Authored by Peter Grosskopf, CEO Sprott Inc.
It has been nearly a decade since I made a career change from investment dealer to asset management. Throughout that time, the asset management industry has continued to change dramatically, bringing many benefits to investors. These include overall fee compression, the ability to own almost every conceivable segment of the market through ETFs, some increased participation in "alternative" investment strategies, much-improved access to information and risk disclosure and the proliferation of fee-based accounts providing tailored investment advice. The markets have delivered strong overall returns globally and those who have not been fully invested have been punished as asset classes of all descriptions rose in tandem, fueled by reasonably strong economies and low-interest rates.
That backdrop underpins the advice of almost all conventional asset managers today — to allocate capital mostly to broad, liquid equity and bond indices, with perhaps some participation in real estate and other dividend-paying asset classes. The global giants in our industry are no longer active investment managers; rather they resemble operators of licensed technology platforms that offer computer-generated models, packaging this robotic advice to their clients in easy-to-swallow bites.
The Cinderella Story Will End
There are ominous signs that dangers lie ahead for this Cinderella story, which has worked for investors lately but will not last forever. For one thing, all of the strategies described above have become increasingly correlated and have benefited from once-in-a-lifetime interest rate reductions. For another, global debt levels are at record levels and can no longer be serviced by the productive engines of the economy and normal tax levels. Many pensions and entitlement programs are past the point of broken and government deficits are out of control. A spate of recent IPOs based on ludicrous price-to-sales valuation multiples are eerily reminiscent of the dot-com bubble of 2000.
From a top-down perspective, there is no question that the combination of the increasing polarization of classes and politics will drive governments globally to adapt populist-leaning policies, rather than those that require moderation. It is clear to me that these dovish policies will now require financing through the hand-in-hand partners of massive deficits and direct currency printing, as justified by some version of Modern Monetary Theory (i.e., "helicopter money"). While inflation, as calculated by the misleading CPI (consumer price index) measure, is currently seen as low, there is simply no precedent by which to predict what might occur as this macroeconomic thriller plays out. An apt summary is that all of the above can be described as a tightly coiled spring which is becoming more loaded every year.
We understand that it is hard to resist the siren song of the solid track record that has been created by the investment industry in the past ten years, and the three decades which preceded it as the boomer generation propelled the markets and the economy. There is also ample logic to suggest that when helicopter money drops one must have some allocation to solid growth and value stocks, as well as dividend-paying real assets. These positions should broadly benefit from the growth and inflation that is initially generated as governments print more money.
Get Ready for the Next Financial Crisis: Gold Provides Proven Portfolio Protection
Source: Tocqueville Asset Management. Dates used: 1987 Crash: 8/25/87-10/19/87; Iraq Invades Kuwait: 7/17/90-10/12/90; Asia Crisis: 10/7/97-10/28/97; Russia/LTCM Crisis: 7/20/98-10/8/98; 9/11: 9/10/01-10/11/02; Global Financial Crisis: 10/11/07-3/6/09; Eurozone Crisis: 4/20/10-7/1/10; U.S. Sovereign Debt Downgrade: 7/25/11-8/9/11; Taper Tantrum: 5/22/13-6/24/13; China Worries: 8/18/15-2/11/16; Fed Rate Hike & China Trade War: 9/20/18-12/24/18.
Time to Add Portfolio Protection?
A reasonable question to ask is what happens if investors cool to Treasuries, or lose confidence in the purchasing power of their cash, or start to price in the multiple risks that appear to be lurking on the edges of "consensus" expectations? The crowded trade is to do nothing but that is yet another harbinger that the right thing to do is to begin to add some portfolio protection. As we see them, the existing liquid alternatives for insurance would, with U.S. Treasuries losing much of their appeal, be limited to (A) moving to cash; (B) purchasing portfolio protection options or moving to market-neutral funds; or, (C) buying gold or gold equities.
On the personal side, I accepted the position as CEO of Sprott because I felt, after more than 30 years of experience financing the mining industry, there was an opportunity to establish an industry-leading investment firm specializing in precious metals. I believe that investors will require our expertise as protection against a highly probable pullback in the markets. Lately, my patience has been tested by the markets’ resilient faith in government monetary policies and their proxies — the paper currencies.
Gold is Unmatched as a Diversification Tool
Most investors do not realize that gold is one of the world’s most liquid currencies and assets, trading with volumes equivalent to those of the euro or U.S. Treasury bond benchmarks. Although similar in philosophy, gold blows Bitcoin away on any measure by which the two can be compared. Gold bullion is easy to purchase and the principal risks are timing, fees and expenses. There are significant new developments in vaulting, ETFs and the digitization of gold, which are helping to improve access for all investors.
The digitization of gold is particularly important because it has ushered in the technology and platforms that address the final frontier for gold: allowing gold to be used within the financial system as a viable household-level payment currency which can credibly replace cash. Put yourself in the headspace of a citizen of most countries and you can understand why gold is immediately superior to holding local currency-denominated cash at the bank, which is an almost guaranteed loser of principal value over time. All of this underpins the conclusion that gold is a must-own cash diversification tool that provides a defense against fiat currency devaluation. Gold should be held in the account of every investor at some appropriate percentage. Sprott is exceptionally well qualified and able to assist individual and institutional investors in executing this allocation.
The Modern Era of Gold
Gold has outperformed equities and bonds since the dawn of radical monetary practices by world central banks.
Source: Bloomberg. Period from 12/31/1999 – 3/31/2019. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Perhaps now is finally the time for investors to benefit from a “life preserver” while others enjoy the card game on the decks of the central bank-piloted Titanic.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Additional disclosure: Important Disclosure
This content is intended solely for the use of Sprott Asset Management USA Inc. for use with investors and interested parties. Investments, commentary and statements are unique and may not be reflective of investments and commentary in other strategies managed by Sprott Asset Management USA, Inc., Sprott Asset Management LP, Sprott Inc., or any other Sprott entity or affiliate. Opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the presenter and may vary widely from opinions of other Sprott affiliated Portfolio Managers or investment professionals.
The intended use of this material is for information purposes only and is not intended to be an offer or solicitation for the sale of any financial product or service or a recommendation or determination that any investment strategy is suitable for a specific investor. Investors should seek financial advice regarding the suitability of any investment strategy based on the objectives of the investor, financial situation, investment horizon, and their particular needs. This information is not intended to provide financial, tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. The investments discussed herein are not insured by the FDIC or any other governmental agency, are subject to risks, including a possible loss of the principal amount invested.
Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts
Sprott Asset Management LP is the investment manager to the Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts (the “Trusts”). Important information about the Trusts, including the investment objectives and strategies, purchase options, applicable management fees, and expenses, is contained in the prospectus. Please read the document carefully before investing. Investment funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation to purchase securities of the Trusts.
The risks associated with investing in a Trust depend on the securities and assets in which the Trust invests, based upon the Trust’s particular objectives. There is no assurance that any Trust will achieve its investment objective, and its net asset value, yield and investment return will fluctuate from time to time with market conditions. There is no guarantee that the full amount of your original investment in a Trust will be returned to you. The Trusts are not insured by any government deposit insurer. Please read a Trust’s prospectus before investing. The information contained herein does not constitute an offer or solicitation to anyone in the United States or in any other jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation is not authorized or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer or solicitation. The information provided is general in nature and is provided with the understanding that it may not be relied upon as, nor considered to be, the rendering or tax, legal, accounting or professional advice. Readers should consult with their own accountants and/or lawyers for advice on the specific circumstances before taking any action.
An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a Statutory Prospectus, which contains this and other information please contact your financial professional, visit Sprott ETFs - Documents or call 1.855.215.1425. Read the Statutory Prospectus carefully before investing. Sprott Gold Miners ETF and Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF shares are not individually redeemable. Investors buy and sell shares of the Sprott Gold Miners ETF on a secondary market. Only market makers or “authorized participants” may trade directly with the Fund, typically in blocks of 50,000 shares. The Fund is not suitable for all investors. There are risks involved with investing in ETFs including the loss of money. The Fund is considered non-diversified and can invest a greater portion of assets in securities of individual issuers than a diversified fund. As a result, changes in the market value of a single investment could cause greater fluctuations in share price than would occur in a diversified fund.
Micro-cap stocks involve substantially greater risks of loss and price fluctuations because their earnings and revenues tend to be less predictable. These companies may be newly formed or in the early stages of development, with limited product lines, markets or financial resources and may lack management depth. The Fund will be concentrated in the gold and silver mining industry. As a result, the Fund will be sensitive to changes in, and its performance will depend to a greater extent on, the overall condition of the gold and silver mining industry. Also, gold and silver mining companies are highly dependent on the price of gold and silver bullion. These prices may fluctuate substantially over short periods of time so the Fund’s Share price may be more volatile than other types of investments.
Funds that emphasize investments in small/mid-cap companies will generally experience greater price volatility. Funds investing in foreign and emerging markets will also generally experience greater price volatility. There are risks involved with investing in ETFs including the loss of money. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses. ETFs are considered to have continuous liquidity because they allow for an individual to trade throughout the day. ALPS Portfolio Solutions Distributor, Inc. is the Distributor for the Sprott Gold Miners ETF and the Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF. The underlying index for the Sprott Gold Miners ETF is rebalanced on a quarterly basis and a higher portfolio turnover will cause the Fund to incur additional transaction costs. The underlying index for the Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF is rebalanced on a semi-annual basis and a higher turnover will cause the Fund to incur additional transaction costs. The US Dollar Index (DXY) is an index (or measure) of the value of the United States dollar relative to a basket of foreign currencies.
Generally, natural resources investments are more volatile on a daily basis and have higher headline risk than other sectors as they tend to be more sensitive to economic data, political and regulatory events as well as underlying commodity prices. Natural resource investments are influenced by the price of underlying commodities like oil, gas, metals, coal, etc.; several of which trade on various exchanges and have price fluctuations based on short-term dynamics partly driven by demand/supply and also by investment flows. Natural resource investments tend to react more sensitively to global events and economic data than other sectors, whether it is a natural disaster like an earthquake, political upheaval in the Middle East or release of employment data in the U.S. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Sprott Asset Management USA Inc., affiliates, family, friends, employees, associates, and others may hold positions in the securities it recommends to clients, and may sell the same at any time.