The Lighthouse Problem

Measured in gold, the price of the dollar hardly budged this week. It fell less than one tenth of a milligram, from 23.29 to 23.20mg. However, in silver terms, it’s a different story. The dollar became more valuable, rising from 1.58 to 1.61 grams.

 

Lighthouse in StormWho put that bobbing lighthouse there?

Image credit: John Lund / Corbis

 

Most people would say that gold went up $6 and silver went down 43 cents. We wonder, if they were on a sinking boat, tossing about in stormy seas, if they would say “that lighthouse went up 5 meters.”

To our point last week, what would be the utility of a lighthouse that you measured from your boat which is going down and up, but mostly down? Would you wonder if lighthouses had another purpose, any other use? If you could make money betting against other sailors, on the lighthouse’s next position, would you care?

 

“Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” – Warren Buffet

 

Of course, what Buffet doesn’t mention is that we’re forced to use paper certificates of government debt as if it were money. This debt is losing value as the government racks up ever more implausible amounts of it ($19.5T at the moment). Meanwhile, lenders are offered lower and lower interest rates to finance this growing monument to economic insanity.

Surely anyone from Mars would be scratching his head at this, too.

Unfortunately, Nixon’s gold default almost exactly 45 years ago to the day removed the extinguisher of debt. When you pay off a debt using gold, the debt goes out of existence. When you pay a debt using dollar, the debt is merely shifted. So the debt grows—must necessarily grow—at an exponential rate.

Also unfortunately, Nixon’s gold default also unhinged the rate of interest. It began to shoot to the moon. It eventually peaked at an insane high (and historically unprecedented) level in 1981. Since then, it has been falling and now it keeps hitting insane low (and unprecedented) levels.

You can get yourself out of the loop by buying gold, but you cannot affect the debt, interest rates, or the banking system. You are disenfranchised. Instead, we have monetary policy administered the way the Soviet Union had food prices set by bureaucratic diktat.

The problem is not that gold cannot have any utility. It had it, once. The problem is that the government has locked up gold’s utility. What’s left of gold is just betting on the price action in the casino.

Sooner or later, that price action is going to come to an ignominious end. Contra the Quantity Theory of Money, the value of the dollar will go to zero. This will not be because its quantity rises to infinity. It will be because gold owners no longer wish to risk holding dollars, for fear of counterparty default.

About the best we can say is that today is not that day.

 

Gold Fundamentals Catch Up

Read on for the only the only true picture of the supply and demand fundamentals that ultimately drive the price action. But first, here’s the graph of the metals’ prices.

 

chart-1-pricesGold and silver prices – click to enlarge.

 

Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise known as the gold to silver ratio. It rose significantly this week.

 

chart-2-ratioGold-silver ratio – click to enlarge.

 

For each metal, we will look at a graph of the basis and co-basis overlaid with the price of the dollar in terms of the respective metal. It will make it easier to provide brief commentary. The dollar will be represented in green, the basis in blue and co-basis in red.

 

Here is the gold graph.

 

chart-3-gold basis and cobasisGold basis and co-basis and the dollar price – click to enlarge.

 

Well, well, well. Look at that. The abundance of gold (i.e. the basis, the blue line) falling all week, and the scarcity rising. Indeed, we see now this pattern has been going since the end of June. The same pattern holds true for farther-out contracts.

This means that someone, or millions of someones—do not get too caught up in the fallacy of famous market players—is buying physical gold metal. In that time, speculators have not been eager to buy more. So the net result is that the fundamentals have nearly caught up to the price.

 

chart-4-gold price traded vs fundamentalGold – market price vs. fundamental price – click to enlarge.

 

The gold market may not be screaming “buy” yet—today is not that day—but it’s no longer screaming “danger”.

It is interesting to see that the speculators—who are really betting against the dollar, even if they don’t always know it—sometimes go their own way. Perhaps they see a central banker in the news, or the jobs report disappoints. Buy, buy!

No animal species can survive by cannibalism—by members eating other members. And speculators cannot drive the market by continually buying from one another, giving them both profits (as they reckon it, in dollars) and ever-rising price. Eventually either the fundamentals change and the speculators are proven right.

Or the speculators give up, or get flushed out. This time, the speculators are proven right. They put their dollars in harm’s way, particularly since the end of April when the softening fundamental price fell below the market price. It continued to fall all the way through late June. But the market price did not follow this trajectory.

 

Silver in a Different World

Silver is in a different world.

 

chart-5-silver basis and cobasisSilver basis and co-basis and the dollar price – click to enlarge.

 

We do see a falling basis and rising co-basis this week. However, it’s just tracking price. That is rising dollar price (i.e. falling silver price) corresponds with rising co-basis. As speculators reduce their positions, the price falls a bit.

It has a long way farther to fall, before it catches down to the fundamentals.

 

Charts by: Monetary Metals

 

Dr. Keith Weiner is the president of the Gold Standard Institute USA, and CEO of Monetary Metals. Keith is a leading authority in the areas of gold, money, and credit and has made important contributions to the development of trading techniques founded upon the analysis of bid-ask spreads. Keith is a sought after speaker and regularly writes on economics. He is an Objectivist, and has his PhD from the New Austrian School of Economics. He lives with his wife near Phoenix, Arizona.

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Sovereign Bonds – Stretched to the Limit
    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...
  • Writing on the Wall
    Not Adding Up One of the more disagreeable discrepancies of American life in the 21st century is the world according to Washington’s economic bureaus and the world as it actually is.  In short, things don’t add up.  What’s more, the propaganda is so far off the mark, it is downright insulting.   Coming down from the mountain with the latest data tablet... [PT]   The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an unemployment rate of just 3.7 percent.  The BLS also...
  • Global Stock Markets: Danger Lies Directly Ahead
      A Global Pattern You are no doubt aware of the saying “sell in May and go away”. It is one of the best-known and oldest stock market truisms.   Mark Twain's famous saying about stock market speculation (the other one was “There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate – when he cannot afford it, and when he can”).  From a seasonal perspective he was definitely right about September and October. [PT]   The saying is in fact justified...
  • Bond Yields in the Netherworld - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      A Record Amount of Bonds with Negative Yields to Maturity Last week the price of gold went up $22, while the price of silver dropped ¢17. The big news last week was that the yield on all German government bond maturities is now negative. They are also all negative in Switzerland. And in Denmark, all maturities out to 20 years are negative. Interest rates are dropping rapidly in the US as well.   More than $14 trillion in bonds now trade at negative yields to maturity –...
  • Rising Stock Market Volatility – Another Warning Sign
      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.   The next chart shows analogous divergences between the S&P 500 Index and two major foreign stock markets:   US...
  • Retail Holders Sell Their Gold - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      A Myriad of Reasons to Buy Gold – But Small Holders are Selling Big moves occurred in the prices of the metals last week, with that of gold up $57 and silver $0.77. We have now reached a price of gold (if not silver) not seen since 2013, when it was on the way down. What is causing this sudden spike in price and renewed interest in gold?   A well-known depiction of investor emotions over a complete market cycle. Interestingly, it appears as though many retail gold holders...
  • Bitcoin – From Greed to Fear
      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...   It is difficult to gauge sentiment on BTC objectively, but there is a service that tries to do just that. According to its greed & fear barometer, the recent decline seems to have triggered quite a bit of apprehension:   The BTC sentiment measure of alternative.me has...
  • Interest Rate Watch and Bond Market Curiosities
    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,...
  • Getting to a Special State of Ugly
    Suspicious Phrases There are certain phrases – like “trust me” or “I got this” – that should immediately provoke one’s suspicion.  When your slippery contractor tells you, “trust me, your kitchen renovation will be done before Christmas,” you should be wary.  There is no way it will be done before late spring.   USD-CNH (offshore yuan) exchange rate – the support/resistance level at 7 finally breaks amid escalating trade war rhetoric. [PT]   Or...
  • Tumbling Interest Rates - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      An Era of Low Time Preference Last week the price of gold moved up another $16, and the price of silver was up $0.14.   10-year treasury note yield since 1999 – it is almost back at the multi-decade low of 2016. The only other time in history when US treasury yields were this low was in 1944-1945, when the Fed was actively suppressing yields in order to provide cheap financing for the war effort. One year later (from mid 1946 to mid 1947) the CPI jumped to more than 17%...
  • A Bubble in Complacency - Incrementum Advisory Board Discussion
      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   We...
  • Dead Meat in Jackson Hole
      The Pointlessness of Negative Yields If there are any virtues of debt instruments with negative yields we have yet to realize them. Certainly, we understand that as bond yields fall, bond prices rise, and bond investors are rewarded with capital appreciation. But when capital is appreciating as a consequence of negative yields, we suspect there is something fundamentally wrong with the capital itself.   Not only is the stock of negative-yielding debt at a new record high...

Support Acting Man

Austrian Theory and Investment

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Archive

Dog Blow

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!