions” and learn how to overcome them.
In this article, Claudio Grass, Managing Director at Global Gold Switzerland, talks to economist and Mises Institute Senior Fellow Thomas DiLorenzo. This exclusive interview covers central bank monetary policies, Keynesian economics, the economic“recovery,“ political correctness, and much more.
Claudio Grass: Thomas, it is an honor to have this opportunity to talk to you. I am also pleased to announce that you will be delivering the keynote speech at the BFI Inner Circle Wealth Forum in Florida on April the 18th and 19th. Let’s get started! Given the limited impact of loose monetary policy thus far, where do you think we are headed on the central bank front? Do you think it is likely that the Fed moves interest rates into negative territory, like many central banks across the globe have already done? What would the implications of such a step be?
When we look at the dollar price of gold, we naturally think that it is gold that is moving. But we are comparing two forms of money, gold that is not in general circulation, against the dollar that has supplanted it. And given that it is the dollar that is issued in any quantity desired by both the US Government and through fluctuations of bank credit, it is the dollar which ultimately depends on the market's assessment. The constant in this comparison for anything other than short-term trend-chasing is simply gold. Economists who argue otherwise are slaves to macroeconomic fashion rather than rational price theory.
Understanding that measured in gold it is the price of the dollar falling makes sense of what is happening. It points us to the dollar's fundamentals, not so much against other currencies that share many of the dollar's characteristics, but against commodities. And in Table 1 we can see that the dollar's purchasing power has been falling against other key commodities as well against gold.
In the meantime, even if the dollar isn’t worthless – yet – its incessant variability is an incessant problem. How does one save, invest, and accumulate wealth when the dollar’s monetary base is continuously inflated?
When a carpenter measures the length of a cabinet as being 3 feet, he’s certain that the length measured as 3 feet will always be 3 feet. No more. No less. To the contrary, when a shopkeeper prices a 24-ounce loaf of bread at $3.93, he’s not certain that the value of one loaf of bread will always be equal to $3.93. In fact, in 1971 – the year the dollar’s last tie with gold was severed – he would’ve valued three 20-ounce loaves of bread equal to $0.89.
Has the usefulness of a loaf of bread, on a per ounce basis, really changed 1006 percent? Has its quality somehow become 1006 percent better? Of course not. Rather, the baseline used to measure the value of a loaf of bread has been twisted and contorted like a politician’s spine. The quantity of dollars in existence has increased. Accordingly, the unit value of the dollar has decreased.
The prospect for the birth of a new Bull-Run in Silver speaks to a broader cyclical theme that relates to a dying dollar bull, and a corollary cyclical sentiment shift back toward a strong market preference for tangible vs. paper assets.
From its current cyclical low in December of 2015, Silver Bullion has risen 30%. In the broadest of terms, the above referenced theme would suggest the early adoption of a general pair’s trade that was short the dollar and long commodities.
At present, from an Elliott Wave perspective, the 30% rally in Silver is somewhat tentative in terms of whether or not its wave structure is exhibiting impulsive (bullish) or corrective (bearish) patterns.
Over the last couple of week’s, I have written extensively about the breakout of the market above the downtrend resistance line that traced back to the 2015 highs. To wit: “With the breakout of the market yesterday, and given that ‘short-term buy signals’ are in place I began adding exposure back into portfolios.
This is probably the most difficult ‘buy’ I can ever remember making.” I also stated that it was probably a trap and that I will be stopped out in fairly short order. But that is the risk of managing money. It was only a matter of time before the extreme short-term extension of the market begins to correct. Like stretching a rubber band to its limits, it must be relaxed before it is stretched again.
The question is whether this is simply a “relaxation of the extension” OR is this a resumption of the ongoing topping and correction process? Let’s take a look at a few charts to try and derive some clues as to what actions we should be taking next.
If the current bullish price action holds by Friday's close, I am buying this breakout because I have to. If I don’t, I suffer career risk, plain and simple.
But you don’t have to. If you are truly a long-term investor, this rally is just a rally. There is no confirmation fundamentally or technically that the bull market has yet resumed. Such leaves investors with a tremendous amount of downside risk relative to the reward that is currently being offered.
However, investor patience to remain conservatively invested while what seems like a “bull market” is in force is an extremely difficult thing for most to do.
So, if you buy the breakout, do so carefully. Keep stop losses in place and be prepared to sell if things go wrong.
It is important to remember that the majority of those touting the bull market are simply just getting back to even after an almost year-long sludge. For now, things are certainly weighted towards the bullish camp.
If we were miraculously appointed by President Trump to run the Fed, our first act would be to put the gun down. We would announce that, henceforth, anyone waiting for the next rate hike would have to wait a long time.
Because we wouldn’t be making any rate hikes… or rate cuts either. Instead, interest rates would have to take care of themselves. Lenders and borrowers would set their own rates.
But what about if banks got into trouble? Ah… we’d take care of that too. We’d point out that the Fed would no longer lend to them in an emergency. Our announcement: “To any bank that runs out of money: Drop dead.”
Could the stock market move up hard in these upcoming months? Sometimes contrarian sentiment is an indicator of an unexpected stock market rise. And bearish sentiment is overwhelming at the moment, as you can see from the above Bloomberg excerpt.
So are we looking at a break out? It doesn’t seem likely of course for the reasons we and others have enumerated. Stocks are over-extended by any rational measure.
In fact, equities are almost always extended in our view, but it’s worse now. They’re far more expensive than their earnings give them any right to be and the main motivator of the economy remains excessive monetization.
It is interesting to listen to the media when it comes to the dollar. When the dollar was near historical lows, the chatter from the media, Congressional members, and many others was that a “strong dollar policy” was needed to create a stronger economic environment. I suggested then such an idea was “wrong-headed” given the weak economic underpinnings and that a strong dollar would be an anathema to future growth.
Flash forward to today, the strong dollar has dragged on economic growth, reduce exports, weighed on corporate profits and crushed the energy complex. Now, everyone is hoping for a weaker dollar to boost corporate profits and raise oil prices.
Yesterday, while I was at the gym I looked up to see a “talking head” on CNBC stating the markets are only 4% off of their all-time highs. He was making the case, of course, that the “bull market was back” and the recent sell-off was a “buy the dip” opportunity. But is that really the case? Of course, we will never know for certain until we have the clarity of hindsight. However, since we can’t invest with hindsight we must make some assumptions, or should I say “guesses” about what will happen in the weeks and months ahead.
He is correct. The markets are just off of their all-time closing highs as of yesterday’s close as shown below.
However, this is only part of the story as the current action in the market is still reminiscent of “broadening market tops” we have witnessed in the past. A quick review of 2000 and 2007 show some important similarities to the current market environment.
In 2000, as the market began its long and drawn out topping process, the market plunged by 11.2% in early 2000. The market then rallied back to within just 0.5% of setting new all-time highs before the “dot.com” crash set in.
In other words, just because two sets of data may follow a similar pattern, it does not mean there is any direct causal relationship.
However, as VisualCapitalist's Jeff Desjardins was assembling our previous research on Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire, we noticed something that was too uncanny to skip past: during the 113-year stretch of time from 192 to 305 AD, an astonishing amount of Roman emperors (84%) were either brutally murdered or assassinated.
This, of course, was a particularly troubled period for the Romans. During the Crisis of the Third Century (235 to 284 AD) specifically, the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression threatened to bring down the Empire.
Coincidentally, during this same time frame, the silver denarius went from having 2.7 grams silver to being “silver” in name only. Base metals such as bronze and copper were added to the silver coins to debase the currency, and by the year 300 AD, a silver denarius (or its equivalent) had only a trace of silver left.
Anyone who doubts that the global financial system has run out of (good new) ideas has only to track the recent words and deeds of central bankers and mainstream economists: Slightly-negative interest rates didn't lead people to borrow more? We'll go more negative! Buying up all the government bonds didn't prevent deflation? We'll start buying corporate bonds and equities! Still, it's shocking to see where this endless repetition of the same actions takes us. A recent Bloomberg article, for instance, notes that even though corporate profits are falling and individual investors are dumping equity mutual funds, company share buybacks are surging:
Today, there is no party that favors true privatization or free markets. Republicans favor monopolization, while claiming support for free markets and blaming the Democrat’s high taxes and regulations for crises. Democrats favor nationalization, while blaming non-existent free markets for crises. Meanwhile, many Americans appear to be embracing the regulatory nationalism of crony capitalist Donald Trump or the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders.
The solution, however, is simply to take as much power as possible out of the control of corruptible politicians and their special interest supporters.
Gold is currently trading in excess of $1200 an ounce. This is well above the 1980 all-time high. However, this is an incomplete representation of what gold is trading at relative to US dollars. When you look at the gold price relative to US currency in existence, then it is at its lowest value it has ever been. This is an example of how paper assets are completely out of tune with tangible (real assets).
The US monetary base basically reflects the amount of US currency issued. Originally, the monetary base is supposed to be backed by gold available at the Treasury or Federal reserve to redeem the said currency issued by the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve does not promise to pay the bearer of US currency gold anymore; however, it does not mean that gold (it's price and quantity held), relative to the monetary base has become irrelevant.
We are searching for an insight. Each time we think we see it… like the shadow of a ghost in an old photo… it gets away from us. It concerns the real nature of our money system… and what’s wrong with it. Here… we bring new readers more fully into the picture… and try to spot the flaw that has doomed our economy.
Let’s begin with a question. After the invention of the internal combustion engine, people in Europe… and then the Americas… got richer, almost every year. Earnings rose. Wealth increased. Then in the 1970s, after two centuries, American men ceased making progress.
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