Global Market Comments for January 23, 2009
Special Gold Issue
Featured Trades: ($GOLD)
1) Last year, South Africa suffered its steepest decline in gold production since 1901, falling 14%, to a mere 232 tons. It now ranks only third in global production of the yellow metal, after China and the US. Severe electricity rationing, a shortage of skilled workers, and more stringent mine safety regulations have been blamed. Choked off credit has frozen the development of new capital intensive deep mines, as it has for everybody else. Rising production costs have driven the global break even cost of new gold production up to $500 an ounce. In the meantime, the financial crisis has driven flight to safety demand for gold bars and coins to all time highs. Last year, the US Treasury ran out of one ounce $50 American Gold Eagle coins, now worth about $878. Competitive devaluations by almost every central bank, except Japan, mean that currencies are not performing as the hedge that many had hoped. It all has the makings of a serious gold shortage for the future. Could the downturn we have seen over the past ten months be just a blip in the eight year bull market? When the last hedge fund is forced to sell its last leveraged long position, watch out above!
2) If the share prices of the top five listed banks went to zero, it would take only 331 points off of the Dow, because it is a price averaged index. There is nothing left for hedge funds to short. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
3) Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of the Swiss National Bank, indicated that Switzerland will pursue a Fed style zero interest rate policy to head off a depression. It plans to flood the Swiss monetary system with liquidity, and even buy corporate bonds to this end. The Swiss franc went into free fall. Long time Swiss economic observers were stunned.
4) Car theft has fallen nationally because the thieves can’t sell their hot vehicles. Go short chop shops.
6) The official US government poverty level was set at three times the annual cost of food in 1963 during the Kennedy administration, where it has remained ever since. Today that works out to $21,200 for a family of four. Expect this figure to rise during the new administration.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
‘The euro won’t survive its first recession,’ said Milton Friedman, when the currency was created a decade ago.
INTERESTING FACT OF THE DAY
Almost all of the gold ever mined in history is still in circulation, and would fill about two Olympic sized swimming pools. That includes ores found by the ancient Egyptians, the coins traded in Solomon’s temple, those minted by the original King Croesus, and all those bars of Nazi gold stamped with German eagles I used to see in the vaults at Swiss Banks Corp. Only gold shipwrecked at the bottom of the ocean in Spanish galleons, or gold rush era steamers, or gold vaporized by atomic bomb blasts is no longer available.