More Extraordinary Measures.
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In This Issue.

* Gold gets taken to the woodshed .

* FOMC to do more bond buying this Christmas.

* Currencies drift lower.

* China steps on gas pedal again.

And, Now, Today's Pfennig For Your Thoughts!

More Extraordinary Measures.

Good day. And a Tub Thumpin' Thursday to you! It's all about the FOMC and the Fiscal Cliff today and what they are doing to the currencies and metals. So, if that's not your bag, baby. (in my best Austin Powers voice) Then you have permission to skip class today. Hey! It's the least I can do to keep everyone happy! HA!

Front and Center this morning, Gold is down $17 and looking like this could be a nasty day for the shiny metal's value, for once the NY Banks arrive and see what the overnight markets have done to Gold, I would imagine that they'll want to take their own hunk of flesh. Whenever this happens to the price of Gold, I first shudder, then calm down, and realize that this is a much cheaper lever to buy! And then the bad feeling disappears.

So. why did the overnight markets take Gold lower? Well, it appears that its becoming less likely with every day that passes by that we'll have an agreement on how to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, and while in my mind, I think this would be cause to rush to Gold, because of the uncertainty of what will happen should the lawmakers push us over the cliff. But Nooooooooo! The markets have a different view of this, and believe that going over the Fiscal Cliff will put us in the time machine back to 2008. And in 2008, Gold was not bought but sold, as investors took profits and bailed to dollars and Treasuries. And don't act like this is the first time you've heard this. I've been warning you about this going over the Fiscal Cliff for some time now.

I still don't believe the lawmakers have the chutzpah to allow the economy to be subjected to the removal of the Bush tax cuts, and deficit spending cuts at the same time. I read somewhere, and I wish I could find it again, that there are quite a few unemployed Americans (2.1 million) that will have their unemployment benefits end on 12/31, should we go over the Fiscal Cliff. I would think that alone would be enough to spur lawmakers into kicking the can down the road.

Personally. I'm all for spending cuts. I'm not for increased taxes. I don't like taxes period. And I can't believe people that get all lathered up about a new cigarette tax or gasoline tax, it doesn't matter what it is you're taxing, it's still a TAX! I would settle for a flat tax. that's it, no more, no less. But that's not going to happen in my lifetime, not as long as the promises made to people are kept, and the need for more revenue at the Gov't level is required.

OK. I'll get down from my soapbox now. I have no idea why I went into that tax thing, but there! I did it! And I can expect ½ of the readers to disagree with me. but that's OK, as long as you cuss me out while reading the letter, and not fire off a nasty email to me. Hey! It's just my opinion!

Alrighty then. enough on the Fiscal Cliff, and what it's done to the price of Gold this morning. Right now, the currencies are drifting lower, but not taking a ride on the slippery slope while I write this morning. I think that should we be pushed over the Fiscal Cliff that the currencies will take a ride on the slippery slope, and a bias to buy dollars will be quite strong. But only until investors and traders realize that the fundamentals of the U.S. are not worthy of a stronger dollar. How long that will take, I have no idea, just taking a ride in the time machine and see how things went in 2008.

Well. The FOMC meeting did yield an announcement of Treasury bond buying by the Fed to the tune of $45 Billion per month. And. they announced that the Fed Heads are going to tie unemployment and inflation to interest rates. That's right, they said that as long as unemployment is above 6.5%, and inflation is below 2.5%, interest rates will remain near zero. They also projected that it would be 2015 before they see a major firming of interest rates.

Now. what does this tell you about what the Fed Heads feel about the U.S. economy? The Fed is buying so many bonds, Treasuries and mortgage backed, and keeping rates unchanged for a reason folks. and that is they believe this is what will spark the economy. I say hogwash! Has it worked before, I mean we've been on this path of buying bonds now for almost 4 years. I suppose it has helped some to keep interest rates this low. Housing has shown signs of recovery, but I doubt Housing will be the game changer in 2013, like many think.

So, if the Fed Heads believe that the unemployment problem in the U.S. is going to remain a problem until 2015, why then are people buying dollars? Stranger than fiction, folks. I read a story that quoted an economist you believes the Fed is doing what they can to avoid making the mistakes of Japan. Hmmm. I'll need for you to show me how they are taking steps to avoid those mistakes, because from my view in the cheap seats, we've made the same mistakes, inch-by-inch, step-by-step..

It's also been nearly 4 years since the benchmark interest rate was lowered to near zero by Big Ben Bernanke. That's over 31 FOMC meetings if you're keeping score at home! I have to tell you that right now, the markets are hailing Big Ben's willingness to experiment with things in an attempt to spark the economy. But isn't it ironic that back in 2000, when Big Ben was a professor at Princeton, he wrote a paper on Japanese Monetary Policy. And in it he criticized the Japanese willingness to experiment to try anything that isn't absolutely guaranteed to work." Oh, and today is Big Ben's Birthday!

Let's list the things that have been done to spark the economy. no wait, let's not! It would be too darn long, and depressing! But more than $2 Trillion in emergency loans, tripled the size of the Fed's balance sheet, and three rounds of Quantitative Easing, top that list of things.

OK. now what makes the Fed Heads believe that unemployment is going to gradually get better by 2015? I would think that unemployment would go the other way, given the debt in the U.S. and the plans for continued budget deficits for the next decade. I mean Spain and Greece have 25% unemployment rates because of their debt, and how the markets made them stop adding to it. Why can't that happen here? Now, I'm not saying we'll eventually have 25% unemployment here in the U.S. but why not higher than the questionable 7.7% right now? In fact, if you really counted unemployment the way we used to in this country, and like John Williams at does, we would already be at 23%..

Well, aren't I just a bundle of happy thoughts this morning! NOT! It's not easy being me! Mr. I want to be happy, but have to write about this stuff because not many people do. And while I'm at all this "happy news". we're only $68 Billion from hitting the debt limit ceiling. I know I make a big deal out of this debt ceiling, while the it flies under the markets' radar right now. But what will be done here? And. just for the record, we printed a $172 Billion Budget Deficit in November. Annualized that's over $2 Trillion!

Hey. what did I tell you the other day about the Chinese renminbi /yuan? Well, I told you how the Chinese leaders had backed off the appreciation gas pedal for a couple of days only to point out to the markets that renminbi / yuan appreciation is not a One-Way Street. Well, the Chinese leaders saw and heard what the Fed Heads were doing now, and decided to get back to putting their foot on the appreciation pedal! What the Fed did, was basically support risk trades, and global growth.

Earlier this year, I told you that the Chinese were probably going to slow down the rate of appreciation, given all the questions about global growth. And that's exactly what they did. The renminbi /yuan has gained only 1.2% this year VS the dollar. In 2011 the currency gained 4.7% . So, they did in fact slow down the rate of appreciation. And the fact that global growth isn't out of the woods yet, will probably keep the rate of appreciation slow in 2013. But don't get discouraged by the slow rate, there will be plenty of stories about what China's doing next to remove the dollar standard in 2013.

OK. we have a plethora of economic data coming out of the U.S. data cupboard today! A lot of it is 2nd and 3rd tier data, but the headliner is Retail Sales for November. I can tell you that the Butler Household Index (BHI) indicates that Retail Sales will be OK. and reverse the -.3% slide in October. Retail Sales in November and December SHOULD be strong, considering the approaching holidays. I've not spent a dime on Christmas gifts yet, but that's what I'll be doing while on vacation! That is, unless the new floors I had installed at my wife's request count as a Christmas gift! HA! I know better than that!

The other 1st tier data reports today will be the usual Initial Jobless Claims, and PPI (wholesale inflation). I don't expect any great shakes out of either of these, so we'll move along, these are not the droids we're looking for!

Then There Was This. And this is great! Yesterday, Big Al Greenspan, you remember him, right? Was speaking about the Fed's Policies to spark the economy, and he doesn't think too much of them! When asked about all those things I listed above that the Fed has implemented and more, Big Al had this to say.

"I've not commented about Fed policy since I got out of office, but I will say this: that whatever the Fed is doing, whether you like it or not, it's not actually, in my judgment, having a major effect." - Al Greenspan

Chuck again. it's not often that Big Al Greenspan and I agree on something. but we do agree on this. that the Fed has barked up the wrong tree, and will most likely continue to do so!

To recap. The markets have been driven by two things that were discussed in great detail today. Moving toward the Fiscal Cliff, and the Fed's new announcements. Both have ganged up on the price of Gold, which is down $17 at this point, but the currencies are mixed and those not in the black are just drifting lower, no all out sale right now. U.S. Retail Sales headlines the data prints today and it's Big Ben's Birthday!

Currencies today 12/13/12. American Style: A$ $1.0545, kiwi .8445, C$ $1.0170, euro 1.3060, sterling 1.6135, Swiss $1.08, . European Style: rand 8.65, krone 5.6195, SEK 6.68, forint 217, zloty 3.1340, koruna 19.3475, RUB 30.69, yen 83.45, sing 1.2205, HKD 7.75, INR 54.46, China 6.2316, pesos 12.74, BRL 2.0735, Dollar Index 79.93, Oil $86.78, 10-year 1.69%, Silver $32.77, and Gold. $1,693.50

That's it for today. Man, do I miss hockey! College basketball hasn't gotten to the conference schedules yet, and college football is down to the bowl games. I love my Redzone channel on Sundays, but that's it! Down to the cheese that binds, regarding days left before my Christmas vacation. I have one more article to write today, 2 down one to go. Sometimes I feel like I'm back in school and have papers I have to turn in. I'm much better at meeting deadlines now than I was then! On this day in 1967, Day Dream Believer by the Monkees was the number 1 song in America. That was a long time ago, eh? And with that. I'll get out of your way, so you can begin to make this a Tub Thumpin' Thursday!

Oh, and I almost forgot. I made a zeroes error on my reporting of the Canadian trade figures yesterday. I guess I'm so used to reporting Trillions here in the U.S.! But no excuse, it was bad, and I apologize for that error. it was C$ 1 Billion the previous month, not trillion.

Chuck Butler


EverBank World Markets



Posted 12-13-2012 11:28 AM by Chuck Butler
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