Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Rise of the Trading Machines…. HFT vs. Me, You and John Carter

Today our trading partner John Carter of Simpler Trading poses this important question to us. Do we have the tools to trade in the face of high frequency trading and the “Rise of the High Frequency Trading Machines”.

It’s no secret that all us [that’s me, you and John] are at a huge disadvantage 100% of the time compared to the high frequency traders, the HFT. So what do we do to trade against the HFT, where do we start?

We start right here by checking out John’s great new free video that gives us some of the best examples we have seen yet on how they, the HFT, do this do us. And thanks to John you and I are not in this alone.

        Just Click Here to Watch John’s New Video

        Here’s a sample of what John has learned……

            •   How to protect himself against high frequency traders

            •   How to take advantage of what high frequency traders are doing

            •   How to “get in front of” the high frequency traders

Watch the video today then prepare yourself to jump into the nuances of trading against the “Rise of the High Frequency Trading Machines” with John next Tuesday and two free webinars.

        Here is what we’ll cover on Tuesday……

            •   How HFT firms are causing you to lose money trading

            •   How they front run your orders to catch a move without you

            •   Why individual investors are at a disadvantage

            •   How HFT sees what’s happening in the market before you do

            •   Why HFT firms have a competitive advantage

            •   How HFT firms are making billions by pickpocketing you

        Just pick which webinar and time works best for you…..Register Now!

                Tuesday April 29th - 1 p.m. eastern time

                Tuesday April 29th - 8 p.m. eastern time

Get your seat now, because as you probably already know, all of John’s free webinars fill up well before the day of the presentation. Sign up today then make sure to log on 10-15 minutes early on Tuesday to guarantee you keep your seat.

    Until then we’ll see you in the market!


Just click here to check out John’s wildly popular book “Mastering the Trade” on Amazon.com



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Crisis vs. THE Crisis: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

By Laurynas Vegys, Research Analyst

Today I want to talk about crises. Two of the most notable ones that have been in the public eye over the course of the past 6-8 months are obviously the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The two are very different, yet both seemed to cause rallies in the gold market.

I say “seemed” because, while there were days when the headlines from either country sure looked to kick gold up a notch, there were also relevant and alarming reports from Argentina and emerging markets like China during many of the same time periods. Nevertheless, looking at the impressive gains during these periods, one has to wonder if it actually takes a calamity for gold to soar.

If so, can the yellow metal still return to and beat its prior highs, absent a major political crisis or a full blown military conflict? My answer: Who needs a new crisis when we live in an ongoing one every day?

More on this in a moment. Let’s first have a quick look at what happened in Ukraine and Syria as relates to the price of gold. Here’s a quick look at the timeline of some of the major events from the Ukrainian crisis, followed by the same for Syria.




There seems to be a fairly clear pattern in both of these charts. Gold seems to rise in the anticipation of a conflict; once the conflict gets going, or turns out not as bad as feared, however, it sells off.

We see, for example, that as the news broke that chemical weapons were being used in Syria and Obama was threatening to intervene, gold moved up. But when the US did not wade into the bloodshed and Putin proposed his diplomatic solution, gold slid into a protracted sell off, ending up lower than where it began.

It’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty how much of gold’s recent rise was due to anticipation of the Ukraine/Crimea crisis, but there were certainly days when gold seemed to move sharply in response to news of escalation in the conflict. And again, after it became clear that the U.S. and EU would do little more than condemn Russia’s actions with words, gold retreated. As of this writing, it’s down about $85 from its high a little over a month ago. (We think many investors underestimate the potential impact of tit-for-tat sanctions, but they are not wrong to breathe a sigh of relief that a war of bullets didn’t start between East and West.)

In sum, to the degree that global crisis headlines do impact the price of gold, the effects are short-lived. Unless they lead directly to consequences of long-term significance, these fluctuations may capture the attention of day traders, but are little more than distractions for serious gold investors betting on the fundamentals.

You have to keep your eye on the ball.

The REAL Crisis Brewing

 

Major financial, economic, or political trends—the kind we like to base our speculations upon—don’t normally appear as full-fledged disasters overnight. In fact, quite the opposite; they tend to lurk, linger, and brew in stealth mode until a boiling point is finally reached, and then they erupt into full-blown crises (to the surprise and detriment of the unprepared).

Fortunately, the signs are always there… for those with the courage and independence of mind to take heed.
So what are the signs telling us today—what’s the real ball we need to keep our eyes upon, if not the distracting swarm of potential black swans?

The big-league trend destined for some sort of major cataclysmic endgame that will impact everyone stems from government fiscal policy: profligate spending, leading to debt crisis, leading to currency crisis, leading to a currency regime change. And not in Timbuktu—we’re talking about the coming fall of the US dollar.

The first parts of this progression are already in place. Consider this long-term chart of US debt.


Notice that government debt was practically nonexistent halfway through the 20th century, but has seen a dramatic increase with the expansion of federal government spending.

Consider this astounding fact: The government has accumulated more debt during the Obama administration than it did from the time George Washington took office to Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Total US government debt at the end of 2013 exceeded $16 trillion.

Let’s put that in perspective, since today’s dollars don’t buy what a nickel did a hundred years ago.


Except for the period of World War II and its immediate aftermath, never before has the US government been this deep in debt. Having recently surpassed the threshold of 100% debt to GDP, America has crossed into uncharted territory, getting in line with the likes of…....
  • Japan, “leading” the world with a 242% debt-to-GDP ratio
  • Greece: 174%
  • Italy: 133%
  • Portugal: 125%
  • Ireland: 117%
The projection in the chart above is based on the 9.4% average annual rate of debt-to-GDP growth since the US embarked on its current course in response to the crash of 2008. If the rate persists, the US will be deeper in debt relative to its GDP than Ireland next year, deeper than Portugal in 2016, Italy in 2017, Greece in 2019, and even Japan in 2023 (and the US does not have the advantage of decades of trade surpluses Japan had).

Granted, the politicians and bureaucrats say they will slow this runaway train, but we’re not talking about Fed tapering here. Congress will have to embrace the pain of living within its means. We’ll believe that when we see it.

But let’s take a more conservative, 10 year average growth rate (an arbitrary standard many analysts use): 5.3%. At this rate, the US will still be deeper in debt than Ireland and Portugal in 2017, Italy in 2019, Greece in 2024, and Japan in 2030.

Either way, this is still THE crisis of our times; all of the countries mentioned above are undergoing excruciating economic and social pain. It’s no stretch to imagine the kind of social and political turmoil that has resulted from the European debt crisis coming to Main Street USA, as American debt goes off the charts.

It’s also important to understand that the debt charted above excludes state and local debt, as well as the unfunded liabilities of social entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

This ever-growing mountain—volcano—of government debt is a long-term, systemic, and extremely-difficult-to-alter trend. Unlike the crises in Ukraine and Syria (at least, so far), it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. While some investors have grown accustomed to this government created phenomenon and no longer regard it as dangerous as outright military conflict, make no mistake—in the mid to long term, it’s just as dangerous to your wealth and standard of living.

Still think it can’t happen here? To fully understand how stealthily a crisis can sneak up on you, watch Casey Research’s eye opening documentary, Meltdown America.



Sign up for one of our Free Trading Webinars....Just Click Here!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Video: This Weeks Nasdaq Shorting Opportunity

It looks as though the Nasdaq is about ready for another leg lower. Chris Vermeulen shows us what key resistance levels to look at for a possible short trade on the Nasdaq this week.

Get These Trade Alerts Every Week with Chris Vermeulen's ETF Trading Newsletter
 



Sign up for one of our Free Trading Webinars....Just Click Here!


A Crisis vs. THE Crisis: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

By Laurynas Vegys, Research Analyst

Today I want to talk about crises. Two of the most notable ones that have been in the public eye over the course of the past 6-8 months are obviously the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The two are very different, yet both seemed to cause rallies in the gold market.

I say “seemed” because, while there were days when the headlines from either country sure looked to kick gold up a notch, there were also relevant and alarming reports from Argentina and emerging markets like China during many of the same time periods. Nevertheless, looking at the impressive gains during these periods, one has to wonder if it actually takes a calamity for gold to soar.

If so, can the yellow metal still return to and beat its prior highs, absent a major political crisis or a full blown military conflict? My answer: Who needs a new crisis when we live in an ongoing one every day?

More on this in a moment. Let’s first have a quick look at what happened in Ukraine and Syria as relates to the price of gold. Here’s a quick look at the timeline of some of the major events from the Ukrainian crisis, followed by the same for Syria.





There seems to be a fairly clear pattern in both of these charts. Gold seems to rise in the anticipation of a conflict; once the conflict gets going, or turns out not as bad as feared, however, it sells off.

We see, for example, that as the news broke that chemical weapons were being used in Syria and Obama was threatening to intervene, gold moved up. But when the U.S. did not wade into the bloodshed and Putin proposed his diplomatic solution, gold slid into a protracted sell off, ending up lower than where it began.
It’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty how much of gold’s recent rise was due to anticipation of the Ukraine/Crimea crisis, but there were certainly days when gold seemed to move sharply in response to news of escalation in the conflict. And again, after it became clear that the U.S. and EU would do little more than condemn Russia’s actions with words, gold retreated. As of this writing, it’s down about $85 from its high a little over a month ago. (We think many investors underestimate the potential impact of tit for tat sanctions, but they are not wrong to breathe a sigh of relief that a war of bullets didn’t start between East and West.)

In sum, to the degree that global crisis headlines do impact the price of gold, the effects are short lived. Unless they lead directly to consequences of long term significance, these fluctuations may capture the attention of day traders, but are little more than distractions for serious gold investors betting on the fundamentals.

You have to keep your eye on the ball.

The REAL Crisis Brewing

 

Major financial, economic, or political trends—the kind we like to base our speculations upon—don’t normally appear as full-fledged disasters overnight. In fact, quite the opposite; they tend to lurk, linger, and brew in stealth mode until a boiling point is finally reached, and then they erupt into full blown crises (to the surprise and detriment of the unprepared).

Fortunately, the signs are always there… for those with the courage and independence of mind to take heed.
So what are the signs telling us today—what’s the real ball we need to keep our eyes upon, if not the distracting swarm of potential black swans?

The big league trend destined for some sort of major cataclysmic endgame that will impact everyone stems from government fiscal policy: profligate spending, leading to debt crisis, leading to currency crisis, leading to a currency regime change. And not in Timbuktu—we’re talking about the coming fall of the U.S. dollar.

The first parts of this progression are already in place. Consider this long term chart of U.S. debt.



Notice that government debt was practically nonexistent halfway through the 20th century, but has seen a dramatic increase with the expansion of federal government spending.

Consider this astounding fact: The government has accumulated more debt during the Obama administration than it did from the time George Washington took office to Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Total US government debt at the end of 2013 exceeded $16 trillion.

Let’s put that in perspective, since today’s dollars don’t buy what a nickel did a hundred years ago.


Except for the period of World War II and its immediate aftermath, never before has the U.S. government been this deep in debt. Having recently surpassed the threshold of 100% debt to GDP, America has crossed into uncharted territory, getting in line with the likes of…....
  • Japan, “leading” the world with a 242% debt-to-GDP ratio
  • Greece: 174%
  • Italy: 133%
  • Portugal: 125%
  • Ireland: 117%
The projection in the chart above is based on the 9.4% average annual rate of debt-to-GDP growth since the US embarked on its current course in response to the crash of 2008. If the rate persists, the U.S. will be deeper in debt relative to its GDP than Ireland next year, deeper than Portugal in 2016, Italy in 2017, Greece in 2019, and even Japan in 2023 (and the US does not have the advantage of decades of trade surpluses Japan had).

Granted, the politicians and bureaucrats say they will slow this runaway train, but we’re not talking about Fed tapering here. Congress will have to embrace the pain of living within its means. We’ll believe that when we see it.

But let’s take a more conservative, 10 year average growth rate (an arbitrary standard many analysts use): 5.3%. At this rate, the U.S. will still be deeper in debt than Ireland and Portugal in 2017, Italy in 2019, Greece in 2024, and Japan in 2030.

Either way, this is still THE crisis of our times; all of the countries mentioned above are undergoing excruciating economic and social pain. It’s no stretch to imagine the kind of social and political turmoil that has resulted from the European debt crisis coming to Main Street USA, as American debt goes off the charts.

It’s also important to understand that the debt charted above excludes state and local debt, as well as the unfunded liabilities of social entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

This ever-growing mountain—volcano—of government debt is a long term, systemic, and extremely difficult to alter trend. Unlike the crises in Ukraine and Syria (at least, so far), it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. While some investors have grown accustomed to this government created phenomenon and no longer regard it as dangerous as outright military conflict, make no mistake—in the mid to long term, it’s just as dangerous to your wealth and standard of living.

Still think it can’t happen here? To fully understand how stealthily a crisis can sneak up on you, watch Casey Research’s eye-opening documentary, Meltdown America.



Sign up for one of our Free Trading Webinars....Just Click Here!


Monday, April 21, 2014

10 Ways to Screw up Your Retirement

By Dennis Miller

There are many creative ways to screw up your retirement. Let me show you how it’s done.


Supporting adult children. My wife Jo and I have friends with an unmarried, unemployed daughter who had a child. Our friends adopted their grandchild and are now in their late sixties raising a kid in grade school. The same daughter had a second child, and they adopted that one too. When she announced she was pregnant a third time, they finally said, “Enough! It’s time for a third party adoption.”

Last time I spoke with them, their unemployed daughter and her boyfriend were living in their basement, neither contributing financially nor lifting a finger around the house. What began as a temporary bandage had become a permanent crutch. Our friends love their grandchildren; however, they’ve become bitter.

Jo and I also know of retirees who make their adult children’s car payments. I’m not talking about college-age kids; some of these “children” are close to 50. What’s their justification? “If we don’t make the payments, they won’t be able to go to work.” What I can’t grasp is how these adult children have iPads and iPhones, go on vacations, and do other cool things, but can’t seem to make their car payments.

You are not the family bank. There is generally a brief window of opportunity between children leaving the nest and retirement. Use it to stash away enough money to retire comfortably!

Ignore your health. I served on the reunion committee for my 50th high school class reunion. We diligently tried to track down our classmates, but many had not lived long enough to RSVP to the party. The number of deaths from lung cancer and liver cancer were shocking. Many of those six feet under had been morbidly obese or simply never went to the doctor for checkups.

I know this sounds obvious, but your health choices really do affect how long and how well you live. Retiring only to become homebound because of health problems won’t be much fun.

Not keeping your retirement plan up to date. In the summer of 2013, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) published a survey about low-interest-rate policies and their impact on both baby boomers and Generation Xers, who are following right behind. The bottom line (emphasis mine):

“Overall, 25-27 percent of baby boomers and Gen Xers who would have had adequate retirement income under return assumptions based on historical averages are simulated to end up running short of money in retirement if today’s historically low interest rates are assumed to be a permanent condition, assuming retirement income/wealth covers 100 percent of simulated retirement expense.”

It is a sad day when people who thought they’d saved enough realize they have not. Run your personal retirement projection annually to make sure you’re keeping up with the times. Otherwise you may have to work longer or step down your retirement lifestyle—drastically.

Thinking you can continue working as long as you wish. While age discrimination is illegal, you may not be able to work forever. If illness doesn’t push you out the door, your employer might downsize (we all know who goes first) or buy you out with a lucrative lump sum.

Many companies want older employees off the payroll because their healthcare costs are high; plus, they are often at the top of the salary scale. More than one employer has made the workplace so uncomfortable that an older employee felt he had to quit. Other employers will systematically build a case to terminate a senior employee with their legal team waiting in the wings to help.

Whatever the reason, you may have to stop working even if you enjoy your job, so plan for it.

Not increasing your rate of saving. A surefire way to end up short is to pay off a large-ticket item like your home mortgage and then continue spending that money every month. Start paying yourself instead! Don’t prioritize saving after it’s too late to benefit from years of compounded interest.

Continually taking equity out of your home. Too many of my friends have been duped into taking out additional equity when refinancing with a lower-interest mortgage. If you can secure a lower rate, use it to pay off your home off faster. When you have, start making those payments to your retirement account.

Retire with a substantial mortgage. The general rule of thumb is your mortgage payment should be no more than 20-25% of your income. If you retire and still have a mortgage, it might be tough to stay within those guidelines.

Taking out a reverse mortgage at a young age. Debt-laden baby boomers are taking out reverse mortgages at an increasingly younger age. Just read the HUD reports. Many have very little equity to begin with and use a reverse mortgage to stop their monthly bank payments for pennies in return.

Locking yourself into a fixed income at a young age is a great way to kiss your lifestyle goodbye. Many of these young boomers will find themselves wondering, “Why is there is so much life left at the end of my money?”

Putting your life savings into an annuity. While annuities have their place in a retirement portfolio, going all in is dangerous, particularly at a young age. After all, your monthly payment depends in part on your age.

I know folks who put their entire life savings into variable annuities. They thought they were buying a “pension plan” and would never have to worry again. The crash of 2008 slashed their monthly checks, and they have yet to recover. Retirement without worry is not that simple.

Thinking your employer’s retirement plan is all you need. The era of pensions is gasping its dying breath. We have many friends who retired from the airlines with sizable pensions. When those airlines filed for bankruptcy, their pensions shriveled. No industry is immune to this danger, so we all need a backup plan.

Government pensions are following suit. Just ask anyone who has worked for the city of Detroit! While the unions are fighting the city to preserve their pensions, an initial draft of the plan indicates underfunded pensions (estimated at $3.5 billion) may receive $0.25 on the dollar.

Don’t fall for the trap! If you work for the government, you still need to save for retirement. Contribute to your 457 plan or whatever breed of retirement account is available to you. The federal government has over $100 trillion in unfunded promises, and many state governments are woefully underfunded. That doesn’t mean your retirement has to be.

Reverse mortgages and annuities are often the undoing of many income investors and retirees. They can be used properly, however, if your situation or the opportunity fits with your needs. With all of the misinformation out there about these two products, we decided to pen two special reports to help you decide whether these are right for you. They are The Reverse Mortgage Guide and The Annuity Guide. Check out one – or both – today and learn where, if at all, these fit your needs.

The article 10 Ways to Screw up Your Retirement was originally published at Millers Money


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How to Momentum Trade Gold & Silver Stocks

Back on April 9th I posted a short tutorial on how to momentum trade gold along with my short term gold forecast.

Today I wanted to do a follow up video for my gold market traders for three reasons:


1. I had lots of great feedback from traders taking advantage of what I showed to profit in the past week.
2. To show you how and why this strategy works better with gold stocks and silver stocks.
3. To provide my short term gold forecast so you are on the right side of the market for next week.
4. Also you should see my major long term Gold Forecast



 

Get my gold forecast and gold trade alerts at The Gold & Oil Guy



See you in the markets!
Chris Vermeulen


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gold Forecast – This Is Going To Be Exciting

Gold Forecast: During the past year there has been very little talk about gold, silver or gold stocks in the media. Yet the year before it was all the media could talk about and they even had the price of gold streaming live all day in the corner of the TV monitor.

I am always amazed how the masses and media can be so off in their timing of the stock market and commodities in general. For example when Greece was having issues in 2012 and everyone was avoiding investments in that country like it was the plague. Looking back now, Greece is up huge and only recently investors are confident enough to put money into the Greek stock market again.

But the truth is that big move has already happend, and the US and global markets are in rotation (changing trends). Money is slowly shifting from what has been hot during the past year or two, to new investments which have a lot more room to rise in value. And this is leads us back to my gold forecast.

If you are at all familiar with Stan Weinstein’s work, then you understand the four market stages. If not, you can learn these four stages on my Stan Weinstein page. Through stage analysis we can predict the type of price action we should expected and have a rough idea just how long a move (new trend) is likely to last. It is important to know that Stan Weinstein’s stage analysis works on any time frame from a one minute chart to a monthly chart. If you do not know this then you are trading almost blind without a doubt.

Current stage analysis looks as though the US stock market may be starting to form a stage three top. There are several indicators and market behaviors which are screaming, telling us to trade with caution to the long side. But the masses do not see this or hear what is unfolding in front of their very own eyes, and that I fine. It actually reminds me of a funny old movie called “hear no evil, see no evil”.

In short, the market is showing some signs of distribution selling in stocks, and the once market leaders are now getting completely crushed with heavy selling volume like the biotech stocks, social media stocks and other momentum stocks and this is bad.

Gold on the other had has been forming a stage one basing pattern. This provides a very bullish long term gold forecast that investors could ride for several years.

-----------------------

Q: Where Will Investment Capital Go During The Next Bear Market In stocks?

 

A: One of the places will be precious metals. Click here for my gold forecast which shows the main reason why

-----------------------
 

Gold Forecast Coles Notes:

 

1. The U.S. dollar index has setup a massive stage 3 topping pattern on the weekly chart. A falling dollar will send the price of gold higher naturally.

2. Bullish gold forecasts by the media have dropped substantially, meaning everyone is bearish on gold.

3. Gold stocks are already showing signs of massive accumulation. I always use the price and volume action of gold stocks to help create and time my gold forecasts which it starting to look bullish.

Gold Forecast Conclusion:

 

Gold market traders should understand that precious metals in general are still months away from breaking out to the upside and starting a new bull market. Do not be in a rush to buy gold or gold stocks yet. There will be plenty of time folks.

See you in the markets!
Chris Vermeulen 

Get My Daily Video Gold Forecast & Gold Trading Alerts at The Gold & Oil Guy




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Friday, April 18, 2014

Doug Casey’s Coming Super Bubble

By Louis James, Chief Metals & Mining Investment Strategist

In many of my conversations with legendary speculator Doug Casey since the crash of 2008, Doug has talked about a coming super bubble.

Everything Doug has studied about human nature, history, and economics—from Roman times right up to the present—has him absolutely convinced that the global economy is headed for high inflation, with a very real potential for hyperinflation in the US.

Ben Bernanke's panicked deployment of squadrons of cash-laden choppers has been emulated around the world. The Bank of International Settlements estimates that global debt markets now exceed $100 trillion.
The laws of economics—maybe even physics—say that this inflation, whenever it arrives, must have consequences… and that those consequences cannot be avoided forever.

The easiest consequence to predict, and the one we're betting heavily on, is that the price of gold will move higher. Much higher. That move will in turn ignite a bubble in gold stocks and, as Doug likes to say, a super-bubble in junior gold stocks.

Jeff Clark, editor of our BIG GOLD newsletter, recently illustrated what such a super-bubble can look like, citing figures from several historic bull markets. I hesitate to repeat any of his figures because the right junior stocks' gains when the market goes bubbly are, frankly, hard to believe. However, it is a fact that quite a few junior stocks achieved the much vaunted 10 bagger status (1,000% gains) in previous bubbles, and some even returned 100 fold.

Here’s the essential reason why junior mining stocks are Doug's favorite speculations.

Let's start at the beginning: Doug's mantra is that one should buy gold for prudence and gold stocks for profit. These are very different kinds of asset deployment.

It's particularly important not to think of gold as an investment, but as wealth protection. It's the only highly liquid financial asset that is not simultaneously someone else's liability. Every ounce of gold you physically possess is value in solid form—there is no short to your long. Come hell or high water, it is value you can liquidate and use to secure your needs. That's why gold is for prudence.

Gold stocks are for speculation because they offer leverage to gold. This is actually true of all mining stocks and, more broadly, of stocks in commodity-related companies; they all tend to magnify the price movements in the underlying commodity. But the phenomenon is especially strong in the highly volatile precious metals.

Allow me to illustrate—and in an effort to avoid seeming overly promotional, I'll show how gold stocks' leverage works on the downside as well as the upside. Bad news first: here's a chart showing how gold retreated during October and November of 2008, the worst two months of that year's crash for mining stocks. Also shown are an index of gold juniors and our own portfolio performance. This was, of course, a terrific time to buy, resulting in spectacular gains over the next two years.




Now the good news: here's a chart showing the performance of the same three things in January and February of this year, which saw a major rally in the gold sector.





Here's one more, with a particularly telling point to make. This is the stock price of ATAC Resources (ATC.V) over the same time period as the chart above. The point I want to draw your attention to is that the company had no major news during the time period shown. It's a Yukon gold play, buried deep under the famous snows of the Great White North, so there's no exploration under way, and there won't be until the snow melts weeks or months from now.




This third chart shows in one simple yet powerful way exactly why Doug loves buying these stocks when they're on sale and selling them when they go into bubble mode. ATAC essentially did nothing and still shot up over an order of magnitude more than gold. Note that while this third chart looks like the second, the scales are quite different. (ATAC, by the way, is part of my special report, 10 Bagger List for 2014, that details nine companies I believe could show 1,000% or more returns this year. Note that the report was written before the big move upward you see in the chart above.)

It's worth emphasizing that ATAC's performance this year is just on a rebound from recent lows—imagine what a stock like this could do when Doug's super-bubble for gold stocks arrives.

But what if it doesn't? Or worse—what if we already missed it?

I remember a conversation with Doug back in 2011, when gold rose to within reach of $2,000 per ounce. Many mainstream analysts said gold was in a bubble. I told Doug I couldn't understand why anyone would listen to analysts who've called the gold trend wrong every year since the current bull cycle started. I remember Doug chuckling and saying: "Just wait and see—this is barely an overture."

I am certain Doug is right. That's not because he's the guru, nor because I'm a nutty gold bug, but because no government in history has ever multiplied its currency base without sparking serious and often fatal inflation. That's a fact, not an opinion, backed by enough data to make me extremely confident in predicting what lies ahead for the US dollar, even if I can't say exactly when we'll reach the tipping point.

Since that 2011 interim peak, as we all know painfully well, gold has backed off on par with the correction in the middle of the great 1970s gold bull market. But economic realities require that the market turn around and head for his long predicted super bubble in junior mining stocks before too long. That makes the correction the last, best time to build a substantial position in the stocks best positioned to profit from the coming bubble.

And now Doug is saying that he believes the upturn is at hand. He expects a steadily rising market for a year or two, perhaps more, but not many more, culminating in a market mania for the record books.

Our market does appear to have bottomed. It may take a while to go into its mania phase, but it's already heating up. No one is going to want to be short when this train leaves the station—and the conductor has blown the whistle.

To find out what you could be missing if you don’t invest in junior mining stocks right now, watch Casey Research’s recent video event, Upturn Millionaires—How to Play the Turning Tides in the Precious Metals Market. With resource and investment experts Doug Casey, Frank Giustra, Rick Rule, Porter Stansberry, Ross Beaty, John Mauldin, Marin Katusa, and myself. Watch it here for free, or click here to find out more about my 10 Bagger List for 2014.

The article Doug Casey’s Coming Super Bubble was originally published at Casey Research


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Listening to the Canary

By Terry Coxon, Senior Economist

During World War II, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) undertook a plan of misdirection to allow a squadron of bombers to approach an exceptionally valuable target in Europe undetected. The target was so heavily guarded that destroying it would require more than the usual degree of surprise.


Although the RAF was equipped to jam the electronic detection of aircraft along the route to the target (a primitive forebear of radar was then in use), they feared that the jamming itself would alert the defending forces. Their solution was to “train” the defending German personnel to believe something that wasn't true. The RAF had a great advantage in undertaking the training: The intended trainees were operating equipment that was novel and far from reliable; and those operators were trying to interpret signals without the help of direct observation, such as actually seeing what they were charged with detecting.

At sunrise on the first day, the RAF broadcast a jamming signal for just a fraction of minute. On the second day, it broadcast a jamming signal for a bit longer than a minute, also around sunrise. On each successive day, it sent the signal for a somewhat longer and longer time, but always starting just before sunrise.

The training continued for nearly three months, and the German radar personnel interpreted the signals their equipment gave them in just the way the British intended. They concluded that their equipment operates poorly in the atmospheric conditions present at sunrise and that the problem grows as the season progresses. That mistaken inference allowed an RAF squadron to fly unnoticed far enough into Europe to destroy the target.

People will get used to almost anything if it goes on for long enough. And the getting-used-to-it process doesn't take long at all if it's something that people don't understand well and that they can't experience directly. They hear about Quantitative Easing and money printing and government deficits, but they never see those things happening in plain view, unlike a car wreck or burnt toast, and they never feel it happening to themselves.

QE has become just a story, and it's been going on for so long that it has no scare value left. That's why so few investors notice that the present situation of the U.S. economy and world investment markets is beyond unusual. The situation is weird, and dangerously so. But we've all gotten used to it.

Here are the four main points of weirdness:
  1. The Federal Reserve is still fleeing the ghost of the dot-com bubble. It was so worried that the collapse of the dot-com bubble (beginning in March 2000) would damage the economy that it stepped hard on the monetary accelerator. The growth rate of the M1 money supply jumped from near 0% to near 10%. This had the hoped for result of making the recession that began the following year brief and mild.
  1. A nice result, if that had been all. But there was more. Injecting a big dose of money to inoculate the economy against recession set off a bubble in the housing market. Starting in 2003, the Fed began gradually lowering the growth rate of the money supply to cool the rise in housing prices. That, too, produced the intended result; in 2006, housing prices began drifting lower.

    But again, there was a further consequence—the financial collapse that began in 2008. This time, the Federal Reserve stomped on the monetary accelerator with both feet, and the growth of the money supply hit a year-over-year rate of 21%. It's still growing rapidly, at an annual rate of 9%.
  1. The nonstop expansion of the money supply since 2008 has kept money market interest close to zero. Rates on longer-term debt aren't zero but are extraordinarily low. The ten-year Treasury bond currently yields just 2.7%; that's up from a low of 1.7%.

    The flow of new money has been irrigating all financial markets. In the U.S., stocks and bonds tremble at each hint the Fed is going to turn the faucet down just a little. And it's not just US markets that are affected. When credit in the US is ultra cheap, billions are borrowed here and invested elsewhere, all around the world, which pushes up investment prices almost everywhere.
  1. US federal debt management is living on borrowed time. The deficit for 2013 was only $600 billion, down from trillion dollar plus levels of recent years. But this less terrible than before figure was achieved only by the grace of extraordinarily low interest rates, which limit the cost of servicing existing government debt. Should interest rates rise, less than terrible will seem like happy times.
Almost no one imagines that the current situation can continue indefinitely. But is there a way for it to end nicely? For most investors, the expectation (or perhaps just the hope) that things can gracefully return to normal rests on confidence that the people in charge, especially the Federal Reserve governors, are really, really smart and know what they're doing. The best minds are on the job.

If the best minds were in charge of designing a bridge, I would expect the bridge to hold up well even in a storm. If the best minds were in charge of designing an airplane, I would expect it to fly reliably. But if the best minds were in charge of something no one really knows how to do, I would be ready for a failure, albeit a failure with superb academic credentials.

Despite all the mathematics that has been spray-painted on it, economics isn't a modern science. It's a primitive science still weighted with cherished beliefs and unproven dogma. It's in about the same stage of development today that medicine was in the 17th century, when the best minds of science were arguing whether the blood circulates through the body or just sits in the veins. Today economists argue whether newly created cash will circulate through the economy or just sit in the hands of the recipients.

Let's look at the puzzle the best minds now face.

If the Federal Reserve were simply to continue on with the money printing that began in 2008, the economy would continue its slow recovery, with unemployment drifting lower and lower. Then the accumulated increase in the money supply would start pushing up the rate of price inflation, and it would push hard. Only a sharp and prolonged slowdown in monetary growth would rein in price inflation. But that would be reflected in much higher interest rates, which would push the federal deficit back above the trillion dollar mark and also push the economy back into recession.

So the Fed is trying something else. They’ve begun the so called taper, which is a slowing of the growth of the money supply. Their hope is that if they go about it with sufficient precision and delicacy, they can head off catastrophic price inflation without undoing the recovery. What is their chance of success?

My unhappy answer is "very low." The reason is that they aren't dealing with a linear system. It's not like trying to squeeze just the right amount of lemon juice into your iced tea. With that task, even if you don't get a perfect result, being a drop or two off the ideal won't produce a bad result. Tinkering with the money supply, on the other hand, is more like disarming a bomb—and going about it according to the current theory as to whether it's the blue wire or the red wire that needs to be cut means a small failure isn’t possible.

Adjusting the growth of the money supply sets off multiple reactions, some of which can come back to bite. Suppose, for example, that the taper proceeds with such a light touch that the U.S. economy doesn't tank. But that won't be the end of the story. Stock and bond markets in most countries have been living on the Fed's money printing. The touch that's light enough for the U.S. markets might pull the props out from under foreign markets—which would have consequences for foreign economies that would feed back into the U.S. through investment losses by U.S. investors, loan defaults against U.S. lenders, and damage to U.S. export markets. With that feedback, even the light touch could turn out not to have been light enough.

To see what the consequences of economic mismanagement can be, and how stealthily disaster can creep up on you, watch the 30 minute documentary, Meltdown America. Witness the harrowing tales of three ordinary people who lived through a crisis, and how their experiences warn of the turmoil that could soon reach the US. Click here to watch it now.

The article Listening to the Canary was originally published at Casey Research


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Every Central Bank for Itself

By John Mauldin



“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
– Mike Tyson

For the last 25 days I’ve been traveling in Argentina and South Africa, two countries whose economies can only be described as fragile, though for very different reasons. Emerging market countries face a significantly different set of challenges than the developed world does. These challenges are compounded by the rather indifferent policies of developed world central banks, which are (even if somewhat understandably) entirely self centered. Argentina has brought its problems upon itself, but South Africa can somewhat justifiably express frustration at the developed world, which, as one emerging market central bank leader suggests, is engaged in a covert currency war, one where the casualties are the result of unintended consequences. But the effects are nonetheless real if you’re an emerging market country.

While I will write a little more about my experience in South Africa at the end of this letter, first I want to cover the entire emerging market landscape to give us some context. Full and fair disclosure requires that I give a great deal of credit to my rather brilliant young associate, Worth Wray, who’s helped me pull together a great deal of this letter while I am on the road in a very busy speaking tour here in South Africa for Glacier, a local platform intermediary. They have afforded me the opportunity to meet with a significant number of financial industry participants and local businessman, at all levels of society. It has been a very serious learning experience for me. But more on that later; let’s think now about the problems facing emerging markets in general.

Every Central Bank for Itself

Every general has a plan before going into battle, which immediately begins to change upon contact with the enemy. Everyone has a plan until they get hit… and emerging markets have already taken a couple of punches since May 2013, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first signaled his intent to “taper” his quantitative easing program and thereby incrementally wean the markets off of their steady drip of easy money. It was not too long after that Ben also suggested that he was not responsible for the problems of emerging-market central banks – or any other central bank, for that matter.

As my friend Ben Hunt wrote back in late January, Chairman Bernanke turned a single data point into a line during his last months in office, when he decided to taper by exactly $10 billion per month. He established the trend, and now the markets are reacting as if the Fed's exit strategy has officially begun.

Whether the FOMC can actually turn the taper into a true exit strategy ultimately depends on how much longer households and businesses must deleverage and how sharply our old age dependency ratio rises, but markets seem to believe this is the beginning of the end. For now, that’s what matters most.

Under Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s leadership, the Fed continues to send a clear message to the rest of the world: Now it really is every central bank for itself. 

The QE-Induced Bubble Boom in Emerging Markets

By trying to shore up their rich-world economies with unconventional policies such as ultra low rate targets, outright balance sheet expansion, and aggressive forward guidance, major central banks have distorted international real interest rate differentials and forced savers to seek out higher (and far riskier) returns for more than five years.

This initiative has fueled enormous overinvestment and capital misallocation – and not just in advanced economies like the United States.

As it turns out, the biggest QE-induced imbalances may be in emerging markets, where, even in the face of deteriorating fundamentals, accumulated capital inflows (excluding China) have nearly DOUBLED, from roughly $5 trillion in 2009 to nearly $10 trillion today. After such a dramatic rise in developed world portfolio allocations and direct lending to emerging markets, developed world investors now hold roughly one third of all emerging market stocks by market capitalization and also about one third of all outstanding emerging market bonds.

The Fed might as well have aimed its big bazooka right at the emerging world. That’s where a lot of the easy money ran blindly in search of more attractive real interest rates, bolstered by a broadly accepted growth story.

The conventional wisdom – a particularly powerful narrative that became commonplace in the media – suggested that emerging markets were, for the first time in a long time, less risky than developed markets, despite their having displayed much higher volatility throughout the past several decades.

As a general rule, people believed emerging markets had much lower levels of government debt, much stronger prospects for consumption led growth, and far more favorable demographics. (They overlooked the fact that crises in the 1980s and 1990s still limited EM borrowing limits until 2009 and ignored the fact that EM consumption is a derivative of demand and investment from the developed world.)

Instead of holding traditional safe haven bonds like US treasuries or German bunds, some strategists (who shall not be named) even suggested that emerging market government bonds could be the new safe haven in the event of major sovereign debt crises in the developed world. And better yet, it was suggested that denominating these investments in local currencies would provide extra returns over time as EM currencies appreciated against their developed market peers.

Sadly, the conventional wisdom about emerging markets and their currencies was dead wrong. Herd money (typically momentum based, yield chasing investors) usually chases growth that has already happened and almost always overstays its welcome. This is the same disappointing boom/bust dynamic that happened in Latin America in the early 1980s and Southeast Asia in the mid 1990s. And this time, it seems the spillover from extreme monetary accommodation in advanced countries has allowed public and private borrowers to leverage well past their natural carrying capacity.

Anatomy of a “Balance of Payments” Crisis

The lesson is always the same, and it is hard to avoid. Economic miracles are almost always too good to be true. Whether we’re talking about the Italian miracle of the ’50s, the Latin American miracle of the ’80s, the Asian Tiger miracles of the ’90s, or the housing boom in the developed world (the US, Ireland, Spain, et al.) in the ’00s, they all have two things in common: construction (building booms, etc.) and excessive leverage. As a quick aside, does that remind you of anything happening in China these days?

Just saying…...Broad based, debt fueled overinvestment may appear to kick economic growth into overdrive for a while; but eventually disappointing returns and consequent selling lead to investment losses, defaults, and banking panics. And in cases where foreign capital seeking strong growth in already highly valued assets drives the investment boom, the miracle often ends with capital flight and currency collapse.

Economists call that dynamic of inflow induced booms followed by outflow induced currency crises a “balance of payments cycle,” and it tends to occur in three distinct phases.

In the first phase, an economic boom attracts foreign capital, which generally flows toward productive uses and reaps attractive returns from an appreciating currency and rising asset prices. In turn, those profits fuel a self-reinforcing cycle of foreign capital inflows, rising asset prices, and a strengthening currency.

In the second phase, the allure of promising recent returns morphs into a growth story and attracts ever stronger capital inflows – even as the boom begins to fade and the strong currency starts to drag on competitiveness. Capital piles into unproductive uses and fuels overinvestment, overconsumption, or both; so that ever more inefficient economic growth increasingly depends on foreign capital inflows. Eventually, the system becomes so unstable that anything from signs of weak earnings growth to an unanticipated rate hike somewhere else in the world can trigger a shift in sentiment and precipitous capital flight.

To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best-selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – Please Click Here.

The article Thoughts from the Frontline: "Every Central Bank for Itself" was originally published at Mauldin Economics


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