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Fed Chairman: “We’re Not Even Thinking about Thinking About Raising Rates”
Frank Holmes: “Silver is going to have a sudden, massive move to $50 that everyone will be surprised over…”
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Welcome to this week’s Market Wrap Podcast, I’m Mike Gleason.
Coming up Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors drops in for a wonderful interview on why he believes Fed chair Jerome Powell’s recent comments make it even more imperative for investors to own gold and tells us why he sees similarities in what we saw last year in palladium and what we’re going to see in gold and silver. He also comments on a number of other topics as well, so stick around for my conversation with Frank Holmes, coming up after this week’s market update.
As the stock market tanked on Thursday with the Dow losing nearly 1,900 points, gold and silver held up relatively well.
For the week, gold prices are up 2.8% to trade at $1,744 an ounce. Silver shows a slight weekly gain of 0.3% to bring spot prices to $17.64.
Turning to the PGMs, they tend to be more vulnerable to the downside when economic concerns drive stock market selling. Platinum is down 0.7% since last Friday’s close to come in at $826. And finally, palladium is giving up 0.5% this week to trade at $2,009 per ounce.
The sudden spike in market volatility yesterday came after the Federal Reserve vowed on Wednesday to keep its benchmark rate near zero through 2022.
That’s an unusually long period for the Fed to be projecting rate policy. It reflects the fact that it will take many months and perhaps years for the tens of millions of jobs that were recently lost to return.
During his press conference, Chairman Powell stumbled and stammered his way into stating that he would be happy to let inflation continue to rise until the economy approaches full employment.
Jerome Powell: We'd be looking to get inflation back up and we'd be prepared to tolerate, uh, pretty low, welcome in fact, not tolerate, but welcome very low readings on unemployment, just based on what we saw in the last, uh, in the last expansion. So, um, we're not thinking about raising rates. We're not even thinking about thinking about raising rates. So, what we're thinking about, is, providing, uh, support for this economy. We do think this is going to take some time. There are just a lot of people that are unemployed, and it seems quite likely that there'll be a significant group, uh, at the end of, even after a lot of strong job growth, that'll still be struggling to find jobs and we'll still be providing strong accommodation for that.
As is often the case, the stock market initially reacted one way to the Fed only to have second thoughts after a deeper reading of the central bank’s policy stance. On the one hand, monetary planners are committed to being ultra-accommodative into 2022. On the other hand, they seem convinced that the recovery will be slow – and are likely worried about another devastating wave of coronavirus infections.
Some parts of the country are experiencing a rise in reported COVID-19 cases right now. However, that is due in large part to a massive increase in testing.
Alarmists had predicted a spike in deaths as a result of beaches and swimming pools reopening. But that does not appear to be happening.
When Georgia became the first state to reopen a few weeks ago in defiance of the federal government’s guidelines, the media warned it would be catastrophic. And yet Georgia seems to be faring no worse than states that remained locked down.
We will see in the days ahead if illegal protesting and rioting in major cities across the country translates into a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations.
The demonstrations which were initially sparked by outrage over police brutality are now taking on the character of a Maoist cultural revolution. The mob demands we all kneel before it in submission, issue ritualistic apologies for any transgressions against its orthodoxy, and demonstrate our commitment to the cultural revolution by agreeing that we need to erase our history in the name of progress.
A full-scale war on history is being waged on statues, monuments, street names, military bases, and even classic movies such as Gone with the Wind. The vandals want us to forget who and what came before us to make us who we are today.
Strangely, corporate America seems to be fully on board with this revolution and is providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for it. Big Business is going all-in for globalism and a digital future that breaks down traditional mom-and-pop business practices.
It’s in the interest of banks and tech giants to redirect people’s anger away from their own financial plight in this new economy. These companies together are worth trillions of dollars thanks in part to the unlimited digital printing press of the Federal Reserve and the lack of a sound money standard.
Of course, there was a time when U.S. currency explicitly stated it was redeemable in precious metal.
It’s a history most people today know little about. Those who were around as recently as 1963 may remember when paper dollars were also silver certificates – redeemable in silver coins.
Most politicians, bankers, and business titans today quite prefer digital dollars redeemable in nothing. They would prefer the public to not be tangibly connected to its history.
There is a war on cash and a war on history being waged in this country. They go hand in hand.
If politically incorrect historical landmarks aren’t allowed to exist, then the past can’t speak to us directly anymore. Every generation will want to apply some new politically correct filter for determining whose history can stand. Some historical figures will be demonized for their words and actions. Others will be dismissed as no longer relevant, their ideas obsolete for modern times.
Similar attacks were launched on gold and silver to shift America’s monetary system to a purely fiat one. Gold is outmoded, they said. It’s been rendered useless in the modern economy. It’s a “barbarous relic”…and so on.
This is what central bankers and their ideological allies want us to believe. But if gold were truly obsolete as a monetary asset, then central banks would sell all their gold reserves. They certainly wouldn’t be buying.
But in recent years central banks have been accumulating gold in increasing quantities. And for good reason.
Gold’s history as money spans far longer than the timeline of any fiat currency. Gold’s history gives people confidence in its future as a store of value.
Yes, history still matters. Those who fail to learn its lessons will be caught completely unprepared when history repeats itself and the U.S. dollar plunges toward worthlessness – just like all the other fiat currencies that have come before it.
Well now, without further delay, let’s get right to this week’s exclusive interview.
Mike Gleason: It is my privilege now to welcome in Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at U.S. Global Investors. Mr. Holmes has received various honors over the years, including being named America's best fund manager by The Mining Journal. He is also the co-author of the book, The Goldwatcher: Demystifying Gold Investing and is regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business and also right here on the Money Metals podcast.
Frank, welcome back. And thanks for joining us again. How are you today?
Frank Holmes: I am great. Thank you. It's great to be back.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, it certainly has been a while. A number of months since we had a chance to talk and suffice it to say a lot has changed in the world and the market since then. We've got COVID-19 wreaking its havoc on world economies. We have race protests and rioting. It isn't the sort of backdrop you would expect for the stock market which has been moving relentlessly higher, but the Fed is not about to let prices fall it seems. The intervention is off the charts, starting with trillions of dollars to prop up the repo markets last fall. Then in March, they pulled out all the stops and began buying everything including ETFs and junk bonds. So, what's next for the equity markets? We aren't sure which dynamic is more important for investors in the months ahead; the lousy real-world fundamentals or the artificial stimulus being pumped in by the Fed? Give us your thoughts here.
Frank Holmes: Well, I think this is bigger than the fed and that's a thing to recognize. And I think I've said previous times in your program that after 2008, 2009, the government in the U.S. along with other governments around the world, they became the finance ministers and the central bankers basically became a cartel. The G20 became synchronized taxation and regulation. And that was a real big part, now they physically can't fly between countries. All of a sudden moving money became very difficult for everyone. And AML costs have continued to rise since then. So, now we have this calamity of a pandemic and you're seeing this sort of collectivism taking place amongst these ministers. So, they're all printing collectively and they're all taking their leads, so it is unprecedented when you hear Powell speak today…. I don't know these words which he used, he said, "We will continue to use powers, forcefully, proactively, and aggressively. We will continue."
So, I think that that just sets up a gold theme. It's just so important to have a gold theme if investors do not have some exposure to it. There's fundamentals on peak mine supply, etc., but I just think this is concept of owning gold as an asset class.
And I still get the pushback from CNBC, New York. It's just a regular negative on gold. If it's up it, it's going to fall and if it's down, I told you so attitude. And I think this unprecedent explosiveness that's taking place in the Fed's balance sheet and the money printing coming in and buying bond ETFs to try to get corporate rates down. Rates went to zero and mortgages you can get cheap, but you couldn't get them in capital markets. Guys are telling me in the Mezzanine real estate world, they had commitments for 4% rollover money and it jumped to 14%. So, the government's now come in to try to use ETFs as a way to get rates down in the corporate sector.
So, they're going to use everything they can and this is the same thing in Europe, it's the same thing in Japan. So, I think that before you would run from one jurisdiction to another, it's just not going to happen this time. And that should mean gold is going to become more and more attractive and silver as asset classes globally because in particularly on gold, peak supply, we're in it now. And we're going to continue to see a drop in supply coming from mines. Newmont has had no new production increase per share. Fortunately, they've got free cash flow with debt or capital discipline, but there's been no growth over five years.
Mike Gleason: Yeah. That's certainly going to be a dynamic that should improve the fundamental picture if it's not already good enough with all the currency devaluation that's going on. Before we get a little bit more into gold, so, do you view the recent move higher in the stock market as an indication of the good things are ahead for the markets and the economy, or is this just a bull trap?
Frank Holmes: Well, your question did start off with the stock market at the beginning, but I think that a lot of this that's moving the stock market is money coming from all of this printing. And, and so what we've been seeing in the past eight years in particular, Japan, Switzerland, they go and print money at a zero cost of money and no one buys it so they buy it themselves. Then they go buy Apple. The Swiss Central Bank is one of the largest shareholders of Apple. Why was the dividend higher than they can raise money with? They can create funny money. They buy Cadburys so the largest shareholder of stocks in their own country is a central bank. And, that's a real different thought process. The largest holder of Japanese stocks is the central bank. So these central banks, as I mentioned earlier, are colluding altogether. They can print the money and they buy good corporations.
And the big thing that's been a big push is this ESG. So it starts out of Europe and it's a very big expense of the environment and sustainability and good corporate governance, which I realize, but the burden of poor government policies by these socialist countries have said, "Oh, we're going to push it on successful corporations, that cost and etc. And if those stocks aren't there, then we're not going to allow them to go into our pension funds." And so a meeting at Black Rock and these other organizations, they maintain trillions of dollars of money management. They have to turn around and say, "Okay, we have to comply." And, so we're seeing is this sort of morphing of the formation of capital. We're seeing the priorities where capital has to go changing and one has to sit back and say, "Okay, where's the growth going to be, and where are the risks going to be and how do I de-risk it?"
So, in that zero interest rate environment, dividend paying stocks, which have stocks like say Clorox, especially after a pandemic, I would say that's a growth profile wouldn't you?
Mike Gleason: Yeah, certainly.
Frank Holmes: Certainly. And the dividend yields’ higher than you are going to get paid on any money market fund. And certainly the 10-year government bonds, the dividend yields higher. You can buy Newmont and its dividend yields higher than a 10-year government bond and they have free cash flow. So, I think that the stock market has done a great job where money has actually gone into those stocks which had the ability to pay dividends and sustainable growth from dividends, where those stocks have been able to respond to this pandemic such as Amazon. Amazon stopped all the overtime payment and they basically went out and hired 100,000 people to deliver goods every day. And so they've had revenue growth and you've seen their stock prices go up.
So, I think that this shift in what we're seeing is a lot of domestic companies that were able to stay profitable. I know, as I said earlier, we saw a big drop in our assets. I was very concerned the first week of March. And then all of a sudden we saw unprecedented money coming into our Jets ETF, which was a game saver. And our assets fell from a billion dollars down to less than half a billion dollars and now they're to two billion.
I mean it's incredible that a crisis like that would all of a sudden see all this money go into a contrarian product like the airlines industry. And so there's investors are coming in looking for that bounce because of the wind behind their sail is the $7 trillion. I think when it's finished, this is an election year, it's going to cost $10 trillion and the stock market is going to remain strong.
Mike Gleason: Certainly the unprecedented demand or amount of stimulus that they've put out does not seem to likely to be ending anytime soon. And yeah, investors do seem to know that.
Well, you alluded to gold earlier, and the fundamental picture there that looks very strong. What about silver? It's really a tough metal to forecast because it is both economically sensitive given the industrial component. And then it can also act as an inflation hedge for those seeking hard asset protection for safe haven purposes. So, what is your outlook for silver, Frank?
Frank Holmes: Well, silver is always the warn on gold. And so if you look at just math of markets, a 10% move in gold on the upside historically sees a catch up of 15% move in silver. It's always that 10% drop in gold, you're going to get a 15% drop in silver. And it's interesting psychology that gold goes up for enough months in a row, then all of a sudden silver starts to have this huge surge of interest for it.
And when you look at companies like that, my favorite company is Hochschild because they also have the largest rare earth asset in Chile. It's the largest in Western hemisphere the Chinese want to get a hold of because you need rare earth for all of this new technology we're using like the iPhones and other tools. So, when one looks at that, that's one of those stocks that give you a two-one. I call it a Tesla silver.
Mike Gleason: How about platinum, Frank? A similar situation there as silver. It's been a beaten down metal and its way off its pre-financial crisis highs from over a decade ago. Any thoughts on platinum? What are you expecting there?
Frank Holmes: No, I think it'll do a sort of a catch-up as the economy starts to turn. But, I think the bigger part is the supply of platinum is not as stressed as palladium. And it's interesting for me is that you can only go so many years and all of a sudden it explodes on the upside and that's what takes place. I think that that's very, very positive for us. We're going to see these explosive moves. Very few people forecasted in 2019 that palladium would go from $1,000 to $2,700.
Well, if you go for enough years you don't have supply and you have basic GDP growth, then all of a sudden you get this huge move. And I think you're going to get in gold. I think that gold is going to ignite and go through $1,900 and go up like palladium did last year, $2,700. And then all of a sudden silver is going to have this massive move to $50 that everyone will all of a sudden be surprised over.
One of the things about the airline industry, when it went through its worst times in March, April, a lot of physical gold, as you know and you follow that market so well, is moved in the belly of the airplanes, the commercial airplanes. But, those commercial flights basically all stopped. We went from moving 2.7 million Americans a day through TSA down to 90,000. It was a huge drop. So, what happened is that the airplanes all stopped flying and the cost for a private airplane jet to go from New York to London, that cost of commercial versus going private went from $30,000 to $300,000 and gold got $134 premium on it for the physical movement. And Anchorage became the busiest airport in the world moving medical supplies from Asia over to North American and to Europe. And that's changed now and we've had some falling in the prices so physical gold is easier to move around. And I think we're going to live with these things as we go forward that physical gold and having it in your hand is going to have a greater value.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, that was a very interesting dynamic when we saw that major divergence between London, where the spot market is very active and the physical market and U.S. futures and we saw huge divergence in price there as refiners around the world were scrambling to get metal to the U.S. to satisfy futures contracts and make a nice spread.
How about the mining sector? You spoke about that a little bit earlier, but how's it shaping up there, Frank, and give us your thoughts on the miners?
Frank Holmes: Well, it's a great question. I'm very, very bullish compared to a year ago in the miners. And I'll give you a couple of reasons why. The CEOs now and the board of directors of a lot of these companies are much more sensitive and focused on the value metrics per share. And that's one reason why I launched the GOAU because I just got fed up with this value destruction by dumb mergers, dumb financings, and you saw that 46% of the GDXJ's stocks in that ETF had done diluted financing. So, they diluted the revenue per share, the cash flow per share and the reserves per share. And that's one reason why it didn't perform as well. And we go back to the year 2000, we've got a 20-year history that bullion has been up 80% of the time. It's outperformed Buffett by two to one.
And now we take a look at gold stocks and in gold stocks my favorite of the royalty companies like Franco Nevada, they've outperformed for the past 10 years, Berkshire Hathaway by two to one. And so what was the reason for that? Well, these stocks have free cash flow. And what's interesting is that free cash flow of the S&P 500 was running like 2 1/2% at the end of December. And by the end of March, because of the meltdown, it was gone except for gold stocks. The gold royalty companies threw off a half a billion dollars in the first quarter in free cash flow. Newmont all of a sudden starts talking about their free cash flow. Newmont was one of the best performing stocks in the first quarter of this year and why was that? Because of free cash flow.
And now they market their story along with your Yamana and Barrick that they have free cash flow. That means they can increase their dividend. And, so why is that really important? It's because the non-gold stock buyer, the generalists, most of them out there buy stocks that have free cash flow and the capacity to grow free cash flow. The concept that we're going to have peak mine supply, but we're going to have this constant demand growth at a couple percent a year, means that gold prices are going to trade higher. And we could get this spike just off of basic supply and demand – forget the fear of all those money printing – that gold could propel itself to $2,700, $5,000, $10,000. And so I think that the gold stocks for this last quarter of March 2020 was the first time that 100 gold producers in the world we follow that the average or the median was plus 1 1/2%.
So, gold stocks became much more attractive year-to-date than a lot of the stocks in the S&P. And those companies that showed revenue growth last quarter for (the last) four quarters like the Amazons, etc., those stocks were superstars. And those stocks like the gold stocks, even though the coronavirus may have slowed down some of the production, the higher gold prices they were net ahead. So, I think that the one year and the three-year numbers for gold stocks are at that inflection point. And those that continue to demonstrate free cash flow will see their stock prices go to a premium.
Mike Gleason: Well, finally, Frank, as we begin to wrap up, give us some final thoughts here, maybe chime in on the state of the country. We've obviously got some tumultuous events going on right now with the COVID pandemic in particular and a presidential election coming up. And one would think that Trump is quite a bit more vulnerable now in November than he was say a few months ago. So, there are a number of black swans circling about and we ask for your help in interpreting it all and advising our listeners as to what they should be doing at a time like this. So, comment on that or anything else you care to as we close here.
Frank Holmes: Well, I publish every week, I have over 50,000 followers in 180 countries, and it's always a SWOT analysis of gold or my travels and bond markets. There’s always four factors, strengths and weakness of last week and opportunities of next week. It's at USfunds.com. And I try to comment and be as apolitical as possible, but I think what's really important for investors to recognize that President Trump is the only president that I know of that wakes up every morning, looks in the mirror, fixes his hair, and then wants to know what the stock market's been doing. And no other president has focused on the stock market. And I think that a lot of these millennials that are so negative on the president, but because he's always talking about the stock market and it's a leading indicator, they piled in when they were stuck at home. They couldn't go spend their money at casinos or bars or beaches, etc. for that experiencing world, they all became day traders.
And I think it's very positive for the capital markets and it's interesting, he is the only president that really understands leading indicators. He understands that the stock market is a great leading indicator. The purchasing manufacturer's index, the PMI is a great leading indicator. And I think you're going to see his focus as the stock market trades up, we had this rebound, he gets reelected. If the stock market falls and craters, then he won't get reelected. And I think he is focused on that. So, ignoring your political leanings and you're in there to win in the stock market and build your wealth, your odds favor what his goals are.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, well, we'll leave it there. Well put. That's a good summary and kind of crystallizes it pretty well. Well, we appreciate the time as always and enjoyed having you back on. Before we let you go, as we always do, please fill listeners in on your firm, U.S. Global Investors. And then also tell them more about that Frank Talk blog that you spoke about a moment ago which we enjoy so much.
Frank Holmes: Well, thank you. It's just USfunds.com. And if you're interested in our ETFs, it's JetsETF.com. We have lots of research and you can find GoAU, GO GOLD is there. It's outperformed the GDXJ by 7% year-to-date. And it's outperformed it 90% of the time since we've on a rolling 12-month basis as we launched it. I'm very proud of it. I put a lot of robust activity into it, like 8000 hours into launching this product just like I did with JETS. And so if you're looking at gold equities, it's 30% royalty companies, and it's a way to play that high quality gold equities, and we rebalance it every quarter for those that are protecting and growing their value factors per share.
Mike Gleason: Well, thanks as always, Frank. Have a great weekend. Enjoy your summer and we'll catch up soon. Take care.
Frank Holmes: Thank you.
Mike Gleason: Well that will do for this week, thanks again to Frank Holmes CEO of U.S. Global Investors and manager of the GoAU Gold Fund. For more information the site is USfunds.com. Be sure to check out the previously mentioned Frank Talk blog for some great commentaries on gold and other related topics. Again, you can find all of that at USfunds.com.