inflation

Gold, oil & 44 Bars per Minute

Gold, oil & 44 Bars per Minute

“Girls love to spin.” — Wayne, Dance Instructor, Howard County Parks and Rec. I’m taking dance classes at the local Parks & Rec. with a stunning brunette, which is why I’m shuffling my feet around on Sunday nights at eight. The crowd is mixed; twenty-something hipster couples and old guys who have difficulty with their gig lines. The instructor is a cross between Wayne Newton and Telly Savalas: a black silk shirt, shaved head, and a nose like an organic potato. He sucks his microphone like a lollipop and spits out a steady stream of advice: “One, two, hook the toe, slide back, twirl…” Chick magnet The chicks love him, of course. And heck, I was even having a good time�— right up until Wayne Savalas swished over during the break. My H1 was in the parking lot. It’s shiny, yellow, and chews diesel like a Mongolian wrestler at a yak roast. Wayne obviously saw me pull up and feels he should enlighten me about his new Chevy Volt getting 60 miles per gallon… And why would I drive something that sucks up so much gas and destroys the environment? I told him that I was fully invested in oil explorers. And with the trouble in the Middle East launching my shares, I could drive a Semi for life… Brent Crude ETF (BNO) Yes, he said, but is this more of a trade on the Arab revolutions, or does it have more to do with the destruction of the dollar? Wayne pointed out that the dollar/euro has hit a four-month low and seems to be heading lower. Down she goes What is most concerning is that during this particular period of global uncertainty, the

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Go Inside the $56 Billion ‘Black’ Budget

Filed in Bank Gold, gld, inflation, o by on February 20, 2011 0 Comments

The Pentagon dropped its $533 billion budget this week. Some line items get a thorough public debate — like stealth jet engines and soldier health care. Others have opaque names like “RETRACT MAPLE,” and are totally hush-hush. Welcome to the Defense Department’s classified, or black, budget. It appears to be about $56 billion, the same as last year, less some inflation.

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Silver Near a 31-Year High

Silver Near a 31-Year High

Filed under: Major Movement , Competitive Strategy , Barrick Gold (ABX) , Commodities , Federal Reserve Back in the late 1970s, the Hunt brothers from Texas tried to corner the silver market . That drove prices to $48 an ounce. Now, 31 years later, silver is shooting higher again. The March silver futures contract closed at $32.296 per ounce , up 72 cents. Since gold is expensive, investors are turning to silver to hedge against inflation. Many fear that the Federal Reserve will not be able to control the spike in commodity prices. The Fed is buying $600 billion of treasuries and keeping interest rates near zero. Continue reading Silver Near a 31-Year High Silver Near a 31-Year High originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Sat, 19 Feb 2011 12:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Market Week Wrap-up

– Leading global equity indices continued floating upwards this week while the inflation drumbeat just kept getting louder. In the US, the January y/y CPI figure hit +1.6%, its highest level since last spring, and some analysts were alarmed by higher food prices creeping into CPI data sooner than expected. China’s January CPI report was lower than expected at +4.9% y/y, but markets panned the figures as heavily massaged by basket revisions. In the UK, the BoE said CPI would likely continue growing at a 4-5% clip over the short term. The World Bank released a report indicating that food prices were up 15% since October 2010 and are now only 3% away from record highs hit in 2008. Commodities moves complicated the story somewhat. While silver has pushed out to 30-year highs, there were signs that inflated soft commodity prices were beginning to unwind, with cotton and grain prices both below recent highs. Crude and gold prices have been impacted by reports that Iran is sending warships through the Suez Canal and bloody protests in Bahrain (next door to Saudi Arabia), although WTI futures were well below recent highs seen in early February. The Obama Administration unveiled its $3.73T budget proposal for 2012, including an all-time high deficit of $1.65T, reflecting the tax-cut agreement reached with Republicans in December. For 2012, the administration sees the imbalance declining to $1.1T, giving the country a record four straight years of one trillion-plus deficits. Bond prices held steady after the details were released, and Congress sharpened its knives for a budget fight. The Feb Empire Manufacturing survey hit its highest level since last June, indicating that the US manufacturing expansion seen over the last several months is continuing. On Friday there was plenty of commentary out of the G20 conference, where leaders tried mightily to achieve some concrete steps in reforming the global monetary system. Fed Chairman Bernanke took a swipe at the Chinese in his policy address to the G20, warning that nations which keep currency values low create imbalances, while the PBoC’s Zhou continued to push for a higher profile for the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). For the week, the DJIA rose 1.0%, the Nasdaq gained 0.9% and the S&P500 was up 1.0%. – John Deere crushed earnings and revenue targets in its Q1 report and nearly doubled its guidance for FY11 equipment sales. The firm hiked its sales guidance for its key agriculture and construction units as well, and said its Q2 revenue would blow out consensus estimates. Later in the week Caterpillar released very favorable dealer metrics for the month of January, with North America machinery sales up a whopping 58% y/y in the month. – Iron ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources reported very strong Q4 profits on a big y/y gain in iron ore pricing. The company expects global steel production to continue to grow in 2011, although it warned that spot iron ore prices are unsustainably high. Reliance Steel also blew out earnings estimates, and said pricing would remain strong at least through the first quarter of 2011. – In tech, Dell’s profit was way ahead of the consensus in its Q4 report, thanks to a big improvement in margins. The company said it believes the corporate IT…

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Urban Magnets for Disaster

Filed in BP, deflation, economy, Ford, Gold, inflation, o, silver, ubs, US Dollar by on February 18, 2011 0 Comments

When it comes to bad stuff the sky’s the limit. It’s gonna happen, eventually…one way or another. And it could be real bad. And when bad stuff happens, you’re better off being somewhere else. Where? Generally, bad stuff seems to happen most often in cities. Why is that? Cities are where most people live. It is where governments are. And it is where the labor force is most specialized. There are no subsistence farmers living in cities. Nor do urban populations “live off the land.” Instead, they depend on complex networks of commerce. The typical city dweller produces neither food nor energy. He sits all day in an office — completely dependent on others to provide power and food. Then, he goes home — still completely dependent on the division of labor for his most important needs. Progress can be described as the elaboration of the division of labor. In man’s most primitive state, specialization is extremely limited. From what we’ve been told, the early man was the hunter. Early woman gathered…that’s about the extent of it. As the tribe grows larger, specialization increases. One person might tend the fire. Another might be in charge of making clothes or arrows. The advent of sedentary agriculture and towns caused a big leap forward in human progress and, not coincidentally, the division of labor. Some townspeople went out to tend the fields. Others began to focus on woodworking…or iron mongering…or making weapons…or clothes. Some played cards and hung around at bars. There was soon a homebuilding industry…and, not long after, merchants, prostitutes and bankers…and even shyster lawyers and tax collectors. As the division of labor expanded, the average person became richer…and more dependent on others. In order to eat, someone else had to plant…and till…and harvest…and hunt…and gather. And then, when agriculture became mechanized, he depended on faraway people who produced oil and gasoline…and people who built …

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Gallup: The Unemployment Rate is 10%

Gallup:  The Unemployment Rate is 10%

Jobs…jobs…jobs… I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but it’s true: This economy is going nowhere unless we start creating some jobs. As for the recent drop in the unemployment rate to 9.0%, I’m not buying it since it comes from Uncle Sam. The real figure is likely closer to what Gallup is reporting today… From by Dennis Jacobe entitled: Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment Up to 10% in Mid-February “Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.0% in mid-February — up from 9.8% at the end of January. Underemployment, in which Gallup combines part-time workers wanting full-time work with the U.S. unemployment rate, surged in mid-February to 19.6% — mostly as a result of the sharp increase in those working part time but wanting full-time work. Underemployment now stands at basically the same place as it did a year ago (19.8%). The unemployment rate in mid-February is 0.8 percentage points lower than it was at this time a year ago, compared with a 1.1-point improvement at the end of January. This suggests that jobs are less available now than they were in January. More troubling, however, is the surge in underemployment. On this broader basis, current job conditions are barely improved from what they were at this time last year. Essentially, what has happened over the past year is that some people who were unemployed got part-time jobs but are still looking for full-time work. This is not much to show for a year in which many macro-economic indicators showed improvement. This is likely why Gallup’s self-reported spending

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Food Processor Archer Daniels Midland to Profit from Inflation

Filed in commodities, inflation, o, South African Gold, Spot Gold by on February 16, 2011 0 Comments
Food Processor Archer Daniels Midland to Profit from Inflation

Filed under: Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) , Commodities Raw commodities like grains, sugar and cotton are skyrocketing in price. These raw foods are then processed for consumption. Archer Daniels Midland ( ADM ) is one of the world largest food processors. It processes corn into corn oil syrups, sweeteners, citric and lactic acid and ethanol. Soybeans are crushed into soybean oil and meal, Wheat is processed into flour and pasta. Cocoa is turned into chocolate and confections. It provides animal feed for farmers and meal for brewers. It has one of the largest distribution networks in the world. Continue reading Food Processor Archer Daniels Midland to Profit from Inflation Food Processor Archer Daniels Midland to Profit from Inflation originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Wed, 16 Feb 2011 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink | Email this | Comments

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The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class

Filed in BP, Debt, economy, Ford, Gold, GOld juniors, inflation, Lear, o, recession, silver by on February 16, 2011 0 Comments
The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class

Here’s a copy of the chart of the day.As you might have suspected, the rich get richer while everyone else basically gets to tread water. The article that follows once again drives home a point I have been harping on for years now: The Middle Class in a state of terminal decline. And when it vanishes for good, America will be a very different place. If you ask me, in a lot of ways it already is…. From CNNMONEY by Annalyn Censky entitled: How the middle class became the underclass “ Are you better off than your parents? Probably not if you’re in the middle class. Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it’s not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed. In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data. Experts point to some of the usual suspects — like technology and globalization — to explain the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. One major pull on the working man was the decline of unions and other labor protections, said Bill Rodgers, a former chief economist for the Labor Department, now a professor at Rutgers University. International competition is another factor. While globalization has lifted millions out of poverty in developing nations, it hasn’t exactly been a win for middle class workers in the U.S. Factory workers have seen many of their jobs shipped to other countries where labor is cheaper, putting more downward pressure on American wages. “As we became more connected to China, that poses the question of whether our wages are being set in Beijing,” Rodgers said. Finding it harder to compete with cheaper manufacturing costs abroad, the U.S. has emerged as primarily a services-producing economy. That trend has created a cultural shift in the job skills American employers are looking for. As a result, the disparity between the wages for college educated workers versus high school grads has widened significantly since the 1980s. In 1980, workers …

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Gold, Silver, Copper, Nickel and the Slow Death of Money

Gold, Silver, Copper, Nickel and the Slow Death of Money

A huge opportunity to hedge against both inflation and deflation is lying out there in the open. There are no transaction costs and right now there’s even a built-in discount. But most people will never realize any of this. In 1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102, which made it illegal for U.S. citizens to hold gold bullion. Prior to that, the $20 bill was essentially a warehouse receipt for a one-ounce gold coin. Prior to the Federal Reserve Act of 1914, the $20 bill actually told you this. After Executive Order 6102, $20 notes weren’t allowed to be exchanged for gold anymore. Americans couldn’t legally own or trade gold as money and savings, only as jewelry or collectible coins. A year after making monetary gold ownership illegal, FDR revalued gold from $20.67 per ounce to $35 an ounce with the Gold Reserve Act. The Act also required all gold and gold certificates to be turned over to the Treasury. The dollar was debased. A chunk of the gold it used to be good for was legally removed. Instead of  “containing” 1/20 an ounce of gold, each dollar now only contained (or represented) 1/35 an ounce. And of course you couldn’t actually own the gold itself. In 1971 Nixon severed the last official ties between gold and the dollar. The dollar quickly sunk to its real value, which had been debased by years of money supply inflation. By 1975 Americans were allowed to own bullion gold again, but during the roughly 40 years bullion gold ownership had been illegal, the dollar had been drastically debased. At its former lowest point in the summer of 1980, the dollar …

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Inflation in (Mostly) the Wrong Places

It is often claimed that inflation is a benign, even positive, force. People assume that prices, wages, and assets will all rise together… In the real world, inflationary episodes don’t play out that way. Wages don’t keep up, and bubbles form in unexpected (and unwanted) places. In America, compensation is clearly stagnant. And the outlook for future pay raises is not good, as this chart from David Rosenberg shows: Contrast that with this next chart, which shows the percentage of companies planning to raise prices: Combine stagnant wages and slow growth with high unemployment and rising prices, and you get a recipe for stagflation. This scenario is being played out around the world. In the UK, consumer prices rose 4% in 2010. As noted by the Financial Times , wages aren’t keeping up: The prices of everyday goods and services are rising about twice as rapidly as average wages, Tuesday’s inflation figures confirmed — which means that the standard of living of many Britons is already falling. According to the Bank of England, average pay at the end of this year will be able to buy no more than it could in 2005. It is the first time that the purchasing power of earnings has fallen so far since the 1920s. I expect this trend to continue as long as the Fed’s mad experiment is ongoing. The thing about Central Bank “easing” is you never know where inflation will pop up… Easy money will always fuel speculators, who have little skin in the game, to find another bubble to “invest” in. Silver, gold, oil With printing presses switched “on” for the foreseeable future, we remain bullish on precious metals. Silver is holding above $30 today and could hit $37.50 on the next leg up. Coal, oil, and natural gas investments should continue to do well. And as my colleague Nick Hodge of Energy and Capital says, “Buy it if it burns.” If you’re not yet convinced that Fed printing is directly related to rising commodity prices, examine the following chart. (The solid blue line represents the Austrian Money Supply (AMS), and the solid teal line represents commodity prices ( IMF Commodity Index )): Note: The version of money supply shown

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Three Garbage Stocks

Three Garbage Stocks

The market goes up everyday… This two-year chart represents the thirty varsity players on the U.S. economic court. You might look at this 100% gain in two years and think that this bull market is overdue for a correction. But don’t worry. Uncle Ben, our fair Chairman over at the United States Federal Reserve, has it all in hand. This is not the time to fret over debt, inflation, taxes, or unemployment… Don’t fight the Fed This market is simple. The Fed is pumping liquidity into the market at an unprecedented rate. There is an old Wall Street platitude that says “Don’t Fight the Fed.” It means you buy stocks when interest rates are dropping and sell when they are going up. The current Fed fund rate is at 0.25%. It can’t get much lower, and no one expects them to hike rates in the near future. What are you waiting for… zero percent? People heed the Bernanke It looks like folks just like you and me are putting the hard times behind them… The adjusted retail numbers for December showed $380.9 billion in sales, an increase of 0.6 percent from the previous month, and 7.9 percent above December 2009. Total sales for 2010 were up 6.6 percent. For the fourth quarter, they were up 7.8 percent. Car sales jumped 14.7 percent over last year. For non-store retailers like Amazon, sales jumped 15 percent. The unofficial numbers for January show a 4.1 percent gain from a year ago. This is great stuff. Amazon investors liked it so much that the company now trades at twice the price it did during the dot-com bubble in 1999. Amazing. ~~SIGNUP_WD~~ The screen It’s a good idea to screen for stocks at least once a week. I generally screen for low P/E, small market capitalization, and good dividend. From there, I go through the list and look for red flags and growth potential. I like the companies that are under $250 million in market value, with high future growth and fat margins. I also look at debt ratios. I call these “garbage stocks” because they ain’t for widows and orphans, but they tend to run under the right circumstances. Today, three companies in the retail sector popped up on my screen. All three shared my garbage stock credentials. And they have something else in common: They cater to the petite bourgeois. They are Books-A-Million (NASDAQ: BAMM), Collectors Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT), and CPI Corp. (NYSE: CPY). The merchant of Wal-Mart All of these companies sell products to the middle class, but none of their products are necessities… Books-A-Million runs 223 discount bookstores in the Southeastern United States. Collectors Universe provides third-party authentication, grading, and related services for rare collectibles like coins, trading cards, and sports memorabilia. CPI runs Wal-Mart Portrait Studios and PictureMe Portrait Studios. BAMM has a market cap of $92 million and a trailing P/E of 6.62. The company had a negative revenue growth of 5.5% year over year, but it does pay a fat 5.2% dividend. (They could also be a beneficiary of Barnes and Noble going bankrupt.) CLCT has a market cap of $109.34 million, a P/E of 6.6, gross margins of 60%, quarterly revenue growth of 8%, and a dividend yield of 9%. CPY has a market cap of $152 million, a P/E of 8.06, 8% margins, a flat quarterly revenue growth, and a 5.10% dividend yield. …

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Sysco Confirms Our Worst Fears

Filed in AMAG, BP, GOld juniors, Gold Market, HAL, inflation, lead, Lear, o, target by on February 14, 2011 0 Comments

The food inflation strategies we outlined here and here and here may have sounded a bit gloomy, but considering what’s been happening in the commodity markets (inflation, weather-related disasters, and freezing conditions in Mexico), the well-timed strategies remain in place. ———————— Now that Sysco has confirmed their prices are rocketing (which also means your food prices will head north), it’s about to get a lot worse for the millions already struggling to pay their outrageous food bills… According to reports, you’ll pay double… even triple the price for produce within weeks thanks to a freeze that wiped out crops in Mexico and the southwestern US. And, according to Zero Hedge, “Now might be a good time to hit the frozen foods (or fresh produce if you’ve got a vacuum sealer) aisle at your local grocery store and stock up on your favorite fruits and veggies, as there may be a severe supply crunch coming in the next couple weeks lasting perhaps several months.” “Why pay premium prices later when you can prepare yourself today, before the rest of the country gets wind of it,” says Zero Hedge, as inflationary risks, supply problems, weather related incidents, and a recent freeze in Mexico that’s lead to an 80% and 100% crop damage makes life a bit more unbearable for companies that Sysco, which just released the following note: ALL OF OUR GROWERS HAVE INVOKED THE ACT OF GOD CLAUSE ON OUR CONTRACTS DUE TO THE FOLLOWING RELEASE. WE WILL BE CONTACTING YOU PERSONALLY TO REVIEW HOW THIS WILL AFFECT OUR CONTRACTED ITEMS WITH YOU GOING FORWARD. THE DEVASTATING FREEZE IN MEXICO IS WORST FREEZE IN OVER 50 YEARS… THE EXTREME FREEZING TEMPERATURES HIT A VERY BROAD SECTION OF MAJOR GROWING REGIONS IN MEXICO, FROM HERMOSILLO IN THE NORTH ALL THE WAY SOUTH TO LOS MOCHIS AND EVEN SOUTH OF CULIACAN. THE EARLY REPORTS ARE STILL COMING IN BUT MOST ARE SHOWING LOSSES OF CROPS IN THE RANGE OF 80 TO 100%. EVEN SHADE HOUSE PRODUCT WAS HIT BY THE EXTREMELY COLD TEMPS. IT WILL TAKE 7-10 DAYS TO HAVE A CLEARER PICTURE FROM GROWERS AND FIELD SUPERVISORS, BUT THESE GROWING REGIONS HAVEN’T HAD COLD LIKE THIS IN OVER A HALF CENTURY. THIS TIME OF YEAR, MEXICO SUPPLIES A SIGNIFICANT PERCENT OF NORTH AMERICA’S ROW CROP VEGETABLES SUCH AS: GREEN BEANS, EGGPLANT, CUCUMBERS, SQUASH, PEPPERS, ASPARAGUS, AND ROUND AND ROMA TOMATOES. FLORIDA NORMALLY IS A MAJOR SUPPLIER FOR THESE ITEMS AS WELL BUT THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN STRUCK WITH SEVERE FREEZE DAMAGE IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY AND UP UNTIL NOW HAVE HAD TO PURCHASE PRODUCT OUT OF MEXICO TO FILL THEIR COMMITMENTS, THAT IS NO LONGER AND OPTION. WITH THE SERIES OF WEATHER DISASTERS THAT HAS OCCURRED IN BOTH OF THESE MAJOR GROWING AREAS WE WILL EXPERIENCE IMMEDIATE VOLATILE PRICES, EXPECTED LIMITED AVAILABILITY, AND MEDIOCRE QUALITY AT BEST. THIS WILL NOT ONLY HAVE AN IMMEDIATE…

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