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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gold and Economic Freedom: Did Greenspan Know What He Was Doing?

With Gold reaching new heights in dollar terms, I think this is an appropriate time to post an article on the subject circa 1967 by none other than the famed former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan. In this article Greenspan, a former Goldbug, waxes eloquent on the role of Gold in our society, although it is debatable whether he can be classified as a "former" Goldbug. I, for one, think he's still a Goldbug. This is what he said in a recent speech at an investment conference in New York -
"What is fascinating is the extent to which gold still holds reign over the financial system as the ultimate source of payment".
and
Rising prices of precious metals and other commodities are "an indication of a very early stage of an endeavor to move away from paper currencies".
Questions have been raised by some commenters on ZH recently whether Greenspan did what he did on purpose. Reading the article below and considering the fact that he is a devotee of Ayn Rand (who by the way was at his side when he was sworn in as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in 1974), it's pretty hard to argue that Greenspan did not know what he was doing. Of course, some might say what a horrible way to bring about change but the fact remains that Greenspan did not do anything that would not have happened otherwise - he just accelerated the process by giving the corrupt bankers (who control everything, including the Fed) enough rope to hang themselves. Also, in my humble opinion, human beings do not change until pushed to desperation. The beauty of this is that the people are not only becoming more aware about our financial system and heretofore obscure subjects such as monetary policy but are themselves demanding change - things like abolition of the fed, return to sound money, etc. Do you think any of this would have happened if everyone was fat and happy using the corrupt Fed-controlled fiat money system? I think not. This is a more sustainable way of changing things - i.e. from the grassroots level - as opposed to somebody at the top dictating what needs to be done, which almost always ends in failure. Indeed, the best protection against criminal organizations such as the Federal Reserve taking over our society is vigilant and informed citizens. Read this and figure out for yourselves whether this is someone who hates Gold or does not understand it. Greenspan might indeed be John Galt - the man who stopped the motor of the world.

GOLD AND ECONOMIC FREEDOM


An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense-perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire -- that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other.

In order to understand the source of their antagonism, it is necessary first to understand the specific role of gold in a free society.

Money is the common denominator of all economic transactions. It is that commodity which serves as a medium of exchange, is universally acceptable to all participants in an exchange economy as payment for their goods or services, and can, therefore, be used as a standard of market value and as a store of value, i.e., as a means of saving.

The existence of such a commodity is a precondition of a division of labor economy. If men did not have some commodity of objective value which was generally acceptable as money, they would have to resort to primitive barter or be forced to live on self-sufficient farms and forgo the inestimable advantages of specialization. If men had no means to store value, i.e., to save, neither long-range planning nor exchange would be possible.

What medium of exchange will be acceptable to all participants in an economy is not determined arbitrarily. First, the medium of exchange should be durable. In a primitive society of meager wealth, wheat might be sufficiently durable to serve as a medium, since all exchanges would occur only during and immediately after the harvest, leaving no value-surplus to store. But where store-of-value considerations are important, as they are in richer, more civilized societies, the medium of exchange must be a durable commodity, usually a metal. A metal is generally chosen because it is homogeneous and divisible: every unit is the same as every other and it can be blended or formed in any quantity. Precious jewels, for example, are neither homogeneous nor divisible. More important, the commodity chosen as a medium must be a luxury. Human desires for luxuries are unlimited and, therefore, luxury goods are always in demand and will always be acceptable. Wheat is a luxury in underfed civilizations, but not in a prosperous society. Cigarettes ordinarily would not serve as money, but they did in post-World War II Europe where they were considered a luxury. The term "luxury good" implies scarcity and high unit value. Having a high unit value, such a good is easily portable; for instance, an ounce of gold is worth a half-ton of pig iron.

In the early stages of a developing money economy, several media of exchange might be used, since a wide variety of commodities would fulfill the foregoing conditions. However, one of the commodities will gradually displace all others, by being more widely acceptable. Preferences on what to hold as a store of value, will shift to the most widely acceptable commodity, which, in turn, will make it still more acceptable. The shift is progressive until that commodity becomes the sole medium of exchange. The use of a single medium is highly advantageous for the same reasons that a money economy is superior to a barter economy: it makes exchanges possible on an incalculably wider scale.

Whether the single medium is gold, silver, seashells, cattle, or tobacco is optional, depending on the context and development of a given economy. In fact, all have been employed, at various times, as media of exchange. Even in the present century, two major commodities, gold and silver, have been used as international media of exchange, with gold becoming the predominant one. Gold, having both artistic and functional uses and being relatively scarce, has significant advantages over all other media of exchange. Since the beginning of World War I, it has been virtually the sole international standard of exchange. If all goods and services were to be paid for in gold, large payments would be difficult to execute and this would tend to limit the extent of a society's divisions of labor and specialization. Thus a logical extension of the creation of a medium of exchange is the development of a banking system and credit instruments (bank notes and deposits) which act as a substitute for, but are convertible into, gold.

A free banking system based on gold is able to extend credit and thus to create bank notes (currency) and deposits, according to the production requirements of the economy. Individual owners of gold are induced, by payments of interest, to deposit their gold in a bank (against which they can draw checks). But since it is rarely the case that all depositors want to withdraw all their gold at the same time, the banker need keep only a fraction of his total deposits in gold as reserves. This enables the banker to loan out more than the amount of his gold deposits (which means that he holds claims to gold rather than gold as security of his deposits). But the amount of loans which he can afford to make is not arbitrary: he has to gauge it in relation to his reserves and to the status of his investments.

When banks loan money to finance productive and profitable endeavors, the loans are paid off rapidly and bank credit continues to be generally available. But when the business ventures financed by bank credit are less profitable and slow to pay off, bankers soon find that their loans outstanding are excessive relative to their gold reserves, and they begin to curtail new lending, usually by charging higher interest rates. This tends to restrict the financing of new ventures and requires the existing borrowers to improve their profitability before they can obtain credit for further expansion. Thus, under the gold standard, a free banking system stands as the protector of an economy's stability and balanced growth.

When gold is accepted as the medium of exchange by most or all nations, an unhampered free international gold standard serves to foster a world-wide division of labor and the broadest international trade. Even though the units of exchange (the dollar, the pound, the franc, etc.) differ from country to country, when all are defined in terms of gold the economies of the different countries act as one -- so long as there are no restraints on trade or on the movement of capital. Credit, interest rates, and prices tend to follow similar patterns in all countries. For example, if banks in one country extend credit too liberally, interest rates in that country will tend to fall, inducing depositors to shift their gold to higher-interest paying banks in other countries. This will immediately cause a shortage of bank reserves in the "easy money" country, inducing tighter credit standards and a return to competitively higher interest rates again.

A fully free banking system and fully consistent gold standard have not as yet been achieved. But prior to World War I, the banking system in the United States (and in most of the world) was based on gold and even though governments intervened occasionally, banking was more free than controlled. Periodically, as a result of overly rapid credit expansion, banks became loaned up to the limit of their gold reserves, interest rates rose sharply, new credit was cut off, and the economy went into a sharp, but short-lived recession. (Compared with the depressions of 1920 and 1932, the pre-World War I business declines were mild indeed.) It was limited gold reserves that stopped the unbalanced expansions of business activity, before they could develop into the post-World War I type of disaster. The readjustment periods were short and the economies quickly reestablished a sound basis to resume expansion.

But the process of cure was misdiagnosed as the disease: if shortage of bank reserves was causing a business decline-argued economic interventionists -- why not find a way of supplying increased reserves to the banks so they never need be short! If banks can continue to loan money indefinitely -- it was claimed -- there need never be any slumps in business. And so the Federal Reserve System was organized in 1913. It consisted of twelve regional Federal Reserve banks nominally owned by private bankers, but in fact government sponsored, controlled, and supported. Credit extended by these banks is in practice (though not legally) backed by the taxing power of the federal government. Technically, we remained on the gold standard; individuals were still free to own gold, and gold continued to be used as bank reserves. But now, in addition to gold, credit extended by the Federal Reserve banks ("paper reserves") could serve as legal tender to pay depositors.

When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve's attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain's gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates.

The "Fed" succeeded; it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market -- triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed. Great Britain fared even worse, and rather than absorb the full consequences of her previous folly, she abandoned the gold standard completely in 1931, tearing asunder what remained of the fabric of confidence and inducing a world-wide series of bank failures. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930's.

With a logic reminiscent of a generation earlier, statists argued that the gold standard was largely to blame for the credit debacle which led to the Great Depression. If the gold standard had not existed, they argued, Britain's abandonment of gold payments in 1931 would not have caused the failure of banks all over the world. (The irony was that since 1913, we had been, not on a gold standard, but on what may be termed "a mixed gold standard"; yet it is gold that took the blame.) But the opposition to the gold standard in any form -- from a growing number of welfare-state advocates -- was prompted by a much subtler insight: the realization that the gold standard is incompatible with chronic deficit spending (the hallmark of the welfare state). Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.

Under a gold standard, the amount of credit that an economy can support is determined by the economy's tangible assets, since every credit instrument is ultimately a claim on some tangible asset. But government bonds are not backed by tangible wealth, only by the government's promise to pay out of future tax revenues, and cannot easily be absorbed by the financial markets. A large volume of new government bonds can be sold to the public only at progressively higher interest rates. Thus, government deficit spending under a gold standard is severely limited. The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit. They have created paper reserves in the form of government bonds which -- through a complex series of steps -- the banks accept in place of tangible assets and treat as if they were an actual deposit, i.e., as the equivalent of what was formerly a deposit of gold. The holder of a government bond or of a bank deposit created by paper reserves believes that he has a valid claim on a real asset. But the fact is that there are now more claims outstanding than real assets. The law of supply and demand is not to be conned. As the supply of money (of claims) increases relative to the supply of tangible assets in the economy, prices must eventually rise. Thus the earnings saved by the productive members of the society lose value in terms of goods. When the economy's books are finally balanced, one finds that this loss in value represents the goods purchased by the government for welfare or other purposes with the money proceeds of the government bonds financed by bank credit expansion.

In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.

This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard.

--Alan Greenspan
1967

Source: http://www.usagold.com/gildedopinion/greenspan.html

Update: It just came to my mind that Greenspan joined the famed John Paulson's hedge fund in the January of this year and admittedly - "they're the only hedge fund he will advise on the direction of the economy". Soon after, John Paulson and Co. made a significant bet on Gold to the tune of $1.3 billion (and even more thereafter, including owning over 8% of the entire GLD ETF). Coincidence? I think not! Greenspan knows the games Central Banks, especially the Fed, have played all these years with Gold since going off the Gold standard and I think he has a pretty good idea where the price of Gold going. In any case, I would definitely wanna be long something John Paulson is!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Brothers in Arms!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gold: What's Next?

So, predictably, Gold was hammered ahead of the “G-20” (nice little acronym for a criminal ruling elite, isn’t it? – more like mafia family heads getting together if you ask me) meeting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania this weekend. What didn’t help matters (for Gold bugs i.e.) was the fact that 24th September was the expiry day for options with a large amount of open interest near the $1000 level, which BTW, were in the money on the 24th morning prior to “the attack” at 10 a.m. EST. The big banks who wrote the contracts pummeled Gold in order to pocket the premium of whoever was complacent/stupid enough to hold them into expiry thinking that the banks were about to let go of an opportunity to pillage the little guy.


Since we are at a critical juncture in the Gold market with what appears to be a volcanic explosion building beneath the surface to take Gold once and forever past the $1000 level, I’ll try to figure out where we are and where we are headed so we Gold bugs can navigate the shark infested waters that is the Gold market with some confidence.

Where We Are

Take a look at the triangular consolidation pattern that has been developing since February this year (Fig 1). Price broke out of that pattern forcefully in the beginning few days of September sporting heavy volume in both GLD and GDX (a proxy for Gold stocks) combined with a large increase in Comex open interest which gives us confidence that it was not a false breakout. Price went on to make several daily closes above the $1000 mark, including two consecutive weekly closes. Absent manipulation, I think this would have been THE breakout above $1000 that everybody had been waiting for so long and price would have just tested the $1000 level on subsequent declining volume as seen in GLD, GDX and other major mining stocks such as NEM – only now that Gold has broken through $1000 on the downside it will retest lower levels of support. No big deal – this has been happening all throughout this bull market and yet they have not been able to stop it from rising. They can delay its rise, but they can’t stop it. The real key is the paper market’s link to the physical metal. As long as shorts have the fear of delivery, price will rise. If and when they don’t, the futures market will cease to matter (or exist) anyways. Your best protection in these heavily manipulated markets is to not be over-leveraged and be able to take a hit at least upto 200 DMA (during price uptrends).

What Next?

The price has now closed below the 20 DMA which means that the 50 DMA is likely to be tested next (See Fig 1). Now, the 50 DMA is of quite some significance during bull moves as the price usually more often than not bounces off of it (just take a look at previous uplegs during this Gold bull so you know what I mean). The price may also test the top trend line of the preceding triangular consolidation pattern. What is interesting is that both the 50 DMA ($966.19 right now) and this trend line level are in the $960-$966 area. Also there was a five week period during the preceding consolidation where the price was basically stuck at $950, so this is another significant level. Hence I believe that we may see price retrace to $950-$966 before the next upleg, and hopefully rocketing past $1000 for good, but remember that we’ll need to see expanding volume in both Gold and Gold stocks to confirm it’s the real deal as opposed to last time around. This retest to lower level will give a chance to the bullion banks to reduce their short positions somewhat in anticipation of controlling the next upleg (I’ll do a brief update on the COT situation shortly). Also, this will coincide nicely with the Gold Bugs Index (HUI) retesting the recent breakout at the multi month resistance line at around 375, which is also its 50 DMA! See, everything is lined up so perfectly and nicely! There are two more scenarios, although less probable IMHO, but nonetheless we should be aware of:

1. There is massive almost unlimited demand beneath the $986 level (tested on Friday) and therefore price starts to rocket beginning next week without retesting any lower level. Shorts have to cover on rising prices causing a price explosion. This is also possible in case of geopolitical dislocations (e.g. Iran etc.)

2. A mini panic is precipitated causing a sell-off in all “risk” assets such as stocks and commodities (apparently, in our upside down world, Gold is a “risk asset” while the dollar is a “safe haven” – LOL!) thus causing Gold to fall below the 50 DMA and test the 200 DMA. If it does, it’ll be a God-given opportunity to acquire Gold at bargain basement prices for the last time. Let me make this as clear as possible – if Gold tests the 200 DMA, IT NEEDS TO BE BOUGHT. I don’t care if you beg, borrow or steal – JUST BUY GOLD. Period.

Let’s look at a few of more indicators which will provide us with some extra clues:

1. The Golden Cross Situation

Gold already put in a “Golden Cross” (50 DMA rising above the 200 DMA) sometime in the middle of February this year (See Fig 1). Of course, as with any technical indicator, nothing is 100% guaranteed, but the golden cross usually signals a sustained phase of price rise. We see that Gold has not made any major highs since the cross occurred, but we also note that it has remained well supported (flat is more like it). The fact that the Golden cross is still in place and all three moving averages (20, 50 and 200) are now steeply rising should give us confidence that a major bull run is about to ensue.

2. The Gold-Oil Ratio


Historically, the Gold-Oil ratio has been about 15, which is where it is now – all hunky-dory, as Benny Boy would like us to believe, only, IT’S NOT. The ratio rose steeply during the depth of the crisis at the end of last year and beginning of this year reaching a peak of 26.43 in March. The ratio has now undergone a “green shits” correction – BUT - since we are in a MASSIVE deflationary depression (in terms of Gold i.e., not fiat money) we can expect this ratio to be in a bull run throughout this crisis reaching new peaks, probably into three digits. There is now a massive bullish divergence between price and MACD on this chart signaling that the ratio is about to resume its uptrend – in a MAJOR WAY. This might mean three things (in dollar terms i.e.):

1. Gold will fall less than oil

2. Gold will rise more than oil

3. Gold will rise and oil will fall

My money is on the third outcome, and at some point on the second (when the helicopters really get going), but we shall see. The right strategy in March was to sell Gold (not necessarily short) and buy crude; now it’s time to buy Gold again.

3. The Gold-SPX Ratio


As expected, this ratio is also in a bull market reaching a peak of 1.39 in March and correcting thereafter. This ratio also looks ready to resume its uptrend as evidenced by the bullish divergence between price and MACD. In fact, being long Gold is a very nice way to be short the stock market, since stocks will fall (and have been falling) more in Gold than in nominal terms. A look at the Gold-denominated SPX chart since 2000 will convince you of this, as also of the fact that we have been in a deflationary depression since the tech crash. Those looking for S&P 200 will be sadly disappointed as the Government devalues the fiat scale we use to measure stock values thus propping up the stock market nominally, or at least not letting it fall too dramatically.

4. The US Dollar Situation

We are consistently hammered over the head with the “fact” that a drop in USD (what is meant is the dollar index or DXY really – a flawed and misleading indicator since it only measures relative rates of currency debasement) causes rise in Gold prices. “Gold prices closed below $1,000 an ounce for the first time in nearly two weeks on selling triggered by a dollar rebound” the Wall Street Journal noted recently, and “Gold ticked higher on Thursday, supported by recent dollar weakness” chimed in Reuters helpfully. Oh! I get it - Gold rises WHEN Dollar falls…right…ummm…so what the hell is this then?


It is clear that that’s NOT what always happens. Sometimes Gold is positively correlated with USD, other times inversely, and sometimes not at all. What should be clear to everybody though is the fact that a rising Gold price ITSELF represents “the drop” in USD (if you mean the purchasing power i.e. – the DXY really means NOTHING if that is what you are measuring). Gold is not volatile, the value of the dollar in which it is denominated is. In fact, as this crisis deepens and capital accelerates its flow down Exter’s liquidity pyramid, I expect more and more occurrences of USD/DXY (since USD is still the reserve currency of the world) moving higher together with Gold.




It is only and only a bull market in real money i.e. Gold – the correlations with equities or USD – real or imagined - will keep changing, reversing or completely falling by the wayside according to whatever favors Gold at the moment as this bull fully expresses itself in due course of time.

As for those of you who are still debating whether we are in a bull market in Gold, I just have one question to ask of you:

“Who will you entrust your life savings to?”

THIS

















OR THIS?


Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Coming Financial Tsunami

What's happening now is just the beginning of the collapse of a multi-decade debt bubble. All the so-called "growth" since the 70's has been based on ever increasing amounts of debt - not just the US, but the entire world. Here is a US Debt (public and private) to GDP percentage graph:


You can see that the debt has increased exponentially since ’71. In fact, the last peak occurred at the time of the Great Depression in the 30’s, and this one is even bigger than that, so you can imagine what the crash this time is going to be like.

A bit of history first. It really starts with the creation of central banking paper-money system in the US in 1913 - the Federal Reserve System, but for brevity's sake we'll just jump onto the story after World War II, as the biggest structural economic imbalances have occurred since then. After World War II, all the major countries decided on the US dollar as the reserve currency for international trade (since the US was the most powerful nation left, and with the biggest reserve of Gold at 20,000 tonnes). All countries would base their currencies on the US dollar, which was in turn backed by Gold. So, in effect, all countries' currencies were backed by Gold. This is also known as the Bretton Woods System. Under this system, all foreign countries could redeem their dollars for Gold. This kept a limit on the number of dollars in circulation and consequently, the debt in the world economy - basically it imposed discipline on all parties concerned. With the Vietnam War, US deficits started to soar and it could no longer afford to redeem dollars in Gold. Its gold hoard was down to 8,000 tonnes from 20,000 tonnes. So under President Nixon, they decided to delink the dollar from gold (Bretton Woods II). From now on, no country could exchange its dollars for gold. They called it a “floating” exchange system, but really, in terms of purchasing power, all currencies started to sink together. What followed was an explosion of money, as the US could now issue (print) virtually unlimited paper dollars for all its purchases. Other countries followed suit, in order to maintain their exports’ competitiveness. This explosion in money fuelled (or rather was fuelled by) an explosion of debt. I shall leave the detailed mechanics of all this for another post, but suffice to say that this explosion in paper money has caused massive misallocation of resources throughout the US, and indeed, the entire world. The stock market boom in (crashing in 2000) and the massive real estate boom (crashing in 2007) were both manifestations of these misallocations. The global boom starting in 2002 was caused by the Federal Reserve printing money and keeping interest rates artificially low (in order to boost consumption and maintain GDP "growth"), and thus injecting massive amounts of money into the economy - which had no basis in the real productive growth of the economy. Since the dollar is the reserve currency used for world trade, this artificially inflated the entire world economy, which is now crashing. This was done to alleviate the fallout of the 2000 crash, but the cure turned out to be worse than the disease. The "Subprime Crisis" was just the tip of the iceberg and, in fact, an effect not a cause of this meltdown. The real cause is unbridled growth of money supply and debt by the Fed and other Central Banks of the world.

At heart, this economic crisis is in fact a currency crisis. Throughout history no paper currency (or "fiat currency", since it is accepted as money by virtue of Government fiat or decree) has survived, and this time will be no different. The average lifespan of fiat currencies has been 16 years. The present system is unique in that it has survived for 38 years and for the first time ALL countries throughout the world are on a fiat money standard. This means that the resulting crash will be on the scale of something the world has never seen. This will be a time of hardship for many, but for those who are "economically literate" and prepared - they will come through largely unscathed, even prosper. If there ever was a time to educate yourself about financial matters, this is it. And don’t listen to the stock-pumpers and so called “analysts” on television – who really are just a part of the Wall Street sales force. These are the same guys who peddled complete garbage as “AAA” securities and that there was no “bubble” in real estate. The rating agencies (Moody's, S&P, etc.) are in cahoots with these crooks, and in their pay. The same goes for the regulatory agencies in the US such as the SEC (and I think pretty much everywhere), which was caught not only napping, but deliberately ignoring the doings of the biggest "Ponzi Scheme" perpetrator of all time - Bernard Madoff. All they are interested is in making a quick buck off of you. Doing your own research on the internet is the only way of finding unbiased information. Just switch off the TV, and switch on the Internet.

I am no financial adviser or any kind of expert, but an ideal portfolio in my opinion would be majority in Gold (strictly physical – no ETF’s or any kind of “paper” gold), some Silver (again, physical) and some cash for day-to-day needs. As you must be aware, more and more banks are failing every day, so it’s not advisable to keep an amount over and above that insured by the FDIC in any single bank. If you are not sure about the solvency of your bank (which can be said of pretty much every bank these days), you can also park your cash in short term Treasury bonds. It is also advisable to keep some cash at home in case there is a “bank holiday” or withdrawal restrictions are imposed by the government. Why the bias towards gold, you may ask. Well, gold is a long and complicated subject so I can’t explain it here (although I do urge you to explore it on your own), but suffice to say that not only will it protect your assets in case of Financial Armageddon, but is sure to rise manifold in value as this crisis progresses. It has retained its purchasing power for thousands of years, and this time will be no different. The record of paper currencies on the other hand is quite dismal, to say the least. This is a once in a 100 year crisis, so you really need to have a historical perspective about this. I reiterate - NO other asset is safe, not even the dollar itself. If anything, gold is a sort of insurance for your portfolio that you will not regret buying. And beware of people who tell you that gold is just an "asset" or "commodity", for they don't know what they are talking about. It's not. It's a currency - the best there is.

At some point, after a huge crash has occurred, the stock market will rise. In fact, it may rise tremendously. It will rise not because of strong fundamentals of the economy, but because of the depreciation of paper currencies (hyperinflation). Hence, any steps that you take to retrieve your investments from the stock market will only prove useful if you invest the proceeds in Gold, as Gold will rise much, much more than the stock market at that point. In fact, in such a scenario, it may even become impossible to obtain physical Gold in exchange for paper currency.

There is a lot more to this than what I have just mentioned, so I urge you to do your own research and take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your family financially. We are heading towards a global currency crisis and it will affect everybody throughout the world. 

[Update 13th May, 2010: I originally provided a list of blogs/websites, books and people to follow as a starting point for their research, but some of them have since become dated/irrelevant in my mind. Feel free to provide them with your own list]

And if you think the Government can get us out of this mess, think again. They had a major role in screwing things up so far, and what they are doing now will only make a bad situation even worse. This crisis was caused by excessive money printing and debt, and guess what the Government's solution is - more money printing and more debt. The best they could do in this dire situation was to come up with a budget full of pork randomly throwing money - our money - here and there without any rhyme or reason. All it will do is ensure that the ensuing collapse is even more severe than it otherwise would have been. The Government and the politicians will keep mouthing lies such as it's going to get better next quarter, next year, ad infinitum even as thing get worse and worse everyday. Don't believe them. All they are interested in is preserving their own power. Read a bit of history and know that it's every man for himself now.

As you may or may not be aware, Gold recently hit $1000 an ounce for the third time in history. It started rising from 1999 onwards when it was priced at around $250 an ounce. This is the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" telling us that the international monetary system is at risk of collapse. I can't put a finger on when this is going to transpire - it may happen next month, next year or in a couple of years – but happen it will and the risks today are greater than they ever were. As I am writing this, another crash is brewing in the global stock markets (it may not happen now, but it will - sooner or later). On Friday, the US stock market closed at its’ lowest level since 1997 - over a decade of gains wiped out. Gold has receded in price a bit, presently undergoing a correction after a quick rise from $900 to $1000 an ounce within a span of ten days in February. It has become pretty volatile in the short term (although the long term trend remains up and away), so I am not sure how long this correction will last. It may continue moving a bit downwards or sideways for a while, but it may just be the last chance we have to get it at such low prices. America's - and indeed the world's - disastrous experiment with paper money is about to end in a catastrophe.