Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saddle up for bubble phase in Gold & Silver

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Where Are We Now

Back on May 18th I suggested the bottom could be in for Gold it was time for investors to "Get back on the horse"...
The environment is one that Gold should be thriving in with negative real rates, western banks are ready to intervene again (IMO we will see QE3 within the next couple of months which might drive the start of the new trend in Gold), non-western banks are buying Gold, the geopolitical situation is still shaky and there is risk the Iran situation pushes Oil and Gold higher... nothings changed, so stop rocking back and forth and shaking in the corner because the value of your Gold has dropped. Get back on the horse.
Bullion Baron - Good chance Gold and Silver have bottomed
In that post I wrote about reasons not to be concerned that Gold had dropped below the 3 year trend line (which had some t/a traders frothing at the mouth for a huge fall), as it had done so in the last serious correction (2008) from which it rebounded strongly.

Gold fell below trend in last major correction also

I also pointed out several other indicators (sentiment, volume suggesting capitulation) were suggesting a bottom was in or very close.

A couple of days after that post I followed up with another to add some context and further reasoning for the call:
First I would like to clarify what I meant by a "bottom" in Gold and Silver. There is of course the potential for Gold and Silver to trade lower than the recent lows at $1526/$27, however I think there is a good chance that these prices formed a low point which won't be breached again before the end of the bull market (if ever).

Big call I know. One which may prove to be wrong, but the only scenario I see the metals going a lot lower than these price points is in a credit crunch similar to that seen in 2008 and I think that there is enough gunpowder left in the barrels of the Fed, ECB and other intervening central banks to push risk of such a crisis down the road.
Miss out on this buying opportunity at your own risk. Current prices are a gift. 
It so happened that the bottom for Gold was in as I'd speculated.

I followed up on these posts with two more on Silver in early July (July 1st and 5th) where I speculated a major bottom was forming or had formed. While I agreed that nothing is a given and breakout below $26 would initiate a deeper correction, my opinion was that depressed sentiment in Silver, bullish USD sentiment, strong support at $26, oversold RSI & a bullish flag pattern forming on the monthly chart  was indicating that the bottom was likely in. I suggested that a strong recovery (like that seen in late 2008/early 2009) would be likely:
I was a heavier buyer of physical Silver at the lows seen in late 2008. I am a buyer at current levels and I think $26-28 Silver will be seen as a catch when the price is much higher in the months and years ahead. 

Those who bought Silver in late 2008 at US$11 instead of catching the exact bottom at US$9 are probably not all that concerned that they didn't catch the exact bottom, they are happy they got in before the price multiplied over the years following. 

Within 4 months of the $9 low in October 2008, the price of Silver had rallied over 60% to almost $15. A price move like that today would take us back into the $40s and I wouldn't be surprised to see such a move over the coming months if the European situation has been stabilised.
I followed up the above post with a summary from a YouTube clip showing that the COT report for Silver was also pointing a low being in or very close:

At the time I wrote the post on May 18th (morning, May 17th US time) Gold was trading at around US$1570 after having traded low $1500's the day prior. Gold closed on Friday at $1770 (+12.7% on $1570).

Silver had closed Friday at US$27.42 over the weekend I wrote the post on July 1st having tested the support just above $26 on the Thursday. Silver closed on Friday at $34.68 (+26.5% on $27.42).

Gold and Silver have now broken out of their correctional down trend and found support at the 200DMA:

Gold breaks out and finds support at 200DMA
Silver breaks out and finds support at 200DMA

Explosive Triggers

Central Banks have announced "unlimited" quantitative easing measures, the first announcement just over a week ago from the ECB:
Overnight Mario Draghi announced the new emergency program designed to support the ailing Eurozone. Most of the package was leaked out prior to the meeting so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when it was announced.  The “unlimited” scale was, however, certainly an upside surprise. Macro Business
Followed by the Fed a few days ago:
From FOMC Statement: To support a  stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at  the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee agreed today to  increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed  securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. Macro Busines
These policies of no surprise to most, although the timing and scale were not easy to guess. When I wrote the below in December last year I would not have guessed that I would be waiting a further 10 months for Bernanke to unleash QE3:
Deflation, contraction and debt cancellation could come about as opposed to the hyper-inflationary, end of all fiat currencies destruction that some predict. Although I don't think Bernanke & The Fed are going to go down this path (deflationary) without a fight. They have continued to highlight that they are "prepared to use their tools to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability". I think 2012 is likely to bring in the use of increased stimulatory measures by the Fed, most likely to be publicly titled as QE3 (4/5/6?).

It is my opinion that these last ditch efforts by the Fed to avoid deflation will send the USD tumbling and Gold soaring as it launches into the final bubble phase of this bull market. The deflationary bust that briefly predicts could come about after this in a couple of years and be the driver of Gold's bear market following the bubble.
Bullion Baron - Gold/Silver on the verge of bubble phase
Central Bank policies aren't the only catalyst which could put a rocket under the price of Gold, Captain Overkill summarises on his blog Doomberg the situation in South Africa where workers at some mines are on strike:
The next major potential shock to metals prices is if South African mines go "offline." South Africa is responsible for the production of 80% of the world's platinum and is also the world's third largest gold producer. South African miners went on strike on August 10th at a mine owned by Lonmin Plc, a British platinum producer and the third largest in the world. The situation drastically escalated on August 16th when the police lost control of the situation and fired live ammunition at the strikers, killing 34 of them and injuring 78.

There are now calls by some South African politicians and political organizers for a general strike among all South Africa miners. The reason gold owners need to watch this situation is because of the effect the strikes are having on platinum prices. The disruptions right now are relatively minimal, but it has already caused platinum to rise almost 20% as of Wednesday, and the linked article was written before QE3 was launched today. If the strikes spread and South Africa stops exporting precious metals for a significant period of time, there are going to major supply disruptions. Platinum will be affected the worst by far, but gold supplies will also be squeezed. This is on top of what is already going on with QE3. Doomberg
With China already hoarding their mine supply (world's largest producer of Gold) and above situation in South Africa there's the potential for new mine supply to be disrupted. Of course as Gold isn't consumed like most other commodities, there is still plenty of supply to go around from existing holders (unlike Platinum), but at what price? Even though the mine supply disruptions would probably have minimal effect on the Gold market, speculators will likely use the news as an excuse to chase the metal higher.

The Doomberg blog post also refers to tensions between Israel and Iran having the potential to drive an oil price shock (although the official Israel stance is that no war is imminent). 

In my opinion the situation in Iran is a powder keg ready to blow. High levels of inflation are driving a very unstable currency situation:
Iran’s inflation rate rose to 23.5 percent in the month that ended on Aug. 20 from 22.9 percent the previous month, the central bank said today on its website.

While the central bank said in its report that inflation will continue to increase, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised interview late yesterday that “the inflation growth rate has declined this year. The inflation rate will decrease in the second half of this year.” Bloomberg
The high inflation and destabilization are a result of sanctions on Iran as a result of their ongoing nuclear program. It seems unlikely that this situation will just work itself out peacefully and without incident.

Third Phase

Long term readers of the blog (or those who have read back through my early posts) would be aware that I think we are in the early stages of the third phase for the Gold and Silver bull market. In January 2011 I made the following observations:
- Price action is mimicking a bubble chart
- Similar length of time to 1970s bull market
- Mainstream media coverage increasing
- Record mint production of retail products
- Shortages of retail sized products
- Premiums where retail public is buying
It's been my opinion for a few months now that we are entering the 3rd phase of the precious metals bull market. I believe that there is not much time left in this bull market and that we will have seen the peak within 2-3 years (max), quite possibly much sooner.

That does not mean I'm about to close my positions at today's prices.

It does not mean I think the metals are close to a "price" peak.

All it means is that I think the bull market will soon come to an end (likely in a parabolic blow off) and there have been several indicators that are leading me to this opinion.
That was all in this post: Gold/Silver entering the 3rd phase of the bullmarket?

Around 19 months on and I still think this is likely the case (we are in the early stages of the bubble phase). We've seen some fireworks in the metals already with blow off spikes in both Silver and Gold last year, but I think that will just be a taste of what is to come. In my opinion a bubble peak may still come before the end of 2013, but if not I wouldn't imagine it will be much more than a year later than I expected./

Gold continues to have increased coverage in mainstream media. Where a few years ago Gold/Silver commentators were rarely seen on CNBC and other news programs, we now see them regularly and even the hosts themselves have mentioned high price targets and manipulation without laughing in the same sentence.

Not only is Gold now enjoying a strong presence in mainstream media, but suggestions of return to a Gold standard have moved from fringe political candidates to that of the Republican party:
The gold standard has returned to mainstream U.S. politics for the first time in 30 years, with a “gold commission” set to become part of official Republican party policy.

Drafts of the party platform, which it will adopt at a convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, next week, call for an audit of Federal Reserve monetary policy and a commission to look at restoring the link between the dollar and gold.

The move shows how five years of easy monetary policy — and the efforts of congressman Ron Paul — have made the once-fringe idea of returning to gold-as-money a legitimate part of Republican debate. CNBC
I think return to a Gold standard is extremely unlikely in the near term, but the very fact that it's being discussed rationally by a regular political party is very interesting and a sign that Gold as a monetary unit is not so extreme an idea anymore.

Price Targets

Over the final 2 years of the bull market that ended parabolic into January 1980 the price of Gold quintupled (5x), rising from $170 to a peak at $850. Over the same period Silver rose from under $5 to over $49 (almost a 10x increase), although this was in part due to the Hunt Brothers cornering the Silver market. Many say that the rise in Silver was an anomaly, but given the right conditions I think we could see similar performance relative to Gold in this bull market (a return in the Gold:Silver Ratio to under 20). With the Gold:Silver Ratio currently at 51, I am expecting Silver to more than double Gold's performance into the peak of the bull market:

GSR Currently 51, expecting a fall back to 20 or lower as in 1980
Zero Hedge speculates in an article that Gold may reach $3350 as the Fed expands their balance sheet to $5 Trillion over the next 3 years. A Silver estimate based on this target and a GSR of 20 provides a target for Silver of $167.50, a price which while speculatively calculated is not out of the question. Also consider that $3350 as a price target for Gold may end up being on the low side... while an inflation adjusted target using official figures suggests around $2500oz would reflect the 1980 high, an alternative set of statistics shows that the inflation adjusted peak could be much higher:
Another easy way to demonstrate that gold is not in a bubble is to look at the inflation-adjusted highs. The nominal highs for gold and silver occurred during January of 1980, when gold topped out at $850 and silver at $49.45. Official government inflation statistics tell us that in today’s dollar terms, gold would need to reach $2,500 and silver $150 before matching their true 1980 highs. But it is well known that the government significantly understates the inflation rate in order to mask the impact of their fiscal policies.

John Williams, the economist behind the website Shadow Stats, has done us the favor of stripping out the government gimmicks in order to derive the true inflation rate over the past thirty years. Using his SGS-Alternate Consumer Inflation Measure, gold would need to reach $8,890 per troy ounce and silver would need to reach $517 per troy ounce to match the highs from January of 1980. Seeking Alpha
Of course there is no guarantee an inflation adjusted high (using any measure) will be met by Gold this time around, but it is one of the measuring sticks that we can put Gold against to see when it is overvalued (at an inflation adjusted high, measured from the last peak, it is potentially overvalued).

Gold tends to maintain relative value over long periods of time, but short term it's purchasing power can fluctuate wildly and it is this fluctuation from undervalued to overvalued that my intention is to ride out.

I like to use multiple measures of Gold's value relative to other assets such as property, oil, stocks and wages. I have covered each of these ratios on the blog previously providing potential targets for Gold and Silver based on ratios at which the metals have peaked in the past (of course there is no guarantee the metals will reach such an overvalued stage again, but I think given the crisis in confidence we are likely to see as a result of central bank printing that we will see some very similar ratios to those seen at the peak in 1980):

Political / Energy Crisis to Drive Gold Higher? (Gold/Oil Ratio)
Australian Houses: Gold / Silver Ratio - June Update
AUD Gold Price Exceeds Weekly Aussie Wage
DOW:GOLD ratio at new lows (6.5 to 1)

Some of the targets in these posts may seem unreal, but in my opinion any are possible should this bull market reach a point it goes parabolic (as most bull markets do). In the final 2 months of the bull market into January 1980 the price of Gold doubled and then fell back quickly, a volatile peak may come quickly and give you little chance to sell, so in my opinion selling at several levels on the way to where you think Gold will top out is a good idea as opposed to assuming you will be able to catch the exact peak.

Australian Perspective

As I said in a recent post:
Recent strength in the Australian Dollar is partly a result of recent central bank diversification into the Australian Dollar (such as these instances reported on MacroBusiness: Czech Republic, Germany), as well as investors seeking exposure to one of the (seemingly) strongest economies (for now) around given the slowdown being experienced in most other developed countries.

It's unlikely that the Australian Dollar will trade above resistance of $1.11 against the USD and it's more likely to trade lower as our two speed economy continues to take it's toll on the larger populace. So in my opinion there is limited upside for the Australian Dollar which reduces the potential for the AUD/USD exchange rate to influence the AUD price of Gold lower.
Bullion Baron - AUD Gold Price Falls Below Support
In my opinion the Australian Dollar is heading lower in the years ahead, regardless of the Fed policy to print. The trigger for a lower AUD might be rate cuts from the RBA or data showing weaknesses in our economy or banking system as house prices continue their slow melt.

The high AUD in the meantime is a blessing in disguise for precious metals investors as the way I see it you can buy metal on sale!

The "Pascoe Indicator" or "Pascometer" is a contrarian indicator used when expecting the opposite of Australian financial journalist Michael Pascoe's opinion to take effect. In the past his articles on Gold (in which he talks the metal down) have been particularly effective in marking a low point for the price of Gold in Australia, as can be seen in the chart previously used on the blog (see this blog post for further details):

The Pascometer has once again burned bright red as Michael Pascoe opened his mouth about Gold last week:
What we do know is that open-ended quantitative easing will continue to weaken the greenback, something that delights gold bugs and depresses Australian exporters of good denominated in US dollars – which is most of the key stuff.

Gold bugs talk about their yellow metal being an inflation hedge, or a deflation hedge, or whatever excuse is current, but the 2.2 per cent jump in gold prices overnight was all about the on-going debasement of the US currency. The Federal Reserve pumping out greenbacks means an increase in supply when there’s no particular increase in demand, therefore pushing down the price. SMH
Is Pascoe's Gold negativity going to once again market a major low point? Gold has already rallied from a low of just above AUD$1500 to almost AUD$1700, so this Pascoe article wasn't timely enough to catch the very bottom, but I suspect looking back in 6-12 months the price will be well higher and have rallied on much more than US currency debasement.

Mining Stocks

Some may be wondering where I'm sitting on Gold & Silver stocks... I think many are undervalued. I made some good money on them during the 2009-2010 rebound from late 2008 lows as the Fed QE programs worked their magic on the markets, but exited most of the juniors I held during 2011. Many Gold & Silver stocks have struggled profusely over the past 12-18 months as Eurozone problems have only further exacerbated a difficult environment with the metals in correction mode. 

Many juniors that I traded/held several years ago have been heavily diluted as they've had to raise capital at a low share price, destroying shareholder value. Some of these companies have been issuing (printing!) new shares in a Bernanke like fashion with no regard for their shareholders. Picking the right stocks is difficult and I've chosen to position myself with a higher level of exposure to spot price rather than stocks this time around. That said I still hold a portfolio of ASX300 Gold mining stocks in my super and I think that the right mix of Gold stocks will outperform the physical metal. You can find a list of ASX300 Gold/Silver mining stocks in this post from earlier in the year:

The HUI:GOLD ratio shows that the stocks still have a way to catchup to where they were over 2010 and they could easily overshoot to the upside:

HUI:GOLD Ratio shows Gold mining stocks undervalued
This rebound could happen faster than most expect. The HUI has already rallied 33.5% from late July lows (387 to 517) and given the right conditions we could see a rally to new highs by end of the year (630+).

HUI Strong rally from late July lows
It's possible that you may see some  Gold/Silver stock profiles on the blog as I've written in the past, but likely only if I find time to put in the heavy research to invest some more of my capital in the space again.

Final Words

It's unlikely that you will ever see again any wording as strong as my posts in May (for Gold) and July (for Silver) on an opportune time to buy. As we get into the business end of this bull market, if the price does start to rise in a parabolic fashion it will become more and more dangerous to take a large position in the metals. I have been close to "all in" on Gold and Silver (and related exposure via equities) since the lows in late 2008 when I was buying hand over fist.

Short term the metals and stocks are overbought, they have rallied hard from very oversold conditions and may correct short term or consolidate, but it's possible they just keep powering higher with the Fed's unlimited QE surprise having had only 2 trading sessions to sink in.

Whatever happens I hope you are well positioned to take advantage of what should be an exciting ride. Saddle up and hold on, the horse is only trotting at the moment, by the climax she'll be bolting faster than Black Caviar!


 Buy bullion online - quickly, safely and at low prices


  1. I heard Mike Maloney say the third phase of silver could result in a blow off top like the Nasdaq did in 99-2000. If it happens I wonder how that blow off top lasts, days, months?

    1. I am expecting a similar blow off top similar to other bull markets turned bubble and suspect the opportunity to sell near peak price will be a matter of days...

    2. So in a "blow off top" situation, who is buying? Who do you sell physical to? Were jewellers/bullion dealers buying back in these situations - will they do so in the future?

    3. r0dman, I don't think it will be difficult to find a buyer, bullion dealers make their money on spreads so should be buying or jewelers or to the public via eBay, Silver Stackers, Spotmex, Gumtree.

      There are always buyers, that's what makes a market. Just like there was buyers at the peak of the last Gold bull market. Those who are buying at your sell price think it's going higher again.

    4. Thanks mate, much appreciated.

  2. Thanks for your feedback "Bullion Baron", the saddle bags are loaded.

  3. Many thanks BB for this post. It is one of your best and I like how you have covered all bases and referenced previous posts. Congratulations on successfully calling the bottom! This post must of taken a long time and your efforts are appreciated by me and hopefully many others too.

    1. No problems Dave. Figured I would reference some old posts so as not to waste time covering old ground. Did take a few hours out of my Sunday, good thing I enjoy writing ;) I find it helpful as well, as a reference to what I was thinking at a particular point in time and to help collect my thoughts in an organised manner.

      Readers should keep in mind this is just the opinion of one investor/speculator. There are so many other ways we could see things play out, but this is how I expect it to play out for precious metals.

  4. Hey Baron,

    Great post, easily one of your best. Good point in mentioning the Iranian inflation problem, I had read about it sometime last year and had forgotten about it. I am convinced the entire Iran situation is due to explode soon. It's just a matter of who shoots first.

    1. Thanks CaptainOverkill and hope you didn't mind my using the quote with attribution.

      It does seem likely that this situation will escalate very soon unless Iran backs down and halts it's nuclear program and even if they did I'm not convinced Israel or the US would reduce their aggressive stance.

    2. Not at all, I'm happy you took notice of my post as a matter of fact.

      On the off chance you haven't noticed this article (or one like it already):

      I don't know how much you're interested in US coins, but the AtB five ounce uncirculated silver coins are still priced relatively cheaply for the US Mint (about $15 more than the bullion versions from US dealers) and are probably going to be even cheaper for Australians given the fade in the US dollar:

    3. Nice looking coins, but after spending a fair bit last year on higher premium lunar coins I'm looking to add more low premium bars at the moment.

      Is there a history of previous 5 ounce Silver coins from the US Mint performing well?

    4. Actually, the AtBs have performed fairly poorly overall with some modest exceptions. This is a blessing in disguise for some people; the bullion AtBs (sold at places like APMEX and Provident) are one of the cheapest ways to stock US bullion coins right now. A raw 2012 bullion AtB is slightly cheaper than five US silver eagles.

      I have not heard of any of the numismatic issues becoming especially successful; I suggested them primarily because they are one of the cheapest silver numismatic pieces available on the market, with excellent artwork to boot, and they can be ordered directly from the US Mint as opposed to a third party dealer, something I always take into consideration.

      The AtBs are also the first five ounce silver pieces from the US Mint. They had never released any before 2010, so there is not too much of a history to go on.

  5. Thanks,Baron for your detailed reports,here and comments on macrobuissness, im in amazment! with your calls on the silver market,and yes i bought at the bottom, and the spurs are on the boots, and whip at the ready,to ride the ponyexpress! Yeahhaaa!

  6. What a Post BB, you are in fine form!
    By far one of your best.

    The Pascoe Indicator

    A little something for everyone;


  7. Excellent post once again. Would love it if you started covering some gold or silver stocks again!!!

  8. Thanks for all the comments/support.

    Covering specific stocks may come again, but probably not in the short term... need some time to do the research and capital to make it worth my while investing in those I find.

  9. BB,
    Appreciate the effort. Nice semi technical summary.

    While my view of both metals are in line with yours, I tend to think that our drawn our recession that is coming will alter the course of metals vs fiat valuation.
    In mine view, due to intervention by the government, it will take longer for markets to correct. I expect some 3-5 years from today. This means, that it is less likely for metals to generate very sharp parabolic effect in the time frame of 2-3 months. It will be over more like 2 years instead.

    What do you think?

    1. Not sure I understand your suggestion Val, do you mean you think we will just get a steady meltup like the trend from 2008 to early 2011? I think we will see a steady trend higher over the next 1-2 years which at some point heads into a mania, exactly when that mania occurs... could be early next year, could be 2014, but don't think it is far down the track.

      I agree with you on the recession/depression potentially being pushed down the track further by the central bank actions.

  10. BB,
    I see price of Gold/Silver gradually increase but with limited 'mania'. Under 'mania' I understand price gains over 50% in the time frame under 12 months.
    It's hard for me to see price to spike any more than 20-30% within 12 monts.

    1. Silver has been rising in small parabolic spikes the past 8 years. Each of the spikes saw a larger move than 50% inside 12 months. Was well represented in this post here:

      While a relatively orderly increase in Gold is possible without a "mania", I think that is the less likely outcome. IMO something will eventually set Gold off, it may be an event or just a saturation point where enough have lost faith in fiat that we will see large moves, e.g. in the vicinity of 100% in 12 months or more toward the climax. That is far from guaranteed, I just think it's the most likely outcome.

  11. Hey BB, another good article as usual. I very much enjoy reading your articles. It is refreshing to read something different then the usual "me too" articles that all the others have.

    Do you believe in the silver manipulation by JP Morgan that people seem to believe? Never seen you write anything about it. It gets tiresome to see people cry manipulation! whenever there is a drop in the silver price.

    Also, are you still invested in BSR?

    1. Thanks Scope. I don't believe in the manipulation to the degree that some in the Silver market do (such as Ted Butler's implications of US Government), however I suspect like most markets the commodity trading desks (such as that at JPM) push around the price to their profitable advantage.

      I am still holding BSROA, unfortunately looking quite likely they will expire worthless, in hindsight would have been better buying BSR. I still think they are well valued relative to peers, but may depend somewhat on the forthcoming resource upgrade. They will also need to raise cash perhaps late this year or early next year... hopefully higher share price then will allow for minimal dilution.

  12. Yeah Im in the same boat as you in that there is some manipulation going on from time to time but not to the extent that some people would have you believe

  13. Gold was oscillating so much I thought it would drop sharply in 2012... now I regret I didn't buy at 1538 $/oz in June, 2012. Now it's nearing 1800 $.
    I do hope we'll have a strong bearish downtrend before the end of this year. So that we can buy up and "stockpile"... I think there will be a new buying opportunity, just like there was one at the end of 2011.

    1. In my opinion we won't get a correction anywhere near the size of 2011 this year, but we may see a smaller pull back. We are still moving up from oversold conditions similar to those experienced in 2008 so the rally could have some way to go over the next 3-6 months. Of course I could be wrong, but I think we will probably see new highs for Gold before the year is out.

    2. I think you are right that it won't go very low... but this June it went way down and I still regret I didn't invest massively. Hesitated, because some experts said, it might flip downwards and dive more (and that gold is "not a good investment anymore").
      I still hope it could go as low as 1600/oz. It would be great...

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