The Next Tech Crash Could Delay Your Retirement by a Decade

Provided by Hard Assets Alliance

John Grandits | August 14, 2017

The S&P 500 Information Technology Index recently surpassed its previous peak of 988.49 set in March 2000. It took a whopping 17 years to recoup the massive losses from the implosion of the dot-com bubble.

Not even the Federal Reserve chairman at the time, Alan Greenspan, could rein in the enthusiasm of the tech disciples with his oft-quoted 1998 “Irrational Exuberance” speech about market valuation. Valuations stretched to epic proportions as companies with little revenue and no chance to make a profit rushed to join the IPO party.

Even profitable, higher-quality names fell victim to the Ponzi scheme as growth expectations became unreasonable. In December 1999, well-known PaineWebber (now UBS) analyst Walter Piecyk assigned a $1,000 price target to Qualcomm based on the growth of wireless technology—after the company had already risen from $25 per share to more than $500 in the previous year.

It was a sure sign of the times.

Just three months later, the NASDAQ peaked at 5,132 and begun its long downward slog to 1,114 in 2002, changing the investment landscape and the dreams of many soon-to-be retirees in the process. It took many years for the index to reach this level again.

Odds are you were not entirely invested or perhaps even in the market when this occurred. However, working in retail brokerage at the time, I saw many millions in paper profits vanish and investors’ visions of retirement wiped out in months.

Only six years later, in 2008, it would happen again, albeit due to different culprit: the subprime housing market collapsed, and financial markets ground to halt.

One would hope that two vicious declines in less than a 10-year period taught mainstream investors the value of diversification and asset allocation—but all the signs point to the contrary.

IPOs Are Being Delayed

The first warning sign is the current number of IPOs. After rising to 275 new listings in 2014, IPO activity dropped off to just 105 last year, a sign that companies are finding it harder to attract capital at desired valuations.

2017’s eagerly anticipated IPO stocks, Snapchat (SNAP) and Blue Apron (APRN), have each lost approximately 50% of their respective market values.

Blue Apron, which tried to raise $30 million, was forced to cut its IPO price to $10 in the final stages to shore up demand. (It had initially wanted to raise $480 million and offer shares in the $15 to $17 range.) Both companies are burning through cash at staggering rates.

Additionally, many companies have delayed IPOs this year due to “unfavorable market conditions,” a.k.a. weak investor demand. The demand for new listings is generally a good indicator of market cycles and investor sentiment toward risk.

The Big Five Are Propping Up the Whole Market

Another notable development is the concentration of companies making up the NASDAQ.

The combined market caps of Apple (AAPL), Alphabet/Google (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (FB), and Amazon (AMZN) now exceed $3 trillion—that means these five companies comprise almost a quarter of the entire $12.5 trillion index containing more than 3,100 companies.


Source: Bloomberg

If these five companies were a separate index, it would be larger than the total value of stocks in any single equity market worldwide, except the five largest: the US, China, Japan, Hong Kong, and the UK.

The market value of the “Big Five” has shot up 30% so far in 2017, with Apple rising almost 40% and Amazon 25% to more than $1,000 per share.

Due to its impressive ascent this year, Apple is well on its way to becoming the first company to be valued at $1 trillion—a truly impressive and well-deserved feat, given the domination of the iPhone over the past decade.

However, 75% of sell-side analysts still rate the company a “buy” in anticipation of strong iPhone demand when the 8th version is released later this year.

Reminiscent of the $1,000 Qualcomm price target in 1999, TheStreet.com just predicted Apple’s valuation to reach $2 trillion within 10 years. It based their forecast on the company’s huge cash position and ability to make acquisitions—never mind that it’s still $170 billion away from even the $1 trillion mark.

The ETF and Index Fund Craze

A key driver of market concentration and a potential source of risk is the proliferation of low-cost ETFs and index funds, or so-called passive investments.

Retail investors can now buy ETFs tracking specific sectors and industries at virtually no cost. The net expense ratio for Vanguard’s Information Technology Index Fund (VITAX) is 10 basis points: $50 per year on a $50,000 investment. Its top holdings are Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook.

According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch study, since 2007, $1.3 trillion has flowed out of actively managed bond and stock funds and $3.1 trillion into passive bond and stock funds. Last year alone, US investors pulled $340 billion from active investment managers, mostly from mutual funds, and allocated $504 billion to passive alternatives.


Source: ValueWalk

Because they’re so popular and easily accessible, passive investment options have encouraged scores of new investors to jump into the market, often with little to no due diligence. In addition, many brokerages have lowered their fees for buying individual stocks. Companies like Robinhood Financial even offer free trading for most listed US equities and ETFs.

This concentration will act as a double-edged sword when (not if) the market undergoes a correction. As fast as these companies and funds gained value over the past few years, they will decline even faster.

As the old saying goes, “Stocks often take the escalator on the way up, but the elevator on the way down.”

The current bull market is the second longest in history—and the longer it continues, the higher expectations will become.

Last quarter, Facebook’s revenues grew at a staggering 45% to $9.3 billion, but down from 60% growth a year earlier. When companies begin struggling to meet analyst expectations, or run short of non-GAAP tricks, such as using stock-based compensation to beat earnings numbers, they will drop precipitously.

A Bad Environment for Stocks and Funds, But a Good One for Gold

As investors are growing more skeptical about the market’s ability to sustain or exceed current valuations, it’s no coincidence that gold was up 9% in 2016 and is up 10% year to date.

Additionally, in their failed attempts to overhaul healthcare, restructure tax policy, and launch infrastructure projects, the Trump administration is starting to look more like an episode of Survivor than a team leading the world’s largest economy.


Source: New York Post

Furthermore, mounting tensions with North Korea and the Fed’s upcoming foray into reducing its massive balance sheet have investors on high alert.

Any of these factors, on top of a possible government shutdown at the end of September when the debt ceiling will likely be raised again, could send gold soaring well into the $1,300 range.

Now is the time to evaluate your portfolio and consider adding or increasing exposure to an asset that’s not correlated to most traditional stock and ETF investments.

Gold is the cheapest it’s been relative to the S&P 500 since 2005. Despite the yellow metal’s poor performance from 2012 to 2015, it has matched the performance of the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) since 2005.


Source: Bloomberg

How would a 50% decline in the US stock market over the next two years affect your portfolio? Could you hold for a decade while it recovers, or would it ruin your retirement plans?

Gold, as a form of financial insurance, is still attractively priced, despite rising 20% since December 2015. Allocating a percentage of your portfolio to precious metals can mitigate losses during a bear market and preserve your purchasing power if the US dollar depreciates.

The post The Next Tech Crash Could Delay Your Retirement by a Decade appeared first on Gold Silver Worlds.

from Gold Silver Worlds http://goldsilverworlds.com/gold-silver-experts/next-tech-crash-delay-retirement-decade/

Gerald Celente on Markets: “When Interest Rates Go Up, This Thing Goes Down”

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Mike Gleason (Money Metals Exchange): It is my privilege now to welcome in Gerald Celente, publisher of the renowned Trends Journal. Mr. Celente is a well-known trends forecaster and highly sought-after guest on news programs throughout the world and has been forecasting some of the biggest and most important trends before they happen for more than 30 years now. It’s always great to have him on with us.

Mr. Celente, thanks so much for the time today, and we appreciate you joining us.

Gerald Celente (Trends Journal): Thanks for having me on, Mr. Gleason.

Mike Gleason: Well, I want to start out talking about the first half of the year of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump had an ambitious agenda to get the economy going but hasn’t been able to push any significant legislation through this Congress. How do you see that playing out from here, and what bearing does all this have on the dollar, Gerald, because the greenback has been taking it on the chin here recently?

Gerald Celente: Well, you point out something very significant. Go back to when Trump got elected, and going into the beginning of the year, so from November to the beginning of 2017, the dollar was soaring, and it all of a sudden started reversing. I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life with so much hatred is being sent out by the media, not only against Trump, but the Russians, and any other person or country that they don’t like. Of course, I’m no Trump supporter, I’m a political atheist, I didn’t vote for either of Trump or Clinton in the last election. And I’m not one of these people that say, “Oh, you have to go out and vote. If you don’t vote then you deserve what you get.” No, if you vote, you deserve what you get, because I don’t support the Bloods and the Crips, and that’s what the Democrats and Republicans are to me. They’re murderers and thieves, their track records prove it. So, what I’m saying about Trump has nothing to do with me being a Trump supporter.

The hatred that the media has been selling, with hating the Russians, no evidence at all that they hacked into the Democratic National Committee, it’s our assumption, it’s our belief, it’s our analysis. Can you imagine going to a court, Mike, and saying that to a judge? (The judge might say) “Show me some evidence.” “How dare you ask me to show you evidence, judge? Don’t you know who I am? I’m a presstitute for the Cartoon News Network, I’m a presstitute for the New York Times, the toilet paper of record. I’m a presstitute for MSNBC. I’ll shove any crap I want down your throat and you repeat it to the American people. I don’t need proof, all need are assumptions, and you know how good those are. You might remember that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al-Qaeda.” So, what I’m saying is they sell lies, and they sell hatred and dissent in the United States like I’ve never seen before in my life. Every time somebody got elected that you didn’t like, the media would say, “Well you may not have supported that person, but now it’s the president of our United States and we have to all work together. “

So now going back to the dollar. The war against Trump is actually the war against the economy in many ways, because when the Trump rally began, and anybody could go back to the facts, when Trump looked like he was going to win on November 8th, in the morning of November 9th, the Dow futures dove by over 800 points, thinking that he was going to win because the markets wanted Hillary. And then it reversed. And it reversed on the belief that his programs, again whether you like them or not, not the issue, only talking about business, were good for business because of tax reform, because of deregulation – again, whether or not you agree with it isn’t the issue, we’re talking about business – and with also the rebuilding of the infrastructure. None of that happened. That boosted of the dollar, now we’re going into reverse. And, also, the rhetoric keeps heating up. Not only against Russia, but across the globe.

Mike Gleason: It has been almost a decade now since the 2008 financial crisis. We’ve seen evidence since that time that some Wall Street banks have acted like criminal enterprises, and they continue to enjoy the support of politicians in Washington DC. No one has been more vocal on that subject than you. Now we have Donald Trump promising to “drain the swamp,” but more evidence of cheating and market rigging have been piling up. You could be forgiven for thinking that a reckoning will soon come, but experience has shown, these characters are basically untouchable. What are your thoughts, Gerald, any of these folks going to go to jail any time soon?

Gerald Celente: Well, they’re too big to jail, you remember that little freak, Eric Holder. Yeah, you remember him, he was brought in by Obama, the most transparent president he says in his campaigning for the presidency back in 2008. Yeah, so transparent that you could see right through him. He was a guy that promised to bring the banksters to jail. And Eric Holder, where does he go, he goes back to work for one of the white-shoe boy’s firms over there on Wall Street, and wants to protect the banksters, and he says they were basically too big to jail.

We saw, what, $150 billion worth of fines, and not one head roll? It’s a neo-feudal society, there are different rules for the political nobility and the economic elite. As you point out, yeah, Trump didn’t drain the swamp, he just brought in new swamp creatures. Whether it’s Mnuchin or all the generals that he brought in. I’ve never seen a White House filled with so much military brass and a bunch of Wall Street billionaires. So, when we’re looking at it, no, I don’t see any of that change coming.

But again, going back to the dollar and the strength of it, there may be some positives coming out of it. Wilbur Ross who’s the Commerce Secretary, this isn’t a guy I’d want to do business with, but if this is the guy that’s going to defend my interest on the business field, and he’s going to renegotiate these lousy trade deals, that’s great for America. So, there’s a give and a take on it, but right now it’s only been a one-way street and that is when you look at the polls, that Trump is down at historic lows, and look at Congress, what, only 10% of the people look up to Congress? And yet people argue that their bunch of crooks is better than your bunch of crooks? So, I don’t understand what’s going on, how people could take orders from these jerks that play politicians.

Mike Gleason: Speaking of the 2008 financial crisis, it looks to us like history is likely to repeat, perhaps sooner rather than later. You can make a good argument that a number of markets are now in bubble territory, including stocks and bonds. There is also plenty of irresponsible lending –subprime autos, student loans, and hundreds of billions lent to oil companies which may go broke unless oil gets back up towards $80 per barrel. Markets are certainly due for a big correction. That said, if the VIX is any indication, traders have never been less worried. What do you think, can the wheel stay on this a while longer?

Gerald Celente: Yeah, they can. And that’s the one thing that I learned, and you really nailed it before when you were talking about the corruption. They’ll rig the system any way they want to make things happen. Look, I would’ve thought this thing would’ve collapsed in 2012. I never heard of negative interest rates. You know Mike, I like you, you’re a nice guy, I got a 10-year bond for you. Yeah, you buy, and then I’m going to give you negative yields after 10 years because I like you so much. I mean, who could get away with this kind of crap? The central banks, the bank of Japan. And it’s the same thing around the world. So, people are dying to get anything that’s going to show them any kind of return. So that’s what’s keeping the markets, they’ll rig the game anywhere they can.

I got a better one for you. Hey, how about a thing called Quantitative Easing? Isn’t that nice? Negative rate interest policy, zero interest rate policy, we’ll do anything we can to keep the Ponzi scheme going and the banksters rich. One of our Trends Journal (contributors), Anthony Freda, a great illustrator, did a cover for us, and he had a Jesus Christ with a whip and he’s driving the banksters out of the temple, but now they have names in front of them, JP Morgan, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, on and on. Nothing’s really changed. And that’s all it is. I mean, look at the guy, the little boy they elected over there in France – a Rothschild kid, Macron. And it’s one after another.

So, I mean, they’ll rig the game any way they can. Will there be a correction, we’re forecasting a 10% correction. And so are others. But again, we don’t see a crash, because they’re going to do what they can to prop this thing up. I talked about Japan, what do they have, the GDP is, what, 250, that’s a GDP ratio. I mean, look at China, 300. So, they just keep the Ponzi schemes going. They’ll invent anything that they can.

Mike Gleason: We definitely want to get your thoughts on North Korea since the mounting tensions there have made big news this week. The prospect of a nuclear exchange is of course what people worry about. We’re well-accustomed to bluster and threats from Kim Jong-un and his predecessors, but now Donald Trump has threatened to use America’s nuclear arsenal. What is your best guess on how this will play out? Will Trump launch a preemptive attack using conventional weapons? Is this brinkmanship, just a negotiating tactic, what?

Gerald Celente: It’s not a negotiating tactic. I mean, I’ve been hearing this North Korea stuff all my life. Read the details of the sanctions that they just put on North Korea. What is it? The UN voted, because they’re testing missiles. You know what North Korea’s GDP is? It’s smaller than West Virginia’s. They have a population the size of Texas. You read the quotes coming out on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and it says, “North Korea warns US, rejects talks. The sanction’s resolution aims to cut a third, or $1 billion from North Korea annual foreign reserves. And I’m not good at math, but a third, or 1 billion, that’s $3 billion is their total foreign revenue. 3 lousy billion dollars. What is Bill Gates worth, 86 billion? Warren Buffet, 76 billion. Bezos, 73 billion. Zuckerberg, 56 billion. Look at the tough talk against the little nobodies. The reason why North Korea has nuclear weapons, and they made this very clear, is because they saw what the United States did to Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. And they say, “You’re not going to do that to us.”

What countries has North Korea invaded? Look what they did to Libya, overthrowing Gaddafi. Hey, how about that war they launched against Afghanistan, because they had to find a man by the name of Osama bin Laden that was living over there. Oh, and look at that war in Iraq, yeah, they had to get rid of Saddam Hussein, those North Koreans, they can’t stay home. And now they’re in Somalia and Sudan, and they just sold $150 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia to slaughter the innocent Yemenis, the poorest nation in the Middle East. Of course I’m talking about the United States.

North Korea and China have been asking the United States and South Korea, “Stop doing these massive military drills on our shores. Stop threatening us constantly.” What if we had North Korea up in Canada, China and Russia doing military drills down in the Gulf of Mexico, and Iran off the coast of New York? They’d be bombing the hell out of them from the United States, these people for getting too close to us. Yet the United States aggression against this country … Do they have a crazy guy running the show? Sure looks it, but hey welcome to America. Look at the freak show that we got going on and have been going on for a long time. So we have no right being there. Honor the Founding Fathers, no foreign entanglements. This is all rhetoric, we’re fighting a nobody that’s done nothing to us. They have not done anything to the United States. Oh, they may have a missile that could hit Topeka, Kansas by 2025. I got a gun, does that mean I’m going to shoot somebody? If there’s 50 cops outside, and somebody shoots in one of them, are the other 49 going to blow your brains out? What threat is North Korea to the United States?

Mike Gleason: With all this said, Gerald, what are your thoughts on gold? It has encountered some road bumps, but it is held in there pretty strong, actually, and never fell below $1,200. What trend is in store for the yellow metal in your view?

Gerald Celente: Well, it’s exactly what you said before. When you’re talking about what’s going on with a cheap dollar, that’s keeping gold up and also the instability. Gold is still the ultimate safe-haven asset. And other countries around the world are buying it because they understand that. We get the diluted message in the United States. You could talk all you want about, for example, or did you see earnings coming in, how great they are? Yeah, when you use the Gaap earnings principles, the generally accepted accounting principles, but when you look at the investment research company and they talk about the other measurements, the return on invested capital measurements instead of seeing over 10% growth over the last two years, you’re looking at like a minus 5% (decline). So these numbers are rigged too, when you look at them. The whole thing is being held up on hype and hope.

Then you look at where the gains are coming from, only a few industries. One of them being oil, because oil prices went up a little bit, so the energy sector is going up. But long-term, energy isn’t going to keep going up, it’s a supply and demand issue. And every time the oil prices go up a little bit over $50 a barrel, you got more supply coming online, and it keeps the prices in check. So, when you look at the technology, you look at energy, you look at the banking sector, it’s only a few sectors that are driving up the financials. And the cheap dollar is keeping the emerging market game alive as well, because they’re borrowing money for free. Then they borrow that money … If the dollar goes up, then you’re going to start seeing some real panic, and if interest rates really start going up, the game is over.

Again, this is a Ponzi scheme that’s been generated by Quantitative Easing, which means printing tons of cheap money and negative, or zero interest rate policy that allows stock buybacks and merger and acquisition activity. End of story. When interest rates go up, this thing goes down, and it goes down big. But the interest rates have to go up to a percentage much beyond where they are now, they’ve got to get back into the 3.25% range, as we see it, before you’re really going to start feeling the pressure. But even it at 1.5 to 2, you’re going to start seeing it really starting to hit.

Mike Gleason: Well, as we begin to close here, Gerald, any final thoughts or anything that you want to hit on that we haven’t discussed already?

Gerald Celente: I think we’ve hit on it all. The other wildcard to watch also, by the way, is the rhetoric against Iran. That keeps going on and on. Iran has not invaded a country for 250 years. Yeah, but they’re in Syria. Well, that’s because Assad invited them in, and whether you like him or not, he was elected, and an international forum said it was a fair and free election. But the hatred that the United States has against Iran … And again, people know nothing about the history of how the United States, the CIA and the MI6 in the UK overthrew the democratically elected government of Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953, because the guy had the nerve to nationalize the oil company, and that’s when they brought in the Shah. And the oil companies that were going to be hit by that were Anglo-Iranian Oil, better known as British Petroleum (BP) and Standard Oil better known today as Exxon-Mobil.

So we believe the one to really watch, the wildcard there, that could really be a destabilizing force, driving up oil prices, driving up gold prices and really causing major destabilization not throughout just the Middle East, but through much of the world, is if there’s a real war with Iran. And also, keep your eye on Ukraine. That’s very unstable, and that could explode yet again at any moment.

Mike Gleason: Well, Mr. Celente, thanks as always for your time and your analysis today. We love having you on, because you really don’t pull any punches, and I know our audience really appreciates that. Now, before we let you go, as we always ask you to do, please let folks know about how they can get their hands on the wonderful information that you put out both online and with the Trends Journal magazine, as well as anything else that’s going on there at the Trends Research Institute that folks should know about.

Gerald Celente: Well, they can go to TrendsResearch.com or TrendsJournal.com. We not only publish the Trends Journal, which is a quarterly, 50-page magazine, no ads, full color and, also, we have a Trends in the News broadcast each weekday night, and we have a Trends Monthly, Trend Alerts, and there’s a money back guarantee. It’s the only place we are going to read and hear history before it happens.

Mike Gleason: Well, excellent stuff once again. I hope we can catch up with you later this year as these events begin to unfold, and ultimately, what it will likely mean for precious metals’ investors. Thanks again, Mr. Celente for being so generous with your time. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and have a great weekend.

Gerald Celente: Thank you, and thank you for all you do, Mike.

Mike Gleason: Well that will do it for this week. Our sincere thanks to Gerald Celente, Publisher of the renowned Trends Journal. For more information, the website again is TrendsResearch.com. Be sure to check that out.

Mike Gleason is a Director with Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals dealer with over 50,000 customers. Gleason is a hard money advocate and a strong proponent of personal liberty, limited government and the Austrian School of Economics. A graduate of the University of Florida, Gleason has extensive experience in management, sales and logistics as well as precious metals investing. He also puts his longtime broadcasting background to good use, hosting a weekly precious metals podcast since 2011, a program listened to by tens of thousands each week.

 

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from Gold Silver Worlds http://goldsilverworlds.com/economy/gerald-celente-markets-interest-rates-go-thing-goes/

Is the Yellen Fed Planning to Sabotage Trump’s Presidency?

The Federal Reserve can make or break a president.

Monetary policy influences all financial markets as well as the cycles in the economy. No president wants to have to run for re-election when the stock market and economy are turning down.

Recall that President George H.W. Bush was sitting on sky-high job approval numbers in 1991 and was expected to coast to victory in his 1992 re-election bid. But then the economy swooned toward recession, giving Bill Clinton the opening he needed.

After bashing Yellen in 2016, Trump now hopes she doesn’t tank the stock market.

Bush later blamed Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan for his defeat. Greenspan had held interest rates too high for too long, Bush complained.

On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump complained that Fed chair Janet Yellen was trying to help Hillary Clinton by keeping rates near zero and pumping up the stock market with liquidity.

“They’re keeping the rates artificially low so that Obama can go out and play golf in January and say that he did a good job.

It’s a very false economy,” Trump told reporters in September 2016.

Later that month in the second presidential debate, he declared, “We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble. . . The only thing that looks good is the stock market. But if you raise interest rates even a little bit, that’s going to come crashing down.”

Reappointing Janet Yellen Could Be Politically Dangerous to Trump

Now that he’s president, Trump may have become the stock market bubble’s most high-profile cheerleader. He certainly doesn’t want it to burst on his watch.

The president has warmed up to Yellen’s Dow-friendly easy money policies. He even suggested he might reappoint her to the Federal Reserve in early 2018.

That would be a politically dangerous move. The Fed could help determine which party has the advantage in the 2018 mid-terms and the 2020 presidential election beyond that.

Of course, Fed officials insist they are “data driven” and don’t make policy decisions based on politics. Whether they intend to be or not, Fed policymakers are inevitably involved in politics. The members of the Federal Reserve Board are political appointees.

Yellen is a liberal Democrat, appointed by President Obama. She understands what’s at stake in the upcoming elections. She understands that Democrats are in a state of political desperation right now. They hold only 15 governorships, are a minority in Congress, and stand to be steadily replaced in the courts. But they STILL control the Federal Reserve Board.

President Trump now has the opportunity to re-shape the Fed. Three of the seven positions on the Federal Reserve Board remain vacant. Trump can fill them. More importantly, he can replace Yellen as Fed chair next year.

Fed Moves Could Crash the Stock Market, Hurting Republicans in 2018

It’s understandable that Trump is playing nice with Yellen while she’s helping keep things seemingly peachy keen in the markets. But the consequences of the Fed’s balance sheet “normalization” program may start to be fully felt next year. He shouldn’t underestimate the risks of the bubble he identified in 2016 bursting in time for the elections in 2018.

This year’s mid-terms will be of particular concern to Fed officials. Republicans have a shot at expanding their majority in the Senate and finally being able to pass conservative legislation – including potentially an audit and reforms of the Federal Reserve system.

In recent years, GOP reformers in Congress have pushed bills that would force the Fed to adhere to a rules-based formula for setting its target interest rate. That would help remove political conflicts of interest from policy decisions and make them less impactful on markets.

Right now, any major monetary reform efforts would be met with insurmountable resistance by the keepers of the center-left status quo in the U.S. Senate. Yes, despite Republicans having a nominal majority in the Senate, conservatives are in the minority. That became abundantly clear when a pair of liberal Republicans joined anti-Trump establishmentarian John McCain in voting to save Obamacare from being repealed.

Trump’s Priorities to Be Stymied Unless GOP Gains Seats

It’s likely that none of Trump’s legislative priorities – from healthcare, to immigration, to taxes – will ever make it to his desk to become law. Unless conservative/libertarian-leaning Republicans hold onto the House and gain some Senate seats in 2018.

Mid-terms typically result in net losses for the party that controls the White House. Democrats might be feeling good about their odds of winning back full control of the Senate… except for the fact they face a big structural disadvantage this time around.

Democrats must defend 25 Senate seats in 2018, while Republicans only have to put 9 on the line. GOP strategists see an opportunity to expand their majority by knocking off vulnerable Democrat incumbents in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia – states that swung heavily for Trump in 2016.

The question is: Will the economic backdrop be favorable for Republicans to campaign on the Trump agenda? That remains to be seen.

Given the stakes, Donald Trump’s hiring decisions at the Fed could make or break his presidency.

Stefan Gleason is President of Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of the University of Florida, Gleason is a seasoned business leader, investor, political strategist, and grassroots activist. Gleason has frequently appeared on national television networks such as CNN, FoxNews, and CNBC, and his writings have appeared in hundreds of publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Detroit News, Washington Times, and National Review.

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Sen. Hatch: Those Opposing More Debt ‘Don’t Deserve to Be Here’

Republican leaders in Congress, with the urging of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, are anxious to raise the federal borrowing limit from $19.8 trillion – no strings attached.

The only hitch is those pesky conservative voters who were promised restraint by party leaders. GOP establishment hopes to quietly pass a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling – a direct betrayal of that voter base – don’t currently enjoy enough support from other Republican members who still consider themselves accountable. So, a deal with the Democrats beckons.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says any politician who opposes more debt “doesn’t deserve to be here.”

Republicans technically have the power to finally honor the limit on borrowing by reducing spending. After all, Republicans control both Congress and the White House.

The last thing most Republican voters want is for McConnell and Ryan to start cutting deals with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer for a debt ceiling hike and MORE spending. But that may be exactly how this batch of sausage gets made. Watch for a coalition of big government Republicans and Democrats to leave future generations holding the bag – yet again.

GOP Senator Orrin Hatch is scornful of anyone in his party trying to impose spending restraint. He had this to say: “Some conservatives think they can get some programs cut. Well, that’s not gonna happen… We have to pay our bills and anybody who doesn’t want to do that doesn’t deserve to be here.”

Hatch and his friends in leadership – on both sides of the aisle – share a bizarre philosophy when it comes fiscal responsibility. They insist that the best way to meet obligations is to embrace perpetual deficit spending and simply borrow without limit to cover it.

As far as they’re concerned, any elected officials with an opposing view don’t even belong in Washington DC.

Given that Congress has raised the borrowing cap 72 times since 1962, and that neither party has ever held the line, we can certainly agree that believers in fiscal restraint are marginalized on Capitol Hill. Representatives who bluff about fiscal responsibility, but eagerly fold at the first opportunity, fit right in, of course.

There are some hoping to see a real fight, and perhaps even a victory in the coming months.

It can’t be ruled out, but leadership is anxious to avoid any fuss and will reach across the aisle rather than consider the fiscally responsible course.

Nevertheless, conflict over raising the debt ceiling could add to the headwinds for the Federal Reserve Note. And, in the long run, borrowing without restraint will further devalue the greenback. Perhaps more investors will be reminded of that fact in the coming weeks and buy some gold.

Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

 

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Solar, Bubble, Banks, War, and Legal Tender: Five Reasons Why You Should Buy Silver Now

Provided by our friends at Hard Assets Alliance

By Shannara Johnson – Aug 7, 2017

Unlike its big brother, gold, physical silver is coveted for both investment purposes and industrial usage. Right now, silver prices are in a bit of a slump—in other words, it’s the perfect time to load up on this precious metal while it’s down. Here are some good reasons why silver should be on every investor’s radar.

Reason #1: Silver Is Being Used Up in China’s Solar Boom.

By far the largest application of industrial silver today is in solar panels—and Chinese demand for solar energy is skyrocketing. In its 13th Five-Year Plan, Beijing aims to triple its solar capacity by 2020 in order to combat air pollution and to comply with the Paris Climate Accord.

Amazingly, China is already investing more in clean-energy developments than the European Union:

Source: e3g.org

Last month, China revealed a newly built 250-acre solar farm shaped like a panda—the first of 100 such solar plants planned for the Asian region in the coming years. Displaying typical Chinese efficiency, the solar farm in Datong was proposed in May 2016 and became operational only 14 months later. Over the next 25 years, it will provide the same power as burning one million tons of coal.

No wonder last year was the strongest so far for solar-related silver demand. Leading analysts believe that this trend will continue a while longer—even though Tesla’s SolarCity is getting ready to replace silver with the much cheaper copper in its PV panels.

Specialist consultancy Metals Focus said it expected 2017 silver demand from the solar sector to ease only slightly compared to last year, remaining the second highest on record.

And the supply is finite. The chart below shows official global silver reserves, that is, the amount of silver that is considered to be recoverable from mines—which is only 571,000 tonnes.

Source: Statista

Reason #2: The US Stock Bubble Is Getting Ready to Burst.

How many screaming superlatives can a market take before it collapses? We will probably find out soon.

It seems that US equities are hitting new record highs every day, but the writing is most certainly on the wall. By mid-July, the Case-Shiller P/E Ratio hovered above 30 (the 100-year median is around 16). That is reminiscent of the height of the dot-com bubble and the weeks leading up to the 1929 stock market crash.

One yardstick of the growing insanity is the money-burning tech companies whose shares keep going up no matter what.

Take Netflix (NFLX), for example, which casually announced in an April letter to shareholders that it expects a negative free cash flow (FCF) of $2 billion this year, up from “only” $1.7 billion in 2016.

Last October, the company said it would have to raise another $800 million in debt (adding to the over $2.2 billion it already had), all in the name of adding quality content, aka movies and TV shows, to the site.

It’s no secret in investment circles that Netflix doesn’t really make money, a negligible fact that hasn’t kept the stock from skyrocketing.

In its mid-July Q2 earnings report, the company proudly reported that it had added 5.2 million new subscribers in the last quarter, crushing Wall Street estimates and propelling the stock upward by more than 10%.

Never mind that Q2 free cash flow was minus $608 million, a year-over-year increase in losses of $354 million. Investors gobbled up the “good news” and sent shares soaring to new heights of over $188 in July.

We see a similar picture with social-media giants like Twitter and Snapchat, which are virtual money pits.

Of course, there is no way that this can go on. And as stocks are being caught out in the rain, gold and silver will get their day in the sun, as has historically been the case.

Reason #3: European Banks Are Still in Big Trouble.

The ongoing debt crisis in the EU has recently been dwarfed by the global outcry revolving around the much-despised Trump administration and its draconic trade policies. However, while Europe’s woes may be forgotten for the moment, they have been anything but resolved.

In June, the UK Telegraph commented that “Italy’s long-simmering banking crisis has erupted again. The emergency plan to wind down two Venetian lenders at a cost of up to €17bn is a fiasco of the first order.” This, the article continues, could push Italian debt to 133% of GDP.

Research by Italian investment bank Mediobanca found that 114 of Italy’s 500 banks have “Texas Ratios” of over 100% (non-performing loans divided by tangible book value plus reserves; a TR of over 100% is considered critical).

24 of the endangered banks reportedly have ratios of over 200%, among them some of Italy’s biggest banks, like Monte dei Paschi di Siena with a TR of 269%, and Veneto Banca with a TR of 239%.

But the problem extends to the entire European Union. According to a Reuters article, “the total stock of non-performing loans (NPL) in the EU is estimated at over €1 trillion, or 5.4% of total loans, a ratio three times higher than in other major regions of the world.”

Clearly, this is a level that is unsustainable in the long run. And if you don’t believe that Italy’s problems could have a major impact on US investors, remember how the US subprime mortgage crash and subsequent financial crisis affected the entire world.

In today’s interconnected global economy, any severe financial crisis in one part of the world can cause tidal waves in another. And when that happens, gold and silver are the ultimate safe-haven assets.

Reason #4: The Risk of Military Conflict Continues to Escalate.

Tensions between the US and North Korea continue to escalate as Kim Jong-Un has now threatened a nuclear strike against the United States.

This direct threat came after CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that the US needs to find a way to separate North Korea from the system: “The North Korean people I’m sure are lovely people and would love to see [Kim Jong-Un] go.”

In response, the North Korean Foreign Ministry stated, “Should the US dare to show us even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”

By some estimates, Pyongyang could have a nuclear-capable ICBM as early as next year.

And North Korea is not the US government’s only worry. President Trump vehemently opposes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a treaty signed by the US, Iran, and five other countries in 2015. However, to renege on that agreement and to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, says retired Army General Paul Eaton, “would require regime change, which requires full-scale invasion, which is not tenable.”

Iran, Eaton warns, would be a much more dangerous enemy than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. A large-scale attack on Iran would likely involve the US’s NATO allies as well as Israel… and if Russia were to come to Iran’s aid, we might have World War III on our hands.

It doesn’t have to come to war, though, for precious metals prices to rise. The threats and growing tensions are enough to drive more investors to the safety of gold and silver—yet another reason to get some bullion now.

Reason #5: Silver Is Again Becoming Real Money.

Gold and silver are making a return as sound money.

Article 1, Section 10, of the US Constitution demands that “No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” And more and more states are putting precious metals back on the books.

Six US states have put precious metals back onto their radar, and the seventh just followed suit: as of August 9, Arizona will acknowledge gold and silver as legal tender. Four other states are on the road to accepting bullion as currency—also, Utah and Texas plan to set up bullion depositories to help private investors keep their gold investments secure.

Here’s a map of US states with current or pending legislation to accept precious metals as legal tender:

Source: Capital Gold Group

As a consequence of this legal change, if you live in one of the participating states and your gold and silver appreciates in price, there will be no state capital gains taxes since currency isn’t subject to taxation.

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Get Ready for an Historic Upside Gold and Silver Run

The Bigger the Base, the Greater the Upside Case. This saying among technical analysts/chartists helps define where we are today in the precious metals – and where we’ll soon be headed.

It means that when prices “base” in a relatively narrow sideways range for an extended period, they will at some point break out. Before the action gets underway, bears and bulls alike will get “sandpapered” as they take positions, trying to guess whether or not the price is getting ready to decline further or move upward into a new bull phase.

If you consider that time spent in sideways consolidation represents a build-up in stored energy, then a valid upside breakout will be propelled by a lot of buying fuel as old shorts who bet on lower prices offset their losing positions and new longs jump in to get onboard the change in trend.

Chart by Gary Savage, Editor, Smart Money Tracker.

This frustrating sideways movement is not taking place in a vacuum.

Bankster manipulation, algo-trading, “fat finger” futures markets’ whip-saw behavior, and price chasing in both directions becomes a regular feature of the trading landscape. A long time goes by with neither side having enough trading power to break out of congestion.

This takes place concomitant with the central banks’ war on cash, currency and trade manipulation, and geo-political brushfires stacking up around the globe. Ongoing strife in Syria, possible war with North Korea and flash points in the South China sea may be classed as severe “low-probability events, but as Jim Rickards says, when taken in total, it becomes highly probable that at least one of them will ignite a crisis, possibility starting a chain-reaction with the others.

At some point prices jump the rails, catching most by surprise. By the time the picture clears and Mr. Market decides to provide us with some answers, it’s usually too late to climb aboard.

$1300 Gold’s “red line in the sand” Courtesy Nick Laird

Given the powerful seven-month rally during the first half of 2016 notwithstanding (followed by a more than 50% give-back over the past year), a lot of gold and silver bugs can be forgiven for coming to believe that they will never see a meaningful, sustained resumption of the exciting days of 2005-6, 2009-11 and early 2016.

The feeling of being either “worn out or scared out” – as David Morgan likes to characterize the patience-testing during an extended cyclical bear market wave – has caused more than a few people to sell back their insurance and investment positions in the metals. I believe this is a decision that – sooner rather than later – they will come to seriously regret.

Make no mistake. The government is not here to help you.

Steward Dougherty, in the essay, Currecide: The Globalists’ Planned Annihilation of Your Savings and Freedom states:

Its (gold) going ballistic, is probably better set-up right now than at any other time in history, for a large number of reasons… I continue to think that cash elimination is the biggest story out there. It is a fraud of epic proportions, and its implications are dark and deeply disturbing… Sometimes, you have to say something five times before people say, “Wow. This is important. I better do something about it.” If people decide to “do something about it,” they are going to find that their options are limited. Gold being one of the few of them.

 Gold demand would go nuts if only the people could finally understand why they need to buy it right now… I think the dam of realization is coming very close to breaking, and that there could be an outright flood of new, popular awareness and action (my underline).

A Greek financial golden age? Looking at the pathetic financial state of Greece today, it’s hard to imagine that there was ever a time when financial acumen was a trait of which they could be proud. Does the following sound even remotely like what we’ve got going on now – just about anywhere around the globe?

When the Athenian treasury was audited in 440 B.C., it showed a surplus of over 9700 talents – a common unit of measurement for gold and silver during those times. Using current precious metals’ values, aligned with the 14:1 silver/gold ratio favored by the ancient Greeks, those 9700 talents would be the equivalent today of around $700 million!

Says Simon Black, writing in Sovereign Man, “At the time, Athens boasted a population of around 43,000 citizens and 28,500 foreign residents… so on a ‘per capita’ basis, the ancient Athenian surplus amounted to just under $10,000 per person in today’s money. If you compare this figure to our modern world, it’s pretty extraordinary.”

Of the 5 classifications of estimated metals’ holdings for a given project or property tallied for a formal NI-43 101 Report, the most reliable are found in the “Reserve” category, the subsets of which are “Proven” and “Probable”. Everything else being equal, these two listings show what management believes – backed by a variety of exploration methods – have the highest probability of being economically feasible.

Source: SNL Metals & Mining U.S. Global Investors IAMGOLD.

Discoveries, reserves, and grades (grams/tonne) are in steady decline.

For well over a decade, the grade (grams/tonne) of gold produced has been steadily declining. Since 2013 listed reserves, as well as absolute production itself looks to have peaked. And now it’s taking years longer just to bring a new discovery into operation. Toss increasing demand into the mix, and the math points in only one direction – higher prices.

It’s not easy to buy metals when they’re trading sideways to down.

It’s taken a lot longer for us to reach “the promised land” of sustainably higher gold and silver prices than most anticipated. Yes, the herd is throwing money at the DOW and the S&P, assuming they will grow indefinitely to the sky. Yes, with all these things considered, it’s difficult to start or continue accumulating precious metals. And the charts have only recently begun to suggest a change. But…

When things look this way and you feel like going with the herd and maybe stepping in what it leaves behind, recall once again Rick Rule’s famous (and profitable) investment cautionary, “You can either be a contrarian… or road kill.” Could his “investing rule” make your decision to “keep on stackin’” a bit easier?

Warren Buffet has without a doubt, been one of the preeminent investors of the modern era. As you read the following quote, replace the term “stocks” with “precious metals.”

“To refer to a personal taste of mine, I’m going to buy hamburgers the rest of my life. When hamburgers go down in price, we sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in the Buffett household. When hamburgers go up in price, we weep. For most people, it’s the same with everything in life they will be buying – except buying stocks. When stocks go down and you can get more for your money, people don’t like them anymore.” – Fortune Magazine: “The Wit and Wisdom of Warren Buffett.”

The clock is ticking. The ducks are lining up. Are you paying attention? Do you have a plan? Are you working your plan…?

David Smith is Senior Analyst for TheMorganReport.com and a regular contributor to MoneyMetals.com. For the past 15 years, he has investigated precious metals’ mines and exploration sites in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, China, Canada, and the U.S. He shares his resource sector findings with readers, the media, and North American investment conference attendees.

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Ethereum vs. Tangibleum: Why Cryptocurrencies Can Never Replace Physical Gold

Article provided by our good friends at Hard Assets Alliance.

By Shannara Johnson – August 3, 2107

On June 11, 2017, Bitcoin reached its all-time high of $3,025.47… followed by a 27.7% plunge only four days later.

By July 12, it had lost a total of $12 billion off its value within a month.

Ethereum, another popular cryptocurrency, increased its market share from a mere 5% at the beginning of the year to a breathtaking 30% in June, only to plummet 65% from its record-high by mid-July.

One man who wouldn’t be surprised in the least by this insane level of volatility is Raoul Pal, founder of the monthly investment publication Global Macro Investor and Real Vision television. He is convinced that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are in a bubble and will blow up someday, because “anything that moves exponentially always does.”

A self-proclaimed former Bitcoin “evangelist,” Pal sold his entire position when the currency hit the $2,000 range, for a tenfold return on his investment. Now, he said in an interview at the recent Strategic Investment Conference in Orlando, Florida, he’s watching from the sidelines.

Here are the main problems with Bitcoin as Pal sees them:

1. Bitcoin is not a reliable store of value.

Bitcoin, by design, is limited to 21 million currency units. This arbitrary limit is what makes its value go up as more and more units are being mined. Turns out, though, the cryptocurrency is running into problems as it becomes too popular for its own good.

Bitcoin transactions have skyrocketed in the past years, but since they are being processed in 1MB-size “blocks,” the system has become so sluggish that a purchase might take hours to confirm.

Source: blockchain.info

As a result, rivaling factions in the Bitcoin community have proposed two different software updates to solve the conundrum, but the chances of finding a unanimous solution are slim.

Here’s where Bitcoin’s most coveted trait—the lack of central oversight—might become its downfall, because who will make the decision which method to adopt?

Apparently, the two factions are so at odds that some people call it a “civil war in the blockchain community.”

Raoul Pal does not approve of any of the two proposed alterations: “Now they’re talking about the hard forks changing it, and even if they don’t, the fact that they could, what does that mean in the future? Suddenly, we get to 21 million Bitcoins and they go, ‘No, we were only joking, we’ll print another 21 million.’”

Which, of course, would be the death knell for Bitcoin’s credibility.

How that compares to gold:

Unlike Bitcoin’s, the scarcity of physical gold is not an arbitrary one. Its availability is naturally limited by the number of new gold discoveries and the number of mines being built.

During gold price slumps like the one we saw from 2011 to 2016, very few mining companies will take on the arduous task of building a new mine, which can take five to eight years and several billion dollars, and assumes huge political and regulatory risk.

In gold bear markets, only the highest-grade gold can be mined economically and exploration budgets are slashed, further exacerbating the cycle. As a consequence, gold supply shrinks in years of low prices… and is slow to pick up again as the price rises.

According to figures from a 2013 gold report by Visual Capitalist, all the gold that has been mined throughout human history would fit into a 66-foot cube. Another mind-blowing number: the average grade of gold deposits is 1.01 gram of gold per metric ton of ore (1.01 g/t). That’s the weight of a paperclip or a quarter teaspoon of sugar.

Only 4.5% of all gold deposits in the world have more than 10 g/t. The highest-grade known deposit in the world—the Tau Tona deposit in South Africa—is 28 g/t.

2. Bitcoin is not the only fish in the pond anymore.

Aside from direct competitors like Ethereum, Pal points out that the Indians have already shifted to a cashless society. “This was the great Western Union/Swift payment system we were going to dump on Bitcoin. Well, India went and did it for 1.1 billion people. It’s 50 times faster than Bitcoin, and it’s rolled out and working now.”

If anybody can do it—and do it better and faster—then maybe it’s not that interesting, he concludes.

It looks like cryptocurrencies are becoming a dime a dozen. So far in 2017, there have been about 20 initial coin offerings (ICOs) per month. An ICO is the cryptocurrency equivalent of an IPO in stocks. That means approximately 140 new cryptocurrencies have been launched in 2017… and we’re not even at the end of the year.

Nonetheless, investors are still throwing money at these ICOs. If you had any doubt that cryptocurrencies may be in a bubble, this is a pretty convincing figure.

How that compares to gold:

Even though there are other precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium, gold has no real competition.

Silver, for example, is typically a byproduct of other mining (gold, copper, zinc, and lead) and not as valuable as gold. To carry around $10,000 in silver would require a suitcase, whereas the same amount in gold fits conveniently into your pocket. And unlike silver, which has many industrial applications in which it gets used up, most of the gold that has ever been mined is still in existence.

Why is gold more popular than platinum or palladium? My guess is that it’s easy to identify by color, whereas the other two could be mistaken for silver. Also, platinum scratches more easily than 14-karat gold and therefore isn’t well suited for certain types of jewelry like rings.

Since antiquity, gold has always been the top choice in cultures where precious metals represented the medium of exchange—and it’s still the top choice as a crisis hedge around the globe.

3. Bitcoin’s blockchain technology will soon be like the Internet—everyone has it.

Looking at the recent developments in blockchain technology, says Pal, big corporations and industry sectors would rather develop their own private ledger systems than using Bitcoin’s public one. It’s entirely possible, he says, that a bunch of insurance companies might get together and create the “insurance blockchain.”

“The Bitcoin community always thinks everybody needs to be on this public ledger,” Pal says. “They don’t realize that they’re a solution looking for a problem. That’s not what everybody needs.”

And as more and more blockchain systems get rolled out, the technology, says Pal, will go the way of broadband and cloud computing, “where you have so many people competing that the value of blockchain technology goes to zero.”

Some investment pros believe that Bitcoin still has a long way to climb once hedge funds rush in—maybe reaching another fivefold return from Bitcoin’s June heights. Pal is skeptical, though: “I don’t know any hedge fund managers who would want to buy into an exponential move.” In any case, he says, “I don’t have the mindset to trade a bubble.”

How that compares to gold:

We already saw that gold is rare enough to be a true store of value. There’s no danger of it becoming ubiquitous, even if a dozen super-high-grade deposits were discovered tomorrow.

And here’s another important point I made in a recent article: If ever the lights go out—for example, due to an electromagnetic pulse, either as an act of war or through a strong solar flare—Bitcoin and Ethereum will vanish instantly. The physical gold you stashed away, on the other hand, will still be there and ready to use as needed.

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