Tag Archives: Fed funds rate

Junior Exploration Stocks Are Generationally Undervalued

Gold and silver are set up potentially for an explosive move, fueled by the inevitable escalation of Central Bank money printing. The Federal Reserve has led the charge on this account over the last three months as the financial system has begun to veer off the rails.

Currently, the Fed is printing money at the fastest rate in its history. The brown stuff is hitting the fan blades in the financial system.  By mid-January the Fed’s balance will be close its all-time high.  Fiat currency devaluation aka QE aka money printing is like rocket fuel for gold and silver.

A lot of mining stock analysts are drooling over the charts of the large cap stocks. And kudos to Crescat Capital for sharing the chart of above (with my edit in yellow). But the junior exploration “venture capital” stocks are the most undervalued relative to the prices of gold and silver in at least the last 19 years, which is the amount of time I’ve been involved in the precious metals sector.

Last Thursday gold  spiked up $14 before the stock market opened. But when Trump tweeted that a trade war “Phase 1” deal was close, gold went $20 off the cliff.  However, February gold closed flat vs Wednesday’s close and March silver has reclaimed the $17 level.  It’s a big positive that the “Phase 1” trade deal was signed because now Trump won’t have the ability to jerk the markets around with his silly “positive trade talks” tweets.

More important to the gold bull market, the Fed once again expanded the repo money printing QE operations. Early today (Thursday, December 12th) the Fed announced an additional $275 billion in repo operations around year-end. Adding all of it up, the Fed will be pumping half a trillion dollars into the repo system over year-end. This is unequivocally due to bank assets melting down and the need to finance new Treasury debt issuance.

The Fed’s re-liquification program will be given creative names – anything but “QE.”  It started off with “balance sheet expansion” but that term was abandoned because of its transparency. The best one I’ve heard so far is “yield curve capping operation.”  Watching Jerome Powell try to camouflage the Fed’s money printing  is like watching a baby  smoke a cigarette.

It’s a good bet that eventually the repo activity will be converted into a permanent “QE” money printing program.  The best way to make this wager  is via the precious metals sector.

As The Financial System Melts Down Gold And Silver Will Soar

To the extent that some analysts reject the Fed/Wall St/Perma-Bull narrative that the Fed’s repo operation is needed to address “temporary” liquidity issues or was caused by the newer regulatory constraints, the only explanation offered up is that the financial system’s “plumbing” is malfunctioning.  But there has to be an underlying cause…

…The underlying cause is abject deterioration in credit instruments – largely subprime right now – is causing an ever-widening chasm between the value of these securities and the funding used to finance those asset values.  The banks have reduced their willingness to fund  the increasing demand for overnight collateralized loans because they see first-hand the degree to which some of the collateral has become radioactive (CLO bonds, for instance).  The Fed has had to plug the “gap” with its repo operations, several of which have maturities extended up to a month. This is de facto QE, which is de facto money printing.

As this slow-motion train wreck unfolds, more money printing will be required to prevent systemic collapse, which in turn will trigger an explosive move higher in gold, silver and mining stocks.  Chris Marcus of Arcadia Economics invited me onto this podcast to discuss these issues in a little more detail:

**************

Currently junior mining stocks are the most undervalued relative to the price of gold and silver as at any time in at least the last 20 years.  But several producing gold and silver mining stocks are extraordinarily cheap.  I featured one in my Mining Stock Journal that’s up nearly 14% since Thanksgiving.  I’ll be presenting a similar producing mining stock in the next issue released Thursday.

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

With More Money Printing Coming (“QE”) Gold, Silver And Miners Will Soar

It would be difficult to find a chart with a  more bullish set-up than that of GDX unless it was a chart of the imminent move higher in the U.S. dollar money supply:

The Fed was unable to move the Fed funds rate within 50% of the long term average “normalized” level. It was also unable to unwind little more than 20% of the money it printed under Bernanke and Yellen, despite Bernanke’s insistence that the $4.5 trillion printed and injected into the banking system was “temporary.”  Not only was the first series of QE operations not temporary, the Fed is preparing to re-start its printing press.

I believe we are very close to a major shift in investor sentiment, as investors lose faith in the Central Banks’ ability to control the markets with monetary policy. As you can see from the chart above, we experienced just a “whiff” of the type action we can expect in the precious metals sector as reality ushers in true price discovery in the markets.

I can tell the sentiment is not getting frothy in the precious metals sector when several people, subscribers and others, have expressed disappointment in the rate of return for the mining stocks. From May 30th thru the start of Labor Day weekend, gold rose 15.3% and silver climbed 32.3%. Over the same period of time, GDX rose 43.7%. Call me old fashioned, but I can remember when 43.7% over a two or three year period of time was considered a great return on stocks (this was before the tech bubble).

Where I really see disappointment expressed is with the junior exploration micro-cap stocks. Although some have been stuck in mud, many have doubled or tripled. One example is Discovery Metals (AYYBF, DSV.V), which ran from 17 cents to as high as 52 cents this summer. Based on today’s closing price, it’s more than doubled since May 30th. Many of the other stocks I feature in my  Mining Stock Journal newsletter provided double-digit percentage returns this summer and some have doubled or tripled.

I believe the pullback in the sector this month is a necessary and healthy technical correction, with some help from the price management squad, that will lead to higher highs sometime between now and year-end. Certainly investor sentiment, from the metrics I see daily, are far from exuberant, which is bullish.

 

Repo Rates And Gold: Something Big Is Happening

“We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” – Ayn Rand

Something big is happening beneath the surface of a Dow and S&P 500 trading near all-time highs. The soaring repo rate, more demand for overnight Fed funding loans than is being supplied and a big move in the price of gold since the end of May are clear indicators.

The global financial system is unsustainably over-leveraged. This problem is compounded by the massive increase in OTC derivatives. The U.S. financial system, in exceptional fashion, leads the way. Trump calls it “the greatest economy ever.” Yet the Fed was unable to “normalize” the Fed Funds Rate back up to just the historically average level without crashing the financial system. In fact, the Fed couldn’t even get halfway there before it had to reverse course and take rates lower plus hint a more money printing.

Phil Kennedy of Kennedy Financial hosted me plus Larry Lepard (mining stock fund manager) and Jerry Robinson (economist and trend trader)  to discuss what appears to be a giant margin call on the global financial system and where we think the price  of gold is headed:

NOTE:  I will be analyzing the signal being sent by the soaring repo rate this week and why it may be evidence that the fractional reserve banking fiat currency system is collapsing in my Short Seller’s Journal this week. You can learn more about my newsletters here  Short Seller’s Journal  and here  Mining Stock Journal. Two weeks ago I presented ROKU as a short at $169 and last week Tiffany’s (TIF) at $98. So far my put play on ROKU has been a home run.

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:

***************

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.

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?

The U.S. (and Global) Economy Is In Trouble

Jerome Powell will deliver the Fed’s semi-annual testimony on monetary policy (formerly known as the Humphrey-Hawkins testimony)  to Congress this week.  He’ll likely bore us to tears bloviating about “low inflation” and a “tight labor market” and a “healthy economy with some downside risks.”  Of course everyone watching will strain their ears to hear some indication of when the Fed will cut rates and by how much.

But the Fed is backed into a corner.  First, if it were to start cutting rates, it would contradict the message about a “healthy economy.”  Hard to believe someone in control of policy would lie to the public, right?  Furthermore, the Fed is well aware that it has created a dangerous financial asset bubble and that price inflation is running several multiples higher than the number reported by the Government using its heavily massaged CPI index.

Finally, the Fed needs to keep support beneath the dollar because, once the debt ceiling is lifted again, the Treasury will be highly dependent on foreign capital to fund the enormous new Treasury bond issuance that will accompany the raising, or possible removal, of the debt ceiling.  If the Fed starts slashing rates toward zero, the dollar will begin to head south and foreigners will be loathe buy dollar-based assets.

However, if the Fed does cut rates at the July FOMC meeting, it’s because Powell and his cohorts are well aware of the deteriorating economic conditions which are driving the data embedded in these charts which show that US corporate “sentiment” toward the economy and business conditions is in a free-fall:

The chart on the left is Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions index. The index is designed to capture turning points in the economy. It fell to 13 in June from 45 in May. It was the largest one-month decline in the history of the index. It’s also the lowest reading on the index since December 2008.

The chart on the right  shows business/manufacturing executives’ business expectations (blue line) vs consumer expectations. Businesses have become quite negative in their outlook for economic conditions. You’ll note the spread between business and consumer expectations (business minus consumer) is the widest and most negative since the tech stock bubble popped in 2000.

Regardless of the nonsense you might read in the mainstream media or hear on the bubblevision cable channels, the U.S. and global economies are spiraling into a deep recession.  Aside from the progression of the business cycle, which has been hindered from its natural completion since 2008 by money printing and ZIRP from Central Banks, the world is awash in too much debt,  especially at the household level. The Central Banks can stimulate consumption if they want to subsidize negative interest rates for credit card companies.  But short of that, the economy is in big trouble.

I publish the Short Seller’s Journal, which features economic analysis similar to the commentary above plus short selling opportunities to take advantage of stocks that are mis-priced based on fundamentals.  You can learn more about this weekly newsletter here: Short Seller’s Journal information.

Recession Fears Fading? ROFLMAO

The news headlines explained the sudden jump in the S&P futures this morning by stating that “recession fears had faded.”  Just like that. Overnight.  I guess the fact that the housing starts report showed a 9% sequential drop in housing starts last month and and a year-over-year 10% plunge means that the housing market is no longer considered part of the economy.

That report was followed by a highly negative March consumer confidence report which included that largest drop in the “present situation” index since 2008.  What’s stunning about this report is that consumer confidence usually is highly correlated with the directional movement of the S&P 500. Obviously this would have suggested that consumer confidence should be soaring.

I explained to my Short Seller Journal subscribers that, once it became obvious the Fed would eventually have to start cutting rates and resuming QE, the stock market might sell-off. I think that’s what we saw on Friday. The “tell-tale” is the inversion in the Treasury yield curve. It’s now inverted out to 7 years when measured between the 1-yr and 7-yr rate. On Friday early the spread between the 3-month T-Bill and the 10-yr Treasury yield inverted. This has occurred on six occasions over the last 50 years. Each time an “officially declared” recession followed lasting an average of 311 days.

The yield curve inversion is a very powerful signal that economy is in far worse shape than any Fed or Government official is willing to admit. the Treasury yield curve “discounts” economic growth expectations. An upward sloping yield curve is the sign that the bond market expects healthy economic growth and potential price inflation. An inverted curve is just the opposite. If you hear or read any analysis that “it’s different this time,” please ignore it. It’s not different.

The inverted yield curve is broadcasting a recession. For many households, this country has been in a recession since 2008. That’s why debt levels have soared as easy access to credit has enabled 80% of American households to maintain their standard of living. The yield curve is telling us that credit availability will tighten considerably and the recession will hit the rest of us. This is what Friday’s stock market was about, notwithstanding the overtly obvious intervention to keep the S&P 500 above the 2800 level on Monday and today.

Without a doubt, through the “magic” of “seasonal adjustments” imposed on monthly data we might get some statistically generated economic reports which will be construed by the propagandists as showing “green shoots.” Run, run as far away as possible from this analysis. The average household has debt bulging from every orifice. In fact, the entire U.S. economic system is bursting at the seams from an 8-year debt binge. It’s not a question of “if” the economy will collapse, it’s more a matter of “when.”

Why Housing Won’t Bounce With Lower Rates

“Our advice is to own as little exposure U.S. equity exposure as your career risk allows.” – Martin Tarlie, member of portfolio allocation at Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo investment management

The following is an excerpt from the latest Short Seller’s Journal:

Economy is worse than policy makers admit publicly – Less than four months ago, the FOMC issued a policy statement that anticipated four rate hikes in 2019 with no mention of altering the balance sheet reduction program that was laid out at the beginning of the QT initiative. It seems incredible then that, after this past week’s FOMC meeting, that the Fed held interest rates unchanged, removed any expectation for any rate hikes in 2019, and stated that it might reduce its QT program if needed. After reducing its balance sheet less than 10%, the Fed left open the possibility of reversing course and increasing the size of the balance sheet – i.e. re-implementing “QE” money printing.

Contrary to the official propaganda the economy must be in far worse shape than can be gleaned from the publicly available data if the Fed is willing to stop nudging rates higher a quarter of a point at a time and hint at the possibility of more money printing “if needed.” Remember, the Fed has access to much more detailed and accurate data than is made available to the public, including Wall Street. The Fed sees something in the numbers that sent them retreating abruptly and quickly from any attempt to tighten monetary policy.

Housing market – As I suggested might happen after a bounce in the first three weeks of January, the weekly purchase mortgage index declined three weeks in a row, including a 5% gap-down in the latest week (data is lagged by 1 week).  This is despite a decline in the 10-yr Treasury rate to the lowest rate for the mortgage benchmark Treasury rate since January 2018.

Not surprisingly, the NAR’s pending home sales index – released last Wednesday mid-morning for December – was down 2.2% vs November and tanked nearly 10% vs. December 2017. Pending sales are for existing home sales are based on contracts signed. This was the 12th straight month of year-over-year declines. Remarkably, the NAR chief “economist” would not attribute the decline to either China or the Government shutdown. He didn’t mention inventory either, which has soared in most major metro areas over the past couple of months.

For me, the explanation is pretty simple: The average household’s cost to service debt has reached a point at which it will become more difficult to find buyers who can qualify for a conventional mortgage (FNM, FRE, FHA):

The chart above shows personal interest payments excluding mortgage debt. As you can see, the current non-mortgage personal interest burden is nearly 20% higher than it was just before the 2008 financial crisis. It’s roughly 75% higher than it was at the turn of the century.  Fannie Mae raised the maximum DTI (debt-to-income ratio – percentage of monthly gross income that can be used for interest payments) to 50% in mid-2017 to qualify for a mortgage. This temporarily boosted home sales. That stimulus has now faded. And despite falling interest rates, the housing market continues to contract.

That said, the Census Bureau finally released new home sales for November. It purports that new homes on a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate basis rose a whopping 16.9% from October. I just laughed when I saw the number. The calculus does not correlate either with home sales data reported by new homebuilders or with mortgage purchase applications during that time period (new home sales are based on contract signings). 90% of all new home buyers use a mortgage.

The November number was a 7.7% decline from the November 2017 SAAR. According to the Census Bureau, the months’ supply of new homes is at 6, down from October’s 7 but up from November 2017’s 4.9. A perusal of homebuilder balance sheets would show inventories near all-time highs (homebuilders do not always list finished homes on MLS right away if a community already has plenty of inventory). The average sales price of a new home dropped to 8.4% from $395,000 in October to $362,000 in November. Anyone who purchased a new home with a less than 9% down payment mortgage during or prior to October is now underwater on the mortgage.

Absent more direct Government subsidy and Fed stimulus, the housing market is going to continue contracting, with prices falling. Anyone who bought a home with less than a 10% down payment mortgage over the last 3-5 years will find themselves underwater on their mortgage.  I expect home equity mortgage delinquencies and default to begin rising rapidly in the 2nd half of 2019.

In the last issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, I presented my favorite homebuilder shorts along with put option and short selling call option ideas. You can learn more about this newsletter here:   Short Seller’s Journal information