Category Archives: Financial Markets

The Gold Cartel, Sex Scandals and GATA

The point is going up against the rich and powerful is known to be a losing proposition … for most, but not ALL, of the time, The tide has now turned when it comes to serious sexual harassment issues. The scandal took decades to surface. And, in my opinion, the same is going to be the case for the biggest financial market scandal in US history, that being the wrongful suppression of the gold/silver prices

Bill Murphy’s speech at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference is a must-read. The truth about the Central Banks and Government intervention in the precious metals market is out “there” for everyone to see. But the public prefers to keep its eyes wide shut. Those elected or appointed to positions to prevent illegal market interference are well-paid by the banks to look the other way. The suppression of gold/silver prices is designed to hide horrifying truths about the U.S. financial and economic system. Truths that most do not recognize and most of the rest prefer to pretend don’t exist. But, you can ignore reality but you can’t ignore the consequences of reality. Then the reality hidden by gold price suppression can no longer be ignored, 99.5% of the populace will have no chance to protect themselves – the prices of gold and silver will be out of reach….

Hello Everyone

It is much fun having the opportunity again to make a presentation here in Vancouver on behalf of The Gold Anti- Trust Action Committee … in order to expose the manipulation of the gold/silver markets by The Gold Cartel.

My first trip here was 19 years ago for an arranged meeting at the airport with Normandy Mining Chairman Robert Champion DeCrespigny on his way back to Australia. After flying all that way from Dallas, this arrogant man refused to see me. GATA went all that distance to help his firm, the gold industry, and the gold market … and he could have cared less about those issues and our effort. Little did we know back then this type of reception would become much the norm, as not.

What a journey it has been all these years.

What we have learned over this period time is how all encompassing the market manipulation schemes really are. Initially, we realized that various bullion banks (such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan) were collectively suppressing the gold price to keep it below $300 an ounce. Eventually we realized the manipulation extended to silver also AND included the Fed, The Treasury, Exchange Stabilization Fund, BIS and other central banks.

Over the many years it became apparent the market rigging extended even further to other financial markets … including acknowledged intervention in our bond market and clandestine operations in our stock market, marshaled by the infamous Plunge Protection Team. One of the first people to acknowledge the magnitude of it all was my colleague Chris Powell, who at GATA’s 2008 conference outside of Washington, D.C. came up with his great line, “There are no markets anymore, just interventions.”

For nearly 20 years Chris has been documenting the evidence of the intervention in the gold/silver markets by The Gold Cartel. It is all there on GATA’s website ( www.GATA.org) for anyone who wishes to get a grasp on how real and massive the intervention really is.

One of the most telling bits of evidence of what The Gold Cartel is all about emanates from one of the ringleaders of the scam, the Bank for International Settlements, which can be found at their own website. Regard what it explains to the investment world as one of their products.

And yet, incredibly enough, despite the obvious there are very few in the gold world who will touch the subject … THE most important one of ALL to those with any interest in the precious metals.

My role has been to chronicle the day to day activities of this cabal on my LeMetropoleCafe website, which many times are so blatant even a caveman could spot them. Our colleague James McShirley, a lumber company CEO with decades of experience in the futures market, has been invaluable in that regard. No other markets in history have traded the way gold and silver have … over, and over again, sometimes in the most absurd of fashions. The latest of which is the astonishing and unprecedented rise in the gold open interest on the Comex with The Gold Cartel doing the selling, and the hideous punishment of silver each time its price rises to $17.25.

Course many of you in this audience understand this and know of our efforts of nearly two decades to expose what will eventually become the most infamous financial market scandal in U.S. history.  As part of that effort…*We have held 4 international conferences – in South Africa, Alaska, Washington D.C., and London.

At our 2005 Dawson City conference a senior economic advisor to Russia’s President Putin, Andrey Bykov, showed up and said it was the finest conference he ever attended. The price of gold had been comatose. Two days later the gold price began to take off.

NINE months after GATA’s conference in Alaska, the gold price had risen 70%.  *We have been to Washington numerous times to meet the likes of the Speaker of the House; Ron Paul; Monetary Committees, etc. *Organized letter campaigns to Congress. *Been on various cable TV financial shows. *Presented at conferences, such as this one, etc.

YES, it has been some journey…*Most gratifying of all has been the terrific people we have met over the years, such as yourselves … many of whom have financially supported our efforts.

*Unfortunately, we learned the industry as a whole will never do anything about dealing with the most important factor in the gold/silver world. Yes, to do so would mean dealing with some permitting issues by governments and financings by bullion banks. Yet, any other industry would form an organization to deal with, or correct, the problem, so they could not be individually blamed. Not this one, which has The World Gold Council refusing to do anything about this devastating issue. The situation is so bad that when Chris, John Embry and I went to see their acting CEO in London in 2010 we had to sign a waiver of sorts saying we were never there.

Huh?  The World Gold Council’s CEO today is Randall Oliphant, who actually aided The Gold Cartel’s operations when he directed Barrick Gold’s massive hedging operations at the turn of the century.  GATA’s confrontation of Barrick Gold as an arm of The Gold Cartel back then, and for some years to follow, is a presentation all in itself. Just a few key points:

*In lawsuit proceedings Barrick Gold confessed that it and its bullion banker, JP Morgan Chase & Co., were the direct agents of the central banks in the international control of the gold price … that the central banks, having what is called sovereign immunity against suit, simply could not be included in the suit; and that the suit therefore had to be dismissed.  The suit was not and was settled out of court.

*It is no fluke that past Barrick Board members included George Bush, Brian Mulroney, the notorious Adnan Khashoggi, etc. All rich and powerful men. – and something to keep in mind for the rest of this presentation. Barrick was connected directly to the bullion/central bank rigging operations.

*Those gold rigging operations came to an end with Barrick taking something like an $8 billion dollar loss when its ludicrous gold hedges were forced to be lifted. The Barrick shareholders paid the price for that firm’s complicity with The Gold Cartel operations.

*Despite being the world’s largest gold producer, its share price today is less than when gold was below $300 and GATA came into being. What goes around come around in that regard.

*One final note, I made another trip up here to Vancouver in 2006 on behalf of the Nova Gold CEO, who, at the time, wanted GATA’s help to stave off an unwanted Barrick bid back then. We did what we could, but eventually those two companies got together and we never did receive any thanks from the CEO.

So, here we are all these years later and so what? Why carry on when the industry refuses to deal with its most important issue and let’s themselves get mugged by a corrupt operation? The answer is quite simple.

For Chris and I, “It is the life we have chosen” … a term appropriately taken from an old Mafia movie. Most importantly, major scandals in the past have taken many years to come out in the open. They include Enron, who was voted the US corporation of the year 5 years in a row by a major US financial magazine … and who can forget the Bernie Madoff scandal, one in which no one would listen to whistle blower Harry Markopolis for nearly a decade, despite the overwhelming evidence he presented to the authorities. Insiders at Enron who tried to expose the truth were fired.

How hard is it to get the truth out there? Last summer GATA spent many hours sending some 50 emails to a Wall Street Journal reporter doing a front page story on the Fed and its gold. We introduced the reporter to a number of those in the GATA camp.  But guess what? When that story surfaced, everything in there from GATA, or Chris Powell and myself, was cut out. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! But were we surprised? Nope

But why carry on is best exemplified by what occurred this past year regarding the sex scandals in the U.S. A sexual harassment horror show by rich and powerful men in the U.S. praying upon women was an ongoing fact of life for many decades, but was kept on the down low. Finally, it all really began to surface with some 50 women accusing one of my childhood heroes, Bill Cosby, of date rape.

One or two could be a misunderstanding. But FIFTY? (Which is the equivalent to the sort of evidence GATA has on The Gold Cartel.) While that was more than unsettling, Cosby still has not been convicted of anything yet. However, it surely set the stage for the Hollywood Harvey Weinstein revelations…

The sexual harassment accusations against this famous Hollywood big shot were so outrageous and over the top that it sent out reverberations throughout the media/political world. Senator Al Franken has resigned, as have media giants Matt Lauer of NBC and Charlie Rose of PBS Broadcasting. Good grief! Within just months of Weinstein’s outing! Seems to me those reverberations are unprecedented in terms of speed.

The point here of this presentation is that these were hideous provocations just waiting to be exposed, which is just why GATA stays on the manipulation of the gold/silver markets. The reason so many of the coerced women were silent for so long is because they were going up against the MOST POWERFUL and RICHEST people in their field. LEGENDS in many cases. Who was going to believe them against who they would be charging? Most importantly, in terms of the GATA issue, they might get fired, or face retribution, for even making such charges.

I know exactly what I am talking about here. My very young sister Kris back then was a successful model in New York City in the 1980’s. She went on an interview with Harvey Weinstein in a New York hotel suite and he had her dress up in a Teddy outfit with high heels on. So scared, she ran for the hills, but did tell my brother Tim at the time exactly what happened.

The point is going up against the rich and powerful is known to be a losing proposition … for most, but not ALL, of the time, The tide has now turned when it comes to serious sexual harassment issues. The scandal took decades to surface. And, in my opinion, the same is going to be the case for the biggest financial market scandal in US history, that being the wrongful suppression of the gold/silver prices.

Its time will come when your average Joe and Jane is devastated financially and wants an explanation of, “HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?”

Which brings me to a critical point of my presentation for all of you here who are interested in the gold and silver markets. Because of what The Gold Cartel has done, the gold and silver prices are the most undervalued assets in the world … by a hefty margin. GATA realizes we are not wanted in certain circles in the precious metals arena because of what we have to say … that the richest and most powerful people in the world are preventing them from making money, going against them. So why bother to go there? Keep GATA out of sight and out of mind is their thinking. Nothing could be more out of whack in a big picture sense.

Think about it. Assets of all kind have soared over the past years, including stocks, art, real estate, etc. Incredibly low interest rates have enhanced all of them, but not the two markets which should have gone up the most with all the paper money hoarded into the financial market system. The orchestrated suppression of the gold/silver prices was put into play by The Gold Cartel to deflect from what the powers were doing … inflating the system, and perhaps very dangerously so.

As a result, the gold/silver prices have been forced to retreat to artificially LOW prices which will not stand. They will catch up to and go way beyond what most other assets have done these past years! IMO, understanding what The Gold Cartel has done is THE most important reason right now to be in the gold/silver markets.

Which brings me to a topic of conversation surely to be a part of many at this conference, the Bitcoin/cryptocurrency phenomenon.

One year ago I presented at a Jeff Berwick conference in Acapulco. The conference focused on precious metals and crypto currencies. The crypto folks were ecstatic back then as Bitcoin had risen to the same price of gold at $1240. Even then, the crypto crowd was bubbly as could be. So upbeat compared to the gold/silver crowd, which included myself, because of the nauseating price suppression. Can you imagine what that convention will be like this year with Bitcoin having reached $19,000 not long ago? Good for them.

Which leads us to another key issue for our camp. The crypto geniuses realized the advent of a technological way to put money outside of the traditional financial market system … for a myriad of reasons. The win for those who bought in prior of Jeff’s conference has been astronomical, the most phenomenal in all of recorded history. What has occurred exemplifies just how much the outside of the fiat money system gold and silver prices have been suppressed these past many years … which many of you are already too aware of.

But while what the Bitcoins have done has been a short term negative in the west regarding current interest in the precious metals, it is likely to be a boon of all booms once these undervalued assets begin to take off. A reason is that there are now a number of momentum traders around the world who have made so much money in various markets, they will not be afraid to pour into gold and silver investments as they really begin to REALLY move. This will be a force The Gold Cartel has not had to deal with before.

It is only a matter of time before the physical supply needed by the cabal forces to keep the gold/silver prices at such ridiculously low price levels dries up. The momentum traders will pounce all over this new, delicious opportunity. The Gold Cartel will be forced to retreat.

So, for what it is worth, this is what I see for the rest of this year…

*The gold and silver prices really get going, and they keep on going. The cheapest assets on the planet won’t be by the end of 2018.

*Gold will launch towards new all-time highs in the not too distant future.

*Once the price of silver, the cartel’s krytonite, takes out $21 it goes bonkers and eventually trades akin to what Bitcoin has done. The efforts by the JP Morgan forces to hold the silver price down at levels which are 2/3 less where it managed to trade 38 years ago are the most obvious and onerous I have even seen in 40 years. Silver has been so ludicrously depressed, Newton’s Law of Equal and Opposite Reactions, will finally take hold. $100 silver should be achieved faster than most anyone can imagine right now.

*Many of the beat up junior/exploration stocks will trade in Bitcoin fashion too and repeat the returns they made after the turn of the century, which were extraordinary to say the least.

Gold Set Up For Big Move This Year – What About Cryptos?

Gold and silver had a sharp run-up in the last two weeks of 2017.  However, the abrupt move in gold has been accompanied by a rapid rise in the gold futures open interest on the Comex. Furthermore, based on the last COT report the banks have dramatically increased their net short position and the hedge funds have gotten, once again, extremely net long.  I don’t like the looks of the COT report right now plus I anticipate a possible brief “relief” rally in the dollar index.

But what about cryptocurrencies?  Over the past few weeks the largest and most actively traded cryptocurrencies have been massacred in price.  This follows on the heels of the news that the founders of Bitcoin and Litecoin sold 100% of their holdings.  Nothing like insider selling as a signal about the value of what was sold…

Phil Kennedy invited me on to his podcast to discuss precious metals, cryptocurrencies and the U.S. dollar. We engage in a friendly (I want to emphasize “friendly”) debate on the merits of cryptocurrencies:

The bottom line for me is that gold has been declared a Tier 1 bank asset by the Bank of International Settlements. This means that gold is considered the highest form of bank asset. I believe there’s a good chance gold will move toward and over $1400 this year. As for a price prediction for the cryptos – it depends on the degree to which the fear of losing money overwhelms the fear of missing out on gains for the momentum-chasing speculators – most of whom are Asian-based. We may be approaching that point of no return:

“Mother Of All Blow-Offs?”

People who look for easy money invariable pay for the privilege of proving conclusively that it cannot be found on this earth. – Jesse Livermore

Boeing’s stock has gone parabolic. It’s doubled since April 2017:

The stock now trades at a 31x PE ratio, for whatever that’s worse. I’m sure if I went through the numbers closely, I could find numerous accounting manipulations which added a copious amount of non-cash income to BA’s numbers. BA’s revenues on a trailing 12 month basis are flat. From 2015 to 2016, its revenues declined 1.7%. On a trailing twelve month basis vs. 2016, its revenues have dropped 3.2%.

Historically paying a nose-bleed PE ratio for a company with deteriorating revenues and an enormous amount of debt does not produce a good result. Chasing the price-momentum higher and waiting for a bigger idiot to buy shares from you works well until the music stops. Then everyone gets hurt.

The Dow moved up an average of 120 pts per day in the nine trading days since the end of 2017. This includes one day in which the Dow dared to close 12 pts lower. That one day felt like a bear market. Over this entire period the Dow has appreciated 4.4%. Since the election, including the 1,000 pt plunge in the Dow futures that occurred when it was apparent Trump would win, the Dow has soared nearly 50%.

What’s driving this? Since late August, the public has literally thrown money blindly into passively managed ETFs which automatically distribute the cash inflow by market cap weighting into the stocks in the index that underlies the ETF. This means that most of the gains are concentrated in the stocks in the Dow/SPX with the largest market caps, which then drives the Dow/SPX higher. For instance, last Friday, the Dow was up 0.89% but AMZN was up 2.2%, Netflix was up 1.8%, GOOG was up 1.5% etc.

There’s no telling how much longer this can persist without some type of accident. Judging by the data on cash in customer brokerage accounts at the big online brokers , I would have to believe that this last push from the retail investor is nearing its completion. Data from the fund industry has shown a massive migration of investor cash moving out of actively managed mutual funds and into passive index funds. This would include money managed on behalf of individuals by registered investment advisors.

Most investor sentiment indicators are showing extreme levels of bullishness – historically unprecedented levels.  The short interest on the NYSE has melted down nearly to zero.   The Acting Man blog has written an excellent post which details the sentiment indicators flashing bright red warning lights – I recommend a perusal:   Mother Of All Blow-Offs

For now, the raging bulls chasing momentum conveniently ignore  the deterioration in “new orders” and “employment” numbers in deference to the statistically manipulated headline reports that purport to show economic growth. Most of the bullish reports are overweighted with “sentiment” and “hope” metrics that offset declining real economy statistics.  Credit card and auto loan delinquencies – both subprime and “prime” –  continue to increase a double-digit rates (see WFM or COF’s latest quarterlies, for instance).  As for the “prime” credit rating designation of 2017, it’s not your mother’s “prime” credit rating.

At this point I don’t want to speculate on how much longer that Dow/SPX/Naz can go straight up. Historically this is the type of market behavior which has marked the blow-off top of speculative manias and has preceded serious market accidents.

Is this the “Mother Of  All Blow-Offs?” Probably.

Part of the commentary above was excerpted from the last issue of the Short Seller’s Journal. Believe it or not, there’s 100’s of stocks that declining or have set-up short-sell opportunities.  Long term puts are historically cheap and shorting certain companies is a no-brainer.  I had my subscribers short Sears at $12.   Last week I presented homebuilder to short that is down 6.7% on the week, so far.  To learn about about this newsletter, click here:  Short Seller’s Journal information

2018 Should Be Bullish For The Precious Metals Sector

Usually I’m loathe to stick out price targets on the markets, especially gold and silver, because of the undeniable market intervention of the Central Banks – market manipulation which is blatant to the point at which it is now denied only by card-carrying idiots.

Gold and silver had a sharp run-up in the last two weeks of 2017. However, the abrupt move in gold was accompanied by a rapid rise in the gold futures open interest on the Comex. The “commercial” – aka “the banks” – net short position in Comex gold futures has increased by 100,000 contracts (from 120 net short to 220k net short) in just four weeks through the most recent COT report. That’s a net paper gold short of 22 million ozs, or 623 tonnes of paper sold short. As of yesterday (Tues, Jan 16), the open interest in gold futures increased another 27,000 contracts, most of which, based on the trend in the COT positions,  can be attributed to a continued increase in bank short interest.

To put this paper gold short position in perspective, the Comex reports that its warehouses “safekeep” 9.2 million ounces of gold (this number is unaudited). That’s 11 million ounces less than the bank net short position. However, only 586k ozs of gold are reported to be “registered,” or available for delivery. The ratio of the paper gold short to deliverable gold is 37:1. In other words, each ounce of deliverable gold has been “hypothecated” and re-sold 37 times.

I guess if you are a card-carrying idiot, you have every right to deny that these numbers reflect the flagrant disregard of securities laws by the banks. But of course, the very people appointed to enforce these laws are from law firms that make millions defending the banks’ legal rights to ignore Rule of Law.

On the other hand,  offsetting the attempted control of the price of gold using derivatives, the eastern hemisphere demand for physical gold continues to be immense. It looks like, based on SGE gold withdrawals, China as a whole “consumed” over 2,000 tonnes of gold in 2017. India likely imported and smuggled into the country close to or more than 1,000 tonnes. Turkey imported 370 tonnes of gold in 2017. This exceeded the previous record in 2013 by over 22%. I would note that the size of Turkey’s demand was not expected. I don’t have Russia’s import numbers off the top of my head but Russia imported more in 2017 than has been typical.

The point here is that the eastern hemisphere’s demand for gold on an annualized basis is increasing as the price of gold increases. It’s important to know that, on a seasonal basis, imports into China and India tend to slow down in late January through February before picking up again. My hunch is that the paper gold manipulators are looking to hold down the price of gold as much as possible and wait for eastern demand to subside before attacking the price. 

This will serve as a catalyst to launch another surge higher in the price of gold driven by physical demand.  Demand which might get a boost from the ongoing crash of the cyptocurrencies.

Having said all of that, I believe there’s a good chance that gold will move toward and possibly over $1400 during 2018. This Trump tax cut will negatively impact the Government’s spending deficit by a meaningful amount and the U.S. will be forced to issue well over $1 trillion in Treasury debt this year. Moody’s placed the U.S. Government’s rating on watch for a possible downgrade. During the course of the year I expect to see the dollar index drop below 90, which is a key technical support level. If this occurs, gold will quickly move over $1400.

A portion of the commentary above is an excerpt from the latest  Mining Stock Journal.

Who’s Going To Stop The Madness?

Every month consumer debt in aggregate hits a new record. Auto loans and student loans have been hitting monthly record highs for quite some time. In November credit card debt hit a record high in total and increased a record monthly amount for any one month. Mathematically this can’t go on forever. In fact, there are signs – indicators not reported widely by the financial media and, predictably, completely disregarded by Wall Street – that indicate the debt party is coming to an end. Events that follow the end of the party will be less than pleasant for the majority of U.S. households.

Every week in the Short Seller’s Journal I present data which reflects the deteriorating condition of middle class America. For definitional purposes, “middle class” is defined as any household that is unable to afford their own politician, which means 99.5% of all households.

As an example, buried in Wells Fargo’s Q4 earnings presentation was data that showed charge-offs in WFC’s credit card loan portfolio in Q4 soared 21% vs. Q3. The charge-off rate as a percent of average loans outstanding increased to 3.66% in Q4 from 3.08% in Q3. This is a 19% increase in the charge-off rate. While this might seem like a low number outright, not only is it headed in the wrong direction, it’s not too far below the nationwide bank credit card charge-off rate in 2007 of 4.15%. Again, this fits my thesis that the financial condition of the average household is deteriorating.

In addition, the dollar volume of auto loan originations at WFC declined 33% and home mortgage originations fell 26%. in Q4 2017 vs 2016. WFC’s mortgage applications in Q4 dropped 16% in dollar volume from Q4 2016. And its application pipeline (applications submitted and waiting for the purchase to close) declined 23% for the quarter vs Q4 2016.

WFC is the second largest mortgage originator after Quicken Loans. It is also a major player in auto loan underwriting. If auto and mortgage loan origination statistics are declining at a double-digit rate at WFC, it’s a good bet that this is a secular trend across the industry. Simply put, middle America – the 99.5%’ers – are running out of capacity to assume even more debt. This in turn will translate into a unexpectedly precipitous drop in consumer spending, especially on large-ticket items like cars, furniture and homes.

I stumbled on a blog a couple weeks ago called  A Cold War Relic. The proprietor works at an auto dealership and presents valuable insight on the factors that will drive auto sales into the ground and send auto loan defaults soaring. His latest post, “What’s Going To Stop Me,” is well worth reading:

This dark momentum could strangle the industry, but everyone refuses to stop it. Every time a customer accepts a $500 monthly payment on another overpriced compact crossover, they are feeding that momentum. When dealers structure deals for far more than the car is worth, they are feeding that momentum. The problem is: who is going to actually tell anybody “no?” Customers want their cars and refuse [do not have the funds] to put money down to get them. A large number of dealerships are fighting to attain sales numbers the market can’t currently support.

I get cursed out every month when our store misses the targets set for us by the manufacturer, even though I’m fighting against larger stores offering deeper discounts on new cars. On top of that, it’s not just your credit criminal customer that isn’t reading what they’ve signed anymore. When you have consumers with 700+ FICO scores rolling over portions of debt they already couldn’t handle on top of new debt and financing the whole thing over increasingly long terms at interest rates they arguably no longer deserve. The problem is that prime credit customers are slowly becoming credit criminals.

You can read the rest of this here (highly recommended):   Auto Loan Crack-Up Boom Coming

In the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, I present a no-brainer homebuilder short idea plus I illustrate the mechanics of shorting a stock for those who only use put options.  In addition I review the Company’s fundamentals.  This is probably the only homebuilder for which unit sales are dropping – in this case falling at a double-digit percentage rate. I believe shorting this stock is good – at the very least – for a 30% ROR by the end of the year, if not sooner. You can find out more details about the Short Seller’s Journal here: Subscription Information.

Gold And The Debt Crack-Up Boom

The stock market has entered the “melt-up” phase that characterizes the final stage of a rampant stock bubble – or any bubble for that matter. The stock market is more overvalued than at any point in history using just about any traditional valuation metric. At this point, the stock market has become a function of money managers chasing price momentum. They are doing nothing more than gambling with other people’s money in the hopes that they’ll be able to unload their stock purchases at an even higher level on other gamblers.

Pulling back the cloud of propaganda that surrounds economic news reported by official sources (Government, Fed, industry associations and the financial media) reveals an economy that has been heading into recession and a stunning deterioration in the financial condition of the average household.

A study of U.S. households released by Deutsche Bank showed that the median household net worth is lower than it was in 1989. Despite the rise in home values and stocks, over 30% of all households have a negative net worth. A greater share of Americans have more debt than money in the bank than at any point since 1962. Add on to this the fact that overall systemic debt – a record level of auto, student loan, mortgage, corporate and Treasury debt – has reached a record level outright and as a percentage of the GDP.

Silver Doctor’s Elijah Johnson invited me on to his podcast to discuss why the U.S. economic system is headed for a trainwreck and why gold will surprise to the upside in 2018:

The latest stock featured in the Mining Stock Journal has doubled in six weeks. It has potential to be a 10-bagger from here.  Click on these links if want to learn more about the MINING STOCK JOURNAL or the SHORT SELLER’S JOURNAL

The Blockchain Name-Change Game And Securities Fraud

The rape and pillage of the blockchain name-change game took on a whole new dimension with Kodak (KODK) this week.  KODK was on the way to its second bankruptcy filing this decade (first one was January 2012).  On January 9th it announced that it implement a “major blockchain initiative.  This “initiative” would use digital ledgers to help photographers license and get paid for their work.  The stock soared:

Notwithstanding whether or not this “block chain initiative” will ever generate meaningful profits for KODK, it turns out that insiders at the Company filed S-4’s with the SEC disclosing that they were awarded 10’s of thousands of “restricted stock units.” The problem with this? The RSU’s were awarded on January 8th, the day before the “blockchain” announcement was released on January 9th.  The timing of this filing is quite curious.

The Company released its Q3 10-Q on November 8th.  Revenues plunged 32% yr/yr for the 3rd quarter; operating income swung from $15mm in Q3 2016 to a $54mm loss in Q3 2017. The Company is dying on a vine.  Ordinarily compensation stock in the form of RSU’s is awarded at the end of each quarter. The issuance of RSU’s is disclosed in the 10-Q.  No mention whatsoever of management or employee stock compensation awards.  No mention whatsoever in the MD&A of a plan to incorporate “blockchain” in any part of the business model.

All of the above, in conjunction with the sudden disclosure of large quantities of free stock in the form of RSU’s the day before KODK’s “blockchain initiative” announcement tells me that this was a scheme hatched sometime well after the Q3 10-Q was filed by unscrupulous corporate executives who saw an opportunity to exploit the massive blockchain stock and cryptocurrency bubble.

In all probability, these insiders have likely arranged to hedge the gains on the underlying stock represented by the RSU’s using OTC derivatives underwritten by Wall Street banks. These would be derivatives structured in a way that would escape the requirement to disclose the transaction in an SEC filing.  Instant profits on derivative stock that was awarded the day before news was released by the Company – news that upper management knew would send the stock to the moon.

Based on the black and white letter of the law, KODK upper management technically has not violated a strict interpretation of insider trading laws.  However, 20 years ago it’s highly likely that, if lawsuits were pressed, KODK’s upper management and board of directors would have been prosecuted and convicted of insider trading.

Fast-forward to 2018, near the end of a stock and fraud bubble that is multiples of the one that occurred with dot.com’s in the late 1990’s, and everyone looks the other way including the NYSE, SEC and Justice Department.

It’s a good bet this “blockchain initiative” will never generate any meaningful profits for the Company.  Most likely KODK is headed for a Chapter “22” filing before the end of this decade because bleeding cash profusely and it is mired in large pension and debt liabilities.

This is an example of the blatant fraud and corruption that accompanies the top of stock market bubble and the collapse of a political and economic system.  The blockchain and cryptocurrencies will not revolutionize life as we know it nor will they generate real economic wealth for anyone other than those in a position to exploit the greed and fear of missing out of the idiots who buy into the fairytale.

As expressed by Fred Hickey in his High-Tech Strategist newsletter, {Bitcoin/blockchain} “is the cherry on top of the world’s first truly global market bubble.”

The Household Debt Ticking Time Bomb

I fully expect the Government’s Census Bureau to post a mind-blowing headline retail sales number for December.  Hyperbolic headline economic statistics derived from mysterious “seasonal adjustments” based on questionable sampling methodology is part of the official propaganda policy mandated by the Executive Branch of Government.

But I also believe that retail sales were likely more robust than saner minds were expecting because it appears that households have become accustomed to the easy credit provided by the banking system to make ends meet. Borrow money to “spend and pretend.”  The Fed reported that consumer credit hit an all-time record in November.  The primary driver was credit card debt, which hit a new all-time high (previous record was in 2008).  Credit debt also increased a record monthly amount in November.

“Speaking of signposts, households have grown increasingly comfortable with leverage to maintain their living standards, which of course economists cheer. That’s worked for 24 straight months as credit card spending growth has outrun that of income growth” – Danielle DiMartino Booth, who was an advisor for nine years to former Dallas Fed President, Richard Fisher.

The graph above shows the year over year monthly percentage change in revolving credit – which is primarily credit card debt – and real disposable personal income. Real disposable personal income is after-tax income adjusted for CPI inflation. As you can see, the growth in the use of credit card debt has indeed outstripped the growth in after-tax household income. The credit metric above would not include home equity lines of credit.  At some point, assuming the relationship between the two variables above continues along the same trend, and we have no reason to believe that it won’t, credit card debt will collide with reality and there will be a horrifying number of credit card defaults. Worse than 2008-2010.

This chart shows household debt service payments as a percent of after-tax income:

“Debt service” is interest + principal payments.  With auto loan and credit card debt, most of the debt service payment is interest.  This metric climbed to a 5-year high during a period of time when interest rates hit all-time record lows.  Currently the average household is unable to make more than the minimum principle payment per the information conveyed by the first graphic.  What happens to the debt service:income ratio metric as households continue to pile on debt to make ends meet while interest rates rise?

Household debt service includes mortgage debt service payments.  Household mortgage debt outstanding is not quite at the all-time high recorded in Q2 2008.   The current number from the Fed is through Q3 2017. At the current quarterly rate of increase, an new all-time high in mortgage debt outstanding should occur during Q2 2018.  However, it should be noted that the number of homes sold per quarter during this current housing bubble is below the number of units sold per quarter at the peak of the previous housing bubble.  This means that the average size of mortgage per home sold is higher now than during the earlier housing bubble.  This is a fact that overlooked by every housing and credit market analyst, either intentionally or from ignorance (I’ll let you decide).

The graph to the right shows that access to credit is about as easy as it gets right now. A financial conditions index (Goldman’s is not the only version), measures financial variables that influence economic behavior. This includes the supply and cost of credit.

A declining index value reflects easier financial conditions. The current index is equal to the low-point of this metric going back to 1992. Unless history does not repeat, this index is set to head higher again. We are already seeing signs of this with higher interest rates, rising CPI/PPI-measured price inflation and accelerating consumer credit default rates.

It has been my argument that, on average and in general, the average U.S. household has reached, or will soon reach, the limit in its ability to support an increasing amount of debt. The use of debt has prevented consumer spending from falling off a cliff. Using debt to consume does not accomplish economic growth. It simply shifts consumption from the future to the present. Unless by some miracle the average household experiences an unforeseen jump in income – enough to enable it pay down debt and continue consuming at the present level, consumer spending will hit a wall.

I have no idea what kind of rigged, statistically manipulated vomit the Government is going to report for December and Q4 2017 retail sales but auto sales are already reflecting a serial decline in sales. Unless the banks open up the credit spigots even more – with reckless disregard to rising delinquency and default rates – consumer spending in general, and retail and auto sales in particular, is going to decline precipitously during 2018.  This will wreak havoc on the economy.  The bigger problem is going to be the rising delinquency and default rates. I suspect that this will begin to accelerate over the next 12 months regardless of Fed monetary policy. Speaking of which, I expect the Fed to begin dragging its feet on hiking rates as we move further in the new year.

A portion of the commentary above is an excerpt from the latest Short Seller’s Journal.  This weekly subscription newsletter provides insight to the economic and financial data not reported by the financial media and Wall Street.  In addition to economic analysis, I present ideas for shorting individual stocks.  Currently the path of least resistance to make money shorting is with retail and retail-related stocks.  I also provide ideas for using options. You can learn more about this unique service here:  Short Seller’s Journal information.

Dave, each week I am reminded of the degree to which you do highly disciplined, fact based, and insightful work. Thank you – subscriber, “Rod”

The Fatal Mistake Crypto Investors are Making Now

I find it amusing that the stock market is attributing so much value to the “blockchain” technology.  In reality, blockchain technology is just a piece of software that increases the degree of security for digital transactions.  I fail to see how this will revolutionize our lives the way the roll-out of the internet or the implementation of mass production or the invention of the internal combustion engine or the harnessing of electricity  changed and affected our daily lives.  I believe the technology has been egregiously over-hyped by promoters who make unrealistic claims about the potential for blockchain software.

But for now it sure is a great “buzzword” for unscrupulous operators to make  a lot of money selling blockchain “snake-oil” to suckers.   Just add the word “blockchain” to the name of your company and the stock will triple in a day.  It’s like the dot.com bubble when any stock with “dot.com” in the name of the company soared.  99.9% of those stocks disappeared completely by 2003.

This article was written Josh Brown of The Reformed Broker

Let’s start our discussion with the technology which made Bitcoin possible called “blockchain”. In very simple terms the blockchain technology is a record of all transactions ever done in Bitcoin. Imagine a gigantic piece of paper that lists every transaction ever completed. Then imagine that there are thousands of copies of this paper, and all of them are automatically updated when any two people agree to exchange Bitcoins. Every time a transaction takes place all these copies are checked for consistency to make sure you actually have the Bitcoins you claim to have. If everything checks out the new transaction is added to all the pieces of paper at once.

This is the heart of the truly genius idea that is blockchain, and it is what it makes it possible to have certainty over a Bitcoin balance someone owns, without needing any central party (like a bank) to verify it. If all the pieces of paper agree then the balance is correct, and trying to doctor or fake all the pieces of paper at once is impossible. The best (and worst) thing about this technology is that it has been made available for absolutely FREE to anyone who wants to use it.

You can read the rest of this here:  The Fatal Mistake Crypto Investors are Making Now

Returning to a Gold Standard – Why and How

This article is from Dr. Fraser Murrell via The Daily Coin:

In the 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton presided over a (bi-metal) Gold and Silver Standard, with the flaw being the fix of silver to gold. In the 1900s, John Maynard Keynes “revolutionized” economics, with the result being certain economic collapse. In both cases there was a logical error in the key definition of “price”, which is critical to the stability of the economy. This note examines the problem and then goes on to present a workable Gold Standard, which it is argued, is the most stable frame of reference for our economy.

You can read the rest of this here:   Returning to a Gold Standard