Category Archives: Precious Metals

What’s Driving The Price Of Gold and Silver?

Fear, Greed and Reality. Also Bill Murphy’s “Commercial Signal Failure,” which occurs when physical demand for deliverable gold and silver overwhelms the paper derivative short positions used by the western Central Banks to manage the price of gold and silver.

The naked short position in paper gold and silver is so big that any government or central bank with a substantial FX surplus could pull the plug on it by trading enough Treasuries, or even euros or yen, for real metal. Russia and China, among several other eastern hemisphere Central Banks are doing just that.

Silver Doctor’s James Anderson invited me to discuss the factors behind what appears to be a major move higher in the precious metals, possibly leading to the eventual geopolitical and financial systemic reset (Silver Doctors/SD Bullion):

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Don’t Let The CPM Group Feed You A Bag Of Brown Stuff About Silver

The CPM Group and its proprietor, Jeffrey Christian, has operated as one of the “analytic” fronts for the western Central Banks’ paper derivative gold and silver manipulation scheme for many years.  Someone sent me the CPM Group’s latest commentary on silver in which it expresses the view that the price of silver will “fall dramatically” after the September silver contract “roll” on the Comex is over. You can read the brief report here:

CPM Market Commentary 2019-5, Who Is Buying Silver, It’s The Comex Shorts, 2019-08-28

To begin with, the paper price of silver is not being driven higher by short-covering on the Comex. In fact, the big banks/commercials, as well as the “other reportables” and retail traders per the last COT report added over 10,000 contracts to their short position last week. Let’s be clear on one thing, and the years of evidence supporting this is overwhelming, the only time “short covering” drove the price of silver higher was in early 2011 when the big banks were forced to scramble for cover and ran the price of silver close to $50.

The price of silver drops when the big banks short thousands of contracts in an effort to cap a price rally or drive the price lower.

CPM makes the argument that physical demand for silver is not a factor in the recent move higher in the price of silver based on demand for US Silver Eagles per the U.S. Mint report.  This assertion is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who studies the silver market thoroughly. U.S. retail investor silver eagle demand represents less than 5% of the amount of silver produced annually. Industrial demand plus jewelry/ silverware use accounts for roughly 75% of the amount of silver “consumed” annually. It can be argued that U.S. retail demand for coins has very little, if any, influence on the price movement in silver.

Finally, the “roll” of Comex silver open interest from the expiring front month to the next front month – in this case September to December – affects the price of silver maybe to the extent that a significant portion of the expiring front  month open interest does not “roll” out to December and instead sells outright.  First notice day is tomorrow, which means any account holding contracts must either roll or have its account funded to receive delivery of physical silver as early as this evening (the day before official 1st notice).

You’ll note in the report that Christian states that there’s “226.5 million ounces of September open interest to be rolled forward…” This is incorrect – egregiously incorrect in fact. As of Wednesday’s close per the CME’s open interest report, there were 91,109 contracts open in September. Anyone who’s traded Comex paper silver knows each contract represents 5,000 ozs. The o/i at the end of Wednesday was 97,109 contracts, or 485.5 million ozs of paper silver. In all likelihood at least 1/3 to a half of that – or more – will have rolled or sold by the close of Comex pit trading today.

But Christian uses the big numbers to make the situation sound extremely bearish for silver. It’s not. In fact, it will be interesting to see how many contracts will be left standing after today.  Liquidation of September silver contracts by hedge funds (“managed money”) is likely causing the price decline in silver and gold today.  We’ll know for sure tomorrow when the CME o/i report is released. I would not be surprised if more the 50% of the September o/i has liquidated today.

The amount of silver designated as available for delivery (“registered”) as of Wednesday was 91 million ozs.  If just 20% of the open September silver contracts stand for delivery (which is unlikely) the Comex will have a supply problem. However, in all likelihood, most of the open contracts after today’s close will either liquidate – if they are not noticed – or agree to settle in cash (an EFP or PNT). The bottom line is that the September/December “roll” will  have little to no affect on the directional movement of the silver price.

Jeffrey Christian’s CPM Report on silver is little more than  fear propaganda which is woefully short on  facts and long on fairytale-based analysis.  He concludes that “weak investment demand created short positions on the Comex and weak investment demand suggests that prices will not continue to rise.”  Not one letter of one word in that assertion contains even the smallest shred of truth.  Certainly just the flow of capital into the various silver ETFs over the summer contradicts Christian’s absurd claim.

What is driving the price of silver higher? Physical demand from India and China.  Both countries are implementing large-scale solar power build-outs.  Furthermore, India’s population has shifted a considerable amount of demand from gold buying to silver purchases since the Government raised the import duty on gold bars.

Similarly, China’s consumption of silver has likely soared after the Government restricted the supply of gold into the SGE in order to “feed the beast” –  i.e. what is likely massive unreported gold accumulation by the PBoC.  It’s impossible to track China’s real demand for gold and silver since 2014, when the Government opened up Shanghai and Beijing for gold and silver importation.  The amount of metal that flows through those ports is not published by design.

In truth, the inexorable rise this summer in the price of gold and silver is being driven by enormous physical demand not from retail minnows but by large entities primarily in the eastern hemisphere which are accumulating an enormous amount of physical gold and silver. Certainly “footprints” in the snow on the LBMA would support this conclusion.  Do not be bamboozled or scared into selling your physical gold and silver or your mining stocks by charlatans like Jeffrey Christian.

Gold, Silver, Mining Stocks: Get Ready For A Huge Ride Higher

Bullion Star released a graph Tuesday that showed Switzerland exported 90 tonnes of gold to the London gold market (U.K.) in July, which dwarfed exports to India and China.  Bloomberg’s spin on the data was that the gold was needed for ETFs.   Of course, as is typical, the Bloomberg “journalist” likely regurgitated “information” that came from a  source rather than fact-check.

But fact-checking shows that the number of tonnes of gold in GLD, by far the largest gold ETF, increased by only 23 tonnes during July from 800 to 823.  Assume the much smaller gold ETFs took in the same amount collectively – an estimate that is more than generous, and ETF gold flow accounts for less than 50% of the gold  exported to London.

Alternatively, a more likely explanation is that large quantities of physical gold are needed on the LBMA to feed an enormous buyer or buyers in London. This would explain what has become routine “V” shape moves in overnight gold futures trading, as the price of gold shrugs off repetitive attempts to push the price lower after Asia closes and LBMA forward and Comex futures trading replaces the physical gold markets in the eastern hemisphere.

This amount of gold imported by the London gold market also reflects the tight supply that has persisted for quite some time. The presence of a large physical buyer(s) would explain the relentless move higher in the price of gold (and silver).

This chart shows the  US-dollar price of the gold/HUI ratio. When I started to look at this sector back in 2001, gold was re-testing $250, which it hit after the Bank of England dumped half of its gold (400 tonnes) onto the market in 1999 (gold hit $253 on July 20, 1999). The HUI index was around 50 when I began to delve into the sector. This chart sourced from The Felder Report, with my edits, shows how cheap the mining stocks are relative to the price gold:

The ratio of the HUI index to gold has ranged from just over 0.6 in 2003 to the 0.10 it hit in December 2015. I predict that if the price of gold moves over $2000, we could see the HUI/gold ratio converge on 1.0. As the price of gold moves above the average cost for a mining company to pull gold out of the ground, every dollar higher the price moves adds a dollar to the income and cash flow of producing mining companies.

While the mining stocks in general have had a strong move since the end of May, “gold fever” and “mining stock fever” have not infected the general investment audience – yet. As an example, over the last two months of 2008, the HUI doubled (150 to 300). Gold was around $800. From mid-January 2016 to mid-August 2016, the GDXJ tripled. Since the end of May, the GDXJ has moved up 46%. An impressive move to be sure but it has long way to move to match the 2016 move in eight months.

The juniors are even cheaper than the producers. This is because, as the price of gold moves higher, value of the gold (or silver) in the ground for juniors with a resource becomes worth even more to potential acquirers, especially juniors who have projects in close proximity to mining companies with operating mines and infrastructure. At some point, larger mining companies will either have to start buying juniors or face being acquired by even bigger mining companies. Assuming the price of gold/silver continues to move higher from here, I believe we’ll start to see a lot more acquisition activity before the end of the year.

Negative Rates, Gresham’s Law And A Parabolic Move In Gold

Thomas Gresham observed in the 1500’s that “bad money drives out good.”  The concept applied to gold and silver coins and the value of precious metals metals used in the coins relative to their face value.  Back then silver coins would be debased by replacing some of the silver content with base metals.  Of course, that practice of monetary debasement goes back to ancient Rome.

But the idea applies today in the sense that, as fiat currency continues to be devalued with money printing and artificially low interest rates, those paying attention will begin to convert cash savings into physical gold and silver and use the devalued fiat currency for transactions settlement. This is likely part of the reason the prices of gold and silver are at all-time highs in almost every fiat currency globally.

But I got to thinking about the further imposition of negative rates after absorbing Alasdair Macleod’s must-read essay, “Deeply negative nominal rates are on their way.” In this brilliantly written explanation of the problems with negative rates, Macleod references two working papers from the IMF which address the problem of hoarding cash if commercial banks impose a negative rate on cash balances by “taxing” cash withdrawals. This would be the implementation of negative rate on money held at banks. Money spent electronically would not be taxed like this.

As preposterous as that may seem, if the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) is publishing working papers which discuss taxing those who attempt to remove cash from the banking system, it likely means implementation of this policy is being considered not only by the IMF but also the BIS.

The imposition of a negative rate policy in the form of a “tax” on cash withdrawals will likely lead eventually to a run on the banks by large depositors, who will “smell” this policy in advance. This cash – or “untaxed good money” – will be removed from the financial system. Currency needed for daily use would remain in the banks and used electronically – this would be the “bad money.”

In a sense, we’re already seeing Gresham’s Law in the sovereign bond market. Large pools of capital are flooding into sovereign bonds as the price of these bonds grinds inexorably higher. It would be absurd to pay a huge premium above face for a bond knowing that if you hold it to maturity you’ll be repaid substantially less than the price you paid for the bond (i.e. a negative return on these bonds held to maturity). So it’s rational to assume that savvy players will eventually sell before the price of the bond is below the price paid.

It’s performance-chasing that gives the investor a better return than simply holding cash if he sells at the right time. The alternative is holding the cash in short term money market type investments which guarantees a negative return. To visualize this dynamic, here’s the price chart of a 100yr Austrian sovereign bond:

As Bloomberg describes it: “this type of debt carries heavy risks. After all, it will only redeem at 100% of its face value (or par) so investors who have bought in at much higher prices would suffer if yields returned to levels seen as recently as the start of this year – and the price of the bond fell. Furthermore, while interest might not be the priority for many investors in ultra-long maturities, the Austrian paper is only yielding 60 basis points currently. That won’t butter many parsnips.”

Again, as I argued above, rationale investors will begin to sell paper like this and look for alternatives. At some point, as the monetary policies of the Central Banks become more totalitarian, rational investors will turn to gold and silver rather than chase bond prices into even more negative territory. Unfortunately for them, institutional investors will be confined to gold and surrogates like GLD and SLV, both of which have seen massive inflows of capital already. But wealthy investors will soon be converting cash into physical gold and silver and safekeeping it outside of the banking system, thereby effectively removing good money – i.e. untaxed large bank deposits – from the system and using gold and silver as wealth preservation assets.

This in will turn into a real gold rush and the prices of gold and silver will go parabolic. To visualize what this will look like, refer to the chart of the 100yr Austrian bond above.

I agree with Alasdair Macleod’s conclusion that deeply negative interest rates will lead to a collapse of fiat currencies – probably not as soon as this year but, then again, a bell won’t ring when it’s time get out of fiat currencies and bank accounts:

Given the rapidity with which the global economy is now declining, we will be lucky if a credit crisis leading to deeply negative nominal rates doesn’t happen this year. The pace at which depositors in the banks then become aware of what is happening to their fiat currency will determine the speed and extent of the currency collapse. 

The Remarkable Resiliency Of Gold And Silver

The price of gold continues to hold up under the enormous selling in the paper derivatives markets on the Comex and LBMA.  This morning’s price attack is a good example:

The chart above shows December paper gold in 5 minute intervals. Typically the price of gold is taken lower leading up to the a.m. London “fix,” in which the “price fix” process is characterized with heavy offerings.  Lately the price bounces after that. And of course there’s the obligatory price-smack when the Comex floor trading commences (8:20 a.m. EST).  Check that box.  Then the “hey can I tell you the good news” item hit the tape about 4 minutes after the NYSE opened.  The hedge fund algos spiked the S&P 500 futures and dumped paper gold.

For the better part of the last 18 years, when this type of “market” action occurs, gold is down for the count. Not only does the initial “fishing line” sell-off hold, but the gold price moves lower throughout the day.  This snap-back action in the gold price after a price attack since early June is unique to the way gold (and silver) has traded over the last 18+ years.

Gold is at or near an all-time high in most fiat paper currencies except the dollar. This summer, however, it would appear that the dollar-based valuation of gold is starting to break the “shackles” of official intervention and is beginning to reflect the underlying fundamentals.  On the assumption that gold can continue to withstand serious efforts to push the price back below $1500 (the net short position in gold futures held by Comex banks is near a record high, for instance), we could see $1600 or higher before Labor Day weekend.

This price-action in gold is being driven by enormous flows of capital into both physical gold and gold “surrogates” or “derivatives.”  Yes, GLD is a derivative of gold – a device used to index the price movement in gold.  The action over the last two months is more remarkable given that the increased excise tax on bullion imports into India has largely stifled import demand beyond what gets smuggled into the country (in excess of 300 tonnes annually).

I have been told my someone who claims to be in a position to know that there’s a buyer of massive amounts of physical gold and silver on every dip in price and that’s what is driving the resiliency of the precious metals.

Make no mistake, even if by chance of a miracle a “trade agreement” is reached between China and the U.S., the underlying economic fundamentals globally have already deteriorated into a recession. And it’s getting worse. It has nothing to do with tariffs.  For the primary cause, research the amount of debt outstanding now vs.  2008…

Moreover, the randomness of unforeseen news events causing sudden market sell-offs and precious metals rallies is starting to occur with greater frequency. This is driving the flight-to-safety move into the precious metals. The mining stocks have lagged relative to the risk-adjusted percentage move since early June in gold and silver. I do not expect that to last for long…

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You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a minimum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

Is the Federal Reserve losing control of the gold price?

For the majority of the last 20 years, the western Central Banks, under the direction of the BIS, have been able to use the precious metals derivatives markets to “manage” the price of gold.  As long as counterparties who are “synthetically” long gold and silver are willing to settle the derivatives trade in cash or ETF shares, gold derivatives can be created in infinite quantities and used to keep a lid on the price of gold.

But since late spring, it seems that the attempts to use the paper gold and silver markets on the Comex and LBMA to drive the price lower have been met with aggressive buying.  For now the only explanation is that a large buyer  (or maybe several) may be accumulating physical gold/silver, which is preventing the price managers from indiscriminately printing and flooding the market with paper derivative contracts to drive the price down.  The tail may no longer be wagging the dog.

My friend and colleague, Paul Craig Roberts wrote this commentary about the possibility that the physical gold market is taking away:

After years of being kept in the doldrums by orchestrated short selling described on this website by Roberts and Kranzler, gold has lately moved up sharply reaching $1,510 this morning. The gold price has continued to rise despite the continuing practice of dumping large volumes of naked contracts in the futures market. The gold price is driven down but quickly recovers and moves on up. I haven’t an explanation at this time for the new force that is more powerful than the short-selling that has been used to control the price of gold.

You can read the rest of PCR’s analysis here:  Is The Fed Losing Control Of Gold

Inching Toward The Cliff – Why Gold Is Soaring

The global economy is headed uncontrollably toward the proverbial cliff. Although the Central Banks will once again attempt to defer this reality with more money printing and currency devaluation, systemic collapse is fait accompli.

Gold and silver are behaving in a way I have not observed in over 18 years of active participation in the precious metals sector. It’s quite possible that the is being driven by the physical gold and silver markets, with the banks losing manipulative control over precious metals prices using derivatives.

Silver Doctors invited me to discuss a global economy headed for economic and financial disaster; we also discuss the likely reintroduction of gold into the global monetary system:

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You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a miniumum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

A Global Race To Zero In Fiat Currencies…

…ushers in the restoration of price discovery in the precious metals market. The price of gold is at or near an all-time in most currencies except the dollar. This summer, however, it would appear that the dollar-based valuation of gold is starting to break the “shackles” of official intervention and is beginning reflect the underlying fundamentals. Gold priced in dollars is up over 14% since mid-November 2018 and over 44% since it bottomed at $1050 in December 2015. But those RORs for gold are inconvenient truths you won’t hear in the mainstream financial media.

The movement in gold from 2008-2011 reflected the fundamental problems that caused the great financial crisis. The gold price also anticipated the inherent devaluation of the U.S. dollar from the enormous amount of money and credit that was to be created in order to keep the U.S. financial/economic system from collapsing. But those “remedies” only  treated the symptoms – not the underlying problems.

Once the economic/financial system was stabilized, the price of gold – which had become
technically extremely over-extended – entered a 5-year period of correction/consolidation.
This of course was helped along with official intervention. Gold bottomed out vs. the dollar in late 2015. As you can see, the gold price is significantly undervalued relative to the rising level of Treasury debt:

This is just one measuring stick by which to assess a “fundamental” dollar price for gold. But clearly just using this variable, gold is significantly under-priced in U.S. dollars.

As mentioned above, the underlying problems that led to the systemic de facto collapse in 2008 were allowed to persist. In fact, these problems have become worse despite the  efforts of the policy-makers and insider elitists to cover them up. But gold is starting to sniff the truth.  I’ve been expecting an aggressive effort by the banks to push the price of gold below $1400 – at least temporarily. But every attempt at this endeavor has failed quickly.  This is the ”invisible hand” of the market that ”sees” the ensuing currency devaluation race, which has shifted from a marathon to a track meet.

Though the politicians and Wall Street snake-oil salesmen will blame the fomenting economic contraction on the “trade war,”  the system was heading into a tail-spin anyway – the trade war is simply hastening the process. As such, the only conclusion I can draw is that there’s big big money globally – over and above the well publicized Central Bank buying – that is moving into gold and silver for wealth preservation. In short, bona fide price discovery in U.S. dollar terms is being reintroduced to the precious metals market.

The Mining Stock Journal  covers several mining stocks that I believe are extraordinarily undervalued relative to their upside potential. I also present opportunistic recommendations on select mid-tier and large-cap miners that should outperform their peers.  You can learn more about this newsletter here:   Mining Stock Journal information.

Gold / Silver May Be Breaking Free From Manipulation

The price of gold has rejected numerous attempts by the banks to hammer the gold price below $1400 using paper gold derivatives on the Comex and the LBMA. I have not seen gold behave with such resiliency in the last 19 years when the Comex banks have an extremely large short position in Comex paper.

The action in the price of gold is signalling that large buyers are accumulating a lot of physical gold. This is preventing the banks from using the Comex as a manipulative tool. Based on historical preferences, I highly doubt the buying is coming from the hedge funds, who have been content playing in the paper gold sandbox of the Comex.

Per the World Gold Council numbers, which are notoriously understated, Central Banks have purchased 374 tonnes of gold in the first half of 2019. This is the highest level of CB gold purchases in over 50 years. Note that western Central Banks – specifically the Fed, ECB, BoE and BoJ have been notably absent from the buying frenzy. The buying has been led by China, Poland and Russia.

“With governments everywhere itching to increase spending without raising taxes and as the global economy sinks into a trade and credit-cycle induced recession, budget deficits will fuel monetary inflation at a faster pace than seen before. Re-learning that gold is sound money is now the most urgent priority for all those charged with responsibility for other peoples’ investments.”

The quote above is from Alasdair Macleod’s must-read essay titled, “The Reasoning Behind Gold’s Breakout.”  The article dispels the common “Fake news” myths about gold. It would be a great article to read for Warren Buffet, who believes that gold “just sits there doing nothing.” Of course, students of gold and history know that gold has outperformed the Dow since 1971. Macleod revisits the math behind this fact.

If you are looking for mining stock ideas to take advantage of the emerging bull market move in gold and silver, please consider my Mining Stock Journal.  In the latest issue released last night I review a popular silver stock that I believe is overvalued and I present a high risk/high return junior exploration stock that is relatively unknown but has 10x potential. You can learn more about this newsletter here:  Mining Stock Journal information.

The Economy Is Starting To Implode

Regardless of the Fed Funds rate policy decision by the FOMC today, the economy is spinning down the drain. Lower rates won’t help stimulate much economic activity. Maybe it will arouse a little more financial engineering activity on Wall Street and it might give a temporary boost to mortgage refinancings. But the economic “recovery” of the last 8 years has been an illusion based on massive money printing and credit creation. And credit creation is de facto money printing until the point at which the debt needs to be repaid. Unfortunately, the system is at the point at debt saturation. That’s why the economy is contracting despite the Fed’s best efforts to create what it incorrectly references as “inflation.”

The Chicago PMI released today collapsed to 44.4, the second lowest reading since 2009 and the sharpest monthly decline since the great financial crisis. The index of business conditions in the Chicago area has dropped 5 out of 7 months in 2019. New orders, employment, production and order backlogs all contracted.

The Chicago Fed National Activity index for June remained in contraction at the -0.02 level, up slightly from the reading in May of -0.03. The 3-month average is -0.26. This was the 7th straight monthly decline for the index – the longest streak since 2009. This index is a weighting of 85 indicators of national economic activity. It thus measures a very wide range of economic activities.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing survey index fell off a cliff per last week’s report. The index plunged from 2 in June to -12. The June level was revised down from 3. Wall Street was looking for an index reading of 5. It was the biggest drop in two years and the lowest reading on the index since January 2013. Keep in mind the Fed was still printing money furiously in 2013. The headline index number is a composite of new orders, shipments and employment measures. The biggest contributor to the drop was the new orders component, as order backlogs fell to -26, the lowest reading since April 2009. The survey’s “business conditions” component dropped from 7 to -18, the largest one-month drop in the history of the survey.

Existing home sales for June declined 1.7% from May and 2.2% from June 2018 on a SAAR (seasonally adjusted annualized rate) basis. This is despite the fact that June is one of the best months of the year historically for home sales. Single family home sales dropped 1.5% and condo sales fell 3.3%.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, existing home sales were down 2.8% from May and down 7.5% from June 2018. The unadjusted monthly number is perhaps the most relevant metric because it removes both seasonality and the “statistical adjustments” imposed on the data by the National Association of Realtors’ number crunchers.

The was the 16th month in a row of year-over-year declines. You can see the trend developing. June 2018 was down 5% from June 2017 (not seasonally adjusted monthly metric) and June 2019 was down 7.5% from June 2018. The drop in home sales is made more remarkable by the fact that mortgage rates are only 40 basis points above the all-time low for a 30-yr fixed rate conforming mortgage. However, this slight increase in interest expense would have been offset by the drop in PMI insurance charged by the Government for sub-20% down payment mortgages.

The point here is that pool of potential home buyers who can afford the monthly cost of home ownership is evaporating despite desperate attempts by the Fed and the Government to make the cost of financing a home as cheap as possible. 

New home sales for June were reported to be up 6.9% – 646k SAAR from 604k SAAR – from May. However, it was well below the print for which Wall St was looking (660k SAAR). There’s a couple problems with the report, however, aside from the fact that John Williams (Shadowstats.com) referenced the number as “worthless headline detail [from] this most-volatile and unstable government housing-statistic.” May’s original number of 626k was revised lower to 604k. Furthermore, the number reported is completely dislocated from mortgage application data which suggests that new home sales were lower in June than May.

The new home sale metric is based on contract signings (vs closings for existing home sales). Keep in mind that 90% of all new home buyers use a mortgage for their purchase.
Mortgage applications released Wednesday showed a 2% drop in purchase applications from the previous week. Recall, the previous week purchase apps were down 4%. Purchase apps have now been down 6 out of the last 9 weeks.

Because 90% of new home buyers use a mortgage, the new home sales report should closely correlate with the Mortgage Bankers Association’s mortgage purchase application data. Clearly the MBA data shows mortgage purchase applications declining during most of June. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion. However, I suspect that when July’s number is reported in 4 weeks, there will a sharp downward revision for June’s number. In fact, the Government’s new home sales numbers were also revised lower for April and May. The median price of a new home is down about 10% from its peak in November 2017.

The shipments component of Cass Freight index was down 3.8% in June. It was the seventh straight monthly decline. The authors of the Cass report can usually put a positive spin or find a silver lining in negative data. The report for June was the gloomiest I’ve ever read from the Cass people. Freight shipping is part of the “central nervous system” of the economy. If freight shipments are dropping, so is overall economic activity. Of note, the price index is still rising. The data shows an economic system with contracting economic activity and infested with price inflation.

The propagandists on Capitol Hill, Wall Street and the financial media will use the trade war with China as the excuse for the ailing economy. Trump is doing his damnedest to use China and the Fed as the scapegoat for the untenable systemic problems he inherited but made worse by the policies he implemented since taking office. Trump has been the most enthusiastic cheerleader of the biggest stock market bubble in history. This, after he fingered his predecessor for fomenting “a big fat ugly bubble” when the Dow was at 17,000. If that was a big fat ugly bubble in 2016, what is now?