Skip to comments.You Better Read This, Gold & Greece: Not What You Think
Posted on 05/21/2010 7:43:47 AM PDT by dennisw
There is so much hysteria in the hard money camp on Greece and the European Union that one had better start looking at the facts otherwise it could cost you a lot of money.
Before discussing the Euro, Greece and Gold, let me go over some important concepts:
The economic problems faced by all countries are rooted in paper money systems. In fact, paper money systems are one of the root causes of socialism and socialist thought. Paper money also gives capitalism a bad name. Right now the temporary solutions from bail-outs and printing money will change the short and medium term outlook for many investments. These changes must be analyzed properly. The long term will always get worse from these bail out policies, but making money in the markets means having the good sense not to get carried away by hysteria from the press and gold coin shops (although everyone should buy some gold and silver coins).
Greece and the Euro
The current European Union problems with Greece and the countries expected to follow with bailouts (Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland) are serious but not as horrible as the press is reporting. The groups behind the hysteria are the usual suspects the banks who own a lot of the troubled debt that could default. Most of my friends in the hard money camp are also losing it over the Greek crisis.
Since the European banks are more leveraged than the U.S. banks were in 2008, I can see why these people and politicians would be panicked as a domino effect could happen. The solution to bail out Greece and the rest of these countries will end up with plenty of money being created. The five PIIGS countries comprise 7.7% of the global GDP and their collective Government Debt (which will increase in 2010 by 5-10%) is approx. $4.2 trillion. Approximately 30% is in danger of defaulting over the next 3-4 years. There is more private debt as well, but there are plenty of assets (buildings, factories, etc.) backing much of that debt. Its not all bad.
The PIIGS government debt is a lot of money owed to lots of institutions and investors all over the world. The EU bailout, recently announced, is almost a $1 trillion package and soon, I believe the structure will be modified and most likely go something like this:
Restructure most, if not all, of the entire $4.2 trillion of debt over 10 years. 2.
This means that the authorities are now dealing with $420 billion on an annual basis from all five countries. 3.
30% of the entire PIIGS debt is feared to be bad debt. 4.
Stretching this out over 10 years means we are now talking about 30% of $420 billion. This is now a $126 billion per year problem. 5.
Dealing with $126 billion a year is workable. The Greek bailout which is expected to be approx $145 billion is being spread over three years or $48 billion per year and is part of this. I believe the Greek solution will be soon stretched out further than three years as well. 6.
So now this entire EU end of the world scenario becomes a $126 billion annual problem matched by $1 trillion of commitments from the EU, ECB, IMF, Federal Reserve and other central banks. 7.
This package buys time to have certain countries stop freeloading. With their backs against the wall they will have no choice but to put severe budget and financial changes in place in their countries. 8.
Remember that the PIIGS are not alone. The EU Growth and Stability Pact requires all EU countries to keep budget deficits below 3%. But not one of the 16 countries has complied. 9.
This crisis should cause a lot of decreased government budgets that should have a positive long term effect, but this will slow down the artificial economic activity that was called the economy, because the deficit spending will be curtailed. 10.
In the short term, the injection of new paper money could stimulate economic activity (artificially) but the decrease of government spending will hurt corporate profits (remember government spending, even welfare checks to people, eventually is spent on consumer goods by the welfare recipient. The consumer goods are made and distributed by corporations). So a slow down in deficit spending means EU stock markets could face an uphill battle for many years. 11.
The key to a healthy economy is when people who are consuming something are also producing something of value back into the economy. This is why socialism and welfare destroy economies. Too many people eating the corn and too few planting it, means a lot of hunger eventually. So by curtailing as much welfare to people and corporations (they line up as well for government hand outs) as possible, one allows an economy to right itself. 12.
In the long run, assuming that everyone wakes up, less government workers, honest work weeks and the curtailment of a culture of laziness and socialism could actually make the EU a better economic sphere. Only time will tell. 13.
The possibility of higher taxes now becomes a nightmare for politicians as the people get sick of them spending the money on waste and bureaucrats and demand accountability.
EU Money Supply and Socialism
The EU money supply is $8.2 trillion. If the aforementioned $126 billion annual rescue package was entirely printed out of thin air it would be a 1.5 % increase to the money supply, enough to handle the new stretched out annual $126 billion of potential problems. A bad solution, but one that might find time for the authorities to correct the outrageous mismanagement that has taken place in these countries.
The EU increased their money supply by $1 trillion in just the last two years, so these debt problems, if spread out and facilitated with this new $1 trillion of EU and other Central Bank help (including the U.S.) would seem manageable for the time being. Of course, the net result of these bailouts will be inflation showing up in future years.
Debt laden EU governments will have to raise taxes, cut government salaries and pensions and do a lot of things people in these countries are not going to like. Governments putting their houses in order is a real long shot and I am not optimistic. But if this glaring fiscal mismanagement allows the guy in the street to see that he has been lied to, deceived and totally taken in by the stupidity of these socialist policies and the absurd promises of politicians then maybe it will wake him/her up. This could put some reality back into their lives which will include working regular hours for a living and not ripping off their fellow citizens by getting benefits not earned.
Socialism will now become a fools passion and the concept of the State taking care of people will start to be eroded by this crisis and reality. There is no free lunch. The sad thing about socialism is that if there were honest monetary systems, low taxes and no socialism, 98% of the population would be so well off and affluent that they could easily support the real poor and sick and less fortunate. The charitable inclination of the common man is so much higher than he is given credit for even in tough times charity and giving is in the hundreds of billions in the U.S. I would think that 2008 was probably the worse year for any American financially yet charitable giving topped $300 billion. Bleeding heart liberals take note. You are right on about your humanism and benevolence and deserve credit for these high character values, but you are being led down the path to disaster if you think the government is the answer to your ideals.
The Greek Hangover
Here are some provisions the EU and the IMF have demanded of Greece and if they do not comply they will not get any money to pay their government employees, pensioners and suppliers, so Greece will have to comply.
By June they have to comply with 17 legal and budgetary items *
They must reduce Christmas, summer, and Easter bonuses to civil servants, pensioners and others. *
Cigarette, alcohol, fuel taxes have to be increased *
The red tape to start new business will be reduced, to encourage progress instead of old boy patronage and laws stifling entrepreneurs and free enterprise. *
Retirement age must go to 65 *
Dozens of more provisions over the next 18 months that must be followed or no money.
Thanks to Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post for the research on the Greek provisions. Tax collection measures will of course go to a new level in Greece. It is almost a foregone conclusion that people who live in these southern Mediterranean countries have made an art form out of avoiding taxes. To get a somewhat comparable concept about just how bad it might be in Greece, a quote from the Washington Post
Athens, after all, is a city in which 364 people told tax authorities they owned swimming pools and in which satellite photographs reveal the existence of 16,974 swimming pools- Anne Applebaum, Washington Post May 10, 2010
Closing Comments on Greece and the Euro
Since the ECB increased the Euro money supply by $1 trillion in the last two years that is a 12% increase. That would, in theory, cause a 12% increase in consumer prices over the next 3-4 years or 3-4% per year. Add the new money that may be printed for the new bailouts ($300-400 billion over 3 years) and the conclusion is that this is bad but it is not going to make gold go to the moon. *
The Euro is now a suspect currency and could lose another 25% versus the U.S. dollar. But it is not going down the drain. Not yet at least. Although if the socialists somehow prevail in Europe I will take this statement back in the future. *
Currently investors are selling Euros and buying dollars and gold. The dollar now actually looks better but that will not last for long as our budget deficits will also force money supply increases in the U.S. *
The Greeks cannot default or back off from these austere measures because the power structure and the elite of this country are in plenty of debt themselves and they probably are less concerned about how many protestors are arrested or knocked around than they are about declaring personal bankruptcy or having one of their corporate holdings go under. They will make sure the government takes the money and tells the people 14 months annual pay and lucrative bonuses at the expense of the Germans and others is now over. Time to go back to work. *
Greece also cannot back out of the Euro because most of their debt is denominated in Euros. If they set up their own currency it would be devalued immediately which means the debt of these well- to- do people and institutions would automatically increase. *
Their will be no moral hazard from this bail out because the austerity program being forced on the Greeks and others will be no picnic. There will be pain. Other governments are already making blueprints on how to handle whats coming to them soon from their own socialist mismanagement. The piper is going to be paid.
Investing in gold is easy. Buy bullion (coins and bars) with 5-10% of your assets and never look at it again. The price is irrelevant. The long term prevails. Its insurance. Forget the price in dollars or pounds or Euros think ounces.
Unfortunately owning mining stocks is going to be a nightmare of volatility.
Gold could easily move up or down $200 within a few weeks. That means a lot of anxious mining stock investors. A solution is to have a 60% core positions in quality companies and allocate the other 40% to a medium term trading strategy.
Gold looks overbought and well priced for now. You have to remember that gold has had a very prolonged run up over the last 5 years - $500 to $1200 is discounting a lot of bankruptcies and a lot of inflation and world problems.
I do not see gold going to the moon right now because the collapse of the western world and the monetary system is many years away.
The moon shot in gold is coming but I believe it will come when high inflation rates hit the western world including Brazil, Europe, China and India. Then you will see the moon shot.
A possible collapse of the banking system in the U.S. and EU and other catastrophic events can and will be papered over with printed money and computer credits even if it takes trillions of more dollars and Euros. The end result will be a lot of inflation. When this inflation hits the markets then gold will again take off.
I think gold could stay in a $1050 -$1250 range for the foreseeable future. I am 80% in this frame of mind. This means gold mining stocks are going to be cash cows and great investments. If gold takes off above $1250 then all bets are off and something could be coming that no one sees.
For now I am the most nervous bull you can imagine.
For more articles on Gold and The Economy visit our website at www.kengerbino.com
The only problem with the theory is that these people are communists and it will never get better only worse.
Why are gold-bugs verbose?
"Restructuring" is such a nice word. It's sort of a post hoc legalization of theft, combined with the notion that those robbed never lost anything.
Ping for later
'cause it is a complex set of issues...?
I thought this was a particularly cogent explanation of the status quo and excellent advice.
But, hey, I agree gold bugs are verbose. :-)
My thinking is that silver is a better investment, at least for now. It hasn’t tracked up with gold, as it traditionally has, and at $18 an oz. it is good commodity to own and store.
Well Gold WILL go way past the damn moon when Israel finally nukes the crap out of Iran.
Saw your comment on the locked thread...I agree. The folks selling it either have more than enough, or are making money selling it. The only thing that keeps me out of the current market is the 20% fees - about 10% premium to buy, and then another 10% to sell. I used to own gold & silver (and did well, thank you), now I think food and ammo are better investments...
I think gold and silver bottomed today, but I’ll wait until Monday to buy in anyway. Lots of forced liquidations in other stuff made gold the sale of last resort, we’re about done time wise with the almost-mandatory end of the month pre-settlement takedown, and Cramer’s fleeced his viewers again for about fifty bucks.
Re silver, $17.50 is not the greatest round number there is, but it’s been of interest chartwise before, and it bounced off it hard when it hit it for the second time in two days this morning,
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Apologies if I was too verbose there.
How do you counter the argument that gold based currencies limit expansion? I provide widgets that add productivity and efficiency into a process, increasing wealth growth - how does a metal reserve allow this? I mean all that “wealth” sits in a vault, how do create growth in the money supply? I think I heard Hugh Hewitt comment along these lines.
I agree on the silver end. If the economies collapse, it will rise on the relationship to gold. If the economies do not collapse, it will rise on the increased industrial uses (which are many times that of gold.)
And, at $18 an ounce it is more affordable to average joe.
My local ammo supplier just sent out an email with a sale notice. Went down and bought 500 rounds for the cabinet. Just to be on the safe side.
When I was a teen back around 1948, I collected stamps from the British America colonies and was earning 35c an hour as a stock boy at a local store. I sweated and saved until I had enough to buy a one pound stamp - a princely $4.80.
A few months later the Brits "devalued" the pound from $4.80 to $2.40 and I saw half the rewards of my efforts cut in half. At the time, a candid politician said, "'Devaluation' means declaring bankruptcy and settling for 50c on the dollar." That was my watershed lesson in fiat currency.
"Restructuring" is the new buzzword now since currency is backed by nothing but policians' promises. No doubt we'll soon be hearing that word a lot.
I object to his repeated use of the term paper money. In the total, there is not enough paper money to stand for the electronic bits that are actually the money. In today’s world, money is accounting entries on electronic ledgers.
The article is a good piece but overlooks one extremely important consideration, inflation. As the debt payment is stretched out, the total in the out years is decreased by the coming inflation. The value Of $10 in 2020 $$ measured against 2010 value will be only $5 or less.
By then, gold will be at least $2,500 per ounce and gas in America $6 or $7 per gallon, that is if there is still an America. With the Mexican conquest the new leaders migh t make gas be sold in liters.
How many ounces of gold in a pound? I can vision Obama decreasing the price of gold by messing with this number.
Because air is free
So this guy is saying buy gold now because years from now it’s going ‘go to the moon’??
I object to his phrase “going to the moon”
The value of gold measured in $$ or Euros is going to rise because of the coming inflation. There will be strong measures to control the inflation to where it is the maximum tolerated by voters.
Pundits like to speak of hyperinflation and of wheelbarrows of currency. I think it will be much tamer than that but at a level to keep folks angry but not angry enough to burn the Capitol.
The inflation is by design. It is the only real way out, the only viable solution.
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