Didn’t Housing get us into this Mess?
Today’s the day my older son ends his spring break and goes back to attending Northwestern University – a day that always brings new meaning to the phrase: “Do you love them enough to say goodbye?”
In terms of the business at hand, today's 10 Year Treasury Bonds are trading at 3.33. In spite of inflation – that’s very good news for the bond and housing markets for the near term. Silver hit 30-year highs, Gold hit all time highs (in the $1,400’s), Oil is north of $105; therefore, one has to believe the market is getting ready to see bonds respond to the pressure and move north of 4.00. The sticking point here is housing! Housing accounts for approximately 7% of GDS – and is currently at near record lows for “New Home Starts.” New data just out from the Commerce Department indicate national home sales declined the third month in a row (Feb), the slowest pace on record, with sales down 16.9% to a 250,000 annual pace (from a reading of 1,400 in July of ‘05 to a reading just above 200 last month!) The new median price of a new home also fell 13.9%, (over the previous month) moving the market back to 2003 levels. And to add insult to injury – existing home sales fell 9.6% over the previous month. As Steve Forbes writes: “Depreciating home values and a declining pace of home-buying continue as critical factors to economic recovery. Couple that with global markets continuing to drive pricing in many sectors such as commodities and energy – and this not a ‘recovery friendly’ environment.” One point of note out of California in January is that 31% of closings were "cash.” It’s doubtful that the average ‘first time home buyer’ has the ability to purchase a home with cash. Therefore, one could conclude that the housing market in California is not currently supported by homeowners, but rather by investors flocking to the market. Until U6 under-employment numbers are halved to roughly 9%, US housing is going to remain “soft.”
Now think in terms of in 30 years we’ve gone from being #1 in the world to:
- An Underemployment (U6) reading of over 17%
- Over 50% of all US citizens survive on some form of Government subsidy
- Due to inflation (roaring @ 8 - 9%), wages have been stagnant for 14 yrs
- No energy policy (although we use more than anyone else on the planet)
- A million plus homes are in foreclosure
- We are engaged in 3 wars, none of which are winnable
- The FED has kept rates at 0% for years, and is the sole buyer of 50% of our treasuries
- Banks are insolvent, able to survive because they run two sets of books
Now my question is and the CFO of Best Buy asked the same question: “What happens when consumers buckle under the increasing pressures from unemployment and higher gas prices?”
The elephant in the room is ‘global currency’ devaluation. With so many central bankers printing money like it's going out of style, the whole system is simply too rotten to save. Everybody is going to have to get together and collectively agree to simultaneous devaluation. If you think not – let me remind you that George Soros – on April 8 of this year, is holding a major economic conference with the goals being to establish new international currency rules, and to reform the currency system. The event is bringing together more than 200 academic, business and government policy thought leaders to repeat the famed 1944 Bretton Woods gathering that helped create the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Mr. Soros believes that central bankers printing money is causing the world to starve its population to death – and there’s certainly some truth to that rumor!
Two weeks ago I suggested that we should be hearing from the FED heads about ending QE2. As of Friday - 3 separate FED Heads have come out to tell us that QE2 is no longer necessary. So will quantitative easing end – of course not – it will just not be called Quantitative Easing. The FED will print until the crash – they have no choice. The point being that if enough FED heads continue to talk about stopping QE2 – some may sell their silver and gold – and that may cause a pull back and a buying opportunity in those two metals.
Remember when people were biting their nails watching the market dive below DOW 12K and falling fast. But then (like a "miracle") it reversed and soared right back up, ending in the 12,200 area where the dip started. That’s just your usual fleecing! In case you missed it – the FED makes a regular policy of walking the market up in overnight futures trading and also in the late afternoon buying binges. ALL of the up moves come on very thin volume, but the selling comes with massive volume. I.E. Wall Street allows the FED money to walk the market higher, and then when it's rug pull time they liquidate massive amounts of stock. Then it gets walked higher again – rinse and repeat! But now the plot thickens. With the DOW smack in the middle of the "range" between 12K and the Feb highs at 12,400 - What happens now? One theory has us inching higher to the 12,400 level, and finally pushing up and through during earnings reporting season, and then it exhausting itself in a multi month long slide that drops us 10% or more. The other theory is that we inch higher and higher, but fail to break out and we experience a multi month long slide. Either way, as May - June gets nearer we feel the market will have topped and be in decline.
Mark P wrote me something that I found interesting about the element Iodine – boosted in popularity because of what’s going on radiation-wise in Japan right now. The company is called SQM. “SQM is the worlds leading producer of elemental Iodine. Chile is the largest exporter of iodine with almost 70% of the world’s capacity, followed by Japan with less than 30%. Annual world production for iodine is around 29,500 metric tons and Japan produces around 6,800 annually. Currently, due to the power outages in Japan their capacity for iodine is at 60%, and their appetite for iodine chemicals is extremely high. Iodine is used in plasma TVs and as intermediates in many chemicals. Furthermore the demand for use in pharmaceuticals is at all time high with the demand for potassium iodide pills. All of the 2011 iodine capacity has been pre-sold, with normal contract pricing running around $32-35 per kilogram. Currently the European spot price is approximately $50/kg and they expect that price to hit the U.S. very soon. SQM was (at one time) owned by the government of Chile; however, was divested by the government several years ago. Now – granted iodine is not gold or silver – but it is an essential element that is only provided by a small amount of companies.” I actually purchased some this week – so thanks Mark for that tip.
Our long holds looking like: SLV, NG, AAU, DNN, AVL, and USSIF. Even with the commodity raid – we held through it – in fact we doubled our holdings in DNN down at the $2.20 level – so that 15% bounce upward was certainly beneficial to us – and I believe that there’s more to run there.
In our short-term holds we have:
N, SLW, FRG, QSURD, NGD, PAL, AUGT, EXK, SVM, and AGRO. Last week we did add SQM per Mark P’s suggestion.
As an example of our day trades over the past week - we currently own:
- SD at 12 – stop @ entry, and (if the market is flat to up – watch this one – could be a quick 20% gain)
- NBR at 28 – stop @ entry as well.
The shale drillers last week - Approach Resources (AREX), GeoResources (GEOI), and Gulfport Energy (GPOR) – have started to move north – but we have not purchased as of yet.
If you’d like to view my actual stock trades – and see more of my thoughts – please feel free to sign up as a twitter follower – “taylorpamm” is my nickname on Twitter – fyi.
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Until next week – be safe.