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Axel Merk: Why Asset Prices Must Return To Lower Levels

It's the price you pay for forcing capital to speculate
Saturday, January 24, 2015, 3:59 PM

Saying it's been a busy week and half on the central bank front is perhaps a sizeable understatement. 

First, the Swiss National Bank stunned the world (and its brethren central banks) by removing its peg to the Euro. This was quickly followed by Mario Draghi finally making good on his longtime threat of firing QE bazooka, announcing that the ECB will pursue a 60 billion Euro per month easing program for the next 16 months. And amidst all the smoke, the Canadian central bank snuck in a surprise rate cut to its interest rate.

To make sense of both the "Why?" behind these extreme moves, as well as the "What?" in terms of their implications, Axel Merk, founder and Chief Investment Officer of Merk Funds joins us this week. » Read more


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2014 Year in Review: Part 2

Will 2015 be the year it all comes tumbling down?
Friday, December 19, 2014, 11:27 AM

This year has been all about risk—existential risk. Some of it seemed to dissipate and some lingers.  Market valuations remain risky—regression to the mean could easily provide a 50% haircut and more if we observe regression through the mean. This has not come to pass, but the risk is very real.

Those who seek risk in markets will eventually find it. » Read more



2014 Year in Review

The year we piled up risks like a global game of Tetris
Friday, December 19, 2014, 11:27 AM

I have not seen a year in which so many risks—some truly existential—piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. Groping for a metaphor—I love metaphors and similes—I feel like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows. » Read more



Why The Strengthening Dollar Is A Sign Of The Next Global Crisis

It causes the weaker parts of the system to fail faster
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 10:21 AM

Executive Summary

  • Understanding the two different ways money flows into the US dollar
  • How currency crises elsewhere can send the dollar skyrocketing
  • Why yen, yuan and euro printing are not the same as dollar printing
  • How these accelerating money flows are creating the next global crisis

If you have not yet read The Consequences of a Strengthening US Dollar available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we surveyed the key dynamic that is playing out across the globe: the problems revealed by the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-2009 were not addressed; they were in effect shifted into the foreign exchange (FX) market. Now the risk bubble is in the FX market.

The complexity of the feedbacks into the FX market is nothing short of mind-boggling, and rather than attempt a comprehensive survey, I’m highlighting the dynamics that hold the greatest risks of triggering instability, not just in finance but in geopolitics, trade and commodities.

Two Kinds of Dollar Flows

Let’s start by differentiating between the two kinds of money flows into the dollar:

  1. Money converted from periphery currencies into dollars to pay back loans denominated in dollars
  2. Money flowing out of periphery economies and into dollar-denominated assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate and dollar-denominated bank accounts.

Broadly speaking, both of these capital flows are “risk-off,” but they have different effects.

In the first case, money borrowed on the cheap in dollars and invested in high-yield periphery bonds earned a tidy profit as the dollar weakened. The trader picked up a double profit: the arbitrage on the interest rates (borrow at .25% and earn 4+%) and the FX profit from the rise of the periphery currency and the decline of the dollar.

This currency-arbitrage profit reverses when the dollar starts rising, and it quickly wipes out the entire interest-rate profit as it leaps higher.

The carry trade is “risk-on” because money is being borrowed to speculate in interest-rate arbitrage. Deleveraging this trade is “risk-off” because the only way to stem the potential losses as the dollar strengthens is to... » Read more



The Good News In All The Bad Data

A rare convergence of confidence in future developments
Friday, June 13, 2014, 12:14 AM

Today's financial markets make a mockery out of sanity and logic. The difference between what SHOULD happen and what IS happening is perhaps the greatest it has been in our investing lifetimes.

If you're perplexed, flummoxed, frustrated, stymied, enraged, bored, irritated, insulted, discouraged -- any or all of these -- by the ever-higher blind grinding of asset prices over the past several years, despite so many structural reasons for concern, you have good reason to be.


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How To Position Yourself Now

Components of a good investing plan
Friday, June 13, 2014, 12:13 AM

Executive Summary

  • Planning determinants for:
    1. Precious Metals
      • Bullion: physical
      • Bullion: stored & tradable
      • Miners
    2. Stocks & bonds
      • Remaining long
      • Strategies for shorting
    3. Real Estate
    4. Debt Management
    5. Income Security
    6. Local Investing
    7. Personal Preparations
    8. Community Preparations

If you have not yet read The Good News In All The Bad Data, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Though we strongly advise in Part 1 to move to cash, it's essential to remember that this is largely a transitional maneuver. The goal is to keep your powder dry during the coming deflationary storm, and then deploy it in as intelligently and timely a manner as possible when your dollars can buy quality assets at excellent discounts. In this Part 2, we walk you through the principal components for building your investing action plan for both in advance of, and when, that time arrives.

Also, we understand that for reasons of options and attitude, simply moving your portfolio 100% into cash is unpalatable or unrealistic for a number of people. Some of you will want to, perhaps even need to, have a percentage of your capital remain in the financial markets for the foreseeable future. So we discuss both long and short strategies for you to evaluate and pick whichever best suits your personal situation.

It's important to understand that the solution set contained below is a superset for your consideration and not a one-size-fits-all recipe (i.e. do NOT take it as personal investment advice!). As strongly urged in Part 1, its best use is as a structured guide for you and your financial adviser to use together in discussing and developing an investment plan customized to your goals, needs and risk tolerance.

Suffice it to say, everything discussed in this report (even the % cash component mentioned in Part 1) should be reviewed with your financial adviser before taking any action. Am I being excessively repetitive here in order to drive this point home? Good...

Precious Metals

One of the biggest mysteries that continues to perplex Chris and me is: Why is central bank liquidity creating price bubbles in every asset class EXCEPT the one you would expect it to most?

Here we have everything from Facebook stock to Las Vegas houses to junk bonds to Beats headphones catching bids at insane prices. As Chris discussed last week with economist Steen Jakobsen, the data for stocks over the past year shows that the worse the balance sheet, the better a company's stock performance has been.

Why is everything down to pure crap being lifted by the giant pool of money sloshing around the planet, but prices for gold and silver -- arguably the highest-grade assets to own -- are so badly languishing?

I won't rehash all of our speculations for why, as there are dozens of recent articles on this site speculating on the topic. But as this year's mega-report on gold drives home, the actual fundamentals for owning precious metals not only remain intact, but they are expanding materially each year. 

Well, the good news here is that the precious metals market is the one place you don't have to wait for the "buy at pennies on the dollar" experience. It's here now.

Prices are not only far below what the fundamentals justify, but... » Read more


Off the Cuff: Treasurys On The Rise

Global capital is beginning to seek safe harbor
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:34 PM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Brian discuss:

  • Treasurys On The Rise
    • Global capital is beginning to seek safe harbor
  • Mispricing Risk
    • The biggest failing of today's markets
  • The Ticking Sovereign Debt Timebomb
    • It's a questions of "when" not "if"
  • The Supremacy of Risk Management
    • Should be the #1 focus of the prudent investor


New Harbor: How To Invest When the Bull Is Shaking Out All The Bears

Resist temptation & remain patient
Saturday, March 1, 2014, 11:33 AM


Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with New Harbor Financial (30m:14s): » Read more


Teresa N. Fischer

The Stock Market's Shaky Foundation

Crumbling fundamentals in both the short term & long
Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 7:21 PM

According to the stock markets in the US and in Europe, the world’s economy is not just in good shape, but is in the best shape it’s ever been

The S&P 500 hit an intraday new record high of 1858.71 on Feb 24, 2014, and is now 18.6% above the peak it hit in 2007, a moment everybody now recognizes was heavily overvalued.

A nearly 19% gain above the prior all time high is an enormous and unusual event.  Surely there must be an equally compelling story and loads of fundamental data to support such a bull market? » Read more


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Brian Pretti: The World's Capital Is Now Dangerously Boxed In

Creating asset bubbles ready to burst
Saturday, January 4, 2014, 12:22 PM

This week Chris speaks with Brian Pretti, managing editor of ContraryInvestor.com, a financial commentary site published by institutional buy-side portfolio managers. In their discussion, they focus on the global movement of capital since quantitative easing (QE) became the policy of the world's major central banks.

The ensuing excellent discussion is wide ranging, but the key takeaway is that capital is being herded into fewer and fewer asset classes. With such huge volumes of money at play, very crowded trades in assets like stocks and housing have resulted -- bringing us back to familiar bubble territory in record time. » Read more