Federal Reserve

Polls Show Americans More Optimistic On Economy

Despite the significant financial challenges this country faces, a number of Americans seem to be more optimistic about the economy going forward. Jeffry Bartash reported on the MarketWatch website yesterday:

Even though U.S. growth slowed sharply in the first quarter, Americans are more optimistic about the economy now than at any time since President Obama took over the White House in January 2009.

A new CNN poll shows that 52% of Americans view the economy as “very” or “somewhat” good vs. 48% who call it “poor” or “somewhat poor.”

It’s only the second time a majority have expressed a positive view during the Obama presidency — the first time was in December — and it is the highest reading in almost eight years. The last time Americans were as optimistic was in September 2007

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In addition to that CNN poll, a recent Bloomberg Politics poll suggests the American public is more positive about the economy and how Barack Obama and the Democrats are handling it. Margaret Talev wrote on the Bloomberg website last week:

Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes may be buoyed by a more optimistic feeling about President Barack Obama and the economy seen in a new Bloomberg Politics poll.

Americans are becoming more optimistic about the country’s economic prospects by several different measures. President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy is being seen more positively than negatively for the first time in more than five years, 49 percent to 46 percent—his best number in this poll since September 2009

Thirty-four percent said the national economy will become stronger over the next year, while just 21 percent said it will get worse and 44 percent predicted the status quo. That’s up from last June, when 30 percent said things were getting better…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Finally, Myles Udland noted in an April 17 piece on the Business Insider website:

Consumer confidence is soaring.

The preliminary reading on consumer confidence from the University of Michigan came in at 95.9, topping expectations for a reading of 94.0.

This is the second highest reading since 2007…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


National Recovery Administration, The Road Is Open Again (1933)
YouTube Video

I’m not sure where all this optimism is coming from. After all, the nation’s economic woes which reared its ugly head by the fall of 2008 have merely been papered over and kicked down the road a few years.

Meanwhile, the Fed depleted plenty of ammunition (see “About” page Fed charts) keeping the whole setup afloat.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s probably not a bad idea to take advantage of this upsurge in confidence to try and improve one’s resilience to a financial crash I still see coming.

Each person’s circumstances are different. But I, for one, have been focusing on meeting those six “innate survival needs” from my “Project Prepper” series of posts- among other things like increasing income. To recap, those “needs” are:

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

In order of priority- for me.

Hopefully, these can be taken care of before the “balloon goes up.”

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Bartash, Jeffry. “American optimism about economy highest since Obama became president.” MarketWatch. 21 Apr. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/american-optimism-about-economy-highest-since-obama-became-president-2015-04-21). 22 Apr. 2015.

Talev, Margaret. “Bloomberg Politics National Poll Finds Improving Economic Mood.” Bloomberg.com. 16 Apr. 2015. (http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-04-16/bloomberg-politics-national-poll-finds-improving-economic-mood). 22 Apr. 2015.

Udland, Myles. “Consumer confidence soars to second-highest level since 2007.” Business Insider. 17 Apr. 2015. (http://www.businessinsider.com/university-of-michigan-consumer-confidence-2015-4). 22 Apr. 2015.

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Marc Faber Doubts Fed Rate Hike In 2015, Buys Crude Oil Stocks

Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber was recently interviewed by Latha Venkatesh and Sonia Shenoy at CNBC-TV18 (India). The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report talked about a number of financial/investing topics- including a potential rate hike soon by the Federal Reserve. From a transcript of the discussion published on the Moneycontrol.com website on April 13:

Sonia: So, you are not expecting a rate hike from the US Fed this year?

A: What I said is in my view the Fed will not increase rates this year unless there is really a very sharp pick up in the economy or there is a colossal pot-hole developing in stocks. But otherwise I doubt it because the dollar has been strong. Okay, it may weaken somewhat, but I do not think it will collapse against the euro and against the yen and the British pound and so forth. So, the dollar is relatively strong. The economy in the US, the latest say, ten indicators that came out were all on the weak side. And under these conditions I doubt the Fed will increase rates. But that is an academic debate. What is important is I think the Feds and other Western Central Bankers will keep interest rates at a very low level for a very long time and will try to keep interest rates in real terms negative. In other words below the rates of cost of living increases.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dr. Faber shares the belief of fellow “crash prophet” Peter Schiff concerning an increase in the federal funds rate in the near future. However, Schiff has added that if the U.S. central bank does raise interest rates anytime soon, it will be miniscule.

Faber, who correctly forecast the rise of commodities, emerging markets, and China last decade, shares something else with a different “prophet.” From the transcript:

Latha: Yes, I note your exasperation. Therefore let me come to another asset class: commodities. Do you think they have bottomed or is it that there would be a long trough for this asset class?

A: We have to distinguish because the price of oil has very little to do with the price of orange juice or coffee. So each commodity has its own price dynamics driven by global production and global demand. Now industrial commodities have performed miserably along with emerging markets over the last couple of years because the demand was slowing down especially from China. So, you have prices of iron ore and steel and copper and oil that have collapsed. I happen to think that at this level a lot of commodities are reasonably priced, does not mean they will go up right away. But they come now into a buying rate and I have been buying some oil stocks recently.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last Sunday, I noted Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, who spotted the U.S. housing bubble last decade and the dot-com bubble a few years earlier, had purchased a crude oil ETF.

You can read the transcript of the entire exchange between Dr. Faber and CNBC-TV18 on Moneycontrol.com here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Peter Schiff: Coming QE 4 ‘The Lethal Round,’ ‘The Decline Of The Dollar Is Only Just Getting Started’

“Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 126,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today…”

-U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Economic News Release,” April 3, 2015

Euro Pacific Capital CEO/Chief Global Strategist Peter Schiff is out with his latest entry on The Schiff Report YouTube video blog. On April 3, Schiff savaged the latest U.S. jobs report and told viewers:

I think that this is not a one-off fluke, and that all of a sudden we’re going to have another strong jobs report for April and May, and that all the other bad economic data is going to magically improve with the improvement in the weather…

If you’re expecting a big rebound in the second and third quarter, it’s going to have to come from the consumer spending more money he doesn’t have. So I don’t see where all this fantasy is coming from other than just sheer wishful thinking. But the Fed is going to at some point have to acknowledge that the U.S. economy is not as strong as it thought. And I can already hear the calls and the justification for more stimulus, for QE 4, whether they call it that or not, because everybody is going to agree “The problem is, that we just didn’t do enough stimulus”…

We’re going to do another round, and this is going to be the lethal round. This is going to be the overdose on QE. Because the crisis that’s coming is going to be a dollar crisis…

The decline of the dollar is only just getting started. Whether it’s going to continue next week, or it’s going to have to wait a little longer for people to figure this out. But you have this huge speculative bid that’s been in the dollar for months based on this false notion of this legitimate U.S. recovery and a Fed that’s going to be raising interest rates. We have neither. We have an illegitimate recovery. We have a bubble masquerading as a recovery. The air is already seeping out. And the Fed hasn’t even pricked it by raising rates, which is why they don’t want to raise rates, because they don’t want to accelerate the process. In fact, they’re going to do whatever they can to delay it by blowing air back into the bubble with QE 4.


“Job Growth Fades as Excuses Wear Thin”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Peter Schiff: ‘We Are Headed For A Huge Day Of Reckoning’

Disturbing words from Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff in his latest entry on the The Schiff Report video blog on YouTube.com. The man who correctly predicted the U.S. housing bust and economic crisis at the end of the last decade warned March 18:

People think we have a legitimate recovery. We don’t. If we did, the Fed would have already raised interest rates years ago. In fact, Janet Yellen said, that even at this mythical point in the future when the Fed may in fact raise rates, she said that she’s still going to keep them a lot lower than they should be. Why? I mean, why do we have to keep interest rates artificially low? If the economy is really recovering, why does it still need to be stimulated? Six years into a recovery. Because it’s all artificial. You can’t take it away. There is now so much debt, we’re so much more levered up than we’ve ever been, that we need these drugs more than ever. And I think just diminishing the dose is going to bring us into recession. See, as weak as the economy is, we’re teetering on the brink of recession. If the Fed raised rates, they would push us over the edge. But I think just the mere absence of QE 3 is enough to bring us into recession because we need those drugs. And I think the air is already coming out of the bubble- that’s why it’s deflating. That’s why the U.S. economy is decelerating so rapidly. That’s why these numbers are coming out so bad. And it’s only a matter of time before the jobs numbers catch up with everything else…

We are headed for a huge day of reckoning. The fact that that day of reckoning has been delayed for so many years, because so many people still don’t understand the predicament that we’re in, because we’ve been able to borrow so much more money and spend it and speculate with it over these years- that hasn’t stopped it from coming. That just means that there’s that much more to reckon with. And I think it’s that much more important for people who understand this, who have been patiently waiting. While other people have been chasing bubbles and buying dollars, our strategy is to hold on to real assets to foreign assets, foreign stocks, precious metals. The fact that we’ve had to wait so many extra years for the payday, in my mind, it means that the payday is going to be that much bigger because we had to wait so much longer to receive it. Because all of the economic imbalances, all of the problems that caused me to adopt the investment strategy that I did, are now worse than ever. None of the problems have been solved by the Fed- they’ve been exacerbated. And they are going to blow up. There’s a limit to how long the Fed can restrain these market forces. They’re going to try. As long as they can. But you can’t fool all the people all the time.


“Losing ‘Patience’ Does not Mean the Fed has Lost Patience”
YouTube Video

“Teetering on the brink of recession.”

“Headed for a huge day of reckoning”

Remember, Schiff isn’t alone in his dour assessment of the U.S. economy and larger financial system. And unlike most of the “experts” you see in the mainstream media these days, he got those calls on the housing market and financial crisis correct while they didn’t even see it coming.

“It’s only a matter of time before the jobs numbers catch up with everything else”

As I’ve said before, it might be wise to take advantage of a labor market that’s not as lean as it was a few years ago to bolster one’s financial position.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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The ‘Fearmongers’ Will Get The Last Laugh

I haven’t had much to blog about recently when it comes to the “crash prophets”– Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff.

I have noticed one thing though. These individuals appear to be coming under a growing barrage of attacks in the mainstream media and elsewhere lately. Following them as I have for a number of years (anyone remember when I used to be the editor of Investorazzi.com, “Tracking The World’s Greatest Investors,” from 2008 to 2010?), the harsh atmosphere feels a lot like it did in the middle of the last decade, when these four were calling for the bottom to fall out of the housing and stock markets, the economy, and larger financial system- and were subsequently ridiculed for it.

We all know what happened next. And the initial pain could have been a hell of a lot worse if Washington and the Fed hadn’t papered up that debacle and kicked it down the road a few years into the future.

As for their antagonists back then? Well, a particular line from “Grace” the school secretary in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off comes to mind when I think of their fate:

Well, makes you look like an ass is what he does, Ed.

These days, it’s an all-out assault again on Faber, Grantham, Rogers, and Schiff by the financial Pollyannas, emboldened by some positive economic/investment data in an overall lame recovery, historically-speaking. Case in point, a February 26 Yahoo! Finance article in which Jeff Macke wrote:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made a fresh high, joining its cousin the S&P 500 and now we await the Nasdaq to push above 5,048. Instead of celebrating prosperity here’s what the media is likely to do which is the wrong attitude.

Trot out the usual cast of fearmongers to tell everyone why a biblical crisis is in our immediate future. This week it was Nobel Prize winning Yale Professor Robert Shiller…

I’m not picking on him. Quite the opposite. As fear mongers go Shiller is the best of them. The worst is probably Marc Faber who emerges from a cave in Switzerland periodically to call for “an 1987 level crash”. Faber started making that explicit prediction in spring of 2012 when he said the chances of a global recession that year or 2013 were 100%. He was wrong of course but that was a better call than his 2009 prediction that the U.S. would suffer hyperinflation levels only seen in Zimbabwe. For the record Zimbabwe experienced 231 million percent inflation that year. If Faber isn’t wrong on that call he is very, very, very early…

A couple of things came to mind reading Macke’s piece:

When did high stock prices become interchangeable for “prosperity”? I’d like to see the evidence demonstrating real economic prosperity and a booming stock market go hand-in-hand each and every time. Last I heard, the White House and the Fed were still on their knees praying this happens.
• Robert Shiller a “fearmonger”? If I’m not mistaken, didn’t Dr. Shiller spot both the dot-com bubble and the housing bubble? Fearmonger? Try a damned good economist. And a public servant for warning anyone who would listen about these financial debacles.
• “The worst is probably Marc Faber…” The same Dr. Faber that became well-known for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash, for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, for calling the March 2009 U.S. stock market bottom and subsequent rally, in addition to correctly-forecasting the rise of commodities, emerging markets, and China in the 2000s? Yeah, he’s the worst.

“But that was a better call than his 2009 prediction that the U.S. would suffer hyperinflation levels only seen in Zimbabwe. For the record Zimbabwe experienced 231 million percent inflation that year.” Did Dr. Faber predict Zimbabwe-like hyperinflation would strike the U.S. between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2009 (which seems to be insinuated by the inclusion of that second sentence), or did Faber make this forecast during 2009 that it would eventually occur here? I see the haters have latched on to the former. In which case, produce the evidence he said hyperinflation would strike the U.S. in that particular year.

You see, here are the problems with such attacks on Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff, and others.

• First, the “crash prophets” have a pretty solid track record over time when it comes to making correct market/investment calls. Over the years I’ve read material by journalists confirming this. Plus, I’ve catalogued it on the “Crash Prophets” page. That being said, no one’s perfect, and bad calls happen once in a while.
• Second, unless specifically stated, since I started observing Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff a decade ago, I get the impression they take a long-term approach to many of their forecasts. Yet, the attacks often consist of trying to call the outcome of the ball game while it’s still in the early innings, so to speak. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard/read attempts to discredit these guys because something they predicted still hadn’t materialized. Perhaps it’s because the forecasted event is still unfolding?
• Third, investigating where and from whom the attacks are coming from often reveals the real motives behind the trash-talk. And many times, “where you stand depends on where you sit.” In other words, lots of obvious self-interest out there.

I expect attacks on Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff, and other “crash prophets” to intensify as the nation’s “financial reckoning day” grows closer. It’s an evitable consequence of not donning rose-colored goggles and playing ball with the Pollyannas.

But like in the period of time after the housing crash, the “Panic of ’08,” and subsequent “Great Recession,” I’m pretty sure these esteemed investors/money managers will be having the last laugh.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Marc Faber: Central Banks, Governments Will Try To Confiscate Privately-Held Gold

Last week I was listening to a King World News interview of Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber. The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report warned listeners that he believes privately-held gold is in danger of being confiscated by central banks and governments. From an exchange between Eric King and Dr. Faber in that interview which appeared on the website on February 10, 2015:

KING: Marc, we were talking about the money printing earlier. Obviously, we had the revaluation of the Swiss franc overnight that led to so much chaos. But what I wanted to ask you today is, you’ve already said I think gold is going to have a strong 2015, but are we going to wake up at some point in the future and have a massive revaluation of gold overnight? Is that something you see happening not this year but in the future? Is that coming at some point?
FABER: Yes. But I think before it will happen the central banks and the governments will try to take the gold away from ordinary people, you understand? I think they know that this would be one solution for the global financial system to peg it again to some extent on gold. But before they do that, I think they’ll go after you and me and say, “Okay, parasites of society that do not spend but keep their money in gold that is unproductive- let us take it away.” That is the threat. I’m not worried about the price of gold. What do I care if the gold price is at $1,000 or $500 or $1,500 or $5,000? What I care is that I can keep ownership of gold.
KING: Just so I understand this, there may be a global coordinated effort by as many central banks that can get together on this to seize the gold, to take the gold.
FABER: Yes, because the professors at the central banks and the academics, most of them have never owned a single ounce of gold. And they know that gold is the honest currency that cannot be printed. Yes, the supply increases and sometimes the price goes up and sometimes the price goes down. But this is a market they really cannot control in the long-run. They can manipulate it in the short-run, but the more they manipulate it, the more it will eventually go to its real level. And so central bankers basically who are the money printers- the counterfeiters of this world- they hate gold. Period.

Later on in that King World News interview, “Dr. Doom” talked about the investments he owns these days. Faber revealed:

I own some real estate in Asia. I own some gold. I own some stocks. I own some bonds, because I agree with you at some point the bond market will diverge. In other words, they’ll print money and buy bonds, but the bond market will go down.

You can listen to the entire interview on the King News World website here (gold confiscation discussion begins at 14:09).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Peter Schiff Says Stock, Housing Markets Down If QE 4 Not Launched In 2015

“The U.S. economy entered 2015 on the most robust streak of consumer spending in years, yet when the first growth figures for 2014 came out Friday they underscored the lack of vigor in the current expansion.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the U.S., notched an annual growth rate of 2.4% for 2014, the government said Friday, just a touch better than the sluggish average of the nearly six-year-old recovery—and far from the 4% growth of the late 1990s. Fourth-quarter GDP was 2.6%, roughly half the summer’s blowout 5% pace, which was aided in part by a spree of military purchases that wasn’t repeated.

The report offered both hope and red flags for the world’s largest economy…”

The Wall Street Journal website, January 30, 2015

Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff discussed the latest U.S. GDP numbers in his January 30, 2015, entry on The Schiff Report vlog on YouTube.com. Schiff told viewers:

Ultimately, what I think has to happen- and it hasn’t happened yet- is that people are going to have to connect these dots, and get their arms around the fact that the U.S. economy is not nearly as prosperous. That this recovery is not legitimate, and that it cannot sustain itself. I mean, how can anybody believe- if you believed that the stimulus worked, if you believe that quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates stimulated the economy, then how can you take away the stimulus and have the economy perform better without the stimulus than it did with the stimulus? You would have to acknowledge that if you took away the stimulus, you’re going to get less growth. And that’s what’s going to happen. Yet everybody expects more growth…

The only question in my mind is- how long is the Federal Reserve going to maintain the pretense of economic growth and pretend that it stands ready to raise interest rates at some point, when it really is planning on launching QE 4 that will be larger than what they’re doing in Europe. If they don’t launch QE 4 this year, I think the stock market will be down. And not only will the stock market be down, the real estate market will be down. And remember, both the stock market and the housing market are the twin pillars upon which this phony recovery was built. And for those people who think that we’re going to have more economic growth in 2015- 3 percent economic growth which I think is still the consensus in 2015- how is that going to happen? Without any quantitative easing. With rate hikes later in the year. With a falling stock market. With a falling real estate market. You’re going to have the wealth effect working in reverse. In fact, they announced today that the homeownership rate just hit a brand-new 20-year low. And the Fed hasn’t even started to raise rates yet. How is this phony bubble economy going to grow faster under those conditions, than it did last year under the ideal monetary conditions? It can’t. And that is the dichotomy, the inconsistency, that nobody seems to be able to grasp.


“GDP Growth Slows Sharply in 4th Quarter: 2015 to be Worse”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 82

I had a tough choice to make earlier tonight- either watch President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Speech, or finish up doing laundry.

After all my clothes were put away, I saw on my Internet service provider’s home page some jibberish about how some “shadow of crisis” had passed. I pulled up a transcript of the President’s speech tonight and sure enough there was this:

America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:

The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come…

Mark my words. The “shadow of crisis” hasn’t passed. It was merely papered over. Keynesian “enlightenment,” government intervention, bailouts, stimulus packages, quantitative easing, QE 1, QE 2, QE 3, willing-and-able presstitutes, and what do we have? The Not-So-Great Recovery. Answer me this- if the economy is so strong, why have interest rates been effectively at zero for how many years now? “But Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve are going to start raising interest rates soon.” We’ll see, but if they do, I suspect rates will be raised incrementally, and I can’t help but wonder if the next few years won’t resemble the early part of last decade when a housing bubble inflated (and eventually popped) under the guise of a strong economy, but with the Fed slow on the trigger to raise rates and take way the punch bowl. This time around, we could even have multiple asset bubbles (in bonds? housing? stocks?) formed before the next installment of the longer financial crash arrives. Who knows exactly how the next crisis will play out, but I’m pretty sure the end result will be much uglier than the last episode. Not many bullets left for Uncle Sam and the central bank to use.

One more thing. “We have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.” God forbid anyone scratch the surface to reveal how many more trillions of dollars of debt has been piled on our financial house of cards in order to kick the can down the road a little bit more. There’s no escaping the fact that the United States is the world’s largest debtor nation. And another inconvenient fact happens to be that taking on significant debt is akin to slavery.

“Freer to write our own future.” If only it were true. Financial reckoning day is more like it.

I’ll leave Survival And Prosperity readers with this. Back in the early 1990s while attending the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign I remember listening to a recording of “The Rat Pack” in action. Frank Sinatra was chiding Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Now, the “Chairman Of The Board” made an observation that better describes the situation we’re in than what the President Of The United States said this evening:

You’ve had your fling and you flung it.

Enjoy the “good times” while they last, then prepare to batten down the hatches.


Scene from The Final Countdown (1980)
YouTube Video

Note that it’s not the end of the word I’m talking about here. But things will definitely suck for a while before the economy and society gets better again. By that time, we’ll probably be well on our way to having passed the baton to China.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Peter Schiff: China, Other U.S. Creditors Could Emulate Switzerland, Implode America When Fed Attempts QE4

“One of the world’s safest investments- the Swiss franc- has swung wildly this week after the central bank in Switzerland announced it would scrap its policy of limiting the rise of the currency.

It may seem like an arcane move, but it’s not. The Swiss National Bank’s surprise decision on Thursday caused the franc to surge against the euro and dollar, sending shockwaves through the global financial system.

Holders of Swiss francs profited handsomely, but many investors and brokerage firms, were pounded with losses…”

-Associated Press, January 16, 2015

Anyone been paying attention to what happened with the Swiss franc this past week? I have a feeling most American aren’t- which is a mistake, because the actions of the Swiss central bank may be repeated by China and other countries in the near future with respect to our country. Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff talked about the possible implications in his January 16, 2014, entry in The Schiff Report vlog on YouTube.com. Schiff warned viewers:

When the Fed comes up with QE4, China is going to be faced with a similar decision as Switzerland. Are they going to back up their trucks and load them up with dollars? Because if we do QE4, we’re going to expect the Chinese to bear the burden if they want to keep their currency from going up. And I think Switzerland is going to show them the way. They’ll see the light. This is not going to be detrimental to the Swiss economy. On the contrary, this is going to be a positive for Switzerland, and it could be a positive for China if they abandon their peg as well. But, that’s going to be even worse for America than what Switzerland did to Europe… for America, we’ve been relying on this Chinese crutch for so long, you take it away, and there’s a real implosion here. We’re going to suffer much more if the Chinese pull our plug. I mean, we’re really going to go down the drain. This might not necessarily be the nail in the coffin for the Europeans. ..

People should look at this lesson of Switzerland and heed these warnings. And don’t just look in the rearview mirror at what happened in Switzerland. But look forward, look through the windshield at what’s coming. Look at the relationship between the Swiss franc and the euro and what are the implications between the dollar and other pegged currencies like the yuan and the Hong Kong dollar. All of these relationships are eventually going to crack. All of the countries that are subsidizing the United States, that are absorbing our trade deficits, that are piling up our Treasuries- they’re all going to have the same problem that Switzerland had. They made a mistake and corrected it in three short years. These others countries have been making a bigger mistake for a longer period of time, but eventually, they are going to be forced to bit the bullet and cut and run. And I think it’s going to be the same decision that motivated the Swiss is going to be the prospect of QE4, because everybody is expecting a tighter Fed, everybody believes that we have a legitimate recovery, and nobody is expecting this recovery to implode, and the Fed to come back with QE4- but that is exactly what’s going to happen. Just the way they were caught by surprise by what happened with the Swiss franc, they’re going to be even more surprised by what’s going to happen with the U.S. economy, what’s going to happen with the dollar…

Don’t wait for that to happen. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be bankrupted like the forex traders, or the forex companies that were extending the credit to the leveraged speculators. Get your economic house in order. Understand that economic fundamentals always come through in the end. Sometimes it takes longer to happen, and sometimes people become emboldened, because if something hasn’t happened, they think it’s never going to happen. And exactly when you get complacent, when you think it’s always going to be that way- and believe me, the people that were levered up short the Swiss franc, in their wildest imaginations, they could not see this day coming. Even though it should have been obvious that this day would come. Nobody knows when. And that’s why I always tell my clients, we’ve got to be prepared in advance. It’s too late, if you’re a day late. You’ve got to be early. If you woke up yesterday morning, and you were short the Swiss franc, it was too late to cover. The market just gapped, it was a huge move, there was nothing you could do. You had to be prepared in advance. You couldn’t time it- there was no way to know exactly when it was going to happen- because nobody could figure that out. You have to be early. You can’t be late. And so when it comes to structuring your portfolio and preparing for a dollar crisis, you’re not going to see it coming. You’re not going to do it at the last minute. You’ve got to be prepared in advance. And, you know, there’s plenty of warning signs that that day of reckoning is coming.


“Will China Pull a ‘Switzerland’ on the U.S. Dollar?”
YouTube Video

Schiff, who also heads up SchiffGold, shared his view on how gold might perform in the coming year. He told viewers:

I think gold’s going to have a big first half- even bigger than the first half of 2014- but in the second half, that’s when it could really take off.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Marc Faber: Gold Going Up 30% In 2015

“BullionVault, an online service for investors to buy and sell physical gold and silver, said its Gold Investor Index fell in December to an almost five-year low.

The gauge, which measures the balance of buyers against sellers, slipped to 50.5 from 52.1 in November, the London-based company said in an e-mailed report today. That’s the lowest level since February 2010 and marked the biggest drop since 2013. A reading above 50 indicates more buyers than sellers…”

-Bloomberg.com, January 6, 2015

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber has been a gold bull for some time. And the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report is so confident about a rising price of gold in 2015 (in spite of all the negative sentiment among investors) that he made an eye-opening prediction yesterday. Sara Sjolin reported on the MarketWatch website Tuesday afternoon:

“I’m positive [that] gold will go up substantially [in 2015] — say 30%,” Faber, whose investment letter is called the Gloom Boom Doom Report, said at Société Générale’s global strategy presentation in London on Tuesday.

“My belief is that the big surprise this year is that investor confidence in central banks collapses. And when that happens — I can’t short central banks, although I’d really like to, and the only way to short them is to go long gold, silver and platinum,” he said. “That’s the only way. That’s something I will do.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

BullionVault

Dr. Faber repeated his recent “bubble in everything, everywhere” statement while in London. Sjolin added:

“We simply have highly inflated asset markets. Real estate is high, stocks are high, bonds are high, art prices are high, and interest rates and short-term deposits are basically zero,” Faber said. “The only sector that I think is very inexpensive is precious metals, and in particularly precious-metals stocks.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Faber, who became well-known for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash and for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box back on September 19, 2014, and warned viewers:

Today, the good news is we have a bubble in everything, everywhere– with very few exceptions. And, eventually, there will be a problem when these asset markets begin to perform poorly. The question is- what will be the catalyst? It could be a rise in interest rates not engineered by the Fed, because I think they’ll keep interests rates at zero on the Fed funds rate for a very long time… We could have essentially a break in bond markets at some point. We also could have a strong dollar. A strong dollar has already happened in the last two months signifies that international liquidity is tightening. And when that happens, usually it’s not very good for asset markets.

Dr. Faber also sees a potential investing opportunity in emerging markets, which you can read about in Sjolin’s piece on the MarketWatch website here.

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, And Peter Schiff All Sound The Alarm

I find it both funny and disturbing that the financial types who missed the U.S. housing bubble/bust and global economic crisis that was readily-visible by the second half of 2008 are now claiming the U.S. economic “recovery” is on solid footing and there are no asset bubbles in sight.

Meanwhile, the few individuals who correctly-predicted that carnage- including Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff- are sounding the alarm again.

Here’s what each of these “crash prophets” have been saying lately (the following statements have all been blogged about previously on Survival And Prosperity).

Swiss-born investor and money manager Marc Faber warned CNBC Squawk Box viewers on September 19, 2014:

Today, the good news is we have a bubble in everything, everywhere– with very few exceptions. And, eventually, there will be a problem when these asset markets begin to perform poorly. The question is- what will be the catalyst? It could be a rise in interest rates not engineered by the Fed, because I think they’ll keep interests rates at zero on the Fed funds rate for a very long time… We could have essentially a break in bond markets at some point. We also could have a strong dollar. A strong dollar has already happened in the last two months signifies that international liquidity is tightening. And when that happens, usually it’s not very good for asset markets.

“A bubble in everything, everywhere.” Reminds me of what British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham said right before the asset bubbles popped during the “Panic of ’08.” Speaking of Grantham, he penned in his November 2014 quarterly investment letter entitled “Bubble Watch Update”:

I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…

My personal fond hope and expectation is still for a market that runs deep into bubble territory (which starts, as mentioned earlier, at 2250 on the S&P 500 on our data) before crashing as it always does. Hopefully by then, but depending on what the rest of the world’s equities do, our holdings of global equities will be down to 20% or less. Usually the bubble excitement – which seems inevitably to be led by U.S. markets – starts about now, entering the sweet spot of the Presidential Cycle’s year three, but occasionally, as you have probably discovered the hard way already, history can be a snare and not a help.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…”

The S&P 500 stands at 2,058 this Sunday- only 192 points away from Grantham’s bubble “target.”

There’s also investor, financial commentator, and author Jim Rogers, who was talking U.S. equities on RT’s Boom Bust on December 26, 2014, when he remarked:

I know the bear market will come… The next bear market, Erin, is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof. Debt worldwide, including the U.S., has skyrocketed, and we’re all going to have to pay a terrible price for all this money printing and all this debt.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Finally, there’s Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff, who argued on The Schiff Report YouTube video blog on Halloween 2014:

When this illusion collapses, this fantasy of a U.S. economic recovery- because everybody believes there’s no recession anywhere in sight, that we’re years away from a U.S. recession- when in fact, another recession is right around the corner. And in fact, it will be worse than the recession that we had in 2008, 2009, if the Fed does not come in with QE 4…

I expect Janet Yellen to react to this coming recession the way Ben Bernanke reacted to the last one. The way Alan Greenspan reacted to the last one. Because that’s the only playbook we’ve got. And remember, when this recession starts, they can’t start with rate cuts. Rates are at zero. You can’t cut from zero. All they can do is revamp QE. And believe me, it’s going to have to be a lot bigger than QE 3. QE 4 is going to have to be bigger than QE 3 for the same reason QE 3 had to be bigger than QE 2- the economy builds up a tolerance. The more addicted to QE, the more QE you need to get any kind of result. And this last result was minimal in the real economy. I mean, yes- the Fed was able to get the stock market to go up, but the real economy never experienced any real economic growth. The average American is worse off today than when QE began. By far. Incomes are down. Real employment is down. Net worth is down. Poverty is up. Government dependency is up. The cost of living is up. Nothing has improved, except maybe the level of optimism on Wall Street…

This crisis is not really going to be about a credit crisis. Not private credit. It’s going to be about debt. Sovereign credit. It’s going to be about the dollar. A currency crisis. A sovereign crisis. Which is going to be very different than the crisis we had in 2008. It’s a crisis of an excess of QE. Of an overdose of QE. That’s the one that’s coming. That’s the one that we have to prepare for. That’s the one that I have been warning about since the beginning…

Schiff, who’s also a financial commentator and author, has been the most vocal of the four in warning of economic pain dead-ahead of us.

Jim Rogers talking the day after Christmas about the coming bear market alerted me to the fact that all these “crash prophets” whom I regularly-follow on this blog are now sounding the alarm at the same time. To summarize their recent warnings:

Marc Faber- “A bubble in everything, everywhere.” Actually, I believe he still likes Asia and Asian emerging economies.
Jeremy Grantham- “I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline.”
Jim Rogers- “The next bear market… is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof.”
Peter Schiff- “An overdose of QE. That’s the one that’s coming. That’s the one that we have to prepare for. That’s the one that I have been warning about since the beginning.”

At the start of 2015, it will be interesting to see how the next couple of years play out, for I believe Americans will get the chance to experience quite a bit of the above in that time period- whether they want to or not.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Happy New Year

Just wanted to wish Survival And Prosperity readers a Happy New Year if you celebrate it on January 1.

In 2015, I’ll be striving to provide even more insight on this blog into “protecting and growing self and wealth in these uncertain times.”

Speaking about “uncertain times,” I still see America’s “financial reckoning day” down the road. I wish it wasn’t so, I don’t see it being the end of the world, but I believe the point-of-no-return for fixing what’s wrong has come and gone.

Regrettably, Washington and the Fed papering over the mess that became readily apparent to many by the autumn of 2008 only makes the coming crash that much more ugly.

Life is going to get a whole lot tougher for many Americans very soon. If I could have one more wish for the new year besides peace and prosperity for all mankind, it would be this:

Take advantage of this relative calm before the storm to try and blunt the pain I see ahead of us.

As such, I’ll be there in 2015 to point out signs of the coming carnage and to share insights into maintaining/improving one’s way of life in the face of such adversity.

Happy New Year,

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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Institutional Investors In Chicago-Area Homes On Verge Of Cashing Out?

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the Chicago-area housing market on Survival And Prosperity. But my Sunday paper contained two articles that shed some light on one reason the Chicagoland residential real estate market has been rebounding the last couple of years, and why recent price appreciation looks endangered. First, Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune:

By one estimate, institutional buyers that acquire distressed homes and convert them into rentals bought about 9,500 properties in the Chicago area in a 32-month period that ended in August…

But several housing markets, including Chicago’s, are considered prime places for institutional buyers to cash out if they choose, walking away with tidy profits, according to an analysis by RealtyTrac…

Institutional investors, defined as buyers who acquired 10 or more homes during a year, spent an average of $161,252 to acquire a home here, and that home now has an average market value of $210,126, according to RealtyTrac. That’s a gain of 30 percent. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index puts the Chicago area’s home price gain between January 2012 and this past September at 22 percent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, a few pages into the Tribune’s “Real Estate” section, Mary Umberger wrote:

The last one out should turn off the lights. The housing-research firm RealtyTrac says Orlando, Fla., is primed to see the horde of investors who bought up houses during the downturn start heading for the exits. They’ve made their profits, according to the researchers, who calculated that the investment properties’ values increased by 23 percent since January 2012. Price increases in that market are beginning to slow, suggesting that a sell-off may be coming, particularly from the so-called institutional investors who bought foreclosures by the dozens — even by the hundreds — when prices were ebbing. (In addition, RealtyTrac suggested that institutional investors soon may be similarly heading for the doors in Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; and in Jacksonville and Brevard County, Fla.)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It’s my opinion that the Federal Reserve is still desperately trying to re-inflate the housing bubble (among others) from the last decade. I don’t think this economic “recovery” is on as solid ground as Washington, the Fed, and others want the rest of America to believe. I expect additional stimulus in the coming year(s), and nominal asset prices could remain elevated/go higher as a result. Housing included. So there may not be a mass exodus of institutional investors from residential real estate right around the corner. Of course, something else could always spook these guys and have them running for the exits. Time will tell…


Infamous Housing Bubble TV Commercial
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Sources:

Podmolik, Mary Ellen, “Investors find fewer bargains in Chicago housing market.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Dec. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/ct-mre-1228-podmolik-homefront-20141222-column.html). 29 Dec. 2014.

Umberger, Mary. “Florida housing trends may be an early-market barometer.” Chicago Tribune. 22 Dec. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/sc-cons-1225-umberger-20141222-column.html). 29 Dec. 2014.

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Stephen Roach Warns Fed Headed Down ‘Highly Dangerous Path’

“Dow industrials mark their fifth fastest 1,000-point rise in history”

-MarketWatch.com, December 23, 2014

Shortly after my old blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” debuted on Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I shared a warning from the former chairman/chief economist of Morgan Stanley Asia, Stephen Roach. Brett Arends wrote in the Boston Herald’s “On State Street” column on November 23, 2004:

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish.

But you should hear what he’s saying in private.

Roach met select groups of fund managers downtown last week, including a group at Fidelity.

His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic “armageddon.”’

Press were not allowed into the meetings. But the Herald has obtained a copy of Roach’s presentation. A stunned source who was at one meeting said, “it struck me how extreme he was – much more, it seemed to me, than in public.”

Roach sees a 30 percent chance of a slump soon and a 60 percent chance that “we’ll muddle through for a while and delay the eventual armageddon.”

The chance we’ll get through OK: one in 10. Maybe…

A decade later, it’s safe to say Roach got those calls about the slump and muddling through for a while correct (give it time on that “armageddon” bit still).

But now, Stephen Roach is sounding the alarm again.

He wrote on the Project Syndicate website earlier today:

America’s Federal Reserve is headed down a familiar – and highly dangerous – path. Steeped in denial of its past mistakes, the Fed is pursuing the same incremental approach that helped set the stage for the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The consequences could be similarly catastrophic

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Roach noted that the U.S. central bank remains steadfast in keeping the federal funds rate near zero, before warning:

This bears an eerie resemblance to the script of 2004-2006, when the Fed’s incremental approach led to the near-fatal mistake of condoning mounting excesses in financial markets and the real economy. After pushing the federal funds rate to a 45-year low of 1% following the collapse of the equity bubble of the early 2000s, the Fed delayed policy normalization for an inordinately long period. And when it finally began to raise the benchmark rate, it did so excruciatingly slowly.

In the 24 months from June 2004, the FOMC raised the federal funds rate from 1% to 5.25% in 17 increments of 25 basis points each. Meanwhile, housing and credit bubbles were rapidly expanding, fueling excessive household consumption, a sharp drop in personal savings, and a record current-account deficit – imbalances that set the stage for the meltdown that was soon to follow.

A “meltdown” that might be in store for us again (even worse than last time around?) if the Federal Reserve doesn’t veer from the path it’s on, says Roach.

It’s a disturbing read, which is available in its entirety on the Project Syndicate website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Arends, Brett. “Economic ‘Armageddon’ Predicted.” Boston Herald. 23 Nov. 2004. (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/112304_economic_armageddon.shtml). 23 Dec. 2014.

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Alan Greenspan: Gold Is A Currency, And Currently A Good Investment

Back in late October I recall The Wall Street Journal talking about some comments made by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to the Council on Foreign Relations concerning gold. I’ve been meaning to look into what Greenspan, who served as Fed Chair from 1987 to 2006, actually said about the precious metal. During lunchtime, I dug up the final version of the transcript from his visit with the CFR in New York City on October 29, 2014. From the exchange between the president of Greenspan Associates LLC and presider Gillian Tett:

TETT: I’m going to turn to the audience for questions in one minute, but before I do though, I just want to ask though, one of the really interesting chapters in your book is about gold. And there’s been a lot of media debate in the past about your views on gold.

You yourself oppose a question as to why would anyone want to buy this barbarous relic — I don’t know whether John Paulson is in the audience — but it’s an interesting question. But do you think that gold is currently a good investment given what you’re saying about the potential for turmoil?

GREENSPAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

TETT: Do you put…

GREENSPAN: Economists are usually perfect in equivocating. In this case I didn’t equivocate. Look, remember what we’re looking at. Gold is a currency. It is still by all evidences the premier currency where no fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it. And so that the issue is, if you’re looking at a question of turmoil, you will find, as we always have in the past, it moves into the gold price.

But the gold price is actually sort of half a commodity price, so when the economy is weakening, it goes down like copper. But it’s also got a monetary characteristic which is instrinsic. It’s not inbred into human beings — I cannot conceive — of any mechanism by which you could say that, but it behaves as though it is.

Intrinsic currencies like gold and silver, for example, are acceptable about a third party guarantee. And, I mean, for example at the end of World War II, or just at the end of it, Germany could not import goods without payment in gold. The person who shipped the goods in would accept the gold, and didn’t care whether there was any credit standing — associated with it. That is a very rare phenomenon. It’s — it’s the reason why, for example, in a renewal of an agreement that the central banks have made — European central banks, I believe — about allocating their gold sales which occurred when gold prices were falling down, that has been renewed this year with a statement that gold serves a very important place in monetary reserves.

And the question is, why do central banks put money into an asset which has no rate of return, but cost of storage and insurance and everything else like that, why are they doing that? If you look at the data with a very few exceptions, all of the developed countries have gold reserves. Why?

TETT: I imagine right now, it’s because of a question mark hanging over the value of fiat currency, the credibility going forward.

GREENSPAN: Well, that’s what I’m getting at. Every time you get some really serious questions, the 50 percent of the gold price determination begins to move.

TETT: Right.

GREENSPAN: And I think it is fascinating and — I don’t know, is Benn Steil in the audience?

TETT: Yes.

GREENSPAN: There he is, OK. Before you read my book, go read Benn’s book. The reason is, you’ll find it fascinating on exactly this issue, because here you have the ultimate test at the Mount Washington Hotel in 1944 of the real intellectual debate between the — those who wanted to an international fiat currency which was embodied in John Maynard Keynes’ construct of a banker, and he was there in 1944, holding forth with all of his prestige, but couldn’t counter the fact that the United States dollar was convertible into gold and that was the major draw. Everyone wanted America’s gold. And I think that Benn really described that in extraordinarily useful terms, as far as I can see. Anyway, thank you.

TETT: Right. Well, I’m sure with comments like that, that will be turning you into a rock star amongst the gold bug community…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not sure if the above will mean Greenspan is now a rock star among the “gold bugs”- he’s still considered by many as being a habitual asset bubble blower. But such a high-profile individual within the global financial community lending support to the ideas that gold is a currency and currently a good investment will no doubt anger a number of gold bears and haters.

You can read the entire transcript of Greenspan’s visit to the CFR on their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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