By The 2016 Election Gold Could Be $3700 an Ounce
It's now two years and two billion dollars later...
And in many ways, we're right back where we started with the same President, and a house divided.
For investors, all the uncertainty this situation brings to the fiscal cliff and its impending tax increases and spending cuts are likely to fuel plenty of volatility for the next several months.
Yesterday's almost 300 point drop on the Dow and a 7% pop in the VIX are good examples of this.
We can also expect Ben Bernanke to be in place until at least early 2014. The only change I expect from the Fed now is more frequent and still larger easing campaigns, as well as potentially extending low rates, again, beyond mid-2015. Even if Bernanke is replaced, I expect only more of the same seriously misguided policies.
In fact, just yesterday San Francisco Fed President John Williams hinted that the most recent QE3 bond buying program could well exceed $600 billion.
So what does all of this mean to investors in hard assets--particularly those with holdings in gold and silver?
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The Secret Return to the "Gold Standard"
Although it happened more than 40 years ago, many Americans still rue the day back in 1971 when U.S. President Richard M. Nixon effectively took this country off the so-called "gold standard."
Under a true gold standard, paper notes are "convertible" into pre-determined, fixed quantities of the "yellow metal."
What actually happened back in 1971 was that President Nixon - facing huge budget and trade deficits, and a plunging dollar - enacted a series of economic moves, including the unilateral cancellation of the direct convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold.
By slamming the "gold window" shut, Nixon also brought down the curtain on the existing Bretton Woods system of global financial exchange.
The fallout was immediate, creating a situation that financial historians still refer to as the "Nixon Shock."
Proponents of the gold standard say the real damage is still being wrought: That decision four decades ago led directly to the uncertainty, volatility and irresponsibility that we see in the U.S. economy and global financial markets today.
Whether you agree or not is a topic for another time.
But what I'm here to tell you today is that the world's central banks have quietly - almost secretly - returned the world to a new version of the gold standard.
Back in 2010, the world's central banks became net buyers of gold for the first time since 1988. Buying ramped last year and net purchases exceeded 455 metric tons (tonnes). That was the largest net purchase since 1964.
But the world's central bankers will handily eclipse the 2011 totals here in 2012: They will purchase a projected 493 metric tons this year as they expand reserves to diversify away from the U.S. dollar and protect their countries' economies against inflation, Thomson Reuters GFMS said.
And GFMS said you can expect central banks "to remain a significant gold buyer for some time to come."
Real Asset Returns Editor Peter Krauth told me he completely agrees with that assessment.
As Peter explained: "You can see their thinking, Bill ... you can see them saying: "We have enough of all these fiat currencies in our bank reserves - now we want something that's going to counter those holdings, that's a valuable asset and that has all the right fundamentals in place.' And that asset is gold."
We're seeing the results of this "new gold standard" in the marketplace...
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Gold Bugs Love It, But a New Gold Standard is Just a Dream –For Now
Thanks largely to Ron Paul, the Republicans have suddenly become enamored of gold.
And why not?...It is real money.
These newly-born gold bugs have even gone so far as to include a call for a commission to examine a return to the gold standard in the party platform.
Needless to say, we've come a long way since President Richard Nixon "closed the gold window" in 1971. Forty-one years, and a few financial disasters later, the debate has begun anew.
But it begs the question: How would the gold standard work?
What's more, what would the economic implications be, and is it likely to happen or is it all just a gold bug's dream?
In ancient and medieval times the answers were quite a bit more simple. Since there was no real banking system, there was also no argument.
Kings coined money with gold, silver, or copper, and the people accepted the money at a price based on its metal content. The idea of taking paper instead would have been thought of as sheer madness.
Only in China, an isolated and stable society, was paper money used during the Song Dynasty of the 10th through 13th centuries, but even there the Mongol invasion and fall of the Song regime caused the paper money system to collapse.
Paper money backed by gold only became possible once modern banking got going in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In fact, the British Gold Standard was devised in 1717 by no less than Isaac Newton, then Master of the Mint. Other countries soon joined Britain in linking their currencies to gold, including the United States from 1878 until its abandonment in 1933.
Of course, countries claimed to be on a gold standard under the Bretton Woods Agreement from 1944-71, but gold was only exchangeable between governments. Indeed, holding gold was prohibited in the U.S. for private individuals.
But inevitably, the Bretton Woods monetary system itself became manipulated and collapsed in inflation.
That brings us to today....
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Gold Prices Rise as All Signs Point to More Stimulus
Gold prices were on the rise again today (Wednesday) as the market digests the recent spate of global economic data that could warrant more stimulus measures - and send metals prices soaring.
China reported last Friday that its July consumer price index (CPI) rose to 1.8% from the previous year, representing its lowest jump since January 2010. Industrial production declined to 9.2% from June's 9.5% thanks to slowing growth in heavy industrial production. Retail sales fell to 13.1% from June's 13.7%.
There's more: July exports increased 1% from the previous year, while imports rose 4.7%, exemplifying a weak external demand, but also a slowdown in Chinese investment.
As if this wasn't enough news to fuel a little action in the gold markets, Japan continued the trend on Monday with news that its economic growth in the second quarter had slowed down more than anticipated.
Also triggering stimulus speculation was news out of Europe that the Eurozone's economies contracted in the second quarter. The European Union's statistics office said yesterday (Tuesday) that six countries were in recessions.
"It looks like the gold market will continue to be held up by the sentiment of expected central-bank stimulation," Marex Spectron Group said in a report Tuesday. "The downside risk is limited."
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