Free Markets, Free People
For Informational Purposes Only
I am not an investment advisor. I’m not a guru. I’m not qualified to give you any investment advice at all. I’m just looking around and seeing things, and telling you what I see. And, in this case, I’ll even tell you what I’m doing.
I do so, however, with the strong warning that you should not, under any circumstances, use me for an example, or follow my example. What I do may not be suitable for you at all. I just want to make that clear.
First let me recap some data points I’ve made in several previous posts:
The Fed has more than doubled the monetary base over the past year. The amount of money that is just sitting there in the economy is incomprehensible. But, it’s not making any trouble for us in inflationary terms, because it is just sitting there. It’s what will happen when it does stop just sitting there that is worrisome.
The Federal Budget has spiraled out of control, with the TARP, stimulus, and recession bringing additional massive amounts of debt to bear, and future deficits signifigantly larger than any in recent memory–on top of which, there is now talk of “Stimulus II”.
Despite the happy talk about the economy’s recovery, the fact is that it is still in decline–just a slower rate of decline. If a recovery doesn’t occur soon, we will run into another leg down in the economy, as households and businesses draw down their cash reserves, hit their credit limits, and slash their spending. The longer the recession continues, the more people and business that will be forced into bankruptcies, the more foreclosures will rise, etc. We call things like this “black swan” events.
On the other hand, even if there is a recovery, the Fed will be faced with the task of trying to wring the extra money back out of the economy. If they are unsuccessful, inflation will rise. If they are successful, they may spark another recession through tightening, much as they did to cause the second leg of the back-to-back recessions in 1981-1982. A second leg of a recession will undoubtedly result in greater debt and more money funneled into the economy as the government re-imposes monetary and fiscal stimulus again to re-inflate economic activity. This will both deepen the debt and increase the money supply, making the next round of interest rate tightenings more difficult, unless the economy comes back strongly.
Social Security is now estimated to begin having a negative cash flow in 2019. In other words, Social Security expenditures will exceed the payroll tax receipts. We have, until now, been running surpluses in Social Security receipts, but, of course, the government spent that money in the general fund. There is, therefore, no pot of money saved to make up for the deficit in receipts in 2016. Benefits will be cut. Taxes will be increased. Economic growth will be affected.
1. Some of these nations have no reason to risk destabilizing the USA. Esp the Saudi Princes.
2. Some of these nations have no reason to risk destabilizing the global financial system. Esp. Japan.
3. Many of these nation have leaders who are some combination of cautious, slow, reactive, and incrementalists.
4. Something of this scale would be almost impossible to keep secret 2 days after the first discussions.
5. If multiple Hong Kong banking sources knew it, their fingerprints would be all over the US dollar – as they shorted it to the max.
Having said that, while I believe this particular story is implausible, it is obvious that a number of countries, China and Russia chief among them, are urging that the dollar be replaced as the world’s reserve currency, or, at the very least, allow some other currency or basket of currencies to be used in addition to the dollar. If this happens, billions of dollars will be repatriated to the US, drastically lowering the dollar’s foriegn exchange value. China is already denominating regional trade deals in yuan, and the use of gold has been on the rise as an instrument for international settlements in Asia and Europe.
There are many more data points, but it would be both tedious and depressing to continue.
The bottom line is that the trends outlined above will, in all probability, necessitate dealing with our foreign creditors. Such dealings may require us to reschedule our debt payments, which will devastate the bond market, make future borrowing far more difficult, and end the notion that treasury notes are “risk-free” investments. If so, we will have become a financial banana republic in which future investment will be given the gimlet eye. We may also be required to those foreign debts off in some currency or basket of currencies other than dollars, in order to prevent the government from inflating the debt away.
These trends will also probably require devaluing the US dollar by a substantial amount, so that our imports become expensive, while our exports become cheap. This will allow us to earn the money to pay off our foreign debts, although it will, of course, result in a lower standard of living in the USA.
This the inevitable result of allowing the government–and the voters–to loot the system for 70 years.
So here is what I have done–and this is purely for informational purposes. I do not recommend it for you, and I urge you to consider that I may be entirely wrong.
Several months ago, I completely pulled all of my investments out of equities, and into some select bond funds with a mix of government and private bonds. As of today, I have ceased placing any more money in to either equities or bonds.
For the forseeable future, I will be buying gold bullion. Not gold stocks. Not Krugerrands. Not gold depository accounts. I mean direct bullion purchases of gold bars or rounds. My personal preference is for APMEX or Pamp Suisse 10g bars, or Scotia Bank 1/4 oz. rounds, since they have the lowest premiums over the spot price, and are small enough to conveniently convert at local jewelry stores, pawn shops, or gold dealers at need.
Trying to convert a 1kg bar on short notice would be…inconvenient. Even 1oz. Krugerrands might be hard to convert as the value of each single coin is now over $1000.
I have no interest in paying a premium for “collectible” coins. I have no interest in purchasing a depository account, where my gold holdings have to be reported to the government. In fact, prior to this month, I had no real interest in gold either. Indeed, if you bought gold at any time from 1979 to 2001, by march of 2001, you would have lost money–perhaps quite a lot of money, depending on when you bought it. However, in the current circumstances, let’s just say that my interest is now…heightened substantially.
Whether your interest should be heightened…well, I couldn’t say.