by Egon von Greyerz – Matterhorn Asset Management
This month we will discuss the illusion of gold going up. We will examine the destiny of the dollar and why it will reach its intrinsic value of zero. We will also demonstrate why money printing will accelerate rapidly in the next 12-24 months.
The problem with paper money is that governments can create unlimited amounts. This is what they have done throughout history and especially in the last 100 years and which has led to the total destruction of most currencies. Most people don’t even understand that their government makes their money worthless. Money printing gives them the illusion of being richer whilst all they have are pieces of paper with more zeros on them. But there is one currency that governments can’t print which is gold. Gold has been real money for almost 5,000 years and it is the only currency that has survived throughout history. Gold can’t be printed and no government controls it. Therefore gold will, over time, always reveal governments’ fraudulent actions in creating money out of thin air. And this is what we are experiencing currently. Gold is not going up. Instead gold is doing what it has always done, namely maintaining its value and purchasing power.
What we are seeing currently is the total annihilation of paper money whether it is Dollars, Pounds or Euros etc. The chart below shows the US dollar against gold. In the last 10 years the dollar has declined by 79% against gold. Most currencies have declined by similar percentages. So it is an illusion to believe that gold is going up when it is the value of paper money that is going down. All gold is doing is to reflect the virtually limitless printing of paper currencies. Since gold can’t be printed, it is the only honest currency that exists. This is why many governments don’t like gold increasing in value against their paper money since it exposes their total incompetence in running their country’s economy.
The chart above shows how the purchasing power of the dollar has declined in real money – gold – in the last 10 years. And if we take the period from 1909 to 2009 it shows the total destruction of paper money. In 1909, $1,000 bought 50 ounces of gold. Today it buys 0.83 ounces. This means that in the last 100 years the dollar has declined by 98.3% against gold. So in real money terms the dollar is now only worth 1.7% of what it was worth a century ago. Thus, the US government (as well as most other governments) has totally destroyed the value of real money by issuing unlimited amounts of paper money and in the next few years they will also kill off the remaining 1.7% of value to make the paper dollar reach its intrinsic value of zero. The chart below reflects various currencies fall against the dollar since from 1900 to 2004.
To talk about gold being over-extended at these levels is in our view absolute nonsense. As we will discuss later, money printing can only accelerate in the coming months and years. And when worthless pieces of paper are printed, gold will always reveal such a fraud by maintaining its value against the ever increasing supply of paper called “money”.
In our view we have not seen the real move in gold yet although we have gone from $250 to $1,226. The reasons are many:
In the last ten years the Dow Jones has declined against gold by 80%. The graph below shows gold expressed in local currencies against the Nikkei, Dax, FTSE and S&P in the last 10 years (Nov 1999 – Nov 2009). For example gold in yen has appreciated by 233% whilst the Nikkei has fallen by 46%. The graph shows how badly most stockmarkets have performed measured in “real money” i.e. gold.
The graph below shows how small the gold and silver industries and markets are in relation to major US corporations and to total world financial assets. The market capitalisation of the silver industry is only $ 9 billion and of the gold industry $ 200 B whilst Microsoft is valued at $250 B and Exxon 350 B.
Both the silver and gold industries as well as the physical markets are so small that any increase in demand is likely to drive prices very substantially higher.
Governments and especially the US are making noises that money printing will soon cease. This statement is as credible as their statement about “a strong dollar policy”. Let us be very clear; just as there is no chance whatsoever that they actually want a stronger dollar or that the dollar can go up. There is even less of a chance that money printing or Quantitative Easing will be withdrawn. Instead we will have what we call QI – Quantitative Incr-easing. The Fed will in the next couple of years do what Helicopter Bernanke always promised; i.e. print unlimited amounts of worthless paper which will complete the move of the dollar to its intrinsic value of zero. This will totally destroy the US economy, thereby creating a frightening political and social climate.
The reasons for an acceleration of money printing are manifold:
US unemployment adjusted for short- and long-term discouraged workers is now 22% as shown in the chart below. This is an absolute disaster and will have very severe ramifications for the US economy. And it is likely to get a lot worse. During the 1930s depression non-farm unemployment reached 35%. Since the real problems in the economy have not started we would expect the US unemployment to reach at least 35% in the next 2-3 years and possibly a lot higher. With over 30 million people unemployed, this will put enormous strain on the US economy with a major reduction in GDP and tax revenues and a major increase in social payments. A country that is already bankrupt today is unlikely to cope with this additional burden. Currently 36 million Americans receive food stamps, an increase of almost 3 million in the last 6 months.
The $12 trillion which the US government has injected to stave off an implosion of the financial system and economy has only benefited the financial sector. Banks that have received these funds have not lent them on to the real economy.
All they have done is to prop up their balance sheets and pay out record bonuses. But even with this massive injection of funds into the banking system virtually all banks are still bankrupt if their assets are taken at market value:
The increase in unemployment and the continued problems in the financial system are two of the major contributing factors that will make government deficits surge. But there are many other problem areas that will necessitate acceleration in money printing:
The list of areas which will need government support is endless and the US government will inevitably print money to “save” the economy.
To artificially set interest rates at zero and to print whatever money is needed goes against every single principle of sound money and a sound economy. Interest should be set by the market in order not to violate the laws of supply and demand. And money printing should be totally illegal. So why is it done? For governments to stay in power and bankers to prosper! Nobody else is prospering. Normal people are being conned into taking enormous debts that they will never be able to repay. And the value of their paper money is being totally destroyed as we have demonstrated above.
We have in the last few years made clear to our investors and readers that there will be very serious consequences arising from the actions of the government:
This report has mainly discussed the United States since what happens there has major consequences for the rest of the world. But what is likely to happen in the US is just as likely to happen in the UK and many other countries.
Many investors now feel that the worst is over with stockmarkets recovering. In our January 2009 Newsletter we forecast that the stockmarket could have a 50% recovery. We have now had that recovery, mainly fuelled by massive liquidity injection by the government and cost savings in corporations. In our view the resumption of the downtrend could start at any time.
It is not our purpose to frighten investors or to be sensational in our views and reports. Our purpose is to warn investors of the major dangers which make asset protection absolutely vital for financial survival in the next few years.
“THERE IS NO MEANS OF AVOIDING THE FINAL COLLAPSE OF A BOOM BROUGHT ABOUT BY CREDIT EXPANSION. THE ALTERNATIVE IS ONLY WHETHER THE CRISIS SHOULD COME SOONER AS THE RESULT OF A VOLUNTARY ABANDONMENT OF FURTHER CREDIT EXPANSION OR LATER AS A FINAL AND TOTAL CATASTROPHE OF THE CURRENCY SYSTEM INVOLVED.”
Ludwig von Mises – Austrian Economist (1881- 1973)