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Please note: The Frank Talk articles listed below contain historical material. The data provided was current at the time of publication. For current information regarding any of the funds mentioned in these presentations, please visit the appropriate fund performance page.

The Pool of Publicly Traded Stocks Is Shrinking. Here's What Investors Can Do
August 13, 2018

Many U.S. Tech Firms Have Delayed Going Public

Elon Musk is no stranger to making controversial and outlandish comments, and his tweet last week is no exception. As you probably know by now, the perennial entrepreneur announced to his more than 22 million Twitter followers that he is “considering taking Tesla private at $420.”

Despite the Herculean challenge—such a move would be the largest leveraged buyout in history—and despite Musk’s history of being a provocateur, Wall Street seemed to take his comment seriously. Tesla stock rose close to 11 percent last Tuesday to end at $379, a few bucks shy of its all-time high of $385, set in September 2017.

There are many reasons why investors should take note. For one, Musk and Tesla are now likely to face heightened scrutiny from securities regulators.

My reason for bringing it up is that, should Musk follow through and take the electric carmaker private, the already shrinking universe of investable U.S. stocks will lose yet another name.  

This is a trend that cannot continue indefinitely.

As I wrote in May 2017, the number of publicly listed companies in the U.S. has fallen steadily since 1997. More companies have delisted, in fact, than gone public in every year of the past 20 years except one, 2013.

Put another way, the pool is getting smaller even while the population and economy are expanding.

The number of publicly listed U.S. firms has been falling steadily since 1997
click to enlarge

The U.S. Has 5,000 Fewer Listed Companies Than It Should

In 1976, there were about 23 listed companies per 1 million U.S. citizens. Today, it’s closer to 11 per million.

That’s according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) report by respected financial economist René Stulz, who adds that the U.S. has roughly 5,000 fewer companies listed on exchanges than you would normally expect, given the country’s size, population, economic and financial development and respect for shareholder rights.

Are we seeing the same phenomenon in other countries, developed or otherwise?

“There are other countries that have lost listings since 1997, but few have experienced a greater percentage decrease in listings,” Stulz writes. “Further, the U.S. is in bad company in terms of the percentage decrease in listings—just ahead of Venezuela.”

Given that Venezuela’s economy is in freefall, with inflation forecast to hit 1 million percent this year, I would call it bad company indeed.

So why is this happening?

A Record $2.5 Trillion in M&A Activity

One of the main causes of fewer listings is the explosion in mergers and acquisitions (M&As). When one company acquires another, or when two companies merge, that lowers the number of traded stocks—assuming they were available to be traded to begin with. So far this year, worldwide M&A activity has been very robust, with a record $2.5 trillion in deals announced in the first six months alone. That puts 2018 on track to surpass $5 trillion, which would be the most ever recorded.

the total value of global deals of $10 billion or more has surged in 2018
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What also makes 2018 different from past years is the high number of mega-deals that exceed $10 billion. Together, these deals total $950 billion, more than in any past first-six-month period.

Among the biggest deals is AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, valued at $85 billion. Coincidentally, that’s about $80 billion less than the deal that merged Time Warner and America Online (AOL) back in 2000, still the largest in history.

There’s nothing wrong with M&As, of course. The problem arises when there aren’t enough initial public offerings (IPOs) to replenish the pool and give investors early access to new firms.

At the most basic level, fewer stocks means fewer options. It becomes more difficult to build a diversified portfolio when you don’t have a diversity of stocks to choose from.

Consider how many companies Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has acquired over the years. It owns recognizable brands like Duracell, Dairy Queen, GEICO, Fruit of the Loom and more, not to mention is the majority owner of a number of other companies. There’s even talk that Buffett might buy a domestic airline outright, possibly Southwest.

But at more than $311,000 a share right now, Berkshire’s A stock is out of most Main Street investors’ price range. How long until they’re priced out of participating in the entire market?

What’s more, profits are being divided among fewer winners. This is contributing to inflated valuations and market frothiness. In many ways, Apple can thank its $1 trillion market cap largely on the fact that there’s less competition now among equities—specifically tech equities. Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, Coinbase, and many other huge tech unicorns have delayed or put off getting listed altogether.

Many U.S. Tech Firms Have Delayed Going Public

Tougher Regulations Have Contributed to Private Equity Boom

So why would a company like Uber or Airbnb choose not to seek public funding? We can point to two related causes: stricter regulations on publicly traded firms, and the boom in private equity.

The most reported among these regulations is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. More commonly known as SOX, the law was passed and signed in 2002 in response to major accounting scandals that brought down WorldCom and Enron.

In May 2017, I named SOX one of the five costliest financial regulations of the past 20 years. Its notorious Section 404, which requires external auditors to report on the adequacy of a firm’s internal controls, disproportionately hurts smaller companies, costing them six times as much in accounting fees in relation to larger firms, according to estimates by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Because of these added costs, many smaller companies and startups are opting not to raise funds from public capital markets—or at least to delay it.

Nasdaq private market sets new record in deal flows in the first half of 2018In the meantime, firms are finding it easier to get adequate private financing—which Main Street investors don’t have access to. According to Reuters, the global private equity industry raised $453 billion from investors in 2017, a new record. And last week, Nasdaq Private Market (NPM), which helps companies facilitate shareholder liquidity, announced it conducted a record 33 company sponsored liquidity programs in the first half of 2018. Deal volume grew 74 percent compared to the same period last year and exceeded $10 billion for the first time.

You can see now why some companies like Uber are staying private for longer. Some prefer not to have added costs associated with compliance. Others might not want to answer to a board or share financial details publicly.

These are among the things Elon Musk apparently wants to avoid by taking Tesla private. He’s become more combative with analysts and shareholders, especially short sellers, going so far as to tell listeners during a May conference call to “sell [Tesla] stock and don’t buy it” if they’re concerned about volatility.

Before SOX, the average age of a company at the time of its IPO was 3.1 years. Today, it’s more like 13.3 years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

This hurts Main Street investors. Because they’re generally not able to invest in private equity, they lack access to companies when they might be expanding at their fastest pace.

Check out the chart below. In the 10-year period through 2015, private equity and venture capital averaged 11 percent or more annually. They far outperformed stocks and bonds, sometimes by more than double.

investors are locked out of number 1 asset class
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What Investors Can Do

Ideally, regulations would be streamlined to lower the costs of going public. I believe this would encourage more firms to get list earlier in their existence.

Outside of that, investors should take the long-term view and diversify in domestic and emerging market stocks, municipal bonds and gold.

As for domestic stocks, I think it’s important to focus on companies that are consistently raising their dividends on an annual basis and buying back their own stock. We’ve found that companies that are growing their revenue streams, quarter after quarter, and that show strong free cash flow generation have tended to outperform over the long run. Our funds favor these metrics.

I’ll have more to say about dividends and free cash flow, so stayed tuned!

 

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

There is no guarantee that the issuers of any securities will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, will remain at current levels or increase over time.

Free cash flow (FCF) is a measure of how much cash a business generates after accounting for capital expenditures such as buildings or equipment. This cash can be used for expansion, dividends, reducing debt, or other purposes.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. None of the securities mentioned in the article were held by any accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 6/30/2018.

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What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1 Percent? Not As Much As You Think
August 1, 2018

what does it take to be in the top 1 percent not as much as you think

When you think of the top 1 percent of all income earners in American households, how much do you think this group rakes in? Millions? Tens of millions? What about the top 10 percent?

On the contrary, to be considered in the top 1 percent of taxpayers nationally, you’d need an annual income of $480,930. The top 10 percent of taxpayers make at least $138,031. These figures are based on 2015 income tax data, the most recent year available.

This income level varies widely by both state and city. In San Jose, California, the top 1 percent income threshold is close to $1.2 million, almost double the level for Los Angeles. As seen in the chart below, the spread is fairly wide between the top 10 most populous cities in the U.S. In San Antonio, Texas – home to U.S. Global Investors – you’d need to make $416,614 annually to be considered in the top 1 percent, slightly below the national threshold of top 1 percenters.

top 1 percent income level varies greatly by location 10 most populous US cities ranked by annual income required to be in top 1 percent
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Earning enough income to be in the top 1, 10 or even 20 percent is no small accomplishment, but chances are good that many people you know, and may not think of as wealthy, fall into the top 1, 10 or 20 percent.

Is the Top 1 Percent Paying Their Fair Share?

Contrast the above income statistics with the picture often painted in the media that the wealthiest Americans aren’t paying their fair share. According to the Tax Foundation, the top 1 percent of households collectively pay more in taxes than all of the tax-paying households in the bottom 90 percent.

Take a look at how much this has changed over the past few decades. In 1980, the bottom 90 percent of taxpayers paid about half of the taxes. The top 1 percent contributed about 20 percent.
Now, the top 1 percent pays more than the bottom 90 percent. Perhaps this is more than their fair share?

top 1 percent now pay omre than bottom 90 percent comparison of taxpayers' share from 1980 to 2015
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Below is the line chart from the Tax Foundation showing how the income tax share for each category has changed since 1980. For the majority of years, the share of the bottom 90 percent fell while the share of the top 1 percent rose.

income share of top earners has been rising percent of federal income paid by top 1 percent versus bottom 90 percent
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Individual Tax Rate Cuts Take Effect in 2018

Taxpayers in the highest bracket should see a noticeable change when filing for the 2018 tax year since the top rate fell from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. President Donald Trump’s administration passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017, which included small reductions to income tax rates for most individual brackets plus changes to exemptions, deductions and more. The average top 1 percent taxpayer will get a tax break of over $50,000 in 2019, according to estimates.

The new tax bill, however, eliminates the ability of taxpayers to deduct more than $10,000 in state and local taxes from their federal tax returns. This could significantly increase the tax burden of top earners who itemize their deductions in high-income tax states such as California and New York. One possible solution for these investors could be to take advantage of municipal bonds, which are often exempt from local, state and federal taxes.

Maximize Tax-Advantaged Investment Vehicles

Although it can be discouraging to see how top earners pay the majority of income taxes, there are still tax advantages for hard-working Americans who make saving and investing a priority in their lives.

How can you help make sure less of your money is going to the government and more of it is working for you in your investments? One way is to maximize your contributions to tax-advantaged investment vehicles such as an individual retirement plan, a 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA) or simplified employee pension (SEP) for the self-employed, all of which offer tremendous tax benefits.

To make it easier to have the discipline to set money aside, try an automatic plan that invests a fixed amount at regular intervals, such as the U.S. Global Investors’ ABC Investment Plan.

Wealth Isn’t Just a Number

No matter how much you earn, wealth is determined by how much you keep. My friend, Alexander Green, chief investment strategist of the Oxford Club, is a great source of inspiration for me and for many investors with his uplifting, holistic articles that relate to both health and wealth. Alex says wealth isn’t necessarily determined by an income figure. Instead, real wealth is determined by looking at your balance sheet. Here’s his formula:

“Maximize your income (by upgrading your education or job skills). Minimize your outgo (by living beneath your means). Religiously save the difference. (Easier said than done.) And follow proven investment principles.”

What matters most is being grateful for what you have. I’m a big believer that wealth is not a number or an amount, it’s an attitude and the umbilical cord to attitude is gratitude.

Take a look at my 10 favorite wealth and prosperity affirmations in this slideshow!

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

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Overbought or Oversold? Let These Mathematical Signals Be Your Guide
July 23, 2018

overbought or oversold? let these mathematical signals be your guide

just the facts, ma'am dragnet TV series sgt. joe friday

Anticipate before you participate in the market. This is a classic piece of advice I like to give investors and have written about extensively in my CEO blog, Frank Talk. Financial markets are influenced by relatively predictable cycles and trading patterns, and by better understanding these we are able to react thoughtfully to headline noise or unexpected market developments.

How many of you remember the old police procedural Dragnet? In it, Sgt. Joe Friday famously uses the line “Just the facts, ma’am.” I’ve always felt this nuts-and-bolts attitude relates perfectly to how our investments team makes its decisions on where to allocate capital. Follow the models, look at the math—and leave emotions at the door.

A Sentiment Indicator for Contrarian Investing

At U.S. Global Investors, one tool that we find particularly useful to track the different market cycles is our U.S. Global Sentiment Indicator. This indicator tracks 126 commodities, indices, sectors, currencies and international markets to help monitor volatility and cash flow levels.

Using this indicator, we note the percentage of positions that have five-day moving averages above or below the 20-day moving averages. Then we compare it to the S&P 500 Index. As you can see in the chart below, as of Wednesday, the sentiment indicator rebounded to 54 percent, rallying from a low of around 20 percent at the end of June.

The U.S. global sentiment indicator reaches 54 percent mid-week
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While a drop below 20 percent means the market is extremely oversold, we do not view the market as overbought until around the 80 percent mark. Having a keen awareness of these movements allows our investments team to be more proactive rather than reactive. It helps us manage our emotions and not be swept away by negative media or overly optimistic headlines.

Explore this topic further in the Managing Expectations whitepaper!

Is the Gold Market Being Suppressed?

Gold continued its trek lower last week, the price steadying around $1,220 an ounce on Tuesday following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s congressional testimony.  Powell commented that he thought the U.S. was on course for continued steady growth, supporting his expectation of a rate hike every three months. These comments sent the dollar up and gold down.

Despite this movement, I’m amazed that gold is holding up so well, particularly when you compare real interest rates in the U.S., Japan and the European Union.

Japan leads the world in government debt that trades negative yield
click to enlarge

In addition to these price moves, we’ve seen suppression and manipulation in the gold market in recent years. This is a topic I discussed last week in our webcast, cohosted by Randy Smallwood, CEO of Wheaton Precious Metals.

What do I mean by “gold suppression”? Historically, the price of gold has tracked U.S. debt, but as you can see in the chart below, that seems no longer to be the case.

suppression of gold? gold price has traditionally tracked U.S. debt
click to enlarge

The question, then, is not whether gold is actively being suppressed, but to what extent and by whom. Traders working at some big banks—including UBS, Deutsche Bank and HSBC—have already been charged for manipulating the price of precious metals futures contracts and fined as much as $30 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

However, I’m skeptical that this has resolved the issue. In the past several years, gold has traded down in the week prior to China’s Golden Week, when markets are closed. As much as $2.25 billion of the yellow metal was dumped in the futures market in October 2016, as someone clearly sought to take advantage of the fact that markets were closed for the week in the world’s largest buyer of gold.

gold and silver price manipulation headlines

During the webcast, Randy Smallwood thoughtfully pointed out that the deliberate suppression of prices can't go on forever. I agree, and believe that precious metals such as gold and silver are significantly undervalued right now.

So what should investors be paying attention to?

The Magic Behind the Math

Using an oscillator chart, let's compare the U.S. dollar to gold. I believe oscillators are vital to identifying the optimal time to buy or sell, and right now it appears that the greenback is overbought while gold is oversold.

Looking back over five years of data, we've discovered that, historically, when gold exceeded two standard deviations above the mean, the commodity fell 51 percent of the time in the following three months.

In contrast, when gold prices exceeded two standard deviations below the mean, it rose 77 percent of the time in the following three months. This is because gold is undervalued at this level.

Is gold due for a reversal?
click to enlarge

Buying the laggards when the time is right could enable you to participate in a potential rally—and right now, that rally could be in gold, currently down 2.24 standard deviations.

Understanding this kind of math is almost like being adept at counting cards. In the 2008 film 21, an MIT professor helps six students become experts at card counting. The story, based on true events, shows how these students end up taking Vegas casinos for millions in winnings by following their professor’s teachings. Of course, there’s no way I can promise such an extraordinary outcome in your investments, but I do think there’s something to be said for the magic behind the math.

King Copper Could Also Be Due for a Reversal

Gold isn’t the only commodity that might be due for a reversal. Take a look at this chart showing copper versus the U.S. dollar. The red metal looks even more oversold than gold, down close to four standard deviations as of July 18. As I mentioned in the 2018 Commodities Halftime Report, copper looks attractive on surging demand for electric vehicles (EVs), which require between three and four times as much copper as traditional gas-powered automobiles.

copper looks oversold relative to the U.S. dollar
click to enlarge

What’s more, based on these mathematical models, emerging markets have the potential to move higher as well. I encourage you to take a look at the chart featured in the Europe section of Friday’s Investor Alert to see what I mean.

Always Remember the Golden Rule

10 percent portfolio weighting in gold recommended by frank holmes

Gold continues to be a classic example that helps illustrate seasonal rotations and price fluctuations based on a number of different factors geopolitical noise, inflation, wedding season in China and India, and much more.

The DNA of volatility, as I like to call it, shows that it is a non-event for gold to move up or down 17 percent over a rolling 12-month period. Knowing this has helped me to develop the 10 percent Golden Rule.

I have always advocated investors have around 10 percent of their portfolios in gold—5 percent in gold bullion or beautiful gold jewelry, and 5 percent in well managed gold mutual funds or ETFs. And then rebalance.

While no investment rules or statistical tools are accurate 100 percent of the time, investors can take ownership in how they use certain tools to manage emotions of the market and position themselves for greater success.

Capturing opportunities and understanding the ins and outs of the markets are what make investing so exciting.

Know a fellow investor who could benefit from this type of weekly investment analysis? Share our Investor Alert sign up page  with them—subscribing is always FREE!

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

Standard deviation is a measure of the dispersion of a set of data from its mean. The more spread apart the data, the higher the deviation. Standard deviation is also known as historical volatility.

The S&P 500 Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.

The U.S. Dollar Index is a measure of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to the value of a basket of currencies of the majority of the U.S.'s most significant trading partners. This index is similar to other trade-weighted indexes, which also use the exchange rates from the same major currencies.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of (06/30/2018): Wheaton Precious Metals Corp.

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Top 10 Countries with Largest Gold Reserves
July 5, 2018

Beginning in 2010, central banks around the world turned from being net sellers of gold to net buyers of gold. Last year official sector activity rose 36 percent to 366 tonnes – a substantial increase from 2016.

top 10 central banks ranked by largest gold holdings as of june 2018

The top 10 central banks with the largest gold reserves have remained mostly unchanged for the last few years. The United States holds the number one spot with over 8,000 tonnes of gold in its vaults – nearly as much as the next three countries combined. For six consecutive years the Russian Central Bank has been the largest purchaser of gold, increasing its holdings by 224 tonnes in 2017 and overtaking China to hold the fifth spot, according to the GFMS Gold Survey.

Not every central bank is a net buyer. For the second year in a row, Venezuela has been the largest seller of gold, with 25 tonnes sold last year to help pay off debt. However, gross official sector sales declined by 55 percent last year, to the lowest since 2014, indicating that central banks are happy to keep their reserves in gold, historically viewed as a safe-haven asset.

Central Banks Continue Gobbling Up Gold central bank purchases from 1997 to 2017
click to enlarge

2018 could be another strong year for central bank gold demand. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), demand in the first quarter was up 42 percent year-over-year, with purchases totaling 116.5 tonnes for the highest first quarter total since 2014. As global debt continues to skyrocket, central banks and individual investors alike might want to keep gold in their pockets, as it historically has performed well during times of economic downturn and geopolitical uncertainty.

Below are the top 10 countries with the largest gold holdings, beginning with India.

 

10. India

Tonnes: 560.3

Percent of foreign reserves: 5.5 percent

It’s no surprise that the Bank of India has one of the largest stores of gold in the world. The South Asian country, home to 1.25 billion people, is the second largest consumer of the precious metal, and is one of the most reliable drivers of global demand. India’s festival and wedding season, which runs from October to December, has historically been a huge boon to gold’s Love Trade.

Construction on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, concluded in 1604

9. Netherlands

Tonnes: 612.5

Percent of foreign reserves: 68.2 percent

The Dutch Central Bank announced that it will be moving its gold vaults from Amsterdam to Camp New Amsterdam, about an hour outside the city, citing burdensome security measures of its current location. As many others have pointed out, this seems odd, given that the bank fairly recently repatriated a large amount of its gold from the U.S.

The Gold Souk building in Beverwijk, The Netherlands, houses a marketplace for gold dealers and goldsmiths

8. Japan

Tonnes: 765.2

Percent of foreign reserves: 2.5 percent

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, is also the eighth largest hoarder of the yellow metal. Its central bank has been one of the most aggressive practitioners of quantitative easing—in January 2016, it lowered interest rates below zero—which has helped fuel demand for gold around the world.

The Gold Pavilion in Kyoto, japan, features beautiful gold-leaf coating

7. Switzerland

Tonnes: 1,040.0

Percent of foreign reserves: 5.3 percent

In seventh place is Switzerland, which actually has the world’s largest reserves of gold per capita. During World War II, the neutral country became the center of the gold trade in Europe, making transactions with both the Allies and Axis powers. Today, much of its gold trading is done with Hong Kong and China.

Credit Suisse gold bars and coins

6. China

Tonnes: 1,842.6

Percent of foreign reserves: 2.4 percent

In the summer of 2015, the People’s Bank of China began sharing its gold purchasing activity on a monthly basis for the first time since 2009. Although China comes in sixth for most gold held, the  yellow metal accounts for only a small percentage of its overall reserves – a mere 2.4 percent – the lowest of the top 10 central banks with the most gold. However, this figure is up slightly from 2.2 percent of holdings in 2016.

China is also the number one gold producing nation. What other countries are top gold producers? Find out here!

Over 2,000 ancient Buddha statues have been excavated in China

5. Russia

Tonnes: 1,909.8

Percent of foreign reserves: 17.6 percent

The Russian Central Bank has been the largest buyer of gold for the past six years and earlier this year overtook China to have the fifth largest reserves. In 2017 Russia bought 224 tonnes of bullion in an effort to diversify away from the U.S. dollar, as its relationship with the West has grown chilly since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in mid-2014. To raise the cash for these purchases, Russia sold a huge percentage of its U.S. Treasuries.

Gilded domes of the Annunciation Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

4. France

Tonnes: 2,436.0

Percent of foreign reserves: 63.9 percent

France’s central bank has sold little of its gold over the past several years, and there are calls to halt it altogether. Marine Le Pen, president of the country’s far-right National Front party, has led the charge not only to put a freeze on selling the nation’s gold but also to repatriate the entire amount from foreign vaults.

Anne of Brittany's wedding crown

3. Italy

Tonnes: 2,451.8

Percent of foreign reserves: 67.9 percent

Italy has likewise maintained the size of its reserves over the years, and it has support from European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi. The former Bank of Italy governor, when asked by a reporter in 2013 what role gold plays in a central bank’s portfolio, answered that the metal was “a reserve of safety,” adding, “it gives you a fairly good protection against fluctuations against the dollar.”

Detail of a gold lion in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy

2. Germany

Tonnes: 3,371.0

Percent of foreign reserves: 70.6 percent

Last year Germany completed a four-year repatriation operation to move a total of 674 tonnes of gold from the Banque de France and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York back to its own vaults. First announced in 2013, the move was expected to take until 2020 to complete. Although gold demand fell last year after hitting an all-time high in 2016, this European country has seen gold investing steadily rise since the global financial crisis.

A variety of Germman coins

1. United States

Tonnes: 8,133.5

Percent of foreign reserves: 75.2 percent

With the largest official holdings in the world, the U.S. lays claim to nearly as much gold as the next three countries combined. It also has the highest gold allocation as a percentage of its foreign reserves at over 75 percent. From what we know, the majority of U.S. gold is held at Fort Knox in Kentucky, with the remainder held at the Philadelphia Mint, Denver Mint, San Francisco Assay Office and West Point Bullion Depository. Which state loves gold the most? Well, the state of Texas went so far as to create its very own Texas Bullion Depository to safeguard investors’ gold.

The US holds most of its gold at the US Bullion Reservatory at Fort Knox

Can't get enough of gold? Learn all about the yellow metal's seasonal trading patterns by downloading our free whitepaper, Gold's Love Trade, today!

gold love trade whitepaper frank holmes

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

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A Massive Windfall for China's Fast-Growing Tech Giants
July 2, 2018

massive windfall china's fast growing tech giants

Stop buying Iranian oil or face the music.

That’s the message the U.S. government shared with the world last week, giving importers until November 4 to cut their consumption of Iran’s crude to zero—or expect sanctions. The threat comes a month after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear deal.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) responded by adding more than $6 to the price of a barrel last week alone, to end above $74.

U.S. toughness on iran pushes crude above $70 a barrel
click to enlarge

Other drivers included supply disruptions in Canada and Libya, as well as a sharp, more-than-expected decline in U.S. crude inventories. Nearly 10 million barrels were drawn in the week ended June 27, the most since September 2016. Crude is now up an eye-popping 70 percent from the same time last year, contributing to the inflationary pressure that’s pushed consumer price growth to a six-year high.

And there could be more upside, should supply crunches continue along with Trump’s ongoing geopolitical efforts to isolate Tehran. Ready to see $90-a-barrel oil? That’s the forecast from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Hootan Yazhari.

“We are in a very attractive oil price environment,” Yazhari told CNBC this week, “and our house view is that oil will hit $90 by the end of the second quarter of next year,” or 12 months from now.

Even if this prediction ends up overshooting the mark, I believe there could still be money to be made in the energy space on tightening supply and strong global demand. For more, I urge you to watch this brief video outlining the six factors that matter when picking energy stocks.

Bull Market May Have Just Hit a Trade War Wall

The U.S. market is mere days from hitting a milestone that some investors might not have anticipated in the business-friendly era of Trump. Both the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average have been stuck in correction mode since early February of this year, when inflation fears and concerns of a global trade war triggered a monster selloff.

Today marks the 100th day both indices have been in correction, and according to MarketWatch, if they stay sideways another nine trading days, it will become the longest such stretch since 1984.

Stocks managed to recover then, but as I see it, unless Trump softens his stance on trade, they will have a difficult time doing the same today. Stiff retaliatory barriers are scheduled to be raised by China, Canada and other key markets, and Canadian consumers have already started boycotting American-made goods. U.S. exports of steel, soybeans and other products are down from a year ago because of friction over the tariffs, which are essentially regulations that could jeopardize the positive work Trump has done in cutting red tape in other areas.

Below is the Dow’s performance so far this year, not including today, annotated with some key moments in the Trump trade war. I chose the Dow specifically because it includes the very largest U.S. exporters, some of which do tens of billions of dollars in sales in China alone. As the biggest U.S. exporter, Boeing delivered more than 200 aircraft to the Asian country last year, accounting for a quarter of the plane maker’s global sales. Apple generated around 20 percent of its revenue in China, or the equivalent of $44.7 billion.

key moments in trump trade war
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The question now is whether we’re headed for a recession, and how investors can prepare—though I believe the market is oversold, as I explain in the most recent edition of Frank Talk Live. The last nine years have been extraordinarily profitable, but every bull market must come to an end—not from age, remember, but from changes in monetary or fiscal policy.

Last week I offered one of my favorite strategies to face the next bear market with confidence. Discover what it is by clicking here.

Trade war friction has strained international relations in other ways than just trade, of course. Among those is foreign direct investment (FDI), essential for global economic growth.

Chinese FDI in the U.S. Just Fell 92 Percent

China’s tech industry is exploding. Last year, gross output value of Chinese tech firms hit 20 trillion yuan, or about $3 trillion, for the first time ever. Nine of the world’s 20 biggest tech firms now call China home, beginning with Alibaba, valued at half a trillion dollars. And for the past several years, China has filed far more patent applications than the U.S. on an annual basis. (I should point out, though, that the U.S. still has more patents overall, having just issued patent number 10 million.)

The Asian country, in fact, has more unicorns—or startups worth $1 billion or more—than any other nation on earth. Chinese unicorns account for more than half of the global total, and 66 percent in terms of valuation, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Just look at the top 10 Chinese unicorns. Ant Financial, formerly known as Alipay, ranks first with a valuation of $145 billion. That’s about twice the value of the number one U.S. unicorn, Uber.

top 10 china unicorns
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It’s very likely even more capital will flow into these firms this year and next. That’s because Chinese FDI in the U.S. fell an incredible 92 percent in the first half of 2018, as the government cracks down on capital flight. The decline is also likely in response to the U.S. government’s increased scrutiny of Chinese acquisitions.

chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the U.S. fell 90 percent in the first half of 2018
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According to economic research firm Rhodium, Chinese investors have sold $9.6 billion worth of U.S. assets, including office buildings in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. That’s after making only $1.8 billion in investments. What this means is that the country’s net U.S. FDI is negative $7.8 billion so far this year.
And regarding a possible rebound in Chinese investment activity, “looming U.S. policies present substantial headwinds,” writes Rhodium’s director of research, Thilo Hanemann.

So where will all this capital go?

I don’t think anyone can say for sure, but my guess is that this will be a huge windfall for the already fast expanding Chinese tech industry.

Only Half of China Is Online

There are even more reasons to be optimistic about the Chinese tech industry, including the fact that only a little over half of the country’s population is online. At 772 million people, the user base is massive—more than twice the size of the entire U.S. population—but penetration is only 54.6 percent, according to UBS. That’s well behind the U.K. (94.8 percent), Japan (93.3 percent) and the U.S. (87.9 percent).

china's online universe still has room for growth
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This means, of course, that the country’s tech and internet industries still have much room to grow.

China is already number one in mobile payments, having surged to a whopping $9 trillion in 2016, compared to only $112 billion for the U.S. The Asian giant is rapidly becoming cashless—so much so that a friend of mine recently had a hard time using paper money to make a purchase in a Chinese convenience store. In fact, a number of unmanned, fully-automated stores—most notably BingoBox and Alibaba’s Tao Cafe—have sprung up all over the country. Transactions are made simply by scanning your smartphone on a designated counter or plate before leaving the store.

Learn more about one of the world’s fastest-growing regions by clicking here!

 

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The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 blue chip stocks that are generally leaders in their industry.

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Share “A Massive Windfall for China's Fast-Growing Tech Giants”

Net Asset Value
as of 08/14/2018

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $5.54 0.01 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $6.97 -0.04 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $3.50 -0.04 China Region Fund USCOX $9.34 -0.36 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.29 0.14 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $26.15 0.16 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $20.00 0.17 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.20 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change