Student debt is going to be the next big hurdle to deal with in the U.S.’s economic recovery. Total student loan debt currently stands very close to $1.0 trillion and defaults on these loans are increasing at an alarming rate, placing more pressure on economic growth.
In the third quarter of 2012, student loans delinquent over 90 days stood at an alarming 11%. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, November 2012.)
I expect this delinquency rate and default rate to rise. It’s not rocket science: there is no economic recovery or real economic growth. Americans are still suffering. The more they suffer, the more they fall back on their loan payments. Thus, how can students get a break?
Here is what the U.S. secretary of Education Arne Duncan said about the looming student debt crisis: “We continue to be concerned about the default rates and want to ensure that all borrowers have the tools to manage their debt. In addition to helping borrowers, we will also hold schools accountable for ensuring their students are not saddled with unmanageable student loan debt.” (Source: U.S. Department of Education, “Press Release: First Official Three-year Student Loan Default Rates Published,” September 28, 2012.)
According to a recent survey by Fannie Mae, 20% of respondents believe their financial condition is going to get worse over the next 12 months—this is the highest percentage of people with this opinion since August 2011. In addition, 36% of the respondents reported a significant increase in their household expenses over the past 12 months. (Source: Fannie Mae, January 7, 2013.) Inflation? Definitely not economic growth.
From what I see, dear reader, for 2013, the U.S. economy won’t be seeing any economic growth. Could the current chanting about an economic recovery by the politicians be a hoax?
If we were experiencing an economic recovery, or if there was economic growth, there simply wouldn’t be millions and millions of Americans unemployed, and they wouldn’t be expecting their pockets to shrink in size in the next 12 months as the Fannie Mae survey indicates.
As the suffering of Americans continues due to a lack of economic growth, those students who have these student loans will eventually need to default on their loans due to their inability to find a job.
In the past few weeks, there has been an influx of negative news about gold prices. News headlines vary, but, at the end of the day, it seems they all are against the yellow metal.
The London Bullion Market Association’s poll undertaken in late 2012 went as far as saying, “bull market in gold is over” under the theory that, as the U.S. economy recovers, investors will move towards different asset classes. (Source: Bloomberg, January 7, 2012.)
But haven’t gold prices been trending up for the last 12 years?
While the mainstream has been busy focusing on the gold prices declining, something interesting has happened on the gold chart. On January 4, when gold prices fell to as low as $1,626 an ounce, buyers rushed in and gold closed above $1,658. This is important, because it shows that there are investors who are willing to buy at that price level—possible short-term support. At the same time, it was the highest volume day since the end of November 2012.
Long-term; why am I still bullish on gold when everyone seems to be turning bearish? The reasons are very simple. Central banks are becoming net buyers of gold, and they are still printing their currencies at a record pace. They certainly haven’t announced when they will stop doing this, but if you follow them closely, you’ll see it may be a long time before they are done—the fundamental reasons for increased gold demand are still in place.
Where are gold prices heading next? I can’t give you the exact number, but when looking at the Dow Jones Industrial Average and gold ratio, I can say gold prices might reach $13,000.
Some economists and gold bugs believe the ratio of the price of one ounce of gold bullion to the Dow Jones Industrial Average will ultimately be one to one. Sound crazy? Well, in February of 1933, the Dow-to-gold ratio reached 1.94:1 and it touched 1.29:1 in January of 1980. (Source: Macrotrends, January 4, 2013.)
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The chart above shows the weekly Dow-to-gold ratio. Currently, the ratio is standing at 8.10—meaning, to buy the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it will cost 8.10 ounces of gold. For it to get to the one-to-one ratio mark, either the Dow Jones Industrial Average will have to fall substantially or gold prices will have to rise, or more likely a combination of both will happen.
Let’s say the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls back to where it was when the bear market started: 6,440 on March 9, 2009. In that case, gold prices would need to rise to $6,440 for the one-to-one Dow-to-gold ratio to be reached.
Dear reader, the future prospects for gold prices are nothing but shiny. A little dip in prices is normal and it is not fazing me the least. As long as central banks run their printing presses in overdrive mode, you can expect gold prices to go higher.
Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:
While it’s still early in the month, stock prices have remained relatively flat in January. Since 2010, stocks have always enjoyed a healthy rally in the month of January. Could this year buck the trend? I wouldn’t be surprised. Rising stock prices look like they are running out of gas.
What He Said:
“Why Google stock will go higher: Most investors in Google, surprisingly, are retail investors. And that’s why the stock can go higher—because only 20% of the stock is owned by institutions. If the institutions jump in and buy Google, the stock will certainly move higher.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, June 2, 2005. Michael recommended Google stock as a buy on June 2, 2005, when the stock was trading at $288.00. On November 5, 2007, when Google reached $700.00 U.S. per share, Michael advised his readers to sell their Google stock and to put the proceeds into gold-related investments. Coincidently, gold bullion was also trading at about $700.00 per ounce in November 2007. Michael’s message was to trade each $700.00 share of Google into $700.00 of gold, because he saw gold as a much better investment.