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The 5 Biggest Market Risks That Billionaires are Hedging Against

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If you’ve studied the history of markets, you know that sentiment can turn on a dime.

Whether it is an unexpected wake-up call like the collapse of Lehman Brothers, or simply the popping of a bubble that’s blown too big, the tides can shift in a matter of hours or days.

No one knows this better than the world’s most elite investors – and that’s why billionaires like Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, Bill Gross, Paul Tudor Jones II, and Carl Icahn take the necessary precautions available to protect themselves from these big and unexpected market swings.

5 Risks That Keep Billionaires Up at Night

Today’s infographic comes to us from Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts and it highlights some of the potential market risks that could move markets, as well as how these elite investors are hedging to protect their fortunes.

The 5 Biggest Market Risks That Billionaire Investors are Hedging Against

While these are all market risks that billionaires are concerned about, it’s worth mentioning that these kinds of events are almost impossible to predict or forecast.

Despite the unlikelihood of them occurring, they all have the potential to impact markets – and that’s why elite investors are always active in hedging their investments.

A Note on Net Worth

Why are billionaires so concerned – after all, don’t they have lots of cash to protect themselves?

It’s worth noting that on a relative basis, billionaires often aren’t very liquid at all. In fact, the majority of their net worth is usually tied up in business interests or other investments, and the value of these assets fluctuate with the market.

That means a big market movement could wipe out millions or billions of dollars in the span of hours. For an extreme example of this, just look at Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his net worth plunge $6 billion in just one day in the wake of his company’s most recent privacy crisis.

The 5 Big Market Risks

Here are the risks keeping the world’s most elite investors up at night:

1. The Return of Inflation
Have central banks mastered monetary policy- or is there a chance that inflation could come back with a vengeance? After trending down for decades, billionaire Carl Icahn says that creeping inflation could lead to higher interest rates, which he thinks would be “difficult to deal with for the market”.

2. Record High Debt
The most recent number for global debt is at $233 trillion, and about $63 trillion of that is central government debt.

Bill Gross, the “Bond King”, says that our system is dependent on leverage, and the critical values that affect this are debt levels, availability, and the cost of leverage. He said in a recent interview that “When one or more of these factors deteriorates, the probability of the model’s success and stability go down”.

3. Bond Market Worries
Last year, 84% of investors said that the corporate bond market was overvalued – and 82% said that the government bond market was overvalued.

In a recent interview, hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II predicted a price plunge, saying that “Bonds are the most expensive they’ve ever been by virtually any metric. They’re overvalued and over-owned.”

4. Geopolitical Black Swans
Elite investors continue to worry about geopolitical surprises that could impact markets, such as a trade war with China. We looked at this broad topic in depth in our previous infographic on geopolitical black swans.

5. Overzealous Central Banks
Lastly, many world-class investors are also concerned about the unintended aftereffects of massive central bank programs in recent years. With $13 trillion in total QE pumped into global markets since 2008, investors are worried about how much room that central banks have left to maneuver in a situation where the central bank “tool kit” is needed.

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Gold

The World’s Gold and Silver Coin Production vs. Money Creation

In 2019, the value of global money creation was over 500 times higher than the world’s gold and silver coin production combined.

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World's Gold and Silver Coin Production

Global Gold & Silver Coin Production vs. Money Creation

Note: Data has been updated to correct a previous calculation error pertaining to Japanese Yen money supply.

Both precious metals and cash serve as safe haven assets, intended to limit losses during market turmoil. However, while modern currencies can be printed by central governments, precious metals derive value from their scarcity.

In this infographic from Texas Precious Metals, we compare the value of the world’s gold and silver coin production to global money creation.

Total Production Per Person, 2019

We calculated the value of global currency issuance in 2019 as well as precious metal coins minted, and divided by the global population to get total production per person.

Throughout, global money supply is a proxy based on the 5 largest reserve currencies: the U.S. dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, Sterling Pound, and Chinese Renminbi.

2019 ProductionOuncesDollar ValueDollar Value Per Person
Global Gold Coins7,204,982$10.9B$1.42
Global Silver Coins97,900,000$1.8B$0.23
Global Money Supply$4.3T$556.33

All numbers are in USD according to exchange rates as of December 31 2019. Gold and silver values are based on the 2019 year close price of $1,510.60 and $17.90 respectively.

The value of new global money supply was 390 times higher than the value of gold coins minted, and 2,400 times higher than silver coins minted.

Put another way, for each ounce of minted gold coin, the global money supply increased by more than $593,000.

Change in Annual Production, 2019 vs. 2010

Compared to the start of the decade, here’s how annual production levels have changed:

 20102019% change
Global Silver Coins (oz)95,900,00097,900,0002.1%
Global Gold Coins (oz)6,298,3317,204,98214.4%
Global Money Supply (USD)$2,936,296,692,440$4,268,993,639,92645.4%

Annual increases to global money supply have increased by half, far outpacing the change in the world’s gold and silver coin production.

Even more recently, how has production changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 Effect

In response to the global pandemic, central banks have enacted numerous measures to help support economies—including issuing new currency.

The global money supply increased by more than $6.8 trillion in the first half of 2020. In fact, the value of printed currency was 930 times higher than the value of minted gold coins over the same timeframe.

Investors may want to consider which asset is more vulnerable to inflation as they look to protect their portfolios.

Want to learn more? See the U.S. version of this graphic.

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Mining

Visualizing U.S. Money Supply vs. Precious Metal Production in the COVID-19 Era

Amid trillions in COVID-19 stimulus, this graphic compares new U.S. dollars printed to U.S. precious metal coin production.

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U.S. Precious Metal Coin Prduction

U.S. Precious Metal Coin Production in the COVID-19 Era

Gold and silver have played an important role in money throughout history. Unlike modern currencies, they can’t be created out of thin air and derive value from their scarcity.

In the COVID-19 era, this difference has become more prominent as countries print vast amounts of currency to support their suffering economies. This graphic from Texas Precious Metals highlights how the value of U.S. precious metal coin production compares to U.S. money creation.

Year to Date Production

In this infographic, we have calculated the value of money supply added as well as bullion minted, and divided it by the U.S. population to get total production per person. Here’s how the January-September 2020 data breaks down:

 Total (Ounces)Dollar ValueDollar Value Per Person
U.S. Gold Ounces826,000$1.6B$4.79
U.S. Silver Ounces22,261,500$544M$1.65
U.S. Money Supply$3.4T$10,250.16
U.S. Debt$3.8T$11,578.36

Gold and silver dollar values based on Oct 5, 2020 spot prices of $1,915.93 and $24.47 respectively.

The value of new U.S. money supply was more than 2,100 times higher than the value of new gold minted. Compared to minted silver, the value of new U.S. money supply was over 6,000 times higher.

Production Per Day, Per State Over Time

Here’s how production has changed on a per day, per state basis since 2010:

 20102020 YTD (Jan-Sep)Min-Max Production, 2010-2019 
Minted Gold Coins 78oz61oz12oz-78oz 
Minted Silver Coins 1,945oz1,631oz899oz-2,633oz 
U.S. Dollars$19M$255M$19M-$50M 

Year to date, U.S. precious metal coin production is within a normal historical range. If production were to continue at the current rate through December, gold would be above historical norms at 81 ounces and silver would be within the normal range at 2,175 ounces.

The issuance of U.S. dollars tells a different story. Over the last nine months, the U.S. has already added 400% more dollars to its money supply than it did in the entirety of 2019—and there’s still three months left to go in the year.

A Macroeconomic View

Of course, current economic conditions have been a catalyst for the ballooning money supply. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has issued over $3 trillion in fiscal stimulus. In turn, the U.S. Federal Reserve has increased the money supply by $3.4 trillion from January to September 2020.

U.S. Money Supply

Put another way, for every ounce of gold created in 2020 there has been $4 million U.S. dollars added to the money supply.

The question for those looking for safe haven investments is: which of these will ultimately hold their value better?

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