Gold up 10% ytd
Stocks rise despite; Fed speak, housing glut, credit mkt's lost credibility, sub-prime contagion, weak dollar, China threat
By David Bradshaw ~ email ~ links ~ wisdom
Editor, Real Money Perspectives ~ Daily podcast ~ Weekly email
Aug 31, 2007 ~ *latest news*

Stories of interest ~ Special reports
* 10 Reasons To Own Gold -MV
* Bernanke Says Fed Will Do What's Needed -AP
* Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in a Year -AP
* Fed Faces Insolvency Time Bomb -MN
* GOLD 101 TV RELEASED ON DVD -IFF
* Stocks fall after Fed speaks -MW
* Glut of homes hits 16-year high -CNN
* Debt climbs, home values fall -FS
* Is it 1987 all over again? -Reuters
* UK: Personal Debt Exceeds GDP -LT
* Time to Buy Gold -UBS on CNBC (video)
* Possibility of terrorism adds to financial worries -WND
* WALL ST. JERKING GOLD PRICES AROUND -RMP

* Gold prices rose over 1% Friday on a weaker dollar and $74 oil prices. Gold closed in NY up $8.10 at $673.20/oz., silver rose $.26 to $12.02/oz.

* In August gold prices ended with a 1% gain, while silver ended with a 7% loss. Gold prices are now up 10% since the 1/5/07 low of $605/oz.

* Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke pledged Friday that the central bank will "act as needed" to keep the credit crisis that has unhinged Wall Street from hurting the national economy," reports AP.

* "It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve... to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions," Ben Bernanke said. Bernanke spoke as President George W. Bush prepared to unveil measures his administration plans to alleviate the crisis among homeowners unable to pay their loans, reports Bloomberg.

* "The White House is proposing to expand the role of the federal government to stem a wave of mortgage defaults, President Bush said Friday, unveiling a series of steps including allowing refinancing into government-insured mortgages," reports MW.

Gross domestic product rose at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said in Washington, up from an initial estimate of 3.4 percent, reported Bloomberg.

"Near term, we expect gold and gold equities to benefit from seasonal demand and an anticipated Fed rate cutting cycle. Gold will average $670 per ounce this year and $700 in 2008," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Stephen Walker to FP.

"Scores of US government officials and housing executives vowed it could never happen, nonetheless, the national median price of American homes is expected to fall for the first time since statistics began in 1950. While the US housing slump is rattling cages in the financial markets, its so far modest effect on consumer spending is set to intensify as household debt exceeds home equity," reports FS.

Sales of new homes increased 2.8% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 870,000, but remain down 10.2% compared with last July, the Commerce Department estimated last Friday.

"I expect gold to rise above $700 an ounce within the next month," said John Reade, Head of Metals Strategy at UBS on CNBC. "Strong physical demand and the potential for safe haven buying will grow as the credit crunch becomes worse."

"Gold is standing its ground well after the horrendous financial tsunami that swept through the credit markets last week," said Julian Phillips, an analyst at GoldForecaster.com.

Firmer sentiment following last week's Fed rate cut buoyed precious metals Monday, but traders said volatile conditions for gold are likely in the near-term, reports Dow Jones.

"Something profound has happened in recent weeks. The credit system is losing its, well, credibility. People no longer trust the triple-A ratings that many complex debt securities carry. Incipient panic has reigned in U.S. financial markets over the past couple of weeks, reports Washington Post.

The Federal Reserve recently cut the discount rate to 5.75%, down from 6.25%, in a move aimed at narrowing the gap between the discount rate and the federal funds rate.

"Financial market conditions have deteriorated, and tighter credit conditions and increased uncertainty have the potential to restrain economic growth," the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement.

"A dramatic surge in the Japanese yen over recent days has cut off a key source of liquidity for the global asset boom, setting off a panic flight from emerging markets for the first time since the latest turmoil began," reports London Telegraph.

"Gold and other blue chip assets were sold last week to raise cash because they are liquid. Many funds and stocks had no market at all currently as hedge funds refused redemptions," writes Craig R. Smith.

"Global gold demand jumped 19 percent in the second quarter spurred by jewelry buying in India and around the world," the World Gold Council said Wednesday.

The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned, reports FT.

David Walker, comptroller general of the U.S., lays out what he called "chilling long-term simulations" in an unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future. These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt.

"The Fed is worried about the growing mortgage crises and willing to do anything to buy its way out of it. Unfortunately, by buying up MBS and propping up the market the Fed will only cause more harm than it already has," reports Mises.org.

"The credit system is a confidence game that is very sensitive to changes in market psychology. And when that psychology shifts, and greed gives way to fear, the investment herd can stampede in the opposite direction," reports Wash. Post.

"Global confidence has finally buckled and led to a near total seizure of the credit markets. The concern is whether the world is facing a repeat of the Long Term Capital Management turmoil in 1998, but with less chance of a swift Fed bail-out this time," reports London Telegraph.

"The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation," reports London Telegraph.

"Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels."

"The West doesn’t seem to understand, as yet, that the emerging financial crisis isn’t merely a financial crisis. In Beijing and Moscow it is seen as something more. It is seen as part of a strategic sequence in which U.S. power is eclipsed. It is a sequence that leads to massive global changes," writes Financialsense.com.

"Gold will surge to more than $1,000 an ounce driven by increased jewelry demand and a weaker dollar, Newmont Mining Corp. Vice Chairman Pierre Lassonde said to Bloomberg on Monday. "Gold's time is coming, the price will have three zeros. I just don't know what the first number is going to be," Lassonde said at the Diggers & Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. (37 more experts who agree).

On Wall Street...

* Crude-oil prices fell below $71 Tuesday, as worries eased over the impact of a potential tropical depression taking shape near the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. subprime-market rout that wiped out $2.1 trillion from global share values last week has "got a long way to go," said Jim Rogers, who predicted the start of the commodities rally in 1999. "This was one of the biggest bubbles we've ever had in credit," Rogers told Bloomberg.

"It is becoming more difficult to find assets that aren't highly correlated. Over short periods of time, property, commodities, equity and bonds are all moving together in similar directions," said Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments, reports WSJ.

ETFs distorting gold prices

"Gold held by StreetTRACKS gold ETF (GLD), which accounts for 80 percent of the metal held by all such funds, surged more than 10 tons to a record high of 506.69 tons last Thursday from a day earlier, surpassing mid-April's peak of 500.7 tons," reports Reuters.

"Gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) have added between $50 and $100 per ounce to the price of gold," according to Gold Fields CEO Ian Cockerill. Jon Nadler, analyst for Kitco Bullion Dealers, wonders whether the $50 or $100 that ETFs have added to gold's rise could translate into equal or larger multiples of decline in values, should the bullion market enter a bearish phase at some point down the road," reports ResourceInvestor.

"Exchange traded funds have distorted the market by transforming gold into a stock that rises and falls with the general market," says Jeff Augen, former IBM executive, private investor and financial writer.

"The dollar’s impact on gold is now only a shadow of what it once was on a purely technical and fundamental basis. International investors are bidding up gold on its own fundamental merits independent of the dollar bear. So while dollar weakness is no longer necessary for gold to power higher, its lingering psychological impact could make a sub-80 slide look like gasoline thrown on a fire," reports Adam Hamilton at ZEALllc.com.

Meanwhile, core consumer inflation increased just 0.1% in June, pushing the yearly gain in core inflation to the lowest level in three years, the Commerce Department said in July.

"We who eat and drive suspect government inflation stats are rotten at the 'core.' Wouldn't it be a crime if inflation was really twice as high as reported? Well, it is!" according to a Swiss America Special Report.

U.S. personal savings rate improved to 0.6% of disposable incomes for the first time this year. Inflation-adjusted after-tax incomes rose 0.3% in June.

The dollar zig-zagged after the government reported the U.S. economy rebounded in the second quarter, growing at an annual rate of 3.4% after a meager .6% growth in the first quarter, that's 2% so far in 2007.

However the same report said the primary driver of the global economy, consumer spending, slowed to just 1.3% in the second quarter after a 3.7% gain in the first.

"When will consumers stop spending? When their outgo exceeds their income. When will stocks stop rising? When fear overtakes greed, which, as last week's brutal sell-off illustrated, could happen any day. Be prepared for a 4-year overdue 10% correction in stocks, warns Craig R. Smith.

Housing Bottom?

"Have you been to Miami lately?" Florida Governor Charlie Crist said at a homebuilders' conference last week in Orlando. "It's like we have a new state bird: the building crane." "We're seeing the trickle-down effect in declining sales in big-box retailers and home-furnishing manufacturers," said Jack McCabe chief executive officer of McCabe Research & Consulting LLC. "Florida is headed to a recession," reports Bloomberg.

Pending sales of existing U.S. homes in May unexpectedly fell to their lowest level in more than 5-1/2 years, data from a real estate trade group showed Tuesday in a sign of continued weakness in the housing sector.

"The near collapse of two Bear Stearns hedge funds has lifted the rock on our 21st century mutant capitalism, exposing the bugs beneath to a rare shock of naked light... 'All investment portfolios will be shredded to ribbons' says one analyst. "Perhaps governments should simply stop trying to rig the price of money in the first place," concludes The London Telegraph International Business Editor, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

The Telegraph reported, "The United States faces a severe credit crunch as mounting losses on risky forms of debt catch up with the banks and force them to curb lending and call in existing loans," according to a report by Lombard Street Research.

"Excess liquidity in the global system will be slashed. Banks' capital is about to be decimated, which will require calling in a swathe of loans. This is going to aggravate the US hard landing."

"The near-collapse of two big Bear Stearns hedge funds heavily invested in highly-speculative packages of subprime mortgages indicates that the severe housing recession is spreading to the financial arena and is threatening the occurrence of systemic fallout," writes Comstock.com.

The problem is that what we've seen to date is probably only the tip of the iceberg. David Viniar, Goldman Sachs CFO, and former head of firm-wide credit risk, stated that "I continue to believe that we haven't seen the bottom in the subprime market. There will be more pain felt by people as that works through the system."

"Confidence among U.S. consumers fell in June to a 10-month low as mortgage rates rose, home values dropped and gasoline prices held near a record high. The Reuters/University of Michigan's final index of consumer sentiment declined to 85.3, from 88.3 in May, reports Bloomberg.

Fed to the rescue?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee in July that he is banking on lower commodity prices to help bring inflation down.

* "Though you'd never hear him utter the word, it sure sounds like Helicopter Ben is warning us about the possibility for stagflation. The evidence is all around. Commodity prices, especially oil, continue to zoom, so that real inflation -- not the fairy-tale, 'non-core' number reported by the press -- is very much alive. And it's already stinging retailers, at least according to leaders like Wal-Mart," reports Motley Fool.

* The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to hold key interest rates at 5.25%, stating, "A sustained moderation in inflation pressures has yet to be convincingly demonstrated." The Fed repeated that the risk that inflation will fail to moderate as expected is the "predominant policy concern."

* "Fear ruled the Fed decision. The world of speculation has been given yet another pain-relieving injection of aspirin. So, surprise, surprise, both bulls and bears on Wall Street were satisfied," reports Moneynews.com.

"The static 5.25% [Fed funds] rate poisons vulnerable, over-levered homeowners and stimulates resplendent, opportunistic U.S. corporations. So what's a Fed chairman to do? Hike rates in order to slow stock buybacks and cool the stock market, or lower rates so that homeowners can continue to afford to live a frugal existence? My money is on the side of the American homeowner and lower short-term rates," writes Bill Gross at FT.

The Fed said their predominant policy concern remains the risk that inflation will fail to moderate as expected, said the FOMC Statement.

In June the Labor Department reported a .7% rise in the May CPI, the second largest increase in 16 years. The dollar fell against the euro but remained higher against Japan's yen after the consumer price data.

Calculations of 'core' inflation strip out food and energy prices, seen as volatile and therefore liable to skew any snapshot of consumer price levels. But some analysts now argue that a steep climb in the cost of food worldwide in recent months could be permanent, or at least long lasting. Merrill Lynch has coined a term to capture the phenomenon of food prices forcing up consumer prices more broadly: "agflation," reports Reuters.

"The Fed has 'chickened out' yet again and will make conditions far worse in the future as the U.S. dollar continues its downward, inflationary plunge and, what we term, stealth inflation becomes progressively unleashed upon the financial world," according the editors at MoneyNews.com

"The Fed is now trapped in a "Catch-22" economy. If they cut rates the U.S. dollar, which is near historic lows, may crumble further. If they raise rates it may trigger a housing collapse and U.S. recession," says Craig R. Smith.

Economic Realities...

Sentiment among U.S. homebuilders slid in June to the lowest level in more than 16 years as tighter lender practices and rising mortgage rates crimped sales, the National Association of Home Builders said Monday to Reuters.

The U.S. economy slowed to a .6% growth in the first quarter, held back by falling investments in homes, shrinking inventories and a larger trade gap, the Commerce Department reported.

"U.S. taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. It will cost more to repay the debt over time. Each household would have to pay about $31,000 a year over the next 75 years," reports USA Today.

"Every smart investor hopes to buy low and sell high. The hard part is determining what's low and what's high. My simple, time-tested strategy is to sell-high, then buy-low! With the Dow topping 13,000, what better time to take some profit and move it into gold?" asks Swiss America CEO Craig R. Smith.

"There's never been a more important time to diversify a minimum of 5%-10% of your portfolio into gold for two main reasons: to hedge ongoing market risks and because gold offers peace of mind," Craig R. Smith told The Derry Brownfield Show.

"The dollar is a basket case. We are going to pay the piper for years of having the underlying fundamentals of our economy disintegrate beneath our feet," said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. to AP.

"A greenback has no intrinsic value. It is faith-based. That the paper dollar finds favor the world over must be counted as one of the greatest achievements in the annals of money. To paraphrase Richard Nixon, the president who closed the US gold window in 1971, we are all dollar bulls now," reports FT.

"Given our expectation of continued favorable supply-demand fundamentals, we expect gold to retest the January 1980 high at $850 an ounce this year (2007), with a new target at $1,000 an ounce. While $1000 may appear overly optimistic, it is important to remember that gold rose nearly 3,000 percent from 1971 to 1980 and is only up 166 percent from its low in 1999," says John Ing, Precious Metals Analyst, Maison Placements.

Dollar vs. Gold...

"Gold will fly once investors can see that neither of the two reserve currency pillars (euro and dollar) is on a sound foundation, and once the pair are engaged in a beggar-thy-neighbor devaluation contest to stave off a slump, this would amount to a partial breakdown of the monetary system. Gold will not stop at $800. It might well go beyond $2,000," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in London Telegraph.

"Gold is near a 27-year high. Even at that, it might be the best bargain in the financial world. A barrel of oil in 1998, could be traded for $11 dollars. Today, you need $78 dollars to buy a barrel of oil. Gold, on the other hand, has gone up less than half that much. If gold were to go up as much as oil, an ounce of it would sell for about $1,800 today, reports Bill Bonner at DR.

"Gold is presenting a solid technical trade at these levels, and the risk/reward scenario makes this an attractive investment," reports Thestreet.com.

"Right now, the time window has shifted for the price to move beyond $700," said Peter Spina, an analyst at GoldSeek.com. "I would not feel comfortable betting against gold at these levels, although it does appear the rally will take a summer vacation," reports MW.

"This [global monetary] system as a whole relies upon a touching faith that enough countries will play by the rules of the market, so that the market will continue to function with rules that can be exploited as national self-interest dictates. Interesting concept. Don't think I'll sell my position in gold just yet," writes Jim Jubak at Moneycentral.com

"Gold has had a nice seven-year run. But the monetary phase of the bull market has hardly begun. How could it have? People, for the most part, still trust the currencies in their wallets and the central bankers who print them. The day gold stops trading as a decorative asset, and begins trading as an alternative to Bernanke & Co., is the day that the gold bull run, part II, begins," writes James Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer for Forbes.

"A portfolio minus gold at this time is like walking around naked in zero-degree temperatures," says Raymond Stahler, a principal money manager at London-based Stahler Dearborn Ltd.

"The dollar is close to breaking through support levels and if it does that then it could have significant implications for all markets, and certainly for the Treasury market in terms of inflation," Bill Gross of PIMCO told Bloomberg television.

"A near-perfect storm has aligned both technically and fundamentally for gold," said Peter Grandich, editor of the Grandich Letter. "A test of the 2006 highs around $735 is not a question of if, but when," reports MW.

"The reason we have seen the gold market fail to take the $700 level recently is due to the continued increase in Central Bank gold sales, specifically those out of the European Central Bank (ECB) system," reports Goldseek.com.

"The current bull market for gold could last another five years, if certain conditions are in place, and the metal's price could soar to an incredible $1,500/oz. Investors should buy gold to beat the current period of stagflation," says Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg.

"A sharp decline in the Dollar Index below the 80 level will likely take down the bond, stock, and real estate markets as well. Since a lower dollar will exert additional upward pressure on already rising consumer prices, the ensuing combination of rising inflation, higher interest rates and lower asset prices will be a toxic mix," writes Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital.

"Dollar weakness will continue and gold will eventually soar based primarily on this factor," said Adrian Day, president of Annapolis, Maryland-based Adrian Day's Asset Management, which has $113 million in assets, reports Bloomberg.

"Gold prices could exceed last year's 26-year high of $730 an ounce within the next 12 months due to a weaker dollar, rising geopolitical tensions and an investment led rally," according to the annual survey by GFMS, the metals consultancy, reports FT.

Barclays predicted gold will average $710 in the third quarter. "In the near term gold prices are likely to consolidate at lower levels before the next push up," said Suki Cooper, analyst at Barclays Capital, reports Forbes.

"Despite recent weakness, the gold market, at anytime, could revive and move higher," said Peter Spina, an analyst at GoldSeek.com. At the same time, "seasonality factors are coming into play, so the case for a continuation of sideways action is quite convincing," reports MW.

StreetTRACKS gold shares, the world's largest gold-backed exchange traded fund (ETF), said it has dropped a substantial amount of bullion holdings over the last two days, signaling reduced exposure by investors due to weaker prices, reports Reuters.

"My conservative expectation is that gold will end the year decisively above $700/oz., which equates to at least a 15% gain for the year. However, we cannot rule out various economic wild cards, such as Iran or a spike in oil prices, which could send gold soaring above $800 an ounce or more at any point," said Craig R. Smith, in a recent interview.

"All 14 'strategists' at the largest Wall Street Firms are calling for a higher [stock] market in 2007. The last time this bullish consensus occurred was at the start of 2001. The DJIA subsequently fell 40% over the next 2 years," reports TheMarketOracle.com

Prudent Bear Fund manager David Tice forecasts a 50 percent to 60 percent decline in the market over the next two years," reports NY Times.

According to Tice, "What we have is gross credit excess" on both the personal and national levels, he said, and credit excesses fuel the speculative manias of classic boom-bust cycles. "Individuals are using their homes as an A.T.M. machine with home equity loans," he added.


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Recent stories of interest...
* Capitalism not to blame for debacle -LT
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* Economists: Fed must cut rates by Sept. 18 -MW
* Central banks stealing from the average citizen -MSN
* Look Out. This Crunch Is Serious -WP
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* Wall Street Manages Late Turnaround -MN
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* Iran Guards may be labeled terrorists -WP
* Learn from the fall of Rome, US comptroller warns -FT
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* U.S. Producer Prices Rise 0.6% in July -BL
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* Spectacular Acts Of Central Banking -Forbes
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* CHINA THREATENS TO TRIGGER US DOLLAR CRASH -LT
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* STOCKS: A Blatant Example of Market Rigging -AoL
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* 11th hour rally on Wall Street -CNN
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* U.S. consumer confidence highest since Sept. 11 -MW
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* Market plunge a symptom of trouble -WND
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* Stock markets' global sell-off -LT
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* Existing Homes Sales Near 5-Year Low -MN
* Paulson says backs strong U.S. dollar -Reuters
* Credit crunch to hit stocks -LT
* Gold Price nears 27-Year High, Still a Bargain -DR
* Dow 14,000: I'm skipping the party -MSN
* Investors seek safe havens from credit storms -FT
* Gold at 10-week high; dollar tipped to fall further -AFX
* Five Reasons to Sell, Sell, Sell -BW
* Fed raises stagflation fears -LT
* Bernanke's Stagflation Proclamation -MF
* Fed chief acknowledges credit fears -FT
* Stocks adjusted by the dollar -AT
* Terror Threat Against U.S. Said Serious -AP
* Goldman: Oil May Hit $95 This Year -MN
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* U.S. Stocks Poised for 10 Percent Drop -BL
* Merger mania up 77% in 2007 ytd -FT
* Confidence Drops Near 1-Year Low -AP
* Iran Asks Japan to Pay Yen for All Oil -BL
* Hidden Costs of a Falling Dollar -MN
* The last word on gold, dollar & RE -Russell
* Gold Rises, Resuming Rally on Dollar's Decline; Silver Advances -BL
* Gold higher as dollar languishes at record lows -TF
* Dollar Falls to Record Against Euro on Housing Concern -BL
* $2,000-$5,000 Peak Gold Theory -TS
* 5 causes of a market crash -DR
* Will the euro dethrone the dollar? -DT
* U.S. stock `correction' forecasts at 10 yr high -BL
* Has Bear Stearns popped the great world bubble? -LT
* American Citizens: 1, Politicians: 0 -WND
* AZ OKs toughest migrant-hire law in U.S. -AZR
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* Credit crunch will 'shred investment portfolios -LT
* Ruff: golden times ahead -MW
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* BIS warns of Great Depression -LT
ABOUT THE EDITOR
David M. Bradshaw is Editor of Real Money Perspectives, a daily financial/market news digest. In 2001, he published REDISCOVERING GOLD IN THE 21ST CENTURY and has been an economic commentator since 1987, as producer/co-host of "World Economic Perspectives" radio show. In 2005, he released a new CD, "WHAT'S YOUR WORLDVIEW?" from his 24-hour series, "THE BIG PICTURE." MORE at MIF... Personal note: Youngest daughter Braida Zoe (age 3) swims, loves animals, music, dancing, reading, hiking, trampolining and collecting things. Shown with mom, Micki, and dad (me).
DISCLAIMER: All of the provided information is believed to be accurate, however errors are possible. The opinions in the Commentary section do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Swiss America. Past performance of any investment is no guarantee of future performance. All investments have risk.

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