The news is great at telling us what's happening. But knowing what's happening is a lot different than understanding what happened - and that's what makes the difference between an average investor and truly great investors.
Gold's crash Monday is a perfect example. The media was falling all over itself as one pundit after the other came on TV to talk about how gold was falling and how far off its highs it was. Few tied the devastating slide to real economic events -- let alone made the connection to actual trading.
But that's my bread and butter. Today I'm going to tell you what really happened and why - from a market insider's perspective. Then I'm going to tell you what to expect next and, most importantly, how you can use the situation to your advantage.
There are three fundamental things going on - all of which are at a very high level and all of which are completely transparent to most investors:
Investing in Gold: Here's What to Do Now
Gold prices tumbled $140.40, or 9.4%, to $1360.60 an ounce. This brought the two-day decline to $203.70, or 13%.
- The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes that came out last week suggested the central bank may start scaling back its monetary stimulus measures later this year, reducing inflationary pressures.
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) last week cut its 2013 average gold forecast, for the second time, to $1,545 from $1,610. Investors like to dump the metal after the release of bearish research.
- There have been rumors financially strapped Cyprus was selling 400 million euros of gold, 75% of its reserves to raise cash.
Gold prices ended the drastic two-day decline Tuesday, up nearly 2% to $1,387.40.
Every Gold Coin Has Two Sides
Just as every coin has two sides, every data point that doesn't meet expectations usually has an upside somewhere.
For instance, although gold prices have fallen with the strengthening U.S. dollar, the yellow metal is appreciating in Japanese yen. So when negative news about the economy came out this week, along with the U.S. Labor Department reporting that the country added only 88,000 jobs in March, investors found reasons to be encouraged.
For one, the Federal Reserve is apt to maintain its stimulative easing course and keep interest rates low.
In Gold, Not Cyprus, We Trust
Global investors had to muster the courage to keep calm as news of Cyprus' proposed partial theft of all bank deposits took Wall Street by surprise, closed the country's banks and drove the gold prices higher.
The thoughtless idea was intended to capture a portion of the $31 billion in bank assets held by Russians. According to the Financial Times, Cyprus has developed a "well-earned reputation for being a haven for dirty money from Russia."
Although Cyprus' government came to its senses and blocked the proposed seizure, the damage has been done. To many people around the world, raising income taxes may be one thing, but changing the rules to steal hard-earned savings from all citizens rattles their confidence. What Adrian Ash of BullionVault says is "most amazing" about this situation is that "small savers are no longer sacred."
It's remarkable to see the response from Cypriots, as they protested in the streets, with "NO" stamped on their palms, demanding the government take its hands off their money. It's refreshing to see their pushback to sanity.
How did this tiny island make it into the European Union (EU) in the first place? The Financial Times gave an insightful background:
"Many EU leaders had been deeply reluctant to admit Cyprus into the union in 2004, without a peace settlement that reunified the island. But Greece had threatened to veto the entire enlargement of the EU - blocking Poland, the Czech Republic and the rest - unless Cyprus was admitted. Reluctantly, EU leaders succumbed to this act of blackmail."
As Cyprus Struggles, Now Is the Time to Buy Gold
I'll bet a few Cypriot bank account holders are paying much closer attention to gold now.
Since the announcement that Cyprus was looking to confiscate up to 10% of bank deposits, gold has risen by up to $24/ounce on safe haven demand.
After all, gold is real wealth, and it's the only asset that's not simultaneously someone else's liability.
Central bankers, even in the West, know this too. As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan once said:
"Gold is the canary in the coal mine. It signals problems with respect to currency markets. Central banks should pay attention to it."
I just hope the irony of that message -- and its messenger -- aren't lost on you.
As for Cyprus, this ongoing crisis has it all. Along with gold, there's debt, energy, intrigue and a long storied history...