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Chinese Gold Demand Appears To Be Picking Up Again

Chinese Gold Demand Appears To Be Picking Up Again

Via SchiffGold.com,

Gold demand in China showed renewed strength over the last two months…

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Chinese Gold Demand Appears To Be Picking Up Again

Via SchiffGold.com,

Gold demand in China showed renewed strength over the last two months despite scattered COVID-19 lockdowns. Both gold withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) in August and gold imports in July were up.

China ranks as the world’s number one gold consumer.

Gold withdrawals from the SGE totaled 166 tons in August. That represents a 3% month-on-month rise and an 11% annual increase. According to the World Gold Council, “This was impressive given COVID-19 resurgences and subsequent restrictions imposed on mobility in cities such as Sanya.”

Analysts say manufacturers are stocking up on gold ahead of the peak gold consumption season. This is a good sign that manufacturers expect healthy demand in the coming months. October is traditionally a big month for gold jewelry sales during the seven-day National Day Holiday early in the month.

The most recent gold import numbers also offer a reason for optimism. Imports rocketed upward, increasing by 71 tons in July. Year on year, imports were up by 111 tons. Total gold imports came in at 178 tons on the month. That was the highest July total since 2017.

China shipped in more than 80 tons of Gold from Switzerland alone in July, according to the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. Imports from the major refining hub more than doubled the June total and were eight times higher than in May.

The WGC said, “This reflects the combination of recent strong gold demand and a rising local gold price premium, which often incentivizes importers.”

The recent increase in gold import activity reverses the decline we saw in the spring. Import numbers dropped significantly in April and May, but rebounded to over 100 tons in June before the big surge in July.

According to Bloomberg, “The data indicates that Chinese gold demand is picking up, after being hurt by lockdowns to control Covid outbreaks in several major cities. While the country’s purchases rarely have the power to drive prices higher, they can provide a floor when Western investors sell.”

Last year, China gave the green light to up gold imports. The report notes that China’s returning appetite for gold could potentially “support global prices.” Reuters called the size of the expected Chinese gold imports a “dramatic return to the global bullion market.”

Earlier this year, gold demand seemed to be maintaining the strength we saw in the market late last year, but it fell off dramatically in the spring with rising COVID cases and the government’s response. The big rebound in July indicates the Chinese gold market might be back on track.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/23/2022 - 11:45

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Economics

Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

The Great Moderation has given way to…

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Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

The Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks. US and global equities are already back in a bear market, and the scale of the crisis that awaits has not even been fully priced in yet.

For a year now, I have argued that the increase in inflation would be persistent, that its causes include not only bad policies but also negative supply shocks, and that central banks’ attempt to fight it would cause a hard economic landing. When the recession comes, I warned, it will be severe and protracted, with widespread financial distress and debt crises. Notwithstanding their hawkish talk, central bankers, caught in a debt trap, may still wimp out and settle for above-target inflation. Any portfolio of risky equities and less risky fixed-income bonds will lose money on the bonds, owing to higher inflation and inflation expectations.

How do these predictions stack up? First, Team Transitory clearly lost to Team Persistent in the inflation debate. On top of excessively loose monetary, fiscal, and credit policies, negative supply shocks caused price growth to surge. COVID-19 lockdowns led to supply bottlenecks, including for labor. China’s “zero-COVID” policy created even more problems for global supply chains. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves through energy and other commodity markets. And the broader sanctions regime – not least the weaponization of the US dollar and other currencies – has further balkanized the global economy, with “friend-shoring” and trade and immigration restrictions accelerating the trend toward deglobalization.

Everyone now recognizes that these persistent negative supply shocks have contributed to inflation, and the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the US Federal Reserve have begun to acknowledge that a soft landing will be exceedingly difficult to pull off. Fed Chair Jerome Powell now speaks of a “softish landing” with at least “some pain.” Meanwhile, a hard-landing scenario is becoming the consensus among market analysts, economists, and investors.

It is much harder to achieve a soft landing under conditions of stagflationary negative supply shocks than it is when the economy is overheating because of excessive demand. Since World War II, there has never been a case where the Fed achieved a soft landing with inflation above 5% (it is currently above 8%) and unemployment below 5% (it is currently 3.7%). And if a hard landing is the baseline for the United States, it is even more likely in Europe, owing to the Russian energy shock, China’s slowdown, and the ECB falling even further behind the curve relative to the Fed.

Are we already in a recession? Not yet, but the US did report negative growth in the first half of the year, and most forward-looking indicators of economic activity in advanced economies point to a sharp slowdown that will grow even worse with monetary-policy tightening. A hard landing by year’s end should be regarded as the baseline scenario.

While many other analysts now agree, they seem to think that the coming recession will be short and shallow, whereas I have cautioned against such relative optimism, stressing the risk of a severe and protracted stagflationary debt crisis. And now, the latest distress in financial markets – including bond and credit markets – has reinforced my view that central banks’ efforts to bring inflation back down to target will cause both an economic and a financial crash.

I have also long argued that central banks, regardless of their tough talk, will feel immense pressure to reverse their tightening once the scenario of a hard economic landing and a financial crash materializes. Early signs of wimping out are already discernible in the United Kingdom. Faced with the market reaction to the new government’s reckless fiscal stimulus, the BOE has launched an emergency quantitative-easing (QE) program to buy up government bonds (the yields on which have spiked).

Monetary policy is increasingly subject to fiscal capture. Recall that a similar turnaround occurred in the first quarter of 2019, when the Fed stopped its quantitative-tightening (QT) program and started pursuing a mix of backdoor QE and policy-rate cuts – after previously signaling continued rate hikes and QT – at the first sign of mild financial pressures and a growth slowdown. Central banks will talk tough; but there is good reason to doubt their willingness to do “whatever it takes” to return inflation to its target rate in a world of excessive debt with risks of an economic and financial crash.

Moreover, there are early signs that the Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks. In addition to the disruptions mentioned above, these shocks could include societal aging in many key economies (a problem made worse by immigration restrictions); Sino-American decoupling; a “geopolitical depression” and breakdown of multilateralism; new variants of COVID-19 and new outbreaks, such as monkeypox; the increasingly damaging consequences of climate change; cyberwarfare; and fiscal policies to boost wages and workers’ power.

Where does that leave the traditional 60/40 portfolio? I previously argued that the negative correlation between bond and equity prices would break down as inflation rises, and indeed it has. Between January and June of this year, US (and global) equity indices fell by over 20% while long-term bond yields rose from 1.5% to 3.5%, leading to massive losses on both equities and bonds (positive price correlation).

Moreover, bond yields fell during the market rally between July and mid-August (which I correctly predicted would be a dead-cat bounce), thus maintaining the positive price correlation; and since mid-August, equities have continued their sharp fall while bond yields have gone much higher. As higher inflation has led to tighter monetary policy, a balanced bear market for both equities and bonds has emerged.

But US and global equities have not yet fully priced in even a mild and short hard landing. Equities will fall by about 30% in a mild recession, and by 40% or more in the severe stagflationary debt crisis that I have predicted for the global economy. Signs of strain in debt markets are mounting: sovereign spreads and long-term bond rates are rising, and high-yield spreads are increasing sharply; leveraged-loan and collateralized-loan-obligation markets are shutting down; highly indebted firms, shadow banks, households, governments, and countries are entering debt distress.

The crisis is here.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/04/2022 - 17:25

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Economics

Oil Spikes After OPEC+ Hints At 2 Million B/D Production Cut

Oil Spikes After OPEC+ Hints At 2 Million B/D Production Cut

Oil prices are extending their recent gains following headlines from Vienna that…

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Oil Spikes After OPEC+ Hints At 2 Million B/D Production Cut

Oil prices are extending their recent gains following headlines from Vienna that OPEC+ is considering a reduction in its production limit of as much as 2 million barrels a day.

However, the impact on actual production could be smaller since several members are already pumping far below their officials quotas, meaning they could automatically be in compliance with their new limit without having to curb production.

Nevertheless, it could still result in the cartel's largest reduction since the deep cuts agreed at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and WTI surged up to $87 on the news...

Notably, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told the Energy Intelligence Forum in London this morning that the world is misinterpreting the oil market by worrying too much about a potential recession in the near future.

Current oil prices indicate a focus on "short-term economics rather than supply fundamentals."

"If China opens up, [the] economy starts improving or the aviation industry starts asking for more jet fuel, you will erode this spare capacity," he said.

"And when you erode that spare capacity the world should be worried. There will be no space for any hiccup — any interruption, any unforeseen events anywhere around the world."

The timing could not be more interesting as it comes just weeks after Biden begged the Saudis to hike production and just weeks before the Midterms... with gas prices at the pump beginning to rise again (to record highs in California)...

Finally, Biden's political emptying of the SPR has left it with a record low of just 22 days supply...

Source: Bloomberg

Let's hope we don't have a real emergency - other than collapsing poll numbers we mean of course...

And given the resurgence in crude and wholesale gasoline prices, regular pump prices are set to soar again...

By the way, whatever happened to that Ridiculous Buyers' Cartel idea? 

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/04/2022 - 11:00

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Economics

Consumer Savings Shrink to 2008 Lows

Americans are saving less money than ever as inflation and higher interest rates have impacted their budgets.

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Americans are saving less money than ever as inflation and higher interest rates have impacted their budgets.

The American consumer is accumulating less money each month and tapping into their savings to pay for basic necessities and bills such as utilties, adding to fears of a recession

The personal savings rate in the U.S. for August was down to 3.5%, which is flat compared to July's rate, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis that was released on Sept. 30. 

"It’s a natural consequence of high inflation that has been forcing individuals and households to raid their own savings accounts where they have them," Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economic analyst, told TheStreet. "Not everyone has been so fortunate. Others have had to cut back severely or rely more on credit."

Wage growth in many industries has fallen short as inflation has risen exponentially this year.

"The fact is that wage growth has not been keeping pace with inflation and has had a negative impact on savings," he said.

The savings rate is calculated by the income that is remaining aftter consumers pay for food, rent and energy as well as taxes.

The decline in the savings rate matches the low rate in August 2008. 

"As the economy reopened, consumers rushed to spend more of their past savings and current income," Anthony Chan, former chief economist for JPMorgan Chase, told TheStreet. "The yearly rise in the CPI has been outpacing the growth in average hourly earnings for all workers since April 2021. That has created another incentive for consumers to lower their savings rate to maintain their standard of living as inflation continues to outpace the growth in wages for all workers."

The percentage of disposable personal income was 3.6% in May, but fell to 3% in June as many Americans went on summer vacations. 

Inflation has eroded the amount of income workers have as the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) Price Index increased by 4.9% in August from last year and by 0.6% on the month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.

This reduced hopes that the Federal Reserve would halt its plans for at least another rate hike since the PCE is the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation.

The headline PCE index rose 0.3% on the month, but fell to 6.3% on the year following the first month-on-month decline which was recorded last month -- since April 2020.

Personal income rose by 0.3%, while personal spending rose by 0.4%, the BEA noted.

Consumers received a slight reprieve when gasoline prices fell for 14 consecutive weeks.

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Gasoline Prices Rising Again

The streak of cheaper gasoline prices ended last week as a string of refinery issues pushed prices up higher slightly

For the second straight week, gas prices moved higher with the average gas price posting a rise of 11 cents from a week ago to $3.78 per gallon today, according to GasBuddy data compiled from over 150,000 stations nationwide. 

The national average is up 4 cents from a month ago and 59 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has declined by 29 cents in the last week and stands at $4.86 per gallon.

“With gas prices continuing to surge on the West Coast and Great Lakes, the national average saw its second straight weekly rise," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis, GasBuddy, a Boston-based provider of retail fuel pricing information and data. "But at the same time, areas of the Northeast and Gulf Coast have continued to see declines as the nation experiences sharp differences in trends between regions.

Along the West Coast, some states reported prices rose 35 cents to 55 cents a gallon as gasoline supply declined to its lowest level in a decade in the region, resulting in skyrocketing prices. 

Another price spike is possible, he said.

"While I’m hopeful there will eventually be relief, prices could go a bit higher before cooling off," De Haan said. "In addition, OPEC could decide to cut oil production by a million barrels as the global economy slows down, potentially creating a catalyst that could push gas prices up further.”

Consumer Confidence Increases 

The Consumer Confidence Index rebounded and rose to its highest level since April - it has increased by 12 points compared to just two months ago. 

"Falling gasoline prices and a still-tight labor market are the main reasons we have seen a recent rebound in confidence," wrote Tim Quinlan, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, and Shannon Seery, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities. "But as inflation persists and the Fed lifts rates to combat it, we are unlikely to see confidence approach pre-pandemic levels."

Optimism from consumers rose with both the Conference Boards Consumer Confidence Index or Consumer Sentiment from the University of Michigan despite higher inflation rates and uncertainty about the outlook on the economy.  

Consumers started cutting back on spending on both discretionary items and and staples earlier this year as retailers have reported a lower demand.

Target  (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report and Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report were among retailers that reported weaker profits while the travel and leisure industries benefitted from pent up demand.

The Fed has raised rates five times this year, starting with a 0.25% hike in March. Its most recent hike was the third consecutive 0.75%.

Consumer confidence levels are not likely to remain at these levels, Quinlan and Seery wrote.

"Still-elevated inflation and the aggressive tightening path from the Federal Reserve to combat it will likely weigh on consumers financial prospects," he said. "The recent gain in confidence may be supportive of spending in the near-term, but as long as inflation persists and risks of recession remain confidence is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels."

A United Nations agency is now asking for central banks such as the Federal Reserve to stop its interest rate increases.

Additional tightening would only increase the odds of a global recession, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in its annual report on the global economy. 

The agency estimates that a percentage point increase in the Fed’s key interest rate will decrease the amount of economic output by 0.5% in richer countries while the impact is greater in poor countries by a decline of 0.8% over the next three years.

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