Tag Archives: USD

Gold & Brexit

In what was an extraordinary day for global financial markets, and a day which will no doubt become legendary and enter folk memory in the UK and elsewhere, the electorate of the United Kingdom voted 51.9 % to 48.1% to leave the European Union. As the first count results began trickling in during the very early hours of Friday morning London time from northern England constituencies such as Newcastle and Sunderland, the cosy optimism that had prevailed in the Remain camp became increasingly agitated as the voting majority swung to the Leave side and quickly snowballed, in what was a shock to many.

Gold Philharmonics and Silver Philharmonics with Euro notes

The Sterling – Dollar cable rate plummeted, gold took off, especially in GBP, and BBC presenters became increasingly stony-faced and pale looking. By 3:40am UK time, Leave was ahead by 500,000 votes, and just an hour later the major UK networks of first ITV and then the BBC called the election to the Leave camp. Nigel Farage, promoter of the Leave side and leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who had earlier conceded then un-conceded defeat, reappeared to the press and when asked what he would do next announced that he was going for a celebratory drink. As Farage and his boisterous entourage were undoubtedly finding a suitable early hostelry to settle into in Westminster, an ashen-faced British Prime Minister David Cameron appeared in Whitehall to announce his resignation in what had already become a day of records.

Gold & Silver Prices

All this time gold was soaring and the British Pound was folding. Gold in GBP started moving at 2:45am UK time when it was at £852, and as the voting tide turned, gold in GBP peaked at 5:30am at approximately £1004, an 18% move in less than 3 hours. GBP gold then fell slightly from the peak and has settled into a roughly £950 to £960 range.

Gold In GBP 24th June 2016

US Dollar gold, which had been as low as $1250 before the voting pattern emerged, surged past $1300 before 3am UK time, and peaked at just under $1340 before 6am UK time, for an up move of 90 bucks, before it too fell back slightly into a range of $1310 to $1325.

Gold in USD 24th June 2016

Silver also had dramatic gains intraday, especially in GBP. Silver in GBP 24th June 2016.

Exchange Rates

GBP - USD suffered an unprecedented fall by over 11% at one stage today, moving down 18 cents at one point from $1.50 to a 31-year low of $1.32, a level not seen since mid-1985. It was since recovered partially to trade at $1.375, still down over 8% on the day.

GBP - USD one day rate, 24th June 2016

The Euro weakened significantly against major currencies, one of the reasons being that the uncertainty of the UK’s exit from the EU may precipitate further defections that could include a Eurozone member country. FTSE equity indices fell sharply intraday before recovering somewhat. Bank shares were hammered especially the shares of UK and European banks.

Gold - Flight to Safety

The massive moves and volatility spikes caught much of the financial markets off-guard, hence the dramatic price movements and flight to safety. As gold was bid, it has yet again proved its role as one of the world’s preeminent safe havens and protectors of wealth that investors will flock to in times of crisis and fiat currency uncertainty. According to ICBC Standard Bank, as cited by the Financial Times, the Shanghai Gold Exchange traded a record equivalent of 143 tonnes of gold during its trading day today – 24th June. One person who seems to have been confident of a Leave win is Arron Banks, a rich donor to the Leave side. He was said to have commissioned a poll of 10,000 people (which is a large sample size), and the results of this poll, released today, revealed a 52 – 48 win for Leave. So perhaps some hedge funds and investment banks were privy to similar data last night.

Central Bank Intervention

The world’s major central banks, who were meeting in Basel at the Bank for International Settlements this week, may appear to have been also blindsided by the election result, however, being the conservative types, they seem to have been prepared for this contingency and have, in a not too subtle way, indicated their collective intention to intervene in the FX and funding markets in a coordinate fashion, and with total disregard of the free functioning of financial markets. Central banks are by their very nature interventionist, meddling and secretive in their interventions, so this is hardly surprising. However, its more blatant than usual.

The Bank of England announced that it “will continue to pursue responsibilities for monetary and financial stability relentlessly”. This use of ‘relentlessly, is quite ominous bank-speak and could even suggest intervention in the gold market, since after all, the Bank of England houses its FX and Gold operations on the same desk and is allowed to use all assets of the HM Treasury’s Exchange Equalisation Account (EEA) to pursue monetary stability. So some ‘smoothing operations’ or ‘stabilisation operations’ on the gold price by the Bank of England (or by the BIS) are not beyond the bounds of possibility. In fact, it is logical for the major central banks to intervene in the gold market since they do not want gold to play the role of canary in the coalmine as this counters their ‘stability’ meme.

The ECB said this morning that it “stands ready to provide additional liquidity in Euro and foreign currency, in close contact with other central banks

In its statement today, the Bank of Japan said that it has ”a network of currency swap arrangements is already established by the central banks of major countries. The Bank of Japan will take appropriate measures as necessary, including activation of this network”.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve announced that it is "carefully monitoring developments in global financial markets, in cooperation with other central banks,….The Federal Reserve is prepared to provide dollar liquidity through its existing swap lines with central banks, as necessary, to address pressures in global funding markets..”

Not to be outdone, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) didn’t just threaten to intervene, it did intervene today as the ‘Swiss franc came under upward pressure’. According to an email sent to Bloomberg by the SNB “has intervened in the foreign exchange market to stabilize the situation and will remain active in that market”.

Demand for Physical Gold

BullionStar saw noticeably higher website traffic today with higher demand and sales than normal, but BullionStar does not have the shortages in inventories that are being reported by other dealers. In fact, BullionStar has plenty of stock.

Where there does seem to be tightness in the physical gold market is in the London wholesale market, where gold has now flowed into London from Switzerland for 3 consecutive months (69 tonnes in May, 80 tonnes in April, and over 40 tonnes in March), most likely to top up gold holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, whose inventory has now recorded a latest multi-year high of 915.9 tonnes. This importation of gold into London from Switzerland does seem to indicate that there is not much free float of gold sloshing around the London Gold Market.

The seismic shifts brought about by today’s extraordinary day in the UK will not settle quickly and may only just be the beginnings of further tremors that have been unwittingly released in into the global economic system. Politically, the UK is in a place where it did not think it would be. Cameron is resigning, Boris Johnson is favourite to take his place, and there is pressure on the opposition Labour leader Corbyn to resign with accusations that he is out of touch with the electorate. In the financial markets, the major banks are in deep trouble and dollar funding is an issue, even according to the central bank interventionalists. In such a climate of evaporating paper wealth, gold, and to an extent silver, are stepping forward to play their traditional roles of war chest assets, assets with real intrinsic value.

Gold Price: USD 65,000/oz in 5 years?

16 June 2021 is exactly five years from today. What will the gold price be on 16 June 2021?

Currencies are Worthless

As the world’s fiat paper currencies have lost 99% or more of their purchasing power over the last 100 years, its critical to understand that fiat paper currencies are not a suitable unit of account for accurately measuring prices.

In fact, gold is a far superior measuring stick of value than paper currencies.

A paper currency doesn’t measure anything. It merely has an arbitrary value placed upon it by the population using it. It’s not backed by anything and it can fail at any time. From historical experience, we know that the unbacked fiat paper currencies used today will ultimately destruct and become worthless. All unbacked fiat currencies throughout human history have failed.

A more accurate measurement would be to measure fiat currencies in gold. If we look at the US Dollar measured in gold, we can see that the US Dollar has utterly failed in retaining its value, as its value has plunged about 98% over a mere 50 years. It cannot therefore be seen as a store of value.

Chart of US Dollar measured in Gold. USD price instead of Gold Price.Source: Gold Price Charts, BullionStar

Extrapolating into a likely future, a future in which you will need a stack of USD 100 bills to buy a carton of milk and a couple of eggs, underlines that the US Dollar gold price is meaningless as an indicator of value. When discussing the price of gold, the key is to recognise that gold retains its purchasing power over time. If a 1 oz gold coin can buy an exclusive men’s suit today at USD 1,300 and the same 1 oz gold coin buys an exclusive men’s suit at USD 2,600 tomorrow, this only means that gold is still reflecting USD 1,300 in today's purchasing power and hasn’t gained in value. It’s the US Dollar that has depreciated vis-à-vis gold. Similarly, if the gold price goes to USD 650 and it can still buy the same suit, then it’s merely the US Dollar that as appreciated vis-à-vis gold.

With a gold price of USD 65000, what will the USD be for Milk, Egg and Bread

As a society, we should by now have transcended the idea of measuring value in fiat currencies. Currencies are not a reliable measuring stick. Just imagine if the centimeter, meter, yard or foot were to fluctuate in length.

100 cm 100 years ago has become 2 cm today. Think about it. This is what has happened with our currencies.

The Gold Price                                  

The gold price is an interesting term because the gold price doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the physical gold market whatsoever.

In today’s marketplace, a lot of things are regarded as “gold”. On the London Gold Market alone, there’s 600 times more gold traded each day than there is gold mined globally on that same day.

All sorts of paper gold passes for “gold” on the financial markets. The vast majority, certainly more than 95%, and likely more than 99% of this paper gold is not backed by any physical gold.

“Gold” is created out of thin air as paper obligations. The demand for and supply of this paper gold has little to do with the physical gold market.

During the last couple of year, demand for real physical gold has been insatiable , however the price of gold has not reflected this huge demand. Physical gold has been flowing from the Western vaults to Asia. The Chinese in particular have been vacuuming the London vaults for gold. However, this substantial physical demand hasn't been reflected in higher gold prices because whereas Easterners have been buying physical gold, Westerners have been selling paper gold.

Given that the price of “gold” is set on the OTC paper market in London and on the COMEX futures market in New York, the US Dollar denominated gold price continued to fall between 2012 and 2015 despite the massive physical demand, and instead, it created a physical shortage of gold.

Whether physical demand is up or down 5 tons in China or India matters little when there’s 5,500 tons of paper gold traded each day in London  as visualized in this infographic. London, and to a lesser extent COMEX in the US, are the price discovery markets for gold. However, paper gold on these markets is almost exclusively cash settled with less than 1% of the contracts/futures settled with delivery of physical gold.

The gold price is therefore not dependent on the market fundamentals of physical gold but this may very well change in the future.

With China picking up all physical gold available every time the price slides, widespread shortages are a likely outcome if the gold price ever were to decrease significantly again. Given that the historic vaulting capital of the world, London, has already been running out of stockpiled gold, there just wouldn't be enough physical gold to satisfy demand if the price were to ever plunge significantly again.

It's actually been a healthy development for the physical market’s demand/supply balance  that the gold price has increased 22% in USD Year-to-Date 2016. However, we have to understand that the largest potential for a revaluation of the gold price paradoxically may be preceded by a decrease in gold prices.

When trend seeking Western investors sell their paper gold and the price slides, Easterners take the opportunity to buy physical gold at bargain prices, thereby stressing the physical market with shortages as a result. Such shortages may very well be what ultimately breaks the neck of the paper markets. Because when there is no longer any physical gold available at the price dictated by the paper markets, there will be a disconnect between the price of paper gold and the price of physical gold. Paper gold will go towards zero whereas the price of physical gold will skyrocket.

Such a revaluation of physical gold will bring the fiat paper currencies to their knees as their worthlessness as a store of value will become clear to all.

USD 65,000/oz

What will the price of gold be in 5 years’ time?

Gold is savings - Gold is wealth, and as such, the price denominated in something as inferior as the US Dollar isn't very important.

For the sake of reflection, we can play with the idea of what the price of gold would have to be if the US Dollar were to go on a fully-backed gold standard.

The US gold reserve officially stands at 8,133.5 tons although it has never been properly independently audited. At USD 1,300/oz, this would be equivalent to 340 billion dollars. The total US money supply is about 17,000 billion dollars. For each "gold backed" dollar today, there are therefore 49 unbacked dollars. The gold price would thus have to increase 50-fold to USD 65,000 if the US Dollar were to be fully gold-backed by 16 June 2021.


Oil & US Dollar & Gold

In the midst of upwards trending oil prices a decade ago, a US senate committee recommended actions to curb the high oil price to mitigate the negative effect on growth.

Ok, great, the oil price went from north of USD 140 in 2008 to around USD 30 now.

But now, mainstream economists are disappointed that the sliding oil price hasn’t had much positive effect on growth and instead tell us that a decreasing oil price is a double-edged sword at best and a threat to the US economy at worst. This despite the US being a net importer of oil, importing about 20 % of its oil consumption.

oil production US

Source: Cornucopia

According to most mainstream economists, a fall in prices, oftentimes mislabelled as deflation, is a horrific thing that must be avoided at all costs.

Before countering the deflation scare, let us first establish that deflation by definition is a shrinkage in the money supply whereas price deflation is the resulting effect of the general price level for goods and services when the money supply decreases.

The mainstream economist argument is that price deflation is bad because people are said to hold off consumption anticipating even lower prices in the future. Really?

Do people hold off their oil consumption because of falling prices? Do people hold off their consumption of food if prices are anticipated to fall? Are people waiting to buy a mobile phone if the price of the product is anticipated to decrease in the future?

Global oil production has increased, with a corresponding price decrease, in recent years due to innovative technological advancements.

The decreasing price of oil is, despite its negative short-term effects on the producers, a positive event enabling the economy to operate more efficiently. Less resources and costs are needed to produce and consume 1 litre of oil today compared to a year ago. The resources liberated from the increased efficiency can instead be put into something else and thus increase productivity further.

US Dollar

We already know that the banking system is inherently incentivizing reckless debt behaviour to the extent that banks have got to increase their balance sheet continuously, for the fractional reserve based monetary system not to collapse.

Savings used to be the backbone of an economy. With savings, it was possible to accumulate capital used for investments. Nowadays, savings has nothing to do with investing as the money is simply created out of thin air as debt by commercial banks and called capital.

Today, debt, and particularly US Dollar denominated debt, is used as a store of value around the world. This skews everything.

A strong US Dollar is to be expected in such a system.

The US Dollar will continue to strengthen until… it collapses.

The US has been running a trade deficit for some four decades by now and has in the process accumulated a humongous national debt.

How is that even possible?

According to Economics 101, the currency of a country running perpetual trade deficits is supposed to depreciate to balance the trade. With a depreciating currency, imports will be more expensive and exports will be cheaper for others to buy. The trade deficit will thus decrease.

This doesn’t happen in the US though. Why?

The reason is that the value of the US Dollar, functioning as a reserve currency, is dictated by the (savings) demand for the US Dollar in the rest of the world. The US doesn’t have a choice on whether to run a trade imbalance or not. It’s the net producing countries (read China) exporting to the consuming countries (read USA) that is dictating to what extent the US can utilize the exorbitant privilege of issuing debt in the world’s reserve currency.

It’s the demand of the US Dollar as a reserve currency that sets the pace. For the US Dollar to function as a reserve currency, the US is required to run trade deficits for the purpose of distributing US Dollars to the net producers/savers.

When savers save in the same medium as is used for the Medium of Exchange, a collapse always follows the monetary expansion when the debt savings are undone. The trigger point of this may very well be when the flow of physical gold dries up. Freegold is instructive in explaining the mechanism that is likely to correct the current imbalance between the paper world and physical world.

The Prudence of Saving in Gold

Following a collapse of our monetary system, it will be vital to own gold as a store of value. Paper assets will no longer matter. For us to get a glimpse at life beyond this transition, India may provide a good example since basically the whole population are avid gold savers.

In India, people have protected their wealth with gold over generations. For Indians, gold is an asset class that bridges inequalities by giving individuals a shot at protecting themselves against foolish government policies. The government does everything in their power, with the Indian trade deficit as their go to excuse, to have people surrendering their gold. The government has introduced a gold monetization scheme, there’s gold import duties, documentation requirements for buying gold and campaigns to convince people to open bank accounts.

Who’s right? The government or the people?

Let’s compare the track record of the Indian Rupee versus Gold. At the start of 1960, 1 gram of gold cost 5.37 Indian Rupees. On 1 February 2016, 1 gram of gold cost 2,443.59 Indian Rupees excluding the premium stemming from the 10 % import duty. The Indian Rupee as measured in gold has thus lost about 99.8 % of its value since 1960.

Indians don’t expect the government to take care of you from cradle to grave, they realise that they need to save to educate their children and to look after their aging parents and themselves when retiring.

Isn’t the world upside down when prudent savers have to fight the government’s reckless policies to keep their wealth?

When fiat money hyper-inflates, paper gains or paper deficits will no longer matter. Owning physical gold will.