$10,000 Gold

I interviewed Nick Barisheff, who is calling for $10,000 gold. Normally, I shy away from these “sky-high” predictions but after seeing him interviewed more than once, I felt he presented a realistic and legitimate case.

Nick Barisheff is President and CEO of Bullion Management Group Inc., a bullion investment company that provides investors with a secure, cost-effective and transparent way to purchase and store individual Good Delivery gold, silver and platinum bullion bars. Recognized worldwide as a bullion expert, Barisheff is the author of $10,000 Gold: Why Gold’s Inevitable Rise is the Investor’s Safe Haven. He is a speaker and financial commentator on bullion and current market trends.

Here’s the interview:

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Is the gold bull over or, as you contend in your new book, is it headed to $10,000 an ounce?

The first thing people have to realize is that no fiat currency, ever, has resulted in anything except decline followed by default, while gold has always maintained its value in mankind’s history of money exchange. Today we have a coordinated, and in terms of fiat currency creation epic, decline orchestrated by the world’s largest central banks. Debt-fueled fiat currency creation is among several long-term irreversible trends I spell out in $10,000 Gold. All of these trends have been in place since the late 1990s, when gold was trading below $300 an ounce.

2. What evidence can you put forward to support the case for gold in light of recent events?

There is no question gold is going to resume its bull market trend after blatant market interference in April and Fed jawboning in June about tapering bond purchases.

If you examine the April gold price decline, sales estimates for the COMEX on Friday April 12 and Monday April 15 were between 125 and 400 tonnes. It was, purely and simply, a deliberate paper gold attack as indicated by the size and speed of the sales that then triggered sell stops and margin calls. There are only a few large global institutions that could have flooded the market in that manner.

In June, this price raid on gold was reinforced by the idea that the U.S. Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, is somehow going to end his crescendo of computer-generated currency creation based on a mending economy. From German car sales being at a 20-year low to the slowdown in China’s GDP growth to Japan’s failing stock market to the U.S. record in food stamp usage, there is dominant evidence that the global economy is coming undone.

What people seem to have overlooked is the Fed Chairman’s admission that, should the economy worsen, he will expand, not taper or discontinue, quantitative easing. Observers such as John Williams at ShadowStats point to U.S. household income that’s flatlined since 2009. Williams has also stated that any talk of tapering is pure propaganda to placate global markets on the U.S. dollar while trying to suppress gold. [1]

3. If one supports the fact that the paper market has been manipulated and/or jawboned into temporary submission, what is the physical market signaling?

In India, one of the world’s most robust markets for physical gold, the government has tried to curb gold imports through a series of warnings, and now actual restrictions.  Yet India’s national body of jewellers, the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation, says reports of gold smuggling at different airports in India rose by 2,200 percent last year. The GJF also stated that despite an increase in the import duty from 1 percent to 8 percent in January last year, gold consumption has gone up, not down. [2]

In the United States, even after the April gold price shock, the following month we noted that the 40 percent premium U.S. consumers were willing to pay for one-tenth ounce coins from the U.S. Mint priced gold at $1,932 an ounce, a physical price that is higher than the $1,900 an ounce record for paper gold set in 2011.

In China, the premium that gold buyers paid to take immediate delivery of bullion jumped four-fold in the six weeks following the gold price “crash.”[3]

If this were truly a natural correction or actual bear market, then physical gold market participants would be panic selling, not panic buying. Over the long term, these artificial declines in the price of paper gold are good for gold, because they allow a lot of big, smart, long-term investors to enter the markets. Allowing for what often is a slow summer season, I would not be surprised to see gold hit new highs before year end.
4. Let’s talk about more of the long-term irreversible trends in $10,000 Gold. What is the link that oil, population growth and the aging population have with the price of gold?

As I state in my book, the world’s rising population, aging population and outsourcing all create the need for more government debt to compensate for slowing growth, and increased government debt equals more currency, lower purchasing power and a higher gold price.

When natural economic growth does not come through productivity, or the manufacturing and production of natural resources, then the government must fuel growth through debt creation. In 2012, it cost the U.S. government $2.47 to grow its GDP by $1.00.

Despite the claims of energy independence because of shale oil in the United States, the world’s growth has been fueled by cheap land-based oil, located mainly in the Middle East. Oil sands and shale oil are extremely expensive to produce by comparison, and are therefore inflationary. Apart from currency printing creating inflation, the rising price of oil will also be inflationary because it is used for virtually everything.

These irreversible trends all impact growth negatively, reduce taxation revenues, cause inflation and require ever greater government expenditure, which lead to ever-increasing government debt. Therefore, the world’s citizens will suffer through increasing waves of currency debasement, which naturally causes the value of gold to appear stronger against currencies.
5. Is $10,000 gold a price limit in your mind?

We are in uncharted financial territory. If you look back over the history of fiat currencies it’s actually extraordinary. Several reputable analysts are calling for $10,000 gold, such as Société Générale’s Edward Alberts. Jim Sinclair, the man Barron’s labeled “Mr. Gold” because of his proven understanding of the gold market, has stated he expects gold to eventually trade at $50,000 an ounce.

Given systematic global currency debasement, people need to understand that it is not necessarily gold that will rise in value, but currencies that will lose value against gold. Yet due to the temporary manipulation of the paper gold price, I would suggest that those with foresight have a historic opportunity to acquire uncompromised physical gold.

“Policymakers Should Be Cautious Seeing Gold’s Drop As A Vote Of Confidence”

In principle, holding gold is a form of insurance against war, financial Armageddon, and wholesale currency debasement. And, from the onset of the global financial crisis, the price of gold has often been portrayed as a barometer of global economic insecurity. So, does the collapse in gold prices – from a peak of $1,900 per ounce in August 2011 to under $1,250 at the beginning of July 2013 – represent a vote of confidence in the global economy?

To say that the gold market displays all of the classic features of a bubble gone bust is to oversimplify. There is no doubt that gold’s heady rise to the peak, from around $350 per ounce in July 2003, had investors drooling. The price would rise today because everyone had become convinced that it would rise even further tomorrow.

Doctors and dentists started selling stocks and buying gold coins. Demand for gold jewelry in India and China soared. Emerging-market central banks diversified out of dollars and into gold.

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The case for buying gold had several strong components. Ten years ago, gold was selling at well below its long-term inflation-adjusted average, and the integration of three billion emerging-market citizens into the global economy could only mean a giant long-term boost to demand.

That element of the story, incidentally, remains valid. The global financial crisis added to gold’s allure, owing initially to fear of a second Great Depression. Later, some investors feared that governments would unleash inflation to ease the burden of soaring public debt and address persistent unemployment.

As central banks brought policy interest rates down to zero, no one cared that gold yields no interest. So it is nonsense to say that the rise in the price of gold was all a bubble. But it is also true that as the price rose, a growing number of naïve investors sought to buy in.

Lately, of course, the fundamentals have reversed somewhat, and the speculative frenzy has reversed even more. China’s economy continues to soften; India’s growth rate is down sharply from a few years ago. By contrast, despite the ill-advised fiscal sequester, the US economy appears to be healing gradually. Global interest rates have risen 100 basis points since the US Federal Reserve started suggesting – quite prematurely, in my view – that it would wind down its policy of quantitative easing.

With the Fed underscoring its strong anti-inflation bias, it is harder to argue that investors need gold as a hedge against high inflation. And, as the doctors and dentists who were buying gold coins two years ago now unload them, it is not yet clear where the downward price spiral will stop. Some are targeting the psychologically compelling $1,000 barrier.

In fact, the case for or against gold has not changed all that much since 2010, when I last wrote about it. In October of that year, the price of gold – the consummate faith-based speculative asset – was on the way up, having just hit $1,300. But the real case for holding it, then as now, was never a speculative one. Rather, gold is a hedge. If you are a high-net-worth investor, or a sovereign wealth fund, it makes perfect sense to hold a small percentage of your assets in gold as a hedge against extreme events.

Holding gold can also make sense for middle-class and poor households in countries – for example, China and India – that significantly limit access to other financial investments. For most others, gold is just another gamble that one can make. And, as with all gambles, it is not necessarily a winning one.

Unless governments firmly set the price of gold, as they did before World War I, the market for it will inevitably be risky and volatile. In a study published in January, the economists Claude Erb and Campbell Harvey consider several possible models of gold’s fundamental price, and find that gold is at best only loosely tethered to any of them. Instead, the price of gold often seems to drift far above or far below its fundamental long-term value for extended periods. (This behavior is, of course, not unlike that of many other financial assets, such as exchange rates or stock prices, though gold’s price swings may be more extreme.)

Gold bugs sometimes cite isolated historical data that suggest that gold’s long-term value has remained stable over the millennia. For example, Stephen Harmston’s oft-cited 1998 study points to anecdotal evidence that an ounce of gold bought 350 loaves of bread in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who died in 562 BC. Ignoring the fact that bread in Babylon was probably healthier than today’s highly refined product, the price of gold today is not so different, equal to perhaps 600 loaves of bread.

Of course, we do not have annual data for Babylonian gold prices. We can only assume, given wars and other uncertainties, that true market prices back then, like today, were quite volatile.

So the recent collapse of gold prices has not really changed the case for investing in it one way or the other. Yes, prices could easily fall below $1,000; but, then again, they might rise. Meanwhile, policymakers should be cautious in interpreting the plunge in gold prices as a vote of confidence in their performance.

Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-08/ken-rogoff-policymakers-should-be-cautious-seeing-golds-drop-vote-confidence

Wits Gold bids for Burnstone, decision expected next week

JOHANNESBURG – Witwatersrand Consolidated Gold Resources (Wits Gold) on Friday said that it had offered to buy embattled Great Basin Gold’s (GBG’s) suspended Burnstone gold operation, in Mpumalanga.

The TSX- and JSE-listed group aimed to deliver dividends to its shareholders and generate cash flow in the near term, as Wits Gold brought Burnstone into production.

“Moving to producer status will serve as a solid platform with which to start generating free cash flow for shareholders,” Wits Gold CEO Philip Kotze said, adding that the bid was in line with the company’s strategy of owning and developing shallow mines in South Africa.

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Wits Gold would pay $7.25-million in cash towards GBG South African subsidiary Southgold Exploration’s debt, which was restructured and cut by 55% to $177.35-million.

Southgold would, from generated actual cash flow, repay the remaining $170.1-million liability.

Wits Gold would also advance a $100-million shareholder loan with an interest rate of 4%, which was also to be paid back on a preferential basis from Southgold’s operating cash flow.

The offer to buy the mine would be put to vote on July 11, but Wits Gold had signed irrevocable undertakings from the major creditors that its bid would be voted for to eliminate deal uncertainty.

Burnstone was put on care and maintenance in September, after several production setbacks and an inability to afford the mine’s required working capital to reach cash-flow breakeven forced the mine into business rescue.

Kotze noted that a new underground mining plan, which would allow for flexibility in the production approach, had been developed, after due diligence found the previous mine plan “far too ambitious”.

GBG’s mine plan had created market expectations, which had resulted in the team rapidly trying to deliver into high production, at 250 000 oz/y, without the required structures in place, he explained.

Burnstone, which started producing in 2010, encountered a geological fault that GBG did not find during exploration drilling, leading to the company having to revise its 2011 production guidance to 30 000 oz – which it missed by 6 000 oz – from the previous levels between 85 000 oz and 110 000 oz.

The mine’s production target – before suspension – for 2012 was 90 000 oz to 100 000 oz.

Wits Gold lowered production by 50%, with plans in place to potentially ramp up production in a gradual phased approach to a maximum 130 000 oz/y for a $100-million investment. First production is expected 12 months after the initial takeover.

“We have a number of options that require less capital for lower production or more for higher production [than the middle ground of 50 000 oz/y],” he said, noting the current Wits Gold plan for the mine required $50-million in capital expenditure and would enable production ramp-up to about 70 000 oz/y.

Wits Gold expected to take control of the operation – which has more than six-million ounces of gold in proven and probable reserves and a forecast life-of-mine upwards of 25 years – during the second half of 2014, after which the final mine plan would be decided on according to the market at the time.

Wits Gold aimed to initially focus on establishing the appropriate infrastructure for the relevant plan, and develop until enough ore reserve had been opened up for sustainable production.

The company would complete the footwall development in advance, and create a drilling platform to predetermine the geological structure and paychannels.

Wits Gold also planned a three-dimensional seismic survey, which would constrain the highly faulted underground structure and enable mine design optimisation.

Source: http://www.miningweekly.com/article/wits-gold-bids-for-burnstone-decision-expected-next-week-2013-07-05