Posts Tagged ‘central banks’
Earnings estimates for Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) are going up and the stock, which recently accelerated, finally looks like it has broken out of a 13-year consolidation.
Microsoft has been an income play for quite a while. Currently yielding three percent, the company’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is around 12.5 and is not dissimilar from many other blue chips.
Then there’s Intel Corporation (INTC). This company has been struggling for capital gains, but it’s yielding 3.6% and isn’t expensively priced.
What these technology companies illustrate so well is the business cycle, both in terms of operational growth and also as equity securities. Getting the cycle correct (the right place/stock at the right time) is the toughest thing for any investor or businessperson.
Regarding stocks, both Microsoft and Intel’s long-term charts clearly show how extremely overpriced their share prices were during the bull market of the 90s. Intel’s long-term stock chart is featured below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The benefit of the very long term is that it provides a normalized but still decent rate of return with these kinds of stocks. No enterprise or investor can escape the business cycle, whether it is industry-specific, a local reality, or the general economy.
Railroad stocks have been super hot over the last several years, but for long periods of time, they were not. The solid dividend-payers that they are, you’d be hard-pressed to find Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) competing with Apple Inc. (AAPL) or Google Inc. (GOOG) for headlines.
I feel that stocks have broken out of their previous consolidation phase in favor of a new long-term cycle. But while last year’s stunning … Read More
Fasten your seatbelt, dear reader. We’re in for a global financial crisis, a currency fiasco, and a stock market collapse all in the same year!
I’m being too bearish? Not after you read this…
In their search for economic growth in 2009, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks in the global economy started lowering interest rates and printing paper money.
While the central banks of the world wanted economic growth, they inadvertently created the “trade” for big investors like financial institutions and banks. I talked about this last Friday. (See “Stock Market: The Great Collapse Back to Reality Begins.”)
The “trade” had investors borrowing money from low interest rate countries and buying bonds in high interest rate countries, pocketing the spread. In the world of finance, this is often referred to as the “carry trade.” It works as long as the currencies of the low interest rate country and the higher interest rate country stay stable.
But now, the “trade” is backfiring as the currencies of emerging markets go into free fall.
China, the biggest economy in the emerging markets and second-biggest in the global economy, got most of the “trade” money. According to the Bank for International Settlements, in 2013, foreign currency loans and borrowing by Chinese companies from other countries was close to a trillion dollars. In 2009, it was only $270 billion. (Source: Telegraph, February 1, 2014.)
European banks have the biggest exposure to emerging markets, having lent them $3.0 trillion. Breaking down this number even further, British banks have loaned $518 billion to the emerging markets; Spanish banks come in second … Read More
“Michael, you don’t know what you are talking about.” That’s pretty much what I was told back in 2005 and 2006 when I was warning extensively that the U.S. housing market would collapse.
When a boom in any form of investment is going on, and millions of people are participating in that boom, it’s hard to convince people the boom is about to bust. At a certain point, we start hearing that old saying “it’s different this time,” which means people simply don’t believe the boom will end. They try to legitimize it.
But like all booms, the bust did happen. The housing market went bust big-time, and we all know what happened after that.
Today, there’s another asset class that is booming, that investors large and small are literally running to. No, I’m not talking about the stock market (it’s already in bust mode). I’m talking about the greenback, the good old U.S. dollar.
In recent days, and despite trillions of dollars in new money created by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. dollar has gained traction as investors search for safety amid the collapsing emerging markets.
Personally, I think investors are wrong to find security in the U.S. dollar. In fact, I see its days as the leading currency of the world being numbered.
But the fundamentals that make the dollar a “safe haven” are damaged. Aside from the fact the Federal Reserve has printed trillions in new money and the government continues to take on never-to-be-repaid debt daily, central banks around the world are reducing the amount of the reserves they keep in U.S. dollars.
Please look … Read More
I have said it many times: central banks will be the major drivers of gold bullion prices going forward. Countries like China and Russia will need more of the yellow metal, because they simply don’t have enough in their reserves compared to the United States, France, Germany, or Italy (the four central banks with the biggest gold bullion reserves).
A news story that ran last week in the Shanghai Daily said the People’s Bank of China is expected to announce it has more than doubled its gold bullion reserves—from 1,054 tons to 2,710 tons. The article explained that China’s central bank bought about the same amount of gold in 2013 that it did during the years from 2009 through to 2011 combined! (Source: Shanghai Daily, January 17, 2014.)
Yes, I hear the stories of how gold prices are being manipulated. But how long can the manipulation—if it really does exist—go on in light of such aggressive gold buying from central banks like China’s?
In 2013, the Bundesbank, the central bank of Germany, said it would like to bring half of its gold bullion stored at the central bank of France and the U.S. Federal Reserve back to Germany. This amounts to 674 tons. But Germany was told it would take seven years to get the gold back to Germany!
In 2013, only 37 tons of the gold bullion came back to the Bundesbank: five tons came from the Federal Reserve and the rest came from France. (Source: Kitco News, January 20, 2014.) So where’s the gold? If the Bundesbank is bringing back only five percent of its gold each … Read More
These days, central banks are on a very dangerous monetary policy path. Paper money printing has become the norm. Major central banks around the world are taking the same actions; they have learned the phrase “quantitative easing” well. Economy’s soft; no problem! We’ll just print more money so our currency falls in value and our exports rise! (If only it were that simple.)
Two central banks are at the forefront when it comes to implementing paper money printing: the U.S.’s Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan. And it isn’t a secret how poorly these two nations are faring despite their quantitative easing efforts.
In these pages, I have been very critical of quantitative easing.
With that said, to date, I have only heard one senior financial politician and one central bank head criticize the use of quantitative easing.
Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, at a private dinner with his G20 equals this week, criticized the use of quantitative easing by the U.S. central bank. The following day, he said, “It’s not good public policy.” He said the U.S. should have never implemented quantitative easing, but “Now that they’ve done it, they should get out of it as quickly as they can.” (Source: “‘Not good public policy’: Flaherty appears at odds with BoC, G20 as he criticizes U.S. quantitative easing,” Financial Post, October 16, 2013.)
The governor of the central bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, has a similar take. He said, “[we] certainly agree that quantitative easing is one of the last things we want to be in a position to have to use.” (Source: Ibid.)
Finally, … Read More
The U.S. government, after winning World War II for the Allies, was very convincing. It told central banks around the world that they should hold the U.S. dollar as their reserve currency instead of gold, based on the idea the U.S. dollar would be backed by gold. Only limited amounts of U.S. dollars could be printed, because the currency was tied to gold bullion. Central banks bought into the idea.
Unfortunately, a few decades down the road, the concept of a U.S. dollar backed by gold was thrown out the window (thank you, President Nixon). Eventually we were introduced to the modern day printing press—printing money out of thin air at the will of the Federal Reserve without the U.S. dollar being tied to any “hard” currency like gold.
Why would anyone agree to this horrible idea?
Back in those days, the U.S. economy was prospering. Our government was in good shape and didn’t have much debt. And the logistics made sense, too, as time passed. Why wouldn’t a central bank have in its reserves the currency of the world’s strongest economy and military? Why wouldn’t a central banker keep U.S. dollars in his vault as opposed to hard-to-carry and hard-to-store gold?
Years have passed since the U.S. dollar “unglued” itself from gold. Things have changed, too. America is not so glorious anymore. Ever-rising debt and the never-ending printing of U.S. dollars have resulted in some countries changing their policy on U.S. dollar-backed reserves. And the fundamental factors that keep the U.S. dollar strong are deteriorating quickly.
The balance sheet of the U.S. economy does not look as good as … Read More
Central banks have pretty much stopped selling gold bullion, which is very important. In 1999, a number of central banks in Europe formed an alliance and agreed that they would not sell more than 400 tonnes of gold bullion per year. The agreement was called the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA). In 2004, the CBGA was renewed again; this time the limit was 500 tonnes. Once again, it was renewed for another five years in 2009, and the limit is back to the sale of no more than 400 tonnes of gold bullion per year.
The chart below shows how much gold bullion the central banks in Europe sold in each period of the CBGA. (Source: World Gold Council web site, last accessed October 11, 2013.)
Sales in Tonnes
* Sales are until 2013.
Notice anything different? The central banks in Europe have put the brakes on their sales of gold bullion. In fact, from September 27, 2012 to September 26, 2013, these central banks only sold 5.1 tonnes of gold bullion! This is hands down the lowest amount sold since the agreement started in 1999.
When it comes to stocks, if owners of a stock aren’t selling and there’s a significant number of buyers who want to buy, the price of the stock usually goes up as the simple rule of economics … Read More
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