Category Archives: Precious Metals

Is Barrick Gold Signaling Peak Gold?

Barrick Gold’s hostile takeover offer for Newmont Mining likely signals “peak gold.” Barrick claims the shareholders would benefit from over US$7 billion in NPV of “real synergies.” These “synergies” would primarily be derived from proposed cost-savings by combing the Nevada operations of both companies. As it turns out, footnoted in Barrick’s presentation is the disclosure that the proposed $7 billion NPV represents the projected cash flow benefit of the merger over a 20-year period discounted at 5%.

If I were a NEM shareholder, my answer would be “no thanks.” First, it would be more
appropriate to use a 15-20% discount rate to better represent the probability that Barrick’s
projections over 20 years are even remotely accurate. Second, given the poor track record
over the last 20 years of Barrick’s management, I would be skeptical of any representations
and projections made by the Company. Barrick’s stock has substantially underperformed the  HUI index over the last 20 years. This is significant because Barrick carries a 13.8% weighting in the HUI. While some type of joint venture or merger of the two companies’ Nevada operations makes sense, I do not believe that Barrick will achieve the synergies as presented.

I believe Barrick’s move to buy Randgold and its attempt to acquire Newmont is a desperate attempt to accumulate as much gold reserves as possible to replace the depletion rate of Barrick’s reserves. The most cost effective way with the gold price at its current level to build a large gold resource base is to buy it. Acquiring Newmont would double Barrick’s  proven/probable reserve base and double its annual production.

In my opinion, Barrick’s acquisition of  Randgold and its attempt to acquire Newmont signals both “peak gold” and an outlook for a much higher gold price. There has not been a major gold deposit discovered in  several years. A five million oz discovery used to be considered “major.”  While I don’t know if this is still the case, a former Newmont geologist who now runs a junior mining company told me 10 years ago that NEM wouldn’t even consider a project unless the geologists thought it had a least 5 million ozs of gold.

Those days are probably over. It’s likely that Barrick’s management does not believe the Company has a major discovery to be made in its future. However, the strategy of buying large gold reserves does not make sense unless the Company believes that the depletion rate of gold in the ground is going to exceed the amount of gold found in new deposits going forward.  It also suggests that Barrick believes in the eventuality of a much higher gold price.

On another note, since August 12th, the price of gold has outperformed all of the major stock indices plus Tesla stock (TSLA):

If you are looking for ideas in junior mining stocks to take advantage of the coming bull move in the precious metals sector, try out the Mining Stock Journal:  Mining Stock Journal subscription information (there’s no minimum commitment beyond the first month).

MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) Thoroughly Disemboweled

The best I can figure is that some very liberal, trust-fund Phd Sociologist professors at Bennington hooked with a group of radical Public Policy students from Harvard somewhere in a cabin in Vermont and did a group analysis of John Maynard Keynes’ “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” after ingesting copious quantities of LSD. From out of that drug-addled assemblage, MMT sprung to life in “socially correct” political circles in NYC and DC.

Short of that explanation for the current obsession with MMT – also known as “Magical Money Tree” –  among the elitist intellectual trust-fund liberal political class, I have a hard time explaining the enthusiasm for this comic book version of economics.

A good friend of mine, who happens to be highly intelligent and obsessive about research, is thoroughly confounded by the idea anyone in their right mind would consider MMT as a serious policy tool other than as a mechanism to accelerate the confiscation of wealth and liberties from the public.

The best I could offer is that legitimizing MMT with academic endorsements is a precursor to the next round of QE, which will have to be Weimar in scale.  Occam’s Razor applies here. It’s that simple.  A Government unable  slow down its spending deficit has no other means of paying its bills other than to raise taxes to a level that will trigger mass revolt or use its printing press.  You see where this is going…

Interestingly, a writer/analyst who springs from the left, and who otherwise I would have thought to have been a proponent of MMT, thoroughly explores and disembowels the concept.  You can literally sense the author’s struggle to find a use for MMT:

We have a private economy driven by exploitation, overwork, asset stripping, and ecological destruction. MMT has little or nothing on offer to fight any of this. The job guarantee is a contribution, though a flawed one, and it’s not at the core of the theory, which proceeds from the keystroke fantasy. That fantasy looks like a weak response to decades of anti-tax mania coming from the Right, which has left many liberals looking for an easy way out. It would be sad to see the socialist left, which looks stronger than it has in decades, fall for this snake oil. It’s a phantasm, a late-imperial fever dream, not a serious economic policy.

Ordinarily I would have briefly skimmed through this essay. But if you are making an effort to be open-minded and understand the genesis, history and follies of MMT, it’s worth spending the time to read this piece in its entirety – then you can have a good laugh:  Modern Monetary Theory Isn’t Helping by Doug Henwood

Modern Monetary Theory isn’t just an insult to one’s intelligence, it’s a complete affront to common sense.

Gold Is Historically Cheap To The Stock Market

“The monetary authorities running the paper-money schemes of the present are anxious to forestall significant rises in the paper price of gold, because such rises would diminish confidence in the lasting value of the paper money in use today.”Hugo Salinas Price

The price of gold was victimized by yet another raid on the Comex paper gold market on Friday. The pattern has been repetitive over the last 15-20 years:  hedge funds push the price of gold higher accumulating a massive net long position in gold futures while the Comex bullion banks feed their appetite, building up a mirror-image large net short position.

A raid is implemented typically on a Friday after the rest of the world has shut down for the weekend, the Comex banks begin bombing the Comex with paper, which in turn sets-off hedge fund stop-losses set while the market is moving higher. This triggers a “flush” of hedge fund long positions which the banks use to cover short positions, booking huge profits.

As evidence, the preliminary Comex open interest report based on Friday’s activity shows the gold contract o/i dropped 14,316 contracts. For the week, gold contract o/i is down over 26,000 contracts representing 2.9 million ozs of paper gold. This is 8x the amount of “registered” – available for delivery – gold in the Comex gold warehouse.  I call this “a Comex open interest liquidation raid” by the bullion banks.  When the CFTC finally releases a COT report to reflect Comex trading activity for this past week, it will likely show a large drop in the net short position of the banks and a concomitant large drop in the hedge fund net long position.

Trump was out flogging the Fed on Friday for holding the dollar up with interest rates – interest rates that the Emperor of DC has declared “too high.” This likely signals a political campaign to drive the dollar lower, which will be bullish for gold.

Trevor Hall and I discuss on our Mining Stock Daily podcast why we believe the current sell-off in the price of gold will lead to higher prices. I also present a couple junior mining stocks I believe will be acquired in the escalating wave of gold mining company M&A transactions (click on the image or HERE to listen to the podcast):

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You can learn more about the highly undervalued junior mining stocks mentioned in the podcast plus many more in the Mining Stock Journal:  Mining Stock Journal information

The Fed Blinked – Gold And Silver Are Going Higher

Price inflation has been badly misrepresented by CPI figures and have been averaging closer to about 8% annually since gold topped in Sept 2011. Since then the purchasing power of the dollar has declined by about 43%, so that in 2011 dollars the gold price is $740. No one seems to have noticed, leaving gold extremely cheap. – Alasdair Macleod, “Ten Factors To Look For In Gold In 2019

The following is an excerpt from the latest issue of the Mining Stock Journal, which included an analysis of a  highly undervalued, relatively new and unknown junior mining company advancing a gold-silver project in Mexico.

As I have suggested in the past (in more detail in the Short Seller’s Journal), the Fed is retreating quickly from rate hikes and balance sheet reduction (QT). The Fed deferred on raising rates at its FOMC meeting this week. What I found somewhat shocking, however, was the removal of reference to “further gradual rate increases.”

Perhaps more shocking was the reference to the possibility of re-starting the money printing press:  “…the Committee would be prepared to use its full range of tools, including altering the size and composition of its balance sheet, if future economic conditions were to warrant a more accommodative monetary policy…” That statement translated means, “we’ll have to print more money eventually.”

This should be extremely bullish for the precious metals sector. The only issue is the timing of the next big move higher. That depends on the degree to which the banks can continue controlling the price with gold and silver derivatives.  No one knows that answer, not even the banks. At some point, as occurred from 2008-2011, the western banks will be unable to suppress the natural price rise of gold/silver. That said, the Chinese and the Russians could pull the rug out from under the western manipulation if and when they want. That will happen eventually as well.

Alasdair Macleod wrote a brief and insightful essay from which I quoted and linked above describing key factors in 2019 that could push the price of gold significantly higher. Most of the factors are familiar, especially for subscribers to my Short Seller’s Journal. First and foremost will be the Fed, along with Central Banks globally,  reverting to easy monetary policy.

Notwithstanding official propaganda to the contrary, the U.S./global economy is rapidly slowing down. Many areas are contracting. Government spending deficits will soar as tax revenues fall behind the rate at which Government spending is increasing.

At some point, the Government will plead with the Fed to help finance Treasury issuance (this will occur in the EU, Japan and China as well), creating another acceleration in monetary inflation/currency devaluation. This will act as a transmission mechanism to inflate the dollar price of gold. Smart investors understanding this dynamic, and who have the financial resources, will move dollars out of financial assets and into gold. See 2008-2011 for an example of this process.

Gold has outperformed almost every major asset class since 2000:

Gold has outperformed most other assets since 2000 because Central Banks globally began to implement extreme monetary policies in response to the global stock market crash in 2000 led by tech stocks. As John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville gold fund, describes it, “gold has been a winning strategy since monetary policy became unhinged nearly two decades ago.”

In addition to the fiscal and monetary policies implemented globally in response to deteriorating economic and financial conditions, Alasdair identifies four factors directly affecting the price of gold this year.

One factor not widely perceived or understood by the markets is the gradual and methodical shift away from using the U.S. dollar for trade and as a reserve asset by Russia and China. It’s clear that both countries are swapping dollar reserves for gold and conducting an increasing percentage of bi-lateral trade with their trading partners in each country’s sovereign currency.

As an aside, gold has been soaring in most currencies besides the dollar. At some point, this shift away from using the dollar as a reserve currency will remove the “safe haven asset” status of the dollar, causing a considerable decline in the dollar vs global currencies. Concomitantly, the dollar price of gold will soar.

Another factor identified by Macleod is price inflation: “price inflation has been badly misrepresented by CPI figures and has been averaging closer to about 8% annually since gold topped in Sept 2011. Since then the purchasing power of the dollar has declined by about 43%, so that in 2011 dollars the gold price is $740. No one seems to have noticed, leaving gold extremely cheap.”

In my view, the price inflation factor as it affects investor attitudes toward gold will be a “slowly then suddenly” process. Investors and the population in general tend to move in herds. Currently the headline Government CPI is accepted and discussed as reported. At some point,  a large contingent of mainstream institutional investors will decide the Government’s measurement of inflation is wrong and will begin to buy gold and silver. The masses will soon follow. We saw this dynamic leading up to the parabolic move by gold in 1979-1980.

The third factor is “monetary inflation.” Most people think of price when they see the term “inflation.” But the true economic definition of “inflation” is the rate of growth in the money supply in excess of the rate of growth in economic (wealth) output. This in essence reduces the value of each dollar. Think about it terms of an increasing amount of dollars made available to chase a fixed supply of goods and services. That’s the monetary inflation that causes “price” inflation. Rising prices are the manifestation of monetary inflation.

As discussed at the beginning, at some point the Fed will be forced to re-start the printing press or face the consequences of a rapid economic and financial collapse.  Macleod points out that “these are exactly the conditions faced by the German government between 1918 and 1923, and the likely response by the Fed will be the same. Print money to fund government deficits.”  Recall that the policies used by the Weimar Government eventually led to hyper price inflation. The hyperinflation did not occur until the early 1920’s. But the policies leading to this condition began in 1914, when Germany World War 1 started and Germany’s huge war debt began to pile up. This is strikingly similar to the huge U.S. Government debt outstanding currently.

The final factor mentioned by Macleod is simply, “Gold is massively under-owned in the West.” By 1980, institutional investors on average held 5% of their assets in gold. Currently the percentage allocation to gold (or fake gold like GLD) is well under 1%. All it would take for a massive price reset  in gold and silver is for institutions to allocate 1-2% of their assets to gold. I believe eventually that allocation percentage will move back to 3-5%, which will drive the price of gold well over $2000/oz.

The Stock Market Would Crash Without Central Bank Support

The mis-pricing of money and credit has also driven a terrible misallocation of capital and kept unproductive zombie debtors alive for too long. Saxo Bank, “Beware The Global Policy Panic”

“Mis-pricing of money and credit” refers to the ability of the Fed to control interest rates and money supply.  Humans with character flaws and conflicting motivations performing a role that is best left to a free market.   After the market’s attempt in December to re-introduce two-way price discovery to the stock stock market, the Fed appears ready to fold on its “interest rate and balance sheet normalization” policy, whatever “normalization is supposed to mean.

Tesla is the perfect example of terribly misallocated capital enabling the transitory survival of a defective business model. Access to cheap, easy capital has enabled Elon Musk to defer the eventual fate of the Company for several years. But as the equity and credit markets become considerably less tolerant, companies with extreme financial and operational flaws are exposed, followed by a stock price price that plummets.

The Stock Market Would Crash Without Central Bank Support – A few weeks after Fed head, Jerome Powell, hinted that the Fed may hold off on more rate hikes, an article in the Wall St. Journal suggested that the Fed was considering halting its “Quantitative Tightening” program far sooner than expected, leaving the Fed’s balance sheet significantly a significantly higher level it’s original “normalization” plan.

But “normalization” in the context of leaving the Fed’s balance sheet significantly larger than its size when the financial crisis hit – $800 billion – simply means leaving a substantial amount of the money printed from “QE” in the financial system. This is a subtle acknowledgment by the Einsteins at the Fed that the U.S. economic and financial system would seize up without massive support by the Fed in the form of money printing.

I suggested in the January 13th issue of my Short Seller’s Journal that the Fed would likely halt QT: “The economy is headed toward a severe recession and I’m certain the key officials at the Fed and White House are aware of this (perhaps not Trump but some of his advisors). I suspect that the Fed’s monetary policy will be reversed in 2019. They’ll first announce halting QT. That should be bad news because of the implications about the true condition of the economy. But the hedge fund algos and retail day-trader zombies will buy that announcement. We will sell into that spike. Ultimately the market will sell-off when comes to understand that the last remaining prop in the stock market is the Fed.”

Little did I realize when I wrote that two weeks ago that the Fed would hint at halting QT less than two weeks later.

When this fails to re-stimulate economic activity, the Fed will eventually resume printing money. Assuming the report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday is true, this is a continuation of the “mis-pricing” of money credit alluded to above by Saxo Bank. Moreover, it reflects a Central Bank in panic mode in response to the recent attempt by the stock market to re-price significantly lower to a level that reflected economic reality.

The Deflating Stock Bubble Will Fuel A Bull Move Mining Stocks

“The economic and financial condition of the U.S. and global economy is similar to that of 2008, although I think now it’s a lot worse than it was back then…the ‘gravity’ of true fundamentals has finally gotten ahold of stocks…”

Fundamentals ultimately drive value.  In terms of the fundamentals, financial assets – stocks, bonds, real estate – are extremely overvalued.  The precious metals sector right now is extremely cheap relative to fundamentals.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the stock market bounce that started the day after Christmas was the end of the “bear market,” as Jim Cramer is asserting.  Bear markets last a lot longer than four weeks.  A bear market in financial assets is just getting started.  At the same time, the bull market cycle in gold, silver and mining stocks that began in late 2015 with a 250% run-up in GDX over the next 8 months  is ready to resume after using just over 2 years to effect a 38% pullback from the sharp in 2016.

Elijah Johnson invited me to discuss the economy, stock market and precious metals sector on his Silver Doctor’s podcast:

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If you are interested in ideas for taking advantage of the inevitable systemic reset that  will hit the U.S. financial and economic system, check out either of these newsletters:   Short Seller’s Journal  information and more about the Mining Stock Journal here:   Mining Stock Journal information.

The Fed Panics And Gold Soars

First it was the loudly broadcast convening of the Working Group on Financial Markets – aka “the  Plunge Protection Team” – by the PPT’s el Jefe, Steven Mnuchin.  This was followed the “mouse that roared” speech from Fed head, Jerome Powell, hinting that the Fed would moon-walk away from rate hikes.

Today was trial Hindenburg launched by the Wall St Journal suggesting that the Fed was considering curtailing the the FOMC’s balance sheet Weight Watchers program.  The terminology used to describe the Fed’s actions is Orwellian vernacular. “Reserve levels” – as in, “leaving more reserves on the Fed’s balance sheet” – sounds mundane. In plain-speak, this is simply the amount of money the Fed printed and will leave in the financial system or risk crashing the stock market.

I suggested in the January 13th issue of my Short Seller’s Journal that the Fed would likely halt QT: “The economy is headed toward a severe recession.  I’m certain the key officials at the Fed and White House are aware of this (perhaps not Trump but some of his advisors). I suspect that the Fed’s monetary policy will be reversed in 2019. They’ll first announce halting QT. That should be bad news because of the implications but the hedge fund algos and retail day-trader zombies will buy that announcement. We will sell into that spike.”

Little did I realize when I wrote that two weeks ago that the assertion would be validated just two weeks later. When this fails to re-stimulate economic activity, the Fed will eventually resume printing money.  Ultimately the market will figure out that it’s a very bad thing that the only thing holding up the stock market is the Fed.

The policy reversal by the Fed reflects panic at the Fed. Nothing reflects “Fed Panic” better than the price of gold:

CEO Of Moscow Exchange: Replace Dollars With Russian Gold

One way or another, the eventual fate of the dollar is inevitable…

“Super-conservative investors purchase dollars and keep them “under the pillow, which is not very safe”

Russian gold could become the perfect alternative to conservative investments in the greenback, the CEO of Russia’s key trading floor, Moscow Exchange (MOEX), believes.
“Let’s offer an alternative to the US dollar in the form of Russian gold, which we produce… investment gold,” CEO Alexander Afanasiev suggested, speaking in the Lower House of Russia’s parliament on Monday.

He added that some “super-conservative investors” purchase dollars and keep them “under the pillow,” which is not very safe, he believes. The MOEX chief also noted that Russians have increased their investment activity and act “surprisingly rational.”

Russia is the world’s third-largest gold producer and in 2017 boosted its gold output by more than six percent. It produced almost 265 tons of gold in January-October 2018, according to data provided by the Finance Ministry.

Read the full article here: US Dollar/Russian gold

What’s In Store For The Precious Metals Sector in 2019?

The Newmont/Goldcorp merger is the second mega-deal in the industry after Barrick acquired RandGold in September. Without question, the two deals reflect the growing need for large gold and silver mining companies to replace reserves, which are being depleted at these two companies more quickly than they are being replenished. The deal will give Newmont access to Goldcorp’s portfolio of developing and exploration projects acquired by Goldcorp over the last several years.

While this deal and the Barrick/Randgold deal will help cover-up the managerial, operational and financial warts on Barrick and Newmont, it will also likely stimulate an increase in M&A activity in the industry. I believe that the other largest gold mining companies – Kinross, Yamana, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Eldorado, and Agnico-Eagle – will look closely at each other and at mid-cap gold producers to see if they can create “synergistic” merger deals

The same “impulse” holds true for silver companies, the largest of which are diversifying into gold or acquiring competitors (Pan American acquires Tahoe Resources and SRM Mining buys 9.9% of Silvercrest Metals, which will likely block First Majestic from going after Silvercrest, and Americas Silver buys Pershing Gold). Similarly, we could see mid-cap producers merging with each other or acquiring the junior producers.

Phil Kennedy – Kennedy Financial – invited me along with Craig Hempke – TF Metals Report – to discuss the implications of the two gold mega-deals, our outlook for the precious metals sector and a some other timely topics affecting the financial markets:

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In my latest issue of the Mining Stock Journal, I provided a list of gold and silver stocks that I believe could become acquisition targets this year, as well as an in-depth update on one of my top gold exploration stock ideas. You can learn more about this newsletter here: Mining Stock Journal

Unprecedented Manipulation And Trading The Precious Metals Ratios

Anyone who denies that Governments and Central Banks manipulate the gold and silver markets using paper derivatives and deceptive physical metal custodial operations is ignorant of history and facts.  Currently the gold and silver price capping is as oppressive as I’ve witnessed in 18 years.

As of Tuesday, January 15th, the open interest in gold had soared by 89,120 contracts to  501,605. 89,120 contracts is 8.9 million ozs of paper gold, or 278.5 tons – about 30 tons  more than the amount of gold produced by mines in the U.S. in one year.

But artificial market intervention creates information inefficiencies. This in turn generates exploitable profit opportunities for traders who know how to identify the set-ups from official manipulation.

With unprecedented manipulation continuing to occur in the precious metals market, some tradeable anomalies have appeared in the gold /silver and platinum / palladium ratios. My friend and colleague, Chris Marcus (former options trader at Susquehanna International), got together with Andy Schectman and Mickey Fulp to discuss strategies you can use to take advantage of the market anomalies which have been created by official intervention in these markets in the video below. You can see more of Chris’ at his website, Arcadia Economics: