Gold and silver prices fell this week in light trade, with US markets closed on Monday for Labor Day. In European trade this morning, gold was at $1925, down $15 from last Friday’s close, and silver was at $23.05, down $1.10.
Last week, Fitch Ratings downgraded the US’s long-term credit rating from AAA to AA+. While the downgrade won’t significantly impact the US government’s ability to borrow, it should serve as a wake-up call because there is a much bigger problem looming on the horizon: a market-driven downgrade of the US dollar.
Since the end of the fake debt ceiling fight on June 2, the Treasury has borrowed an additional $700 billion pushing the national debt over $32 trillion. Looking at the interest rates on this new debt, it becomes clear that the US government has a big problem.
Interest rate hikes get most of the attention as the Federal Reserve fights inflation, but balance sheet reduction is arguably more important. And it’s not going well.
Since the Fed stopped buying Treasuries and started letting bonds fall off its books as they mature, the bond market has experienced increasing volatility and liquidity problems. In fact, there is already talk about the possibility of the central bank abandoning quantitative tightening.
We’ve seen a number of inversions in the Treasury bond yield curve over the last couple of weeks. This is a recession warning signal.
In his podcast, Peter Schiff said the markets are right about the looming recession. But they’re not getting the whole picture.
Gold looked very strong through mid-November. Trends in September and October had been pointing to a breakout. The market delivered sending gold up through $1870. Unfortunately, hard resistance kept the bulls in check, despite repeated attempts to breakthrough.
The previous price analysis presumed that a Brainard nomination at the Fed would be the catalyst needed to break through $1880. It also assumed that a Powell nomination, though expected, would bring gold back down to some extent.
Unfortunately, the gold market took the Powell news harder than expected.
Gold and bonds are both considered to be safe havens. But in a recent podcast, Peter explained why bonds are not a safe haven in an inflationary environment. In fact, bonds – including US Treasuries – are risk assets when inflation is running hot. If you want safety from inflation, you need to buy gold.
The Federal Reserve expanded its record holdings of US Treasuries in the fourth quarter of 2020 as it continued monetizing the massive federal debt.
The Federal Reserve added another $253 billion to its Treasury holdings in Q4 according to the Fed’s Treasury International Capital data released on Feb. 16. That brought the central bank’s US bond holdings to $4.7 trillion. The Federal Reserve now holds a record 17.5% of all US debt.
Over the last year, the US government had borrowed over $4.2 trillion. The national debt now stands well above $27 trillion. There is no end in sight to the borrowing and spending and that raises a significant question: who is going to buy all of the bonds necessary to finance the government spending machine?
Not too long ago, Uncle Sam could count on foreign investors to gobble up a big chunk of his IOUs, but times are changing. In 2008, foreign investors held more than half of the outstanding Treasury debt. Today, that amount has plunged to the lowest level since the turn of the century.
The US government has borrowed $4.2 trillion in the last 12 months, pushing the total national debt to over $27 trillion. In order for Uncle Sam to borrow, somebody has to lend. So, who is buying all of these government bonds?
Foreign and domestic investors, commercial banks and US government entities all buy US debt, but increasingly, the Federal Reserve is backstopping the market and making this borrowing binge possible.