The Federal Reserve took a hawkish stance at its latest Open Market Committee meeting, announcing plans to begin unwinding its balance sheet next month. Fed chair Janet Yellen also indicated she plans to raise interest rates one more time this year.
Here’s the question: Is this a viable path forward, or is the central bank playing a game of monetary chicken?
Earlier this month, the US threatened to lock China out of the dollar system if it doesn’t follow UN sanctions on North Korea. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatened this economic nuclear option during a conference broadcast on CNBC.
If China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system, and that’s quite meaningful.”
The threat may be meaningful, but it also might be empty.
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, a wicked head-shot to a retail sector that’s been reeling for months.
The TRU filing ranks as the second-largest US retail bankruptcy ever, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Toys R Us had $6.6 billion in assets at the time of filing. Only Kmart was bigger. It had $16.3 billion in assets when it went bankrupt in 2002. Crushing debt pulled the giant toy seller under. According to a Bloomberg report, the company has piled up more than $5 billion in debt. Toys R Us reportedly pays more than $400 million a year on debt service alone.
The company says it plans to continue operating and secured a$3.1 billion operating loan to stabilize operations.
Even some of the biggest supporters of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies recognize the stability of gold.
Last week was a bad week for Bitcoin. It’s price dropped significantly in the wake of a Chinese government crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. Bitcoin’s price has recovered a bit this week, but a recent article published by The Cointelegraph still proclaimed now is a good time for gold.
Cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, have flown a little too close to the sun recently, and it has seen them get burned by a few key monetary institutions, as well as governments. This attack on Bitcoin, as well as fear and speculation around other markets, could spell a good time for investment in gold. Seen as an insurance policy, gold has been a steady and safe investment for hundreds of years. As markets, beyond even the crypto market, get spooked, investors could see a safety net in the precious metal.”
Russia and China seem to be betting their monetary futures on gold. Their long-term maneuverings could seriously undermine the dominance of the US dollar and shift the world’s economic center of power from West to East.
Russia and China buy more gold than any other countries in the world, with Russia leading the way. Over the last decade, the the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has added more than 1,250 tons of gold to its reserves, according to the World Gold Council. At 1,700 tons, Russia’s has the sixth largest gold reserves in the world. Russian gold makes up about 17% of the nation’s wealth.
In 2016 alone, the Russian central bank purchased 201 tons of gold, far more than any other central bank in the world. The People’s Bank of China ranked second, adding 80 tons to its reserves.
The London Bullion Market Association recently chose a new administrator for its silver price auction, and scientists have discovered a variety of rice that accumulates and stores naturally occurring silver in the soil.
The Silver Institute covers these stories, and highlights several other technological innovations involving silver, in its latest issue of Silver News.
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee will meet this week. There is virtually no expectation of a rate hike this time around, but there is widespread anticipation that the Fed will outline its strategy for shrinking its massive balance sheet.
In his most recent podcast, Peter Schiff made a pretty good case that the Fed won’t be able to shrink the balance sheet at all. I fact, he says the central bank will end up having to expand the balance sheet even more when it’s all said and done. The deteriorating economy is one factor, but an even bigger problem for the Fed is the exploding national debt.
The US national debt was in the news last week as Pres. Trump signed a spending bill that raised the debt ceiling limit for the next three months and added approximately $318 billion to the national debt. Officially, the US debt surged to to $20.16 trillion. Of course, the actual figure for government unfunded liabilities runs even higher. And Trump wants to do away with the debt ceiling altogether.
The US debt makes up just one part of a rapidly growing worldwide debt problem. Earlier this summer, US Global Investors CEO Frank Holmes called global debt “the mother of all bubbles.” Now we have a report from the Bank of International Settlements saying worldwide debt may actually be understated by $13 trillion. Reuters reports the understatement is because “traditional accounting practices exclude foreign exchange derivatives used to hedge international trade and foreign currency bonds.”
Despite rising prices, a tax increase, and government attempts to tighten regulation of the jewelry industry, gold continues to flow into India.
Gold imports into the country nearly tripled year-on-year in August. An estimated 60 tons of the yellow metal flowed into the Asian nation last month, up from 22.3 tons in August 2017. This continues a trend for the year. Over the first 8 months of 2017, India’s gold imports climbed to 617.5 tons, a 158% increase over 2016.
It’s been a bad week for Bitcoin.
The price of the cryptocurrency continued its free-fall after one of the largest exchanges in China announced it was shutting down.
This follows on the heels of an article published by Caixin announcing the Chinese government plans to ban cryptocurrency trading on all domestic exchanges. Information coming out today seems to confirm the story reported by the Chinese publication. Cointelegraph reported, “information slowly appearing from China appears to confirm that trading will no longer be legal for Bitcoin-to-fiat platforms.”