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Jim Cook

 

RUNAWAY SOCIAL SYMPATHY

Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

 
Best of Jim Cook
December 16, 2003
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Ted Butler’s article follows this article.

LEFT TURN INTO THE DARK AGES

By James R. Cook

My son and his wife found they were unable to have children. They fretted about it a great deal. It also bothered the would-be grandparents. Then they went to a fertility clinic and after a few months she became pregnant with their biological child. My little grandson was born three months ago. He’s perfect and he made a lot of people happy. It’s the nearest thing to a miracle I’ve ever experienced.

I mention it only because a recent news article advised that the government was promoting regulations and control over the fertility business. The article explained how this could radically alter the way things are done at these clinics. The article angered me. I detest government. They are control freaks aiming to micro-manage all our affairs. Furthermore, they make a mess out of most of the things they do. (If it isn’t a mess yet, it will be.)

What’s so discouraging is that the current administration appears to endorse the expansion of government controls and programs. That’s not what many of us voted for. Liberals have historically been responsible for expanding government. Not any longer Conservatives have become their junior partner.

The Libertarians are the only party that believes in limited government and personal freedom. This is the kind of message that appeals to a lot of people. Yet the Libertarians have utterly failed to capitalize on it. They insist on leading with their chin. Rather than stick to the basic message of reducing government, they talk about legalizing drugs. If you want to turn off a lot of voters, then talk about legalizing cocaine. Even if eighty percent of the underclass are chemically dependent (my estimate), and drug legalization would cut down on crime, it’s an issue that you’re bound to lose on. The Libertarian party is a failure because they downplay their most appealing message and publicize their most controversial. Pragmatism takes a back seat among the Libertarians.

It’s too bad, because big government has unleashed two powerful forces, one economic and the other social, that threaten to undermine the stability of our society. As economic weakness causes reductions in the revenues available for entitlements, class warfare may become a reality. Government subsidies have fostered a highly dysfunctional underclass. Most are ravaged by drugs and alcohol. They go from one episode of brief employment to another. Some never work. They rely on welfare, food stamps, free housing, health care and social security payments (other than retirement benefits). Their numbers are steadily growing. That’s because unwed mothers get ADC benefits that encourage them to stay single and to have more children.

Irresponsible behavior is the hallmark of the underclass. Huge numbers have already been incarcerated. The liberal press likes to report that the crime rate is falling slightly, but they overlook the fact that stiffer sentencing and the boom in prison construction takes many criminals off the streets. Of course, not every one in the underclass gets into trouble with the law. The point is that far too many of these people, and others, have begun to rely on the government. Underclass numbers are swelling and they represent both a significant voting block and a source of crime and violence. They are the greatest social problem ever created by any nation anywhere.

Then we have the government’s irresponsible economic policies and the disastrous outcome they promise. They have encouraged the masses to go deeply into debt by leveraging their homes and assets. They have inflated the currency, thereby eroding the earnings of workers, but rewarding speculators and nimble investors. By debasing the currency through the runaway expansion of debt and credit, they have set the stage for a powerful economic downturn. The government runs huge budget deficits, encourages massive trade deficits and makes the dollar suspect in international currency markets. A steeply falling dollar, coupled with a domestic credit crunch, may induce either a depression, severe inflation or both.

The resulting stock crash, combined with falling corporate profits, will deprive the government of much of its revenues. That would force the government to reign in spending. Not that they would ever do it voluntarily, but because the markets forced this bitter medicine upon them.

At that point you have a large number of the middle class out of work and expecting help from the government. The underclass has only grown larger, and hardly any of them have work. Social costs are rising mightily. The retirees are screaming for free pills, the farmers are shouting for more subsidies, a lot more people are sick and Medicare is going ballistic. Now the government is out of money. Meanwhile, the rich have gotten richer off the great inflation that has increased the value of their assets.

A liberal presidential candidate promises to redistribute the wealth and make sure that all who are in need will get their share (to each according to his needs). Socialism triumphs. Taxes of every kind pummel the wealthy. Government handouts consume the nation’s capital. Populist politicians demand more. The voters reward them with larger salaries and re-election. The economy worsens. Draconian new tax measures are introduced. Capital flees. Enclaves of American entrepreneurs appear in China and elsewhere. A great migration of the ambitious and affluent begins.

Finally, the government’s money will not reach all of the beneficiaries who are supposedly entitled to it. Major cuts must be made in the social safety net. Nothing angers people more than taking something away from them that they think they deserve. Demonstrations fill the streets. Sometimes they turn violent. Left and right polarize further. Public safety is threatened. The government’s policies have ruined the nation.

Ultimately, credit excess and currency debasement wreck the country that employs them. Some countries bounce back. Others can no longer be recognized as they were (Rome). No country, however, has ever had such a combination of monetary and economic sins coupled with a huge dependent population of low character. If this isn’t a formula for some kind of unfathomable disaster, I don’t know what is. For the sake of my new grandson (and your children and grandchildren), these are the issues everybody should be grappling with.

Current Events
By Theodore Butler

(The following essay was written by silver analyst Theodore Butler. Investment Rarities does not necessarily endorse these views, which may or may not prove to be correct.)


There have been a couple of recent events pertaining to silver that I'd like to touch on. One, in particular, generated a lot of discussion - the recent Reuters story that China was increasing its silver export quotas for the coming year by almost 40%. To be fair, let me reproduce the entire story here -

Reuters
China to issue silver export permits on Dec 15
Friday December 12, 5:19 am ET
HONG KONG, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The Chinese government is expected to issue 2004 export permits for silver to selected Chinese firms on December 15, industry sources said on Friday.

In early November, the Ministry of Commerce said it would allot export quotas for 3,050 tonnes of silver for 2004, up 39 percent from 2,200 tonnes alloted this year.
few producers have been offering spot exports at a discount of six to eight cents from Loco London silver prices, quoted at $5.60 per troy ounce in late Asian trade on Friday.
Other producers said they would start offering exports for 2004 after they received the approval.

China's silver production stood at about 5,000 tonnes this year versus about 2,000 tonnes two years ago because of increased production from copper, lead and zinc smelters that produce silver as a bi-product, according to industry sources.

Domestic demand has lagged growth in output, with some estimates showing annual demand at around 1,000 tonnes.

Silver is used in film and plating sectors as well as in the jewellery industry.
In 2003, the government allowed 25 Chinese trading firms and smelters to export silver while producer sources expected the numbers would increase in 2004 after more smelters started producing silver.

In the domestic market, spot silver traded at about 1,510-1,530 yuan per kilogram. (US$=8.28 yuan)
************************************************************************
Uniformly, this report has been received with the intent with which it was issued - as a reason to expect growing exports from Red China. Something that silver investors should be worried about. Something that clouds the bullish picture for silver. Something that we didn't know before. Something that changes the entire silver story. Nonsense.

This is a story, bought and paid for, designed to trick you out of your silver. Designed to keep you from buying real silver at what are give-away prices. Get used to it. You will hear and see stories of this nature all the way up. You must use your common sense to read through such stories. Let's analyze this one.

First off, quotas are not the same as actual exports, they are an intention to export. A lot can happen over the course of a year, and the actual exports may not be realized. Second, you have not read the words "net exports" in this article. That's important, because this story only paints half the picture. This story leaves you with the impression that China's expected 5000 ton (150 million ounce) refinery production is coming from mining ores produced in China. Balderdash. China's mine production of silver is around 50 million ounces, the other 100 million ounces they refine is from imported ores and concentrates and scrap. Stuff that used to be smelted and refined elsewhere, that is now being processed in China because it is becoming the toxic waste dump of the world, due to no concern for the environment. Let me be clear about this (as I have written before) - silver production (mine and recycling) is not increasing, it is flat. It is merely being transferred to China from places with stricter environmental controls.

While I would classify that aspect of the story as intentionally misleading, there is a more important aspect to this story that can only be classified as an outright lie. That is the statement of China's domestic consumption of 1000 tons (30 million ounces). Red China only consumes 30 million ounces of silver a year, like the front line of the K.C. Chiefs shares a McDonald's hamburger for their big meal of the day. China is the number one or two consumer of every raw material or commodity in the world, including oil, steel, copper, zinc, and food. They consume everything like locusts, befitting a country with the world's largest population just entering the modern world. At thirty million ounces of silver, they would barely make the top ten list of world consumers. The US consumes 200 to 250 million ounces, Japan over 125 million ounces of silver. It is impossible for China to consume less that 150 million ounces of silver, roughly what they produce.

Those are just demographic facts of life. It's just not possible for them to consume everything and not silver, the most versatile of all industrial metals.

Am I saying that China has not, and is not exporting big quantities of silver? No, I am not saying that at all. China has been exporting big quantities of silver, and it is precisely that silver that has filled the deficit and kept the price of silver depressed. What I am saying is that China's exports are definitely not coming from any excessive production of silver, they are coming from some other source. They are coming from official holdings of the Red Chinese government. As I wrote last week, I believe the Red Chinese are working with AIG, to depress the price of silver. It is important to make the distinction between exports from excessive production and dumping from government stockpiles, something the Red Chinese have a long tradition of doing. The distinction is this - one can continue, one must end (when stockpiles inevitably run out.) Don't confuse the two and be bamboozled by intentionally false stories.

The other current event I'd like to discuss is the recent purchase of 5 million ounces of silver by the Central Fund of Canada. If you're not familiar with them, this is a closed-end mutual fund that invests exclusively in physical gold and silver. The fund was founded in 1961, and is dually listed on the Toronto and American stock exchanges. The fund has proved popular with investors, to the extent that its shares have been consistently selling at a premium to Net Asset Value, or what the fund's gold and silver holdings are valued at. Because of this investor popularity and resultant premium in the shares, the fund has been able to increase its size by issuing more shares, to take advantage of the premium. The net result is the fund keeps buying more gold and silver. This is very good news, especially for silver investors.

The Central Fund recently completed a new share issuance totally $75 million, which increased the fund's overall size by roughly a third. The fund's 5 million ounce silver purchase increased the fund's silver holdings to just shy of 20 million ounces, and the 100 thousand ounces in new gold purchased, pushed total gold bullion holdings to just shy of 400 thousand ounces. What is so good is that metal in this fund, because of its closed end structure, is basically metal taken off the market permanently, almost as if it's been consumed. In silver, this is important. Twenty million ounces is a big chunk of silver, in what appears to me to be a tightening physical market. And 5 million ounces of real silver, bought basically out of the blue, is hardly insignificant. It makes up, in a hurry, for any concern about somewhat recent slow sales of US Silver Eagles, for instance. And please remember, this is very probably, an occurrence that will be repeated in the future. As investor demand drives up the premium, the fund should issue new shares and buy more metal. Furthermore, while the silver has been purchased, it has yet to be delivered. In the past, you may recall, there were delays to the fund of silver purchased for smaller amounts. I'll monitor what happens this time.

There are a number of points I'd like to make here. First, there are an increasing number of gold-only securities coming into existence (even the Central Fund of Canada recently issued its own gold-only version), but there is no silver-only fund. The closest thing has been the Central Fund's original gold and silver fund. Of all these gold related or backed funds, few trade at a premium, and none approach the premium that the Central's original gold and silver funds has traded at. This tells me that what is creating the premium is investors' desire to buy the silver component of the fund. This also should demonstrate the growing conviction by investors that silver is cheap and the real value in metals. It's a wonder how no one has come up with a silver only fund, as I'm certain it would be a blockbuster (Central's Stephan Spicer told me that they are exploring it). After all, we all know, because of silver's great value, that you get way too much for your money with silver, and storage is something that has to be considered.

Another thing that the pricing on the Central Fund confirms is that it is becoming commonplace for premiums to develop on just about all forms of silver. (The notable exception is silver priced on the COMEX, but I'm certain that will change one day.) Think about that for a moment - premiums on all forms of silver. And delays in delivery. If that doesn't suggest a developing shortage, I don't know what does.
The two items I discussed today, the misleading story about China and the good news about the Central Fund, are long term in nature. Long term is the way to position yourself in silver. You must try to filter out the near term noise, if that interferes with your long term perspective. They appear to have made it through another delivery period by the skin of their teeth and the COTs stink, so there're good reasons to be prepared for a whip down. But there are even more reasons to expect an explosion up, some decidedly behind the scenes. We are going much higher, with or without a near term set back. I believe you must base your silver investment on the long term, which is much more certain that the short term. Let the long term fundamentals work for you.