This Week in Barrons – 2-21-2016:
“And … it’s gone!” … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DT7bX-B1Mg
Dear Ms. Yellen:
In the classic South Park episode above (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DT7bX-B1Mg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DT7bX-B1Mg ) - young Stanley opens up his first bank account during the Financial Crisis of 2008, and learns very quickly that banks might not be the best place to keep your money. After this valuable lesson, I wonder what Stanley would have to say about this week’s banking push to ‘ban cash’. After all, there’s a reason for cold, hard cash – it makes no enemies.
The movement to ban cash has been going on for decades, but has lately picked up momentum. On Monday Mario Draghi, the ECB President, disclosed that he is considering banning the 500 euro note. That was followed by an op-ed piece by the former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers pushing to ban the $100 bill. Their reasoning is that cash is inconvenient, and only criminals, terrorists, or tax evaders would have large amounts of it. Of course this is nonsense, as criminals and crime certainly pre-date cash. To make this even more bizarre, cyber-crime has increased to a point that it is greater than all crimes transacted with cash. I believe that our next war will not be nuclear, but cyber in nature. I don't fear a nuclear exchange. I fear waking up one day to no electricity.
I find it amusing that people are recommending the ‘banning of cash’ as a ‘fix’ for our economy. The common thinking goes like this:
- The U.S. economy is going downhill, so the FED will be forced to join Japan, Sweden and the ECB – and introduce negative interest rates.
- That will simply force investors into metals and Treasury bills for safety.
- Then the FED will ban the use of cash so that banks can charge a fee on EVERY transaction, and give the IRS instant ‘access’ to all account(s).
I have a problem with this common thinking. As I've said many times: Central Bankers aren't stupid – they’re just evil. They know that it’s mathematically impossible to repay our debts. Limits on cash transactions are nothing new, but the reason for that has nothing to do with the $100 bill. The limits are a result of our ‘fractional reserve banking’ system. The major flaw in our system is that if everyone asked for their money back at the same time – the banks would fail. Why? Because banks take their depositor’s cash and lend it out again and again to others. This allows banks to lever several deposits into millions of loans.
In 2008, our government ‘bailed out’ many banks, and saddled the taxpayers with the bill. In 2013, the citizens of Cyprus were told that if they wanted to withdrawal their savings – they would only receive 90% of their funds, with the other 10% being seized by the bank. In 2016, with 25% of the world’s GDP now operating in a negative interest rate environment – a new threat to Central Banking has arisen. What if the thought of PAYING a bank to hold our own money causes us to withdraw all of our money from the bank itself? This could cause a ‘run’ on the banks, and the banks would NOT have the cash. A simple solution could be to just ‘Ban the Cash.’
The unwanted side effect of negative interest rates is pushing people to hold money outside the banking system. Banks and governments do not want this to happen – as they know that a surge in withdrawal requests would bring down the entire system. The logical thing to do (and something that bankers have wished they could do for centuries) is to ‘ban cash’ and force everyone to hold their assets electronically – controlled by the banks and the governments.
Call me old fashioned, but OOPS there goes another basic freedom. I feel the freedom to control my own property and savings (outside the governmental and banking systems) slipping through my fingers as we speak.
…Thanks to JW for the following chart:
Do the people in charge LOOK like they know how to balance a budget? If YOU had a credit card balance of $142,000 and your annual salary was $22,000, what do you think would happen to you, your credit rating, and any hopes of re-payment? A wise friend once said: “You can choose to ignore the math, but in the end you can’t avoid it.”
- 50% of Canadians say they are within $200 a month of being unable to pay their bills.
- Bombardier just announced a 7,000 person layoff, and Air France announced another 1,400 job cuts.
- Mortgage applications fell 3% last month, while housing starts fell 3.8%.
- The January PPI showed inflation rearing it’s head with a reading of 0.4%.
- The Empire State and Philly Fed Reports showed our economy contracting for the 7th month in a row.
- Wal-Mart announced slowness, and will virtually see NO growth this year.
- China's record debt levels expanded, while their exports fell another 11%.
“We can deal with bad news and we can deal with good news – what we can’t deal with is uncertainty!” And that is exactly why gold and the precious metals are moving higher. Would you rather own a gold coin that just sits there, or put $1,000 in the bank and PAY the bank a percent to hold it for you? And if our government wants to ban cash, then I’ll really need to own some more metal.
How do you play the metals? FIRST (and most importantly), start with some physical gold and physical silver. Once you have the physical side covered, the next step is to invest in the miners that will survive. The GDX is an ETF of the bigger miners – while the GDXJ is an ETF of the ‘junior’ miners. The ETFs present an easy way to get exposure without having to pick individual winners. Another ETF to consider is SGDM – the Sprott Gold Miners. It tracks the Sprott Zacks Gold Miners Index, which is rules-based, rebalanced quarterly, and seeks to identify about 25 gold stocks with the highest historical beta to gold price ratio. The weighting also depends upon quarterly revenue growth and balance sheet quality (long-term debt to equity). Otherwise, there are many small miners that will do well if gold and silver continue higher. Unfortunately some of the best are located in Canada. One that comes to mind is Lakeshore Gold, but it only trades on the Canadian TSX exchange.
The next 2 years will be fraught with major problems. Central banks will continue to try and keep their economies alive until a global agreement to write down debts, and replace the global reserve currency with something more substantial is in place. As all this unfurls, we're going to see more volatility. Our own FED is presenting a face of ambiguity (not Hawkish or Dovish), which fuels volatility.
Six trading sessions ago, the market was inches from falling over a tall cliff. Rumors were circulated about oil production cuts, and from that intra day low of 1810, the S&P has gained over 100 points to 1926. On Thursday there was a bit of a pull back and on Friday we ended the day flat. So (a) have we run out of gas at resistance, and the market is ready to roll back over? Or (b) was that just the ‘pause that refreshes’ before we continue to push higher?
Friday had its chances for the market to fall, but it didn’t. In fact, it came back and almost closed ‘green’. That leads me to believe that they want to push this market higher. If there’s no horrible news out of China and oil remains above $26 / barrel, I think we try and slowly push higher. There's significant resistance at 1940 on the S&P. If we reach that, the going gets even tougher, and a stretch to 1950 would be the next target.
In the long run, I believe we see the S&P fail the 1810 low, and send us down another 15%. But I could see them try and take us higher first. On Friday, the small caps held a gain while the financials struggled to end the day flat – another indication that this market is not willing to fall. Good luck and stay nimble.
“A liberal’s paradise would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place does indeed already exist: it’s called Prison.”
…Sheriff Joe Arpaio – Maricopa County, Arizona.
DOW 16,391:After a rally up into resistance, I would expect to see some selling and profit taking here – as this is the previous high at the end of January. Look for 16,000 as short-term support.
NDX 4164: The tech heavy index has some room to run, and we could see volatility. Expect resistance at 4300, and support down at the 4000 level.
SPX 1917: We are up into resistance, so expect some selling pressure as investors take profits or minimize losses. I would look at 1860 as being short-term support in a sell-off.
RUT 1010: The Russell is not showing any strength. It looks like it has lost momentum, and a move below 1,000 could indicate it is heading towards 980.
I am watching:
- Coach (COH) and Bank of America (BAC) for covered call situations,
- Terex (TEX) look at a Put Credit Spread as it is a take-over candidate,
- And Kroger (KR) around the $36 level is an interesting buy.
- Long various mining stocks: AG, AUY, EGO, GFI, IAG, and FFMGF,
- Long an oil supplier: REN @ $0.56,
- Long CSX, using a Covered Call to generate income,
- Long STI, using a Covered Call to generate income,
- Sold SPX – Mar – Call Credit Spread – 2025 / 2030,
- Long CRM – Mar 82.5 – Free Calls courtesy of a Diagonal,
- Long FIT – Mar 21 – Free Calls courtesy of a Diagonal,
- Long HD – Mar 135 – Free Calls courtesy of a Diagonal,
- Long NKE – Mar 67.5 – Free Calls courtesy of a Diagonal, and
- Sold TEX – Apr 19 / 20 – Put Credit Spread.
To follow me on Twitter.com and on StockTwits.com to get my daily thoughts and trades – my handle is: taylorpamm.
Please be safe out there!
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