August 20, 2016
With many investors worried about the economic turmoil that has engulfed the globe, this historic event is about to shock the world.
Stephen Leeb: “The world’s monetary system is busted. Unless it is fixed pronto, prospects for worldwide growth are nil, while prospects for worldwide chaos are high. And never forget: in chaos, gold rules supreme…
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One possible form chaos could take would be galloping commodity prices. An alternative form would be a vicious deflationary cycle in which prices and growth crash and burn. Either way, gold would be the one real shelter. When commodities are soaring, paper money becomes second-class; no one will turn over something with intrinsic value, namely commodities, for mere pieces of paper. As for deflation, over the past 500 years or more whenever deflation emerged, gold gained and sometimes gained big in terms of purchasing power.
Signs Of Economic Chaos Are Everywhere
Signs of economic chaos abound. Just this morning, a Bloomberg headline noted that Bank of America says, simultaneously, that 10-year bond yields, now 1.5 percent, are going lower – and that you should buy bonds. And who can quarrel with this given that bond yields for the euro, the yen, and soon the British pound, are negative.
Ponder for a moment what low and negative yields mean. They tell us no one has confidence in investing in real things. Investors would rather lose money over a 10-year horizon than invest in building dams, repairing pipes, creating better grids. Trading in nearly worthless paper has replaced belief in the future.
We’ve been talking mostly about the West, but China and the East fear the infectious nature of Western chaos. Party tussles are old hat to China and even a U.S. aircraft carrier in the South China Sea wouldn’t wreck its plans. But a crumbling, chaotic West could. Although China’s massive hoard of gold offers some insurance, on its own it’s not a ticket to growth. Western markets are still essential.
That means a new monetary order must replace the existing one as soon as possible. It will be one that China is determined to dominate, not for the sake of hegemony but to ensure long-term growth. And it will involve gold – which will become not just an insurance policy but a ticket to growth.
Nixon, Gold & The Emergence Of The SDR
Since the early 1970s policymakers have raised the idea of substituting SDRs for dollars. SDRs, created by the IMF in the late 1960s, are a weighted combination of major currencies and are issued by the IMF. George Shultz, Nixon’s highly respected Secretary of the Treasury, offered such a plan in 1972 shortly after Nixon broke the link between the dollar and gold, the result of the U.S. having printed too many dollars and lacking the gold to back them all up.
In the more than four decades of floating currencies since then, there have periodically been calls for SDRs to replace dollars and – especially in the double-digit inflation of the late 1970s – calls to reinstate a gold standard that would have backed SDR’s. The IMF has occasionally issued SDRs, but even at the worst moment of the recent crisis, the amount issued hardly qualified as more than a token gesture.
As they’re currently constituted, SDRs don’t come close to a potential game saver. (For an excellent history of SDRs, I highly recommend a recent account by Willem Middelkoop, founder of the Commodity Discovery Fund.) As of now, SDRs are weighted among the dollar, euro, yen, and pound. The two ostensible advantages – that they’re issued by the IMF and that it’s a melded currency – amount to nothing. If you put four bad actors together, you don’t get Citizen Kane or the Godfather, you get a junky film. And even if it’s distributed by some high-minded non-profit studio as a public service to entertain the public, it won’t accomplish anything if no one wants to come out to watch a bunch of junk.
Lagarde Powers Yuan Into Upcoming SDR Basket
Christine Lagarde, now in her second term as the IMF’s managing director, has made it her mission to save the world. And she just might succeed. When it was clear that the four-currency SDR was essentially meaningless, Lagarde through persuasion and guile was able to get the U.S. and other countries to accept the Chinese yuan as the fifth SDR. This was no mean feat, since the yuan could have been objected to on several scores.
For one thing, China doesn’t report on the composition of its foreign reserves. Moreover, the yuan is subject to currency controls, it lacks a uniform value – its value within China is almost always a bit different from its value to non-nationals – and it is not a free-floating currency; rather, it is pegged in somewhat murky fashion to a basket of other currencies. If the yuan had taken a test for inclusion as an SDR, by any objective grading system it would have gotten an F.
Nonetheless, thanks to Lagarde’s sense of her mission, this October barring some catastrophe the yuan will become the fifth SDR currency, and with a weighting greater than that awarded the pound and yen, though less than the dollar and euro. The inclusion of China’s yuan will give the overall SDR basket greater heft – one reason being that it will have a ready market within China itself. China, unlike the West, does have a plan for growth, which includes a desire for Western currencies to buy real Western assets, such as gold mines, oilfields, and information technology firms. Thus the World Bank has announced IMF approval to issue $2.8 billion in SDR-backed bonds to the Chinese. In light of the World Bank’s charter, the proceeds will likely go towards developing Eastern economies.
The World Bank isn’t the only development bank around. China’s own development banks – including the under-the-radar China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank – have assets amounting to more than $2 trillion in the East, far more than all Western development banks combined.
Gold To Shock The World By Becoming 6th SDR Currency
A relevant question is whether the Chinese could be enticed to denominate that $2 trillion in SDRs and pledge to carry out all future development in the East, a task that will amount to tens of trillions of dollars, in SDRs if the yuan has just a 10 percent weighting?
The answer is a qualified yes. For China to do so, there would have to be a sixth member of the SDR basket. You guessed it – it’s gold. Gold taking on a role in the SDR basket is essential if the world economy has any chance of righting itself.
Gold Bull Market To Dwarf Any Bull Market We’ve Ever Seen
Next time we’ll offer more details on the likely outcome of gold as the sixth component of the SDR and explain why the West won’t be able to block it as China gladly accepts the new SDR with gold as a component. For now, we’ll just summarize by saying it would provide the best chance to save the world – while ensuring that we will see a bull market in gold that will dwarf any bull market we’ve ever seen.”