Bob Chapman
The International Forecaster
February 23, 2009

The tenor of the gold market has changed. Gold has decoupled from the dollar and at the moment it is not driven by fear of inflation or hyperinflation, but by a flight to quality. What else can be expected when the media reports that governments are deliberately creating inflation to offset deflation? Jewelry demand that normally makes up 80% of gold demand has dropped and investment demand is what is now driving buying. SPDR Gold Trust, the ETF GLD, has added 200 tons of gold over the past six weeks and 62,000 ounces last week alone. We are very skeptical regarding GLD’s gold purchases due to a tight market and no reports of their purchases. They may be using derivatives illegally and if they are and the derivatives fail the owners of the fund will be left with little of their investment.

Obama
 President Barack Obama’s new foreclosure-prevention plan is already sparking outrage from some Americans who won’t qualify for federal aid — and from those who resent having to foot the bill for those who do

The US dollar is no longer the premier safe haven, gold is. Gold is finally being recognized as wealth insurance. It has also decoupled from the influence of oil and other commodities. Even Russia in the face of terrible oil prices and one devaluation after another has purchased 90 tons of gold over the past 15 months.

Banks are being nationalized worldwide and people are becoming frightened and well they should be. The world is facing a major depression and banks are broke and being nationalized, and this is only the beginning.

The global financial system is in a tailspin and world leadership in Europe, china, Japan and the US act like the situation is some temporary breakdown. The system is beyond saving and the elitists planned it that way.

We have entered depression, which is stage 2 of the crisis and simultaneously stage 2 of the long bull market in gold and silver. As autumn comes the dollar will have broken to new lows versus other major currencies and gold and silver, as inflation rages. We could be looking at a dollar trading between 40 and 65 on the USDX, dollar index. In 2010 economic and financial distress will worsen. Some countries will slip into chaos. The fabric of society is going to be torn apart.

Today’s financial system is in a state of insolvency. The best example is the highly volatile combination of US dollars and dollar denominated assets and debt. Their problems are shared by most nations, their having copied what the US and England were doing.

These problems unfortunately have yet to be adequately addressed and that is why the situation gets progressively worse. Massive injections of liquidity were used in the 1930s with similar unsuccessful results. How can anyone believe that substituting public debt for toxic private debt is any solution? In the US $12 to $13 trillion has already been injected into the system, truly a mind-boggling amount and that is in just one year.

This exchange of debt is not only foolhardy but it assesses a hidden tax on the public via inflation, particularly on the poor and those who are retired. Minute by minute it steals their assets. The result is that this exponential increase of public debt is making US Treasuries as toxic as the private toxic waste taken in as collateral. It is a massive transfer of wealth from the people to banks, Wall Street, insurance companies and elitist corporations.

The nation depends on the dollar for financial stability and yet everyday it is being debauched. Every nation will suffer, but particularly the US and UK. The nations may be trying to replace disappearing assets, but it won’t work. It is just a temporary palliative and in the end the result will be the same. Moving debt and loss of assets from one place to another doesn’t make it go away.

Fortunately free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing are dying an ignoble death. A death well deserved. There are few dangers of returning to protectionism. It has been a US government policy from 1800 to 1980 and it has been quite successful. You might say in time America will return to normality. We already see our president talking of buying American. British PM Gordon Brown is deliberately competitively devaluing the pound. Mr. Sarkozy in France is subsidizing the vehicle industry as is the US and Japan and just about everyone has a stimulus plan. This is extremely good news for Americans. Now we can again control our own destiny and not be at the mercy of transnational elitist conglomerates, who make 40% of their profits by manufacturing outside our country, importing those goods and then keeping their profits offshore to avoid 33% taxation.

This means WTO will have lost its teeth and NAFTA and CAFTA will die slow deaths. The G-20 meeting this summer will turn into a donnybrook as any pretense of free trade disappears as solutions to worldwide depression is short term. Unemployment by summer will be 20% in the US, 13% in Europe and in the second and third worlds much higher. It won’t be long and everyone will be a protectionist. All will be serving domestic markets to avoid collapse. All nations, some more than others, are facing a crisis of historic dominations. We see the eurozone and European Union breaking apart and there is even a possibility that the United States of America may no longer exist. You can’t imagine how nasty this is going to be.

The seeds have been planted. Mr. Sarkozy of France blames the Anglo-American business model, and wants to limit businesses’ relocation from country to country. Gordon Brown in England wants job priority for British workers ahead of foreigners, including EU citizens. The Chinese want out of the dollar as Mr. Obama prepares an offensive against China’s human rights and trade tactics. Russia blames the US for the crisis and rightly so.

The degenerative process in this phase of disintegration began in June of 2002. That was the point of no return when interest rates began to be lowered and when money and credit was expanded to smother deflation. This time the end of free trade will expedite the process over the next two years.

2009 should begin more accelerated disintegration of the international financial system. 2009 could be the big year of the crash, but it will take a little longer we believe – perhaps 2010 or 2011 – we’ll see.

We see wishful thinking in Europe and Canada. They expect to fare better than the US. That will not be the case European banks are as insolvent as US banks if not more so. Germany’s government, but not the people, wants the eurozone to stay together. More than 70% of Germans want out. They are sick and tired of supporting the rest of the zone, especially Italy, Spain and Ireland, which for all intents and purposes are broke. France stumbles along in an insular manner, while selling off its gold. Then there are the Eastern European debt problems, which Western Europe has to cover. The Swiss are not under pressure. They are concerned about the franc rising in value not falling in value. Canada ships 80% or more of exports to the US. The US is in depression and Canada and Mexico will soon follow. Worldwide trade is about to come to a virtual halt and that means all of the above are in serious trouble. The G7 and G20 talks might just as well be called off – it’s now everyone for himself. You must have 85% to 100% of assets in gold and silver related assets. If you have not done that do it now with gold close to $1,000 an ounce and silver close to $15.00. This is only the beginning of phase two of at least four phases upward in prices. The only way you can financially survive is with these two assets. Everything else will fall 60% to 95%. This depression will be far worse than the “Great Depression.” The fear of fiat paper money is spreading worldwide.

Europeans do not think the crisis will be over anytime soon. They see no visible hope of leadership from the G7 or G20, and only 12% believe the US has a solution. Over 85% believe their political leadership does not reflect their views, expectations, nor a grasp of the crisis at hand. Only 39% believe interest rates should be reduced further. The political and financial interests in Europe are no more responsive than they are in the US. That means eventually the public will be forced to do something about it. That means Europe and Canada will have the same problems as the US. No one is going to escape this one.

For those of you who missed it the Dow Jones removed all stocks in the industrial average priced under $10.00, effectively eliminating the crippled financial sector. Had they been left in the Dow would be lower and would have broken down below 7286. This is just more flagrant manipulation. Almost every day we see it in a number of markets. This week the Fed and the Treasury tried to push the stock market up and the commodities and gold and silver markets down but to no avail. Downside stock market volume has been some 65% of total volume and there are over 300 new lows almost every day.

President Barack Obama’s new foreclosure-prevention plan is already sparking outrage from some Americans who won’t qualify for federal aid — and from those who resent having to foot the bill for those who do…"The government isn’t out there to help people who obey the law and follow the rules."

Mr. Obama "told everybody, ‘I’m going to spread wealth around,’ and that’s what he’s going to do," Mr. Newton said.

The housing measures have also upset a range of homeowners who say they shouldn’t have to subsidize those who bought more than they could afford. "We’ve lived a conservative life," said Tim O’Brien, 61, a retired CPA from Los Angeles. "We’ve paid our house off and saved our money, so you kind of find yourself on this issue not agreeing with everything."

The 30-and-out retirement program persists — a sacred part of the inflated cost structure that makes it unprofitable for Detroit to make small cars in America. Another example: Every Detroit factory still has dozens of union committeemen — the bargaining committee, shop committee, health and safety committee, recreation committee, etc. — who actually are paid by the car companies. This is a "legacy cost" that the nonunion Japanese, German and Korean car factories in America don’t have to carry.

The union, though, shouldn’t bear the entire blame for Detroit’s disaster. It wasn’t the UAW that pushed GM into the home-mortgage market where it has incurred billions in losses over the last couple of years. Nor can the UAW be blamed for Saturn and Saab, two brands that never made money, as GM executives have recently acknowledged. What they haven’t explained is why their company would keep these money-losers around for nearly 20 years.

Southern California — with home prices now at 2002 levels and falling — is at the start of what is likely to be a long period of relatively affordable housing, economists and housing market analysts say.

Home prices are now below their historical average compared with incomes, putting them within reach of more people than they have been since about 2000, several studies show.

But that doesn’t mean prices will stop falling soon, especially if jobs continue to vanish at their current pace.

After soaring during this decade’s housing bubble, home prices recently fell back in line with what people earn — and then kept falling.

The January median sales price for Southern California homes fell to $250,000, a 40% drop from the same month a year prior, the San Diego real estate research firm MDA DataQuick reported Thursday. The price decline was accelerated by foreclosures, which accounted for 60% of sales last month.

Prices have now dipped below the level at which they’d be in line with the historical ratio of prices to incomes in California, said Christopher Thornberg, a Los Angeles economist who is principal of the consulting firm Beacon Economics.

Thornberg estimates the current median home value in California is $250,000. But wages are high enough — and interest rates low enough — that a median value of $290,000 would match historical norms, he said.

"If you’re looking for a long-run opportunity, real estate is getting to that point," said Thornberg, who was an early predictor of the housing crash.

But it’s not at that point yet.

Thornberg believes home prices have another 25% to 30% to drop. They may be historically low, but "in the past four or five months, unemployment has been through the roof," Thornberg said.

Fearing for their jobs, many potential home buyers are putting off a purchase. Others simply can’t buy anything because they are already out of work.

Thornberg forecasts that California home prices will fall until the middle of 2010, when they will begin to slowly creep up.


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