There is plenty of debate about tariffs right now. A lot of people oppose them because they support free trade. A lot of people support them because they believe they protect US industry. Others think tariffs are a great tool to force other countries – specifically China – to engage in fair trade. In today’s Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey argues that no matter what you think about tariff policy, you should pause and count the cost because tariffs are taking money out of your wallet. Mike also talks about the possibility of China using its “nuclear option” in the trade war and gives an overview of the news that drove the precious metals markets this week.
Russia once again added to its growing gold reserves in April, buying another 15.55 tons of the yellow metal. According to a press release from the Central Bank of Russia, it now holds 2,183.46 tons of gold.
Russia has expanded its gold holdings by 71.53 tons through the first four months of 2019. Russian gold reserves increased 274.3 tons in 2018, marking the fourth consecutive year of plus-200 ton growth. Meanwhile, the Russians sold off nearly all of its US Treasury holdings. According to Bank of America analysts, the amount of US dollars in Russian reserves fell from 46% to 22% in 2018.
In an appearance on RT, Peter Schiff said he thinks the Russians are preparing for an impending dollar crisis.
Last week we highlighted the rising level of auto loan delinquencies and the growing number of student loan borrowers who can’t make their payments. This week, we got some more bad news for lenders. Subprime credit card charge-offs remain at levels reminiscent of the Great Recession.
In the first quarter of this year, credit card charge-off rates at all but the largest 100 banks remained above 7% for the sixth quarter in a row. During the peak of the recession, the charge-off rate at these banks was above 7% for just four quarters, and not consecutively.
Earlier this week, the Texas Senate gave final approval to a pair of bills that that would exempt precious metals stored in the Texas Bullion Depository from certain taxes. By repealing taxes on gold and silver, the state will treat them more like money instead of commodities.
Consumer confidence was much stronger than expected in the latest report that came out Friday. Consumer sentiment jumped to 102.4, well above the 97.5 that was forecast. This was a 15-year high in this University of Michigan index.
In his podcast Friday, Peter Schiff said he thinks the reason consumers are so optimistic is the constant positive rhetoric they are bombarded with. They are constantly told that the economy is booming. But in reality, they are falling for a big con-job.
China sold off the highest level of US Treasurys in nearly 2-1/2 years in March. Meanwhile, there are renewed fears the Chinese could implement its “nuclear options” and sell off even more US debt in retaliation for US trade war tariffs.
China sold $20.45 billion in Treasuries in March. That was the biggest US debt dump by China since October 2016.
The markets have been up and down this week, riding the trade war roller coaster. And analysts can’t seem to decide if the data of the day is telling us that the economy is sound or slowing. But we do know one thing for sure – there is a lot of debt out there, and there are signs that it might be catching up with us. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey talks student loan and auto loan debt, and what it be telling us about the economy. He also covers some of the latest trade war news and the last batch of economic data.
Auto loan delinquencies have surged to the highest level since 2011 and are approaching levels seen at their peak during the Great Recession.
The percentage of outstanding auto loans in serious delinquency (90 days or more past due) jumped to 4.69% in the first quarter of 2019, according to the latest data from the New York Fed. At their peak during the recession, auto loan delinquencies hit 5.27%.
The following is a market update as it related to precious metals prepared by SchiffGold intern commodities analyst Jason Mezhibovsky.
Although some pressures on US equities from the trade war have been eased, the S&P 500 is down about 3.8% since the end of April. Stocks rebounded Wednesday with the news that the US and China seem to to be making some progress with trade deal talks and that the US may delay some auto tariffs on the EU. The Dow was up 115 points and the S&P 500 picked up 16.55 points Wednesday. But stock markets still have not recouped all of their losses from the pressure faced these past two weeks.