Precious Metals

     

 

 

Bonanza Season

In the 18 December 2019 issue of Seasonal Insights I discussed the strong seasonal advance in precious metals around the turn of the year. In silver it begins in mid December and continues until the end of February. A roughly similar pattern can be observed in platinum and palladium, while seasonal buoyancy is at least to some degree evident in gold as well.

 

Long-term silver and platinum seasonal charts from the late 2019 issue of Seasonal Insights : the seasonally strongest phase lasts from mid December until late February. [PT]

 

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An Unloved Sector

We rarely discuss individual stocks in these pages, but we make an exception now and then when we spot exceptional opportunities. This time the reason is actually more mundane: the vast majority of gold exploration stocks failed to benefit from the rally in precious metals prices last year. As a result many of them came under even greater pressure in the tax loss selling season at the end of the year. We made a list of such stocks late last year – a download link to the PDF document is provided below this post. Here is an example of such a stock:

 

ATAC (ATADF), one of many exploration stocks that came under selling pressure in last year’s tax loss selling period.

 

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GDP – A Poor Measure of “Growth”

Last week the prices of the metals rose $35 and $0.82. But, then, the price of a basket of the 500 biggest stocks rose 62. The price of a barrel of oil rose $1.63. Even the euro went up a smidgen. One thing that did not go up was bitcoin. Another was the much-hated asset in the longest bull market. We refer to the US Treasury.

 

BofA Merrill Lynch high yield master II option-adjusted spread: on Dec. 23 it tightened to the  lowest level of 2019, fairly close to its post-crisis low established in 2018. This seemingly signals that risk is very small –  in reality, risk is probably extremely high. [PT]

 

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Plans and Consequences

You are probably already getting into the holiday spirit, perhaps you are even under a little stress. But the turn of the year will soon be here – an occasion to review the past year and make plans for the new one. Many people are doing just that – and their behavior is creating the strongest seasonal rally in the precious metals markets.

 

Anonymous industrial stackers showing off their freshly purchased silver hoard. [PT]

 

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A Critical Appraisal of a Hero of Central Monetary Planning

We apologize for publishing this Report late. We have been very busy developing the business. Last week the price of gold moved up $16, and that of silver $0.39. Almost two groceries leaked out of that store of value par excellence, bitcoin. But hey, stocks are up!

 

We admit to having a soft spot for the politically incorrect Paul Volcker. He frequently expressed bemusement at the newfangled obsessions of his successors at the Fed (as an example, at a conference in 2006 he remarked on the increasing emphasis on “core” inflation: “A great mantra of central bankers these days is ‘inflation targeting.’ I don’t understand that nomenclature. I didn’t think central bankers were in the business of targeting inflation. I thought we were supposed to be targeting stability.” h/t Grant’s). Nevertheless, we are on board with the criticism voiced below. Volcker was indeed instrumental (along with Milton Friedman, otherwise a champion of free markets, but oddly blind to the insidious nature of a monetary central planning agency) in persuading Nixon to abandon the last remnant of the gold standard, the Bretton Woods “gold exchange standard” that permitted foreign central banks to exchange their US dollar reserves for gold at a fixed exchange rate. Not only did this decision unleash a decade of economic and currency market chaos, it ultimately paved the way for the unbridled expansion in money and credit in train since the early 1980s. In the meantime we have arrived at a juncture where central banks are “forced” to adopt ever more insane policies as they rush from trying to prevent one potential systemic collapse after another. [PT]

 

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Re-Purposing of Tractor Parts in South Dakota

 

The price of gold was all but unchanged, but the price of silver dropped another 46 copper pennies last week.

We came across an article showing pictures of something we have previously described: sculptures made from parts taken from farm tractors.

Here is a picture I took:

 

The good old Predator made of tractor parts – looks almost like the real thing! Here is background information on the artist and more pictures of his work. [PT]

 

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Poland’s Gold and the Conspiracy Theorists

The price of gold was up enough to buy a bottle of Two Buck Chuck wine, and the price of silver was up enough to buy a wooden nickel (well, not enough to buy a real nickel nickel).

 

Poland’s gold bars are packaged by employees of G4S International Logistics to be transported from London to Poland. Poland’s gold was originally transferred to London at the beginning of WW II, when Stalin and Hitler invaded and partitioned the country in the late 1930s. For some reason Poland’s post-war communist government left it there – presumably because it was easier to sell in London. [PT]

Photo credit: G4SI

 

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Misguided Incentives

The price of gold subsided a few bucks, and the price of silver blipped a few pennies. Not much action last week, groceries neither pumped into nor drained out of this asset class. Those who look to exchange capital goods for groceries need to find a different asset.

 

The best-laid plans… [PT]

 

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Incrementum Advisory Board Discussion of 23 Oct 2019

In late October the Advisory Board of the Incrementum Fund held its quarterly meeting (a transcript is available for download at the end of this post). This time the board was joined by special guest Dan Oliver, the manager of Myrmikan Capital and president of the Committee for Monetary Research & Education.  Myrmikan inter alia publishes excellent and quite original research on gold which we hereby highly recommend.

 

Dan Oliver of Myrmikan Capital

 

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Yields and the “Everything Bubble”

Last week the price of gold was up $9, and the price of silver was up $0.18.

This week, our thought turns to a cherished old saw. Gold bugs often tell us that the purchasing power of gold is constant. An ounce of gold could have purchased, they say, a fine toga in Roman times. Just as it could buy a fine suit today.

 

This magnificent toga will set you back an ounce, pilgrim. Just think of the impression you’ll make. [PT]

 

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Fun and Regret Ex Nihilo

The price of gold dropped last week, but not calamitously. From $1514 to $1459, or -$55. The price of silver dropped. Calamitously. From $18.08 to $16.75, or -$1.33. -3.6% vs -7.4%. Once again, silver proves to be volatile relative to gold.

 

Silver jumped off a cliff again last week – the chart formation nevertheless continues to look corrective. [PT]

 

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Everybody Has a Plan

Not too long ago, we wrote about the so called Modern Monetary so called Theory (MMT). It is not modern, and it is not a theory. We called it a cargo cult. You’d think that everyone would know that donning fake headphones made of coconut shells, and waving tiki torches will not summon airplanes loaded with cargo. At least the people who believe in this have the excuse of being illiterate.

 

A few images documenting cargo cults on the island of Vanuatu. Left: a wooden plane made by the John Frum cargo cult, which is going strong to this day and has actually become a political party. In the middle is a ceremonial cross erected by the John Frum cargo cult. According to one of the cult’s leaders, its members consider John Frum their Jesus whom they expect to return one day (with a big load of cargo). Even funnier are the guys to the right, who belong to a different Vanuatu-based cargo cult, the Prince Philip Movement, which worships the Duke of Edinburgh whom it considers a divine being. Apparently members of the Yaohnanen tribe in Tanna saw how much respect was paid to Queen Elizabeth during her visits to the island and concluded that her consort had to be a being from their legends, the son of a mountain spirit and a “brother to John Frum”, who is also widely expected to return one day (with cargo). Prince Philip was long unaware that he is revered as a god, but since he has learned about it, he frequently exchanges gifts with the movement (he usually sends them signed photographs of himself, and they send things like traditional pig-killing clubs and other useful implements in return). What the members of the John Frum and Prince Philip cults don’t know: they clearly have what it takes to become modern-day mainstream economists. A second career path is open to them. Your cargo awaits, brothers! [PT]

 

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