Commodities Archives - Page 4 of 29 - Money Morning - Only the News You Can Profit From
Gold Prices Are Being Manipulated and Here's What To Do About It
If you've ever suspected gold prices are being manipulated, you're not alone–and you're right, they are.
Against the backdrop of fiscal mismanagement, political incompetence, and failed austerity measures, the world's biggest traders have all bet heavily on gold. Lately, they've been pulling out all the stops to get what they want while laughing all the way to bigger bonuses.
Today, I want to talk about who "they" are and share a few tricks you can use to capitalize on their actions without being taken to the poorhouse.
Let's begin with the concept of manipulation itself.
In order to understand the players, you have to understand their motivations. You'd think it's all about profit, but that's not entirely true.
How to Buy Silver Coins
Silver is one of the hottest investments this year, leading many investors to ask how to buy silver coins before the white metal soars to new highs.
Indeed, investors have been buying silver coins at such a rapid pace, the U.S. Mint announced Jan. 17 it had sold out of 2013-dated American Silver Eagles – just 10 days after opening sales to authorized dealers.
Opening day sales for the hugely popular bullion coins on Jan. 7 hit a record 3,937,000 coins. The tally of total sales over the 10 days the coins were available exceeded 6 million.
Sales resumed Jan. 28 after the Mint replenished its inventory, but on an allocated basis with limited orders. The Mint used the same method in 2009 and 2010 when demand among people buying silver coins also outstripped supply.
How to Invest in Commodities
One of things all investors should know for 2013 is how to invest in commodities, as the prices of many of these products head for huge gains.
One of the reasons they will soar is because institutional investors have quickly abandoned them in the current risk on/risk off investment climate. There is right now roughly $424 billion invested in commodities, but that is a mere fraction of 1% of all global investment assets.
When all that money comes pouring back in, those commodity-related investments will skyrocket.
The few institutions that jumped into the market were disappointed because the commodities "super-cycle" did not generate spectacular gains for them in a year or two. Also, with inflation appearing to be nonexistent in the government-reported numbers, institutions are bailing on commodities.
The Best Ways to Profit from Food Inflation
Though tame through most of last year, food inflation has begun to surge again in 2013 – just as Money Morning Global Resources Specialist Peter Krauth predicted it would.
"Food inflation hasn't reared its head for some time, and I think it's about to start making headlines again before long," Krauth wrote in a Jan. 18 note to subscribers of his Real Asset Returns investment service.
Sure enough, an inflation report yesterday (Wednesday) from the Labor Department showed that the biggest increase in January prices came in the food category.
Food prices – for both groceries and food eaten at restaurants – rose 0.7% in January, compared with December, accounting for more than three-fourths of the increase in the Producer Price Index (PPI).
The biggest driver of food inflation in January was the cost of vegetables, which rocketed 39%, withbroccoli, cauliflower and lettuce increasing the most.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service is projecting food prices in 2013 will increase 3% to 4%, an annual increase the agency says is above the historical average.
The ERS said it expects animal-based food products (mostly meats) to be hit hardest, with cereals and bakery products also seeing above-average price increases.
The return of food inflation to the U.S. should come as no surprise, as it has become a worldwide trend over the past decade.
The Food Price Index developed by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has more than doubled from 97.7 in 2003 to 209.8 now following a decade of stability. (The index stood at about 102 in 1993.)
Investing in Farmland: Is a Bubble Brewing?
It's little wonder that yield-starved pension funds and other investors are investing in farmland.
That's because farmland, a hard asset, produces high returns and, unlike other hard assets such as precious metals, provides investors annual income from crop sales.
The National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) compiles data on the total returns (income and capital gains) on farmland purchased for investment purchases, primarily by pension funds looking for income and diversification.
In 2012, the annualized total return on investment farmland was 18.58%.
The NCREIF has data going back to 1992. Since then, the highest annualized total return was 33.90% in 2005 while the lowest annualized total return was 2.02% in 2001. Over the 20-year period from 1992 to 2012, the average annual total return was 11.83%.
And sharply higher prices for major agricultural commodities such as corn, wheat and soybeans have increased annual investment income for anyone investing in farmland.
Legendary hedge fund manager Jim Rogers has been buying farmland in Australia for a private fund.
"It's the farmers, the producers, who are going to be in the captain's seat when the prices go through the roof," he told The Australian Financial Review back in 2011.
"The world has got a serious food problem," Rogers told Time magazine. "The only real way to solve it is to draw more people back to agriculture."
But is this rush toward investing in farmland now creating a huge bubble?
Why Uranium Prices Are at a Critical Tipping Point
Despite the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, the demand for nuclear power continues to rise.
For uranium investors, that means the commodity is at a critical tipping point towards much higher prices.
Thanks to considerably higher energy costs, even Japan is now shifting its stance on nuclear power. According to Japan Today, newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe now says he is willing to build new nuclear reactors.
That's a dramatic shift from the previous government's pledge to phase out all of the country's 50 working reactors by 2040.
But the most significant impact in nuclear power is likely to come from the developing world-especially China.
China's commitment to nuclear power means they could be adding as many as 100 nuclear reactors over the next two decades. That's a monumental shift considering China currently operates only 15 reactors.
Other nations such as Russia, India, South Korea, and the UAE are contemplating new nuclear power plants as well that would add to the 435 nuclear reactors already providing base-load power worldwide.
In this year alone, 65 nuclear power plants are under construction, another 160 new reactors are currently in the planning stages and 340 more have been proposed.
Given this ongoing shift, the demand for uranium is clearly going to be getting stronger, which presents a problem since there is already a uranium supply deficit.
According to the World Nuclear Association, total consumption of uranium was 176.7 million pounds in 2011 and growing. Meanwhile, last year's total uranium output was 135 million pounds. That's an annual deficit of roughly 40 million pounds.
Of course, you know what happens when supply can't keep pace with demand— uranium prices will begin to rise.
But that's only part of the story. Thanks to the end of a program called Megatons to Megawatts the supply deficit promises to get even worse.
Is the Japanese Yen Headed for a Long Decline?
The Japanese yen has already fallen by more than 12% against the U.S. dollar since Nov. 1, 2012 – and it could still have further to fall.
That's mainly because the Bank of Japan appears likely to go along with the wishes of the Liberal Democratic Party, led by newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and step up its attempts to eliminate deflation by using "unlimited easing" and setting a 2% inflation target.
Most of the Japanese yen's weakness we have seen so far stems from aggressive jawboning by Prime Minister Abe and other LDP leaders. And outgoing Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa has appeared likely to go along with Prime Minister Abe's demands for closer cooperation between the government and the central bank.
The Bank of Japan's Monetary Policy Committee (the Japanese equivalent of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee) is in the middle of a regularly scheduled two-day meeting. It is widely anticipated that the BOJ will agree to additional easing measures – most likely purchases of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) – and will formally adopt the government's 2% inflation target.