Gold And Silver Are Potentially Explosive

Gold and silver are acting differently right now. Usually when the open interest in the paper gold (Comex) net short of the bullion banks becomes overweighted, it’s a signal that they are getting ready attack the price of gold by triggering massive stop-loss selling by the technically-driven hedge funds.

And through last Tuesday, per the latest COT report, the Comex banks had piled heavily into the short side, feeding paper shorted to the hedge funds. And true to form, the market was attacked aggressively this past week starting Tuesday with the expiration of Comex options. Interestingly, the banks had to wait until after the Comex floor trading closed on Tuesday in order to take advantage of a thinly-traded electronic “access” market that is open for about another 90 minutes after the Comex closes in order to push down the price of gold enough to trigger automated hedge fund algo stop-loss selling.

The attacks on the price of gold persisted through Thursday, resulting in what appears to be a record weekly percentage drop in Comex gold open interest. But this attack resulted in a shallow price decline.  And if you trace the build-up in the bullion bank short position over the past couple of weeks, it appears that the banks were willing to sustain losses on those shorted contracts in order to cover them.  Bill “Midas” Murphy at Lemetropole Cafe first pointed this pattern out to me and I confirmed his theory by tracing out the rise in the commercial short interest with the movement in the price of gold.

At the same time, there has been a massive amount of silver – as reported – moving in and out of the “registered” accounts at the Comex silver vaults.  The silver in the “registered” account is the silver designated to be available for delivery.   On the last two days of this past week, for instance, nearly 30% of the silver held in the registered account was moved into the “eligible” account. The “eligible” account is the account in which silver is allegedly “safekept” for the owner of that silver.

Finally, although the mainstream financial media and the fear porn oriented alternative media has been making a lot of noise about the sudden fall-off in the sales of minted bullion coins, I heard a report from a large bullion dealer who said that, while retail coin sales are slow, his company has been receiving very large orders from very connected quite off the radar types purchasing large quantities of physical silver. The recurring theme from these buyers is a desire to move money out of electronic fiat currency bank credits and into privately safe-kept precious metals in bullion form.

Eric Dubin (The News Doctors) and “Doc” invited me to join them on their weekly Metals and Markets podcast to discuss the latest developments which point to possibility of a big surprise move to the upside in gold and silver that is driven by the physical market:

Fake News And Real Money

But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success. – Adolf Hitler

Propaganda, also known as “fake news,” has become the norm in mainstream media reporting. Somehow the idea of Russia hacking the DNC computers morphed into the generic, “Russia hacked the election.” Per Hitler’s formula, Hillary Clinton introduced the idea during one of the presidential debates and kept repeating it until the press seized it and ran all the way with to the end zone with “Trump is a Russian ally.” Now Congress is pre-occupied with the fraudulent charge that Russia is controlling U.S. politics. The whole spectacle is beyond idiotic.

In a similar manner, the reporting of economic statistics has become another tool of propaganda. The Government, as we all well know by now, spits out economic reports based on shoddy statistical samples that are seasonally adjusted. Then the data that is cooked for any specific month is annualized. While the result might not be too far off base for any specific month, the errors aggregate over time so that some statistics, like the GDP report, bear no resemblance to reality.

A great example of using propaganda to promote an idea is the continuous mantra coming from the National Association of Realtors that “low inventory” is hampering home sales. It’s an effective device to make the public think that a lack of homes for sale is the explanation for declining sales. It’s also a lie. Homebuilders are sitting on a record level of inventory. Flippers and investors bought 37% of all existing homes that traded in 2016. Many are sitting on homes they can’t sell for enough to cover their rehab expenses. The over $750,000 segment of the market is flooded with inventory.

The truth is that, if you examine the historical data in order to question the NAR’s assertions, the facts show that since 1999 – which is when the Fed began tracking existing home sales – relative inventory levels do not drive home sales:

In fact – if anything – there is an inverse correlation between inventory levels and home sales. In other words, since 1999, homes sales rise when inventories are low!

Thus propaganda is a tool used to manage public perception.  Unfortunately, a high percentage of the population only consumes headlines and sound-bytes.  It’s the perfect set-up for politicians to employ Hitler’s advice on administering propaganda.  The commonly accepted idea is, in fact, the opposite of the truth.

The commandeering of a country by elitists begins by eliminating real money and replacing it with a fraudulent fiat currency.  But the eastern hemisphere is moving in an opposite direction as the west.  As reproduced in The Daily Coin, Russia and China have quietly struck an agreement laying the groundwork to replace the U.S. dollar’s reserve status with a gold-backed currency system:   Moscow and Beijing join forces to bypass US dollar in world money market.    In today’s episode of the Shadow of Truth we discuss the decline of the United States and the advancement of the new superpower bloc emerging in the east.

The Market Has Its Head Buried Deep In The Sand

Several “black swans” are looming which could inflict a financial nuclear accident on the U.S. markets and financial system.   I say “black swans” in quotes because a limited audience is aware of these issues – potentially catastrophic problems that are curiously ignored by the mainstream financial media and financial markets.

The most immediate problem is the Treasury debt ceiling.  The Treasury is now projected to run out of cash by mid-summer.  Of course, in the spurious manner in which the markets evaluate the next trade, July may as well be a decade away.  My best guess is that the “market” assumes that, after drawn out staging of DC’s version of Kabuki Theatre, Congress will raise the debt ceiling, probably up to $22 trillion.  Then the Fed will extend its highly secretive “swap” operations to foreign “ally” Central Banks (hint:  Belgium and Switzerland) in order to fund the onslaught of Treasury issuance that will ensue.  Problem solved…or is it?

(Note:  Plan B would be another one of Trump’s bewildering Executive Orders removing the debt ceiling.  Plan B is another form of “fiat” currency issuance)

The second “black swan” seen by some but invisible to most is the ongoing collapse the shopping mall business model, erroneously blamed on the combative growth of online retailing.  But when I look at the actual numbers, that argument smells foul.

Is Online Retailing Actually The Cause Of Brick/Mortar Retail Apocalypse?

More than 3,500 stores are scheduled to be shuttered in the next few months. JC Penny,
Macy’s, Sears, Kmart, Crocs, BCBC, Bebe, Abercrombie & Fitch and Guess are some of the
marquee retailing names that will be closing down mall and strip mall stores. The Limited is going out of business and closing down all 250 of its stores.

The demise of the mall “brick and mortar” retail store is popularly attributed to the growth in online retail sales. To be sure, online retailing is eating into the traditional retail sales
distribution mechanism – but not as much as the spin-meisters would have have you believe. At the beginning of 2015, e-commerice sales were about 7% of total retail sales. By the end of 2016, that metric rose to 8.3%. However, looking at the overall numbers reveals that nominal retail sales have increased for both brick/mortar stores and online. In Q4 2015, total nominal retail sales were $1.186 trillion. Brick/mortar was $1.096 trillion and online was 89.7 billion, which was 7.6% of total retail sales. In Q4 2016, total sales were $1.235 trillion with brick/mortar $1.133 trillion and online $102.6 billion, which was 8.3% of total retail sales.

As you can see, there was nominal growth for both brick/mortar and online retailers. My point here is that the spin-meisters present the narrative that online retailers are eating alive the brick/mortar retailers. That’s simply not true.   Part of the problem that the total retail sales “pie” is shrinking, especially when analyzing the inflation-adjusted numbers.  I created a graph on from the St. Louis Fed’s “FRED” database that surprised even me (click to enlarge):

The graph above shows the year over year percentage change in nominal (not inflation-adjusted) retail sales on a monthly basis from 1993 (as far back as the retail sales data goes) thru February 2017, ex-restaurant sales, vs. outstanding consumer credit. As you can see, since 1994 the growth in nominal retail sales on a year over year basis has been in a downtrend, while the level of consumer credit outstanding as been in a steady uptrend. Since 2014, the rate of growth in debt has exceeded the rate of growth in retail sales. If we were to adjust the retail sales using just the Government-reported CPI measure of “inflation” retail sales would be outright declining.

The problem with the mall business model is debt.  The mall-anchor retailers who are vacating mall space like cockroaches vacate a kitchen when the light is flipped on have been leveraged to the hilt by the financial engineers who control them who in turn have been enabled by the most permissive Federal Reserve in U.S. history.   Too be sure, online retailing is cutting into the margins of Macy’s, JC Pennies, Sears, Dillards, etc.  But these companies would have no problem “fighting back” if they were not over-leveraged to the eyeballs.

Layer on top of that the leverage employed by the mall REITs and the recipe for a financial crisis larger than the 2008 “big short” mortgage/housing crisis has been created.  To compound this problem, mall owners are now starting to mail in the keys to financially troubled malls:   More mall landlords are choosing to walk away from struggling properties, leaving creditors in the lurch and posing a threat to the values of nearby real estate…[as] some of the largest U.S. landlords are calculating it is more advantageous to hand over ownership to lenders than to attempt to restructure debts on properties with darkening outlooks (LINK).

But it gets worse. I referenced the consumer’s ability to borrow in order to spend money. Economic activity in the United States has relied heavily on an increasing amount of debt issuance for several decades. At some point consumer borrowers reach a point at which they can no longer support taking on more debt, whether in the form of mortgages, auto loans/leases or credit cards. The problem for the U.S. financial system is that there will be widespread defaults on the consumer debt that’s already been issued.   The average U.S. household has “hit a wall” on the amount of debt it can absorb.  This is why restaurant and retail sales are dropping and why auto sales have rolled over.  All three will get worse this year.

This Will Crush The Pensions

Finally, the third “invisible” black swam is the looming pension crisis.  A colleague of mine who works at a pension fund did a study last year in which he concluded that, because of the extreme degree of public pension underfunding, a 10% decline in the stock market for a sustained period – i.e. more than 3 or 4 months – would cause every single public pension fund to blow up.  As he has access to better data than most, he also surmised that the degree of underfunding is 2-3x greater than is publicly acknowledged by the mainstream media (see this article for instance:  Bloomberg claims $1.9 trillion underfunding).

Circling back to the mall/REIT ticking time-bomb, while the Fed can keep the stock market propped up as means of preventing an immediate nuclear melt-down in U.S. pensions (all of which are substantially “maxed-out” in their mandated equities allocation), the collapse of commercial mortgage-back securities (CMBS) will have the affect of launching a nuclear sub-missile directly into the side of the U.S. financial system.

The commercial mortgage market is about $3 trillion, of which about $1 trillion has been packaged into asset-backed securities and stuffed into yield-starved pension funds. Without a doubt, the same degree of fraud of has been used to concoct the various tranches in these CMBS trusts that was employed during the mid-2000’s mortgage/housing bubble, with full cooperation of the ratings agencies then and now.   Just like in 2008, with the derivatives that have been layered into the mix, the embedded leverage in the commercial mortgage/CMBS/REIT model is the financial equivalent of the Fukushima nuclear power plant collapse.

It’s a  matter of time before a lit match hits one of the three lethal powder-kegs described above.  This is why the bank stocks were hit particularly hard last week when the Dow was in the middle of its 8-day losing streak.  Of course, all it took to spike the Dow/SPX higher was a couple of immaterial “consumer confidence” reports in order to reflate the stock market with some “hope.”   Don’t forget, the last time consumer confidence high-ticked was in 1999, right before the tech bubble imploded.

Unfortunately, the next financial catastrophe that is going hit the system, and for which the Fed is helpless to prevent, will make everyone yearn for just the tech bubble or “big short” bubble collapses.   Meanwhile, the stock market and its collective universe of “investors” will continue sticking its head deeper into the sand, oblivious to the sling blade that is swings closer to its neck.

Portions of the above analysis were excerpted from the current Short Seller’s Journal. That issue contained more in-depth data and two short ideas, a mall REIT and retailer that has bubbled up beyond comprehension.   You can learn more about the Short Seller Journal here:   SSJ Weekly Subscription.

Animal Spirits Are Percolating In The Gold Market

The use of the term “animal spirits” is most commonly attributed to John Maynard Keynes. But it originates from the Latin term, “spiritus animales” in reference to the spirit that drives human thought, feeling and action. We saw animal spirits at work in gold and silver on Tuesday this past week when the Dow dropped 237 points and gold quickly popped up $16. Silver jumped 72 cents, much to Wall Street’s surprise, on March 16th after the FOMC issued its latest monetary policy statement despite an assurance that the Fed would raise rates three more times this year.

At some point the paper control of the gold market is going to fall prey to animal spirits. I think the reaction of the metals after the FOMC policy release and when the Dow plunged are evidence that “animal spirits” are percolating in the precious metals market. (Excerpt from yesterday’s issue of the Mining Stock Journal)

In the latest issue of the Mining Stock Journal I review a junior mining stock that was heavily promoted last summer ahead of a big issuance of stock. Many of you may own it thinking you sitting on junior with close to 20 million ounces of gold in the ground. What I found when I examined the background of management and quality of the alleged mineralization on the company’s properties, with no plans for advancing the properties, might shock you. This stock is down 50% from its highs last summer and insiders were dumping shares in September before the stock sold off. This is a stock you want to avoid and you can find out more about it by subscribing:  Mining Stock Journal subscription info.

When I asked a colleague and subscriber who invests in junior mining stocks and participates in select financings if he had an opinion on the above-mentioned company, this was his partial response: “No, I have never looked at it principally because of the people behind it, who are well-known to front run their own subscribers.”

Artificial Paper Markets And Real Gold

In the four trading days following the election, approximately 6200 tonnes of gold (2,000,000 contracts) traded on Comex. That is equivalent to two years of global gold mining production…That hair-trigger trading reaction led to a price smash of 4.5% and turned the trading sentiment for gold from positive to negative almost overnight. The question is where did sellers come up with 6200 tonnes – a preposterously enormous and unprecedented quantity of gold – on a moment’s notice, in the wee hours following the surprising election outcome? – John Hathaway on King World News

Perhaps what’s most interesting about Hathaway’s comment above is that sometime in the last few years Hathaway’s viewpoint has shifted from denial that the gold market is manipulated to seemingly full acceptance of that obvious fact.

The official entities in the western hemisphere who operate to keep the price of gold artificially restrained, using paper gold based on the fact that most western buyers never care to take actual delivery, no longer make an effort to cover-up their manipulative activities.  Anyone involved in trading and investing in the precious metals market who denies that the markets are rigged is likely in some way connected to or benefiting from the manipulation.

The same holds true for the stock market.  Everyone has seen the statistics by now but just to mention the facts:  until last Tuesday’s market drop, the S&P 500 had gone 109 days without a 1% correction.   All of the previous periods that were longer than 109 days occurred before 1964 – when the U.S. was in its economic renaissance period – except one period in 1993.

The majority of the headline news reports this past week have focused on the lavish political stage show performances on Capitol Hill. It’s been a convenient distraction to divert attention away from the largely dismal economic reports. What’s more stunning than the childish verbal exchanges from alleged adults masquerading as responsible lawmakers is watching the stock market gyrate from hedge fund algorithm-driven volatility as the trading bots react to any headline connected to the ebb and flow of the healthcare bill drama. For some reason the hedge fund computers believe that the Trump healthcare legislation creates better earnings prospects than Obamacare for corporate America. After reading David Stockman’s assessment of the proposed Obamacare replacement bill, it’s not clear to me that the new legislation won’t be worse.

Just like the artificial paper markets in New York and London that are used to keep the price of gold and silver from rising, the western stock markets are prevented from falling by a web synthetic derivative securities and fraudulent financial reporting applications. Never before in history have stock market valuations been more disconnected from the underlying fundamental economic reality.

The U.S. Government will never stop issuing debt and it will never pay back the debt that it has issued.    In this regard, the U.S. financial and economic system has become an “act as if” system:   Act as if it’s real even though we know it’s not.   In today’s episode of the Shadow of Truth, we discuss the difference between fake markets and real gold and silver:

The West Is Collapsing As The East Ascends

The 24 Mega Green City infrastructure project in India will connect Delhi with Mumbai, creating a commerce corridor incorporating 21st century technologies and amenities. – Interview with ZincOne Resources’ Jim Walchuck, The Daily Coin

It seems absurd that Asia is willing and able to build high-speed “bullet” trains to connect large population centers while the United States struggles with an antiquated Amtrak rail system often beset with service interruptions and lethal accidents.   The truth of the matter is that the major U.S. metropolitan areas are beset with massive loads of debt, including a ticking-time debt-bomb in the form of several trillion dollars in unfunded public pension funds.

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is a major infrastructure project that India is developing with Japan. The project will upgrade nine mega industrial zones as well as the country’s high-speed freight line, three ports, and six airports. A 4,000 MW power plant and a six-lane intersection-free expressway will also be constructed, which will connect the country’s political and financial capitals.  – The Daily Coin

The 24 Mega City project underscores the economic, political and cultural contrast between the eastern and western hemisphere countries, with the sun setting in the west and rising in the east.  The west is mired in a catastrophic web of Government-heavy economies that exist on the life support of trillions in money printing and debt issuance. True, some countries like China have relatively high debt levels but they are offsetting that form of fiat currency debasement with massive gold accumulation.  The heart of the problem is highlighted by the graphic below (click to enlarge):

The budget for the U.S. Government will primarily be spent on social security, defense, medicare/medicaid and interest on the Government’s debt. Those five items will burn more two-thirds of the Government’s budgeted expenditures in Fiscal Year 2017.

But don’t bother asking how the Government plans on paying for that.   The funds will come from oldest forms of currency debasement: money printing and debt issuance.  And Trump’s proposed spending agenda will accelerate the growth rate of both .

It’s amazing that the U.S. Government seems to have unlimited funds available to spend on guns, bullets and surveillance of the citizenry.   Ranked in order of expenditures, The U.S. spends more on its military than the next 14 highest ranked countries.  “On the books,” the U.S. spent $597 billion in 2015.  That was 4x more than China and 9x more than Russia (source:  International Institute for Strategic Studies).

While the west, led by the United States, advances its collapse with rampant currency debasement and unbridled imperialism, the east is investing its resources in the future – in the advancement of its civilization.  Perhaps the hallmark of this contrast is best represented by the flow of physical gold from west to east.  The Shadow of Truth has devoted today’s episode discussing some of the signs pointing to the collapse of the west and the rise of the east:

The Big Short Part Two

Truth is like poetry. And most people f*cking hate poetry. – from “The Big Short”

Ron Paul was on Fox Business last week explaining that stocks and bonds are in a big bubble. He said that, “you need to short this market.” As is my modus operandi, I had the volume muted so I didn’t get hear the Fox hosts’ exasperation. Interestingly, it was reported last week that the short interest in the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) hit an all-time low on March 7th. This is a fantastic contrarian indicator. It also removes the general “short-squeeze” risk from the risk of shorting the market.

Perhaps more curious than Ron Paul’s comments was the warning about the stock market issued by Robert Shiller, who is typically a Wall Street apologist, in an interview on Bloomberg this past Tuesday: “The market is way over-priced,’’ he says. “It’s not as intellectual as people would think, or as economists would have you believe.” Shiller is noted for his warnings about the tech bubble in 1999 and the mid-2000’s housing bubble before it collapsed.

Extreme levels in consumer confidence, investor sentiment, valuations and a steep incline in stock prices have historically marked market peaks. A week ago Investor’s Intelligence bullish sentiment among investment advisors hit its highest level in 30 years. That previous peak corresponded to the market peak in 1987 (the 1987 stock crash was the steepest in history). Consumer confidence hit a 16-year high. The prior peak in consumer confidence occurred right before the tech bubble crashed in 2000.

As detailed in recent Short Seller Journals, the retail mom & pop investor has been piling into the market since the beginning of the year. When the realization that Trump’s campaign promises will never become reality and the “music stops” in the stop market, there will be a broad base of retail stock geniuses looking for seats that don’t exist.

The stock market is perhaps the most disconnected from the underlying fundamental systemic reality than at any time in history. This is true if we were to evaluate the total amount of debt as a percentage of GDP, which is about 345%. At the beginning of 2000, it was about 270%. If we were to adjust the current level of GAAP earnings for the S&P 500 using the GAAP standards applied in 2000, it’s likely that current p/e ratio for the SPX would be at least as high as it was in 2000. And recently it was revealed that retail traffic at malls across the country has fallen off a cliff (15% in February and another 13% so far in March). Used car prices are plunging, which reflects both an oversupply of used cars and a big fall-off in demand. This will quickly spill over into the new car market, which faces a record level of dealer inventory. And bank loan creation has begun to rip in reverse:

Bank loan creation is a product of both demand and supply. A drop of the magnitude shown above occurs because borrowers have stopped forming new businesses or expanding current businesses (except for real estate developers, who will borrow relentlessly until the banks cut them off) and banks have determined that, in the current economic environment, the risk of losing money from lending to businesses and consumers exceeds the potential return (real estate developers are finally getting cut off).

In short, based on the above fundamental data the economy for the most part has fallen off a cliff.

Extreme levels in consumer confidence, investor sentiment, valuations and a steep incline in stock prices have historically marked market peaks. A week ago Investor’s Intelligence bullish sentiment among investment advisors hit its highest level in 30 years. That previous peak corresponded to the market peak in 1987 (the 1987 stock crash was the steepest in history). Consumer confidence hit a 16-year high. The prior peak in consumer confidence occurred right before the tech bubble crashed in 2000.

Most of the above commentary is excerpted from the latest issue (released Sunday) of IRD’s Short Seller’s Journal.  The primary short idea presented is down  4.7% from last Friday’s close.  I just closed out a put position from an idea I presented (including the put otion I would be buying)  two weeks ago for an easy 30% gain.  If you are interested in learning how to make money shorting the most overvalued market in history, click here: Short Seller’s Journal subscription.

I have a feeling, in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poor people. – from “The Big Short”

Is Demand For Physical Gold Really Collapsing?

Seriously? “Simon Black” (it’s a nom de plume) wrote an article titled “Demand For Physical Is Collapsing.”  He focused on retail bullion demand numbers. The headline and the content is largely fake news as it focuses on the demand for minted coins vs the paper gold market. We’re not really sure about the intent of article, but the content was devoid of any relevance to the actual global demand for physical gold.

While the retail minted coin and small-size bar demand is down from last year’s levels, there’s two factors to explain this. First is price. The price of gold and silver was lower in early 2016 than it is now. The price of gold in February 2017 averaged $1230-$1240 while the price of gold a year ago February averaged $1175. Retail buyers of gold/silver coins are highly sensitive to price and tend to chase the price higher, up to a point. On this basis, it’s not surprising that more minted coins were sold a year ago compared to this year. This “price effect” on the demand for retail gold and silver coins likely explains about 25% of the demand comparison between 2016 and now.

The second factor is the economy. Remember, the end user of minted bullion products is largely the retail buyer.  In the first two months of 2017, real wages have declined. Even more negative for retail sales of any sort is the fact that real disposable income has been declining on a year over basis since December 2015:

While we at the Shadow of Truth do not consider buying and owning bullion to be “discretionary,” retail sales, including sales of bullion coins, is highly dependent on the relative level of real disposable income. Thus once again it should not surprise, based on just looking at retail demand for physical bullion, that retail bullion sales are falling.

On the other hand, the Black article purports the idea that retail bullion sales represents global demand for gold and silver. Nothing could be further from the truth. Retail demand at the margin has no affect on price other than maybe the price premiums in the coin market based on mint supply and retail demand.

The majority of gold bullion demand comes from the jewelry industry, eastern hemisphere Central Banks and sophisticated wealthy and institutional investors. India and China alone import more gold than is produced from mines globally. This is why Black’s “paper gold” price is rising. It’s why the BIS and western Central Banks have failed to eliminate the significance of gold in the global monetary system.

Gold imports into India jumped 175% in February from February 2016 to 96.4 tonnes (LINK). In fact, official gold imports into India have been rising since December.  And that does not include dore bars or smuggled gold.  179 tonnes of gold was withdrawn from the Shanghai Gold Exchange in February.  This is 60% higher than February 2016.  The Russian Central Bank gold reserves have been rising almost monthly since mid-2007.

To claim that the global demand for physical gold is collapsing is seeded in either ignorance or  mal-intent.  But either way, the assertion is outright idiotic when the facts are examined, which we do in today’s episode of the Shadow of Truth:

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Gold & Silver Soar After The Fed’s Clown Show

Stocks rally as the Fed once again shows how clueless they are at trying to manage the economy. – from @Stalingrad & Poorski

The Federal Reserve’s FOMC predictably nudged the Fed Funds rate up 25 basis points (one quarter of one percent) to set its “target” Fed Funds rate level at .75%-1%.   Nine of the faux-economists voted in favor of and one, Minneapolis Fed’s Neil Kashkari, voted against the meaningless rate hike.

Or is it meaningless?  Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Neil Kashkari was one of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretaries when the Government made the decision to bail out Wall Street’s biggest banks with nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer money.   It was also when the Fed dropped the Fed Funds rate from about 5% to near-zero percent.  Despite Yellen’s official stance that  the economy is expanding and the labor market is “tight” (with 37% of the working age population not considered part of the Labor Force – a little more than 94 million people) Kashkari voted against the tiny bump in interest rates.  This is likely because he is fully aware of risk to the banking system – perched catastrophically on hundreds of trillions in debt and derivatives – of moving interest rates higher.

The Fed’s goal is to “normalize” interest rates.  The financial media and Wall Street analysts embrace and discuss this idea of “normalized” interest rates but never define exactly what that means.  For the better part of the Fed’s existence, the “rule of thumb” was that long term rates (e.g. the 10-yr Treasury rate) should be about 3% above the rate of inflation.  And the Fed Funds rates should be equal to or slightly above the rate of inflation.

Using the Government’s highly rigged CPI index, it implies the Fed Funds rate would be “normalized” at approximately 2.7% and the 10-yr bond around 6% based on Wednesday’s CPI report.  Currently the Fed Funds rate is 3/4 – 1% and the 10-yr is 2.5%.  Of course, since the early 1970’s, the CPI calculation has been continuously reconstructed in order to hide the true rate of price inflation.  For instance, the current CPI index does not properly account for the rising cost of housing, education, healthcare and automobiles.

John Williams’ of Shadowstat.com  keeps track of price inflation using the methodology used by the Government to calculate the CPI in 1990 and 1980.  Using just the 1990 methodology, the rate of price inflation is 6.3%.  This would imply that a “normalized” Fed Funds rate would be around 6.5% and the 10-yr bond yield should be around 9.5%.    So much for this idea of “normalizing” interest rates.  Using the Government’s 1980 CPI methodology, Williams calculates that the stated CPI would be 10.3%.

Most of the hyperinflated money supply has been directed into stocks, bonds and real estate. But based on the cost of a basket of groceries, healthcare and housing alone, price inflation is accelerating.    If the Fed were to “normalize” interest rates at 6.3%, it would crash the financial and economic system.  In other words, the Fed is powerless to  use monetary policy in order to promote price stability, which is one of its mandates.

In today’s episode of the Shadow of Truth, we discuss the insanity that has gripped the markets as symbolized by the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meetings:

Indian Gold Imports In February Tripled

Mehul Choksi, chairman of jewellery store chain Gitanjali Gems Ltd., is quoted as saying: “We expect some heavy buying in April as a large number of weddings are expected to take place. – LINK

Legal Indian gold imports jumped up to 96.4 tonnes in February vs. February 2016. These numbers come from the finance ministry and not the World Gold Council or bullion banks. This reinforces the observations by many that the BIS-directed attempt to curtail Indian gold demand by removing cash from the financial system has failed.  Gresham’s Law in action.   This number also does not include smuggled gold which, based on the increase in airport arrests so far in 2017, has ramped up considerably.

Amusingly, Cititgroup is forecasting total 2017 demand in India to be 725 tonnes.  This number is laughable.  Smuggling alone is thought to account for about 300 tonnes per year of gold going in to India.  As a bullion bank with an untenable paper gold short position, Citigroup can only dream that India’s gold importation will be that low in 2017.

There will be a big “snap-back” effect on India’s gold demand after the brief intervention by the Government in late 2016.  Based on yesterday’s response in the paper gold market in NYC after the Fed’s rate hike announcement, it seems that the western Central Banks/bullion banks are losing control of the bullion market.

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