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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.

Take Advantage of Volatility with Active Management
October 29, 2018

Take Advantage of Volatility with Active Management

October was at it again last week. After Wednesday’s close, the S&P 500 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average and small-cap Russell 2000 Index had all erased their gains for 2018, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite dipped into correction territory.

I don’t believe there’s any single cause for the selloff. Investors are simply nervous, thanks to rising interest rates and the upcoming midterm elections, among other things.

Meanwhile, gold performed precisely as we would expect it to. The price of the yellow metal jumped above its 100-day moving average, a bullish sign that could mean further moves to the upside if market volatility persists. On Friday, gold was trading at a three-month high of $1,246 an ounce.

The price of gold jumped above its 100 day moving average
click to enlarge

So can we expect additional volatility going forward? In a recent note to investors, Citibank says it estimates that “some more volatility is likely through December” due to the impact of trade disputes on growth, rise in U.S.-Saudi Arabia tensions and Brexit stalemate. Analysts point out, though, that the present slowdown doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the historic bull market. Compared to the start of the previous two bear markets, in 2000 and 2007, only four out of 18 factors are flashing “sell” right now on Citi’s “bear market checklist.” Among those factors are overinflated global equity valuations, a flattening yield curve and high debt levels.

The bull is “tripping, not dying,” Citi says.

But Is It the End of “Buying the Dip”?

The bull market might not be dead, but we could be facing the end of “buying the dip.” According to a report last week by Morgan Stanley, buying the S&P 500 after a week of negative returns was a profitable strategy from 2005 through 2017. That may no longer be the case, as you can see in the chart below. Buying the dip in 2018 has resulted in an average loss of around 5 basis points.

Average daily sp 500 return if previous week return was negative
click to enlarge

So what’s changed? I think the most significant difference between now and the past decade or so is that, for the first time since the financial crisis, central banks are finally starting to withdraw liquidity. This means cheap money is no longer as plentiful as it once was, for investors and corporations alike.  

Some might disapprove of President Donald Trump's criticism of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for raising rates—Powell “almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates,” Trump said—but he’s not wrong in expressing concern about the ramifications. I’ve shared with you before that a majority of recessions and bear markets in the past 100 years were preceded by monetary tightening cycles.

And there could be something else roiling markets right now.

Get Ready for $7.4 Trillion in Passive Index Selling

Last month I wrote about what I see as an imminent “passive index meltdown.” Over the past decade, billions of dollars have poured into ETFs and other passive investment products. This has led to a number of unexpected consequences, including price distortion and trading based not on fundamentals but on low fees. I said then that when these multibillion-dollar ETFs automatically rebalance, sometime at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, a correction of between 10 percent and 20 percent could be triggered.

JP Morgan sees 7 trillion dollars passive selling pressure in downturn

Now, other people are starting to recognize the risk this poses. Speaking to CNBC last week, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said that this month’s selloffs have been prompted by “programmatic trading.”

According to Solomon, “some of the selling is the result of programmatic selling because as volatility goes up, some of these algorithms force people to sell.”

Remember the 2010 Flash Crash? In the days following the May 6 incident, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) found that ETFs “suffered a disproportionate number of broken trades relative to other securities.” Of the securities that fell 60 percent or more that day, approximately 70 percent were ETFs.

But that was in 2010. Passive investing accounted for less than 30 percent of the assets under management (AUM) in actively managed funds. Today, that figure falls somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent, representing some $7.4 trillion in “big selling pressure” concentrated in large- to small-cap equities, according to a report last week by J.P. Morgan.

“This is something worth noting at this late stage of a cycle given that passive investing seems to be trend following, with inflows pushing equities higher during bull markets, and outflows likely to magnify their fall during correction,” J.P. Morgan analysts Eduardo Lecubarri and Nishchay Dayal wrote.

The asset class with the greatest exposure to passive indexing, and therefore “momentum selling during market downturns,” is large-cap stocks, which have 10 times the passive AUM as small- and mid-cap stocks.

So how can investors prepare themselves?

Look at How Much Ultra-Short Treasuries Are Yielding Now

With riskier assets starting to look shaky, it might be time to ensure you have an adequate position in fixed income.

For the first time in over a decade, the three-month Treasury bill—the closest proxy we have for hard cash—is yielding more than the three main measures of U.S. inflation. That includes the headline consumer price index (CPI), which measures volatile food and energy prices. Bond yields and prices move inversely to interest rates, remember.

Short term yields higher than all main measures of inflation for first time in decade
click to enlarge

Ultra-short yields stood at 2.34 percent as of Friday, compared to a 2.27 percent change in consumer prices over the same period last year. This means that cash is finally yielding a positive real return for the first time in over 10 years, without inflation having to turn negative

What’s more, the three-month yield is well above the dividend yield for the much more volatile S&P 500 Index.

Short term yields higher than sp 500 index dividend yield
click to enlarge

With interest rates on the rise, it’s important to stay on the short end of the yield curve. Retail investors seem to agree. Last month, rate-sensitive investors poured more than $4.7 billion into actively managed ultra-short bond funds, which have an average maturity of just six months, according to Morningstar data.

Passive instruments are attractive because of low fees, but it’s important not to discount actively managed funds just yet, and especially now as volatility is spiking. As Wells Fargo put it in the most recent Monthly Market Advisor,“late-cycle market characteristics could present many opportunities for investors who hold quality actively managed funds.”

Mining & Investment Latin America Summit

On a final note, I’m pleased to share with you that Texas Governor Greg Abbott last week retweeted my article, “6 Reasons Why Texas Trumps All Other U.S. Economies.” Governor Abbott has done a fabulous job keeping Texas on a pro-growth trajectory, making the Lone Star State the very best in the U.S. to do business in, I believe. If you didn’t get a chance to read the article, you can click the screengrab below.

Greg Abbott Twitter Texas Frank Talk

Lastly, I’m incredibly honored to be the keynote speaker this week at the Mining & Investment Latin America Summit in Lima, Peru. My presentation will focus on how metals prices are being impacted by a combination of global growth and macro volatility. I’ll also be moderating a discussion on the political landscape in Latin American and its implications for the mining industry. I’ll be sure to share insights and observations from the conference in the days ahead!

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.

The S&P 500 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. The Russell 2000 Index is a U.S. equity index measuring the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000. The Russell 3000 Index consists of the 3,000 largest U.S. companies as determined by total market capitalization. The Nasdaq Composite Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all Nasdaq National Market and SmallCap stocks.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is one of the most widely recognized price measures for tracking the price of a market basket of goods and services purchased by individuals.  The weights of components are based on consumer spending patterns. The personal consumption expenditure measure is the component statistic for consumption in gross domestic product collected by the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis. It consists of the actual and imputed expenditures of households and includes data pertaining to durable and non-durable goods and services. 

The dividend yield is a financial ratio that indicates how much a company pays out in dividends each year relative to its share price. 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.

A basis point, or bp, is a common unit of measure for interest rates and other percentages in finance. One basis point is equal to 1/100th of 1%, or 0.01% (0.0001).

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Here's How Hungary Reduced Risk Without Forfeiting Returns
October 22, 2018

Heres what Hungary just did to reduce risk without hurting returns

Hungary isn’t known today as one of the world’s top gold producing countries. There was a time, though, when it accounted for around three-quarters of Europe’s entire output of the yellow metal, if you can believe it. According to historian Peter Sugar’s A History of Hungary, the central European country was a “veritable El Dorado” in the 14th century, and its gold pieces circulated widely across the entire continent, competing with those minted in Italy and England.

It was this rich mining heritage that Hungary’s central bank evoked when it announced last week its decision to increase gold holdings tenfold, from 3.1 metric tons to 31.5 tons, taking gold’s share of total reserves to 4.4 percent. (Gold accounts for 73.5 percent of U.S. reserves, by comparison, the most of any country.) Hungarian central bank governor Gyorgy Matolcsy described the move as one of “economic and national strategic importance,” adding that the extra gold made the country’s reserves “safer” and “reduced risk.” This is the first time since 1986 that Hungary has increased its gold holdings.   

Hungary just boosted its gold reserves tenfold
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The country isn’t alone in its mission to diversify. This month we also learned that Poland became the first European Union (EU) member to increase its gold reserves in two decades. The Eastern European country added as much as 9 metric tons of hard assets between July and August of this year. Central banks in Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan have also kept up their gold buying, representing close to 90 percent of the activity we’ve seen this year.

Meanwhile, the EU has continued to print paper money.

For more, watch emerging Europe analyst Joanna Sawicka’s full explanation by clicking here.

A Good Store of Value

So why should banks—or investors, for that matter—be interested in boosting their gold holdings? One reason is timing. Until recently, gold prices have been relatively affordable, trading at 52-week lows of around $1,180 an ounce in mid-August and at the end of September. Central banks’ investment was wisely made. From those lows, gold is now up more than 4 percent on stock volatility.

Check out the chart below. I think it’s fascinating to see the relationship between dramatic moves in the stock market and people’s interest in gold. When stocks sold off a couple of weeks ago, Google searches for “gold price” jumped to their highest in at least a month. This shows, I believe, that people recognize gold as a good store of value when market volatility reemerges.

Spike in Google searches for gold price corresponding with stock selloff
click to enlarge

Gold Has Helped Improve a Portfolio’s Risk-Adjusted Returns

Returning to what Hungarian central bank governor Matolcsy said about risk reduction, a certain amount of gold has been shown to improve a portfolio’s Sharpe ratio, according to the World Gold Council’s (WGC) most recent Gold Investor. The Sharpe ratio, in case you’re unaware, measures a portfolio’s risk-adjusted returns relative to its peers, based on standard deviation. The higher the ratio is over its peers, the better the risk-adjusted returns.

Performance of an institutional portfolio with or without gold
click to enlarge

Analysts at New Frontier Advisors found that an institutional portfolio with a 6 percent weighting in gold had a higher Sharpe ratio than one without any gold exposure. This means that volatility was reduced without hurting returns.

Although analysts were looking at Chinese portfolios in particular, the WGC’s Fred Yang believes these findings can just as easily be applied to portfolios that are invested in U.S.-, European- or U.K.-listed assets. The “research indicates,” Yang says, “that most well-balanced portfolios would benefit from a modest allocation to gold.”

I’ve often advocated for a 10 percent Golden Rule—with 5 percent in bullion, the other 5 percent in gold stocks—and so New Frontier’s research is illuminating. It also helps explain Hungary and Poland’s actions, as well as those of other net purchasers of gold.

Holding Firm Against Rising Treasury Yields

I’ve shown many times in the past that the price of gold is inversely related with real rates. The yellow metal has especially struggled when Treasury yields have outpaced inflation.

Gold price has remained strong despite a rising 2 year treasury yield
click to enlarge

The two-year Treasury yield, for instance, is just under 3 percent today, a more-than-10-year high. Because consumer prices are rising at 2.3 percent year-over-year, according to the latest report from the Labor Department, the two-year has a positive real yield—and this has historically weighed on gold.

You would think, then, that its price would be much lower than it is. I’m impressed with how well it’s held up.

Get more of my thoughts on gold’s performance by watching the latest Frank Talk Live! View it by clicking here!

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.

Diversification does not protect an investor from market risks and does not assure a profit.

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5 Charts That Show Why Gold Belongs in Your Portfolio Now
October 9, 2018

5 charts that show why gold belongs in your profile in gold we trust report 2018

The annual “In Gold We Trust” report by Liechtenstein-based investment firm Incrementum is a must-read account of the gold market, and its just-released chartbook for the 2018 edition is no exception.

The strengthening U.S. dollar has lately dented the price of gold, and rising interest rates are making some yield-bearing financial assets more attractive as a safe haven. But as Incrementum shows, there are many risks right now that favor owning gold in your portfolio.

Below I’ve selected five of the most compelling charts that highlight why I think you need gold in your portfolio now.

1. The End of Easy Money

To offset the effects of the global financial crisis a decade ago, central banks increased liquidity by slashing interest rates and buying trillions of dollars’ worth of government securities. Now, however, it looks as though banks are ready to start tightening, and no one is really quite sure what the consequences will be. The Federal Reserve was the first, in late 2015, to begin hiking rates, and it’s been steadily shrinking its balance sheet for about a year now. Other banks are set to follow suit. According to Incrementum, the tide will turn sometime next year, with global liquidity finally set to turn negative. In the past, recessions and bear markets were preceded by central bank tightening cycles, so it might be a good idea to consider adding gold and gold stocks, which have historically done well in times of economic and financial turmoil.    

central banks to withdraw liquidity from financial markets for the first time since crisis
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2. Banks on a Gold-Buying Spree

While I’m on this subject, central banks have been net purchasers of gold since 2010, with China, Russia, Turkey and India responsible for much of the activity. Just this week, I shared with you the news that Poland added as much as nine metric tons to its reserves this past summer. If gold is such a “barbarous relic,” why are they doing this? As Incrementum writes, “The increase in gold reserves should be seen as strong evidence of growing distrust in the dominance of the U.S. dollar and the global monetary system associated with it.” Having a 10 percent weighting in gold and gold stocks could likewise help you diversify away from fiat currencies and monetary policy.

change in gold reserves held by emerging countries from 2007 to 2017
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3. Too Much Debt

Everywhere you look, debt is rising to historic highs, whether it’s emerging market debt, student loan debt or U.S. government debt. Meanwhile, higher rates are making it more expensive to service all this debt. As you can see below, interest payments will hit a record $500 billion this year. It’s forecast that the federal deficit will not only reach but exceed $1 trillion in 2019. How will this end? Earlier this year, I called this risk the “global ticking debt bomb,” and I still believe it’s one of the most compelling reasons to maintain some exposure to gold.   

US government debt outstanding continues to rise rapidly
click to enlarge

4. An Exceptional Store of Value

In U.S. dollar-denominated terms, the price of gold is down right now. But in Turkey, Venezuela, Argentina and other countries whose currencies have weakened substantially in recent months, the precious metal is soaring. This alone should be reason enough to have part of your wealth stored in gold. Need further proof? According to a recent Bloomberg article, the cost of a black-market passport in Venezuela right now is around $2,000. That’s more than 125,000 bolivars, or 68 times the monthly minimum wage. A Venezuelan family that had the prudence to own gold would be in a much better position today to survive or escape President Nicolas Maduro’s corrupt regime. In extraordinary circumstances such as this, the yellow metal can literally help save your life.

gold does exactly what it is supposed to do protect purchasing power gold price increases in turkish lira and venezuelan bolivar
click to enlarge

5. A Sterling Time to Buy Gold?

Finally, a word about timing. According to Incrementum, some of the best gold buying opportunities have been when the gold/silver ratio crossed above 80—that is, when it took 80 or more ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold. If you look at the chart below, you’ll see that such instances occurred in 2003, 2009 and late 2015/early 2016—all ideal times to accumulate. We see a similar buying opportunity today, with the gold/silver ratio at a high of 83 as of October 8. What’s more, gold stocks are the cheapest they’ve been in more than 20 years relative to the S&P 500 Index.

highs in the gold silver ratio were great buying opportunities for gold
click to enlarge

Curious to learn more? Download my popular whitepaper on gold’s love trade by clicking here!

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.

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

Diversification does not protect an investor from market risks and does not assure a profit.

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Gold's Bottom Could Be Investors' Lost Treasure
October 1, 2018

how to manage your risk

Get ready, gold bulls: The precious metal could be close to finding a bottom.

The price of gold fell back below $1,200 an ounce again last week as the U.S. dollar advanced following another federal funds rate hike. The precious metal logged its sixth straight month of declines, its longest losing streak since 1989.

That gold’s not trading below $1,150 is, I believe, remarkable. There’s a lot motivating the bears right now. Besides a stronger dollar and higher interest rate, stocks are still going strong, buoyed by record buybacks and massive inflows into passive investment products. In the week ended September 20, investors poured as much as $34.3 billion into ETFs, taking year-to-date inflows to nearly $215 billion, according to FactSet data.

This makes gold mining stocks look especially attractive by comparison. Relative to U.S. blue chips, the FTSE Gold Mines Index is now at its most discounted level in over 20 years.

gold stocks at their most discounted level in over 20 years, relative to the market
click to enlarge

Gold Industry Ready for Consolidation?

There are other signs that a bottom is near.

For one, Vanguard just restructured its precious metals mutual fund, slashing its exposure to the industry from 80 percent to only 25 percent. This means the world’s largest fund company will no longer offer its investors a way to participate in a potential rally in metals and mining stocks.

The last time Vanguard made a change like this, it coincided with a huge run-up in metal prices. In 2001, gold was just as unloved as it is now, prompting Vanguard to drop the word “Gold” from what was then the Gold and Precious Metals Fund.

Bad move—the precious metal went from under $300 an ounce to as high as $1,900 in September 2011.

Last week, mining giants Barrick Gold and Randgold Resources announced an $18 billion merger that, once complete, will create the world’s largest gold producer. An “industry champion for long-term value creation,” according to BMO Capital Markets, the resultant company will “operate five of the 10 ‘tier one’ gold mines on a total cash cost basis and possess numerous projects with potential to” deliver sustainable profitability.

the barrick-randgold merger will create the world's largest gold miner, valued at $18 billion

Historically, a telltale sign that an industry has found a bottom is consolidation. Just look at the wave of mergers and takeovers in the then-struggling airline industry following the financial crisis.

Other financial firms and analysts also find the Barrick-Randgold news positive, for the two senior producers as well as metals and mining as a whole. Scotiabank believes the merger “improves [Barrick’s] overall asset quality, balance sheet, free cash flow profile, technical expertise and management team, with no takeout premium paid.” The deal, says the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), “could spur a pick-up in M&As, which in our view could result in a turnaround in mining equity performance.”

Good news indeed as inflation continues to ramp up. The price of Brent oil, the international benchmark, closed above $80 a barrel last week for the first time since November 2014. That’s an incredible threefold increase from its recent low of $27 a barrel, set in January 2016.

The Incredible Shrinking Stock Market Is Shrinking Even Faster

As you already know, one of the key reasons why gold has been so highly valued for centuries—as a commodity and currency—is its scarcity. It makes up roughly 0.003 parts per million of the earth’s crust. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), an estimated 190,040 metric tons of the stuff have been mined since the beginning of time, leaving only 54,000 metric tons in the ground for producers to dig up, at greater and greater expense.

“Peak gold,” as some experts call it, is a real concern, one that could rocket the price of the yellow metal into the stratosphere on a supply-demand imbalance.

Scarcity, after all, is what’s helping to drive the equity bull market even higher right now. Over the past 20 years, the number of listed companies has steadily been shrinking, mostly as a result of tougher securities regulations.

And now, those companies—flush with cash thanks to last year’s corporate tax reform—are buying back their own stock at record and near-record levels.

stock buybacks have soared faster than capital spending
click to enlarge

Just how much? I shared with you recently that in the June quarter alone, S&P 500 companies spent a record $190.6 billion on stock repurchases, an increase of almost 60 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Apple led the pack, taking $21.9 billion worth of stock out of circulation. That’s down slightly from the record $22.8 billion in the first quarter.

In general, Wall Street likes buybacks, which lower the number of shares outstanding. As a result, earnings per share (EPS) and dividends available per share increase even when there isn’t any profit growth.

But there are a couple of issues. First, buybacks require capital that could have otherwise been spent on investing, upgrading equipment, giving workers raises and the like. For the first time in 10 years, according to Goldman Sachs, buybacks have outstripped capital spending so far in 2018. The S&P 500 is already trading at overinflated prices, meaning companies like Apple are buying high.

Second, buybacks take shares off the market. Over the past decade, companies have bought back $4.4 trillion as historically low interest rates created, for some, a more favorable environment to float debt instead of equity. Below, I chose to highlight the consumer staples sector because the decline in shares since 2006 has been so dramatic, falling from around 32.5 billion shares to 27.5 billion shares—a decrease of more than 15 percent.

total shares outstanding of S&P 500 consumer staples companies are plunging
click to enlarge

Today, “not enough shares are being issued to offset those being withdrawn from circulation,” according to Reuters. Net equity supply turned negative for the first time ever in 2016, and it could end in negative territory again by the end of this year.

Coupled with the ticking passive index bomb I wrote about earlier in the month, fundamental investing is changing. It’s hard to say where this will end—when there’s only one share of Apple left? Prices would explode, and investing would become even more out-of-reach for many than it already is today.

Click here to get my thoughts on why I think the market could correct between 10 percent and 20 percent early next year, and what investors can do now to prepare!

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

The S&P 500 Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The FTSE Gold Mines Index Series encompasses all gold mining companies that have a sustainable and attributable gold production of at least 300,000 ounces a year, and that derive 75% or more of their revenue from mined gold.

Free cash flow represents the cash a company can generate after required investment to maintain or expand its asset base. Total cash cost refers to the cost per payable unit of metal sold during the life of the commercial operations of a mine. 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.

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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The Best Time to Prepare Is While the Bull Runs
September 24, 2018

how to manage your risk

In case you couldn’t tell from the ubiquitous political ads and yard signs, midterm elections are right around the corner. Historically, volatility has increased and markets have dipped leading up to midterms on uncertainty, but afterward they’ve outperformed.

Of especially good news is that we’re entering the three most bullish quarters in the four-year presidential cycle, according to LPL Financial Research. The fourth quarter of the president’s second year in office, which begins next month, and the first and second quarters of the third year have collectively been the best nine months for returns, based on 120 years of data.

the next three quarters have historically been bullish for stocks
click to enlarge

It makes sense why this has been the case. Following midterms, the president has been motivated to “boost the economy with pro-growth policies ahead of the election in year four,” writes LPL Financial.

Government Policy Is a Precursor to Change

Should Republicans manage to hold on to both the House and Senate—which Wells Fargo analysts Craig Holke and Paul Christopher estimate has a 30 percent probability—it’s likely they’ll try to pass “Tax Reform 2.0,” with an emphasis on the individual tax side. We can also probably expect to see additional financial deregulation.

Cornerstone Macro is in agreement, writing that “the better Republicans do in the election, the more confidence investors will have that [President Donald] Trump could be reelected and the business-friendly regulatory practices will remain in place.” A GOP Congress, the research firm adds, would be supportive of banks and energy, specifically oil, gas and coal. Since Trump’s inauguration, the Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index has climbed nearly 60 percent, double the S&P 500’s performance.

Back from the dead: coal stocks have risen since inauguration day
click to enlarge

The more likely outcome, according to Holke and Christopher, is a divided Congress, with Democrats taking control of the House. In such a scenario, financial deregulation would slow, but Trump, who’s pushed hard for aggressive infrastructure spending, might find the support he needs for a bill from Democrats. This would help increase demand for commodities and raw materials, but “additional stimulus in an economy already near capacity may result in higher inflation, negatively affecting fixed income,” Holke and Christopher write.

On the other hand, higher inflation has historically meant higher gold prices. After climbing for 12 months, year-over-year change in consumer prices cooled in August to 2.7 percent, from July’s 2.9 percent.

Government policy is a precursor to change, as I often say. It’s not the party that matters but the policies, and there are ways for investors to make money however the midterms unfold.

Money Managers and Banks Are Adding Safe Havens at a Faster Pace

With the bull run now the longest in U.S. stock market history, there’s a lot of talk and speculation about when the next major pullback will happen. I’ve discussed a number of possible catalysts with you already, from record levels of global debt to the flattening yield curve. Recently I shared with you that Goldman’s bull/bear indicator hit its highest level in nearly 50 years.

Even as markets closed at fresh all-time highs, essentially ignoring the intensifying U.S.-China trade war, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) called the bull run “dead” last week, due to slowing global economic growth and the end of monetary stimulus. “The Fed is now in the midst of a tightening cycle, ignoring structural deflation, focusing on cyclical inflation,” writes BofAML chief strategist Michal Hartnett.

Against this backdrop, a growing number of money managers hold a dim view of continued economic growth. September’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey found that a net 24 percent of fund managers believe global growth will slow over the next 12 months. That’s the highest percentage of managers with such a view since December 2011, the height of the European debt crisis. Reasons given for this bearishness are the U.S.-China trade tensions and, again, the end of central bank accommodation.

Fund managers are raising their cash levels, Hartnett says, as well as their exposure to fixed income, which has traditionally been used as a safe haven in times of uncertainty. In July, the most recent month of Morningstar data, bond funds attracted the greatest amount of any asset class in the U.S., with taxable and municipal bonds seeing a collective $28.5 billion in inflows. U.S. equity funds, meanwhile, collected a little under $3 billion, and in fact have seen $11 billion in outflows in the 12 months through July 31.

Getting even more specific, U.S. actively-managed ultrashort bond funds were the biggest winner, attracting over $6 billion in July, according to Morningstar.

You can read more about short-term bond funds by clicking here.

Central banks added gold in first half at fastest pace since 2015
click to enlarge

Gold demand among central banks has also accelerated this year. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), banks added a net 193.3 metric tons of gold to their reserves in the first half of the year, an 8 percent increase from 2017. This was the most purchased in the first six months since 2015.

Watch my interview with Kitco News to learn why now might be a good time to follow the “Golden Rule.”

The Next Crisis Could Be Triggered by Passive Indexing

One of the biggest risks right now, I believe, is the explosion in passive, “dumb beta” indexing. Trillions of dollars have poured into products that track indices built not on fundamental factors like revenue, cash flow and return on invested capital (ROIC), but on simple market capitalization. A piling on effect has occurred, whereby multibillion-dollar funds are buying more and more of the most expensive stocks. This has resulted in overinflated valuations.

The big risk is when these funds rebalance, which could happen as early as the beginning of next year. Last year, junior mining stocks got crushed after the VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) restructured its portfolio. Imagine what could happen if all passive index funds did the same simultaneously.

Last week I wrote more in depth about the risks passive indexing poses. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, I invite you to do so by clicking here.

 

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.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), or simply the Dow, is a stock market index that shows how 30 large, publicly owned companies based in the United States have traded during a standard trading session in the stock market. The S&P 500 index is a basket of 500 of the largest U.S. stocks, weighted by market capitalization. The Dow Jones U.S. Coal index is a subindex of the Dow Jones U.S. Indices and seeks to track all stocks classified in the coal subsector (1771) of the Dow Jones Sector Classification Standard traded on major U.S. stock exchanges.

Cash flow is the total amount of money being transferred into and out of a business, especially as affecting liquidity. Return on invested capital (ROIC) is a calculation used to assess a company's efficiency at allocating the capital under its control to profitable investments. Beta is a measure of the volatility, or systematic risk, of a security or a portfolio in comparison to the market as a whole.

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.

Share “The Best Time to Prepare Is While the Bull Runs”

Net Asset Value
as of 05/24/2019

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $4.31 0.05 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $6.53 0.04 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $2.51 0.01 China Region Fund USCOX $7.91 0.05 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.53 0.05 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $23.95 -0.02 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $16.43 0.14 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.21 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change