[biiwii comment: the chart below illustrates perfectly why we call the gold-silver ratio a “metallic credit spread” (hat tip Bob Hoye). This chart is gold-commodities, but it’s the same dynamic…]
In the blog post “Some gold bulls need a dose of realism“, I noted that relative to the Goldman Sachs Spot Commodity Index (GNX) the gold price was at an all-time high and about 30% above its 2011 peak. I then wrote: “Rather than imagining a grand price suppression scheme involving unlimited quantities of “paper gold” to explain why gold isn’t more expensive, how about trying to explain why gold is now more expensive relative to other commodities than it has ever been.”
A rational explanation of gold’s relative expensiveness begins with the premise that major trends in the gold/commodity ratio are invariably associated — in an inverse manner — with major trends in economic confidence. Since credit spreads are one of the best indicators of economic confidence, with generally-widening credit spreads signifying declining confidence and generally-narrowing credit spreads signifying rising confidence, it would be logical if there were a positive correlation between the gold/commodity ratio and credit spreads. As evidenced by the following chart, that’s exactly what there is.
Gold stocks’ technical rubber meets the fundamental road
You may have noticed that I have written relatively little publicly about the gold sector over the last few years (we have covered it consistently in NFTRH to keep subscribers aware of the bear’s status, and protected against it). Is that strange for a writer who was probably known first and foremost as a ‘gold guy’? Not at all! It’s just that it is not desirable to get bogged down obsessing on a sector in a bear market when there are other fish to fry on the global macro landscape. But the process of finding and confirming a bottom in the gold sector is now front and center as more of the fundamentals that actually matter come into place. To those fundamentals, we need to marry the technicals.
We have consistently worked a theme that sees a comparison to the 1999-2001 bottoming phase in the gold sector. That was a time when stock markets topped out, an economic counter cycle took hold and gold began out performing most other items. Within this, we have also been considering the possibility of a final washout within the sector, whereby prices decline despite continually improving fundamentals. This condition was in play in Q4 2008, which was the last great buying opportunity.
In spite of dollar strength, gold prices have rallied up from the low we saw back in mid-December. It took a while, but this rally has finally started to bring more interest from retail gold investors.
The 3 major US indexes are on a ‘bounce within a bear trend’ plan and as of now that plan is intact. Yesterday was hairy and I am glad I was out for the last couple of hours so I could not out think myself during the whipsaws. It was a very profitable day (gold miners and energy playing a nice roll). I took profit on one of my 4 short positions and have some light long exposure in a few non-gold stocks.
You can see the green shaded (short-term support) areas and up north, a lot of red (resistance). NFTRH subscribers get updates as needed during the week in order that they, and I, can maintain perspective at all times during the volatility. More and more I find it is dangerous to be reactionary to markets from the perspective of any one day (day traders, I don’t know how you do it and stay sane… assuming you are). It’s all about understanding what the trends are, within which all this whipsawing takes place.
So the bounce scenario lives, but so too does the intermediate-term bearishness on the broad US stock market…
Stock indexes should be permitted to do precisely what interest rates are doing these days: go into negative territory
I confess that I was worried this morning. I had 120 short positions, 0 longs, and the intraday ES looked absolutely bullish. I’ve tinted the pattern below, and it looked like a very painful day ahead. However, as you certainly know by now, the rally-that-was-to-be fell to pieces immediately, and my profits are again soaring.
Given the torture I endured for years with these bullish turds, the amount of sympathy I have for such disappointments is simply too low to be measured, even with the most modern scientific instruments. As far as I’m concerned, the stock indexes should be permitted to do precisely what interest rates are doing these days: go into negative territory.
Much more than CPI inflation needs to be considered with respect to the gold price
Yes folks, it’s the return of the two egg heads (Campbell Harvey and Claude Erb) who first put the scare into gold bugs back in 2013 with the research paper The Golden Dilemma (PDF), which found that as adjusted for CPI, gold was very over valued. Enter Mark Hulbert with the updated warning for inflation-centric gold bugs. Gold has no business being this expensive.
I have never understood who would want to be one of these “gold traders” (other than the miners with a need to hedge and bullion banks with a need to hedge and manipulate, ha ha ha). Why would you be a trader in an element that is a measure or barometer of other items and conditions? It don’t get it. I guess slick traders speculate with insurance policies, so why not gold too? Everything’s a play after all, in the casino.
To answer Hulbert’s points, beginning with the above…
If the Bank of Japan’s goal has been to extinguish deflation, it has already done so
The news on Friday that the Bank of Japan had joined the ECB in pushing policy rates negative was absorbed with brilliant enthusiasm on Wall Street. At least, much of the attribution for the exceptional rally was given to the BoJ’s move. I find it implausible, arguably silly, to think that a marginal change in monetary policy by a desperate central bank on the other side of the world – however unexpected – would have a massive effect on US stocks. Subsequent trading, which has reversed almost all of that ebullience in two days, suggests that other investors also may agree that just maybe the sorry state of earnings growth rates in this country, combined with a poor economic outlook and still-lofty valuations, should matter more than Kuroda’s gambit.
To be sure, this is a refrain that Ben Bernanke (remember him? Of helicopter infamy?) was singing last month, before the Federal Reserve hiked rates impotently, and clearly the Fed is investigating whether negative rates is a “tool” they should add to their oh-so-expansive toolbox for fighting deflation.
Personal Savings Up Meaning No Energy ‘Tax Cut’ Reaches Consumer
If China and US manufacturing are suffering from what looks like the contours of a slowly progressing recession, we don’t have to go very far to find the genesis. The common denominator is and has been US consumers. That much is evident in very clear fashion through retail sales during the Christmas season that were abysmal. The BEA’s update for full PCE figures shows mostly the same, even though overall PCE is highly influenced by “services” spending in the form of imputations and, where evident, services in the form of a tax (health care).
Real PCE spending was slightly negative in December month-over-month, which suggests another reason why GDP disappointed without too much snow or “residual seasonality.” That makes two of the last three months with essentially zero spending growth despite both what the BEA suggests as somewhat rising income and no “inflation.” This has been an issue with these data points for some time, as the BEA continually suggests that income is rising faster than spending only to revise income lower in persistent fashion. This dichotomy is highlighted by the personal savings rate, which in count of repeated revisions appears as just noise almost without discernible pattern.