The Dollar is Going Up

Let’s take a look at a few graphs of the dollar, from Feb 1, 2013 through Friday May 17, 2013. Yes, I said graphs of the dollar. I’ve priced the dollar in gold first (of course), then silver, the euro, and even the yen. The pattern is obvious. The dollar is going up.

 


 

chart-1

chart-2

chart-3

chart-4

I did not show copper, lumber, or wheat though they show the same trend. These commodities are not money, of course – click to enlarge.

 


 

My point is simple. It’s not gold that is going anywhere. In past articles, I’ve used the analogy of measuring a steel ruler using rubber bands. Using the dollar to measure gold is like that. In this article I show that it’s not just gold, but silver, other currencies, and commodities. The dollar is rising no matter how we measure it.

The question not to ask is: “How are they manipulating gold?” The question is: “Why is the dollar rising?”

To answer that, we first have to understand why the dollar had been going down. Most would say that it’s because the Fed has been “printing” and increasing the quantity of dollars. If that is so, then why would the dollar ever rise, as it has before (e.g. in the 1980’s), and as it is doing now? The Fed cannot and does not “un-print” dollars. This stock explanation is not satisfactory.

In one word, the answer is: arbitrage.

Let’s take a step back and look at the Treasury bond. The government pays for net expenses above tax revenues by borrowing. To borrow money, the Department of the Treasury sells bonds. This is an important aspect of our current form of government, as voters have demanded far more government expenditures than they are willing or able to pay for via taxes. In this aspect, the Treasury bond is a tool of fiscal policy, or spending, and cash flow to pay for it.

There is another aspect to the Treasury bond. It is the key asset of our monetary system. It is the asset on the Fed’s balance sheet (increasingly, post 2008, there are also mortgage bonds) to back its liabilities. The liability of the Fed is the Federal Reserve Note, commonly called the dollar. The Treasury bond is also a significant backing for the liabilities of commercial banks, pension funds, annuities, and insurance funds. Finally, the Treasury bond is used as collateral to enable borrowing.

 


 

Graph-5

The monetary system today is entirely based on credit, and the Treasury bond is the base of it. The peculiar characteristic, one could even say the shabby little secret, is that the Treasury bond is payable in dollars but the dollar is the liability of the Fed which is backed by the asset of the Fed which is … the Treasury bond. It’s circular and self-referential.

 


 

People often use the shorthand of saying that the Fed is “printing” dollars. It is actually borrowing them into existence and lending them. It is true that there is no actual lender. The Fed has sole discretion to create these dollars, unlike any normal bank, that must persuade a saver to deposit his capital in the bank. The Fed’s expansion of credit involves no saver. The Fed’s credit is counterfeit.[1]

The dollars appear ex nihilo at the Fed, and they use them to buy an asset, basically a bond, or to otherwise lend. Thus the Fed creates both a liability and an asset in this process. If the value of its assets should ever fall significantly, the market will not accept the Fed’s liability—the dollar—at face value. When gold owners refuse to bid on the dollar, the dollar will collapse.

Let’s get back to arbitrage. If a bank borrows money from the Fed, they will use it to buy an asset or lend it to a third party who will. This is an arbitrage. The short leg is the loan from the Fed, and the long leg is the asset purchased. As with all arbitrages, it will act as a force to pull the two values towards one another. Market price is always pulled down by the short leg, and pushed up by the long leg.

In the case of all borrowing from the Fed, the short leg is the dollar itself. I define arbitrage as the act of straddling a spread in the markets.[2] The arbitrager is often trying to profit from the interest rate spread directly, as in borrowing from the Fed at the discount rate and buying a Treasury bond that offers a higher yield.

Another strategy is to try to profit from a change in the spread, as in borrowing dollars to buy gold. In this case, if the dollar price falls, this will be a profitable trade. This is a weaker arbitrage than buying a bond, as gold does not have a yield.

As I noted above, the very act of arbitrage pulls down the price of the short leg and in the case of borrowing from the Fed the short leg is always the dollar. Whether a bank borrows dollars to buy Euros and from there to buy Greek government bonds; whether it lends to a hedge fund to buy gold; or whether it lends to a consumer to buy a home, the dollar is pulled down. On the other side of the trade, these assets are pushed up.

This, rather than the rising quantity of dollars, explains the falling value of the dollar. And now, recently, the dollar has been rising. The logical explanation is that these trades are being unwound, either voluntarily or under duress. My definition of deflation is a forcible contraction of credit. It is not the shrinking number of dollars (if the number is even shrinking). It is the closing of innumerable positions, by the opposite arbitrage. Previously it was sell dollar / buy asset. Now it is buy dollar / sell asset.

Gold is the most liquid asset. Its bid-ask spread does not widen much when large quantities are sold on the bid or bought at the offer. In contrast, the bid in other assets can drop precipitously in times of crisis. They are hardest to liquidate precisely at the time when one must sell. In some extreme cases, the bid can be withdrawn altogether. Though the spread does not widen in gold, heavy selling does push down the bid on gold. Market makers will then pull down the offer to maintain a consistent spread.

Being the most liquid, gold is the most sensitive. It is the first asset,  the “go to” asset to sell when a balance sheet is under stress. Gold therefore has the least lag in response to a change in the monetary system. Compare to real estate, where due diligence alone could take weeks or months.  Additional inertia comes from how properties are valued: by looking at recent comparable deals. Real estate would not be the first asset that a bank or fund would want to sell, due to several factors including long closing time, wide bid-ask spread, and high costs to sell such as sales commissions and attorneys. In real estate, there are no market makers. The offer can remain high even with the bid plunging, as the typical holder of real estate is not willing to sell at a loss and holds out for a number that covers all costs and fees and allows an exit at a profit.

Equities are usually liquid, closer to gold than to real estate in this regard. However, for the past few years, there have been many flash crashes. In a flash crash, the bid drops to $0.01 for a brief moment, and typically at least one market sell order is filled far below the “normal” price for the stock. These flash crashes prove that there are serious problems, that there are structural cracks beneath the surface.

An important principle to keep in mind is that in times of stress or crisis, it is always the bid and never the offer that is withdrawn. While there have been a few flash smashes (an amusing term) it is not a coincidence that these are vastly outnumbered by the flash crashes. This is because stress and crisis always come with a need for liquidity to pay debts that cannot be rolled over, margin calls, or to be flexible and agile. In bad times, people prefer to own a more marketable asset compared to one that is less marketable. They especially prefer to own the asset that is the unit of account for their balance sheet.

By definition, there is no risk to holding dollars if your balance sheet is denominated in dollars, and your liabilities are in dollars. This is the reason for the so-called “flight to safety” for the “risk-off asset”. You are not making, nor losing, money when you hold dollars. On gold denominated books, holding dollars is quite risky, of course.

Going back to the falling dollar, as the interest rate falls the discount factor used for an enterprise’s future earnings also falls. The same $1 in earnings in 2023 is worth more at a discount of 3% annually vs. 6% ($0.74 vs. $0.56). The result is rising stock prices.

In addition, the “animal spirits” of John Maynard Keynes have been set loose. Most people hold the false theory about the quantity of money and its impact on the price of everything, and it is quite popular to believe that this means stock prices can only rise. Proponents of this theory should look at Japan. In any case, deprived of other means of obtaining a yield (i.e. in the bond market), they must do something. People know the dollar is falling, though they attempt to measure it by looking at the rate by which consumer prices, measured in dollars, rise. They should be looking at the rate at which the dollar, measured in gold, is falling.

Right now, everyone is on the same side of the trade: long equities. This is dangerous because when it reverses, the market may not find a bid for quite a distance down. In a normal market, it is the short sellers who make the bid. By the indications I can see, those who have attempted to short this market have capitulated by now.

In Part II (free registration required), we consider why stocks are rising in this depressed economy, and look at the abyss we are now rapidly approaching.

 


 

[1] My definition of inflation is an expansion of counterfeit credit, discussed in this paper: http://keithweinereconomics.com/2012/01/06/inflation-an-expansion-of-counterfeit-credit/

[2] I define and discuss in my dissertation: A Free Market for Goods, Services, and Money

 

Charts by: Monetary Metals


 

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

 


 

 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 

Dear Readers! We are happy to report that we have reached our turn-of-the-year funding goal and want to extend a special thank you to all of you who have chipped in. We are very grateful for your support! As a general remark, according to usually well informed circles, exercising the donation button in between funding drives is definitely legal and highly appreciated as well.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • French labour union workers and students attend a demonstration against the French labour law proposal in Marseille, France, as part of a nationwide labor reform protests and strikes, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/File PhotoHow the Welfare State Dies
      Hollande Threatens to Ban Protests Brexit has diverted attention from another little drama playing out in Europe. As of the time of writing, if you Google “Hollande threatens to ban protests” or variations thereof, you will find Russian, South African and even Iranian press reports on the topic. Otherwise, it's basically crickets (sole exception: Politico).  Gee, we wonder why?   They don't like him anymore: 120.000 protesters recently turned Paris into a war zone. All...
  • The-answer-is-yesToward Freedom: Will The UK Write History?
      Mutating Promises We are less than one week away from the EU referendum, the moment when the British people will be called upon to make a historic decision – will they vote to “Brexit” or to “Bremain”? Both camps have been going at each other with fierce campaigns to tilt the vote in their direction, but according to the latest polls, with the “Leave” camp’s latest surge still within the margin of error, the outcome is too close to call.   The battle lines are...
  • water houseA Market Ready to Blow and the Flag of the Conquerors
      Bold Prediction MICHAELS, Maryland – The flag in front of our hotel flies at half-mast. The little town of St. Michaels is a tourist and conference destination on the Chesapeake Bay. It is far from Orlando, and even farther from Daesh (a.k.a. ISIL) and the Mideast.   St. Michaels, Maryland – the town that fooled the British (they say, today). Photo credit: Fletcher6   Out on the river, a sleek sailboat, with lacquered wood trim, glides by, making hardly a...
  • nails-in-a-bed-of-nails-new-yorker-cartoonGoing... Going... Gone! The EU Begins to Splinter
      Dark Social Mood Tsunami Washes Ashore Early this morning one might have been forgiven for thinking that Japan had probably just been hit by another tsunami. The Nikkei was down 1,300 points, the yen briefly soared above par. Gold had intermittently gained 100 smackers – if memory serves, the biggest nominal intra-day gain ever recorded (with the possible exception of one or two days in early 1980). Here is a picture of Haruhiko Kuroda in front of his Bloomberg monitor this...
  • queen_gold-840x501Rule Britannia
      A Glorious Day What a glorious day for Britain and anyone among you who continues to believe in the ideas of liberty, freedom, and sovereign democratic rule. The British people have cast their vote and I have never ever felt so relieved about having been wrong. Against all expectations, the leave camp somehow managed to push the referendum across the center line, with 51.9% of voters counted electing to leave the European Union.   Waving good-bye to...
  • junkThe Problem with Corporate Debt
      Taking Off Like a Rocket 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.   Harvey had a good time in recent years...well, not so much between mid 2014 and early 2016, but happy days are here again! Cartoon by Frank Modell   As a brief report at Marketwatch last week (widely ignored as far as we are aware) informs us:   “Businesses racked up debt in the...
  • MACAU, CHINA - JANUARY 28: Buildings of Macau Casino on January 28, 2013, Gambling tourism is Macau's biggest source of revenue, making up about fifty percent of the economy.What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
      A Convocation Of Gamblers The Wall Street Journal and BloombergView have just run articles on the shadow banking system in China.  This has put me in a nostalgic mood. About 35 years ago when I was living in Japan, I made a side trip to Hong Kong.   Asia's Sin City, Macau Photo credit: Nattee Chalermtiragool   I took the hydrofoil to Macau one afternoon and the same service back early the next morning.  On the morning trip, I am sure that I saw many of the...
  • saupload_loves-me-loves-me-notA Darwin Award for Capital Allocation
      Beyond Human Capacity Distilling down and projecting out the economy’s limitless spectrum of interrelationships is near impossible to do with any regular accuracy.  The inputs are too vast.  The relationships are too erratic.   The economy - complex and ever-changing interrelations. Image credit: Andrea Dionne   Quite frankly, keeping tabs on it all is beyond human capacity.  This also goes for the federal government.  Even with all their data gatherers and...
  • rate_hike_cartoon_10.15.2015_largeJanet Yellen’s $200-Trillion Debt Problem
      Blame “Brexit” BALTIMORE – The U.S. stock market broke its losing streak on Thursday [and even more so on Monday, ed.]. After five straight losing sessions, the Dow eked out a 92-point gain. The financial media didn’t know what to say about it. So, we ended up with the typical inanities, myths, and claptrap.   “Investors” are pushing the DJIA back up again..apparently any excuse will do at the moment. The idea may backfire though, as exactly the same thing happened...
  • deflated-souffleThe Fed’s  Doomsday Device
      Bezzle BALTIMORE –  Barron’s, in a lather, says the market is facing the “Two Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Huh?   Only two? There were four last time!   Supposedly, the so-called Brexit – the vote in Britain this Thursday on whether to leave or remain in the European Union (EU) – and uncertainty over where the Fed will take U.S. interest rates are cutting down stocks faster than a Z-turn mower. But Brexit is a side show. As our contacts in London...
  • Brexit supporterGold and Brexit
      Going Up for the Wrong Reason Gold is soaring. It should—and a lot—but in my view not for the reason it is. Indeed gold is insurance for uncertain times, a time that Brexit seems to represent. But insurance is an administrative cost — one must minimize its use.   August gold contract, daily – gold has been strong of late, but this seems to be driven by “Brexit” fears - click to enlarge.   Moreover, insuring against Brexit might ironically be equivalent...
  • cameron at the EUBrexit 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 notable surge in the British pound's volatility.   Battening down the hatches...   On the other hand, if one looks at European stocks, one could just as well argue that their bearish trend is simply continuing – and...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

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

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com