As a gold investor in North America, it sometimes feels like I'm living in some far-off land where everyone believes in fairy tales and unicorns.
Most people around me don't seem to see anything wrong with the Fed creating $65 billion a month out of thin air—hey, it's not $85 billion anymore, what a relief! It's business as usual for the US government to spend billions more than it takes in, and a public debt hovering at $17.2 trillion—up from $7 trillion just 10 years ago—seems no more alarming than a rainbow.
No surprise then that these people don't feel any need to own assets that might help them in times of crisis. Hard assets like… gold.
I'm reminded of a visit I made to China several years ago. One night, I awoke in the middle of the night—something was crawling under the bed sheet. I shot up like a cannonball, trampolined out of bed, and hit the light switch. I searched and searched for whatever bug had made its way under the sheet, but never did find the little vermin. Still, I was so creeped out, I spent the rest of the night on the couch.
I told the staff the next morning what happened—and they did nothing. They just stared at me. They spoke English, so it wasn't that they didn't understand me. It was just that none of them seemed to think it was a big deal. One of them even chuckled. They obviously didn't appreciate the potential health hazard and had no sense of customer service. I left bemused, wondering how people could accept bedbugs as normal—or even if they did, how they could not care about a customer's experience. It was like being on another planet.
I have some of those same feelings when I think about mainstream investors today. How can they not appreciate the potential financial hazard inherent in something as obviously dangerous as today's unprecedented levels of money printing? How can they not care that they have nothing solid, like gold, at the core of their investment portfolios? It's like these people think they live on Planet Sesame Street.
Most people seem to really believe that today's heavy-handed government interventions are not only the right course of action, but will have no negative fallout. Massive currency dilution, unstoppable tides of rising debt, and never-ending fiscal imbalances are hardly a way to cure decades of money mismanagement, and certainly aren't consequence-free. How is it that this is not obvious to all?
I honestly don't know. Perhaps people are aware at some level, but the truth is just too awful to face, and so people don't.
Very few of my friends and neighbors own any gold. Rarely am I asked about it anymore, even by those who know what I do for a living. The doctor I saw last month gave me the distinct impression I could be doing better things with my money. Most of the mainstream media ignore gold, while many of the big banks loudly proclaim their latest short position as if they had some sort of divine insight.
I'm starting to feel like the proverbial lone voice in the woods…
But We're Not Alone!
As deluded as most Americans seem to be, that is definitely not the case for everyone in the world—the Japanese, for example, are much more prudent and levelheaded.
I wonder if my fellow citizens would feel differently if they lived in any of these countries where people have witnessed economic insanity firsthand, and are acting accordingly:
Japan was a net importer of gold in December, the first time in almost four years. Net purchases totaled 1,885 kilograms (60,604 ounces). It was only the tenth time Japan was a net monthly buyer since the end of 2005. There are reports that Japan's pension funds, which hold the world's second-largest pool of retirement assets, are buying gold.
Dubai gold jewelers just reported the strongest gold sales in seven years. Pure Gold Jewelers, one of the largest dealers in the country, reported a 25% increase in gold jewelry sales during the Dubai Shopping Festival this year.
The state of Gujarat in India reported that silver bullion imports hit a five-year record from April 2013 to January 2014. Imports were more than 450% higher than the same period a year ago. The Indian government has since hiked the import duty on silver to 15%, the same rate as gold, and official imports in January subsequently fell. Smugglers will surely add silver to all those secret luggage compartments they've been using for gold.
Australia's Perth Mint said gold sales jumped 41% and silver 33% in 2013. In January, gold demand was up 10% and silver 8%.
Mexico's pension funds are now investing in gold after strict investment regulations were recently lifted. The World Gold Council says it spoke to 10 of the country's most influential pension fund managers (with over $160 billion in assets) and was told that they began investing in gold and commodities in 2013.
Central banks were once again big buyers last year. Of those that have reported so far…
- Turkey purchased 150.4 tonnes (4.83 million ounces)
- Vietnam 110 tonnes (3.53 million ounces)
- Russia 57.3 tonnes (1.84 million ounces)
- Kazakhstan 24.16 tonnes (776,762 ounces)
- Azerbaijan 16.02 tonnes (515,054 ounces)
- Sri Lanka 6.51 tonnes (209,301 ounces)
- Nepal 6.22 tonnes (199,977 ounces)
- Ukraine 6.22 tonnes (199,977 ounces)
- Indonesia 4.04 tonnes (129,889 ounces)
- Venezuela 1.87 tonnes (60,121 ounces)
And of Course, There's China…
Last year's record import number is impressive enough, but it's the pace that's mind-blowing. 1,139 tonnes is…
- More than 2011 and 2012 imports combined.
- Over 42% of global mine production last year.
- Roughly twice as much as the amount GLD sold in all of 2013.
Meanwhile, Back in the Good Ol' US of A…
Gold coin demand for 2013 jumped 24%. Some headlines have pointed out that January 2014 gold and silver coin sales were down compared to a year ago—but January 2013 was the all-time record for single-month sales. Further, Eagle and Buffalo gold coin sales were more than double December's sales, and were the highest since last April. Silver coin sales in January were almost four times more than in December.
There, now I feel better.
Even if you sometimes feel like a lone wolf investing in this market, understand that worldwide demand for gold and silver bullion continues unabated. If you live in the US, realize that people in many other countries are seeing more positive headlines about gold, have more friends who own gold, and heck, could even walk into a bank to buy gold.
I don't think the people in these other countries are stupid. Whatever consequences result from the historic levels of currency dilution across the globe, they seem as sure as I do that they'll be good for gold.
What should you buy? I first recommend buying gold and silver bullion to establish a financial safety net. And then, to maximize gains on the more speculative end of your portfolio, you should look at Louis James' just-released "10-bagger List for 2014" in the February issue of International Speculator. A 10-Bagger is a stock with the potential to gain 1,000% or more—that's not a typo, we really did make 10 times our money on junior gold stocks the last time the sector rebounded, and Louis thinks that's about to happen again.
For example, one of those prospective 10-Baggers is a junior with a multimillion-ounce gold project that's run by one of our Explorers League honorees. This company is on the verge of securing the funds needed to build its exceptionally high-margin gold mine, but it's on sale. Speaking of the potential, Louis said: "If the company delivers, it'd be easy to see these 40-cent shares trading for $4" by 2015.
Investing in these stocks—and there are nine of them on Louis' list—could quite literally make you a fortune, but the opportunity to get in on the ground floor is fading fast.
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