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Greek Bailout Speculation: The Effect on The US$ and Gold

Turn off the TV and forget about the newspaper. If you want to understand the equity market gyrations of the last couple of weeks simply log on to an internet service like Briefing.com and watch for updates to the sovereign debt crisis.   Today’s trading is a perfect example of this new paradigm.  The Greek tragedy has turned into a farce as constant rumors have succeeded in whipping the markets into a frenzy.

Markets opened today’s trading on a firmer note because…

Greek bailout speculation lifts euro – Reuters

Reuters reports euro rose on Tuesday on speculation that European Union nations could bail out errant member Greece, while global stocks were flat and emerging market shares climbed. Expectations about a rescue for Greece followed news that European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was leaving a meeting of central bankers in Sydney early to attend a European Union leaders’ summit. EU leaders will hold a special summit on the economy on Thursday in Brussels amid increasing worries that Greece and other so-called peripheral euro zone economies cannot handle their debts and deficits. Spreads between German 10-year bonds and Portuguese and Spanish equivalents tightened. The spread with Greek debt was steady, but wide at 365 basis points.

…Then things went into high gear when this story hit the wire:

Germany Preparing Aid Package To Greece, FTD Says — Bloomberg

…The above news hit at 11:48, but wait, at 12:41 the following news splashed the wire and markets swooned:

German govt spokesman says reports about decision on aid for Greece are “unfounded” – Reuters

…But cooler heads prevailed and by 2:43 the market regained its footing as…

Germany considering loan guarantees for Greece, other troubled Euro partners, source says – WSJ

My purpose for the play by play of today’s equity action is to illustrate the lunacy of attempting to build an investment strategy based on short-term market swings.

After a couple of weeks of a strong US$ brought on by the Greek situation, I am inundated with comments from would-be experts that the rally in Gold is over.  These same experts, who are convinced they can spot the top in Gold prices, have been unable to spot the best bull market of the last decade. They have not owned Gold during its nearly 300% increase over the last 10 years, but somehow, through a haze of delusional arrogance, they are sure prices have peaked.  

When will Gold prices peak? Don’t know for sure. Trying to pick a price is a fool’s errand.  But I will tell you this: When Gold is, say, $3000/oz and I’m inundated with comments that prices are headed for $6000/oz I’ll be selling.

The following comments exemplify the actual long term trends we believe require scrutiny during the building of an investment strategy.  Yes, sovereign debt woes are a problem, but so are the debt woes of US states.  Running from the Euro into the US$ appears short-sighted and, to us, resembles the hapless effort of running from the deck into the galley of the Titanic. The only real safety (in a world where governments are playing the dangerous game of competitive devaluation and stimulus leapfrog) is the safety of Gold. Please hold onto the bar….    

In a nutshell, toxic assets have basically been swept under the rug in the hopes that we will outgrow the problem. Leverage ratios across every level of society are still reaching unprecedented levels as the public sector sacrifices the sanctity of its balance sheet in its quest to stabilize the dubious financial position of the household and banking sectors in many parts of the world.

Whatever bad assets have been resolved have almost entirely been placed on the books of governments and central banks, which now have their own particular set of risks, as we have witnessed very recently in places like Dubai, Mexico, and Greece, not to mention at the state and local government level in the United States. We simply have not seen a reduction in the percentage of properties with mortgages that are “under water”, hence the FDIC has identified 7% of banking sector assets ($850 billion) that are in “trouble”, so how can it possibly be that the financial system is anywhere close to some stable equilibrium? – David Rosenberg



Disclosure: no positions