Silver prices have been sideways this week, cooling off from a mid-June rally sparked by inflation-minded investors wary of the U.S. Federal Reserve's dovish talk.
The two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting wrapped up today (Wednesday) with the U.S. Federal Reserve revising down its previously more optimistic economic growth forecasts, and reinforcing expectations that interest rates will climb faster than what was previously anticipated.
Gold, silver, and the FOMC meeting today: Precious metal prices were fairly steady Wednesday morning awaiting the typically market-moving statement from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting today. The spot gold price was last trading down $0.90 at $1,271.50. July silver prices were last quoted up $0.003 at $19.735 an ounce.
Over the last several years, investors have shown a keen interest in shiny assets as the U.S. Federal Reserve liberally printed money and distrust in dollars grew. But that interest has waned as the Fed slows its bond buying.
Top financial news today, June 18, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose marginally on Tuesday despite a swath of disappointing data, including higher inflation and poor housing numbers. Wednesday is gearing up to be one of the busiest news days in recent months for the financial markets.
Official measures of inflation tell a very different story from the reality facing consumers as they shop for groceries, gasoline, insurance, healthcare, and other everyday goods.
In the real world away from government statistics, product prices continue to rise at an inexorable rate.
Asset prices also continue to rise, particularly the prices of financial assets such as stocks and bonds as well as high-end real estate and art.
While there remain pockets of weakness in the housing markets, the prices of homes have also resumed their upward trajectory after crashing during the financial crisis.
So the question remains: If the prices of just about everything are rising, why is the government telling us that inflation is so low? Full Story
If you're like most Americans, you're being eaten alive by zooming food prices.
Thanks to a three-year drought in California - the state that accounts for between 85% and 99% of most of this country's fresh produce - every trip to the supermarket has turned into a financial flogging for U.S. consumers. In fact, vegetable prices have jumped 50% in the past month alone.
Here's a story about a bank that failed, got rescued, was resuscitated, and made its private equity investors more than 100% on their money, all the while costing the FDIC around $5.9 billion.
It's not a story about a failed bank... although it is.
It's not a story about how smart the bank's private equity "rescuers" were... although it is.
It's not a story about how the FDIC is such a great savior of banks.
Or that that moral hazard exists manifestly because the FDIC is a tool (not as in a tool used to fix something) that lets banks run hog-wild... although it is.
This is a story about how nothing has changed and why another bank crisis is coming... Full Story
From the Editor: We've been tracking this threat for years, ever since Keith Fitz-Gerald brought it to your attention back in January 2010. Today, Resources Specialist Peter Krauth weighs in on some recent developments in this story, because three of the commodities he covers can protect you. The Fed can't print these things... Here's Peter:
Central banks may have foolish policies, but central bankers are no dummies.
They know exactly what they're doing. They even comprehend a few of the implications, too.
Which is why it's interesting that some American central bankers have suggested doing away with the debt ceiling altogether.
Famed investor Marc Faber recently said, "The question is not tapering. The question is at what point will they increase the asset purchases to say $150 [billion], $200 [billion], a trillion dollars a month."
Faber expects the Fed's current QE4 to become "QE4-ever."
That could mean years of money printing and ultra-low rates.
Even bond king Bill Gross recently chimed in his latest monthly outlook that "The United States (and global economy) may have to get used to financially repressive - and therefore low policy rates - for decades to come."
Either way, don't depend on the Fed to save you. You can save yourself
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced in a press conference this afternoon that the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue quantitative easing, the controversial bond buying program, for now. Chairman Bernanke expressed concern over rising borrowing costs and their effect on the economy, saying that the situation calls for continued quantitative easing.
Analysts on and off Wall Street were surprised, to put it mildly. Markets responded very well to news of continued easy-money policy. The mainstream consensus was that the Fed would begin to taper off its $85 billion monthly bond purchases by around $10 or $15 billion each month. Current pricing just didn't take continued bond buying into account, and the bullish reaction was immediate, intense, and widespread.
Inflation can be tough to contend with, yet investors should guard against inflation lest it eat away at their portfolios - which isn't hard to do if they know the best investments to hold when inflation rates rise.
Official interest rates are notoriously unreliable - outright false at times - which can downplay or underestimate the situation. Don't trust the numbers. Make that mistake, and your investments' value can evaporate before your eyes.
It defies both common sense and monetary theory - or at least until you find out where all that QE3 money ended up.
Many have wondered - and rightly so - why the U.S. dollar is rising even though the U.S. Federal Reserve has done just about everything possible to debase the currency over the past five years.
Over the past two years, the U.S. Dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of major world currencies, is up by more than 12.6%.
Part of the answer is that most of the world's other central banks have pursued easy money policies similar to the Fed's. In the so-called "currency wars," the U.S. dollar has one major built-in advantage.
"The U.S. has never defaulted," explained Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald. "The world may hate our guts, but when all hell breaks loose, they all love our dollar."
Also helping to explain why the U.S. dollar is rising is that it remains the world's reserve currency - the money a majority of nations use to buy commodities such as oil -- and that the U.S. economy, for all its warts, is in better shape than most of the other developed economies in the world.
"The dollar the best-looking horse in the glue factory," Fitz-Gerald said.
So it wasn't too surprising that when the Fed recently hinted that it might start "tapering" its quantitative easing (bond-buying) policies later this year, the U.S. Dollar index spiked 3.1%.
But Fitz-Gerald said that investors still need to be wary of the stronger U.S. dollar going forward.
This Sept. 2 Event Could Send the U.S. Dollar Crashing
Energy prices, particularly oil and natural gas, are no longer a direct driver of inflation. Oil and gas prices have been resilient in the absence of inflation.
The deeper reason for the upward move in prices has been the Fed's easy money and low interest rate policies.
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:
Uncontrolled government spending could force the Fed to monetize the government's debt, creating runaway inflation, former Federal Reserve Governor Frederic Mishkin warned in a report.
If these circumstances were to occur, the Fed would be unable to do much, if anything, to control inflation, Mishkin said in the report, presented at a conference at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
In that case, Mishkin and his co-authors, David Greenlaw, James Hamilton and Peter Hooper, argue that the result could be "a flight from the dollar," according to a summary of the report by noted Fed-watcher Steven K. Beckner writing for MNI.
The report states, "Countries with high debt loads are vulnerable to an adverse feedback loop in which doubts by lenders lead to higher sovereign interest rates, which in turn make the debt problems more severe ... Countries with debt above 80% of GDP and persistent current-account deficits are vulnerable to a rapid fiscal deterioration as a result of these tipping-point dynamics."
The authors of the report estimate U.S. net debt, excluding debt held by the Social Security Trust Fund, at about 80% of GDP in 2011, double what it was a few years before. To make matters worse, the United States runs a persistent current account deficit, which is funded by borrowing from other countries.
This puts the U.S. in a worse spot than Japan which, although its debt is much higher as a percentage of GDP, has a large current account surplus and a high savings rate.