Russia Stockpiles Gold To Prevent A Currency Attack By The U.S.

“Countries stockpile gold for strategic and defensive reasons — for instance, in case relations between nations are damaged and their currencies lose their value,” Gabriel Rubinstein, a financial consultant and former representative of the Argentine Central Bank (source link is below)

Russia has been accumulating a significant gold reserve for over a decade, along with China and most if not all of the BRIC/SCO/Silk Road countries.  This is a fact that has been either unnoticed or intentionally ignored by the western mainstream media.  Of course, gold is a barbarous relic that just “sits there and does nothing” (Warren Buffet).

The graphic above, courtesy of goldchartsrus.com, shows the monthly gold holdings of the Russian Central Bank.  One has to wonder why Russia is willing to make this information public, unlike China or the United States.  Having said that, I suspect that – like China – the public information does not show Russia’s true gold holdings, which I would bet is significantly greater.  Conversely, it’s commonly accepted by those of us who have studied this issue for many years that the actual amount of physical gold held by the Federal Reserve on behalf of the U.S. is substantially less than the official number.

GATA posted an interesting article from Sputnik which asserts that part of the motivation for Russia making gold a significant part of this currency reserves is to protect itself from currency and financial system attacks from the U.S.

Gold, this eternal financial resource, has a real value if compared to other financial assets. The Russian government believes that it’s better to have more gold resources than dollars. Hypothetically speaking, if Russia holds tons of US dollars and the US wanted to damage its economy, this would be possible through currency manipulations,”  Rubinstein said, adding that gold guarantees against such a scenario (from the Sputnik article linked in the previous paragraph).

Russia has increased the value of its gold reserves by a factor of 10x over the last decade. It has also reduced its euro holdings from 40% of its Central Bank reserves to 26%. Russia has also been aggressively unloading its Treasury holdings.

You’ll note that there’s an inflection point in the graph above (my edit) which shows that the rate of accumulation of gold increased in 2014.  As the Sputnik article points out, this point of inflection coincided with the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the EU on Russia in 2014.  Senator McCain is currently imploring Trump to ramp up those sanctions.

It’s been my view that the U.S. tried to attack Russia’s currency in 2014 – in conjunction with the sanctions – in order to affect the the value to Russia of its energy exports, as Russia is the world’s largest oil exporter:

The graph above shows the RUS/$ currency pair (from xe.com).  Gold and silver investors are familiar with the waterfall formation that occurred in early 2014.  That plunge in the ruble vs the dollar  has the unmistakable footprints of a currency attack and the U.S. is the only country with motive.

This would explain one of the primary reasons that Russia accelerated the conversion of its dollar and euro reserves in yen.  I would argue that one of the other primary reasons is that, along with China, the gold accumulation activity precedes an eventual re-introduction of gold into the global monetary system.   My fear is that the U.S. is willing to start a global military conflict before it would be willing to let a reserve currency reset occur.

Largest Asset Bubble In History – It’s Not Different This Time

The current asset bubble has been created by a record level of money printing and debt creation globally. Unfortunately, the upward velocity of rising asset prices has seduced investors to recklessly abandon all notion of risk. One would have to be brain-dead to not acknowledge that global Central Bank money-printing has caused the current “everything” asset bubble. Current data that tracks the cash and investment allocation levels shows that investors – and this includes hedge funds and pensions, not just retail/high net worth – are “all in.” IF the Central Banks simply stop printing money and do not shrink their balance sheets who will be left to buy stocks when the selling begins?

Silver Doctors invited me onto their weekly money/metals podcast to discuss why the catalysts driving fiat-currency-based paper assets to historical valuations will unwind and will ultimately drive gold to a valuation level higher by several multiples than the current price. Eventually gold will not be measured in terms of dollars and possibly not in terms of any fiat currency:

If you want to find out more about my investment newsletters, click on either of these links:    Mining Stock JournalShort Seller’s Journal.

Raymond James Recommends Gold?

From King World News on October 12th:

With very little in the U.S. stock market looking like a low-risk entry, consider gold as an alternative option. Recall, the metal broke the downtrend that had been in place since 2011 back a couple of months ago, and has now pulled back to that former resistance line. It should now offer some support, and the 40-week moving average also sits around there, further adding to the importance of the zone (see bullish breakout and test of support below). (click to enlarge):

This graphic above from the KWN report is based on chart-reading analysis. I’m not a big “chartist” or “technicals” advocate, but hedge fund algos and day-traders love to chase “technicals” and price velocity – in either direction. To that extent, the completion of chart “formations” can become a self-fulling prophecy.

Having said that, the fundamental support for substantial upside adjustment to the price of gold becomes more compelling the day, not the least of which is an acceleration in the accumulation of physically delivered gold bullion by several eastern hemisphere countries.

I wanted to highlight the call by Raymond James because, interestingly, a couple different advisors from Raymond James subscribed to the Mining Stock Journal yesterday. I was wondering why until I saw the report posted on King World News. If just a small percentage of retail/high net worth investment advisors begin to allocate capitol to the mining stocks, it will trigger a massive move higher in mining stock prices. Currently, relative to the price of gold, the only time in the last 20 years that mining stocks have been more undervalued was in December 2015.

Sprott (the firm) is currently recommending that its clients invest in an emerging junior exploration gold mining company.  I recommended this particular stock to Mining Stock Journal subscribers in April about 25% below its current price.  I’m chatting with the CEO today and will be updating my outlook for this stock in next Thursday’s issue.  I will also be featuring the stock of a mid-cap mining stock that I think has 30-50% upside by the end of the year if the price of gold continues to move higher as I believe it will.

On average and in general,  since the inception of MSJ, I have been able to dig up junior mining stock investment ideas before the big firms discover, promote and channel client money into them.  I am starting to feature mid-cap miners with stocks that have been unreasonably beaten down in price this year because those are “low hanging fruit” risk/return plays in which 25-50% can be made in a short period of time.  I recommended call options on SA (Seabridge Gold) in the 9/21/17 issue that are up 300% since then.

You can find out more information by clicking on here:  Mining Stock Journal information.

Trading And Investing In Gold: Follow The Money

The paper gold attack that I first suggested might occur in the September 7th issue has taken gold from $1360 down to $1270 (continuous contract basis). Technically, gold has moved from an “overbought” condition to a mildly “oversold” condition. The RSI and MACD indicate that gold is slightly “oversold” but I believe both indicators will flash “extremely oversold” before this price attack over. This should occur sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.

I say this because I continue to believe the open interest in Comex paper gold, combined with the analyzing the weekly Commitment of Traders report, is the best indicator of gold’s next move, at least until the western Central Banks are unable to control the price of gold with paper derivatives. To be sure, the COT report is not always a perfect predictor but in the last 15 years the two reports combined have been around 90% accurate.

Currently, the Comex banks’ net short position in paper gold is at the high end of its historical range. Concomitantly, the net long position of the hedge funds is also at the high end of its historical range. Per last Friday’s COT report, the banks began to reduce the short positions, thereby reducing their net short position, and the hedge funds began to reduce the long positions, thereby reducing their net short position (click to enlarge):

The graphic above is from the CFTC’s weekly COT report for all commodities. I’ve referenced the COT report quite a bit so I thought I’d put some “meat” on the bones. The report was published Friday (Sept 29th) but the cut-off day for the data used is the Tuesday before last Friday (Sept 26th). Unfortunately, by the time we, the public, can see the data it’s three days old. By the time we can try to trade on it (the following Monday) it’s four days old. This is unfortunate and the CFTC could force a daily disclosure of the data, which would be ideal, but since when does the Government do anything for the benefit of the public? Having said that, we can still get a feel for then general “flow” of positioning in gold futures by the various trading cohorts. Note: though the CFTC publishes the COT report, the actual data comes from the banks who operate and manage the Comex trading floor and computer systems.

I’ve highlighted the data that is important to me. The reportable positions are the “producer/hedgers,” “swap dealers,” “managed money,” “other reportables” and “non-reportable.” The latter two are large money pools that are not hedge funds or mutual funds and retail traders, respectively. They are not a factor in the analysis except to the extent that it is thought, though unprovable, that the banks throw some of their positions into the “other reportables” category to hide them.

The bank positions are primarily in the “swap dealer” account but they also throw their trades into the producer/hedge category. It’s impossible to know how much without having access to the systems. The “managed money” is primarily hedge funds. On the left side is the open interest (o/i) number. You can see at the bottom the o/i declined by 20.4k contracts from the previous Tuesday. It had peaked a couple weeks earlier around the 580k level, if memory serves me correctly. [As of Tues,  Oct 10th, the o/i was 520k]

The bottom row data shows the change in the various positions from the previous week’s report. You can see that the swap dealers covered 14.5k worth of shorts and added 4.9k of longs. The producer/hedgers were net unchanged in terms of net position but still extremely net short. The hedge funds (managed money) sold over 32k of long positions and added 4.8k to their short position, effectively dropping their net long position by 36.8k contracts.

Note: The spread positions (“spreading”) are not important to this analysis. They represent a trade in which one side of the trade might be short October gold contracts and offsets it with a long position in December gold, for instance. This would be a “hedged” bullish trade because the entity with that position is expecting the price of gold to rise by December but wants to hedge out risk factors that might take the price of gold lower between now and then. There’s no way to know how the spread trades are positioned without access to the Comex systems.

You’ll note, based on the change in relative positions, it appears as if the banks have started to cover their shorts and add to longs, thereby decreasing their net short position. Similarly, the hedge funds did the opposite, thereby reducing their net long position from the previous week. The open interest as of this past Wednesday (published daily) was 522k contracts. This is 27k contracts lower than the o/i when the report was put together a week ago Tuesday. The o/i appears to be trending lower, which historically has indicated that the banks are collapsing their net short position and the hedge funds are collapsing their net long. We’ll know if this trend continued on Friday afternoon, when the next COT report is released.

If this trend continues, it indicates that we’re getting closer to a bottom and the next move higher. I’d like to see the open interest on the Comex decline by about another 100k contracts. This might take 3 or 4 weeks. We could also see some short-lived spikes down in price before this over. Typically what has been occurring over the last 3 years or so is that, as the hedge funds dump longs and add to shorts, the hedge fund computer algos overreact to the downside price momentum and begin to “flatten out” the hedge fund net position by rapidly unloading longs and piling into the short side. A couple times over the past few years the hedge funds have been net short for a week or two. This always has preceded a big rally in gold.

I don’t know if it will play out like that this time around. Currently the mining shares are “grudgingly” giving up ground. Often, though not always, that trading behavior in the shares indicates that a bottom is forming. Again, I don’t know if that will be the case and I’m braced for one more nerve-wracking move down to the $1250-$1260 area. We still have a hedge in our stock portfolio via owning in-the-money calls on JDST. We’ll probably remove that hedge sometime in the next week or two.

Although we might be in a for a bumpy ride over the next couple of weeks (then again, we might not be), the mining stocks, expecially the juniors, are setting up for big move after gold (and silver) bottoms out and heads higher.

The graph above (click to enlarge) is a 1-yr daily of GDX. From its bottom in December through Thursday’s close, GDX is up 21%. You can see in the chart the slope of the trendline I drew steepened slightly in mid-July. I still think we could see a short-term drop in GDX below the 200 dma (red line) but I would use this as an opportunity to add to positions.

The one factor that could derail the ability of the banks to engineer more downside to the gold price is China’s return to the market starting Sunday night. China has been closed down this past week in observance of a national holiday, which means their presence as a large buyer of physical gold has been absent. Quite frankly, I expected a bigger take-down of the gold price in China’s absence. The inability to do this may have been offset by India’s continued demand for gold, both through official avenues of import and smuggling. The gold flowing duty-free into India from South Korea has been curtailed but Indonesia, which is party to the same free trade agreement, has stepped in to fill the void. Just this past week, import premiums were high enough to indicate that legal importation of kilo bars also resumed.

One last note, some of you may have seen the report that Russia’s Central Bank has become the world’s largest official buyer of gold (“official” meaning Central Bank/sovereign). I would argue that China does not fully disclose the extent to which the PBoC is accumulating gold (for instance, it’s thought that the PBoC buys most if not all of the 400+ tonnes of gold produced by China’s mines. That said, both the Russian and Chinese Central Banks combined are accumulating an enormous quantity of gold. I would suggest they are doing this a precursor to re-introducing gold into the global monetary system.  In other words, follow the money.

The above commentary is from the latest issue of the Mining Stock Journal.  In that issue I reviewed several of the previous stock ideas, many of which have doubled in the last 52 weeks, and presented a high quality mid-cap producer silver mining stock as shorter term trade idea that I think could be good for at least 25% through year-end.  You can learn more about the MSJ here:  Mining Stock Journal subscription information.   All back-issues are included with your subscription.

GATA: Those Who Deny Gold / Silver Manipulation Won’t Answer Basic Questions

IRD Note:  For nearly two decades, GATA has seized on Frank Veneroso’s original research which provided first-hand evidence that Central Banks were actively operating to suppress the gold and has presented direct evidence of precious metals manipulation.  Beyond this, there are public admissions from Henry Kissinger and Alan Greenspan acknowledging this fact.   Unfortunately, those who deny that gold/silver are manipulated have never offered any response to the direct proof that Central Banks intervene directly in gold trading.  The article below presenting just the facts was published by GATA.

Newsletter writer Steve Saville of The Speculative Investor, who long has denied that manipulation of the monetary metals markets means much, has seized on the recent essay by Keith Weiner of Monetary Metals as the conclusive refutation of silver market analyst Ted Butler’s longstanding complaint that JPMorganChase has been rigging the silver market.

Weiner’s analysis, headlined “Thoughtful Disagreement with Ted Butler” and posted here – LINK – argued that JPMorganChase is undertaking only ordinary arbitrage in the silver market, exploiting spreads between bid and ask prices.

Saville, in commentary headlined “A Silver Price-Suppression Theory Gets Debunked” – LINK – cheers Weiner’s essay and goes on to remark: “Entering a debate with someone who is incapable of being swayed by evidence that invalidates his position is a waste of time and energy, so these days I devote no commentary space and minimal blog space to debunking the manipulation-centric gold and silver articles that regularly appear.”

But when has Saville himself ever addressed evidence of manipulation of the gold and silver markets? Of course if he declines to address the evidence, he too can’t be swayed by it. The manipulation deniers never address the evidence. [IRD note: this is similar to Hilary Clinton never denying the allegations of corruption – instead she deflected the issue using the scare tactic of blaming the Russians for making the evidence public]

Weiner’s technical analysis is no refutation of silver market manipulation, for even if JPMorganChase is just doing arbitrage in silver, a judgment on manipulation would require knowing for whom the investment house was doing the arbitrage. JPMorganChase’s former chief of commodity operations, Blythe Masters, said on CNBC five years ago that the investment house had no position of its own in silver and was trading only for clients:  LINK

So might those clients include governments and central banks, entities with nearly infinite resources sufficient to nullify markets?
The question is compelling because filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission by CME Group, operator of the major futures exchanges in the United States, assert that governments and central banks are clients of the exchanges and that the exchanges give them special volume trading discounts for trading all futures contracts, not just financial futures contracts: HERE and HERE

Do Weiner and Saville know that JPMorganChase is not trading silver futures for governments and central banks? Do Weiner and Saville know that governments and central banks are not trading gold and gold derivatives surreptitiously? If Weiner and Saville think they know, they’re wrong, for the Bank for International Settlements admits that it operates as a broker in gold and gold derivatives for its member central banks: BIS admission

Indeed, in 2005 the director of the BIS’ monetary and economic department, William R. White, told a conference at BIS headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, that a primary purpose of international central bank cooperation is “the provision of international credits and joint efforts to influence asset prices (especially gold and foreign exchange) in circumstances where this might be thought useful“: LINK

The BIS even advertises that its services to its member central banks include surreptitious interventions in the gold market: LINK

Anyone who wants to engage in honest argument about gold and silver market manipulation needs to address a few simple questions:

1) Are governments and central banks active in the monetary metals markets or not?
2) Are the documents asserting such activity genuine or forgeries?
3) If governments and central banks are active in the monetary metals markets, is it just for fun or is it for policy purposes?
4) If such activity by governments and central banks is for policy purposes, do those purposes involve the traditional objectives of defeating an independent world currency that competes with government currencies and interferes with government control of interest rates, objectives documented at length by GATA here?: LINK

Of course if largely surreptitious intervention in the monetary metals markets by central banks and governments is ever acknowledged, technical analysis of those markets is meaningless, which may explain why technical analysts like Weiner and Saville avoid the crucial questions and just sneer at those who raise them.

Is The World About To Take A “Gold Shower?”

The 1944 Bretton Woods international monetary system as it has developed to the present is become, honestly said, the greatest hindrance to world peace and prosperity. Now China, increasingly backed by Russia—the two great Eurasian nations—are taking decisive steps to create a very viable alternative to the tyranny of the US dollar over the world trade and finance. Wall Street and Washington are not amused, but they are powerless to stop it…Now, ironically, two of the foreign economies that allowed the dollar an artificial life extension beyond 1989—Russia and China—are carefully unveiling that most feared alternative, a viable, gold-backed international currency and potentially, several similar currencies that can displace the unjust hegemonic role of the dollar today.

The above is an excerpt from William Engdahl’s essay, “Gold, Oil, Dollars, Russia and China.” The essay is a must-read if you want to understand how the dollar was cleverly forced on the world as the reserve currency and how it is about to be cleverly removed and replaced with a trade system that reintroduces gold into the global monetary system.

Unfortunately, the U.S. educational system presents a fraudulent account of world financial and economic history from Bretton Woods to present.  Fed on a steady educational diet of U.S. propaganda, anyone raised and educated in the U.S. will wake up one day to an economic cold shower and eventual poverty unless they’ve taken the steps necessary to protect their savings (if they have any).

Let’s face it, the entire western monetary system is basically a fraud. It is privately made and privately owned, with the entire international payment system being controlled by the FED – which is totally privately owned – and the BIS (Bank for International Settlement, in Basle, Switzerland – also called the central bank of centrals banks).from an interview with Peter Koenig, geopolitical analyst and a former staff-member of the World Bank

Without a doubt, the Russia-China led BRICS axis is working toward a “reset” of the U.S.-centric dollar reserve global currency system: “Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

That quote was delivered by Putin at the annual BRICS summit in Xiamen, China.  I don’t know how Putin could have more plainly, yet diplomatically,  laid out the inevitable demise of the dollar’s status as the world’s sole reserve currency.

The news report from the Nikkei Asian Review of a gold-backed yuan oil futures contract to be traded in Shanghai was treated with predictable skepticism from the those who require an event to have already occurred in order to “see it.”

That report surfaced shortly after the BRICS summit in China.  I suspect China intentionally has made the world aware of its plan to roll out this contract eventually well ahead of the actual event.  China is imminently launching a yuan-denominated crude oil contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.  Please note, for anyone skeptical of this event, that  the announcement came from the vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.  I suspect that once this contract is trading smoothly with a high level of liquidity, the next logical step would be to enable the users of this contract  to convert the yuan received for oil into gold.  The gold-backing would be an incentive “sweetener” to use this contract instead of dollar-settled futures contracts.

A gold-backed, yuan-denominated oil futures contract makes sense certainly from the perspective that Russia and China are already settling Russian energy sales to China in yuan.  They have also set up a mechanism by which Russia can convert the yuan received into gold.  Furthermore, the Central Banks of Russia and China combined, are  by far, the two largest buyers of gold in the world.  Why else would Russia/China accumulate a massive Central Bank gold reserve other than to eventually reintroduce gold as a currency stabilizer and a trade settlement “equalizer”  into the global monetary ?

Introduction of an oil futures contract traded in Shanghai in Yuan, which recently gained membership in the select IMF SDR group of currencies, oil futures especially when convertible into gold, could change the geopolitical balance of power dramatically away from the Atlantic world to Eurasia. – William Engdahl, ibid.

The consequences for America as a whole will be catastrophic. Currently the parabolic issuance of U.S. Treasury debt is funded primarily by a recycling of dollars used to settle the majority of global oil trades. Once a dollar-alternative for settling oil trades is established, the amount of dollars available to finance U.S. debt-fueled consumption will rapidly decline. But it’s the ability of the U.S. to issue debt unfettered right now that keeps the U.S. economic system from collapsing. The Fed’s printing press will be the only alternative to immediate collapse. History has shown us what the end of that pathway looks like. It’s far worse than waking up and stepping into an ice-cold shower.

The Daily Coin has published a fascinating interview with William Engdahl:   Gold, China and The Deep State.

The Housing Market Has Stalled

The housing market headed for very “rough waters.” The title is from the National Association of Realtor’s Pending Home Sales report for August in reference to NAR chief “economist” Larry Yun’s commentary on the housing market. Pending homes sales in August, which are based on contracts signed, dropped 2.6% from August. They’re also 2.6% below a year ago August. These are SAAR numbers. The “not seasonally adjusted” numbers were worse, down nearly 4% from August and 3.1% lower than last August.

Once again Yun is blaming the problem on supply. I torpedoed that assertion with facts in last week’s Short Seller’s Journal.  Although, there is indeed a “supply” issue in one regard: there’s a shortage of end user buyers who are required to use, and qualify for the use of, the Government’s de facto subprime mortgage program (as I detailed last week). There’s also a shortage of existing home owners in the mid-price range who can afford to move-up. So yes, in that sense there’s a shortage – it’s just not in homes.

DR Horton (the largest homebuilder in the country) is carrying about the same amount of inventory now as it was carrying at the end of 2007 – around $8.5 billion. The average home price is about the same then as now, which means it is carrying about the same number of homes in inventory. It’s unit sales run-rate was slightly higher in 2007. The point here is that there are plenty of newly built homes available for purchase. Per the Census Bureau, the median sales price of a new home in August was $300k, while the average price was $368k. DH Horton is an averaged price homebuilder.

Per DH Horton’s inventory numbers, there is not a shortage of inventory around the average priced newly built home. Again, there’s a shortage buyers available who can qualify for the debt required to buy one of those homes. This is why the Government has significantly loosened mortgage standards every year since 2014 (see the graphic below). Up against the wall again, I don’t know if the Government will again further loosen the Fannie/Freddie mortgage requirements. If it does nothing, which would be the sensible decision, the housing market is going to sustain a rapid downward price “adjustment.”

Housing stocks are in a mini “melt-up” though it’s somewhat subdued relative to the melt-up in semiconductor stocks. This is despite the threat of rising interest rates and rapidly deteriorating demand-side fundamentals. This is the signal that the end is near for these stocks. Ironically, the University of Michigan consumer confidence survey for September released Friday showed that consumers who judge the current home-buying conditions as favorable plunged to a 5-yr low. This is notwithstanding the easiest mortgage approval standards in over two years:

The graphic above shows consumer perception of homebuying conditions on the left and the latest Fannie Mae lender survey on credit standards on the right. As you can see, the credit standards are the easiest in at least 2-years. Note:  The Fannie survey only dates back to Q3 2015. I would bet good money that the current credit conditions are the easiest since right before the previous housing bubble popped in 2008.

I’ve been discussing and detailing, the alleged “supply issue” affecting home sales is, in fact, a demand-driven issue. This graphic illustrates this:

The graph above is also from Fannie Mae’s latest housing market survey. As you can see, the demand for GSE (Fannie/Freddie/FHA) purchase mortgages has plunged since Q3 2016. The demand for non-GSE and Ginnie Mae purchase mortgages has also declined significantly since Q3 2016.

There’s an online MLS home-listing site called REColorado. I’m signed up to get listing and price-change alerts as they occur in several difference zip codes the represent the areas in metro-Denver that have been hottest. Colorado has experienced a massive inflow of people from all over country, especially California, which has made the Denver area one of the hottest housing markets since 2012, when the State fully legalized marijuana. Since mid-summer, I’ve been “price-change” alerts on homes over $700k on a daily basis. As I write this, I just received two more today. One of the homes started at $1.8 million in September and has taken the price down 11% over three price drops. The other house has an asking price of $779k but has been reduced more than 8% in four price reductions since June. If this is happening in metro-Denver, it’s happening in most formerly “hot” areas. Yes, there will be a few areas around the country that remain “hot” for awhile (like SoCal), but those areas will eventually suffer the most just like in 2008.

I want to reiterate that the housing market is a great short here. The only explanation for the move in the homebuilder stocks this past week is that it’s a momentum-driven technical run. The stocks I’ve been presenting in the last several issues will be lower this time next year. Probably a lot lower. Redfin (RDFN), the online real estate brokerage that I presented last week, closed Friday down $2.88 (10.3%) from the previous Friday. It’s going lower. It’s a good bet that this stock will be trading at or below $20 by Christmas. Zillow Group (ZG) is down 20% since a re-recommended shorting it in the June 25th SSJ issue at $50.69. I will say that I did not expect that to be close to ZG’s all-time high it was an obvious short to me at that point. Companies that earn commissions and fees directly from (RDFN) or related to (ZG) home sales volume will be the leading indicators.

The above analysis and commentary is from the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal.  You can out more about subscribing to this weekly investment newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal subscription info.  Despite the major indices hitting new all-time highs everyday now, there are many stocks that are declining.  The perfect example is Zillow Group, which I recommended shorting at $50 in June .  It is currently down 18% (an 18% gain if you are short, more if you bought the puts I recommended).  Subscribers also get 50% off the price of subscribing to the Mining Stock Journal.

Former FOMC Member Admits The Fed Manipulates Asset Prices

The Fed often treats financial markets as a beast to be tamed, a cub to be coddled, or a market to be manipulated. It appears in thrall to financial markets, and financial markets are in thrall to the Fed, but only one will get the last word. – Former FOMC member, Kevin Warsh – The Fed Needs New Thinking

Please note, a large portion of the source links, plus the idea for this commentary, were sourced from GATA’s latest dispatch regarding the possible appointment of Warsh as the next Fed Chairman.

The quote above is from former FOMC board member,  Kevin Warsh, who appears to be Trump’s top candidate to assume the Fed’s mantle of manipulation from Janet Yellen.   By way of relevant reference, Warsh happens to be the son-in-law of Ronald Lauder,  who is a good friend of Trump’s.  He is also a former Steering Committee member of the Bilderberg Group.    GATA has published a summary reprise of direct evidence from previous written admissions by Warsh the the Fed actively manages financial asset prices, “including bolstering the share price of public companies” (from link above).

In addition to stocks, Warsh admitted in the same essay that, “The Fed seeks to fix interest rates and control foreign-exchange rates simultaneously” (same link above). This task is impossible without suppressing the price of gold, something which began in earnest in 1974 when, under the direction of then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, paper gold futures contracts were introduced to the U.S. capital markets. This memo, written by the Deputy assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development, was sent to Kissinger and Paul Volcker in March 1974: Gold and the Monetary System:  Potential U.S.-EC Conflict (note:  the source-link is from GATA – it was discovered in the State Department archives by Goldmoney’s John Butler).

The nature of discussions after that memo, the minutes of which are now publicly available, center around the fact that several European Governments were interested in re-introducing gold into the global monetary system.  This movement was in direct conflict with the interests of U.S. elitists and banking aristocrats, as U.S. had successfully established  the petro-dollar as the reserve currency.

In 2009 GATA sent a Freedom Of Information Act request to the Fed in an attempt to get access to documents involving the Fed’s use of gold swaps (this letter written by Warsh confirms the existence of the use of gold swaps).  Warsh, who was the FOMC’s “liaison” between the Fed and Wall Street, wrote a letter back to GATA denying the request.

The fact that Warsh has openly acknowledged that the Fed manipulates assets, including an implicit admission that the Fed seeks to suppress the price of gold,  might give some in the gold community some hope that Warsh, if appointed to the Chair of the Fed, might reign in the Fed’s over interference in the financial markets.

On the contrary, I believe this makes him a bigger threat to democracy, capitalism and freedom than any of his recent predecessors.  Warsh is better “pedigree’d” and politically connected than either Bernanke or Yellen.  His high level involvement in the Bilderberg Group ties him directly to the individual aristocrats who are considered to be the most financially and politically powerful in the western world.    Without a doubt he has far more profound understanding of the significance of gold as a monetary asset than any modern Federal Reserve FOMC member except, perhaps, Alan Greenspan.

The good news for the gold investing community is that it becomes increasingly evident that China, together with Russia and several other eastern bloc countries, is working to remove the dollar as the reserve currency and reintroduce gold into the global monetary system.  A contact and subscriber to my Mining Stock Journal who happens to live and work in Shanghai has sent further evidence  (and here) that China is working toward launching a gold-backed yuan oil futures contract.

This will be a complete game-changer.  It’s also likely why the western Central Banks have doubled their efforts to keep the price of suppressed over the last 6  weeks.   My contact believes there’s a possibility that the contract will be rolled out after Xi is “re-elected” toward the end of October (the Party Congress convenes after the week-long National Holiday observance).

My personal view is that China will work more gradually to roll out a futures contract that effectively “disconnects” the petro-dollar and the dollar’s reserve status in order to minimize the adverse, albeit temporary, consequences of this.  The first iteration could be a simple yuan-denominated contract to get the system working.  The foremost consequence of this, of course, will be the massive transfer of wealth and power from the United States and its European vassal countries to the emerging global power in the eastern hemisphere.

The US Economy Is Failing – Paul Craig Roberts

IRD Note:    Along with the housing market, the entire economy is beginning to collapse. Unless the Fed implements another round of trillions in money printing, the laws of economics will take control of the system. With the housing market, the point of inflection downward began to occur in late spring/early summer. I have detailed this assertion with copious amounts of data and ways to profit from this insight in recent  Short Seller’s Journals.  Despite the melt-up in homebuilder stocks, one of my ideas from last week was down 10% through Friday.

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The commentary below is by Paul Craig Roberts:

Do the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editors read their own newspaper?

The front page headline story for the Labor Day weekend was “Low Wage Growth Challenges Fed.” Despite an alleged 4.4% unemployment rate, which is full employment, there is no real growth in wages. The front page story pointed out correctly that an economy alleged to be expanding at full employment, but absent any wage growth or inflation, is “a puzzle that complicates Federal Reserve policy decisions.”

On the editorial page itself, under “letters to the editor,” Professor Tony Lima of California State University points out what I have stressed for years: “The labor-force participation rate remains at historic lows. Much of the decrease is in the 18-34 age group, while participation rates have increased for those 55 and older.” Professor Lima points out that more evidence that the American worker is not in good shape comes from the rising number of Americans who can only find part-time work, which leaves them with truncated incomes and no fringe benefits, such as healh care.

Positioned right next to this factual letter is the lead editorial written by someone who read neither the front page story or the professor’s letter. The lead editorial declares: “The biggest labor story this Labor Day is the trouble that employers are having finding workers across the country.” The Journal’s editorial page editors believe the solution to the alleged labor shortage is Senator Ron Johnson’s (R.Wis.) bill to permit the states to give 500,000 work visas to foreigners.

In my day as a Wall Street Journal editor and columnist, questions would have been asked that would have nixed the editorial. For example, how is there a labor shortage when there is no upward pressure on wages? In tight labor markets wages are bid up as employers compete for workers. For example, how is the labor market tight when the labor force participation rate is at historical lows. When jobs are available, the participation rate rises as people enter the work force to take the jobs.

I have reported on a number of occasions that according to Federal Reserve studies, more Americans in the 24-34 age group live at home with parents than independently, and that it is those 55 and older who are taking the part time jobs. Why is this? The answer is that part time jobs do not pay enough to support an independent existence, and the Federal Reserve’s decade long zero interest rate policy forces retirees to enter the work force as their retirement savings produce no income. It is not only the manufacturing jobs of the middle class blue collar workers that have been given to foreigners in order to cut labor costs and thus maximize payouts to executives and shareholders, but also tradable professional skill jobs such as software engineering, design, accounting, and IT—jobs that Americans expected to get in order to pay off their student loans.

The Wall Street Journal editorial asserts that the young are not in the work force because they are on drugs, or on disability, or because of their poor education. However, all over the country there are college graduates with good educations who cannot find jobs because the jobs have been offshored. To worsen the crisis, a Republican Senator from Wisconsin wants to bring in more foreigners on work permits to drive US wages down lower so that no American can survive on the wage, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page editors endorse this travesty!

The foreigners on work visas are paid one-third less than the going US wage. They live together in groups in cramped quarters. They have no employee rights. They are exploited in order to raise executive bonuses and shareholder capital gains. I have exposed this scheme at length in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism (Clarity Press, 2013).

When Trump said he was going to bring the jobs home, he resonated, but, of course, he will not be permitted to bring them home, any more than he has been permitted to normalize relations with Russia.

In America Government is not in the hands of its people. Government is in the hands of a ruling oligarchy. Oligarchic rule prevails regardless of electoral outcomes. The American people are entering a world of slavery more severe than anything that previously existed. Without jobs, dependent on their masters for trickle-down benefits that are always subject to being cut, and without voice or representation, Americans, except for the One Percent, are becoming the most enslaved people in history.

Americans carry on by accumulating debt and becoming debt slaves. Many can only make the minimum payment on their credit card and thus accumulate debt. The Federal Reserve’s policy has exploded the prices of financial assets. The result is that the bulk of the population lacks discretionary income, and those with financial assets are wealthy until values adjust to reality.

As an economist I cannot identify in history any economy whose affairs have been so badly managed and prospects so severely damaged as the economy of the United States of America. In the short/intermediate run policies that damage the prospects for the American work force benefit what is called the One Percent as jobs offshoring reduces corporate costs and financialization transfers remaining discretionary income in interest and fees to the financial sector. But as consumer discretionary incomes disappear and debt burdens rise, aggregate demand falters, and there is nothing left to drive the economy.

What we are witnessing in the United States is the first country to reverse the development process and to go backward by giving up industry, manufacturing, and tradable professional skill jobs. The labor force is becoming Third World with lowly paid domestic service jobs taking the place of high-productivity, high-value added jobs.

The initial response was to put wives and mothers into the work force, but now even many two-earner families experience stagnant or falling material living standards. New university graduates are faced with substantial debts without jobs capable of producing sufficient income to pay off the debts.

Now the US is on a course of travelling backward at a faster rate. Robots are to take over more and more jobs, displacing more people. Robots don’t buy houses, furniture, appliances, cars, clothes, food, entertainment, medical services, etc. Unless Robots pay payroll taxes, the financing for Social Security and Medicare will collapse. And it goes on down from there. Consumer spending simply dries up, so who purcheses the goods and services supplied by robots?

To find such important considerations absent in public debate suggests that the United States will continue on the country’s de-industrialization, de-manufacturing trajectory.

Peak Housing Bubble: 2008 Deja Vu All Over Again

Existing Home Sales were released Wednesday and the NAR’s seasonally adjusted annualized rate metric was down 1.7% from July. July was down 1.3% from June. The NAR’s SAAR metric is at its lowest rate since last August. Naturally the hurricane that hit Houston is being attributed as the primary culprit for the lower sales rate. Interestingly, the “not seasonally adjusted” monthly number for the South region was higher in August than in July. Moreover, I’m sure the NAR’s statistical “wizards” were told to “adjust” for Houston. So I’m not buying the excuse.

As for the NAR’s inventory narrative, that’s a bunch of horse hooey. Recall the chart I’ve posted a couple times in previous issues which shows that sales volume is inversely correlated with inventory – this is 17 years of data:

In other words, sales volume increases as inventory declines and sales volume declines as inventory rises. This is intuitive as prospective buyers will get desperate and rush to secure a purchase when inventory is low. Conversely,when a prospective buyer sees inventory climbing, the tendency will be to wait to see if prices come down.

It’s disingenuous for the NAR to claim that low inventory is affecting sales. Based on its own calculus, there’s 4.2 months of supply right now. This is up from 3.8 months in January. In fact, from December through March, months supply was said to have been well under 4 months. And yet, the monthly SAAR sales for each month December through March averaged 4.5% above the level just reported for August. In other words, the excuse put forth by the NAR’s chief “economist” is undermined by the NAR’s own numbers. However, given that the inventory expressed as “months supply” has been rising since April, it should be no surprise that sales are declining. This is exactly what would have been predicted by the 17 years of data in the sales vs inventory chart above.

The other statistic that undermines the “low inventory is affecting sales” propaganda is housing starts. Housing starts peaked in November 2016 and have been in a downtrend since then. Robert Toll (Toll Brothers – TOL) stated directly in his earnings commentary a couple weeks ago that “supply is not a problem.” Furthermore, DR Horton – the largest homebuilder in the country) is carrying about the same amount of inventory now as was carrying at the end of 2007 – around $8.5 billion. The average home price is about the same then as now, which means it is carrying about the same number of homes in inventory. It’s unit sales run-rate was slightly higher in 2007. Starting in 2008, DHI began writing down its inventory in multi-billion dollar chunks. Sorry Larry (NAR chief “economist” aka “salesman”), there are plenty of newly built homes available for purchase.

The Fannie and Freddie 3% down payment, reduced mortgage insurance fee program that has been in effect since January 2015 has “sucked” in most of the first-time buyers who can qualify for a mortgage under those sub-prime quality terms. If the housing market cheerleaders stated that “there is a shortage of homes for which subprime buyers can qualify to buy,” that’s an entirely different argument.

Housing price affordability has hit an all-time low. Again, this is because of the rampant home price inflation generated by the Fed’s monetary policy and the Government’s mortgage programs. The Government up to this point has done everything except subsidize down payments in order to give subprime quality borrowers the ability to take down a mortgage for which they can make (barely) the monthly mortgage payment. At this stage, anyone with a sub-620 FICO score who is unable to make a 3% down payment and who does not generate enough income to qualify under the 50% DTI parameter should not buy a home. They will default anyway and the taxpayer will be on the hook. As it is now, the Government’s de facto sub-prime mortgage programs are going to end badly.

Speaking of the 50% DTI, that is one of the qualification parameters “loosened” up by Fannie Mae. A 50% DTI means pre-tax income as a percentage of monthly debt payments. Someone with a 50% DTI is thereby using close to 70% or more of their after-tax cash flow to service debt. This is really not much different from the economics of the “exotic” mortgages underwritten in the last housing bubble. As the economy worsens, there will be sudden wave of first-time buyer Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage defaults. I would bet that day of reckoning is not too far off in the future.

The Fed has fueled the greatest housing price inflation in history. In may cities, housing prices have gone parabolic. But to make matters worse, this is not being fueled by demand which exceeds supply.

After all, we know that homebuilders have been cutting back on new home starts for several months now. Price inflation is the predominant characteristic of this housing bubble. The price rise since 2012 has been a function of the Fed’s enormous monetary stimulus and not supply/demand-driven transactions.

The effect of the Fed’s money printing and the Government’s mortgage guarantee programs has been to fill the “void” left by the demise of the private-issuer subprime mortgages in the mid-2000’s housing bubble. The FHA has been underwriting 3.5% down payment mortgages since 2008. In 2008, the FHA’s share of the mortgage market was 2%. Today it’s about 20%. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow 3% down payment mortgages for people with credit scores as low as 620. 620 is considered sub-prime. On a case-by-case basis, they’ll approve mortgage applications with sub-620 credit scores. Oh, and about that 3% down payment. The Government will allow “sweat” equity as part of the down payment from “moderate to low income” borrowers. Moreover, the cash portion of the down payment can come from gifts, grants or “community seconds.” A “community second” is a subordinated (second-lien) mortgage that is issued to the buyer to use as a source of cash for the down payment.

Again, I want to emphasize this point because it’s a fact that you’ll never hear discussed by the mainstream media:  The Government mortgage programs resemble and have replaced the reckless “exotic” mortgage programs of the mid-2000’s housing bubble.

To compound the problem, most big cities are being hit with an avalanche of new apartment buildings.  In Denver, the newer “seasoned” buildings are loading up front-end incentives to compete for tenants.  There’s another tidal wave of new inventory that will hit the market over the next six months.  This scene is being replayed in all of the traditional bubble cities.   As supply drives down the cost of rent, the millennials who can barely qualify for a mortgage that sucks up more than 50% of their pre-tax income will revert back to renting .  This will in turn drive down the price of homes.

Flippers who are leveraging up to pay top-dollar will get stuck with their attempted housing “day-trade.”  Studies have shown that it was flippers who were unable to unload their homes who triggered the 2008 collapse, as they “jingle-mailed” the keys back to the greedy bankers who funded the “margin debt” for their failed trade.

It may not look exactly the same as late 2007 right now.   But there’s no question that it will be deja vu all over again by this time next year…

The above commentary and analysis is directly from last week’s Short Seller’s Journal. In the latest issue I presented three ways to take advantage of the coming collapse in the housing and mortgage market, one of which is already down 10%.  If you would like to find out more about this service, please click here:  Short Seller’s Journal subscription info.

I look forward to any and every SSJ. Especially at the moment as I really do think your work and thesis on how this plays out is being more than validated at the moment with the ongoing dismal data coming out, both here in the U.K, and in the U.S.   – James