"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


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

TIPS Spread Echoes FOMC Minutes

I mentioned in an earlier post today that the FOMC essentially downplayed inflation fears in the minutes released today. That seemed to be one of the big factors involved in the sharp move lower in gold after it had spiked higher and moved back not only to the unchanged level but had tacked on some mediocre gains as well. That was all abruptly reversed after the market had some time to chew over the minutes.

Along that line, here is an updated chart of the TIPS spread comparing the price of gold to the movements in the spread. I want to point out that the most recent spread fell to more than a 3 year low this week! Clearly, the market has no concerns whatsoever about any budding inflationary fears. Such a thing is not good news for gold bulls.

When I look at this chart, I am struck by how closely the gold price has tracked this simple spread since September 2011. There were only two brief intervals when the spread went one way and the gold price went the other and that was Q4 2012 and briefly again in Q4 2013. It will be interesting to see if something changes in this current year as we are in Q4 and the two lines are tracking very closely to one another.

Gold is going to be especially dependent therefore on very strong offtake from India to keep it supported. I just do not see a fundamental driver right now that would entice Western-based investment demand to ramp up in a large way at the moment.

The metal is going to continue taking its cues from the Foreign Exchange markets therefore. Strong support has emerged at and below $1180 in the past week. That needs to continue or else bears are going to pounce once again with the FOMC minutes giving them some more confidence after the recent torrid rallies had dealt a big blow to it.

It seems to me that bulls have been pinning their hopes on the Swiss Gold Referendum Vote and a Dovish Vote. Scratch the latter after today's FOMC minute release. The former is still unclear.

Fed Downplays Inflation Worries

Going over these FOMC statements is akin to the ancient art of divining the future by the examination of animal entrails. I can see the conversation:

Demetrius: "I see what appears to be a twisted piece of gut. That is a sign from the gods that the future is twisted and unclear. Perhaps we should wait before going to war".

Apollos: " I see the same thing but tells me that our enemies will lie twisted and ruined on the ground. We should to war immediately".

Lydia: " I see a big fat worm. That tells me that this animal is so screwed up on the inside that we should not believe a single thing this entrail reading crap tells us".

The takeaway I get however has to do with inflation. We have been saying here for some time now, much to the chagrin of some of the gold perma bulls, that the market is not the least bit worried about inflation at the moment. That sentiment has been reflected in the flat to lower TIPS spread as well as the sinking commodity indices. Also, the concern of both the ECB and the Bank of Japan as been the LACK of INFLATION and what they like to euphemistically term, 'disinflation'.

Today our Fed said essentially the same thing if I am reading the entrails correctly.

Here is a short excerpt from the statement:

"... inflation edging lower in near term partly due to decline in oil prices..."

There are several other interesting things in the statement but that one seems to have caught the attention of investors/traders. Simply put - if the Fed is not worried about inflation than neither are we going to worry about is how the market seems to have reacted to things.

Another thing was the Fed's remarks on the recent "mid-October turbulence in financial markets". The Fed essentially glossed over that by stating that they saw the impact of those recent "world developments as likely quite limited".

Gold, which has been all over the place in today's session, seemed to finally digest the statement by heading lower. If there is no inflationary concerns and the Fed seems undeterred by any of the recent financial issues buffeting the global economy, traders viewed the statement as "hawkish" or perhaps a better way of saying it, "not dovish".

Like I said when I started this set of comments - deciphering these pronouncements from on high sure is an enormous waste of time but the fact is that the markets respond to them so one might as well at least try to get the flavor of the moment.

Gold has fallen to just above that key $1180 level a second time in today's session. Bulls are trying to hold it there but the mining shares falling out of bed have pretty much undercut any attempt to push it up and away from there at the moment. Maybe that will change before the session is out - give it 5 minutes!

Had Enough of Roller Coaster Rides Yet?

My kids love to ride those wickedly wild roller coasters, the kind that leave your stomach suspended in mid-air at the top of the track while the cart is already down at the bottom of the valley. Every now and then, against my better judgment, I will let them twist my arm enough to strap myself into one of those things just so that I can inflict on myself the same punishment that they seem to delight in inflicting on themselves.

There was one coaster we went to where they had a camera set up with a strobe light that snapped your picture as your cart went past it on a particularly treacherous portion of the ride. I recall looking through those when we finished the ride and were lingering around at the customer staging area to see what the expression on my face was out of sheer curiosity. Yep - it looked like I was the victim of one of those infamous native American Indians, the Apaches, torture of their white eye prisoners.

After watching the doings in gold and silver this AM, I could wear my kids somehow strapped me back into one of those infernal roller coasters!

Look at the Gold Volatility Index and tell me how anyone in their right mind can try to trade this stuff at the moment? I have heard of "day-traders". Hey, that is long term - try "15 second interval traders" for the new kids on the block!

As I have said just recently - if this keeps up much longer in the precious metals, look for margin requirement hikes very soon.... Small traders - I STRONGLY URGE you to be very, very careful in here. I do not care whether you are bullish or bearish. Betting the farm on a move either way is akin to hari-kari. Want to end any fledgling trading career you might have? Then go ahead and "Bet the Farm", or "Load the Truck" or whatever. Don't complain when they carry you out.

Let the volatility die down some if you want to trade large. By the way - ignore ALL NEWSLETTER WRITERS RIGHT NOW. Not a single one of them have the least clue as to which way this thing is going to go. Roll the dice and you have as much chance of getting it right.

Option guys - take notice once again!

"NO" Leading in Polls - Swiss Vote Referendum Derails Gold - UPDATED

I will get more on this later as time permits...

The polls seem to have shifted AGAINST the referendum. That has pulled the rug out from under the gold market which has been drawing support from recent polls showing "YES" had a slight lead.

I believe that once the public realizes that the SWB will be at a serious disadvantage in maintaining the Swiss Franc/Euro peg if the referendum passes, the mood will shift against it.

Quick note - gold has lost $1180 once again. That is a big deal. It needs to stay above that level to keep the bullish hopes alive.


38% YES

47% NO

For those who are still unclear on this referendum - if it passes, the SWB will be required to hold 20% of its assets in Gold.

Japanese Yen Fall Delights Abe Government in Japan

It is no secret that the Japanese leaders have been wanting a weaker yen. All of their policies, both at the fiscal and monetary level, have been designed to weaken the currency as part of their efforts to pull the nation out of its decades long deflationary funk.

We can get into the various reasons for their woes but this is not the place nor the time for that now. What I do want to look at however is the success that they are having in driving their currency lower.

One look at this chart pretty much says it all. KERPLUNK!

I wish to point out something that occurred last December (2013). The yen broke down below the support level that had formed off the spike low made in May. It looked as if it was getting ready to put in another leg lower but that breach of important support turned out to be a head fake for the bears.

I remember trading it at that time. What was taking place was big swings between "RISK ON" and "RISK OFF" trades. During the risk off trades, the Yen would experience sharp rallies as the highly leverage carry trades would get rapidly unwound with traders covering short yen positions in a very large way. That would squeeze the currency higher. As the fears/concerns that led to the rally subsided, the short selling would begin anew and back down the currency would go. A new set of worries would then see a repeat of the rally and back and forth we went.

The takeaway from all that however was the fact that when we got that initial breach of downside support in December, we DID NOT get a secondary lower close to confirm that breach.

However, look at what happened in August and September of this year. In August the yen once again violated that support zone. This time around, the following month, the market confirmed the breakout by posting a sharply lower close ( the second close below the broken support zone). The rest, as they say, is history.

The Yen has essentially imploded lower as it does the bidding of its monetary masters in Japan who have greenlighted speculators to beat it senseless for them.

Having been on the wrong side of the Bank of Japan on more than one occasion in my currency trading career, I can tell you it is definitely not much fun. When one does find favor in their eyes, it is an entirely different matter.

I have noted some areas on the chart where the currency might be able to find some support. Notice there still seems to be a great deal of air below this market. Keep in mind that any sort of scare that surfaces to trouble investors, will see sharp countertrend rallies in the Yen as the carry trade gets temporarily unwound.

One other point to make about this - there are still gold perma bulls who send me one negative story after another ( or so they think) in regards to the US Dollar and its soon to be imminent demise ( in their mind). For some odd reason, they seem to forget that the Dollar derives any value it has on the crosses from trading  against other currencies. With the yen falling as hard as it has been, reading their breathless predictions about the upcoming Dollar crash seems a bit surreal to say the least. Apparently, they are not looking at this chart.

the last point - notice how the downside "head fake" that I noted on the chart was followed by a seven month or so period of price consolation prior to the next strong leg lower. Until we got that second close below the support level, the yen refused to break lower. In watching what has been happening with gold, it strikes me that we are perhaps seeing something similar.

The recent breach of support at $1180 looked pretty ominous as it was a triple bottom. However, the market has thus far refused to CONFIRM that downside breach by posting solid consecutive closes BELOW the level. It has spiked lower but has popped back up the last two weeks.

I wonder if we might be seeing something similar occurring in gold that we saw in the Yen? If we are, we will get the confirmation by a strong close below $1180 followed by more downside weakness on the weekly chart (( note that this is a weekly chart of gold and not a monthly like I used for the Yen)).

If not, gold should move higher and first take out that resistance zone noted the chart near $1240-$1260. We shall see shall we not?