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Dec 29, 2010

Shayne McGuire: Everything gold is new again | GATA THE- GATA DISPATCH

Shayne McGuire: Everything gold is new again

Submitted by cpowell on 01:27PM ET Wednesday, December 29, 2010. Section: Daily Dispatches By Shayne McGuire
Newsweek, New York
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
http://www.newsweek.com/2010/12/29/everything-gold-is-new-again.html
Gold used to be regarded as an investment for losers -- for the crazies forever expecting the financial apocalypse.
To the great economist John Maynard Keynes, it was a "barbarous relic" of a primeval economic past. Many people have abandoned that lousy stereotype, now that the debt-driven bubbles in stocks and real estate have burst.
Following the collapse of the world's largest bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the largest insurer, American Insurance Group, among many other notable institutions now owned and directed by Western governments, people have come to understand the need for time-proven financial insurance that can insulate their wealth from government and financial firms. And there's only one viable and liquid investment that enables people to pull their wealth out of the financial system: gold.
.
Buying gold has been the best method for shorting the government. Betting against government -- that is, on a sudden, sharp rise in inflation -- has strong odds in the midst of surging government deficits.
Hyperinflation is fortunately a rare event, and it is unlikely to emerge at present. But consider that all 30 documented cases of hyperinflation -- that is, a situation where prices rise by at least 50 percent per month -- have been caused by deficits that got out of control. Hyperinflation invariably emerges in a deflationary environment of weak economic activity, such as the one that now threatens the United States, European nations, and Japan. It can erupt when the public grows wary of the money being printed in growing quantities by monetary authorities, which are forced to buy -- to "monetize," in the financial vernacular -- a surging supply of government bonds that the markets no longer all want to buy.
Every currency in history has eventually fallen against gold—most dramatically in times like these, times of surging liabilities and an increasing inability to meet them. Gold is the only credible currency whose quantity cannot be expanded at will to meet the spending needs of governments in distress. By its very nature it remains scarce and rises in value as the supply of paper money grows. And I think it's safe to say that following the most dramatic credit crisis since the Great Depression -- one that is continuing to produce ripple effects, like events in Greece that are broadening into Europe itself -- we are likely to see historic investment shifts that will provide great opportunities.
One major beneficiary will be gold. I strongly believe that present financial conditions are about to transform the investment strategies of the world's largest investment funds in a way that will cause gold to surge substantially higher.
To understand why, consider present asset allocation at some of the world's largest investment funds. Pension funds, like the one I work for, have a significant effect on the world's markets, since they collectively manage $24 trillion. But gold plays a negligible role in their asset allocations.
Teacher Retirement System of Texas, whose GBI Gold Fund I manage, probably holds a larger percentage of assets in gold than any other large ($10 billion and higher) pension fund in the world, but our holdings in the precious metal are modest in comparison with any major type of asset like stocks and bonds. And so it is with other pension funds.
Since commodities typically represent around 3 percent of a typical fund's total assets, and the precious metal makes up less than 5 percent of commodity allocation, that makes gold only 0.15 percent of a fund's total assets. Add in the value of gold-mining stocks and precious-metals exchange-traded funds (maybe another 0.15 percent of total assets, at most), and a typical pension fund holds less than a third of 1 percent in gold -- that is to say, virtually nothing.
This is remarkable considering the tremendous diversification benefits the metal can provide for an investment portfolio.
Over the past decade, stocks were down 24 percent while gold rose 280 percent, a fact that would have benefited any fund with a significant gold investment. Gold was beating stocks even during the 2002–07 stock-market rally. But most financial professionals today have never considered gold seriously as a major investment. Since it performed so poorly during the equities and bonds boom of the 1980s and 1990s -- when most financial leaders today were moving up the ladder -- many nurse a lingering sense that gold will never make sense as an investment.
But suddenly the financial industry is being forced to think long and hard about gold. Surging public debt in many of the world's largest economies may be about to push the global government-bond market into a period of significant turmoil. If some part of the world's $30 trillion in sovereign debt could be dumped by the world's pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and individual investors, then where will that money flow to? Stocks? Real estate?
Since pension funds already have high exposure to stocks and other assets like real estate and private equity, it seems reasonable to expect that some fraction of that capital -- perhaps as much as $500 billion or more -- could eventually flow into a time-tested real asset: gold. Most funds would practically be starting from zero, considering the low percentage of total assets the metal represents today.
The effect of suddenly moving a substantial amount of investment money into precious metals was best described in a telephone conversation I had with an industry expert. He said it would be like shoving an elephant into a mailbox.
At $1,300 an ounce, all the gold in the world -- all the jewelry, coins, bars, molars, and church art -- is worth an estimated $6.5 trillion. But the vast majority of global gold, like the ring on my finger, is not freely traded. In fact, perhaps only 5 percent of all physical gold actually trades each year, which would make the investment gold market around $320 billion. The mining industry produced around 2,500 metric tons of gold in 2009, worth around $80 billion at the average price for the year. A little over half of every year's gold production is used for jewelry and industry, so less than $40 billion was available to the global investment community. That's equivalent to about 20 days of trading in shares of Google -- a single stock on the American market.
With these numbers, a large shift of funds into gold would cause it to rise sharply and fast. If it rose from the minuscule part it represents in the world's largest portfolios today to just 1 or 2 percent of global assets under management, the price increase would be substantial. A rise to $10,000 an ounce is not out of the question. It wouldn't be the first time gold has risen in such a way: The price of gold jumped 23-fold in the nine years ending in 1980. And at that time there was no question about the solvency of the U.S. government nor about the health of the banking system.
Buying gold -- that is, speculating that a rock will rise in value -- is a somewhat unsettling proposition for a 21st-century investor. But we've been here before. Many times throughout history, governments across the world have driven their countries to the brink of ruin in the name of "saving the economy" by printing money to cover climbing public expenditures. In times like these, decisions regarding what percentage of wealth to hold in stocks versus bonds should be considered alongside the questions "How much money do I want to have in the financial system itself?" and "Am I adequately protected from government errors that could harm my wealth?"
Today's situation is singularly dire, but it won't last. Gold will never outperform stocks and bonds over the long run, because it does not grow or produce a cash flow. But in light of the challenges facing most other investment classes at present, investors should think carefully about gold.
There are no reliable models to determine if it is "overvalued." What if the world's investors decided to transfer 3 to 5 percent of their wealth out of cash and into hard money? Considering that only 0.6 percent of global financial assets is currently held in the metal, such a movement could push gold prices into the tens of thousands of dollars per ounce. But if we reached that point, would it finally mean that gold had become insanely expensive—or simply that the world had less faith in the printed paper debentures of profligate governments? Which currency is more trustworthy? Which one is the real money?
-----
Shayne McGuire is the head of global research for and manages the $500 million GBI Gold Fund for Teacher Retirement System of Texas, one of the world's largest pension funds. This essay was adapted from his latest book, "Hard Money: Taking Gold to a Higher Investment Level."

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More jobs next year, but not nearly enough | MarketWatch: Personal - Finance Daily |.

MarketWatch

Personal Finance Daily
DECEMBER 29, 2010

Wednesday's Personal Finance stories

By MarketWatch




Don't miss these top stories:

Job seekers may find it slightly easier to find a job in 2011 compared with 2010. More employers say they're planning to hire next year, according to a new survey of hiring managers, which echoes the findings of the most recent Manpower survey of employers' hiring plans. Read Ruth Mantell's story today to get the details.

The economists quoted in Rex Nutting's latest column seem to have a similar outlook: slow but steady job-market improvement through 2011. Still, economists are not all on the same page. Some see only slight labor-market improvement in 2011, with the unemployment rate still above 9% a year from now; others see stronger growth, with the unemployment rate falling to 8.5% by the end of 2011. Read Rex's column for more on employment.

Still, while the statistics are interesting as well as a crucial sign of the health, or lack thereof, of the U.S. economy, the national data aren't really all that relevant for the individual trudging down the job-hunt path day after day. What matters is whether your skills match with what employers in your area are seeking, and for too many job seekers these days, that's just not the case.

For the so-called "99-ers" — those who've been unemployed so long they've exhausted their unemployment benefits, available for 99 weeks for the jobless in the hardest-hit states — the checks have stopped, and the recently passed Tax Relief Act provides no relief for those particular people. Read more about unemployment benefits running out for the 99-ers.

I'm not sure whether those in such a tough financial situation even try to come up with New Year's resolutions. But for MarketWatch's Chuck Jaffe, who in 2010 faced tragic and profound losses of a noneconomic sort, the time has come to revamp the goal-setting system he's been using for 20 years. Read his column for more on his plans for 2011.

Andrea Coombes , Personal Finance editor

More firms say they'll hire in 2011

A higher percentage of employers say they plan to add full-time, permanent workers next year than did this year, but wage growth likely will remain modest, according to survey data released Wednesday by CareerBuilder.com.
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Financial & Forex Info News | KITCO New York Meta Market At Close


Financial &  Forex Info News  ( F & F I N)







New York Market Close Dec 29/10 05:20 PM EST
Metals Bid Ask Change Low High
Gold 1412.00 1413.00
5.80
0.41%
1400.30 1415.30
Silver 30.60 30.62
0.31
1.02%
30.26 30.72
Platinum 1757.00 1765.00
2.00
0.11%
1741.00 1769.00
Palladium 793.00 798.00
7.00
0.89%
781.00 800.00

Stocks Eke Out Thin Gains As Low Volume Week Drags On - U.S. Commentary :RTTNews: Evening Market Wrap


Evening Market Wrap Wed Dec 29  2010

Commentary

Dec 29, 2010 Stocks Eke Out Thin Gains As Low Volume Week Drags On - U.S. Commentary Stocks were able to hold on to fragile gains on Wednesday, although trading volume remained low with Wall Street still in holiday mode between Christmas and the New Year's weekend. The major averages showed a notable move to the downside going into the close but remained in positive territory. Full Article

Corporate News

Dec 29, 2010 New York Post: Leonard Green Might Launch Hostile Bid For BJ's Wholesale Warehouse club chain operator BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. (BJ) may be the target of a hostile takeover bid by private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners L.P. if the company does not auction itself in the coming weeks, the New York Post reported Wednesday, citing sources close to the situation. Following the news, the warehouse retailer's shares rose more than 6% in morning trade. Full Article
Dec 29, 2010 Simon Property Secures $4.6 Bln Loan To Fund CSC Bid - UpdateShopping mall operator Simon Property Group, Inc. (SPG) said Wednesday that it has agreed on the financial terms for a loan facility of GBP 3 billion or US$4.62 billion, which would enable it to satisfy in full acceptances due under a firm offer for UK-based real estate investment trust Capital Shopping Centres Group plc (CSCG.L). Full Article
Dec 29, 2010 Airlines Playing Catch-Up Following Northeast Blizzard While the snow has finally stopped falling, thousands of travelers remain stuck in New York-area airports on Wednesday, as the airlines struggle to play catch-up following the blizzard that wreaked havoc on holiday travel in the Northeast.



The runways at New York's three major airports are all open, but the substantial backlog of passengers continues to create problems, with some international flights stuck on the tarmac for hours due to their inability to find an open gate. Full Article
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Markets close slightly higher, strong December seenv | Financial & Forex Info News : Reuters - daily Investor Update

Financial & Forex Info News


FROM: Reuters -Daily Investor Update


LATEST NEWS
Markets close slightly higher, strong December seen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 headed for its best December in nearly two decades as U.S. stocks advanced in thin trade on Wednesday, lifted by investor optimism about the economy in 2011. | Full Article

Blizzard delays $1 billion in holiday sales
December 29, 2010 01:36 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A blizzard in the U.S. Northeast this weekend postponed about $1 billion in holiday retail sales by keeping shoppers out of stores in the days after Christmas, research firm ShopperTrak said on Wednesday. | Full Article
China's rare earths export cut raises trade concerns
December 29, 2010 02:16 PM ET
SYDNEY (Reuters) - China's move to slash export quotas on rare earth minerals -- vital in a slew of high-tech products -- has raised fresh international trade concerns, and Japan's Sony Corp vowed on Wednesday to reduce its reliance on the minerals. | Full Article
Bond market seen firm as year-end approaches
December 29, 2010 03:47 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries debt prices should stay firm into year-end, following a strong seven-year note auction on Wednesday, as investors square books ahead of year-end and prepare for Federal Reserve purchases next week. | Full Article
Dollar hits session lows after Treasury auction
December 29, 2010 01:16 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar fell to session lows versus the yen and euro on Wednesday as U.S. bond yields dropped following a solid auction of seven-year Treasury notes. | Full Article

Microsoft co-founder relaunches tech patent suit | Financial & Forex Info News | Reuters Technology Report

Financial & Forex Info News

From:

News

LATEST NEWS
Microsoft co-founder relaunches tech patent suit
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen relaunched a wide-ranging patent lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Facebook and others with specific allegations that the companies are illegally using technology owned by his company. | Full Article

Groupon files to raise up to $950 million
December 29, 2010 04:32 AM ET
BOSTON (Reuters) - Groupon Inc, the fast-growing online coupon seller, has been authorized to raise up to $950 million in what would be the biggest round of equity financing by any company since Pixar in 1995. | Full Article
Changes in video games prompt optimism for 2011
December 28, 2010 05:42 PM ET
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Video game makers leave behind a year of slow sales in 2010, but are hopeful that a new generation of games for tablet computers, mobile phones and Web social networks will spur a return to growth in 2011. | Full Article
China delays NSN's $1.2 billion buy of Motorola unit
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SEC probes trading in private Internet firms: reports
December 29, 2010 08:20 AM ET
BANGALORE (Reuters) - The U.S. securities regulator is looking into trading in privately-held Internet companies including Facebook and Twitter, media reports said, citing people familiar with the inquiry. | Full Article
BUSINESS NEWS
Markets close slightly higher, strong December seen
December 29, 2010 04:33 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 headed for its best December in nearly two decades as U.S. stocks advanced in thin trade on Wednesday, lifted by investor optimism about the economy in 2011. | Full Article
Blizzard delays $1 billion in holiday sales
December 29, 2010 01:36 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A blizzard in the U.S. Northeast this weekend postponed about $1 billion in holiday retail sales by keeping shoppers out of stores in the days after Christmas, research firm ShopperTrak said on Wednesday. | Full Article
China's rare earths export cut raises trade concerns
December 29, 2010 02:16 PM ET
SYDNEY (Reuters) - China's move to slash export quotas on rare earth minerals -- vital in a slew of high-tech products -- has raised fresh international trade concerns, and Japan's Sony Corp vowed on Wednesday to reduce its reliance on the minerals. | Full Article
Bond market seen firm as year-end approaches
December 29, 2010 03:47 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Treasuries debt prices should stay firm into year-end, following a strong seven-year note auction on Wednesday, as investors square books ahead of year-end and prepare for Federal Reserve purchases next week. | Full Article
Dollar hits session lows after Treasury auction
December 29, 2010 01:16 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar fell to session lows versus the yen and euro on Wednesday as U.S. bond yields dropped following a solid auction of seven-year Treasury notes. | Full Article

NYT: Afternoon business News: Beleaguered Europe Seems to Stand Pat on Economic Strategy



BUSINESS

Power Industry Seeks Fresh Blood to Run the Grid of Tomorrow

By TOM ZELLER Jr.
Utilities are spending billions to upgrade to a smart grid from the electric grid, and are hoping to lure a younger generation of potential employees.
News Analysis

Beleaguered Europe Seems to Stand Pat on Economic Strategy

By MATTHEW SALTMARSH
E.U. policy makers are offering more of the same, even though the last set of goals, aimed at making Europe the world's most dynamic region by 2010, hasn't hit the mark.
Small-Business Guide

In the New Economy, New Strategies for Hiring Lawyers

By JAMES FLANIGAN
The business side of law has changed, and that can mean advantages for entrepreneurs, provided they know how to find a law firm that suits their needs.
App Smart

Apps to Give the Novice Mixologist a Fighting Chance

By BOB TEDESCHI
The app Top Shelf allows users to determine what drinks can be mixed with items they have on hand.

Wall Street Shares Gain in Light Trading

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Trading volumes are expected to be light throughout the week as many investors have closed their books for the year.

NFA permanently bars California firm Rock Financial Group and its principal


NFA permanently bars California firm Rock Financial Group and its principal

2010 worst year for bank failures since 1992 | The Washington Post -Afternoon Edition - Today's most read Articles.

Washington Post


1) Army edits its history of the deadly battle of Wanat

The Army's official history of the battle of Wanat - one of the most intensely scrutinized engagements of the Afghan war - largely absolves top commanders of the deaths of nine U.S. soldiers and instead blames the confusing and unpredictable nature of war.

2) Some Va. history texts filled with errors, review finds

In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of in 1917).

3) For GOP House freshman Mike Kelly, Washington is a tough sell

The onetime Notre Dame defensive tackle sat in an underground auditorium of the U.S. Capitol, discomfited. Mike Kelly had come to Congress to change the ways of Washington. But first he had to be schooled in them.

4) Prince William homeowner, neighborhood group at odds over Jesus Christmas sign

Donald Henderson knows not to overdo it on Christmas decorations. A week after Thanksgiving, Henderson placed a tasteful wreath on the front door, strung a few lights along the front porch railing, and, just to elevate his game a notch or two, plopped an inflatable Mickey and Minnie Mouse on his ...

5) With health-care overhaul plan, Wyden and Brown become Senate's odd couple

When Ron Wyden returns to the Senate next week, it will be as half of one of the most unusual duos in the Senate. The brainy Oregon Democrat and Scott Brown, the brawny Massachusetts Republican, are joining forces to tweak the Obama administration's federal health-care overhaul.

6) Fired Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen deserved better from his alma mater

For the first time in forever Ralph Friedgen failed to dress up in a Santa suit and reprise his annual role for his players over the weekend. Just didn't feel right, the Fridge said, explaining why he handed his jolly-old-fellow duties to another bear of a man, Maryland assistant Mike Lynn.

7) On Football: Quick resolution with McNabb needed

It no longer matters whether quarterback Donovan McNabb works hard enough or could run the Washington Redskins' offense effectively. The most important thing now is that the team move on from its latest-self-inflicted PR disaster.

8) U.S. and D.C. schedule bedbug summits

In keeping with the best of government traditions, the Federal Bed Bug Work Group is hosting its second national summit Feb. 1-2 in Washington to brainstorm about solutions to the resurgence of the tiny bloodsuckers that have made such an itch-inducing comeback in recent years.

9) 2010 worst year for bank failures since 1992

More banks failed in the United States this year than in any year since 1992, during the savings-and-loan crisis, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

10) 2 trapped in exploded Detroit store rubble

WAYNE, Mich. -- A family-owned furniture store in suburban Detroit exploded and collapsed in what appeared to be a natural gas explosion Wednesday, trapping three people in the rubble.

Financial & Forex Info News ( F & F I N ) ° KITCO -London Fix Market Report







London Fix Wed Dec 29 00:00:00 EST 2010
Metals Gold Silver Platinum Palladium
  AM PM AM PM AM PM AM PM
USD 1403.50 1412.50 30.44 1750.00
1745.00
788.00 791.00
UK 912.43 914.54 19.77 1137.85
1133.10
512.35 513.65
EURO 1069.90 1075.37 23.19 1331.80
1328.50
599.70 602.20