Central banks are institutions that manage a nation’s currency, money supply, and interest rates. Central banks also oversee a nation’s banking system and are the lenders of last resort in a time of crisis. Central banks are normally a separate body from the political establishment. The goal of central banks is to create stability and low inflation in the system.
With nine months behind us this year, today we look at how two popular forms of investment have done in 2014 and where I think they are headed for the remainder of the year.
Starting with stocks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed yesterday up 2.8% for the year. Given the risk of the stock market, 2.8% is no big gain. I wrote at the beginning of 2014 that the return on stocks would not be worth the risk this year. I was on the money. When we look at the broad market, the Russell 2000 Index is down 5.4% for the year.
Going forward, as you know as a reader of Profit Confidential, I see stocks as risky. Plain and simple, stocks are overpriced in an environment where the Federal Reserve is putting the brakes on paper money printing and is warning that interest rates are going higher.
On a typical day, I see the Dow Jones up 100 points; the next day, it’s down 100 points. This is happening in an environment where trading volume has collapsed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see October deliver us a nasty stock market crash.
Moving to gold (and this is very interesting), gold is flat for the year in U.S. dollars. But if we look at gold in Japanese yen, gold is up 4.6% for 2014. If we look at gold in Canadian dollars, bullion is up 4.6% as well this year. And if we measure gold in euros, we find gold bullion prices are up 10.4% in 2014.
What explains this?
Yesterday, the U.S. dollar hit another six-year high … Read More
For the U.S. federal government’s fiscal year, which ends this Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts a budget deficit of $506 billion. (Source: Congressional Budget Office web site, September 26, 2014.)
But just because our annual deficit is declining, that doesn’t mean our national debt is rising by an equal amount.
In fact, between September 20, 2013 and September 20, 2014, the U.S. national debt increased by $1.0 trillion. (Source: Treasury Direct, last accessed September 23, 2014.)
And the government is expected to post budget deficits until at least 2024.
According to a report released by the CBO, the U.S. government’s budget deficits will amount to $7.19 trillion between 2015 and 2024. (Source: Congressional Budget Office, August 27, 2014.) That’s roughly $780 billion a year on average.
Each year the government incurs a budget deficit, it has to borrow money to pay for its expenses and as a result, the national debt increases.
With the national debt now at $17.7 trillion, adding another $7.19 trillion takes the total to $24.89 trillion within 10 years. But as I showed you earlier in this story, government debt is rising at a much faster pace than national debt.
My prediction: a national debt of $34.0 trillion within 10 years.
For the current fiscal year, the U.S. government is estimated to pay $430 billion in interest on the national debt. The Federal Reserve has stated it plans to raise interest rates starting in 2015 and will continue to do so right through to 2017.
According to the CBO, interest payments on the government’s debt will triple within 10 years.
While I’m sure traders … Read More
Since May, when it was near an all-time low, the U.S. dollar has rallied. Compared to other major currencies of the world, the greenback is up five percent since July, as the chart below illustrates.
The question: should investors get into this U.S. dollar rally?
Dear reader, the U.S. dollar is not moving higher because the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are getting better. It’s moving higher because other parts of the global economy are doing worse than the U.S.
The eurozone economy is so weak that the European Central Bank has lowered interest rates again, pushing the value of the euro lower. In the United Kingdom, Scotland is looking for independence. The crisis between Russia and Ukraine continues without resolution. New troubles are brewing in the Middle East. China reported yesterday it would start pumping money into its largest banks.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Right now, with the majority of major world central banks either printing more of their paper money or bringing interest rates even lower, the U.S. is the best of the worst.
But I believe the rally in the U.S. dollar will be short-lived.
Central banks are trying to move away from the U.S. dollar as their reserve currency. At one point, trade in the global economy was dominated by the U.S. dollar. This is changing, slowly but surely.
Consider just one of many recent examples; the Chinese and Argentinian central banks will be doing an $11.0-billion currency swap operation. This will allow Argentina to increase its reserves and pay for Chinese imports in yuan—the deal was signed in July. (Source: Reuters, September 7, 2014.)
Putting … Read More
The numbers are in…
In the second quarter of 2014, world central banks bought 117.8 tonnes of gold bullion compared to 92.1 tonnes a year earlier—a jump of 28%. Central banks have been net purchasers of gold bullion for 14 consecutive quarters!
According to the World Gold Council, “Economic and geopolitical events throughout the world are sources of ongoing instability and uncertainty. Such events reinforce the requirement for appropriate risk management by central banks through holding gold reserves for asset diversification.” (Source: “Gold Demand Trends Q2 2014,” World Gold Council web site, August 14, 2014.)
Hog wash, I say. Central banks are buying gold bullion because they are slowly moving away from U.S. dollars as their reserve currency and replacing them with gold bullion.
In the second quarter, Russia purchased 54 tonnes of gold bullion, Kazakhstan purchased seven tonnes, and Tajikistan bought three tonnes. Combined, just these three central banks made up more than 54% of all the official purchases of gold bullion in the second quarter.
You won’t see the central banks of France or Germany buying gold bullion because they already have enough (that’s if Germany can ever get its gold back from the U.S.).
So if demand for gold bullion is rising, as evidenced by central banks buying more, gold coin sales near record highs, and gold demand in India rising again now that the government is easing tariffs on gold imports, the million-dollar question is why aren’t gold prices rising?
There is plenty of discussion on the Internet about gold manipulation and how prices are purposely being kept down. I can’t comment on that, but I … Read More
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