To Unleash or Not to Unleash, That is the Question…

LOVINGSTON, VIRGINIA –  Corporate earnings have been going down for nearly three years. They are now about 10% below the level set in the late summer of 2014. Why should stocks be so expensive?

 

Example of something that one should better not unleash. The probability that a win-lose proposition will develop upon meeting it seems high. It wins, because it gets to eat…

Image credit: Urs Hagen

 

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Fundamental Developments

Last week, the prices of the metals mostly moved sideways. There was a rise on Thursday but it corrected back to basically unchanged on Friday.

This will again be a brief Report, as Monday was a holiday in the US.

Below, we will show the only true picture of the gold and silver supply and demand fundamentals. But first, the price and ratio charts.

 

Prices of gold and silver – click to enlarge.

 

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The Technical Picture – a Comparison of Antecedents

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. We felt reminded of another occasion though, when a negative divergence prompted a flood of mails to us as well (not every divergence does).

 

The HUI compared to gold. It is a good rule of thumb that positive divergences between the HUI and gold are bullish signals and negative divergences are bearish signals. Also, gold stocks should ideally lead gold in order to confirm the prevailing trend. They should be strong relative to gold in uptrends and weak relative to gold in downtrends. As you can see above though, not every negative divergence is meaningful. It can even turn out to be a major misdirection, as happened in early 2016. We published a great many posts  on the sector between August and December of 2015, stressing that we felt a great opportunity was at hand. The brief break of support in January 2016, coupled with a negative divergence,  prompted many people to write in and express concern – click to enlarge.

 

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Definitely Maybe

Everyone’s got a plan for sale these days.  In fact, there are so many plans out there we cannot keep up with them all.  Eat celery sticks and lose weight.  Think and grow rich.  Stocks for the long run.  Naturally, plans like these run a dime a dozen.

 

All social engineers who get to impose their harebrained schemes on the rest of the world through the coercive powers of the State, as well as all armchair planners regaling us with their allegedly “better plans”, should have this highly perceptive quote by Robert Burns tattooed on their foreheads. In case you’re wondering, “gang aft a-gley” is slightly old English for “usually turn out to be total crap”. The second part that points out that as a rule, we get nothing but grief and pain instead of promised joy, is applicable to interventionism in general; the so-called “unintended consequences” of interventions almost always turn out to be their main feature and defining characteristic.

 

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Regret and Suffering

BALTIMORE – Victoribus spolia

So far, the most satisfying thing about the Trump win has been the howls and whines coming from the establishment. Each appointment – some good, some bad from our perspective – has brought forth such heavy lamentations.

 

Oh no! Alaric the Visigoth is here! Hide the women and children! And don’t forget the vestal virgins, if you can find any…

 

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How to Save Money When Buying or Make More When Selling a Home

In your professional capacity and perhaps also in your private life, you may be closely involved with financial and commodity markets. Trading in stocks, bonds or futures is part of your daily routine.  Occasionally you probably have to deal with real estate as well though – if you e.g. want to purchase an apartment or a house, or if own a home you wish to sell.

 

The people who took this photograph probably want to sell… how do we know? Read on…

Photo credit: vantagedesigngroup.com

 

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Monster or Mozart?

BALTIMORE – Investors seem to be holding their breath, like a man hiding a cigarette from his wife. It’s just a feeling, and it’s not the first time we’ve had it… but it feels as though it wouldn’t take much to send them all running.

 

Actually, they’re not going anywhere yet… but there is a lot of overconfidence by those who were very worried when prices were a lot better – click to enlarge.

 

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Silver Is Pushed Up Again

This week, the prices of the metals moved up on Monday. Then the gold price went sideways for the rest of the week, but the silver price jumped on Friday.

 

Taking off for real or not?

Photo credit: NASA

 

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Thirty Year Retread

What will President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talk about when they meet later today? Will they gab about what fishing holes the big belly bass are biting at? Will they share insider secrets on what watering holes are serving up the stiffest drinks? [ed. note: when we edited this article for Acting Man, the meeting was already underway]

 

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, a dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian and militarist, meets America’s new CiC in the somewhat ostentatiously appointed Trump Tower. They look happy.

Photo credit: Reuters

 

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Looming Currency and Liquidity Problems

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. Our comments below are taking developments that have taken place since then into account.

 

USD-CNY, the onshore exchange rate of the yuan vs. the USD. After years of relentless appreciation, the yuan topped in early 2014 and has weakened just as relentlessly ever since. The yuan’s top coincided with the beginning of the “tapering” of the Fed’s QE3 debt monetization program and the peak in China’s foreign exchange reserves at just below $4 trillion. There was practically no lead time involved, which is rare. Although the yuan is not convertible and therefore by definition a “manipulated currency” (is there a fiat currency that isn’t manipulated?), the assertion that China’s authorities are deliberately weakening the yuan is erroneous. The opposite is true: they are trying to keep it from falling or are at least trying to slow down its descent with every trick in the book (every intermittent phase of yuan strength since the beginning of the decline was triggered by intervention). Understandably so: due to the close correlation between the level of forex reserves and credit and money supply growth in China, a rapid depletion of reserves is likely to impact the country’s giant credit bubble. One of the moving parts in this equation are bank reserve requirements, which the PBoC essentially uses to control the extent of credit growth triggered by the accumulation of reserves (a.k.a. “sterilization”). These peaked at 21.5% in June 2011 and were since then lowered to 17% to keep domestic credit expansion going – click to enlarge.

 

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Swamp Critters

BALTIMORE – The Dow is back above the 20,000-point mark. Federal debt, as officially tallied, is up to nearly $20 trillion. The two go together, egging each other on. The Dow is up 20 times since 1980. So is the U.S. national debt. Debt feeds the stock market and the swamp.

What’s not up so much is real output, as measured by GDP. It’s up only 6.4 times over the same period. Debt and asset prices have been rising three times as fast as GDP for 36 years! Best bet: Sell stocks and bonds (debt). Buy GDP. How? To be addressed in due course.

 

SGG! The “something’s gotta give” chart: total US credit market debt, federal debt, the Wilshire Total Market Index an GDP. Unless something gives, we will need a microscope in a few years in order to detect GDP on this chart. Consider also that GDP has been “upgraded” numerous time in recent decades, most recently less than two years ago (these upgrades involve adding hundreds of billions of dollars to economic output no-one has ever spent or received – they are merely statistical artifacts. It is slightly different with debt; we can simply count that) – click to enlarge.

 

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Gold and Silver Divergence – Precious Metals Supply and Demand

Last week, the prices of the metals went up, with the gold price rising every day and the silver price stalling out after rising 42 cents on Tuesday. The gold-silver ratio went up a bit this week, an unusual occurrence when prices are rising.

Everyone knows that the price of silver is supposed to outperform — the way Pavlov’s Dogs know that food comes after the bell. Speculators usually make it so.

 

Stalin regarded Pavlov’s psychological theories as compatible with Marxism and “dialectic materialism”. Soviet psychologists who championed competing concepts were reportedly often declared insane and involuntarily committed to a booby hatch. Pavlov meanwhile kept a secret stash of silver bars under the table in his lab, which his dog had conditioned him to buy (see photographic evidence of this counter-revolutionary activity above). [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

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