Traders stampeded out of gold, emerging markets and bonds last month, setting record monthly outflows in June. Ever since the Federal Reserve hinted in May that signs of a stronger economy could allow for a slowdown of stimulus, markets have protested the news.
Gold has been hit hard by the tapering talk and resultant rising interest rates and liquidity drain, falling below $1,200 last week for the first time since August 2010. We're also seeing India, the world's biggest gold buyer, trying to stifle gold demand. As the government seeks to reduce its record current account deficit, it has hiked import tariffs on gold to 8 percent and introduced new constraints on rural lending against gold jewelry and coins.
Ross Norman, CEO of bullion broker Sharps Pixley, said, "It's almost as if the finance ministry is waging war on the gold sector, which would suggest that they feel they have lost control of the economy to some extent. In that environment, you would want to own gold more than ever."
Other factors fueling the liquidation were the raising of margin requirements on gold by the CME Group, the largest operator of futures exchanges in the U.S., and global liquidity concerns in the U.S. and China.
When the country with the largest GDP in the world and the country with the largest population on earth have liquidity concerns, traders run from stocks, bonds and gold, and head to cash. Even though gold traders have pulled out of their financial investments, there has been a surge in physical gold buying and central bankers have maintained their positions.
Top 5 Choices for the Next Fed Chief Leave Much to Be Desired
After President Barack Obama all but fired U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a recent television interview, everyone's been trying to figure out who the president will name as the next Fed chief next year.
Of course, Money Morning has long been critical of the Bernanke-led Fed, and in particular its easy money policies of recent years -- namely its zero interest rates and waves of quantitative easing (QE) that have added trillions to the Fed's balance sheet.
That debt, the asset bubbles it has created and the Fed's too-cozy relationship with the Big Banks, has prompted the experts at Money Morning to question whether the Federal Reserve should exist at all.
"I believe the Fed is outmoded and should be disbanded," said Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald, who recently wrote about whether the Fed is necessary. "It's a financial body that has outlived its usefulness and is merely causing us to lurch from crisis to crisis. Barring any change in the notion of what it's there to do, get rid of it."
Still, for the time being, we're stuck with the Federal Reserve. And the next Fed chief - whoever President Obama appoints in January -- will be setting monetary policy for at least the next four years.
One thing's for sure: Anyone who dislikes how Bernanke has run the central bank probably won't be happy with the next Fed chairman either.
As confounding as it seems now, it was not the liberal Democrat President Obama, but Republican President George W. Bush who first appointed Bernanke to head the Federal Reserve in 2006.
That Obama re-appointed Bernanke in 2010 made sense, as they share a similar Keynesian economic philosophy. That is, they both think the best way to help a weak economy is through massive government spending no matter how much debt piles up.
So while Bernanke may be on his way out the door, you can bet that whoever President Obama chooses as the next Fed chief will be just as much of a Keynesian as Bernanke has been - and maybe more so.
Heaven help us.
The Fed Or the Fundamentals? What's Behind Stock Market Moves?
What's driving the stock market - the Fed or company fundamentals?
The answer, of course, depends whom you ask.
Has most or all of the growth in the market over the past few years been due to the Fed's massive QE easy money stimulus?
Or is it fundamentals like earnings per share and the price/earnings ratio?
We asked three experts to weigh in: Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald, Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani and Brian Wesbury, the chief economist at First Trust Advisors.
Here's their take.
Different Fed Chairman, Same Bad Monetary Policy in 2014
One of these economic alchemists may likely assume the job of Ben Bernanke. If so, pray for us.
Last week, President Obama indicated that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will likely step down in January when his term ends. After taking office in 2006 under then-President George W. Bush, Bernanke has facilitated the greatest economic transfer of wealth from America's grandchildren to banks and foreign nations in the name of sustaining the Keynesian vision of the economic stimulus.
But with Bernanke's departure, it is unclear just who will take the reins of the Federal Reserve, and what policies they will seek to maintain or discard five years after the height of the financial crisis.
Here are the five top contenders that we expect to make Obama's shortlist for next Fed Chairman. And each one of them should give us a great deal of concern due to their commitment to the same tired economic theory and policies that they are convinced will eventually work if we just keep doubling down.
Federal Reserve FOMC Meeting Schedule 2013-2014
As a service to Money Morning readers, we are providing the Federal Reserve FOMC meeting schedule.
The U.S. Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is a 12-member board within the Federal Reserve system that meets eight times a year to set policy.
In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings, the FOMC can call other meetings as needed. The minutes of a regularly scheduled FOMC meeting are released three weeks after the date of the policy decision.
What's So "Open" About the Federal Open Market Committee?
Don't you just love how some things are named?
Like the Federal Reserve System, for instance. It's a central bank that was conceived in the private study of a private hunting lodge on a private island by a bunch of private bankers who didn't want to use the word "bank" in its name to fool taxpayers who thought it was a "system" to safeguard the public... from the very bankers who conceived it.
I don't know about you, but the feeling of safety I have is just overwhelming... NOT.
Then there's the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). That's a committee of top plotters that meets in private to discuss what's going on in "free" markets so they can figure out how to manipulate them.
The Open Market Committee, or the Old Boys Club (they have a woman on the committee, but she's just a token "dove" who plays "Follow the Beard"), meets today and Wednesday to check on how their manipulations have stopped unruly free markets from sinking the banks that secretly run the Fed (you know it's not a secret, but there are a whole lot of taxpayers who don't).
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8 Reasons Your Dollar Doesn't Go As Far As it Did 10 Years Ago
Patients' hospital expenses have nearly doubled in the past decade. So, too, has the price of college textbooks. And gas prices have more than doubled, while prices of fuel oil and other fuels for home use have climbed a whopping 145%.
It's been a tough decade on the wallet, thanks to inflation.
The figures are based on a Yahoo! Finance analysis of items and services tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index.
And the CPI, of course, is based on government stats which, as Money Morning has reported, routinely understate inflation.
Here are 8 reasons why inflation is pinching you, no matter what the Fed says about low inflation:
Bill Gross: Why QE Will End Before the Fed Wants It To
Legendary bond guru Bill Gross doesn't think too highly of the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke's monetary policies.
"There comes a point when no matter how much blood is being pumped through the system as it is now, with zero-based policy rates and global quantitative easing programs, that the blood itself may become anemic, oxygen-starved, or even leukemic, with white blood cells destroying more productive red cell counterparts," Gross writes in his June investment outlook titled Wounded Heart.
Gross believes that QE, which he describes akin to a bad dose of chemotherapy, will end later this year but not because of a suddenly strengthening economy.
Do We Really Need the Federal Reserve System?
Abolishing the Federal Reserve System might seem like a drastic idea, but not when you get the full story...
You see, Congress created the U.S. Federal Reserve System to restore public confidence, provide the banking system a source of liquidity that would prevent its collapse and protect the public against inflation.
A century later, the banking system is so big its risks dwarf the Fed's liquidity capacity, and what cost a buck back then now will set you back $21.
That's why we asked Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald to explain how the Federal Reserve System actually helps a country's economy.
Most importantly, we wanted to know if the United States - or any country - even needs the Fed anymore.
Why Ben Bernanke's Market Manipulation is So Brilliant
Nothing lasts forever, apparently not even quantitative easing.
On Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke threatened to take away the massive punch bowl that's been spiked with easy money juice.
There's no set timetable, but maybe there is. It's hard to interpret Fedspeak.
So maybe they'll start paring back their $85 billion a month buying spree, or maybe they'll jack it up, which is what Benny said only a few sessions ago.
What the heck is he doing? What are they doing? And who are "they" anyway?
Here's the deal...
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