"When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe." … Frederic Bastiat

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God. – Archbishop Chaput


Friday, November 1, 2013

More Commodity Weakness

I am monitoring the following chart with a great deal of both concern and interest. Concern because month after month of $85 billion in Bond and MBS buying by the Federal Reserve, deflationary pressures remain undaunted. Interest because the grand experiment in "unconventional" monetary measures by the Fed is proving, thus far, to have little LASTING impact on the US Dollar.

Back in 2008, when I first learned of QE1, I swore up and down that the US Dollar was finished as a result of this. Little did I know then that it would not be long before every Western Central Bank on the planet would be doing the same thing as the Fed!

I learned a valuable lesson and hopefully will be a little less dogmatic when it comes to expectations of market responses as a result. I still believe that in the long run the US Dollar is going to be in serious trouble. No nation that runs deficits and carries a national debt the size that this one does will be able to escape all the consequences of so doing. Then again, I wonder if I will still be alive long enough to see when it comes time to pay the Piper.

So far the modern day alchemists appear to be doing their thing with little consequences. This no doubt will embolden them to do even more should they feel the need (think Janet Yellen and be afraid; be very afraid). As I have stated in some private emails to others - I was shaking in my little boots when I first saw the Balance Sheet of the Federal Reserve approaching the $3 TRILLION mark. Now that it has eclipsed that and is on its way to $4 TRILLION, my attitude is: "Why not just let it go to $5 TRILLION or $6 TRILLION or even higher? Hardly anyone seems to be particularly disturbed by any of this. Certainly the stock market could care less".

Anyway, gold no longer seems to be reacting positively to ideas that the Fed is going to continue QE buying with no abatement for the near term. That is certainly cause for concern if you are a gold bull. The question then becomes, "what is it going to take as a fundamental catalyst to push gold into a sustained trend higher?"

This is the reason that the chart of the commodity sector concerns me - if after $4 trillion + of QE the commodity sector is moving LOWER, and not HIGHER, gold is going to have to find another reason for a rally other than inflation expectations. After all, it is next to impossible to make the case for inflation when the price of tangible commodities is moving down instead of up!

Note that the index below is right on the verge of making one of those important technical developments which sets Technical Analysis geeks such as myself to yapping. What I am referring to is the dreaded "Death Cross". No, this is not when the Death Star crosses in front of the Emperor's Battle Cruiser so that Luke Skywalker and friends can see it, but rather the 50 day moving average crossing down below the 200 day moving average from above.

Such a thing is a big time bearish development and portends, as a general rule, more losses ahead for the complex. In other words, we are looking at falling commodity prices as we move forward, not rising prices. This is obviously great news for the consumer who will benefit as a result but a tougher environment for those whose living deals with these products/commodities.

What this means for farmers is that the banner years that they have enjoyed in recent past are coming to a close, barring any major weather event. It also means that the price of farm land in the Corn Belt is probably as good as it is gonna get.  Farm equipment dealers too are going to get a dose of reality after selling lots of big, shiny, state of the art tractors, planters, combines, etc. As a matter of fact, I would look for the USED farm equipment business to see a boom as a result. Hey, maybe I should move to Iowa and start a used farm equipment business! I can put it right next to Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams!

For the consumer, it means lower gasoline prices at the pump. Yippee! It also means it will be cheaper to heat one's home this winter for those using heating oil. Nat gas prices are well off their lows under $2.00 but remain cheap by historical standards. So perhaps the harm from that abomination known as Obamacare will be offset somewhat for the struggling consumer in the form of lower prices at the grocery store and for energy use.

Maybe, and of course, we can dream, airlines will lower their fares or at least get rid of any fuel surcharges and actually bring us some damned food for free while we sit in their newly scrunched up seats and endure hours of torture merely because we wish to transverse the country and get to another side of it.

I find it perverse that the administration which has never met an energy pipeline it did not hate or a fossil fuel that it did not despise, gets to somehow preside over the greatest energy boom in US history. All this in spite of the obstacles that it places in front of one of the he most innovative industries in the US, the oil and gas industry. Keep in mind that the finds of oil and natural gas have been occurring on PRIVATE LANDS, not government owned lands. Those have been effectively shut to the energy industry except for those where everyone and their dogs knows that there is little to no oil or gas.

Thankfully American know-how and ingenuity continue to help make energy cheap and affordable. As an American who is deeply distressed at what is happening both to and in my nation, I am grateful that at least that is the case. Throw in the fact that the American Farmer is the still the BEST anywhere in the world, and we can be grateful that these two necessities of life, food and energy, remain relatively available and affordable, unlike other places in this world.

As far as the US Dollar and gold goes - It will come down to CONFIDENCE as far as I am concerned. When the game ends and there is the sudden awakening of the investment crowd as to the artificial nature of the entire US financial system, then and only then, will gold find its footing and shoot upward. As to when that will occur or what the catalyst/event/events that will usher in this awareness I am at a loss to say. I can only hope that I can recognize it when it does arrive.