Pater Tenebrarum

Pater Tenebrarum

Pater Tenebrarum is an independent analyst and economist/social theorist. He has been involved with financial markets in various capacities for 39 years and currently writes economic and market analyses for independent research organizations and a European hedge fund consultancy as well as being the main author of the acting-man blog.

Articles by Pater Tenebrarum

Maurice Jackson Interviews Brien Lundin and Jayant Bhandari

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.

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Incrementum 2019 Gold Chart Book

Gold beer ratio,1950-2015

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. The Incrementum Gold Chart Book is easily the most comprehensive collection of charts related to or relevant to gold available anywhere.

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US Money Supply Growth – Bouncing From a 12-Year Low

US broad true money supply TMS-2, year-on-year growth w. 12-month moving average

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.

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Repo Quake – A Primer

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.

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Paul Tudor Jones Likes Gold

Gold Hedgers Position, 2009-2019

Gold is Paul Tudor Jones’ Favorite Trade Over the Coming 12-24 Months. In a recent Bloomberg interview, legendary trader and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones was asked what areas of the markets currently offer the best opportunities in his opinion. His reply: “As a macro trader I think the best trade is going to be gold”.

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A Surprise Move in Gold

Gold, 30-year seasonal chart

Traders and Analysts Caught Wrong-Footed. Over the past week gold and gold stocks have been on a tear. It is probably fair to say that most market participants were surprised by this development. Although sentiment on gold was not extremely bearish and several observers expected a bounce, to our knowledge no-one expected this.

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In Gold We Trust 2019 

Eroding Trust

The New Annual Gold Report from Incrementum is Here. We are happy to report that the new In Gold We Trust Report for 2019 has been released today (the download link can be found at the end of this post). Ronnie Stoeferle and Mark Valek of Incrementum and numerous guest authors once again bring you what has become the reference work for anyone interested in the gold market.

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In Gold We Trust 2019 – The Preview Chart Book

Gold and other financial assets

The new IGWT report for 2019 will be published at the end of May… …and for the first time a Mandarin version will be released as well. In the meantime, our friends at Incrementum have decided to release a comprehensive chart book in advance of the report. The chart book contains updates of the most important charts from the 2018 IGWT report, as well as a preview of charts that will appear in the 2019 report.

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The Gold Debate – Where Do Things Stand in the Gold Market?

A Recurring Pattern. When the gold price recently spiked up to approach the resistance area even Aunt Hilda, Freddy the town drunk, and his blind dog know about by now, a recurring pattern played out. The move toward resistance fanned excitement among gold bugs (which was conspicuously lacking previously).

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The Bear Market Hook

S&P 500 Large Cap Index

Has a Bear Market in Stocks Begun? The stock market correction into late December was of approximately the same size as the mid 2015/early 2016 twin downturns, so this is not an idle question. Moreover, many bears seem quite confident lately from an anecdotal perspective, which may invite a continuation of the recent upward correction.

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A Global Dearth of Liquidity

Eurozone - Citi Economic Surprise Index, Jan 2016 - Nov 2018

Worldwide Liquidity Drought – Money Supply Growth Slows Everywhere
This is a brief update on money supply growth trends in the most important currency areas outside the US (namely the euro area, Japan and China)  as announced in in our recent update on US money supply growth (see “Federal Punch Bowl Removal Agency” for the details).
 
Nobody likes a drought. This collage illustrates why.
 

The liquidity drought is not confined to the US – it is fair to say that it is a global phenomenon, even though money supply growth rates in the euro area and Japan superficially still look fairly brisk. However, they are in the process of slowing down quite rapidly from much higher levels – and this trend seems set to continue.
 
Euro Area – Money Supply Growth Still High, But Slowing Fast
The chart

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Eastern Monetary Drought

Looking back at the past decade, it would be easy to conclude that central planners have good reason to be smug. After all, the Earth is still turning. The “GFC” did not sink us, instead we were promptly gifted the biggest bubble of all time –  in everything, to boot. We like to refer to it as the GBEB (“Great Bernanke Echo Bubble”) in order to make sure its chief architect is not forgotten.

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Is the Canary in the Gold Mine Coming to Life Again?

Canary

Back in late 2015 and early 2016, we wrote about a leading indicator for gold stocks, namely the sub-sector of marginal – and hence highly leveraged to the gold price – South African gold stocks. Our example du jour at the time was Harmony Gold (HMY) (see “Marginal Producer Takes Off” and “The Canary in the Gold Mine” for the details).

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Are Credit Spreads Still a Leading Indicator for the Stock Market?

US and Euro Area Spreads Compared, Sep 2016 - 2018

Seemingly out of the blue, equities suffered a few bad hair days recently. As regular readers know, we have long argued that one should expect corrections in the form of mini-crashes to strike with very little advance warning, due to issues related to market structure and the unique post “QE” environment.

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Fed Credit and the US Money Supply – The Liquidity Drain Accelerates

Fed credit in 2017 (blue bars) vs. 2018 (red bars)

Federal Reserve Credit Contracts Further. We last wrote in July about the beginning contraction in outstanding Fed credit, repatriation inflows, reverse repos, and commercial and industrial lending growth, and how the interplay between these drivers has affected the growth rate of the true broad US money supply TMS-2 (the details can be seen here: “The Liquidity Drain Becomes Serious” and “A Scramble for Capital”).

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In Gold We Trust – Incrementum Chart Book 2018

Central Bank Policies Turn, 2003 - 2019

Our friends from Incrementum (a European asset management company) have just released the annual “In Gold We Trust” chart book, which collects a wealth of statistics and charts relevant to gold, with extensive annotations. Many of these charts cannot be found anywhere else.

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US Stocks and Bonds Get Clocked in Tandem

30 Year Bond and 10 Year Note Yields, Nov 2016 - Oct 2018

At the time of writing, the stock market is recovering from a fairly steep (by recent standards) intraday sell-off. We have no idea where it will close, but we would argue that even a recovery into the close won’t alter the status of today’s action – it is a typical warning shot. Here is what makes the sell-off unique:

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US Equities – Approaching an Inflection Point

DJIA vs. NDX vs. NYA

A Lengthy Non-Confirmation. As we have frequently pointed out in recent months, since beginning to rise from the lows of the sharp but brief downturn after the late January blow-off high, the US stock market is bereft of uniformity. Instead, an uncommonly lengthy non-confirmation between the the strongest indexes and the broad market has been established.

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Jayant Bhandari – The US Dollar vs. Other Currencies and Gold

Maurice Jackson Speaks with Jayant Bhandari About Emerging Market Currencies, the Trade War, US Foreign Policy and More. Maurice Jackson of Proven & Probable has recently conducted a new interview with our friend and occasional contributor to this site, Jayant Bhandari, who is inter alia the host of the annual Capitalism and Morality seminar.

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Wall Street – Island of the Blessed

Which Disturbance in the Farce can be Profitably Ignored Today? There has been some talk about submerging market turmoil recently and the term “contagion” has seen an unexpected revival in popularity – on Friday that is, which is an eternity ago. As we have pointed out previously, the action is no longer in line with the “synchronized global expansion” narrative, which means with respect to Wall Street that it is best ignored.

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Gold Sector – An Obscure Indicator Provides a Signal

The Goldminbi. In recent weeks gold apparently decided it would be a good time to masquerade as an emerging market currency and it started mirroring the Chinese yuan of all things. Since the latter is non-convertible this almost feels like an insult of sorts. As an aside to this, bitcoin seems to be frantically searching for a new position somewhere between the South African rand the Turkish lira.

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An Inquiry into Austrian Investing: Profits, Protection and Pitfalls

Kevin-Duffy

“From a marketing perspective it pays to be overconfident, especially in the short term. The higher your conviction the easier it will be to market your investment ideas. I think the Austrian School is at a disadvantage here because it’s more difficult to be confident about your qualitative predictions and even in terms of investment advice it is particularly difficult to be confident in these times because we don’t really have any historical precedents we can analyze and draw conclusions from.

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Stock Market Manias of the Past vs the Echo Bubble

Dollar Value of Share Repurchase Announcements, 2009 - 2018

The Big Picture. The diverging performance of major US stock market indexes which has been in place since the late January peak in DJIA and SPX has become even more extreme in recent months. In terms of duration and extent it is one of the most pronounced such divergences in history.

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TARGET-2 Revisited

Capital Flight vs. The Effect of QE. Mish recently discussed the ever increasing imbalances of the euro zone’s TARGET-2 payment system again in response to a few articles which played down  their significance. He followed this up with a nice plug for us by posting a comment we made on the subject. Here is a chart of the most recent data on TARGET-2 available from the ECB; we included the four largest balances, namely those of  Germany, Italy, Spain and the ECB itself.

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A Scramble for Capital

TMS-2 vs. C&I loans

A Spike in Bank Lending to Corporations – Sign of a Dying Boom? As we have mentioned on several occasions in these pages, when a boom nears its end, one often sees a sudden scramble for capital. This happens when investors and companies that have invested in large-scale long-term projects in the higher stages of the production structure suddenly realize that capital may not be as plentiful as they have previously assumed.

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US Money Supply and Fed Credit – the Liquidity Drain Becomes Serious

Our good friend Michael Pollaro, who keeps a close eye on global “Austrian” money supply measures and their components, has recently provided us with a very interesting update concerning two particular drivers of money supply growth. But first, here is a chart of our latest update of the y/y growth rate of the US broad true money supply aggregate TMS-2 until the end of June 2018 with a 12-month moving average.

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The Gold Sector Remains at an Interesting Juncture

Technical Divergence Successfully Maintained. In an update on gold and gold stocks in mid June, we pointed out that a number of interesting divergences had emerged which traditionally represent a heads-up indicating a trend change is close (see: Divergences Emerge for the details). We did so after a big down day in the gold price, which actually helped set up the bullish divergence; this may have felt counter-intuitive, but these set-ups always do. Consider now the updated chart below (we have added the HUI-gold ratio in the third panel of the chart, as it provides additional clarity).

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Gold – Macroeconomic Fundamentals Improve

A Beginning Shift in Gold Fundamentals. A previously outright bearish fundamental backdrop for gold has recently become slightly more favorable. Ironically, the arrival of this somewhat more favorable situation was greeted by a pullback in physical demand and a decline in the gold price, after both had defied bearish fundamentals for many months by remaining stubbornly firm.

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Merger Mania and the Kings of Debt

Corporate Debt

Another Early Warning Siren Goes Off. Our friend Jonathan Tepper of research house Variant Perception (check out their blog to see some of their excellent work) recently pointed out to us that the volume of mergers and acquisitions has increased rather noticeably lately. Some color on this was provided in an article published by Reuters in late May, “Global M&A hits record $2 trillion in the year to date”, which inter alia contained the following chart illustrating the situation.

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Cryptocurrency Technicals – Navigating the Bear Market

BTC, BCH, LTC daily Comparison

Long time readers may recall that we regard Bitcoin and other liquid big cap cryptocurrencies as secondary media of exchange from a monetary theory perspective for the time being. The wave of speculative demand that has propelled them to astonishing heights was triggered by market participants realizing that they have the potential to become money.

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Gold Divergences Emerge

Gold divergences 2017-2018

Bad Hair Day Produces Positive Divergences. On Friday the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China was apparently escalated by a notch to the next level, at least verbally. The Trump administration announced a list of tariffs that are supposed to come into force in three week’s time and China clicked back by announcing retaliatory action. In effect, the US government said: take that China, we will now really hurt our own consumers!  – and China’s mandarins replied: just you wait, we can hurt our consumers just as badly!

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In Gold We Trust, 2018

The New In Gold We Trust Report is Here! As announced in our latest gold market update last week, this year’s In Gold We Trust report by our good friends Ronald Stoeferle and Mark Valek has just been released. This is the biggest and most comprehensive gold research report in the world, and as always contains a wealth of interesting new material, as well as the traditional large collection of charts and data that makes it such a valuable reference work for gold investors.

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Gold and Gold Stocks – Conundrum Alert

Luckless Gold Bug

Moribund Meandering
Earlier this week, the USD gold price was pushed rather unceremoniously off its perch above the $1300 level, where it had been comfortably ensconced all year after its usual seasonal rally around the turn of the year. For a while it seemed as though the $1,300 level may actually hold, but persistent US dollar strength nixed that idea. Previously many observers (too many?) expected gold to finally break out from its lengthy consolidation pattern, but evidently the intense patience training session for gold bugs is set to continue for a while longer.
 
Luckless gold bug surrounded by false starts, with his only friend, a startled moose.
 

The above mentioned seasonal rally started from the second higher mid-December low since the beginning of the current Fed rate hike

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US Money Supply Growth Jumps in March , Bank Credit Growth Stalls

VEF/USD Black Market Rate, Jun 2010 - May 2018

There was a sizable increase in the year-on-year growth rate of the true US money supply TMS-2 between February and March. Note that you would not notice this when looking at the official broad monetary aggregate M2, because the component of TMS-2 responsible for the jump is not included in M2. Let us begin by looking at a chart of the TMS-2 growth rate and its 12-month moving average.

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The Capital Structure as a Mirror of the Bubble Era

Richard Nixon

As long time readers know, we are looking at the economy through the lens of Austrian capital and monetary theory (see here for a backgrounder on capital theory and the production structure). In a nutshell: Monetary pumping falsifies interest rate signals by pushing gross market rates below the rate that reflects society-wide time preferences.

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US Stock Market: Happy Days Are Here Again? Not so Fast…

CBOE Options Equity Pubcall Ratio, May 2013 - Apr 2018

Obviously, assorted crash analogs have by now gone out of the window – we already noted that the market was late if it was to continue to mimic them, as the decline would have had to accelerate in the last week of March to remain in compliance with the “official time table”. Of course crashes are always very low probability events – but there are occasions when they have a higher probability than otherwise, and we will certainly point those out when we see them.

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Claudio Grass on Cryptocurrencies and Gold – An X22 Report Interview

The Global Community is Unhappy With the Monetary System, Change is Coming
Our friend Claudio Grass of Precious Metal Advisory Switzerland was recently interviewed by the X22 Report on cryptocurrencies and gold. He offers interesting perspectives on cryptocurrencies, bringing them into context with Hayek’s idea of the denationalization of money. The connection is that they have originated in the market and exist in a framework of free competition, with users determining which of them will be winners and losers.

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Short Term Market Signals

SPX Daily, RUT Daily and SPX-RUT Ratio, Dec 2016 - Mar 2018

We reviewed the daily charts after yesterday’s close and noticed that the Russell 2000 Index, the NYA and transportation stocks all exhibited relative strength (the same holds actually for the DJIA), particularly vs. the FANG/NDX group. This is happening just as the SPX is battling with an extremely important trendline. As we pointed out before, relative strength in the RUT in particular served as a short term reversal signal ever since the sell-off started in February.

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GBEB Death Watch

DJIA and NDX Daily, May - Nov 1987

As our friend Dimitri Speck noted in his recent update, the chart pattern of the SPX continues to follow famous crash antecedents quite closely, but obviously not precisely. In particular, the decisive trendline break was rejected for the moment. If the market were to follow the 1987 analog with precision, it would already have crashed this week.

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US Stock Market – How Bad Can It Get?

Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr

In view of the fact that the stock market action has gotten a bit out of hand again this week, we are providing a brief update of charts we have discussed in these pages over the past few weeks (see e.g. “The Flight to Fantasy”). We are doing this mainly because the probability that a low probability event will actually happen has increased somewhat in recent days.

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Incrementum’s New Cryptocurrency Research Report

BTC Hourly, 16 - 23 March 2018

As we noted on occasion of the release of the first Incrementum Crypto Research Report, the report would become a regular feature. Our friends at Incrementum have just recently released the second edition, which you can download further below (if you missed the first report, see Cryptonite 2; scroll to the end of the article for the download link).

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US Stock Market – The Flight to Fantasy

US S&P 500 Large Cap Index, NDX Daily and NYA Daily, Mar 2017 - 2018

The chart formation built in the course of the early February sell-off and subsequent rebound continues to look ominous, so we are closely watching the proceedings. There are now numerous new divergences in place that clearly represent a major warning signal for the stock market. For example, here is a chart comparing the SPX to the NDX (Nasdaq 100 Index) and the broad-based NYA (NYSE Composite Index).

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Despondency in Silver-Land

Silver Daily, Oct 2016 - Mar 2018

Over the past several years we have seen a few amazing moves in futures positioning in a number of commodities, such as e.g. in crude oil, where the by far largest speculative long positions in history have been amassed. Over the past year it was silver’s turn. In April 2017, large speculators had built up a record net long position of more than 103,000 contracts in silver futures with the metal trading at $18.30.

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Stock and Bond Markets – The Augustine of Hippo Plea

Hippo Magic

Most fund managers are in an unenviable situation nowadays (particularly if they have a long only mandate). On the one hand, they would love to get an opportunity to buy assets at reasonable prices. On the other hand, should asset prices actually return to levels that could be remotely termed “reasonable”, they would be saddled with staggering losses from their existing exposure. Or more precisely: their investors would be saddled with staggering losses.

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US Equities – Mixed Signals Battling it Out

S&P 500 New High Lows Percent, Feb 2015 - Apr 2018

Readers may recall that we looked at various market internals after the sudden sell-offs in August 2015 and January 2016 in order to find out if any of them had provided clear advance warning. One that did so was the SPX new highs/new lows percent index (HLP). Below is the latest update of this indicator.

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Update on the Modified Davis Method

Nasdaq

Frank Roellinger has updated us with respect to the signals given by his Modified Ned Davis Method (MDM) in the course of the recent market correction. The MDM is a purely technical trading system designed for position-trading the Russell 2000 index, both long and short (for details and additional color see The Modified Davis Method and Reader Question on the Modified Ned Davis Method).

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Strange Economic Data

US Gross Output, Sep 2012 - Jan 2018

Contrary to the situation in 2014-2015, economic indicators are currently far from signaling an imminent recession. We frequently discussed growing weakness in the manufacturing sector in 2015 (which is the largest sector of the economy in terms of gross output) – but even then, we always stressed that no clear recession signal was in sight yet. US gross output (GO) growth year-on-year, and industrial production (IP) – note that GO continues to be published with a lag of two quarters.

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US Equities – Retracement Levels and Market Psychology

Trading Activity and Retail Focused Brokerages is Skyrocketing, 2003 - 2017

Following the recent market swoon, we were interested to see how far the rebound would go. Fibonacci retracement levels are a tried and true technical tool for estimating likely targets – and they can actually provide information beyond that as well. Here is the S&P 500 Index with the most important Fibonacci retracement levels of the recent decline shown. So far, the SPX has made it back to the 61.8% retracement level intraday, and has weakened a tad again since then.

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The Future of Copper – Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting Q1 2018

Copper and Crude Oil, 2015 - 2018

The Q1 2018 meeting of the Incrementum Fund’s Advisory Board took place on January 24, about one week before the recent market turmoil began. In a way it is funny that this group of contrarians who are well known for their skeptical stance on the risk asset bubble, didn’t really discuss the stock market much on this occasion. Of course there was little to add to what was already talked about extensively at previous meetings. Moreover, the main focus was on the topic presented by this meeting’s special guest, Gianni Kovacevic.

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Why I Own Gold and Gold Mining Companies – An Interview With Jayant Bandari

Jayant Bandari

Maurice Jackson of Proven and Probable has recently interviewed Jayant Bandari, the publisher of Capitalism and Morality and a frequent contributor to this site. The topics discussed include currencies, bitcoin, gold and above all junior gold stocks (i.e., small producers and explorers). Jayant shares some of his best ideas in the segment, including arbitrage opportunities currently offered by pending takeovers – which is an area that generally doesn’t receive much attention, but seems to harbor quite a bit of potential.

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US Stocks – Minor Dip With Potential, Much Consternation

S&P 500 Large Cap Index, Jun 2017 - Feb 2018

On January 31 we wrote about the unprecedented levels – for a stock market index that is – the weekly and monthly RSI of the DJIA had reached (see: “Too Much Bubble Love, Likely to Bring Regret” for the astonishing details – provided you still have some capacity for stock market-related astonishment). We will take the opportunity to toot our horn by reminding readers that we highlighted VIX calls of all things as a worthwhile tail risk play.

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Too Much Bubble-Love, Likely to Bring Regret

Top calling Bears

Readers may recall our recent articles on the blow-off move in the stock market, entitled Punch-Drunk Investors and Extinct Bears (see Part 1 & Part 2 for the details). Bears remained firmly extinct as of last week – in fact, some of the sentiment indicators we are keeping tabs on have become even more stretched, as incredible as that may sound. For instance, assets in bullish Rydex funds exceeded bear assets by a factor of more than 37 at one point last week.

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Punch-Drunk Investors & Extinct Bears, Part 2

Rydex Bull/Bear Asset Ratio and Total Bear Assets, 2003 - 2018

For many years we have heard that the poor polar bears were in danger of dying out due to global warming. A fake photograph of one of the magnificent creatures drifting aimlessly in the ocean on a break-away ice floe was reproduced thousands of times all over the internet. In the meantime it has turned out that polar bears are doing so well, they are considered a quite dangerous plague in some regions in Alaska.

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Punch-Drunk Investors & Extinct Bears, Part 1

Sentiment Data

We didn’t really plan on writing about investor sentiment again so soon, but last week a few articles in the financial press caught our eye and after reviewing the data, we thought it would be a good idea to post a brief update. When positioning and sentiment reach levels that were never seen before after the market has gone through a blow-off move for more than a year, it may well be that it means something for once.

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Gold and Gold Stocks – Patterns, Cycles and Insider Activity, Part 2

Gold Bar

Another recurring pattern consists of the seasonally strong period in gold around the turn of the year, which is bisected by a mid to late December interim low in the gold price. An additional boost can be expected in January and Feburary from the strong seasonal uptrend in silver and platinum group metals as well (to see the seasonal PGM charts, scroll down to our addendum to this recent article by Dimitri Speck).

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Season’s Greetings

A Difficult, but Also Exciting Year… Dear Readers, Another year is coming to a close, and the team at Acting Man wishes you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays and all the best for the new year. You have probably noticed that your main scribe was a lot less prolific this year than he normally tends to be; unfortunately, we were held back by health-related issues.

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How the Asset Bubble Could End – Part 2

Special antennae

There is just one more positioning indicator we want to mention: after surging by around $126 billion since March of 2016, NYSE margin debt has reached a new all time high of more than $561 billion. The important point about this is that margin debt normally peaks well before the market does. Based on this indicator, one should not expect major upheaval anytime soon. There are exceptions to the rule though – see the caption below the chart.

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How the Asset Bubble Could End – Part 1

Cooling Spoon

We recently pondered the markets while trying out our brand-new electric soup-cooling spoon (see below). We are pondering the markets quite often lately, because we believe tail risk has grown by leaps and bounds and we may be quite close to an important juncture, i.e., the kind of pivot that can generate both a lot of excitement and a lot of regret all around.

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The Stock Market and the FOMC

Dow Price in Dollars and Gold, 1800 - 2017

As the final FOMC announcement of the year approaches, we want to briefly return to the topic of how the meeting tends to affect the stock market from a statistical perspective. As long time readers may recall, the typical performance of the stock market in the trading days immediately ahead of FOMC announcements was quite remarkable in recent decades. We are referring to the Seaonax event study of the average (or seasonal) performance across a very large number of events, namely the past 160 monetary policy announcements and the 10 trading days surrounding them. It looks as follows.

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Bitcoin Facts

Bitcoin Daily, Jan - Dec 2017

When we last wrote more extensively about Bitcoin (see Parabolic Coin – evidently, it has become a lot more “parabolic” since then), we said we would soon return to the subject of Bitcoin and monetary theory in these pages. This long planned article was delayed for a number of reasons, one of which was that we realized that Keith Weiner’s series on the topic would give us a good opportunity to address some of the objections to Bitcoin’s fitness as a medium of exchange voiced by critics (we have kept the final three parts of Keith’s discussion in abeyance as well, we intend to publish these concurrently).

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Business Cycles and Inflation, Part II

US Treasury Yield, Jul 2015 - Nov 2017

We recently received the following charts via email with a query whether they should worry stock market investors. They show two short term interest rates, namely the 2-year t-note yield and 3 month t-bill discount rate. Evidently the moves in short term rates over the past ~18 – 24 months were quite large, even if their absolute levels remain historically low.

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Business Cycles and Inflation – Part I

Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting Q4 2017 – Special Guest Ben Hunt, Author and Editor of Epsilon Theory. The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Fund’s Advisory Board took place on October 10 and we had the great pleasure to be joined by special guest Ben Hunt this time, who is probably known to many of our readers as the main author and editor of Epsilon Theory.

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Credit Spreads: The Coming Resurrection of Polly

FED, ECB and BoJ Assets, 2002 - 2016

Suspicion isn’t Merely Asleep – It is in a Coma (or Dead). There is an old Monty Python skit about a parrot whose lack of movement and refusal to respond to prodding leads to an intense debate over what state it is in. Is it just sleeping, as the proprietor of the shop that sold it insists? A very tired parrot taking a really deep rest?

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Can Switzerland Save the World?

Mountain

Switzerland: Far from Flawless, but still a Unique Country – An Interview with Claudio Grass. Our friend Claudio Grass has discussed Switzerland in these pages before, and on one of these occasions we added some background information on country’s truly unique political system (see “The People Against the Establishment” for the details).

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On the Marc Faber Controversy

Dr. Marc Faber

By this time anyone reading this particular article on Acting Man will know about the controversy surrounding Marc Faber these last days, when a single paragraph of many from his October 2017 newsletter was published out of context.

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The 2017 Incrementum Gold Chart Book

S&P 500 Large Cap Index, June 2000 - Oct 2017

Our friends at Incrementum have created a special treat for gold aficionados, based on the 2017 “In Gold We Trust Report”. Not everybody has the time to read a 160 page report, even if it would be quite worthwhile to do so. As we always mention when it is published, it is a highly useful reference work, even if one doesn’t get around to reading all of it (and selective reading is always possible, aided by the table of contents at the beginning).

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21st Century Shoe-Shine Boys

Anecdotal Flags are Waved. “If a shoeshine boy can predict where this market is going to go, then it’s no place for a man with a lot of money to lose.”
– Joseph Kennedy

It is actually a true story as far as we know – Joseph Kennedy, by all accounts an extremely shrewd businessman and investor (despite the fact that he had graduated in economics*), really did get his shoes shined on Wall Street one fine morning, and the shoe-shine boy, one Pat Bologna, asked him if he wanted a few stock tips. Kennedy was amused and intrigued and encouraged him to go ahead.

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Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting, Q3 2017

Banknotes

The quarterly Incrementum Advisory Board meeting was held last week (the full transcript is available for download below). Our regulars Dr. Frank Shostak and Jim Rickards were unable to attend this time, but we were joined by special guest Luke Gromen of research house “Forest for the Trees” (FFTT; readers will find free samples of the FFTT newsletter at the site and in case you want to find the link again later, we have recently added it to our blog roll).

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Jayant Bhandari on Gold, Submerging Markets and Arbitrage

We are happy to present another interview conducted by Maurice Jackson of Proven and Probable with our friend and frequent contributor Jayant Bhandari, a specialist on gold mining investment, the world’s most outspoken emerging market contrarian, host of the highly regarded annual Capitalism and Morality conference in London and consultant to institutional investors.

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Parabolic Coin

Bitcoin

When writing an article about the recent move in bitcoin, one should probably not begin by preparing the chart images. Chances are one will have to do it all over again. It is a bit like ordering a cup of coffee in Weimar Germany in early November 1923. One had to pay for it right away, as a cup costing one wheelbarrow of Reichsmark may well end up costing two wheelbarrows of Reichsmark half an hour later.

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Quantitative Easing Explained

Printing

We have noticed that lately, numerous attempts have been made to explain the mechanics of quantitative easing. They range from the truly funny as in this by now ‘viral’ You Tube video with two robotic teddy-bears discussing the Fed chairman’s qualifications (‘my plumber has a beard too’), to outright obfuscation such as the propagation of this ‘Bernanke explains he’s not printing money, it’s just an asset swap‘ notion.

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In Gold We Trust, 2017

August Gold, 2017

This year’s Incrementum In Gold We Trust report by our good friends Ronald Stoeferle and Mark Valek appears about one month earlier than usual (we already mentioned in our most recent gold update that it would become available soon). As always, the report is extremely comprehensive, discussing everything from fundamentals pertaining to gold, to technical analysis to statistical studies on the behavior of gold under different economic scenarios.

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The Gold Conundrum

The deepest spot on earth

We recently (on Thursday last week to be precise) put together a few gold-related charts based on the “keep it simple” principle. The annual Incrementum “In Gold We Trust” report is going to be published shortly and contains a quite thorough technical analysis section, so we will keep this brief and just discuss a few things that have caught our eye.

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Moving Closer to the Precipice

The decline in the growth rate of the broad US money supply measure TMS-2 that started last November continues, but the momentum of the decline has slowed last month (TMS = “true money supply”). The data were recently updated to the end of April, as of which the year-on-year growth rate of TMS-2 is clocking in at 6.05%, a slight decrease from the 6.12% growth rate recorded at the end of March.

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A Cloud Hangs Over the Oil Sector

Oil Barels

As we noted in a recent corporate debt update on occasion of the troubles Neiman-Marcus finds itself in (see “Cracks in Ponzi Finance Land”), problems are set to emerge among high-yield borrowers in the US retail sector this year. This happens just as similar problems among low-rated borrowers in the oil sector were mitigated by the rally in oil prices since early 2016.

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The Triumph of Hope over Experience

Voodoo Central Planning

On Wednesday the socialist central planning agency that has bedeviled the market economy for more than a century held one of its regular meetings. Thereafter it informed us about its reading of the bird entrails via statement (one could call this a verbose form of groping in the dark).

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Emerging Markets: Buyer Beware – An Interview with Jayant Bhandari

Jayant Bandari

Maurice Jackson of Proven & Probable has once again interviewed one of our friends, namely Jayant Bhandari, a frequent and highly valued contributor to Acting Man. Jayant is probably best known to our readers for his strong criticism of the economic and nationalist policies implemented by prime minister Narendra Modi in India since he decreed the demonetization of the bulk of the cash currency circulating in the country (see his most recent article here).

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Cracks in Ponzi-Finance Land

Retail Junk Debt, April 2017

Retail Debt Debacles
The retail sector has replaced the oil sector in a sense, and not in a good way. It is the sector that is most likely to see a large surge in bankruptcies this year. Junk bonds issued by retailers are performing dismally, and within the group the bonds of companies that were subject to leveraged buyouts by private equity firms seem to be doing the worst (a function of their outsized debt loads).

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French Selection Ritual, Round Two

Marantonacron Still Life

The nightmare of nightmares of the globalist elites and France’s political establishment has been avoided: as the polls had indicated, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are moving on to the run-off election; Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s late surge in popularity did not suffice to make him a contender – it did however push the established Socialist Party deeper into the dustbin of history.

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French Election – Bad Dream Intrusion

Candidates

The French presidential election was temporarily relegated to the back-pages following the US strike on Syria, but a few days ago, the Economist Magazine returned to the topic, noting that a potential “nightmare option” has suddenly come into view. In recent months certainty had increased that once the election moved into its second round, it would be plain sailing for whichever establishment candidate Ms. Le Pen was going to face. That certainty has been shaken quite a bit lately.

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Gold – An Overview of Macroeconomic Price Drivers

stock-to-flow ratios of gold and silver compared

Fundamental Analysis of Gold. As we often point out in these pages, even though gold is currently not the generally used medium of exchange, its monetary characteristics continue to be the main basis for its valuation. Thus, analysis of the gold market requires a different approach from that employed in the analysis of industrial commodities (or more generally, goods that are primarily bought and sold for their use value).

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Strange Moves in Gold, Federal Reserve Policy and Fundamentals

Something odd happened late in the day in Wednesday’s trading session, which prompted a number of people to mail in comments or ask a question or two. Since we have discussed this issue previously, we decided this was a good opportunity to briefly elaborate on the topic again in these pages.

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LIBOR Pains

If one searches for news on LIBOR (=London Interbank Offered Rate, i.e., the rate at which banks lend dollars to each other in the euro-dollar market), they are currently dominated by Deutsche Bank getting slapped with a total fine of $775 million for the part it played in manipulating the benchmark rate in collusion with other banks (fine for one count of wire fraud: US$150 m.; additional shakedown by US Justice Department: US$625 m., the price tag for a deferred prosecution agreement).

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Price Inflation – The Ultimate Contrarian Bet

Egg in Berlin, early 1923

If there is one thing apparently no-one believes to be possible, it is a resurgence of consumer price inflation. Actually, we are not expecting it to happen either. If one compares various “inflation” data published by the government, it seems clear that the recent surge in headline inflation was largely an effect of the rally in oil prices from their early 2016 low.

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Gold Sector: Positioning and Sentiment

HUI Near Term Support Resistance, 2016 - 2017

When last we wrote about the gold sector in mid February, we discussed historical patterns in the HUI following breaches of its 200-day moving average from below. Given that we expected such a breach to occur relatively soon, the post turned out to be rather ill-timed. Luckily we always advise readers that we are not exactly Nostradamus (occasionally our timing is a bit better).

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Speculative Blow-Offs in Stock Markets – Part 2

On-Margin

As noted in Part 1, historically, blow-patterns in stock markets share many characteristics. One of them is a shifting monetary backdrop, which becomes more hostile just as prices begin to rise at an accelerated pace, the other is the psychological backdrop to the move, which entails growing pressure on the remaining skeptics and helps investors to rationalize their exposure to overvalued markets.

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Speculative Blow-Offs in Stock Markets – Part 1

Brokers

Why is the stock market seemingly so utterly oblivious to the potential dangers and in some respects quite obvious fundamental problems the global economy faces? Why in particular does this happen at a time when valuations are already extremely stretched? Questions along these lines are raised increasingly often by our correspondents lately. One could be smug about it and say “it’s all technical”, but there is more to it than that. It may not be rocket science, but there are a few issues that are probably not getting the attention they deserve.

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Gold Sector Update – What Stance is Appropriate?

HUI Compared to Gold September 2015 - February 2017

We wanted to post an update to our late December post on the gold sector for some time now (see “Gold – Ready to Spring Another Surprise?” for the details). Perhaps it was a good thing that some time has passed, as the current juncture seems particularly interesting. We received quite a few mails from friends and readers recently, expressing concern about the inability of gold stocks to lead, or even confirm strength in gold of late. In light of past experience, such market behavior certainly deserves to be scrutinized.

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Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting, Q1 2017 and Some Additional Reflections

Yuan Onshore Weekly

The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Advisory Board was held on January 11, approximately one month ago. A download link to a PDF document containing the full transcript including charts an be found at the end of this post. As always, a broad range of topics was discussed; although some time has passed since the meeting, all these issues remain relevant.

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US Financial Markets – Alarm Bells are Ringing

When discussing the outlook for so-called “risk assets”, i.e., mainly stocks and corporate bonds (particularly low-grade bonds) and their counterparts on the “safe haven” end of the spectrum (such as gold and government bonds with strong ratings), one has to consider different time frames and the indicators applicable to these time frames.

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Gold – Ready to Spring Another Surprise

Treasure Chest

Below is an update of a number of interesting data points related to the gold market. Whether “interesting” will become “meaningful” remains to be seen, as most of gold’s fundamental drivers aren’t yet bullishly aligned.

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The Exiling of Risk

NAAIM Exposure Index, SPX

A Quick Chart Overview Below is an overview of charts we picked to illustrate the current market situation. The selection is a bit random, but not entirely so. The first set of charts concerns positioning and sentiment. As one would expect, these look fairly stretched at the moment, but there are always ways in which they could become even more stretched. First a look at the NAAIM exposure index.

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The Climate Changes Back – What Comes Next?

Daily Kos Penguin North Pole

Last year’s El Nino phenomenon temporarily provided succor to climate alarmists, who were increasingly bothered by the “Great Pause” – the fact that the tiny amount of warming experienced since the last cooling cycle ended in the late 1970s had apparently stopped. Despite trace amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere continuing to climb, mother nature decided to disobey alarmist models and temperatures went sideways for about 20 years (or even longer, depending on the data set).

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US True Money Supply Growth Jumps, Part 1: A Shift in Liabilities

TMS-2 and Total Loans and Leases YoY change

The growth rates of various “Austrian” measures of the US money supply (such as TMS-2 and money AMS) have accelerated significantly in recent months. That is quite surprising, as the Fed hasn’t been engaged in QE for quite some time and year-on-year growth in commercial bank credit has actually slowed down rather than accelerating of late. The only exception to this is mortgage lending growth – at least until recently. Growth in mortgage loans is still very slow though, especially compared to historical growth rates. It cannot really account for the recent surge in money supply growth either.

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A Note on Gold and India – What is Driving the Gold Price?

It is well-known that India’s government wants to coerce its population into “modernizing” its financial behavior and abandoning its traditions. The recent ban on large-denomination banknotes was not only meant to fight corruption. In fact, as our friend Jayant Bhandari has pointed out, fresh avenues for corruption immediately opened up upon enactment of the ban (see “Gold Price Skyrockets in India After Currency Ban” – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

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The Problem with Corporate Debt

There are actually two problems with corporate debt. One is that there is too much of it… the other is that a lot of it appears to be going sour. As a brief report at Marketwatch last week (widely ignored as far as we are aware) informs us.

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Gold – Eerie Pattern Repetition Revisited

Croesus

Ask and ye shall receive… we promised we would update the comparison chart we last showed in late November in an article that kind of insinuated that it might be a good time to buy gold and gold stocks (see: “Gold and Gold Stocks – It Gets Even More Interesting” for the details). We are hereby delivering on that promise.

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Inflation Expectations Rise Sharply

WIN

We have witnessed truly astonishing short term market conniptions following the Donald Trump’s election victory. In this post we want to focus on one aspect that seems to be exercising people quite a bit at present, namely the recent surge in inflation expectations reflected in the markets. Will we have to get those WIN buttons out again?

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Trumped

Back in late August we posted something about Mr. Trump’s chances probably being a lot better than was generally assumed (see: US Presidential Election – How Reliable are the Polls?). You know what the say about a headline that ends in a question mark; most often, the answer to the question is “No”. And so it was in this case – the polls were not reliable.

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Dissection of the Long-Term Asset Bubble

The Long Term Outlook for the Asset Bubble Due to strong internals, John Hussman has given the stock market rally since the February low the benefit of the doubt for a while. Lately he has returned to issuing warnings about the market’s potential to deliver a big negative surprise once it runs out of greater fools.

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Stock Market Volatility, Gold and the Election

Comey and the Trio Infernal

Before this Monday, the S&P 500 Index went down nine days in a row. While this was almost unprecedented (or in any case, a very rare event) the decline was quite small overall. The timing of the pullback and the subsequent strong rebound on Monday suggests that Mr.

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Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting Q3 2016

Is Stagflation a Potential Threat? The Incrementum Fund held its quarterly advisory board meeting on October 3 (the transcript can be downloaded below). Our regular participants – the two fund managers Ronald Stoeferle and Mark Valek, advisory board members Jim Rickards, Frank Shostak and yours truly – were joined by special guest Grant Williams this time.

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D-day for Australia’s Real Estate Bubble?

Unknowable Degrees of Bubble Insanity Back in February, we brought you an update on the truly insane real estate bubble in Australia (see: “Australia’s Housing Bubble – In the Grip of Insanity” for details) in the wake of Jonathan Tepper of Variant Perception reporting on an eye-opening fact-finding tour in Sydney.

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Recessions, Predictions and the Stock Market

Only Sell Stocks in Recessions? We were recently made aware of an interview at Bloomberg, in which Tony Dwyer of Cannacord and Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research were quizzed on the recently announced utterly bizarre AT&T – Time Warner merger. We were actually quite surprised that AT&T wanted to buy the giant media turkey. Prior to the offer, TWX still traded 50% below the high it had reached 17 years ago.

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50 Slides for Gold Bulls – The New Incrementum Chart Book Introduction

Our good friends Ronnie Stoeferle and Mark Valek of Incrementum AG have just published a new chart book, which recaps and updates charts originally shown in this year’s 10th anniversary edition of the “In Gold We Trust” report and provides an overview of recent developments relevant to the gold market. The chart book can be downloaded in PDF form via the link at the end of this post.

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US Stock Market – a Spanking May be on its Way

The stock market has held up quite well this year in the face of numerous developments that are usually regarded as negative (from declining earnings, to the Brexit, to a US presidential election that leaves a lot to be desired, to put it mildly). Of course, the market is never driven by the news – it is exactly the other way around.

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Is the Gold Bull Market Over?

ABN Amro, Natixis and Wells Fargo have issued bearish calls on gold. Natixis even expects three Fed rate hikes next year. Pater Tanebrarum discusses these opinions critically.

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Gold Sector Correction – Where Do Things Stand?

gold bullion

When we last discussed the gold sector correction (which had only just begun at the time), we mentioned we would update sentiment and positioning data on occasion. For a while, not much changed in these indicators, but as one would expect, last week’s sharp sell-off did in fact move the needle a bit.

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Japan’s Planners Ratchet up Monetary Experimentation

It was widely expected that the BoJ would announce something this week after it promised to perform a comprehensive review of its monetary policy. It certainly did deliver a major tweak to its inflationary program, but its implications were seemingly not entirely clear to everybody (probably not even to the BoJ).

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US Economy – Curious Pattern in ISM Readings

Head Fake Theory Confirmed? This is a brief update on our last overview of economic data. Although we briefly discussed employment as well, the overview was as usual mainly focused on manufacturing, which is the largest sector of the economy by gross output.

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A Convocation of Interventionists – Part 1

Modern Economics – It’s All About Central Planning. We are hereby delivering a somewhat belated comment on the meeting of monetary central planners and their courtier economists at Jackson Hole. Luckily timing is not really an issue in this context.

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Gold Sector Correction – What Happens Next?

The gathering of central planners at Jackson Hole was widely expected to bring some clarity regarding the Fed’s policy intentions. This is of course a ridiculous assumption, since these people have not the foggiest idea what they are doing or what they are going to do next. Like all central planners, they are forever groping in the dark.

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US Presidential Election – How Reliable are the Polls?

Is Clinton’s Lead Over Trump as Large as Advertised? Once upon a time, political polls tended to be pretty accurate (there were occasional exceptions to this rule, but they were few and far between). Recently there have been a few notable misses though. One that comes to mind is the Brexit referendum.

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Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting, July 2016

The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Fund’s advisory board was held on July 19. A pdf transcript of the discussion can be downloaded via the link below. We were once again joined by special guest Brent Johnson, the CEO of Santiago Capital. One topic: Helicopter money.

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Retail Snails

Second Half Recovery Dented by “Resurgent Consumer”. We normally don’t comment in real time on individual economic data releases. Generally we believe it makes more sense to occasionally look at a bigger picture overview, once at least some of the inevitable revisions have been made. The update we posted last week (“US Economy, Something is Not Right”) is an example.

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Insanity, Oddities and Dark Clouds in Credit-Land

Insanity Rules Bond markets are certainly displaying a lot of enthusiasm at the moment – and it doesn’t matter which bonds one looks at, as the famous “hunt for yield” continues to obliterate interest returns across the board like a steamroller.

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Bank of England QE and the Imaginary “Brexit Shock”

Mark Carney, Wrecking Ball. For reasons we cannot even begin to fathom, Mark Carney is considered a “superstar” among central bankers. Presumably this was one of the reasons why the British government helped him to execute a well-timed exit from the Bank of Canada by hiring him to head the Bank of England (well-timed because he disappeared from Canada with its bubble economy seemingly still intact, leaving his successor to take the blame).

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US Economy – Something is not Right

Another Strong Payrolls Report – is it Meaningful? This morning the punters in the casino were cheered up by yet another strong payrolls report, the second in a row. Leaving aside the fact that it will be revised out of all recognition when all is said and done, does it actually mean the economy is strong?

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Props to Armani!

Champion of the Downtrodden? “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L. Mencken. A mass e-mail has been making the rounds lately, and it is quite possible that many of our readers have already seen this. For those who haven’t, we wanted to share this moment of hilarity provided to us by Deep State candidate Hillary Clinton.

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A Fully Automated Stock Market Blow-Off?

About one month ago we read that risk parity and volatility targeting funds had record exposure to US equities. It seems unlikely that this has changed – what is likely though is that the exposure of CTAs has in the meantime increased as well, as the recent breakout in the SPX and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to new highs should be delivering the required technical signals.

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The Central Planning Virus Mutates

Readers are probably aware of recent events in Japan, the global laboratory for interventionist experiments. The theories of assorted fiscal and monetary cranks have been implemented in spades for more than a quarter of a century in the country, to appropriately catastrophic effect.

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EU Sends Obsolete Industries Mission to China

The European press informs us that a delegation of EU Commission minions, including Mr. JC Juncker (who according to a euphemistically worded description by one of his critics at the Commission “seems often befuddled and tired, not really quite present”) and European Council president Donald Tusk, has made landfall in Beijing.

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European Banks and Europe’s Never-Ending Crisis

Landfall of a “Told You So” Moment… Late last year and early this year, we wrote extensively about the problems we thought were coming down the pike for European banks. Very little attention was paid to the topic at the time, but we felt it was a typical example of a “gray swan” – a problem everybody knows about on some level, but naively thinks won’t erupt if only it is studiously ignored.

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The Gold Situation

A Growing Bullish Chorus – With Somewhat Muted Enthusiasm A few days ago a well-known mainstream investment house (which shall remain nameless) informed the world that it now expects the gold price to reach “$1,500 by early 2017”.

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The Coming End of the “Third Way” System

We recently discussed the post-Brexit landscape with a friend (in fact, our editor), who bemoaned that “the EU is led by a drunkard”. Our immediate reaction to this was to exclaim: “That’s the best thing about the EU!”

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In Gold We Trust, 2016

The 10th Anniversary Edition of the “In Gold We Trust” Report As every year at the end of June, our good friends Ronald Stoeferle and Mark Valek, the managers of the Incrementum funds, have released the In Gold We Trust report, one of the most comprehensive and most widely read gold reports in the world. The report can be downloaded further below.

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How the Welfare State Dies

People have become used to the idea that the State is their sugar daddy. Many apparently believe that it has some undisclosed, infinite stash of resources at its disposal which it can shower them with at will. The reality is unfortunately different.

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The VIX Breaks Out – Market Risk Continues to Surge

  The Sharp Move in the VIX Accelerates In Monday’s trading session, the upward move in the volatility index VIX (which measures the implied volatility of SPX options) continued unabated, vastly out of proportion with the move in the underlying stock…

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Brexit Paranoia Creeps Into the Markets

European Stocks Look Really Bad… Late last week stock markets around the world weakened and it seemed as though recent “Brexit” polls showing that the “leave” campaign has obtained a slight lead provided the trigger. The idea was supported by a not…

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Free Speech Under Attack

  Offending People Left and Right Bill Bonner, whose Diaries we republish here, is well-known for being an equal opportunity offender  – meaning that political affiliation, gender, age, or any other defining characteristics won’t save worthy targets …

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Moving Closer to BREXIT

  Polls Show Growing Support for a Break with the EU In the UK as elsewhere, the political elites may have underestimated the strength of the trend change in social mood across Europe. The most recent “You-Gov” and ICM pools show a widening lead in f…

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Turning Stones Into Bread – The Japanese Miracle

  Stuffing the Futon Our friend Ramsey Su just asked what Haruhiko Kuroda and Shinzo Abe are going to do now in light of the strong yen (aside from perhaps doing the honorable thing). Isn’t it time to just “wipe out some debt with the stroke of a pen…

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Arrant Star Trek Socialism

  Robotic Utopia In spite of the fact that Marx expressed nothing but disdain for his Utopian socialist predecessors such as Henri Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte, variants of Utopian socialism evidently live on. The latest iteration of the socialist d…

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On the Road to Panicville

  An Alert for the Global Posse of Liquidity Junkies In the summer of 2015 and again in December-February this year, global stock markets were rattled by weakness in the yuan’s exchange rate vs. the US dollar. Yuan weakness is widely held to exacerba…

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The Stunning Idiocy of Steel Tariffs

  Victims of the Boom-Bust Cycle The world is drowning in steel – there is huge overcapacity in steel production worldwide. This is a direct result of the massive global credit expansion that has taken place over the past 15 years. Much of this capac…

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Democratic Fun in Tajikistan

  Capo for Life! The people of Tajikistan love their president Emomali Rahmon deeply. And as we now know, nearly all of them do. The last time a leader of similarly exalted stature enjoyed such unconditional and unshakable support from the entire cit…

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Is the Economy a Machine?

  A Science Goes Astray Human beings have a strong tendency to look for patterns. The natural sciences have shown that the universe is governed by laws, the effects of which are observable and measurable in an objective manner. Mostly, anyway — there…

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Austria’s Presidential Elections – Europe’s Social Mood Keeps Worsening

Austria is a small European nation that has made the grievous mistake of needlessly joining the EU in 1995, together with Finland and Sweden. Austria’s neighbor Switzerland, which is of roughly similar size and likewise militarily neutral, proved to have far better instincts. The Swedes subsequently at least had the good sense to stay out of the euro zone. It seems if there is a mistake to be made, Austrian governments will eagerly make it.

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The Japanese Popsicle Affair

  Policy-Induced Contrition in Japan As we keep saying, there really is no point in trying to make people richer by making them poorer – which is what Shinzo Abe and Haruhiko Kuroda have been trying to do for the past several years. Not surprisingly,…

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Drowning the Fir

  Presidential Duties Our editor recently stumbled upon an image in one of the more obscure corners of the intertubes which we felt we had to share with our readers. It provides us with a nice metaphor for the meaningfulness of government activity. F…

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A Tale of Two Parliaments

  Boisterous Debate vs. Non-Existence Readers may recall that we have previously reported on brawls breaking out in various parliaments, such as e.g. in Ukraine’s Rada, where we suspect representatives are actually engaging in a form of performance a…

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China’s Rolling Boom-Bust Cycle

Pater Tenebrarum looks on the most important China charts that indicate a boom-bust cycle: annual rate of growth of M1 and M2, China fixed asset investment, China Money Supply M1, Shanghai Stock Exchange, China commodity futures, Steel Rebar futures, China residential real estate prices

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Fresh Mainstream Nonsense on Gold Demand

  They Will Never Get It… We and many others have made a valiant effort over the years to explain what actually moves the gold market (as examples see e.g. our  article “Misconceptions About Gold”, or Robert Blumen’s excellent essay “Misunderstanding…

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Kuroda-San in the Mouth of Madness

  Deluded Central Planners Zerohedge recently reported on an interview given by Lithuanian ECB council member Vitas Vasiliauskas, which demonstrates how utterly deluded the central planners in the so-called “capitalist” economies of the West have bec…

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Gold – The Commitments of Traders

  Commercial and Non-Commercial Market Participants The commitments of traders in gold futures are beginning to look a bit concerning these days – we will explain further below why this is so. Some readers may well be wondering why an explanation is …

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Reality is a Formidable Enemy

  Political Correctness Comedy We have recently come across a video that is simply too funny not be shared. It also happens to dovetail nicely with our friend Claudio’s recent essay on political correctness and cultural Marxism. Since this is general…

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Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting, Q2 2016

  A New Bull Market in Gold? On April 10, the Incrementum Fund’s advisory board held its quarterly meeting. Two of the regulars (Zac Bharucha and Rahim Taghizadegan) were unable to attend this time, but we were joined by special guest Brent Johnson, …

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May Day Mayhem – Discontent on the Continent

  Europe’s Political Class Under Fire All over Europe not only religious and national holidays are observed, but also a socialist holiday, which we always thought was a bit strange – and in a way quite telling (as far as we know, there is no holiday …

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Commodities – Will the Rally Continue?

  Pros and Cons The recent rally in commodity prices has surprised many market participants and has greatly supported the stock market’s rebound. It has also made bulls out of a number of former stock market bears, as one of its side effects was to c…

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Bank of Japan: The Limits of Monetary Tinkering

After waking up on Thursday, we quickly glanced at the overnight market action in Asia and noticed that the Nikkei had tanked rather noticeably. Our first thought upon seeing this was “must be the yen” – and so it was. The BoJ cannot manipulate the yen anymore.

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US Economy – Gross Output Continues to Slump

  The Cracks in the Economy’s Foundation Become Bigger Last week the Bureau of Economic Analysis has updated its gross output data for US industries until the end of Q4 2015. Unfortunately these data are only available with a considerable lag, but th…

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Affairs of State: Erdogan and Böhmermann

  Insulting Mr. Erdoğan Can Be Dangerous Most of our readers are probably aware by now that the German government finds itself in a rather awkward situation over its relations with Turkey’s government again – with which the EU has just struck a widel…

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Russian Aggression Unmasked (Sort Of)

  Provocative Fighter Jocks Back in 2014, a Russian jet made headlines when it passed several times close to the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea. As CBS reported at the time:   “A Pentagon spokesperson told CBS Radio that a Russian SU-24 fighter jet…

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Is the Stock Market Overvalued?

  Dismal Earnings, Extreme Valuations The current earnings season hasn’t been very good so far. Companies continue to “beat expectations” of course, but this is just a silly game. The stock market’s valuation is already between the highest and third …

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US Economy – Ongoing Distortions

  Business under Pressure A recent post by Mish points to the fact that many of the business-related data that have been released in recent months continue to point to growing weakness in many parts of the business sector. We show a few charts illust…

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China – A Reversal of Urbanization?

  Economic and Demographic Changes We have discussed China’s debt and malinvestment problems in these pages extensively in the past (most recently we have looked at various efforts to keep the yuan propped up). In a way, China is like the proverbial …

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State of Fear – Corruption in High Places

  Mr. X and his Mysterious Benefactors As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports, a money-laundering alarm was triggered at AmBank in Malaysia, a bank part-owned by one of Australia’s “big four” banks, ANZ. What had triggered the alarm…

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Gold Stocks Break Out

  No Correction Yet Late last week the HUI Index broke out to new highs for the move, and so did the XAU (albeit barely, so it did not really confirm the HUI’s breakout as of Friday). Given that gold itself has not yet broken out to a new high for th…

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In Memoriam: Dr. Tibor Machan

  A Rara Avis – The World Is Poorer Without Him In It Our friend Dr. Tibor Machan, a greatly valued contributor to this site, has passed away on March 24.   Dr. Tibor Machan, libertarian philosopher   Unfortunately, we haven’t known Tibor for very lo…

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Gold: Still Misunderstood

  Myths That Just Won’t Die Gold just had its best quarter in 30 years. Not surprisingly, gold bears are coming out of the woodwork en masse in the mainstream media and the analyst community (see e.g. this recent write-up by Mish on the Goldman Sachs…

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Frisky Yen Upsets Japan’s GOSPLAN

  It Wasn’t Supposed to Do That… When you’re a central banker in a pure fiat money system and even your ability to print your own currency into oblivion is questioned by the markets, you really have a problem. This is actually funny on quite a number…

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The Path to the Final Crisis and Negative Rates

  Reader Questions on Negative Interest Rates Our reader L from Mumbai has mailed us a number of questions about the negative interest rate regime and its possible consequences. Since these questions are probably of general interest, we have decided …

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