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10 key points about gold

10 key points about gold

1.- It costs 7.8c to create a C note(100 USD bill), 2 grams of gold(spot price roughly $80) costs roughly $75 to mine.

2.- US national debt is increasing by between 1/2 and 1 trillion USD annually.

3.- Annual gold production for the past few years has averaged 2500 tonnes. 1 metric ton is 32150 troy ounces, equalling 80,375000 troy ounces or 99 billion USD, a relatively trivial amount in comparison with the debt numbers in point 2 above!

4.- 1 trillion USD(1000 billion) is over 10 ten times annual gold production.

5.- China is the number one gold producing country at roughly 320,000kg of gold annually, South Africa was consistently number 1 until recently, it currently sits at number 4.

6.- South Africa, once the powerhouse of global gold output is fading fast, the major mines in RSA are depleting so fast that they are 2 miles underground in dangerous conditions, analysts say that once the mining stops in these mines it will not be cost efficient to re-open many of them. Estimates say RSA gold mines are 75% mined.

7.- The Krugerrand, the worlds number 1 gold coin come under such a squeeze this year(with the price drop in 2013 causing a huge surge in demand)that the rand refinery upped premiums and a billion dollar purchase of scrap gold was made in USA by an un-named RSA corporation. South Africa has never before imported gold on this scale.

8.- More than 1/3 of annual gold production is via scrap and recycling, this source is coming under significant pressure as it is diminishing significantly, scrap tonnage is down year on year for the the last few years, although the price drop has influenced this, the general consensus amoung scrap dealers is that the supply is just not there.

9.- Gold is subject to the law of diminshing returns similar to oil(i.e it becomes more expensive to mine the same oz in a location over time),however gold mining is more labour intensive than oil drilling, it is also harder to estimate quantity on location and often yields disappoint more so than with oil.

10.-If there is one country that understands the value of gold it is China, they have risen to number 1 gold producer worldwide, while dramatically increasing annual purchases and inflows via Hong Kong in particular. Whilst China’s holding are still less than the USA, there is an increasing realisation that the US does not have/own all the gold it reputes to. China on the other hand significantly down plays its holdings, its production and its inflows. He who holds the gold holds the power!

A New Gold Standard

A New Gold Standard - Robert Zoellick

A New Gold Standard?

Robert Zoellick Head of the World Bank since 2007 has called for a discussion on a new Gold Standard in an article in the Financial Times this week. Since 1971 when the US effectively declared bankruptcy by ending the Bretton Woods peg between the dollar and gold ($35 dollars equaled 1 oz gold) the global financial system has been a floating currencies system based on a paper dollar as the global reserve currency.

Zoellick suggests using gold as ‘an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values’. Even more significantly, and in our opinion, accurately,  Zoellick suggests that ‘although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today’.

The suggestion that we have been operating under a system Zoellick calls ‘Bretton Woods 2’ since 1971 is perhaps slightly misleading. To call the structure that international currencies have operated under as a system of any sort is very generous. ‘Organised chaos’ might be a better way of defining currency management since 1971. With no restraint on how much of the global reserve currency they printed the US has been on a printing spree with unintended consequences across the entire globe as deflation was exported abroad to developing countries in the 1990’s and then inflation on a vast scale was seen in both housing and stocks in the US and around the world.

As it becomes clear that this use of the dollar as a global reserve currency at the same time as the Federal Reserve uses and abuses the currency to try and ‘pump prime’ the American economy is becoming more untenable and less and less beneficial to other countries around the world the era of dollar hegemony appears to be drawing to an end. Despite this, the reaction to the idea of a new Gold Standard has been mainly negative. Almost none of the commentary reacting to Zoellick’s FT article has displayed any knowledge of how a Gold Standard actually works. Many of the critics of the idea have said it’s simply not practicable because the quantity of Gold available is not sufficient to support the modern world’s rate of growth etc.

A real functioning Gold Standard can operate on a single Krugerrand. All that matters is that governments set a credible price peg for their currencies against that single ounce of Gold. If the currency’s value falls below the peg then remove currency from circulation until the currency’s value rises to its pegged value again. If the currency’s value rises above it’s peg then do the opposite, and print more paper currency to reduce the value of the currency back to its peg (think QE2 with a purpose and end point). Economists, governments and central banks around the world, under the influence of Keynesian thinking seem to have forgotten that any government with a printing press has total control over its currency’s value  – reduce supply/increase value & increase supply/ reduce value. Simple, but far too straightforward for the brain boxes in the US Federal Reserve and the IMF. Defending currency value with interest rates is an invitation to speculators to put a currency to the sword.

What about a Gold Standard’s capacity to allow for rapid growth in an economy such as China’s or any other around the world today? Demand needs to be considered in relation to how much currency is produced. But consider this, if currency demand starts at 100 dollars and then rises to 200 dollars in a given economy then government can print an additional 100 dollars and double the paper money supply without any disruption to the Gold Standard price peg. Demand for Gold itself will not vary sharply in a well managed paper currency where the government’s promise to maintain the peg makes that currency as ‘good as gold’! This means that a proper Gold Standard can easily accommodate and facilitate any level of growth in an economy contrary to the misinformed commentary from so many economists today on CNBC, Bloomberg et al.

It is encouraging to see the beginnings of a debate around a new global economic system which will involve ‘hard’ currencies and will reduce the chaos a soft money system underpinned by a falling dollar causes. But Zoellick’s comments are only a beginning. And the outright rejection of his comments certainly highlights the fact that this debate will take years to resolve as governments and citizens around the world begin to recognise the need for a new Bretton Woods type agreement. And all the while this debate rages the precious metals bull market will continue to run and run.

Great Reasons To Buy Gold

Great Reasons To Buy Gold

Great Reasons To Buy Gold

1. Ireland’s economy.

Soaring unemployment, unsustainable debt and a government unwilling to take the action needed to help Ireland recover.

2. Anglo Irish Bank.

Need we say more – whether its €32 billion or €64 billion needed to bail out this toxic bank we’re being dragged into a black hole by this mess.

3. Diversification.

Everybody should have some Gold in their possession as a way to diversify their investment porfolio away from poor performance sectors like stocks and housing.

4. Quantitative Easing.

In other words – printing money! All the world’s central banks are tyring to outdo each other on this, trying to get their economies going again. Any cash you hold, whether in Euro’s or dollars is virtually certain to go down in value over the next decade, just as they have in the last decade.

5. Gold’s track record as an asset class.

In 1970, one gold ounce was worth $35 dollars. By 2000 one gold ounce was worth $270 dollars. In 2010 gold is worth over $1200 an ounce. Thats long term outperformance by any measure.

6. China.

The Chinese are the driving force of the world economy right now. They are swiftly gaining on the US to become the world’s largest economy. This is inevitable, when Britain was the centre of the world, it was also the world’s workshop, and the same was true of the US. China is the world’s workshop today. And the Chinese love gold as an asset class. They will be big buyers of gold in the coming years.

7. The Dollar.

The dollar and gold are vying for the same role in the global financial system. That is, the dollar currently claims the role as the basic measure of value in the global financial system. But since 1971, when the dollar gave up its fixed gold value and left the Bretton Woods system behind, the dollar has lost 97% of its value versus gold. What sort of value measure does that make paper currency? The free market is passing judgement year by year.

8. World Gold Supply.

South Africa used to be the biggest gold producer in the world. It has now been surpassed by China as production falls. But China consumes all the gold it produces and is a net importer of gold. This at the same time that global gold demand is rising relentlessly.

9. Gold is still cheap.

At the start of the 1980’s gold reached over $800 an ounce.When you adjust prices for inflation gold would have to reach over $2000 an ounce today just to equal that high in real terms.

10. Barack Obama.

Obama looks good and sounds good. But when it comes to economics he is not so good. The dollar needs a president who understands that if you print too much you destroy underlying value and currency confidence. America needs a president who understands that low taxes always lead to higher growth and higher tax revenues. Obama wants to raise taxes for the wealthy. Sounds good, but a terrible idea if ecomomic history teaches us anything. And to allow business to thrive Ireland and America need to allow bankrupt and insolvent businesses to go out of business.

Instead economic zombies are being created which will suck the economic life out of western economies for years to come and draw resources away from new start ups and entrepreneurs who can build real wealth. In the face of these economic policies it’s inevitable that gold will be the benficiary for years to come.