There’s little argument that gold has outperformed every asset class in the past five years, maybe even the past ten. It is the currency of choice during times of chaos. But…so is the US Dollar. Yes, as much as we like to pound the greenback at every opportunity, it still retains the position of the world’s reserve currency during times of crisis. Try as we may to debase the damn thing, it keeps popping back into the picture when times are uncertain overseas.
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Last week I mentioned the next shoe to fall would be Portugal. Greece has fallen and so has Ireland. Lo and behold the yield on Portuguese bonds soared to all time post-EU highs this week and protests were already beginning in the streets. The Portuguese people are ahead of the curve and the government. They see the writing on the wall. Strange that they would cause disturbances BEFORE the crisis begins. A new trend maybe? The euro plunged on the news of Portugal’s impending problems. And, the dollar soared (in currency terms). Of course there’s more to the dollar’s rise than just the failure of the EU.
Dr. Evil decided to capture the world’s attention by shelling South Korea because he felt they were encroaching on his territory by drilling a little too close to home. That news and raw video footage sent even more investors scurrying to the stronghold of the US Dollar and US Treasuries. As I have said many, many times in the past, the US Dollar is a very smelly currency, but in the race to the bottom, somehow we smell a little sweeter than the Yen or the Euro. And, with good reason. We do have the ability to cut spending and reduce the government bloat if we choose to. Most of the countries around the world are already where we DON’T want to be, but where we are heading: states beholden to the policies of welfare put forth by their respective governments.
The US still has a strong contingent of voters who aren’t mindless sheep and who don’t believe that the government is the be all and end all. That makes a big difference. We are more than able to make deep cuts in welfare, defense, and pork barrel spending without fearing riots in the street. In places like France, Greece, and even the much-admired Scandinavian countries, actions to cut welfare would be and are being met by civil disturbances. And, with good reason. Folks in some of these places are paying up to 70% of their income in taxes for the right to be suckled by the government. Americans complain about taxes, but they are not paying close to what an individual in Sweden pays. And, let’s hope we never will.
So, what does this have to do with gold? Well, this past week saw a rare decoupling. Gold prices went higher as the Euro was debased (and with some help from out little friend in North Korea) and the US Dollar also rose. Technically speaking, the dollar was due for a snap back from very oversold conditions. It is quite feasible that if the problems in Europe continue, as they are likely to, that the dollar and gold may provide refuge for investors concurrently, something that has not happened in a long time. And, if the electorate and the elected finally wake up and do something tangible like cut spending Katie bar the door…we’ll all be heading to Europe for summer vacations!
Is There Anything to be Thankful For?
Well, if you’re in the market for a big screen TV, this past Black Friday was the best in a decade. Of course, you have to have money before you can spend it…kind of. Credit card companies are reporting increases in usage, as the bad times have not gotten much worse. Retailers are reporting better sales and consumers are in fact loosening purse strings this holiday season. That bodes well for the stock market in the months ahead as the all-important holiday shopping season will dictate how much inventory build up is required for 2011. So far, technology is the big winner and of the tech stocks that are winning, Apple (APPL-NASDAQ) rules the roost. If you own shares in Apple – be thankful this year.
The market overall is heading towards a close on the highs of the year, a very bullish signal. Of course we still have a month to go before the vote can be tallied. But, one year ago it was not much fun looking forward. Two years ago it was nothing short of grim. This year we can be thankful that the US markets did not meltdown, quite the contrary, they melted up.
Finally, if you are a frequent traveler you have the most to be thankful for. Nowadays a trip on a plane provides added benefits that you once had to sneak out to the Red Light District and pay for. Who knew that there would come a day when one could enjoy some mandated physical stimulation free of charge and in such a safe and public place?
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