Author Archives: Pater Tenebrarum

     

 

 

Two Interesting Recent P&P Interviews

Our friend Maurice Jackson of Proven and Probable has recently conducted two interviews which we believe will be of interest to our readers. The first interview  is with Brien Lundin, the president of Jefferson Financial, host of the famed New Orleans Investment Conference and publisher & editor of the Gold Newsletter – an investment newsletter that has been around for almost five decades, which actually makes it the longest-running US-based investment newsletter focused on precious metals. Its staying power speaks for itself.

 

Brien Lundin speaking at the 2012 New Orleans Investment Conference.

 

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The Most Comprehensive Collection of Gold Charts

Our friends at Incrementum have just published their newest Gold Chart Book, a complement to the annual “In Gold We Trust” report. A download link to the chart book is provided below.

 

As of late 2019 an ounce of gold will get you 115 liters of beer at the Munich October Fest – a 7-year high. Cheers!

 

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True Money Supply Growth Rebounds in September

In August 2019 year-on-year growth of the broad true US money supply (TMS-2) fell to a fresh 12-year low of 1.87%. The 12-month moving average of the growth rate hit a new low for the move as well. The main driver of the slowdown in money supply growth over the past year was the Fed’s decision to decrease its holdings of MBS and treasuries purchased in previous “QE” operations. This was partly offset by bank credit growth in recent months, which has moved to 6.6% y/y after being stuck below 4% y/y throughout 2018.

 

US broad true money supply TMS-2, year-on-year growth w. 12-month moving average. After establishing a new 12-year low at  1.87% in August, TMS-2 growth has rebounded to 3.09% in September. In 2000, the low in y/y growth coincided almost precisely with the peak in the S&P 500 index. The next major low was established in 2006, about one year before the stock market peak. It is worth noting that in both cases, money supply growth actually soared during the subsequent bear markets and recessions. This illustrates the fact that slowing and/or accelerating money supply growth exerts its effects with a considerable lag.

 

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Chaos in Overnight Funding Markets

Most of our readers are probably aware that there were recently quite large spikes in repo rates. The events were inter alia chronicled at Zerohedge here and here. The issue is fairly complex, as there are many different drivers at play, but we will try to provide a brief explanation.

 

There have been two spikes in the overnight general collateral rate – one at the end of 2018, which was a first warning shot, and the one of last week, which was the biggest such spike on record, exceeding even that seen in the 2008 crisis.

 

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Inflation and “Price Stability”

We still remember when sometime in the mid 1980s, the German Bundesbank proudly pointed to the fact that Germany’s y/y consumer price inflation rate had declined to zero. It was considered a “mission accomplished” moment. No-one mentioned that economic nirvana would remain out of sight unless price inflation was pushed to 2% per year.

 

CPI, annual rate of change. During the “stagflation” period of the 1970s, Congress enacted the Federal Reserve Reform Act and the Humphrey-Hawkins Act, which specified a list of miracles the Fed was supposed to perform.

 

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The Negative Interest Rates Abomination

Our readers are probably aware that assorted central bankers and the economic advisors orbiting them occasionally mention the “natural interest rate” (a.k.a. “originary interest rate”) in speeches and papers. It is generally assumed that it has declined, which is to say, time preferences are assumed to have decreased.

 

This is actually an understatement…

 

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How to Hang on to Greenland

Jim Bianco, head of the eponymous research firm, handily won the internet last Thursday with the following tweet:

 

 

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Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting of 31 July 2019

At the end of July the Advisory Board of the Incrementum Fund held its quarterly meeting (a full transcript is available for download at the end of this post). The board was joined by special guest Simon Mikhailovich, a financial market veteran who inter alia co-founded the Toqueville Bullion Reserve. The title of the transcript and this post was inspired by his remarks.

 

Special guest Simon Mikhailovich

 

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Bad Hair Days Are Back

We recently discussed the many divergences between major US indexes, which led us to expect that a downturn in the stock market was close (see The Calm Before the Storm for details). Here is an update of the comparison chart we showed at the time:

 

The divergences between various indexes seem to be resolving as expected.

 

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A Noteworthy Sentiment Change

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have declined quite sharply in recent days. Here is an overnight snapshot of the daily chart:

 

Bitcoin corrects again…

 

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Things To Keep An Eye On

Below is an overview of important US interest rates and yield curve spreads. In view of the sharp increase in stock market volatility, yields on government debt have continued to decline in a hurry. However, the flat to inverted yield curve has not yet begun to steep – which usually happens shortly before recessions and the associated bear markets begin.

 

2-year note yield, 3-month t-bill yield, 10-year note yield, 10-year/2-year yield spread, 10-year/3-month yield spread. As indicated in the chart annotation, the signal that normally indicates that a boom has definitely ended is a reversal in these spreads from inversion to rapid steepening. This has yet to happen.

 

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Anti-Vigilantes

We dimly remember when Japanese government debt traded at a negative yield to maturity for the very first time. This happened at some point in the late 1990s or early 2000ds in secondary market trading (it was probably a shorter maturity than the 10-year JGB) and was considered quite a curiosity. If memory serves, it happened on just one brief occasion and it was widely held at the time that the absurd situation of a bond buyer accepting a certain loss if the bonds were held to maturity was an outlier, never to be seen again. And this is what the world of bonds looks like today:

 

Sovereign debt with negative yields to maturity rises to a new record high of $15 trillion

 

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Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Silver “Scarcifies” – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      On Monday, Silver got Scarcer – and Simpler On 23 July, we said:   “Well, it’s complicated.”   The action on 27 July was not.   Silver spot price vs. September basis   Notice the big drop in the basis starting around midnight (London time). It falls from over 7% to under 2%. To refresh: Basis = Future(bid) - Spot(ask) For the first two and half hours, the spot price is not moving. So, the only way the basis can drop is if the price...
  • Silver Explodes — But Why? Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Explosive Days in Silver The silver market witnessed another explosive day! At midnight (in London), the price of the metal was $26.90. By 9pm, it had rocketed up to $28.95, a gain of 7.6%. This is not normal. But then, we are not in a normal world.   After several years of going nowhere and a downside fake-out in March this year, silver has come to life rather dramatically... [PT]   The Republicans are spending like drunken Modern Monetary Sailors. And...
  • Best Laid Schemes
      A Really Neat Bridge   But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain; The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy! – Robert Burns, To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough (in extract), 1785     Installation of the final cable support pipes on the Gerald Desmond bridge replacement. Here is a drone video of the project. [PT] Photo by...
  • The Dollar Is Dying
      Insulting the Captive Audience This week, while perusing the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet figures, we came across a rather curious note.  We don’t know how long the Fed’s had this note posted to its website.  But we can’t recall ever seeing it.  The note reads as follows:   “The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has expanded and contracted over time.  During the 2007-08 financial crisis and subsequent recession, total assets increased significantly from $870...

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