The Room – 02/20/2009

Dear Reader,

We’re going to be flying low and fast in this weekly scan of the landscape in the quest for items that are “important,” as opposed to “merely interesting.”

At the top of the list of what we would consider important is the increasing likelihood that the wheels are about to come off the global economy. And, worse, fly through the air and wipe out any number of innocent bystanders. (By now, you and the other readers of our services should already be safely in the duck-and-cover position.)

It is becoming clear that more than just our subscribers are beginning to understand the depth, severity, and nature of this crisis: as I begin writing this morning, gold has rebounded to just a few ticks away from the $1,000 mark. By the time I am finished today, we could see that mark taken out. More on that topic later, but first…

Making It Up on the Fly

President Obama this week signed into law the new $787 billion stimulus plan, then followed up with a $287 billion housing initiative with $75 billion to support a convoluted plan to keep individuals who can’t afford to stay in their homes… in those very same homes.

I say the plan is convoluted because, simply, it is. And how could it be otherwise?

This and so many of the other major initiatives now flying out of Washington are being brewed up in a proverbial blink of the eye. The stimulus bill – which many in Congress have admitted to never having read before voting on it – runs over 1,000 pages and is mind-boggling in its complexity. Virtually every one of the dozens of multimillion or multibillion spending components included in the bill will require the hiring, training, and equipping of armies of new bureaucrats.

There will be mission statements to be drawn up, buildings to be designed and built, grant programs created, oversight committees assembled, human resources professionals hired, forms to be drawn, and databases to be programmed… and that’s just for starters. To make the point, try to envision the start-up process involved with just the following handful of initiatives, a fraction of the total included in the bill…

    * For “Broadband Technology Opportunities Program,” $4,700,000,000.

    * For “Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program,” $650,000,000, for additional coupons and related activities under the program implemented under section 3005 of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005.

    * For “Scientific and Technical Research and Services,” $220,000,000.

    * For “Construction of Research Facilities,” $360,000,000.

    * For an additional amount for “Operations, Research, and Facilities,” $230,000,000.

    * For an additional amount for “Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction,” $600,000,000.

Chris Wood of our office actually went through the herculean effort of reading through the entire stimulus bill and pulling out all of the various spending items contained therein. To review the full list, and as a taxpayer, you should, click here.

As you read through the list, ask yourself just how many of the items are the equivalent of digging holes and then filling them in again… versus something that at least remotely resembles an investment with the potential for a payoff down the road?

My point is this: while I am on principle opposed to any new government spending, a weak case could be made for the government to invest in something that might actually produce a return on the money spent. The government’s investment in building the interstate highway system enhanced the free exchange of goods and services and, by so doing, provided some sustainable increase in gross national product. That, in turn, allowed the government to recoup its expenses – and more – over time through taxes on the increased revenues.

That, however, is an entirely different beast than the massive pork doling and hole digging included in the latest stimulus bill. How, for example, does the $200 million allocated to building and furnishing new headquarters for Homeland Security achieve anything other than support further government bloat (or worse)? How does the $165 million earmarked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to spend in upgrading wildlife refuges do anything other than give a bunch of aging boy scouts more money to play with? Then there’s the hybrid cars for the military and… and…

And let’s not forget the $75 billion housing foreclosure program, yet another quickly conceived government experiment in social and economic engineering. While I could unleash a rant on the topic, I doubt I’d be able to outdo the subtle sarcasm and pure entertainment value of the one you’ll find at PlanetMoron.com, one of the few blogs I make it a habit to read. Read it here, you’ll enjoy it. http://planetmoron.typepad.com/

The bottom line is that government is just making up this stuff as it goes, backed by not even a scintilla of historic evidence that this approach is going to lead anywhere but to prolonging the crisis and to a major inflation. If you haven’t prepared for it, start now.

Credit Capitulation

Speaking of the housing bill, Doug Hornig, the hard-working editor of the Daily Resource PLUS and regular contributor to our BIG GOLD publication, dropped me the following note today.

      Here's a local tale of two friends. One of my buddies, who's never missed a mortgage payment, tried to refinance and was denied. Another fell behind by two months, came home one day, and found a FedEx envelope at his house. Inside was an offer from Countrywide, his mortgage holder, saying they were lowering his payments by $700/month and pushing all his delinquency fees to the end of the mortgage. He took the deal.

To state what should be obvious, as people struggling on the financial edge look around and notice that others in similar circumstances are simply throwing in the towel on their debts and receiving government assurances that they will be provided relief, as well as hard cash, they, too, will begin capitulating. This is a trend in motion that will only worsen until and unless the government steps aside and says, “Sorry, that’s it. Henceforth, you will have to suffer the consequences of your own financial decision making, the government can do no more.”

But, of course, that is not at all what the government is going to do. Instead, they will continue to return to the legislative drawing board, interspersed with trips to the podium to deliver compassionate speeches designed to reassure the populace that yet more help is on the way.

Meanwhile, more signs of credit capitulation are appearing daily. This week, we learned that credit card defaults are on track to exceed 10% this year and could go as high as the “mid-teens,” according to the folks who watch this stuff at Moody’s.

Losses of that magnitude will do a couple of things. For one, they will further damage the margins at the major banks and issuers, which are already suffering mightily. How mightily? Between 2007 and 2008, the world’s largest credit card company, Citigroup, saw its card profits collapse from $4.7 billion down to $166 million. For another, the rising tide of credit card defaults will further freeze up credit lines, unless, of course, Uncle Sam can be chatted up for guarantees and further bailouts (you can get a glimpse of the good Uncle by putting on a fake goatee and donning a red, white, and blue top hat, then looking in the mirror). In fact, the banks are already clearing their throats about the need for yet more money.

At this point, this is akin to a big hamster wheel – with the government running as hard as it can – and the axle of the wheel connected to the arm of a printing press.

In a conversation earlier this week, our own Terry Coxon made an astute observation when he said something to the effect of, “You know, David, if the government had just done nothing when this crisis first appeared a year and a half ago, it would probably be over by now.”

I think he’s right. People would have taken their losses, revalued their assets, gone out of business, moved out of houses they couldn’t afford (or directly negotiated workouts with their lenders), banks would have failed… but the “value discovery” that is a prerequisite to any recovery would be well advanced at this stage.

Instead, governments the world over have decided on taking a different path, trying to print their way out of trouble… a well-worn path that assures this thing will drag on for years.

If there’s a silver lining (besides the personal profit potential for the attentive), it’s that the current path could very well lead to the end of the fiat money experiment. Even the financial celebrity of the day, Nouriel Roubini, is warning of that potential, albeit indirectly. This from Bloomberg:

      “The process of socializing the private losses from this crisis has already moved many of the liabilities of the private sector onto the books of the sovereign,” Roubini wrote on his Web site today. “At some point a sovereign bank may crack, in which case the ability of the governments to credibly commit to act as a backstop for the financial system -- including deposit guarantees -- could come unglued.”

(Interestingly, Roubini’s prescription for the global economy is to further socialize the private losses by ramping up the stimulus even further… oh, well.)

Money is all about trust. And when the public at large no longer trusts the central banks in charge of their respective currencies – and the steady demand for gold confirms this is a trend in motion – then the fiat money system will come unglued.

All that is missing is a single major government to call it quits on fiat currency and announce they will henceforth link to gold. That will be the game changer. In my view, it is now inevitable. And, at the speed at which things are unraveling, maybe even imminent.

If I had to guess which country might be most likely to go there first, I’d put the odds on Russia.

About That Whole Deflation Thing…

As you might suspect, a number of readers have challenged us on our conclusion that the current monetary inflation must, after a lag, resolve itself in a serious price inflation.

We are always polite in our responses and do try to see the other side. Yet we remain firm in our conviction, thanks in no small part to the observable reality that the governments of the world are reacting exactly as we have long predicted they would to this crisis. Namely trying to print themselves out of the mess they have created.

This week, despite the widespread expectation of further signs of deflation, it was inflation that showed up at the door. Starting with U.S. producer prices, which went up 0.8 percent in January. Then today, knock, knock, consumer price inflation stopped by, rising 0.3 percent month over month. The price of food, in particular, continues to rise at the rate of 10.1 percent annualized.

And the U.S. wasn’t the only country registering an inflation surprise. This from the Financial Times, under the headline, “UK inflation more entrenched than expected”…

      Inflation is more entrenched than many economists had imagined, easing only marginally in January as the weaker pound pushed up the price of imports and offset much of the benefit of lower fuel and housing costs.

      The consumer prices index rose in January at a year-on-year rate of 3 per cent, down from a 3.1 per cent rate in December, official figures showed on Tuesday.

      But retail prices – the measure of inflation felt by most households – defied economists’ expectations of a contraction, registering a 0.1 per cent year-on-year rise in January as rising prices of household goods offset some of the impact of falling mortgage interest payments.

There is a combination of things going on. For one, commodities, which have taken a brutal thrashing (other than gold, of course) are now showing signs of a bottom. And that is to be expected, given that so many are now selling at or near the cost of production. A farmer doesn’t need to have a PhD to know not to plant crops that they are sure to lose money on.

For another, merchants, finding they have less business, are trying to make up the lack of volume with higher prices. I have seen that anecdotally in the local merchants and have heard it from other correspondents. And, as was mentioned in the case of the UK, the weakness of the pound means that the exports it must buy now cost more.

But all that is just window dressing for the flood of money just now beginning to enter the system, thanks to a global race to quantitative easing.

Even as they admit their surprise at the latest inflation numbers, government officials and the punditry are quick to pooh-pooh the notion that inflation can do anything but fall from here. While it would be foolish to expect that inflation can only rise from here, though that is far from out of the question, when you think about it, the government’s view that deflation is the primary problem is the only stance they can adopt.

That’s because to acknowledge the potential for inflation at the very same time they are adopting quantitative easing would be a serious disconnect. And, in the case of the U.S., it could scare away foreign dollar holders.

Thus, the official line is, “There can be no inflation.”

I wonder if the foreign dollar holders are buying it?

China Dumping Dollars?

On February 11, 2009, a senior Chinese Banking official, one Mr. Luo, went on record following a speech in New York as saying that, despite some misgivings, his country would continue buying U.S. treasuries and otherwise supporting the U.S. dollar. The following quote from the Financial Times captures the moment…

Official signing ceremony between Rio Tinto and Chinalco

      Mr Luo, speaking at the Global Association of Risk Management’s 10th Annual Risk Management Convention, said: “Except for US Treasuries, what can you hold?” he asked. “Gold? You don’t hold Japanese government bonds or UK bonds. US Treasuries are the safe haven. For everyone, including China, it is the only option.”

      Mr Luo, whose English tends toward the colloquial, added: “We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion-$2 trillion . . . we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys but there is nothing much we can do.”

Reading that citation reminds me of some advice I heard from a currency trader some years ago. “If you want to know what a country has planned for its currency,” he said, “listen to what the government says they are going to do, then expect the exact opposite.”

Now, if you were the Chinese bureaucrats in charge of such things, and you wanted to lighten your dollar holdings, would you (a) announce that you were going to be a seller and then try to beat everyone to the door, or (b) announce you were going to be buyer and then slip out the exits while no one was looking?

On that front, there was a rather telling photo in the Financial Times this week, which I liked so much I scanned it for you here.

It shows the official signing ceremony between Rio Tinto and Chinalco, for the largest deal a Chinese state company has ever done… exchanging a pile of 20 billion U.S. dollars for an additional big chunk of equity in the mining giant (with this investment, Chinalco will have invested $33.5 billion in Rio Tinto).

What I liked about the photo was how Rio Tinto’s CEO is poised on the edge of his seat. You can almost read his mind, "Please sign, he's going to sign it, oh please sign it, there he goes, he's going to sign it, oh gawd, I just can't stand the suspense, just sign it! "

Now, to review the transaction, the Chinese take $20 billion of their $700 billion or so pile of U.S. dollars and exchange it for an 18% interest in a company that produces $54 billion worth of a variety of commodities, a company with assets that, at current production rates, should hold out for decades.

Rio Tinto, on the other hand, gets $20 billion to pay down some of the debt it’s run up in its quest for growth. As paying down that debt only helps the company's prospects, the Chinese have just had what might be termed in corporate speak, a "win-win-win." They unloaded some dollars, bought into a stream of essential commodities needed to keep their country’s manufacturing sector at work, and at the same time helped assure that their shares in Rio Tinto, bought on the cheap, will actually weather the current downturn in commodity prices.

And there is one more thing. As such a large shareholder, the Chinese are now able to exert a lot of influence on the company, influence that will almost certainly result in off-take agreements being signed down the road. In other words, while other countries will increasingly be forced to scrap it out for the world’s remaining reserves of key commodities, through this strategic and farsighted business move – and many similar to it – the Chinese are assuring themselves of a reliable supply, long into the future.

Suggesting a certain urgency to the unloading of their dollars at this advantageous time, just days after the Chinalco deal was signed, Minmetals, the Chinese state-owned metals trading company, stepped up to the plate to buy Oz Minerals, the world’s second largest zinc producer, lock, stock, and barrel for $1.7 billion.

Whatever you may think about the Chinese, you have to give them a tip of the hat as economic competitors. While the U.S. and much of the world are in full panic mode, the Chinese are sticking with their long-held plans to secure the raw materials they will need to keep their economy productive for decades to come. And thanks to the global economic crisis, they are now able to fulfill that mandate at a deep discount, and pay for their purchases with a depreciating asset – the U.S. dollar.

Since we are on the topic of the Chinese, the news came out this week that they – and other Asian investors – are not willing to buy any more mortgage-backed securities from Freddie and Fannie unless they are given explicit, versus implicit, guarantees from Uncle Sam (quick glance in the mirror).

Frankly, I don’t see how the government can fail to provide those guarantees, even though the act further solidifies the fact that taxpayers are on the hook for all manner of bad debt.

This is, I suspect, the beginning of the trend that will lead to foreign creditors of all stripes and inclination treating the U.S. government as they might any hapless bankrupt, demanding terms that suit them and not the U.S. government.

But, many analysts opine, the Chinese and other foreign dollar holders have to support the U.S. government and its currency, because otherwise their own dollar holdings will be hurt.

To which I answer, “Rio Tinto” and “Oz Minerals.”

Let’s Talk Gold

Today I have had communications from two friends, one of whom I stay in regular touch with and one I had lost touch with for a couple of years.

In both instances, they expressed their belief that gold is about to rocket higher and wanted my opinion on whether now is a good time to buy.

My answer, after the usual caveat that I really have no idea, is that they need to decide why they want to own gold.

If it is as a core holding – to buy and forget about as insurance against the very real potential of a currency crisis – then buy away.

If, on the other hand, it is as a speculation, then they might want to hold off to see if there is a pullback here. No market goes up in a straight line, and gold will be no exception. That said, if you can wait out a correction that might see gold fall back $100, or even $200, before heading back higher again, then, again, buy away.

I also pointed out that until the inflation begins to really ramp up, there is no penalty for sitting in cash (at least in the U.S.). So, if capital preservation is your goal, then simply sitting on cash is not a bad move for the time being.

At this point, there is every sign that gold wants to go higher. Demand in gold in 2008 was about 29% over that of 2007, according to the latest report from the World Gold Council. And demand for bars and coins was up by 87%, mitigating the fall-off in jewelry sales. One other useful observation in the report was that strong buying kicked in on any dips in the price.

So, we appear to have something of a floor under the price of gold at this point. If you look at the price of gold over the last couple of years, the floor appears to be around the $750 mark. If you are okay buying here, around $1,000 an ounce, with the clear understanding that gold could see as much as a 25% retrenchment, then go for it. If, on the other hand, the potential for that sort of a short-term pullback worries you, stick to cash and maybe you’ll get a chance to buy cheaper, as earlier buyers take profits at the higher prices now available.

But couldn’t gold go down from here, and stay down?

Anything is possible, but looking at the shape of things, I would rate the odds of that happening as very low.

Shattered Hope

I was going to do an article this week commenting on some recent media reports that certain U.S. military leaders were expressing concern and dismay that President Obama was actually taking time to deliberate before committing more troops to Afghanistan.

I was going to be complimentary that rather than reflexively throwing men into an unwinnable war, he would reconsider the whole (bad) idea and maybe even start drawing up plans for an orderly withdrawal. But then, on Feb 17, he stepped up to the plate and approved a 50% increase in U.S. troop levels.

I heard the UK defense secretary commenting on the Obama administration’s commitment, in the context of being asked if the UK would commit more troops. While not a direct quote, he said that they are reviewing the situation, but are concerned that there are too many “caveats” applied to the rules of engagement in Afghanistan, and that they would be more willing to add troops if those caveats could be eliminated or reduced.

What he was saying, in plain-speak, is that they want to be able to apply whatever brute force they feel was required, regardless of the collateral damage, in taking out the local opposition to the current occupation by NATO forces.

This is a very slippery slope, and one that the West should already know as a failed idea from even a cursory reading of the history books. As I have commented on in the past, there is no conceivable way that the West could hope to outdo the naked brutality exhibited by the Soviets in their run at Afghanistan. And look where that got them.

So why, exactly, are we marching deeper and deeper into Afghanistan? Call me a cynic, but I suspect it is because President Obama, in the next election, wants to be able to stand up to the inevitable charges that would otherwise fly that he was “soft on terrorism” or “failed to support our troops.”

Getting deeper into Afghanistan is, in my opinion, a great and entirely avoidable travesty.

(On the topic of the Soviets in Afghanistan, The Beast, an older movie about a Soviet tank crew that gets lost in that dangerous country is well worth a watch.)

Enough of all that. To improve my mood, and hopefully yours, I want to share with you a couple of items I came across this week that I think you’ll find amusing.

Just for Fun

This first item came in an email from a friend with the subject: “How the stimulus package works.”

      Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Minnesota.

      All three go with a White House official to examine the fence. The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says, "I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

      The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."

      The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, "$2,700."

      The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

      The Chicago contractor whispers back, "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence."

      "Done!" replies the government official.

      And that, my friends, is how the new stimulus plan will work.

A Really Good Read

The following article is reprinted with permission of the publisher of the local newspaper. The article is one of the best-written and most entertaining I have read in any paper in years. It was written for The Waterbury Record by Peter Miller, a well-known local photographer… and a great writer, in my opinion. The article, about an epic battle between a local man and a fisher cat (as you will read, a mean-tempered member of the weasel family) offers a glimpse into life hereabouts, though not all the locals are quite so eloquent. I just love the passing reference to coq au vin. Enjoy…

Scott Broderick

      Scott Broderick of Waterbury Center recently engaged in mortal combat with a fisher cat.

      Broderick and his partner, Amber Rae Sulick, are house-sitting for friends in a renovated farmhouse a mile off Route 100 in Waterbury Center, on Gregg Hill Road. In front of the house is a large wetland. Behind the house are woods that scatter down to the Waterbury Reservoir. The pair takes care of the dogs, cats and a coop of chickens.

      On Sunday, Jan. 24, Sulick came back from a cross-country ski hike and found three chickens slaughtered.

      “They were in the outside pen,” Sulick said. “Two bantams and one black hen. They were lying limp on the snow. Their throats had been sliced and there was a little spot of blood around the neck. They were not eaten or ripped apart. I could see in the snow where the chickens had been chased around the pen. I could see the tracks really well. The animal hopped , two and two, feet together. I thought it was a weasel. This happened between 2 p.m. and 4 in the afternoon, when I was checking for eggs.”

      The next day, while Sulick was at work, Broderick went for a snowshoe hike and when he returned, he heard all sorts of commotion coming from the chicken coop.

      “There were thumps, squawks, squeals of terror and screams that are best imagined,” said Broderick. “I took off the snowshoes and hurried into the coop. I could see, through the chicken mesh, that Ozzie the rooster was flat on his back, the head turned to the side. He looked dead. A black animal was on top, like a vampire, sucking blood. It looked up at me, showed its bloody teeth and hissed.

      “I had two axes by the door, for splitting wood and dispatching, recently, a rooster that we turned into a coq au vin for Christmas dinner. I grabbed both axes, entered through the small door and went after him. The animal — I later found out that it was a fisher cat — leapt off Ozzie and, ignoring me, went after the hens. There were more terrible squawks and screeches. The fisher moved so fast, I was missing on my swings. It then climbed up on poles near the rafters. Suddenly, it turned its attention to me. …Suddenly, I was no longer on the attack but defending myself.”

      The fisher leapt through the air and onto Broderick’s chest. “If I hadn’t moved back he would have latched onto my face. I could have ended up like Ozzie, who had his comb chewed off, lost an eye and had a lot of blood sucked out of him,” he said.

      “I threw him off and he landed in the corner, where the hens cowered. More squawks, screams and wing-beating,” he said. “The fisher, with incredible speed, climbed back up to the overhead poles and screaming its battle cry, again leapt at me. I knocked him down and then I was screaming, as I hit him with the axe, over and over.”

      Broderick was not bitten. Ozzie the rooster was taken inside and given first aid. When it was returned to the coop, the hens circled around him very glad to have the master back. However, the rooster died two days later.

      A fisher cat can weigh up to 14 pounds and measure 36 inches, including its bushy tail. They are ferocious predators, related to the wolverine, and feed on porcupines, other wildlife and farm animals. They also have a taste for domesticated cats. Very rarely do they attack humans, but in this case, the fisher may have felt cornered.

Miscellany

    * Casey Research Las Vegas Crisis & Opportunity Summit Update. First off, we have finalized the program and are very happy to announce that we have lined up an excellent keynote speaker for the banquet, Professor Tom Rustici from George Mason University. I’m not going to go into any great detail on Professor Rustici here, other than to say he is a terrific speaker with deep (and surprisingly entertaining) insights into the nature of depressions. We have also confirmed John Woolway, a professional bond manager of long experience, to discuss a range of topics related to his specialty, including best ways to invest for income today, opportunities in TIPS, how to play rising interest rates, and more.

      All of the rooms at the Four Seasons are now sold out, but we are working on securing a handful of rooms at the Mandalay Bay (the adjoining sister property to the Four Seasons) starting at $189++. Please email [email protected] to get more information.

      There are still a handful of seats left, but not many. With everything going on in the world just now, this promises to be our most important – and profitable – Summit to date. Hope you can make it. Registration information, as well as a link to the final schedule, be found by clicking here.

    * Gun Control on the Way? Someone sent me an email on a bill called HR 45 Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sales Act of 2009. Always skeptical about emailed information of this sort, I had a researcher give it a look and, sorry to say, it’s real. The bottom line is that Congress is taking up a bill that will require gun purchasers to jump through a number of hoops before being able to buy a gun, including pass a test and agree to allowing government officials to come to your house to inspect your guns at will. Failure to properly secure your guns will carry a fine and even the potential for a five-year stint in jail. You can read more about the legislation here. http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h45/text.

      Knowing as I do the attitude of a number of gun-owning acquaintances of mine, I think legislation such as this could trigger some pretty strident opposition. And for good reasons: one of history’s better-documented lessons is that almost every transition to dictatorship has been preceded by some form of gun control.

    * Where Do They Get Their Numbers? Hardly a day goes by of late without some member of Team Obama standing up to announce that this plan or that will create or preserve X million of jobs, or help “as many as 5 million homeowners refinance.” Most people accept such pronouncements as having a loose connection to reality. They don’t.

      In fact, that sort of loose talk is highly misleading and counterproductive, because it gives the populace the false impression that the economy is almost mechanical in nature. Push this button or that, and voila, out pops a million jobs. If it were that easy, then why would Team Obama stop at 3 million jobs, as they claim will be created in the latest stimulus bill? Why not just give the knob a few more twists and go for full employment? There’s nothing particularly profound in this observation, because you already know that the economy is a complex system, which is to say, it is largely unpredictable. So, the next time you hear the president or anyone else in the ring of power spouting off some specific numbers associated with this initiative or that, join me in making a loud raspberry sound. Or throw your shoes… whichever makes you feel better.

    * New Phyles. Zoe is looking to start up a group in Reno. And Mike in Kingwood, Texas, has started up a phyle and is looking for more members. If you live in or near either of those places and would enjoy sharing views with other Casey subscribers, drop Kristen a note at [email protected]

    * Music? I often include links to music that has caught my attention over the previous week, but not much of anything has overly moved me of late – I like powerful music – so last week I skipped and I was going to do so again. However, there is one song, from the movie Slumdog Millionaire, that I have had on rotation and find it pretty snappy… it’s called O-Saya by M.I.A. You can hear it here.

      (If you have some dramatic and exciting music you’d like to share, drop me a line at [email protected])

And that, dear readers, is that for this week. And what a week it has been.

To give you some sense of how things have gone, yesterday I recorded an hour-and-a-half-long phone interview with Dave Hightower and Terry Roggensack, the commodities gurus behind our new Casey Trend Trader.

During the interview, which is to appear as a special feature in the next edition of The Casey Report, we talked about just about everything you can imagine as it relates to commodities, including the data they monitor on China’s current stockpiling of commodities… whether or not gold is being manipulated… where the GLD ETF is getting its gold… which commodities are selling at or below the price of production… which ones are poised to rebound first and strongest and which are still at risk… how to structure futures and options trades to tightly control risk (in their entire 27 years in the business, they have never had a major loss)… plus, the outlook for oil and natural gas… when interest rates are likely to turn around, and much, much more.

As we finished, I was so excited about the interview that I pushed the wrong button on my recorder. Then I compounded the error by pushing a second wrong button, sending the entire recording to the permanent trash bin in the sky! In the words of Mr. Broderick, quoted above, on discovering the loss of the recording, there were “…thumps, squawks, squeals of terror and screams that are best imagined.”

The thumps being my head repeatedly hitting the desk.

Fortunately, Mssrs. Hightower and Roggensack are patient and even forgiving individuals, and so we will be doing it all over again. Look for the new interview in the next edition of The Casey Report.

(If you are not yet a subscriber, don’t hesitate for a minute to take us up on our special new subscriber offer. We make it easy and inexpensive to give this unique monthly letter a try, because we’re convinced that once you try it, you’ll want to stay with it. Learn more about the trial offer here.)

As I sign off, I see that the rout in stocks continues, with the Dow off by another 175 points. Oh, and looky there… Senator Christopher Dodd says that the government might need to nationalize some banks. Is it any wonder that gold spot has just cracked over $1,000?

For many moons now, we have cautioned you to “be right and sit tight.” While, as per above, there is no sure way to know where gold is going to go in the short term, there is likewise nothing we can see that doesn’t suggest that it can’t go much higher in the longer run.

We live in interesting times.

Until next week, thank you for reading and for being a subscriber to a Casey Research service. If you find us helpful, don’t hesitate to spread the good word to your friends and associates.

Sincerely,

David Galland

David Galland
Managing Director
Casey Research, LLC.





Posted 02-20-2009 10:34 PM by David Galland