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Fed Statement Stretches
Posted by Peter Schiff on 12/17/2014 at 5:25 PM

Apparently Bill Clinton, the man who helped us ponder what the meaning of "is" is, now writes statements for the Federal Reserve. With the economic statistics apparently painting a rosy economic picture (In my opinion: ignoring the more numerous data points evidencing the opposite), I feel the majority of observers believed that the Fed would finally remove its promise to hold rates at zero for "a considerable time." Instead, Janet Yellen (and those dwindling numbers of FOMC who did not dissent) decided to change it by not changing it. Essentially they signaled their intention to turn the monetary page in these terms, "although we are not saying now that we intend to hold rates at zero for a considerable time, we agree with our prior statements that we will do just that." They also said that they will be "patient" in implementing this new policy, which really isn't new at all.

 
If this makes sense to you, you must work for Bloomberg News, which immediately concluded the following: "Fed Vows Patience on Rates While Dropping Considerable Time." How exactly do you drop words by not dropping them? I guess that's what you learn in journalism school.
 
In reality, the statement is muddled and confusing because the Fed wants it that way. Despite their lip service towards "transparency" the Fed knows that the economy can't handle the truth. While Wall Street clamors for a rate hike to confirm their dominant narrative that the recovery is real and sustainable, the Fed knows that the economy will be devastated even by the narrowest increase in rates. Given this disconnect, look for Fed statements to remain completely non-sensical. Maybe Janet Yellen will soon have to resort to finger wagging.

 

Those interested delving deeper into these issues should contact Andrew Schiff at aschiff@europac.net or call 800-727-7922 ext. 135.



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Black Gold Loses Glitter
Posted by Peter Schiff on 12/15/2014 at 10:54 AM
The stunning 40% drop in the price of oil over the past few months has scrambled global economic forecasts, changed the geo-political landscape, and has severely pressured many energy sector investments. Economists are scratching their heads to determine if the drop is good or bad for the economy or whether cheap oil will add to or decrease unemployment, or complicate the global effort to "defeat" deflation. While all of these issues merit detailed discussions, the first question to address is if the steep drop is here to stay and whether energy prices will stay low enough, for long enough, to seriously reshuffle the economic deck. Based on a variety of factors, this is not likely to happen. I believe a series of technical, industrial, and monetary factors will combine to push oil back up to, and potentially beyond, the levels that it has seen over the last few years.

The dominant narrative explaining the current situation is that oil has collapsed largely because the growing mismatch between surging supply and diminishing demand. But there is little evidence to suggest that such conditions exist on the global stage.

According to the data available this month from the International Energy Agency (IEA), global demand for crude oil has increased by .74%. from 2013 to 2014, and is 3.6% higher than the average demand seen over the past five years (2009-2013). The same trend holds true for the United States, where 2014 demand is expected to come in 1.3% higher than 2013 and essentially the same as the average demand over the previous five years. (As an aside, the relative stagnation of U.S. oil demand provides a strong counterpoint to the current belief that the U.S. economy is stronger in 2014 than it has been in recent years).

So if the low prices are a function of supply and demand, but demand has not collapsed, then the difference has to be supply. The theory here is that the fracking and shale boom in North America has flooded the world market with unexpected supply, thereby pushing down the price. While it is true that the new drilling techniques have revolutionized energy production in the U.S. and Canada, the increase in production has been mostly negligible on the global stage.

Oil production in North America increased a hefty 8.8% from 2013 to 2014, and 17.7% over two years from 2012 to 2014. But outside of North America the story has been quite different. In fact, total global production increased by just .55% between 2012 and 2013 (2014 global data is not yet available). In 2012, North America accounted for just 17.4% of global production, but over the following year contributed 59% to the total increase of global production. So the fracking miracle is, at present, primarily a local phenomenon that has made limited impact on the global stage. In fact, in its most recent data, the IEA estimated that in 3rd Quarter 2014 total world demand exceeded total world supply by only .6%, hardly a figure that suggests an historic glut.

So if it's not supply and demand, what could it be? First, there are technical factors. There was a widespread concern going into 2014 that the recovery would bring with it higher oil prices. This may explain the surge in speculative "long" contracts in crude oil futures seen in 2014. These positions, in which investors sought to make a levered bet on rising oil prices, peaked around July at 4 million contracts, nearly four times as high as 2010. With so much money anticipating an increase, a small pullback in crude could have caused a wave of selling to close out losing positions. If that is the case, in an over-levered market, this could lead to a domino effect that pushes prices far lower than market levels. But as these positions get unwound, markets eventually return to normal. If that happens, we could see a significant rally in oil.

The surging dollar is another factor that has pushed down prices. Oil is globally priced in dollars so any increase in the dollar translates directly into a decrease in the price of crude. Over the past few months the dollar has seen a major rally that I suspect has been caused by the widespread, but unfounded, belief that the Federal Reserve will begin to tighten policy in 2015 just as the other major central banks shift into prolonged easing campaigns. When traders realize that this is unlikely to occur, the dollar should sell off and oil should rise.

Industrial forces will also come to bear soon. Much of the new North American shale production has been characterized by relatively high extraction costs, large production volumes, and fast depletions. A high amount of capital expenditure is needed to maintain production volumes. If the price of crude stays low, we can expect to see a decrease in capex expenditures from the companies most closely aligned with horizontal drilling and fracking. In fact, such evidence has already come to light. This means that volume decreases will start to bite far sooner than they would in the case of traditional oil extraction.

Ordinarily, falling energy prices are a great economic development. Lowering the cost of heating, power, and transportation means consumers and businesses have more money to spend on everything else. But the U.S. economy is now far more vulnerable to energy sector weakness. A substantial portion of high paying jobs that have been created in the last few years have been in energy production. Already the capex slowdown in the Dakotas and Texas is beginning to be felt by energy workers in those areas (12/2/14, The Globe and Mail). If these trends continue, the employment reports that currently drive so much of the economic confidence, will begin to look decidedly weaker.

But falling energy will also help hold down consumer prices. And while this may sound like a good thing to anyone with a standard amount of common sense, it is not seen as a good thing by economists who believe that higher inflation is a prerequisite for economic growth. Weakening employment and slowing inflation could quickly entice the Federal Reserve to launch the next round of QE far sooner than anyone currently predicts. This could turn the table on the current dollar rally and help push oil back up.

If oil stays low, it may turn out that entire U.S. oil boom was just another Federal Reserve inflated bubble. If it pops, the job losses and debt defaults that would ensue could have a far greater impact on the economy and the credit markets than did the bursting of the Internet bubble back in 2000. For those who think that cheap oil prices will provide a strong enough shock absorber, think again. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, $35 oil did not spare the U.S. economy from recession. Nor did $20 oil keep us out of recession in 2001. Oil producers have raised hundreds of billions of "junk bond" financing that may become vulnerable if oil prices stay low for an extended period. I do not believe the Fed will allow debt defaults that would result to impact the broader economy. They will be inclined to support oil prices just as they have been willing to support other strategically important asset classes.

If oil investors overbuilt capacity based overly optimistic price assumptions, which were created by artificially low interest rates and QE, why would similar mistakes made by investors in stocks, real estate, and bonds not be similarly exposed? This could mean that the popping of the oil bubble may be just one of many bubbles that are ready to burst. But given the difficulty of dealing with such a situation, QE 4 may ultimately need to be larger than QE1, 2, and 3 combined!

As a major player in oil production, the U.S. stands to gain far less from the current price slump than many of our trading rivals. Saudi Arabia, the dominant producer, has notoriously low production costs and should likely withstand the current slump with little need for structural reform (Saudi Arabia's geopolitical strategy for cheaper oil was recently examined by John Browne in his recent Euro Pacific column).

The primary beneficiaries of the current oil dip are the Asian countries that use lots of oil but produce very little. Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, India, China and Indonesia all import oil and, therefore, will benefit by varying degrees. Many governments (India, Indonesia, Malaysia) are removing high cost subsidies - so the immediate benefit is not to the consumer, but to government fiscal balances, which will improve greatly.

So every silver lining usually comes with a cloud or two. Although the dip in oil prices is currently the biggest thing on the street and the cause for optimism, good times come with a cost, and they are likely to be short-lived. Energy stocks have been unfairly beaten down and could offer long-term value at current price levels.

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on YouTube

Catch Peter's latest thoughts on the U.S. and International markets in the Euro Pacific Capital Fall 2014 Global Investor Newsletter!

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Data Driven or Driven Data
Posted by Peter Schiff on 12/09/2014 at 2:50 PM
There can be little doubt that data releases rather than experience or intuition are driving the economic conversation. This is perhaps a function of the disconnection that many people feel about an economy that they no longer understand. Rather than trusting their own eyes or their own gut to form an opinion, it's much easier to grab a set of convenient numbers. The big question then becomes what numbers you choose to look at and which you choose to ignore.

While there are a great many types of economic data releases, issued by a myriad of public and private sources, two reports have risen above the rest in importance: the Quarterly GDP estimates issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the monthly jobs report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And those two reports have been recently coming up roses. The 3rd quarter GDP growth report, released on November 25th, revised growth upwards to an annualized rate of 3.9%, and the November Jobs report, released on December 5th, showed the creation of 321,000 new jobs in November, the highest monthly total in nearly three years. These reports have solidified the views of the mass of analysts that the U.S. economy is currently firing on all cylinders.

But to make this conclusion, almost all the other data sets, which used to be considered significant, have been either ignored or, when that proves impossible, rationalized away to make the figures unimportant. This never happens with strong data, which is typically accepted at face value.
In the weeks leading up to, and the days after, the recent GDP and jobs reports, a torrent of data releases came in that were almost universally awful. However, in our current era of journalistic lethargy, these reports have received almost no attention at all.

While it would be too long and boring to list all of these moribund statistics, here is a brief overview, in chronological order, of what you are likely not hearing:

November 24 - The Chicago Fed National Activity Index, which weighs 85 different economic indicators to gauge the national economy, fell to 0.14 in October from 0.29 in September. The three-month average declined to negative 0.01 from positive 0.12. The index is designed so that readings above zero indicate above-trend growth.

November 24 - Markit's Flash PMI, which measures service sector health, came in at 56.3 for November, missing expectations of 57.3. This is the lowest reading for the index since April, and the fifth consecutive month of declines.

November 25 - The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index came in at a very weak 4 for November, which is down sharply from the 20 posted in October, and far below economist expectations. Consensus expectations were for 16, with survey respondents ranging from 12 to 24.

November 25 - The Commerce Department reported that growth in corporate profits (adjusted for depreciation and the value of inventories) slowed sharply in the third quarter to a 2.1% annual rate, down from an 8.4% annualized rate in the second quarter.

November 25 - The Case Shiller 20-City Index showed year over year price gains of only 4.9%, the lowest reading since October 2012. This continues a trend of a decreasing rate of home price appreciation.

November 25 - The Conference Board reported that U.S. Consumer Confidence dropped to 88.7 in November from a revised 94.1 in October. The November drop was unexpected and puts the index at its lowest reading since June. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast November to come in at 96.5.

November 26 - U.S. durable-goods orders rebounded 0.4 percent in October after September's decline of 0.9 percent. However, the rise largely reflected a 45.3% surge in demand for defense aircraft and parts, which masked weak demand elsewhere. Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.9%, the biggest drop since December 2013. Excluding defense-related products, orders fell 0.6%.

November 26 - Personal income rose by only .2% in October, half of the .4% expected by economists.Personal spending also increased by .2%, but this was 33% less than the .3% consensus expectations.

November 26 - Manufacturing activity in the Chicago-area expanded 60.8 in November, which represents a significant drop from 66.2 in October. The decline was larger than the consensus expectations for a decline to 63.

December 3 - Mortgage applications decreased 7.3% from the week earlier, the second straight week of declines.

December 3 - The National Retail Federation reported that Thanksgiving weekend retail sales came in at a disappointing $51 billion, down 11% from 2013. This data includes the entire four day weekend, in which many retailers operated under longer hours than they have in years past.

December 5 - Although the Trade Deficit narrowed slightly to $43.4 billion in October, the figure was actually higher than the consensus estimates and only came down because the September numbers were revised higher. In addition, the trade deficit in manufactured products hit $71.2 billion, the highest on record.

December 5 - Factory orders fell for the third consecutive month, shrinking 0.7% (more than double the .0.3% rate that had been expected) in October after declining 0.5% in September.

December 5 - Consumer credit rose $13.2 billion in October but the increase was far less than the $16.8 billion expected by a Bloomberg survey of economists (September's rate that had also come in well below the consensus estimate was revised even lower). The gain was largely centered on a $12.3 billion increase in non-revolving credit that includes auto financing and the government's acquisition of student loans from private lenders. Revolving credit rose only $0.9 billion, down from an already disappointing $1.4 billion in September.

Although the national elections are generally not counted as an economic indicator, the November mid-term elections reflected overwhelming economic dissatisfaction among voters, which resulted in a drubbing at the polls for Democrats associated with the President's agenda.

So if the majority of the granular reports of weak economic activity persist and the public remains unaware or unconvinced that the economy is improving, how could it be that the two most followed reports could be so strong?

There is much in both the GDP and the Jobs Report that is dependent on forward-looking expectations. I believe that both reports are showing improvement because businesses are building inventory and hiring staff in anticipation of an economy that they believe will continue to improve. It's like the Field of Dreams recovery, prepare for it and it will come. But I think businesses are following the false narrative, and ignoring, or rationalizing, the bad data as thoroughly as does the media.  When they realize they were fooled by the hype, jobs will be lost, and GDP will fall.

Furthermore, the GDP and jobs data would certainly be far weaker if the Federal Reserve were not providing so much monetary support. Sure, they have discontinued the vast majority of the QE, but interest rates are still at zero percent. What would GDP or job growth look like if consumers, businesses, and the federal government were forced to pay anything that approaches the historically normal interest rates on our much greater than normal level of debt? My guess is that it will be awhile before we find out, as I believe that as the bloom comes off the recovery rose, the Fed will launch another round of QE before it gets around to raising interest rates.

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on YouTube

Catch Peter's latest thoughts on the U.S. and International markets in the Euro Pacific Capital Fall 2014 Global Investor Newsletter!

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Fed Yearns for Higher Inflation to Disguise Asset Bubbles
Posted by Peter Schiff on 12/03/2014 at 7:23 PM
This morning a contributed article by Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, and author of The Real Crash - America's Coming Bankruptcy, ran in the Washington Times. The piece sheds important light on how the Federal Reserve's attitude regarding sub 2% inflation has changed significantly over the years. He makes the case that the Fed's concern over low inflation has far less to do with the health of the overall economy than it does with the maintenance of the asset  bubbles that the Fed has inflated to create the illusion of economic health. Feel  free to excerpt sections for your coverage or link to the article on the Washington Times website.
 
If you would like to speak with Peter about the subject please contact aschiff@europac.net. Thanks.


Recent statements by Federal Reserve officials would lead just about anyone to believe that one of the bank's central missions has always been to guard against the lurking threat of deflation. They warn that since official inflation has remained below the Fed's 2 percent target for almost two years, the country is liable to fall into a stagnant morass unless the Fed acts boldly to hit its target. It may surprise many that this view is strictly a 21st-century development. The fear (some would say paranoia) regarding sub-2 percent inflation was nowhere in evidence in the past, even when inflation was lower than it is today.


The average headline inflation index (which includes food and energy) in the United States has increased about 1.5 percent since 2013 (this is tabulated based on the many changes in the Consumer Price Index over the past 20 years that have tended to produce lower inflation statistics). In the 70 years since the end of World War II, there was only one similar period, the seven-year stretch from 1959 to 1965 when headline inflation averaged a skimpy 1.26 percent. Contemporary economists would surely assume that during that time the Fed would have broken out the big guns to push inflation back up over 2 percent. In fact, the opposite was true.

 

In 1961, when inflation came in at just 1.07 percent, Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin (who was hardly considered hawkish at the time) began a campaign of consistent rate hikes that lasted five full years, from an average of 1.96 percent in 1961 to 5.1 percent for all of 1966. He continued the hikes even though inflation didn't move above 1.5 percent, and unemployment didn't fall below 5 percent, until 1965. The biggest increase in the cycle came in 1962 when the Fed jacked rates by 75 basis points (during a year when inflation was below 1.2 percent). Incredibly, Martin and the Fed did this at a time when unemployment (which averaged 6.15 percent in 1961 and 1962) was 36 percent higher than it had been during the prior 10 years (averaging 4.5 percent from 1951 to 1960). To use a 21st-century response, modern economists would say, "What's up with that?"

 

One can only imagine what Ben S. Bernanke or Janet Yellen would have done in 1962. During the two-year period of 1961 and 1962, the average unemployment rate was about what it is today. Back then, though, the Fed funds rate was about 120 basis points above inflation (today it is more than 140 basis points below the rate of inflation). Rates above inflation are thought to retard growth, while negative rates are thought to stimulate. Could anyone doubt, based on the policies over the past decade, that Mr. Bernanke or Ms. Yellen would have immediately dropped rates to zero and unleashed quantitative easing? To use another modern rejoinder, it would have been a "no brainer."

 

However, Martin went in the exact opposite direction. The Paul Krugmans of the world would have predicted that raising rates in the face of persistent disinflation and high unemployment would have driven the economy into recession. But guess what? That's exactly what didn't happen.

 

Gross domestic product in 1962 came in at 6.1 percent over the full year, more than 3 percentage points above the 1961 rate. Real GDP growth in the five-year period from 1962 to 1966 (when the Fed raised rates every year) averaged 5.9 percent (and never fell below 4.4 percent), one of the best streaks in modern memory. In 1965 and 1966, Fed funds averaged 230 basis points above the rate of inflation, and still real GDP came in at an average of 6.5 percent. The difference between the economy then and now could not be any more dramatic. These are not just numbers from another era; they are numbers from another planet. What explains the difference?

 

Back in the 20th century, the Fed did not consider inflation below 2 percent to be a problem, because it wasn't. The truth is that when it comes to inflation, the lower the better, no matter how low that rate is. Back in the early '60s, the Fed was worried that if it did not act preemptively to contain inflation, that it would accelerate, maybe even rise above 2 percent, which would be a real threat to economic growth. That was because at the time the economy was strong and the stock market was booming. Today, most economists believe the economy is also strong, and the stock market gains over the past five years have been far larger than those that concerned Martin. But he wanted to take away the punch bowl before the party got too rowdy. The new breed of banker seems never to want anyone to sober up.

 

If low inflation was not a problem for the economy in the early 1960s, why does it represent such an existential threat today? The answer is that it doesn't. Low inflation, or even deflation, is not a threat to the economy but to the asset bubbles that the Fed has inflated in order to create the illusion of economic growth. Without the Fed creating inflation, the bubbles will burst and the government will be forced to deal with its insolvency.

 

Given that Wall Street economists have a vested interest in downplaying concerns about asset bubbles, it is understandable that the big financial firms have failed to point out the Fed's historic response to low inflation. It is somewhat more troubling to see how the media have completely ignored the past in passing judgment on how the Fed should act today.

 

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube



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The Clock is Ticking in Switzerland
Posted by Peter Schiff on 11/24/2014 at 10:26 AM
For most of my career in international investing, I had always placed a great deal of faith in Switzerland's financial markets. In recent years, however, as the Swiss government has sought to hitch its wagon to the flailing euro currency and kowtow increasingly to U.S.-based financial requirements, this faith has been shaken. But this week (November 30th) a referendum in Switzerland on whether its central bank will be required to hold at least 20% of its reserves in gold, will offer ordinary Swiss citizens a rare opportunity to reclaim their country's strong economic heritage. It's a vote that few outside Switzerland are following, but the outcome could make an enormous impact on the global economy.
 
Traditionally, the Swiss franc had always attracted international investors looking for a long-term store of value. That's because the Swiss government had always kept sacred the idea of conservative central banking and fiscal balance. When the idea of the European common currency was first proposed, the Swiss were wise to stay out. They did not want to exchange the franc for an unknown and untried pan-national currency. The creators of the euro had suggested that it would become the heir to the strong Deutsche mark. Instead, it has become the step-child of the troubled Italian lira and the Greek drachma.  In retrospect, the Swiss were wise to take no part in the experiment.
 
But the decision of the Swiss government in 2011 to peg the franc to the euro, in order to prevent the franc from rising, has meant that the nation has adopted the euro de facto. In order to effect this peg, the Swiss government has had to intervene massively in the currency exchange market to buy and stockpile euros, thereby weakening the franc. The raw numbers are so staggering that rank and file Swiss have taken notice. Over the last few years the Swiss economy has stagnated along with the rest of Europe, and Swiss citizens have come to understand that the current policy will require an open-ended commitment to keep doing more of the same. This frustration has given birth to the referendum movement.
 
In 1999, Switzerland became the last industrial nation to go off the gold standard, a system that had served the world well for centuries. At that time, the Swiss National Bank held about 2,600 tons of gold, representing about 41% of its total currency reserves. By the end of 2008 its gold holdings had dwindled to just 21% of reserves. And as of August this year, they had fallen to just 7.9%. The raw tonnage has fallen over that time to just 1,040 tons, a 60% decline from 1999.
 
But the real action can be seen in the Swiss National Bank's holding of foreign currencies, mostly the euro, which now sits at a whopping 453 billion francs' ($495 billion). That's about 56,000 francs ($61,000) per man, woman and child in the country, almost 90% of which have been accumulated in just the past six years. The stated aim of all these purchases is to depress the value of the franc against the euro. Currency valuation directly translates into purchasing power, which means that the Swiss are poorer for these efforts. For a family of four that means the Swiss government has diverted almost $33,000 worth of purchasing power every year for the past six years to citizens of other European countries who had mistakenly adopted the euro. That's a lot of money, even for a rich country.
 
Swiss politicians have said that purchases have been needed to protect the citizenry from falling prices and from the diminished exports that would result from a rising currency (In my  latest newsletter, read how this central bank concern about deflation is strictly a 21st century paranoia). Putting aside the evidence to suggest that the Swiss economy has prospered under a rising currency, this idea assumes that exports are a means, rather than an end. The purpose of exports is to pay for the stuff that you import and consume. There are many things that the Swiss people want that they don't make. To get those things, they export the things that they do make (i.e. watches, chocolate, cheese, etc.). The beauty of a strong currency means that you don't need to export as much of the stuff you make to get the stuff you want. In other words, you don't have to work as hard to enjoy greater consumption. Swiss living standards could have been much higher today if Swiss bankers and politicians had not tethered the franc to the euro.
 
A 20% gold reserve requirement would severely limit the ability of the Swiss government to continue its pegging policy. In order to reach the new target reserve levels, the Bank would either have to sell hundreds of billions of currency reserves or buy thousands of tons of gold on the open market. Critics contend that this would be a disaster for Switzerland. But the large amount of gold reserves before 1999 did not weigh on the Swiss economy. In fact, before that time, it was the envy of the world. While other countries were undermined by the promises politicians made with a printing press, the Swiss economy prospered thanks to the discipline provided by gold.  Economists and politicians who are urging the Swiss to reject the proposal make the case that inflation is a prerequisite for growth, but many Swiss know that that is a lie.
 
While the pundits see little chance of success for the gold vote, I am encouraged by the recent results of another recent Swiss referendum that rejected the imposition of what would have been the highest minimum wage in the world. Swiss voters were smart enough to understand that an arbitrarily high wage costs would simply destroy employment opportunities without offering any tangible benefits in return. Perhaps they will be equally wise about the usefulness of sound and stable currency.
 
As an American, I envy the choice that the Swiss have given themselves. If successful, the vote could be seen as the first major counterattack against the forces of fiat currencies and unlimited global QE. A successful outcome may also mean the requirement for the Swiss government to buy gold would add significant demand in the gold market and should thereby help put the metal back on track.
 
All eyes should now be focused on the Swiss voters.  I wish them courage.

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on YouTube

Catch Peter's latest thoughts on the U.S. and International markets in the Euro Pacific Capital Fall 2014 Global Investor Newsletter!

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The Abenomics Death Spiral
Posted by Peter Schiff on 11/19/2014 at 9:53 AM
As Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe has turned his country into a petri dish of Keynesian ideas, the trajectory of Japan's economy has much to teach us about the wisdom of those policies. And although the warning sirens are blasting at the highest volumes imaginable, few economists can hear the alarm. (A longer version of this article can be found in Euro Pacific Capital's Global Investor newsletter.)
 
Data out this week shows the Japanese economy returning to recession by contracting for the second straight quarter (and three out of the last four quarters). The conclusion reached by the Keynesian apologists is that the benefits of inflation caused by the monetary stimulus have been counteracted, temporarily, by the negative effects of inflation caused by taxes. This tortured logic should be a clear indication that the policies were flawed from the start.
 

Although the Japanese economy has been in paralysis for more than 20 years, things have gotten worse since December 2012 when Abe began his radical surgery.. From the start, his primary goal has been to weaken the yen and create inflation. On that front, he has been a success. The yen has fallen 23% against the dollar and core inflation, which was running slightly negative in 2012, has now been "successfully" pushed up to 3.1% according to the Statistics Bureau of Japan.

 

But there is no great mystery or difficulty in creating inflation or cheapening currency. All that is needed is the ability to debase coined currency, print paper money or, as is the case of our modern age, create credit electronically. These "successes" should not come as a surprise when one considers the relative size of Abe's QE program. For much of the past two years the Bank of Japan (BoJ) has purchased about 7 trillion yen per month of Japanese government bonds, which is the equivalent of about $65 billion U.S. [Forbes 9/24/14, Charles Sizemore] While this is smaller than the $85 billion per month that the Federal Reserve purchased during the 12-month peak of our QE program, it is much larger in relative terms.

 

The U.S. has roughly 2.5 times more people than Japan. Based on this multiplier, the Japanese QE program equates to $162.5 billion, or 91% larger than the Fed's program at its height. But, according to IMF estimates, the U.S. GDP is 3.3 times larger than Japan. Based on that multiplier, Japanese QE equates to $214.5 billion per month, or 152% larger. And unlike the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan hasn't even paid any lip service to the idea that its QE program will be scaled back any time soon, let alone wound down.

 

In fact, Abe's promises to do more were spectacularly realized in a surprise move on October 31 when the BoJ, claiming "a critical moment" in its fight against deflation, announced a major expansion of its stimulus campaign. (The fact that official inflation is currently north of 3% - a multi-year high, seems to not matter at all.)

 

At the same time the BoJ also announced its intention to roughly triple its pace of its equity and property purchases on Japan's stock market. According to Nikkei's Asian Review (9/23/14), the BoJ now holds an estimated 7 trillion yen portfolio of Japanese stock and real estate ETFs. Even Janet Yellen has yet to cross that Rubicon.

 

And what has this financial shock and awe actually achieved, other than 3% inflation, a weaker yen, a stock market rally, and continued international praise for Abe? Well, unfortunately nothing other than a bona fide recession and a growing threat of stagflation.

 

The weaker yen was supposed to help Japan's trade balance by boosting exports. That didn't happen. In September, the country reported a trade deficit of 958 billion yen ($9 billion), the 27th consecutive month of trade deficits. The deterioration occurred despite the fact that import prices rose steeply, which should have reduced imports and boosted exports. And while some large Japanese exporters credited the weak yen for easier sales overseas, small and mid-sized Japanese businesses that primarily sell domestically have seen flat sales against rising fuel and material costs.

 

But price inflation is not pushing up wages as the Keynesians would have expected. In August, Japan reported real wages (adjusted for inflation) fell 2.6% from the year earlier, the 14th straight monthly decline. This simply means that Japanese consumers can buy far less than what they could have before Abenomics. This is not a recipe for happy citizens.

 

Japanese consumers must also deal with Abe's highly unpopular increase of the national consumption tax from 5% to 8% (with a planned increase to 10% next year). The sales tax was largely put in place to keep the government's debt from spiraling out of control as a result of the fiscal stimulus baked into Abenomics. And while economists agree nearly universally that the price increases that have resulted from the sales tax have caused a sharp drop in consumer spending, they fail to apply the same logic that price increases due to inflation will deliver the same result.

 

A bedrock Keynesian belief is that falling prices create recession by inspiring consumers to delay purchases until prices fall further. According to the theory, even a 1% annual drop in prices could be sufficient to decimate consumers' willingness to spend. Conversely, they believe rising prices, otherwise known as inflation, will spur spending, and growth, as it inspires people to buy now before prices rise further. But if consumers have clearly been put off by rising prices due to taxation, why would they be encouraged if they were to rise for monetary reasons? Don't look for an explanation, there isn't any. In reality, as any store owner will tell you, shoppers shop when prices are low and stay at home when prices are high.

 

Despite the bleak prospects for Japan, Abe continues to bask in the love of western economists and investors. In an October 6 interview with the The Daily Princetonian, Paul Krugman, who has emerged as Abe's chief champion and apologist, responded to a question about the European economic crisis by saying "Europe need something like Abenomics only Abenomics, I think, is falling short, so they need something really aggressive in Europe." A Bloomberg article ran on November 18 under the headline "Abe's $1 Trillion Gift to Stock Market Shields Recession Gloom." So according to Bloomberg, Abenomics is not responsible for the country's fall back into recession, which hurts everyone, but it is responsible for the surging stock market, which primarily benefits the wealthy.

 

One wonders how much more bad news must come out of the Japanese experiment in mega-stimulus before the Keynesians reassess their assumptions? Oh wait...I'm sorry, for a second there I thought they were susceptible to logic. But those who are not blinded by left-wing dogma should take a good look at where the road of permanent stimulus ultimately leads.

 

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube



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Contemplating Stocks without QE
Posted by Peter Schiff on 11/13/2014 at 11:32 AM
Some influences on the stock market are casual, subtle or open to interpretation, but the catalyst behind the current stock market rally really shouldn't be controversial. As far as stocks go, we have lived by QE. The only question now is, whether we will die without it. A larger version of this article appears in the fall edition of Euro Pacific Capital's Global Investor newsletter. 
 
Since the financial crisis of 2008 stock prices have only risen when the Fed is either expanding its balance sheet, hinting that it is about to do so, or actively recycling assets to hold down long term interest rates. Absent any of these aggressive moves, stocks have shown a clear tendency to fall. Curiously, while most investors now believe that QE is in the past, few would argue that the bull market is in danger. But a quick look at how much influence the Fed's operations have had on market performance should send a chill down Wall Street. The Chart below should speak for itself:
 ALL ABOUT QE

Created by EPC using data from the Federal Reserve and Bloomberg
 
When the markets crashed in the fall of 2008, the Fed announced QE1, a plan to purchase $600 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and agency debt, which was later expanded in March 2009 by another $750 billion. QE1 expanded the Fed's balance by 247%, to $1.43 trillion. Over that time, the S&P 500 put in a rally of 71%.
 
But from April to November 2010with QE on hiatus and the Fed's balance sheet hardly expanding, stocks declined by about 11%. But when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke strongly hinted in August 2010 that the Fed was ready to launch another round of QE, the markets rallied 18% in five months. By the time QE2 ran its course, the Fed' balance sheet had swelled by 29.4%, and the S&P 500 had rallied about 25%.
 
But when the curtain came down on QE2, and Wall Street had no hints that an encore was imminent, the S&P 500 put in a wicked 16% sell-off between July and August 19. So on September 21, 2011, Bernanke announced the implementation of "Operation Twist," authorizing the purchase of $400 billion of long term Treasury bonds financed by the sales of shorter term bonds, thereby extending the average maturity of the Fed's portfolio and lowering long term interest rates. It was hoped that Twist would offer the benefits of QE without expanding the Fed's balance sheet. 
 
Once again the markets responded, rallying about 25% from the end of September 2011 to the end of April 2012. But when Operation Twist stopped twisting, another sell-off predictably ensued. From April 27, 2012 to June 1, 2012, the S&P dropped 9%. So on June 20, 2012 the Fed extended Twist to the end of 2012, which sparked a summer rally that helped stocks regain all the losses from earlier in the year. But by September the rally slowed and another fall threatened. Perhaps the twisting wasn't enough?
 
At this point I believe the Fed finally understood: No stimulus, no rally. And so on September 13, 2012, the Fed announced QE3, an open-ended commitment to purchase $40 billion agency mortgage-backed securities per month. This eliminated the need for embarrassing QE re-launches every time the markets or the economy stalled. But the $40 billion monthly rate was apparently not enough to move stocks. From the time of the announcement to the end of 2012, the S&P declined about 2.3%. So then on December 12, 2012 the Fed doubled the size of QE3 to $85 billion per month. The rest is history.
 
Since the launch of QE3, the U.S. has seen lackluster economic performance, a deteriorating geo-political landscape, and, somewhat incongruously, a nearly relentless stock market rally. By the time that QE3 ran its course last month the Fed's balance sheet had expanded by another 63% (to $4.2 billion) and the S&P 500 had surged 36%. 
 
Although the rally in stocks continued during the taper of QE, the rate of increase slowed along with the rate of balance sheet expansion. Full throttled $85 billion per month QE persisted from September 2012 to December 2013. During that time, stocks rallied about 26%, and the Fed's balance sheet grew by 45% to $3.7 trillion. Since the taper began (to the end of the program in October), however, the Fed's balance sheet has grown just 12% (through October 22, 2014), with the S&P 500 virtually matching that with a 12% increase. Very neat correlation.
 
But now that QE is apparently a thing of the past, it is alarming how little anxiety has been sown on Wall Street. To be bullish on stocks now, one must completely ignore not only the role QE played in driving up stock prices over the past six years, but discount any negative effects that a reduction of the Fed's balance sheet could create. Most economists recognize that to normalize policy the Fed must reduce the amount of securities it holds. Logical analysis should lead you to believe that stocks would not fare well.
 
But this does not mean I predict a crash in stocks. I simply expect, as no one else seems to, that the Fed will go back to the well as soon as the markets scream loud enough for support. At that point, it should become clear to everyone that there is no exit from the era of QE and that there is nothing normal or organic about the current rally.
 
It's also possible that the Fed will re-launch QE even if stocks don't fall. That's because low inflation is conveniently emerging as its biggest fear. However, in another article in my newsletter, I show that this concern is a recent development designed to prepare the country for more stimulus, even if the stock market says we don't need it.
 

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube



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It's The Economy, and They're Not Stupid
Posted by Peter Schiff on 11/06/2014 at 12:49 PM
The sharp rebuke to the Obama administration delivered by the mid-term elections should not be construed as an endorsement of the GOP, which remains as unpopular as ever. Rather, as has been the case in the last few election cycles, voter revolts have hinged on continued dissatisfaction with the strength of the economy and the diminishing financial prospects of ordinary citizens. Given the apparent improvements in the economy, this fact continues to baffle the media which have concluded that Democrats simply failed to effectively communicate the successes that the Administration has achieved. Fortune Magazine offered a more complex conclusion that we have a good economy, but it's just not the kind that benefits the middle class. I believe the truth is far simpler: Voters are dissatisfied with the economy because it is bad and getting worse. Although this unpleasant reality can be masked by economic doublespeak and government accounting gimmicks, the truth comes out in the ballot box. 
 
According to voter exit polls conducted by CNN, 78% said they are worried about the economy, with 69% saying that, in their view, economic conditions are not good. 65% responded that the country is on the wrong track vs. only 31% who believed that it is headed in the right direction. Why should this be so if, as we have been told repeatedly, the economy is accelerating after five straight years of economic growth? After all, during the post war years, we have experienced recession on average, every seven years, and it has been almost that much time since our last recession. Unemployment has fallen all the way back down to pre-recession levels, the stock market is soaring to record heights regularly, the dollar is surging, the deficit is down by more than half in the last four years (to just a half a trillion) energy prices are falling, and the real estate market has had a great run over the last four years. So what's with the doom and gloom? Shouldn't we be satisfied? 
 
I have been saying for years that the "recovery" is largely an illusion created by the effects of zero percent interest rates, quantitative easing, and deficit spending. The asset bubbles that have been created as a result of these policies have primarily benefited the owners of stocks, bonds, and real estate (the rich), while simultaneously deterring the savings and capital investment that is needed to actually create good paying jobs and increased purchasing power for Johnny and Sally Sixpack. So as the Dow churns higher, and the cheerleaders on CNBC try to outshine one another on their economic enthusiasm, the mood on Main Street continues to sour. (see my article about how QE has juiced the financial markets, in the latest edition of my Global Investor newsletter.)
 
So which is it? Are the rank and file too stubborn, or too ill-informed, to understand that the economy is actually improving, or are they right, and it actually isn't. Very few people are making the latter determination. Instead they have held up other fears, in the form of border security, Ebola, or Obamacare, to explain the drubbing of Democrats in this election as merely a referendum on the President. But the exit polls make clear that those dogs won't hunt.
 
As the effects of quantitative easing begin to wane, the economy will slow down, as it already clearly has over the last few months, and stock and real estate prices will flatten out, and ultimately fall (see the article in my latest newsletter on the dependency of stock prices on stock prices). At that point, the call to do something big will return, and few should doubt that the historically dovish Fed and Federal Government (no matter who is in charge) will deliver fresh doses of fiscal and monetary stimulus. But we must be aware that these cures have not helped in the past, and they will not help in the future. In fact, they are the primary reason why the economy has not become healthy enough to increase voter satisfaction. The stimulus acts more like a sedative that has preserved an unhealthy debt-fueled, asset-bubble economic model and has prevented a healthier, more self-sustaining economy from rising in its place.
 
Instead of recognizing this phony economy for what it is, economists have instead conjectured that we have passed into an age of "secular stagnation." They have produced models that say we simply are incapable of growing at levels that we have in the past, and that citizens have to come to grips with lowered expectations. They cite a variety of ridiculous reasons why this is so: The impact of technology, the rise of the emerging markets, the glut of savings, persistent deflationary forces, etc. But there is nothing new under the sun. Human beings haven't changed, and neither have the laws of economics. There is no natural reason why our society has lost the capacity to grow. Instead, we have simply chosen to perpetuate a broken system because we refuse to suffer through the withdrawal symptoms that will surely accompany a change in course.
 
In a recent Investment Outlook piece that was heavy on philosophy, Bill Gross, the "bond guru" formerly of Pimco and now of Janus, made a similar conclusion. Although he acknowledges the inherent weaknesses and flaws in the stimulus-based economy, he concludes that there are simply no alternatives because we are addicted, and we will not be able to find the political will to suffer through a change. He may be right. But the first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging that one exists. The voters are trying to tell us that. Too bad no one is listening. 
 
And while Republicans may now be basking in their good fortune, they would be wise to keep the celebrations in check. The same problems that angered voters today will still be in place two years from now, only by then, they will likely be worse. Republican majority in both houses will firmly affix targets on their backs, and will invite the kind of backlash that was recently directed at Democrats.
 

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube



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Governments Need Inflation, Economies Don't
Posted by Peter Schiff on 10/15/2014 at 11:06 AM
In an article in the UK's Telegraph on October 10, veteran economic correspondent Ambrose Evans-Pritchard laid bare the essential truth of the nearly universal current embrace of inflation as an economic panacea. While politicians, CEOs and economists talk about demand stimulus and the avoidance of a deflationary trap, Evans-Pritchard reminds us that inflation is all, and always, about debt management.
 
Every year the levels of government debt as a percentage of GDP, for both emerging market and developed economies, continue to go higher and higher. As the ratios push out into uncharted territories, particularly in Europe's southern tier, the ability to "inflate away" debt through monetization remains the only means available to postpone default. Evans-Pritchard quotes a Bank of America analyst as saying that even "low inflation" (not to mention actual deflation) is the "biggest threat to the dynamics of public debt." IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde ramped up the rhetoric further when she recently told the Washington Press Club that "deflation is the ogre that must be fought decisively." In other words, governments need inflation to remain viable. It's the drug they just can't do without.  
 
But as this simple truth is just too embarrassing to admit, politicians and central bankers (and their academic, journalistic, and financial apologists) have concocted a variety of tortured theories as to why inflation is not just good for overly indebted governments, but an essential economic good for all. In a propaganda victory that even Goebbels would envy, it is now widely accepted that purchasing power must decrease for an economy to grow.
 
Despite centuries of economic evidence to the contrary,they argue that if prices do not rise by at least 2% per year consumers will not spend, business will not hire, and economies will slip into an intractable deflationary death spiral. To prevent this, they recommend governments spend without raising taxes. Not only would such a move involve a direct stimulus by increased government spending, but the money printed by the central bank to finance the deficit will push up prices, which they argue is very healthy for the economy. As the Church Lady used to say, "How convenient."
 
Offering voters something for nothing is the Holy Grail of politics. But as a matter of reality, voters should know that a free lunch always comes with a cost. This isn't even economics, its physics.
 
When increased government spending is paid for with higher taxes, workers notice that their paychecks have been reduced. This provides clear evidence that government spending comes with a cost. But this bright line is much more difficult to see when the spending is paid for by inflation (printing money). But the net impact on consumers is the same.  
 
Inflation does not reduce the nominal amount of one's paycheck. But rising prices reduce the amount of goods and services it can buy. So when governments run deficits, workers will be stuck with the bill. Whether they pay though higher taxes or inflation, their standard of living will be diminished. The main difference is that workers know to blame government for higher taxes, which explains why politicians prefer inflation.
 
To give cover to this tendency, economists have come up with the bizarre concept that falling, or even stable, prices squelch demand and deter consumption. The idea is that if consumers know that something will cost less in the future (even if it's just 2% less) they will defer their purchases indefinitely, perhaps waiting for the cost of their desired product or service to approach zero. They argue that this can push an economy into a deflationary spiral of falling prices and diminished demand which may be impossible to escape.
 
But this idea ignores the time value of a product or service (people will tend to pay more for something they can enjoy sooner rather than later) and the economic law that shows how demand goes up as the price falls. But common sense has absolutely nothing to do with the current practice of economics. Instead, the dominant argument is that inflation is needed to seed the economy with demand.  
 
However, this argument is merely a smoke screen. The only thing that inflation can do is to help governments spend. Economies do just fine with low inflation. In fact during the late 19th century, in the Great Sag, the United States experienced sustained deflation while creating much faster economic growth than we have seen in the last few generations. As recently as during the early 1960s the U.S. experienced consistently low inflation (barely 2%) and strong economic growth based on government figures. But in their call for more inflation, modern economists tend to forget or downplay those periods.
 
But inflation is actually more economically harmful than taxation. By blurring the link between higher government spending and reduced purchasing power, the public is less likely to oppose government expansion. And therein lies the truth. Inflation is not needed to grow economies but to grow governments.
 
The problem is particularly acute in Europe where countries of radically different fiscal characteristics have been locked into a politically unworkable monetary union. On one side are countries like Italy, Spain, and France whose governments have been notorious for offering generous benefits for which they can't pay. Before adopting the euro, these countries had currencies that were not known for their bankability. Germany, on the other hand, had built its reputation on balanced budgets and a strong Deutsche Mark. But given the strict monetary restrictions that were needed to grease the skids toward union, the European Central Bank has not been able to create inflation as freely as the U.S. or Japan. As a result, the debt crisis there has been placed in particularly sharp focus, as the problem is perceived to be much larger than in other developed countries that can print at will.
 
The calls for more inflation in Europe should be raising hackles on the streets of the Continent. But Keynesian economists have provided cover for politicians for years, and true to form, they have again risen to the occasion. While it is understandable that governments are motivated to champion inflation, it is harder to see why professional economists are similarly inspired. Perhaps they believe modern economics has the magic ability to create something from nothing. But the idea that a properly applied macroeconomic formula can somehow circumvent the laws of supply and demand is ludicrous and dangerous.
 
Of course, the idea that governments can hold inflation to just 2% per annum is preposterous. Once it breaches that level, governments will be powerless to contain it. The endgame will be hyperinflation. That is because escalating levels of debt will prevent them from raising interest rates high enough to break the inflationary spiral. The last time that inflation really got out of hand was back in the early 1980s when a boldly inspired Federal Reserve was able to put the genie back in the bottle by hiking interest rates all the way up to 18%. The economy not only survived that harsh medicine, but it prospered as a result. Does anyone seriously believe that we could survive even a quarter of that dosage today?
 
Since the central banks are now destined to forever remain behind the inflation curve, it will continue to accelerate until the real threat of hyperinflation looms much larger than did the contrived threat of deflation.

Best Selling author Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital. His podcasts are available on The Peter Schiff Channel on Youtube

Catch Peter's latest thoughts on the U.S. and International markets in the Euro Pacific Capital Summer 2014 Global Investor Newsletter!

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The Sound Money Business: Four Years Past and Future Forecast
Posted by Peter Schiff on 10/03/2014 at 12:53 PM
Yesterday, I launched a new website and announced the rebranding of my gold bullion dealer from Euro Pacific Precious Metals to SchiffGold. I started this company four years ago to provide a trustworthy option for my Euro Pacific Capital brokerage clients, but it has since grown to become a major US gold dealer in its own right. This landmark for my company comes in the midst of a historic time for the precious metals. The past four years have had highs and lows. We have been experiencing the inflation of remarkable new asset bubbles, and gold’s response has been mixed. But I have reason to believe that over the next four years, gold and silver investors will witness shocking macroeconomic events that put to rest any doubts about the importance of having sound money in every portfolio.

Short-Term Memory Lane

It’s hard to believe that when I started my gold company in the summer of 2010, the Federal Reserve was already finishing its first round of quantitative easing (QE1). Yet even that massive inflationary program was not enough to paper over the fallout from the credit crisis of ’07-’08. Because the economy did not “return to normal,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had his excuse to begin a second round of QE just a few months later.

The government had already started the circular narrative that confuses the markets to this day: “The economy is in genuine recovery, but it still requires ongoing emergency stimulus from the Fed.” 

The announcement of QE2 spurred many of our initial customers to make substantial purchases of gold and silver. The rest of the market soon caught up. In the year following QE2, gold rocketed to its current record-holding high of just over $1900. 

As QE2 ended, “Operation Twist” began, and before long QE3 was introduced. In order to prevent their currencies from appreciating against a now increasingly worthless US dollar, nations around the world joined the money-printing party. These foreign governments wrongly believed that they were dependent on exporting their goods to the US for dollars, when in fact stronger currencies would have allowed them to keep the fruits of their labor to enjoy at home. This has developed into the ongoing international “currency war,” in which countries are racing to see which can impoverish their citizens fastest. 

The currency war has been a boon to the US dollar, which has appeared fairly stable relative to other currencies. However, just because you and a fellow skydiver both fall in tandem doesn’t change the fact that you’re both headed toward the ground. Short-sighted speculators have ignored this reality, and the precious metals have taken an undeserved beating.

What the Future Holds

QE3 has been winding down throughout 2014, and investors are eagerly awaiting news of a rate hike from the Fed. After all, if the economy is as healthy as the government claims, we should no longer be in need of these multiyear emergency measures.

Unfortunately, the Fed's zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP) is the very thing making the economy appear healthy. It has boosted stocks and financed corporate acquisitions. It has also allowed the federal government to continue operating under a crushing debt load. Even a rise in rates to historically average levels could very well bankrupt the federal government and many of America’s remaining industrial giants.

Neither Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen nor Washington want to bear responsibility for the painful process of raising rates. Instead, I have long forecast that the Fed will follow QE3 with QE4, and so on. After all, each round of QE is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline, it only makes our economic problems burn hotter.

Meanwhile, our creditors will continue to make careful moves to extricate themselves from the US dollar reserve system, like China’s recent currency swap deals with other emerging markets or its rapid liberalization of domestic gold markets.

This means that a stagnant job market and poorly disguised inflation is the “new normal” for Americans. Forget about sending the kids to college – it’s going to be a struggle for many families just to make ends meet. Those who don’t own gold and silver will see their dollar savings and quality of life diminish at a faster and faster rate.

Helping You Turn Paper Into Gold

My new motto for SchiffGold is “Helping you turn paper into gold.” This has been our mission for the last four years, and it will only gain urgency in the next four. 

While the precious metals may have seemed like they were riding a roller coaster recently, serious investors must learn to see past the short-term noise to understand the important fundamental signals. By all accounts, the global dollar reserve system is in its death throes. At the first major crack, we are likely to see the biggest gold rally the world has ever seen. At that point, it will matter less whether you bought in at $600, $1200, or $1900, because those prices will all seem so cheap as to be quaint. Remember $1.20 a gallon gas? That wasn’t too long ago, and yet we know that we’ll never see that price at the pump again.

SchiffGold will continue to help customers redeem as many paper dollars as possible for physical gold and silver – trading a devaluing asset for one that has been on a 12-year uptrend. I am proud of how my gold company has weathered the storm of overwhelming negative sentiment towards precious metals. While doubters abandoned ship, we were the first to introduce innovative new products that increased investor liquidity, like the 
Valcambi CombiBar and the Silver Barter Bag. When others laid off brokers, we were training passionate new specialists in the intricacies of precious metals investing. The result is that, as I understand it, we have the most loyal customer base of any US gold dealer.

We’ve managed to accomplish this without resorting to selling the high-margin products that make up the bulk of many major dealers’ revenue. Soon after forming my company in response to these widespread shady dealings, we launched the 
Classic Gold Scams educational campaign. In the years since, we have exposed nearly every scam and ripoff imaginable. More recently, several unscrupulous dealers have come under investigation and closed their doors. 

The years spent growing my gold company from scratch have been exciting, but our greatest work has yet to be done. Our mission will continue as long as the US government remains committed to obliterating the value of the dollar, and investors seek out an honest guide to safety.

 

Peter Schiff  is Chairman of gold bullion dealer SchiffGold and CEO of stock brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital. Schiff became internationally known by successfully forecasting the collapse of the dot-com bubble, the US housing market bubble, and the bankruptcy of major global banks. He is also the author of several bestselling books, including "Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse”released in 2007 before the financial crisis struck, and the more recent “How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes” and “The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy". Follow his latest thoughts at Peter Schiff's Gold News.

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