Silver Squeeze

A lot has been made of recent events involving a US company, Gamestop and how their meteoric share price rise was a battle between David and Goliath, Goliath in this case being big hedge funds who short sold Gamestop in the expectation of large profits on the share price continuing to fall. David on the other hand, an army of small investors / speculators, buying Gamestop to stop the price falling and force the short sellers to buy stock at ever-increasing prices.

I don’t agree.

For sure, the way the share price yo-yoed around will mean a lot of people will have made a lot of money, just as another lot of people will have lost a lot of money and a lot more people will be somewhere in-between, with small losses and small profits. Who those people are, I don’t claim to know.

Initially, I was sucked in by the story too, until I took a step back to think about why it was getting so much publicity and being presented like this in the first place. as someone once said, “the revolution won’t be televised” and so it is here. If the small investor really was getting one over on the big guys, we probably wouldn’t even get to hear about it and rules would be quietly changed to stop it happening again.

Apparently WallStreetBets, the Reddit group supposedly behind all this, has several million members and it’d be hard not to believe at least some of those made a lot of money pumping and dumping a business whose days are probably numbered, physical shop locations in dying malls and city centres, selling games in boxes at a time that it’s all migrating to online, even the downloading of the products themselves.

What has this all got to do with Silver anyway?

Well, some posters claimed Silver was going to be the next target, with an attempt to attack JP Morgan, who short silver way in excess of the physical silver market, to suppress the price. Again, I have no doubt machinations take place to make the price whatever it needs to be at a given time, but I wouldn’t recommend that you try to actively participate on this base and furthermore, I wouldn’t recommend that you imagine yourself to be one of Robin Hood’s merry men, ambushing the bad guys and taking the loot to redistribute to your favoured needy causes. The game is often rigged, probably more so than any of us realises, but just occasionally, the riggers get found out. I just don’t believe this is one of those times. Admittedly, JP Morgan did have to pay a large settlement for active involvement in the silver market, but whether anyone has the resources to take the big boys on is another question.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but feel that this story will be used to bring in some laws, under the guise of investor protections. Perhaps that was the real intention of it all along.

If you invest in silver or gold, it’s a long term story, where some day people will realise prices of essential goods and services are rising dramatically in their local fiat currency and begin to wonder why. We aren’t there yet, but if precious metals start to rise priced in that same fiat currency, I believe that will be the major reason, that the game is up and it’s every man and woman for themselves. Much likelier than feeling yourself aligned to an online group of renegades who you’ve never met and who you don’t know the true motives for wanting you to get involved and spend your money on their cause, isn’t it?

Tyrian Purple

At the very beginning of Gold, Silver and Freedom, there’s a whole chapter related to the similarities between now and the Roman Empire. No better example could exist than the presidential inauguration of 2021, Hail Caesar! As president Joseph Biden steps forth to receive his crown of thorns and lead the United States of America into a new era.

A closer look at the imperial crowning would’ve revealed greater symbology however. Looking behind the architecture of the doric columns we should be in no doubt who the real leader was at that inauguration. Hidden in plain sight, those in the know would have recognised the symbol instantly. Kamala Harris, decked out in Purple, the true colour of the ancient elite.

Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised about what happens next. In fact, Biden himself has hinted at it several times. He’ll step down due to ill health, or worse and hand over to his deputy. Then, a woman so disliked that she could only get a few percent of Democratic party support in her own bid to become presidential candidate, will have the pathway to become president of the most militarily powerful nation in the world.

As a child, I collected stamps and the Victorian / Edwardian Britsh Empire ones were of special appeal. This was when I first encountered the colour Tyrian Purple, without even realising it’s ancient origins and symbolism. A cursory look online reveals the array of imperial stamps issued in that colour, signifying power to the subconcious of the imperial subjects, even if they don’t realise it as they write their letters. Well, why was the 2d Tyrian purple even priced in d, the lowest British currency denomination is pence? Again, denarius, the ancient silver coin of the Roman Empire. It’s all there when you look closely enough. I don’t claim to even scratch the surface of what else is hidden in plain sight.

To further prepare us for this, the BBC posted this story the other day, about how the royal dye has been discovered by Israeli archaeologists. Are you really telling me they had never, ever found a fragment before? A part of me even expects a follow-up story in a few months, where they find the royal dye is the exact same hue as that worn by Kamala herself during the inauguration. A further sign to those in the know who their new leader is, perhaps? Specualtion aside, the other interesting aspect of this story was how they never once referred to it by it’s true name. Tyrian Purple. Why?

I fear this new imperial reign will not end well. Not because I support any political party, but rather because I don’t and circumventing democracy itself is another theme explored in the chapter From Democracy to Corporatocracy. What could circumvent it more than sneaking in a candidate who would never have been voted in by the electorate? Worse, and once again we end with a question, the main one of all, why?

UK Government Borrowing in the Time of Corona

The BBC lays the amount of new money created in the UK, during the Corona crisis. To spell it out :-

“Since the beginning of the financial year in April, government borrowing has reached £214.9bn, £169.1bn more than a year ago.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has estimated it could reach £372.2bn by the end of the financial year in March.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55013192

The natural consequences of this? Inflation, even if it takes a few years for the currency to begin circulating, or the death of the pound? Take your choice.

Stock Markets and Gold

Now for more news, your stock market investments may be worth under one-third of their value in 2000.  Gasp.  Yes, the gain of the last 20 years has been illusory.  For sure, some countries and some market sectors have done better than others, but for the USA main index, this is exactly what has happened.

(Chart: DJIA priced in ounces of gold)

Even if large corporations prosper, the US DJIA stock index and gold have a history of a near meeting when a financial crisis bottoms out. Currently, the DJIA is worth around 14 times the price of an ounce of gold. In 1932 and 1980, just over one ounce of gold bought the DJIA. Whether a large stock market crash achieves that, as was the case in 1932, or inflation pushing up the gold price, as was the case in 1980, it may be destined to happen again.

Oil and Gold

Oil is still one of the biggest building blocks of life.  Regardless of whether you now work from home instead of driving to work every day in the gas-guzzler or not.  It’s used in everything – fuels, plastics and pharmaceuticals, to name a few.  In fact, if you now work from home, chances are you’re turning up the winter thermostats a bit more often than you would at work.  You’re probably also buying a lot more food from the supermarket, most of it encased in plastic packaging.  Even if your heating system is not oil-based, oil remains one of the main fuels available for generation of electricity, and could well do so for many, many years, regardless of how many windmills they build.

So, the good news.  You’ll be pleased to hear is that oil is at an all-time low, when measured against gold.  Luckily enough, since with your earnings being one-sixth of the 1970 value, you may not be able to afford to keep the house warm or drive a car otherwise.  Any apparent price rises you see at the pumps are merely an inflation of your fiat currency.

Now for the bad news, can it continue?

Maybe not.  For many years, gold and Oil actually maintained a near 10:1 ratio relationship.

(Chart: Gold/Oil ratio 2010 to 2020)

As the chart shows, this relationship has become distended as a result of the Corona crisis. There’s now a near 50:1 relationship as of August 2020. This may imply oil is actually quite cheap, gold is expensive, or that the ratio no longer holds. There has been a multitude of media articles heralding the death of oil.  However, it seems to have missed the attention of many that all of this data – everyone’s Facebook posts, Instagram images, or cloud software solution is stored on a server somewhere that requires electrical power to run. For sure, in the case of one Instagram post, that electrical consumption is miniscule, but multiply it across a world of 7 billion people, and you get an idea now of the immense electrical power required. Oil, natural gas, and coal are still heavily used in electrical power generation across the globe.

(Chart: Actual and predicted power sources to 2030)

The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted the chart dates from 2003. This was deliberate since more recent data shows it to be correct. If so, the future trend for oil consumption is still upward.

(Chart: Energy consumption to 2040)

So, and this is only a question, not investment advice, maybe oil itself is not finished yet as an investment.  If not, could it revert back to the 10:1 ratio with gold and if so, at what price for both?

Housing and Gold

Now for some big news.  If you live in the UK, your house topped in value in 2005 and has been falling ever since.  In fact, it’s now about one-quarter of what it was worth then.  What?  I hear you say.  Okay, yes, in fiat currency units it has gone up, but measured in gold, it has fallen dramatically.

Measured this way, house prices are very close to the 1950 mean.  However, with the Corona crisis still in full swing, employment uncertainty for many and wages still at one-sixth of their 1970 value, it’s entirely possible the market could still have a lot further to fall.  Conversely, if something happens to get wages closer to the mean or inflation rises, well, they could easily move upwards in fiat currency terms especially.

In this case, the housing market is hard to exit, unless you prefer the uncertainty of renting.  Everyone needs to live somewhere.

Textiles and Gold

Clothes are really cheap right now, as retailers dump tons of unsold stock from the 2020 fashion ranges onto the market at bargain prices. If you already have enough clothes, fine, but if not, it might be a good time to ensure you do, especially clothes to see you through cold winters. With this glut, it’s hard to know what will happen to all elements of the clothing supply chain in the future: Cotton farmers, Garment manufacturers, and clothing retailers.

The low price of cotton has already made it hard for growers in countries like India to turn a profit and it’s hard to know how they are coping with this huge change in market conditions.  There’s been talk of suicides in the media.  With cotton at an all-time low, we can assume that prospects are not great for some cotton farmers.

Food and Gold

100 years ago, the average household spent up to 50% of its income on food. Today, that figure is nearer 10%, giving us all more disposable income for consumer goods, bigger mortgage repayments, and exotic holidays.  Food is cheap, almost too cheap, in fact.  As some farmers struggle to turn a profit and big supermarkets control the supply chain.

(Chart showing food prices as a proportion of income)

Of course, some of this is due to technological improvements in farming and manufacturing, but much of it is due to fiat currency inflation versus gold.  Perhaps it can’t last forever – we may well already be being prepared for future food shortages and increases in food prices. You may have already noticed shortages during the crisis or increases. On a personal level, visiting the supermarket regularly, a 20-25% increase in fruit, vegetables, and dairy products has occurred since March 2020, when Corona began. That’s interesting, as these products are all the ones with the shortest shelf life, that are most immediately impacted by price rises. Others, like dried, tinned and frozen goods, may be in huge stock at warehouses down the supply chain behind the supermarket facade, and price rises may take longer to feed through. Observe these headlines from recent times, as to what they may be planting the seed in your head to germinate for:-

“UK potato farmers fear another washout for this year’s crop. “

The Guardian, August 2020

“Bread price may rise after dire UK wheat Harvest.”

BBC News, August 2020

“Coronavirus: Meat shortage leaves US farmers with ‘mind-blowing’ choice.”

BBC News, May 2020

If you wonder how far food prices can rise during a monetary crisis, then here is an example of prices from “Fiat Money Inflation in France,” an excellent study of the hyperinflation that occurred there during the French revolutionary times, which coincide with the decline of the French empire before the handover to Great Britain.

Now, how well covered are you for those kinds of price rises in basic commodities, the essentials of life?

Income and Gold

First, let’s get the really bad news out of the way.  You’re probably extremely underpaid for what you do.  In fact, you probably get paid around one-sixth of the salary that a worker got in 1970 for the same job.  There has been a huge real decline in income, masked by fiat currency inflation, meaning many of us are worse off than ever.

This goes a long way to explaining why life has got harder and most households now require both parents to go out to work to keep the family going.  A less common occurrence back in 1970.

To look at this another way, to return to 1970, our salaries need to increase by six times.  Yes, six times.  Imagine that, a world that rewards work and self-sufficiency over clever monetary tricks.  Sadly, such a world is not here yet.

Currency Delivery in 2020

The whole Corona crisis has also shown how digital the world has become concerning money. The furlough scheme is a major example in itself. UK Businesses were expected to log their furlough claims using the internet. The IT infrastructure and software to support this was in place in record time – major IT projects can often take months or years to design, develop, thoroughly test, and release. It’s then an example of how the currency can now be distributed quickly to millions, through the central government, to businesses, then distributed electronically to customer accounts in banking computers. Not a single physical coin or note ever having existed.

Many other nations introduced a furlough scheme, but the USA did not. In this case, they mailed out Corona stimulus cheques of $1,200 to everyone. Lamenting, while doing so, that it was a shame that it was taking longer because they needed to get signatures on every cheque. Then, that it would have been so much easier had they had more direct banking details, such as a nominated bank account, to send the money out to the recipients electronically.

As to spending, well, more and more of it became electronic as internet shopping took off even further. Still, some preferred physical currency to a certain extent. However, one of the early casualties of Corona has been cash – the number of shops now insisting on electronic payments only and media stories saying that cash can help spread the disease is a clear signal that the system no longer wants people using old-fashioned coins and notes. Also, remember Gresham’s law about bad money forcing out good? There is probably a case that people are genuinely retaining more banknotes and coins at home, just if they are needed for some kind of emergency. However the Corona crisis goes, it doesn’t seem like good news for savers or freedom.