The blessing and curse of being a contrarian is this: an inevitable outcome is recognized well before it comes to fruition. Even though profitable opportunities may be identified well in advance, it can take so long for hallmark events such as capitulation to happen, that it gives ample time to second guess one’s convictions.
We’ve believed, even before the correction that has recently hit U.S. markets, that the bear market for gold was long in the tooth. With asset bubbles all over the place, it has seemed for awhile that gold and silver were the only assets that were reasonably priced. Then yesterday, our friends at Palisade Capital sent us over five charts on why they believe that gold stocks are the most undervalued that they have been in decades.
We tend to agree with that sentiment, which is why in last week’s chart of the week we predicted that gold had already bottomed and that it had nowhere to go but up. (We further predicted that other commodities such as base metals would continue to get routed for the time being, and that U.S. equities would not return to the same levels for awhile.)
In any case, here are the charts:
1. The divergence between the S&P 500 and Bloomberg Commodity Index is at an all-time high.
2. The bear market in the TSX Venture now stands at 1,090+ days.
The TSX Venture, the Canadian home to the majority of the world’s junior mining stocks, is still plagued with plenty of zombie stocks that amount to billions of dollars of negative working capital. The exchange and regulators have also been readily criticized for recent changes that limit access to capital from retail investors. However, in spite of all of this, there are truly some great projects and assets lying in some of the companies that have survived the onslaught. As you’ll see in the next chart, these companies have never been more undervalued.
3. Gold stocks have never been this cheap relative to the price of gold.
The Gold BUGS Index (HUI), which tracks the world’s largest gold miners, was last this low when gold was only $250/oz.
4. The gold bear market is closing in on being the longest in BGMI history.
Using the Barron’s Gold Mining Index (BGMI), this is already the worst bear market for gold miners. However, in just a couple of months, it will also surpass the 1996-2000 bear market as the longest.
5. The ratio between the gold/silver sector to the S&P 500 is unprecedented.
When pricing the S&P 500 in terms of the Gold/Silver Sector Index (XAU), it has never been this expensive. Put another way: gold and silver has never been this cheap.
Why Gold is Money: A Periodic Perspective
Gold has been used as money for millennia. People often attribute this to beauty, but there are basic physical properties for why gold is money.
Why Gold is Money
The economist John Maynard Keynes famously called gold a “barbarous relic”, suggesting that its usefulness as money is an artifact of the past. In an era filled with cashless transactions and hundreds of cryptocurrencies, this statement seems truer today than in Keynes’ time.
However, gold also possesses elemental properties that has made it an ideal metal for money throughout history.
Sanat Kumar, a chemical engineer from Columbia University, broke down the periodic table to show why gold has been used as a monetary metal for thousands of years.
The Periodic Table
The periodic table organizes 118 elements in rows by increasing atomic number (periods) and columns (groups) with similar electron configurations.
Just as in today’s animation, let’s apply the process of elimination to the periodic table to see why gold is money:
- Gases and Liquids
Noble gases (such as argon and helium), as well as elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine and chlorine are gaseous at room temperature and standard pressure. Meanwhile, mercury and bromine are liquids. As a form of money, these are implausible and impractical.
- Lanthanides and Actinides
Next, lanthanides and actinides are both generally elements that can decay and become radioactive. If you were to carry these around in your pocket they could irradiate or poison you.
- Alkali and Alkaline-Earth Metals
Alkali and alkaline earth metals are located on the left-hand side of the periodic table, and are highly reactive at standard pressure and room temperature. Some can even burst into flames.
- Transition, Post Transition Metals, and Metalloids
There are about 30 elements that are solid, nonflammable, and nontoxic. For an element to be used as money it needs to be rare, but not too rare. Nickel and copper, for example, are found throughout the Earth’s crust in relative abundance.
- Super Rare and Synthetic Elements
Osmium only exists in the Earth’s crust from meteorites. Meanwhile, synthetic elements such as rutherfordium and nihonium must be created in a laboratory.
Once the above elements are eliminated, there are only five precious metals left: platinum, palladium, rhodium, silver and gold. People have used silver as money, but it tarnishes over time. Rhodium and palladium are more recent discoveries, with limited historical uses.
Platinum and gold are the remaining elements. Platinum’s extremely high melting point would require a furnace of the Gods to melt back in ancient times, making it impractical. This leaves us with gold. It melts at a lower temperature and is malleable, making it easy to work with.
Gold as Money
Gold does not dissipate into the atmosphere, it does not burst into flames, and it does not poison or irradiate the holder. It is rare enough to make it difficult to overproduce and malleable to mint into coins, bars, and bricks. Civilizations have consistently used gold as a material of value.
Perhaps modern societies would be well-served by looking at the properties of gold, to see why it has served as money for millennia, especially when someone’s wealth could disappear in a click.
Animation: How Billionaires are Preparing for the Next Bear Market
No one likes to lose money, even if you have billions to spare. See how the world’s most elite investors – like Ray Dalio – are protecting themselves.
How Billionaires are Preparing for the Next Bear Market
No one likes to lose money, even if you have billions to spare.
It’s why the prospect of a bear market – a prolonged downturn which sees stock prices fall by at least 20% over two months or more – is something that keeps even the world’s most elite investors awake at night.
To hedge against this concern, the world’s billionaires use a variety of strategies and tactics to protect their wealth, including setting up their portfolios with specific asset allocations that can help soften any blow caused by an extended market downturn.
Today’s animation comes to us from Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts and it highlights a strategy being used by billionaires ranging from Ray Dalio to John Tudor Jones II.
Because market sentiment can change so quickly in the market, these elite investors protect themselves by having diverse portfolios that include uncorrelated assets.
While this sounds complicated, uncorrelated assets are simply investments that don’t move up or down in the same direction as the other asset classes in the portfolio. A small allocation to these uncorrelated items can help protect the value of a portfolio when market sentiment changes.
The King of Uncorrelated Assets
What kind of asset classes can be used for this kind of purpose?
While options like real estate, commodities, and cash can contribute to a more diversified portfolio beyond traditional stocks and bonds, many experts say that gold is the undisputed king of uncorrelated assets.
The price of gold doesn’t usually doesn’t move with the wider stock market – and often, because of its history, the yellow metal can even increase in price during the course of a bear market.
Here are some of the reasons billionaires turn towards an allocation in gold:
- Gold has acted as a store of value for thousands of years
- Gold can lower the volatility of a portfolio
- Gold can act as a hedge against inflation in some scenarios
- Gold is a traditional safe haven asset that investors flock to when the market goes astray
To kick off 2019, a new billionaire jumped onto the gold bandwagon – along with previous advocates such as Ray Dalio, David Einhorn, John Paulson, and John Tudor Jones II.
The newest entry to the club is Sam Zell, the pioneer behind real estate investment trusts (REITs). He bought gold for the first time in January, citing that it is “a good hedge” and that “supply is shrinking” as new mine discoveries dries up.
With market volatility back in the fray, it’ll be interesting to see how many more of the world’s elite investors also jump on the bandwagon.
Markets6 months ago
The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Giant Chart
Maps8 months ago
Mercator Misconceptions: Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries
Advertising5 months ago
Meet Generation Z: The Newest Member to the Workforce
Misc8 months ago
24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality
Advertising4 months ago
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Technology6 months ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Environment5 months ago
The World’s 25 Largest Lakes, Side by Side
Chart of the Week6 months ago
Chart: The World’s Largest 10 Economies in 2030