Bank of England

Bank For International Settlements (BIS): Global Economy Situation Similar To Pre-2008 Crash Era

At the end of last week I left readers with that post about individuals credited with publicly predicting the 2008 global economic crisis.

Yesterday, I learned that some organizations correctly forecast the carnage. In particular, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Phillip Inman reported on The Guardian (UK) website Sunday:

The BIS was one of the few organisations to warn during 2006 and 2007 about the unstable levels of bank lending on risky assets such as the US subprime mortgages that eventually led to the Lehman Brothers crash and the financial crisis.

Curious to know what the “central bankers’ bank” thinks about the state of the global economy these days? Inman revealed:

Investors are ignoring warning signs that financial markets could be overheating and consumer debts are rising to unsustainable levels, the global body for central banks has warned in its quarterly financial health check.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said the situation in the global economy was similar to the pre-2008 crash era when investors, seeking high returns, borrowed heavily to invest in risky assets, despite moves by central banks to tighten access to credit.

The BIS, known as the central bankers’ bank, said attempts by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England to choke off risky behaviour by raising interest rates had failed so far and unstable financial bubbles were continuing to grow.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not going to steal The Guardian’s thunder here, so head on over to the article on their website for the full story.

By the way, Inman noted the following about the BIS chief economist who was around during those alarms sounded in 2006 and 2007:

William White, who now chairs the OECD’s review committee, warned last year that global debt levels had escalated to unstable levels largely in response to almost zero interest rates to create a situation that was “worse than 2007”.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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Jim Rogers: ‘I Expect The American Economy To Be In Recession Sometime In The Next Year Or Two

Well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers was recently interviewed by the Nikkei Asian Review (Japan) about the global economy. Assessing its health, the former investing partner of George Soros warned on the Review’s website on March 20:

I am not optimistic about the global economy for the next couple of years. Japan is already in recession, some parts of Europe are suffering, some parts of America are suffering and that’s going to get worse, in my view, because there is nothing to make the world get better.

In America, we’ve had seven years since our last recession. That is unusual because in America, normally every four to seven years, throughout history, we have had an economic slowdown. So it’s overdue. It doesn’t have to end in seven years, but we have many excesses which have taken place in the world economy, caused by very low interest rates. And the American central bank is making many, many mistakes by having interest rates so low and by printing so much money. And then the Japanese central bank and the European Central Bank, and the British central bank, all did the same thing. So we’ve had an artificial situation based on printed money and huge amounts of debt. [The Federal Reserve’s] balance sheet was $800 billion in 2008. Now it is nearly $5 trillion. I expect the American economy to be in recession sometime in the next year or two.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Survival And Prosperity readers may remember earlier this month I quoted a March 4, 2016, Bloomberg.com piece where it was reported:

The famous investor said that there was a 100 percent probability that the U.S. economy would be in a downturn within one year

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In the short-but-insightful Nikkei Asian Review interview conducted by Hisashi Tsutsui, the Singapore-based Rogers revealed where he would invest given current circumstances, which you can read all about on the publication’s website here.

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

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is 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 contained herein.)

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Marc Faber Recommends Equities, Real Estate, Precious Metals To Counter Stock Market Plummet

Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber was on the CNBC TV show Trading Nation yesterday. Speaking by phone, the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report reminded viewers of the stock market correction he’s been predicting for some time now. Dr. Faber said:

I think that the market is in a position where’s it’s not just going to be a 10 percent correction- maybe first goes up a bit further. But when it comes it will be 30 percent or 40 percent minimum.

Famous 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, Faber added:

I’m not short the market yet.

Nevertheless, it sounds like the “crash prophet” is prepared. “Dr. Doom” shared with viewers:

I don’t want to be 100 percent in cash for the simple reason that I don’t trust governments, and I don’t trust banks. So I want to own some equities, I want to own some properties, and I want to own some precious metals. And when we talk about stocks, the only group that stands out as great value around the world are gold mining shares.

Faber went on to talk about gold stocks more in-depth.


“Marc Faber talks protection strategies”
CNBC Video

Later on in the show, Dr. Faber added:

If I look at the ignorance of central bankers, and their recklessness of printing money from the U.S. to the ECB to Japan to the Bank of England, I want to own some precious metals.

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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Gold Confiscation

One thing that’s probably entered the mind of anyone who owns physical gold is the threat of government confiscation. I’ve read quite a few articles over the last several years about that danger, and what Adrian Ash published on the website of the world’s largest online investment gold service and Survival And Prosperity advertising partner- BullionVault- was one of the more informative pieces I’ve read in quite some time. Ash, who runs the research desk over at the London-based company, wrote on December 7:

When Governments Steal Gold – 7 December 2012

Three nasty examples of how people lost the gold they owned

CHATTER in the trading rooms says some gold owners fear a punitive US tax hike in New Year 2013, writes Adrian Ash at BullionVault, with the Obama government targeting precious-metal investors.

Hence this month’s sell-off (or so the tittle-tattle says) – akin to the move by Japanese households to sell gold in late 2011 ahead of new reporting rules for precious-metals dealers.

In truth, such a US move looks very unlikely. Ahead of needing cross-party support to fix both the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling disaster, it would be clearly partisan. (Not all US gold investors are Republicans, but very few are Democrats in our experience.) And besides, gold already attracts the higher 28% rate of capital-gains tax in the US, since it is deemed a “collectible”. Easier to raise CGT rates across the board, and whack anyone trying to grow their savings in fair measure. It would raise far more revenue, too.

Still, this chit-chat does highlight a key point about gold – the fact that, within living memory, it got special ill-treatment from government everywhere. Western households were blocked from owning gold bullion for 30 years and more after the end of WWII. Over the 20 years previous, their gold had been variously nationalized, compulsorily purchased and stolen.

Not just investment-grade bullion. And not just gold belonging to private citizens either.

1935: Mussolini nabs 35 tonnes of gold wedding rings

The United States “confiscation” of 1933 is well-known (in fact a compulsory purchase, made at the then-price of $20.67 per ounce before the price was raised to $35.) But with gold still central to the monetary system, many governments were looking to acquire more. With a smile, of course.

December 1935 saw popular Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini appeal to the patriotism of Italy’s wives, urging them to swap their gold wedding bands for steel rings instead. Yes, really. On Wednesday the 18th, La Stampa gave over its entire front page to this financing drive:

• “The most noble rite of ‘faith’ joins all women in Italy in one heroic will” (‘fede’ meaning both ‘wedding ring’ and ‘faith’ – clever, eh?)
• “The Queen lays down her wedding ring upon the Altar of the Homeland”
• “The proud and moving offer of the women in Turin”

Italian women were so “encouraged” by this popular show of patriotism that, fifty years later, they were still ashamed at being forced to part with their wedding rings. Mussolini got 35 tonnes all told. He ended upside down, hung on a meat hook from the roof of a petrol station.

1939: Nazi Germany steals Czech gold in London

You didn’t need to be a private individual, nor keep your gold at home, to lose precious metals in the 1930s. Little-recalled today, the Nazis’ theft of Czechoslovakian gold reserves caused such fuss in the British press in mid-1939 that the public was fully prepared for war by the time Germany invaded Poland in September.

The Bank for International Settlement had been established in 1930 to try and manage the fast-collapsing international Gold Standard. Based in neutral Switzerland, it was supposed to be above politics, and although its senior staff were all senior central bankers in their home countries, they played by a “gentlemanly” code of mutual support and respect. Unelected both then and now, central bankers held themselves to be noble and independent from the dirty business of democracy or dictatorship.

So when, on 20 March 1939, just after the Nazis marched into Prague, a message was sent to the BIS apparently by the Czech National Bank, the BIS duly passed the message on. It asked the Bank of England (then, as now, the world’s premier clearing point for physical gold) to move the metal held in BIS account No.2 to a new BIS account, No.17.

Never mind that the Czechs had already sent word that any instructions would come “under duress” and must be ignored. Never mind that the British parliament had put a freeze on all Czech assets, to defend them against Nazi theft. And never mind that the Bank of England knew BIS No.2 contained Czech gold, and that No.17 was held for the German Reichsbank. Because the Bank of England’s governor, Montagu Norman, was also a director of the non-political BIS. And he’d do anything to protect the noble independence of central bankers, applying their “gentlemanly” rules and so appeasing the Nazis one last time, by feigning ignorance of whose gold sat in those two anonymous BIS accounts.

The transfer was done before anyone outside the central banks knew, and the gold was then sold in just 10 days. By the time the story broke in May, the £6 million in proceeds was long gone. (We can find no reference to the transfer, nor to the national scandal starting in May, in Norman’s spidery-writing in his personal diary.)

1966: Britain starts prosecuting gold-coin investors

Two decades after the war ended, and 35 years after Britain quit the Gold Standard, its politicians were busy meddling with gold investment. Because the Pound was falling on the currency markets. So people were buying gold, sending money overseas to buy it and so hurting the UK’s already terrible balance of trade. Thereby hurting the Pound yet again.

To try and stem the slide, the Labour government put a block on imports of gold coin, and banned private citizens from owning more than four gold coins. Anyone with a bigger collection had to tell the Bank of England, whose officers would then judge whether the owner was a true collector, or a speculator.

Speaking in the (very heated) parliamentary debate of 13 June, the Conservative MP for Worthing, Terence Higgins, asked why the Government was attacking gold. “People are holding gold because they have no faith in the Government’s policy on the stabilization of the cost of living and on curtailing the rate of inflation…Will it take action against other specific assets which are a hedge against inflation?” (Indian households might ask the same today.)

But too bad – the “rule of four” went through (as it became known by retail dealers). By June 1967 some 4,847 people had submitted themselves to the Bank of England’s scrutiny, and prosecutions had begun. Exchange controls on gold were finally lifted by the first Thatcher administration’s first budget, in 1979.

The moral of these tales? Because gold is no longer central to the world’s monetary system, so-called “confiscation” looks a very 20th century phenomenon today. But that may well change. Exchange controls such as Britain had in the 1970s (and which Italy didn’t lose until 1999) are more likely. Because people, like governments, want to own gold when they fear inflation, financial strife or political crisis. Holding it at home could expose them to theft or coercion. If they hold it safely at arm’s length overseas, even a secure democratic jurisdiction requires clear ownership if you are retain control.

Be sure to get it if you’re thinking about Buying Gold any time soon.

Adrian Ash, 07 Dec ’12

(Editor’s note: Permission to republish the above material granted by BullionVault)

BullionVault

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