Posts tagged ‘Peter Schiff’

Shiny Metal Shopping with Schiff, Rogers, and Faber

Shopping-Gold

There I am, strolling through Costco (COST) with a pallet full of toilet paper, Diet Coke, and a garbage bag-sized bag of tortilla chips on my flat orange cart. As I roll into the cash register, I feel a cold panic grab me, only to realize I forgot my 25 pound gold brick in my car trunk as a method of payment for my necessities. Sound far-fetched? Probably not, if you are a part of the hyper-inflationary “Three Musketeers”: Peter Schiff, Jimmy Rogers, and Marc Faber.

Here is what some of the “world-is-ending” crowd is saying:

Peter Schiff (President of Euro Pacific Capital – Connecticut Senator Candidate):  He sees the market potentially going much higher, but “it doesn’t matter how much money we have because we’re not going to be able to buy anything with it.”

Marc Faber (a.k.a.,“Dr Doom”, creator of  the Gloom Boom & Doom Report): When asked by faux frog boiler and Fox News reporter Glenn Beck if he believes “it is 100% guaranteed that we are going to have hyper-inflation like Zimbabwe,” Faber’s short and to-the-point response was simply, “Yes, that’s correct.”

Jimmy Rogers (Chairman of Rogers Holdings): “I’m afraid they’re printing so much money that stocks could go to 20,000 or 30,000,” Rogers said. “Of course it would be in worthless money, but it could happen and you could lose a lot of money being short,” he adds. Mr. Rogers likes gold too: “I own gold, I’m not selling it.”

PRICING IN GOLD

One consistent theme heard from these three economic bears is that the Dow and other market indexes should be measured on a gold adjusted basis. Since Peter Schiff’s Dow 10,000 to 3,000 forecast never came to fruition (See Schiff’s other questionable predictions), he rationalizes it this way, “So if you price the 2002 Dow in gold, the Dow is at 3,000 now.” Marc Faber makes a similar argument by saying the Dow could double from today, but with gold tripling your worth will be down. That’s funny, because if I price the Dow based on 2002 lumber prices (rather than gold), the Dow would actually be up to about 20,000 (more than 2x its value today)! If prices should truly be measured in gold, then why doesn’t Goldman Sachs’ (GS) and others provide inflation adjusted price targets on their research reports? If gold is the true measure of value, then why can’t I pay off my American Express (AXP) bill by mailing in my gold necklace?

GOLD FEVER

With the effective quadrupling of gold prices in the last seven years (~$250/oz to ~$1,000/oz), gold bugs are more confidently pounding their chests and throwing out multi-thousand, frothy price targets. For example, Peter Schiff predicted $2,000 per ounce by 2009 (who knows, maybe he’ll be right and gold will be up another 100% in the ne next 90 days…cough, cough). Not only are you hearing the strategists and investors bang their drums more loudly, but gold advertisements are plastered all over the radio, television, and internet. Here are a few excerpts*:

  • “Watch your gold investments be “on the money” every 9 out of 10 times.”
  • “Gold prices could reach $2,300 an ounce or more before it’s over. Buyers of gold bullion at $900 an ounce could earn a return of +155%. That’s very good. But there’s an even BETTER WAY!”
  • “Discover Our Little Known “Gold Price Predictor” That Has Been Spot On Every Single Time… Since 1901..!”
  • “Turn EVERY $1 Of GOLD Into $10…Or MORE!”

Sources: streetauthority.com and soverignsociety.com

ALTERNATIVE SCENARIO

Another scenario to consider is a complete collapse in gold prices (and surge in the dollar) like we saw in the early 1980s We experienced about a -65% drop in gold prices (~$800/oz. to $300/oz.) from 1980-1982 and saw ZERO price appreciation for about a 25 year period. When did this abysmal period for gold begin? Right about the same time that Paul Volcker raised interest rates to fight inflation.  Hmmm, I wonder what next direction of interest rates will be, especially with the Federal Funds rate currently at effectively 0%? Could we see a repeat of the early ‘80s? Seems like a possibility to me. Certainly if you fall into the Marshal Law, civil unrest, soup kitchen, and bread line camp, like the “Three Musketeers,” then burying tons of gold in your homemade bunker may indeed be an appropriate strategy.

Another head scratcher is all the talk revolving around an inflation driven market rebound. If inflation is truly the worry, then shouldn’t the “Three Musketeers” be massively short and be concerned about declining PE (Price/Earnings) multiples, like the single digit PE levels we saw in the late-1970s and early-1980s (when we were experiencing double-digit inflation)?

As I have chronicled, there can be some mixed interpretations regarding the direction of future gold prices. If you think a repeat of Volcker driven gold price collapse of the early ‘80s is possible, then establishing a heavy short position may be the ticket for you. If on the other hand, you are in the gold $4,000 camp, then it might be best to carry a few extra gold bars in the trunk for your next Costco trip.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management and client accounts do not have direct long or short positions in COST, GS, AXP or gold positions. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

September 30, 2009 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Gold Market Lunacy Kicking Into Gear

Funny Face

So wait a second, let me get this right. A company pays billions of dollars to buy insurance, and then decides to sell $3.5 billion in dilutive ownership rights (current stockholders losing more than 10% of their ownership) so that they can pay somebody else another $5.6 billion to take that same insurance they previously loved away. In my book, I call that lunacy. This madness is exactly what Barrick Gold (ABX) just decided to do. The world’s largest gold miner issued approximately 95 million common shares at $37 per share to remove gold price hedges (used to lock in gold prices at a certain level), so if gold prices spike Barrick will now be able to participate fully without the drag of the hedges.

Effectively, management has decided to turn the mining company into a Vegas casino, where shareholders can now freely speculate in the price of gold without the volatility reducing hedges in place. Does this outlandish behavior signal a top in gold prices (now hovering around $1,000 per ounce)? I’m not stupid enough to call the end of frothing, speculative behavior – just witness Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” speech in 1996 when the NASDAQ traded at 1,300 (then went on to peak above 5,000). But what I am bold enough to do is call a spade a spade and to point out how ridiculous this reverse hedging activity is.

Other signs of speculation beyond the 4x price increase over the last 8 years or so, is the fact that gold prices have risen in the face of incredibly weak gold jewelry demand, -22% year-over-year globally in Q2 according to the Gold Demand Trends. This leaves the remaining demand coming largely from speculators and global central banks. If you need more evidence for the gold speculation, just turn on your local AM radio station and listen for the endless number of get-rich-quick on gold advertisements – some stations need to fill the gaping hole once held by those advertisers hawking mortgages.

From a gold investors’ perspective, I would say I fall more into Warren Buffett camp of thinking. Unlike other commodities (some of which I believe will be driven upwards by my emerging market demand and other forces) , gold is something dug up from the dirt in South Africa, melted, transported to another hole, buried in the ground (central bank), and then storage costs are incurred to guard the shiny metal. Sure, jewelry and small commercial applications are drivers for real demand, but the majority of demand is derived from intangible desires. Other commodities, for example oil, copper, uranium, and natural gas offer a lot more utility.

So what’s next when it comes to the price of gold? Peter Schiff an uber-gold bull broker at Euro Pacific Capital believes Armageddon is coming for the U.S. economy and hyper-inflation will drive gold upwards to the $4,000 per ounce price range (See How Peter Schiff’s Other Forecasts Have Performed). Another possibility to consider is a complete collapse in gold prices (and surge in the dollar) like we saw in the early 1980s after Paul Volcker raised interest rates and gold prices did not appreciate for a 25 year period. Hmmm, I wonder what direction interest rates are going next with the Federal Funds rate currently at effectively 0%? Could we see a repeat of the early ‘80s? Seems like a possibility to me. Certainly if you fall into the civil unrest, soup kitchen, and bread line camp, like Schiff and other U.S. bears, then piling into the diluted Barrick Gold shares may not be a bad strategy.

Inflation

Given the massive stimulus, debt loads, money supply growth and legislative agendas currently in place, inflation is a major medium and long-term concern. My remedy is government guaranteed Treasury Inflated Protection Securities (TIPS) that not only compensates investors with interest payments (unlike gold), but will also see principal values increase in tandem with principal if inflation indeed rears its ugly head. For those conspiracy theorists that believe the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is rigged, there are alternative international flavors of TIPs that reset according to other inflation benchmarks. As a kicker, some of these particular securities offer a hedge against a sliding U.S. dollar, which may or may not continue.

So as I lie in my recliner with my popcorn and TIPs, I’ll watch Barrick and other speculators continue the gold buying frenzy, wondering when and how ugly the gold finale will be?

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management and client accounts do not have direct long or short positions in ABX or gold related securities or BRKA/B at the time the article was published. Sidoxia Capital Management and its clients do have long exposure to TIP shares. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

September 14, 2009 at 4:00 am 1 comment

The Emperor Schiff Has No Clothes

ShiffPic

In the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, the emperor unwittingly hires two swindlers whom he pays to create a special make-believe suit, which the cons claim appears invisible to stupid people. When the emperor cannot visibly see his clothes, he sheepishly avoids confronting the swindlers to escape appearing stupid. Not until a little boy, who is watching the royal precession, points out the “emperor has no clothes” does the emperor finally realize he has been had.

Peter Schiff, former stockbroker and President of Euro Pacific Capital, has been proudly parading along the business media network on route to his senatorial candidacy, taking credit for accurately predicting the timing of the economic financial collapse. Endless amounts of praise have swarmed the airwaves and cyberspace through countless interviews and YouTube clips.

Maybe the same lessons learned from aforementioned fairy tale can be applied to Mr. Schiff? Perhaps he too wears no clothes?!

Let’s take a look at Mr. Schiff’s track record. Certainly Mr. Schiff was correctly bearish on the housing market, albeit about five years too early. I thought “timing is everything?” Apparently not for the media masses judging Peter Schiff’s track record. Let’s take a look at the chief tea-leaf reader in 2002 when he was calling for NASDAQ to reach 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials to reach 2000.

As you can see documented in the video, the Dow didn’t ever come remotely close to collapsing from 10,000 to 2,000 and the NASDAQ didn’t plummet from 1,700 to anywhere near 500. The significant percentage of the Fortune 500 he predicted to file bankruptcy never materialized either. Rather the market proceeded to march upwards on a five year bull market run that led to a doubling in the S&P 500 index from the bottom in 2002. Like a broken clock, if you stubbornly stick to one position, chances are you will eventually become right (at least twice per day).

I am not the only person to question the accuracy of Mr. Schiff’s persistently bearish and often inaccurate calls.

For one, Mike Shedlock of Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis gave an incredibly detailed review of Schiff’s track record in an article titled, “Peter Schiff was Wrong.” To get a little flavor of the piece, here is an excerpt:

12 Ways Schiff Was Wrong in 2008

  • Wrong about hyperinflation
  • Wrong about the dollar
  • Wrong about commodities except for gold
  • Wrong about foreign currencies except for the Yen
  • Wrong about foreign equities
  • Wrong in timing
  • Wrong in risk management
  • Wrong in buy and hold thesis
  • Wrong on decoupling
  • Wrong on China
  • Wrong on US treasuries
  • Wrong on interest rates, both foreign and domestic

Todd Sullivan from Seeking Alpha wrote an equally scathing, although shorter, look at Mr. Schiff’s track record.

More recently the ever-bearish Schiff continues to call for a collapse in the U.S. dollar and economy but refuses to short (bet against) the U.S. market because a hyper-inflationary period may ensue, driving U.S. index prices higher. Wait a second; is he saying that buying U.S. equities would be a good hedge against rising inflation? All this talking in circles is getting me dizzy. As for his position on gold, just last year he said gold would hit $2,000 per ounce by 2009 – well if it rises 100%+ in the next few months, then Mr. Schiff will be right on target.

Peter Schiff certainly lacks no confidence in making bold predictions despite his spotty record. Whether you think Peter Schiff is an overly bearish buffoon filled with hot air, or you think he is the greatest market prognosticator since sliced bread, it never hurts to wipe your eyes to make sure the media king du jour is wearing clothes?

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®  

Plan. Invest. Prosper.  

www.Sidoxia.com 

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients own certain exchange traded funds, but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in  any security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

September 7, 2009 at 4:00 am 20 comments

Is the Recession Over?

CNBC Recession Panel

Listen to CNBC Panel

Dennis Kneale, bullish commentator on CNBC presented his case on why he thinks the recession is over:

Positive Technical Indicators: Kneale points out that in recent history when the 50-day moving price average cuts upward through the 200-day moving average there is a positive directional bias for the market in the ensuing months.

Personal Income: +1.4% in May for 2 consecutive months.

Personal Spending: Consumer spending was up again in May, and up more than in April.

University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment:  The survey rose again to a reading of 70.8 in the recent measurement period.

VIX Volatity Index: The so called “Fear Index” is down -43% in about 3 months – stabilizing to a more normalized level. He argues this should bring in some cash on the sidelines into the stock market.

Eric Schmidt Positive: CEO of search giant, Google, says the worst is behind for the U.S. economy.

Most of the guests rang a more cautious tone, not the least of which, Peter Schiff sees Armageddon ahead for the U.S. economy.  Mr. Schiff goes on to compare CNBC to the Gardening channel with all the talk about “green shoots.” Not to mention, he sees the trillions of stimulus dollars only providing a temporary, artificial boost that will eventually cause a horrible economic hangover. Lucky for Peter, he has perfectly timed the international rebound in 2009…cough, cough.

July 1, 2009 at 4:00 am 1 comment

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