Swiss America Blog Archive

2.24.15 - The Fed is Trapped in ZIRP World

Gold last traded at $1,197 an ounce. Silver at $16.19 an ounce.

STOCKS: The Dow mildly cheered the Fed's announced "patience" regarding raising interest rates along with the EU decision to extend Greek debt another four months. Meanwhile, the London stock exchange (FTSE 100) is partying like it's 1999, reaching fresh 16-year highs as investors cheered the Greek bailout and upcoming EU trillion-dollar stimulus plan patterned after the Fed.

FED: America's mysterious, unelected Fourth Branch of Government (aka The FED) has decided to keep interest rates at ZERO until the end of 2015 or beyond. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen testified before Congress today, saying, "The [FED] Committee judged that it can be patient in beginning to raise the federal funds rate. And that it is, "unlikely that economic conditions will warrant an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate for at least the next couple of FOMC meetings." Translation: Since the U.S. economy has not recovered yet, we will continue punishing the 99% while enriching the 1%.

ZIRP: Is extending ZIRP good news or bad news? Well, it's good news for BIG government, BIG banks and big Wall Street speculators. BUT, it's BAD news for the Middle Class, according to The ZIRPing of America.The Fed's Zero Interest Policy has created economic bubbles - in stocks, bonds, debt and the dollar - which could soon blow up. And, the Fed has trapped us in a 'ZIRP World' of stagnant jobs and wages which could lead to another recession or worse!

CONFIDENCE: U.S. consumer confidence fell in February as Americans felt less confident about current economic conditions and considerably less confident about the next six months. Why are consumers losing confidence? Because they have been promised an economic recovery, complete with job and wage growth for all of the trillions in debt, but over the last six years these promises have been proven to be purely motivated by politics and lacking any true substance.

GOLD: Speaking of substance, gold prices dipped on Tuesday after the Greek debt decision and Yellen's Fedspeak. But, will gold and silver prices become the next bank rigging scandal? Bloombergreports, Banks Face U.S. Manipulation Probe Over Metals Pricing. It appears the world's biggest banks may have manipulated the prices of precious metals as part of their currency-rate rigging scheme, according to The U.S. Justice Department. Gold price rigging has been documented for over a decade by Thankfully, market manipulation efforts usually fail in the long-term - as the bright light of the free market eventually exposes darkness. Because gold is debt-free money it should be no surprise the gatekeepers of today's global credit/debt system seek to artificially hold gold prices down. Gold reflects reality. Fight back! Buy some physical gold today at rock-bottom prices before runaway money/debt creation leads to runaway gold prices.

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2.23.15 - Stocks Fall on Uncertainty

Gold last traded at $1,200 an ounce. Silver at $16.25 an ounce.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks slid lower Monday as oil dropped below $50 a barrel, further hurting energy companies. President Obama is expected to formally veto construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline this week which could create 10,000 good paying, U.S. jobs. Meanwhile, stock market technician Carter Worth told CNBC today the S&P Index, currently around 2,110, could fall 14% to below 1,820. He also said a Federal Reserve rate hike could inspire this move.

PREPAREDNESS: "1 in 3 Americans on verge of financial ruin," reports Marketwatch. A new poll shows that 37% of Americans have credit card debt that equals or exceeds their emergency savings. "Over one in three Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster." This underlines the crushing of the U.S. middle class, who must rely on credit cards to pay for essentials and have been punished by stagnant wages and the economic uncertainty created by the Fed's ZIRPing of America.

BANKS: "Swiss banks now refusing to allow withdrawals," reports The Examiner. Dr. Jim Willie, author of the Hat Trick Newsletter reports Swiss banks are refusing to allow withdrawals and account closures for customers holding large deposits in the amounts of hundreds of millions or billions of Euros and Francs. This and much more is discussed in DON'T BANK ON IT!

GOLD: Prices steadied near $1,200 an ounce Monday as the U.S. dollar rose. "In a negative or low yield environment, gold performs well," says Ashish Bhatia, director of central banks and public policy at the World Gold Council. As central banks worldwide continue printing money at record levels they also bought 477 tons of gold in 2014, 17% more than the previous year.

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2.20.15 - Why Gold Matters

Gold last traded at $1,204 an ounce. Silver at $16.39 an ounce.

In a time of deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary act – George Orwell

EU: Eurogroup ministers and Greece have agreed on a draft accord that could extend Greece’s bailout four months; which means the markets have four months of illusion ahead. However, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports in the Telegraph, "ECB risks crippling political damage if Greece is forced to default this June."

STOCKS: The decision to kick the Greek debt can further down the road, along with investor optimism and unbridled faith in central banks across the globe, pushed stock prices to close higher Friday. The S&P Index hit a new record high of 2,110.

BANKS: The New York Times reports, New Rules Spur a Humbling Overhaul of Wall St. Banks. If only that were really true. Authors Craig R. Smith and Lowell Ponte point out that big banks have actually grown 30% since 2009 as a result of the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP).

"The Fed has rigged interest rates and asset prices to the extent that investors can no longer distinguish reality from fiction ... It is then logical to conclude that the end of the Fed's manipulation of interest rates and money supply will lead to a collapse of this phony consumption-driven economy, as it also takes the stock market along for the ride down," wrote investment advisor Michael Pento in 2014.

Smith and Ponte conclude, "With central banks boasting of their plans to debase national currencies via deliberately-created inflation – today it makes urgent sense to diversify and convert a portion of one's savings from paper fiat money into solid, reliable stores of value such as gold." What is the future of ZIRP? Read The ZIRPing of America to discover four possible scenarios.

GOLD: "Put simply, gold matters because it historically doesn't really correlate to macro variables and the stock market. An exciting year lies ahead, and for risk management, a 'golden era' may soon come," writes Michael A. Gayed at Marketwatch. According to Swiss gold expert Egon von Greyerz. "People don’t realize that gold at $1,200 today is cheaper than it was at $300 in 2002. It’s not only cheaper today on a relative basis but it’s strategically much more important now than it was back in 2002." This illustration clearly shows how gold has preserved wealth over the last six decades in comparison with cash, cars and homes. Call Swiss America to find out why gold will likely continue serving as wealth insurance for many decades (and centuries) to come.

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2.19.15 - Fed Signals Stock Bulls To Run

Gold last traded at $1,207 an ounce. Silver at $16.38 an ounce.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks closed narrowly mixed Thursday after the S&P 500 touched a new record high - despite lower oil prices and concerns about Greece. Germany stunned the market by rejecting another Greek bailout extension. "A Stock Market Alarm Is Sounding," reports The Fiscal Times. "This is a stock market that's growing increasingly dependent, and less satisfied, by the flow of stimulus from the Fed. The end of the QE1 and QE2 programs were associated with major market pullbacks of 20 percent or more. We could be in for a violent retest of recent lows as the bubble of enthusiasm in stocks is popped by any number of factors." Meanwhile Wal Mart, the most-hated retailer in America, beat forecasts and says it will pay hourly workers at least $9 an hour.

FED: Authors Craig Smith and Lowell Ponte report, "$7.5 Trillion mostly printed out of thin air by the Fed and Treasury have turned Wall Street into a casino flush with easy money. Companies run on borrowed cash while creating deceptively high stock values by buying back their own shares. One recent study calculates that ZIRP, the QE (Quantitative Easing) policy it produced, and bookkeeping gimmicks have overvalued today's stocks by at least 86 percent."

ZIRP: "ZIRP/NIRP Is Killing Fractional Reserve Banking," reports Zero Hedge, reflecting the same sentiments as Swiss America's newest White Paper, The ZIRPing of America. "Could zero/negative interest rates be the end of the fractional banking system and force deposit holders into gold and silver?" asks Zero Hedge. "With increasing negative real interest rates gold and silver look more attractive by the day." We agree 100%!

HAPPY?: And the happiest state in America is ... Alaska! Go figure. Hawaii came in #2 which is understandable. USA Today reports, "The 2014 rankings, released Thursday, are based on over 176,000 phone interviews with people in all 50 states. The Index measures how people feel about and experience their daily lives, and looks at their health across five categories: purpose, social, financial, community and physical." Another major component in lifting your happiness and peace of mind is proper asset diversification which includes physical gold as wealth insurance. Call Swiss America today at 800-289-2646. Who knows, you just might sleep better and feel happier - no matter where you live.

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2.18.15 - FED To Keep "ZIRPing" America

Gold last traded at $1,200 an ounce. Silver at $16.26 an ounce.

FED: Federal Reserve officials are leaning toward keeping rates at zero "for a longer time" than wanted, according to minutes from the January meeting released Wednesday. The majority of Fed governors appear to be in no hurry to hike interest rates - showing yet another vote of no confidence in the so-called U.S. economic recovery.

ZIRP: In 2008 America faced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. One major bank had failed and others were at risk of collapse. To save our economy, the Federal Reserve gambled by going pedal to the metal with its accelerator, slamming bank interest rates all the way to Zero. This Zero Rate Interest Policy (ZIRP) made money virtually free for our biggest banks. This wild new policy was supposed to save these banks and start them lending again. However, as monetary expert Craig R. Smith and veteran think tank futurist Lowell Ponte write in their new White Paper, The ZIRPing of America: The Federal Reserve's Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) Is Hazardous to Our Economic Health, this caused crazy unintended consequences. Read more: ZIRP Has Given America "Financial Diabetes," Say Experts

STOCKS: U.S. stocks traded lower on Wednesday as investors digested the latest Fed meeting minutes amid continued uncertainty over the Greece-euro zone negotiations.

INDICATORS: U.S. housing starts fell in January, crude oil prices fell $2 to $51.52 a barrel. The U.S. dollar traded higher against major world currencies and the U.S. 10-year Treasury note edged lower to trade near 2.11 percent.

GOLD: Gold prices slipped lower early on, then rebounded on rising investor demand near the close. Meanwhile, scuba divers off the coast of Israel uncovered a treasure trove of gold coins dating back 1,000 years. Israel's Antiquities Authority said 2,000 gold coins were discovered by chance when members of a diving club stumbled upon them. But you don't need diving lessons to start adding gold coins to your portfolio with Swiss America, just call us toll-free at 800-289-2646.

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2.17.15 - Trapped in "ZIRP World"

Gold last traded at $1,208 an ounce. Silver at $16.37 an ounce.

STOCKS: U.S. stock markets traded narrowly higher on Tuesday, pressured by a deadlock between Greece and its creditors after talks collapsed on Monday. Weak readings on U.S. manufacturing and housing also weighed on investors' moods.

FED: The Federal Reserve should wait until the end of the summer to raise interest rates, given the amazingly weak GDP growth (2.6%) rather than hiking in June as promised, said Wharton School professor Jeremy Siegel to CNBC.

ZIRP World: Don't Bank On It! authors Craig R. Smith and Lowell Ponte remind Americans, "If the Fed tries to end ZIRP by raising interest rates beginning in June, this could soon cost taxpayers an extra $1 Trillion or more each year in interest for the huge debt our bloated government built up over the past seven years when interest rates were zero."

"ZIRP World has become a trap that will be hard to escape," says Mr. Smith in his new White Paper The ZIRPing of America.

The one supposedly-bright spot of our economy is the stock market, soaring to the edge of 18,000. But this is an illusion, a mirage, warn Smith and Ponte.

"ZIRP and $7.5 Trillion mostly printed out of thin air by the Fed and Treasury have turned Wall Street into a casino flush with easy money. Companies run on borrowed cash while creating deceptively high stock values by buying back their own shares," warn Smith and Ponte.

"Former savers are being herded into the risky stock market," says Ponte. "If interest rates go up, don't be surprised to see the artificially inflated stock market go a long, long way down."

GOLD: Precious metal prices slipped lower Tuesday on technical selling, but if Greece decides to bail out of the euro, gold prices could rise $200 an ounce quickly, says Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors. Bottom line: Gold is priced very reasonably today, but the situation could change quickly.

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2.13.15 - Exposing The Prosperity Mirage

Gold last traded at $1,228 an ounce. Silver at $17.30 an ounce.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks brushed off worries about oil prices, Greece and the Ukraine, sending the DJIA back near 18,000. But what if the 6-year boom in U.S. stock prices is just a giant mirage; masking one of the biggest economic manipulations in history hoisted upon the world by desperate central bankers at the Federal Reserve?

According to a new study by the Harvard Kennedy School of Business, the attempt to end 'Too Big to Fail' banks has backfired in a big way. Big banks have grown 30% larger since 2009. Small community banks are no longer able to compete with big banks. Their assets have shrunken by 19%, according to Fiscal Times, hurting small local farmers most.

And what about the middle class? Today the U.S. economy is still firmly stuck in quagmire - with lackluster economic growth, few new jobs and stagnant wages. While central banks worldwide are fretting over deflation (falling prices), most Americans are fretting over the rising cost of living.

The ZIRPing Of America:A brand new White Paper by Craig R. Smith was released today explaining how stocks, bonds and the U.S. dollar could be rising so fast, while so many millions of Americans feel like they are financially sinking.

"What the Fed did back in December 2008 may have changed forever the American economy and the values shaped by our views of money, work and the role of government," writes Mr. Smith. Here is a short excerpt from this important new White Paper examining what has caused stock prices to double since 2009 ...

In ZIRP World, and the Quantitative Easing (QE) Fed policies that zero interest rates led the Fed to turn to, a vast hallucinatory mirage of stock market growth emerged. Since ZIRP began, the S&P 500 has soared by 200 percent.

Take a step back from this frenzy of the Wall Street casino near 18,000 and you can begin to see more clearly. Through ZIRP and its related QE policies, the Fed has flooded the stock market with easy money.

Companies since the financial crisis began have spent more than $2 Trillion of this easy money not to make their companies more innovative or efficient, but to buy back shares of company stock.

Imagine that you are a company with 10 million shares of stock and you buy back half of them, instantly putting the issues of dividends and debt and executive stock options in a more favorable light. The value of your remaining shares greatly increases, even though the company may be bringing in no more customer dollars than before.

Yet because of the easy Fed money from ZIRP and QE, your company now appears to be growing and successful, and you look like a genius. This then lures more stock buyers, desperately seeking the income that the Fed's low interest policies have taken away from their bank accounts.

This 'wealth effect' that former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke intended to create to stimulate consumer spending and the economy is based on inflation and easy money conjured by the Fed out of thin air. It is at best a self-fulfilling prophecy, a shared hypnotically-induced mass illusion that stocks now have more value than they really do. It is at worst a con game, a Ponzi scheme, a trick used to rob the gullible. As Forbes columnist Charles Biderman put it, what the Fed is doing to achieve this levitation of the stock market through conjured money "would be a crime if anyone other than the Fed did this."

SPECIAL OFFER: As a Real Money Perspectives subscriber, you have access to read this vital new White Paper, The ZIRPing of America right now at this link. Invest a few moments over this President's Day holiday to discover the truth about how "ZIRP World" helped create today's over-leveraged situation and why, as interest rates rise, our own economy built of overvalued paper stocks and easy paper money could be severely damaged.

**Swiss America Trading will be closed on Monday, February 16th in observance of Presidents' Day**

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2.12.15 - EU Train Wreck Warning

Gold last traded at $1,222 an ounce. Silver at $16.87 an ounce.

EU: "Germany faces impossible choice as Greek austerity revolt spreads," reports our friend Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the London Telegraph. Says Ambrose: "The political center across southern Europe is disintegrating. Only two people can now stop the coming train-wreck. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schauble." "What's happening to Greece today, will be happening to Italy tomorrow. Sooner or later, default is coming," says Italy's Beppe Grillo.

STOCKS: A weaker U.S. dollar boosted oil prices and stocks Thursday. "One big fear about dollar strength: a stock bubble," warns Marketwatch. Meanwhile, American Express stock dropped to a four-month low after it lost an exclusivity deal with Costco.

DEBT: "US budget deficit running 8.3%," report Associated Press. "For the current budget year, government revenues total $1.05 trillion, an increase of 8.7 percent from the same period a year ago. Government spending totals $1.24 trillion, up 8.3 percent over last year."

ZIRP: "Sweden cuts rates below zero as global currency wars spread," reports the London Telegraph. Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) is quickly spreading worldwide, and is now morphing into Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP) in Europe. The European Central Bank (ECB) cut a key interest below zero in June 2014; followed by Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden. The Federal Reserve's ZIRP began back in December 2008, offering the big banks virtually free money, a policy that continues more than six years later. Has it boosted U.S. growth, jobs or a recovery? No. It has failed, say authors Craig R. Smith and Lowell Ponte. (More on this Friday)

PRESIDENTS: Today is the 206th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, which used to be a national holiday, along with George Washington on February 22. In 1986 we combined them into President's Day to make room for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While Lincoln's birth may be glossed over, the 150th anniversary of his death this year won't be. The Boston Globe reminds us, "After an elaborate service at the White House, Lincoln's body went on a 15-day, 1,700-mile train trip, stopping for no fewer than 12 funeral processions in cities such as New York and Chicago, where his body was removed from the train and displayed in an open casket. Historians say that the funeral 'tour' was the most prolonged, elaborate, and most repeated ceremony in US history. Mourners by the tens of thousands waited hours to pay their respects. Solemn crowds would gather to watch as the train slowly made its way to Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln would finally be entombed."

GOLD: Precious metal prices rose Thursday on a weaker dollar, a decline in retail sales and a rise in jobless claims. Gold's price fluctuates daily as short-term speculators attempt profit making and taking. Swiss America clients are learning to ignore the daily noise and keep their eyes on the prize. Gold always serves as wealth insurance, whether prices are up or down.

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2.11.15 - Markets Held Hostage by Uncertainty

Gold last traded at $1,220 an ounce. Silver at $16.80 an ounce.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks traded mixed on Wednesday as investors focused on developments in Greece's negotiations with euro zone finance ministers. "The market is being held hostage to the uncertainty over the Greek crisis," said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics. Swiss America's 2015 Real Money Perspectives newsletter explains why this rising level of uncertainty can be overcome by "preparing for the worst, while expecting the best."

CYBER-THREAT: U.S. creates new agency to fight cyberthreat reports Reuters. Yesterday President Obama's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco said the new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will "rapidly pool and disseminate data on cyberbreaches, which are ballooning in size and sophistication." Amit Yoran, president of security firm RSA, said the series of high-profile attacks showed that change was needed. "We aren't getting the cyber job done," he said. Stay ahead of the curve by reading DON'T BANK ON IT! which covers 20 major back risks and the only real solution to cyber-crime.

ECONOMY: We are reminded often by the Fed and mainstream financial press that the U.S. is enjoying a growing economic recovery, despite decling GDP, retail sales and jobs data. Investor Steve Ricchiuto stunned CNBC hosts Tuesday by launching into a rant about the lack of real economic recovery and the Federal Reserve's forecasts being 'pie in the sky'. "That's not what The Fed is telling us," said CNBC host Sara Eisen.Herein lies the problem with mainstream financial news, they appear to want us all to put blind faith in what the Federal Reserve claims is true, even as uncertainty grows.

FED: Fed's Fisher calls 'audit the Fed' backers 'sheep in wolves' clothing' reports LA Times. Richard Fisher, the outgoing president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said he believes the movement led by Rand Paul (R-Ky) to enact legislation allowing audits of the Fed's monetary policy decisions is an attempt to cover up for lawmakers' failings on economic policy. The Republican-controlled House easily passed "audit the Fed" bills in 2012 and 2014; both time the legislation stalled. Now that Republicans are in the majority, the legislation might actually make it to President Obama's desk. [Editor's Note: Richard Fisher, the Federal Reserves' inflation hawk, presently owns over $1 million in gold according to annual filings of the 12 Fed presidents for 2010 ... Watch what they do, not what they say].

GOLD: Precious metal prices slipped to one-month lows Wednesday - which means it is a great time to buy more gold. A recent 15-year asset return analysis published at shows the DJIA is up 53.7% compared to gold prices, which are up 337%. This clearly illustrates why a diversified portfolio must include gold for safety and long-term growth.

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2.10.15 - Greek Brinksmanship

Gold last traded at $1,232 an ounce. Silver at $16.87 an ounce.

GREECE: Greece's last minute offer to Brussels changes absolutely nothing, writes London Telegraph. In the latest chapter of the ongoing Greek tragedy, Greece has escalated its demands while offering some concessions to meet the terms of their proposed 246 billion euro bailout deal to stay in the EU. "The art of Game Theory brinkmanship is to convince opponents that you are utterly defiant, almost insane, and willing to bring the temple crashing down on everybody’s heads. Then you smile and talk turkey," writes the Telegraph.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks rallied in early trading after speculation that Greece and its international creditors were moving toward agreement; but gains moderated after Germany's finance minister denied rumors of the commission's willingness to grant Greece a six month extension on its debt obligations.

SMALL BUSINESS: The U.S. small-business sentiment gauge slipped in January on a decline in optimism over sales growth and business conditions. This should be no surprise given the current administration's anti-small business growth policies. The Fed has been favoring big business and big banks ever since they began their zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) back in 2009.

FED: "The Federal Reserve should raise interest rates in June," says Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker. San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams told the Financial Times on Tuesday that the Fed is getting "closer and closer" to raising rates. The problem is no one knows what will happen when rates rise. "The economy may move up or melt down," warns the Manhattan Institute.

DOLLAR: Meanwhile the buck bounced back from losses on Monday amid Greek hopes. A strong dollar over the long-term is a sucker's bet, but the hedge fund industry - which has grossly underperformed benchmarks for some time now - has pushed net bullish dollar positions to a record $48 billion. This makes the U.S. dollar "The Healthiest Horse in the Glue Factory," as we cover in our 2015 Real Money Perspectives.

GOLD: Gold prices eased back on Tuesday after rising Monday. Gold is always and will forever be the "anti-dollar", offering insurance against the long-term downward trend of the U.S. dollar. By owning gold you have an escape hatch from the failed Fed policy of money-printing. Owning gold means you hold, in your hand, money whose intrinsic value cannot be systematically stolen by governments or central bankers. Don't wait to buy gold, buy gold and wait! says Swiss America Chairman Craig R. Smith.

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2.9.15 - The Year of the Sheep

Gold last traded at $1,241 an ounce. Silver at $17.07 an ounce.

CHINA: China's Year of the Sheep officially begins January 19th. But it appears the American public is at the biggest risk of getting shorn in 2015. China Behind Anthem Hack Attack - Fox/Cavuto Video - China is strongly linked to the last major U.S. hack attack, this time striking 80 million policyholders with Anthem, one of America's largest health insurance companies. Fox News host Neil Cavuto asks author and Swiss America Chairman Craig R. Smith, "What will our enemies do with all of this data?" According to Smith, part of the hackers' motive is a reselling of this vital private information for the purpose of setting up fake cyber crime accounts. The other component is espionage, demonstrating that hackers can worm their way into the U.S. Defense Department. Mr. Smith reminds viewers China is a Communist country who does not play by the same international rules. They are willing to lie, cheat and then steal American intellectual property - hurting individuals, corporations, businesses, as well as compromising our nation's safety. Craig wonders, where is our President on this issue? And the bigger question: What if a door is still left open for hackers to get back into Anthem's system in the future?

GREECE: "The euro is like a house of cards. If you pull away the Greek card, they all come down," says Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister. "The integrity of monetary union and the security system of the Eastern Mediterranean are both hanging from a thin Greek thread," writes Telegraph Senior Economics reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

STOCKS: U.S stocks traded lower Monday on China's growth concerns as both imports and exports fall. Add to this growing EU worries about Greek debt and threats to exit the EU.

OIL: Crude oil prices climbed near $54 a barrel today after OPEC's output forecast was lowered. Recent oil volatility has severely impacted the U.S. shale production as well as the Russian, Venezuelan and Brazilian economies which are all extremely oil-dependent for ongoing economic growth.

BANKS: The Guardian reports, US Gov Faces Biggest Leak in Banking History. "The US government will come under intense pressure this week to explain what action it took after receiving a massive cache of leaked data that revealed how the Swiss banking arm of HSBC, the world's second-largest bank, helped wealthy customers conceal billions of dollars of assets."

GOLD: Precious metal prices climbed toward $1,250 an ounce amid safe-haven buying and a weaker U.S. dollar. Seasonal buying is expected to peak as the Chinese New Year approaches and ongoing economic uncertainties escalate. According to Swiss America Chairman Craig R. Smith, "Never buy or sell in a panic!" The best time to buy gold as wealth insurance is when the markets are calm, rather than waiting until after the next major trigger event. When it comes to asset protection, it is wiser to be one-year early than one-day late.

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2.6.15 - U.S. Jobless Recovery Advances

Gold last traded at $1,234 an ounce. Silver at $16.69 an ounce.

JOBS: The Labor Department said the U.S. created 257,000 jobs in January, outpacing estimates. Average hourly earnings grew by 0.5 percent, reflecting a rise in the minimum wage that went into effect in January in nine states. The unemployment rate rose from 5.6 to 5.7 percent. Why? Because low paying jobs were outpaced by a falling labor participation rate of 62.9% - the lowest since Jimmy Carter.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks opened higher then fell on Friday despite a "strong" jobs report. It seems investors now fear upbeat jobs will increase the likelihood of a Fed interest rate hike sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, 94-year old RadioShack, the first to sell computers, pulled their plug Thursday and filed for bankruptcy.

US DOLLAR: The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last up 1.1 percent at 94.589 on upbeat jobs data. The buck's rally, which started in May 2014 and is now up 20 percent, has some experts saying the greenback may be poised for a major sell off. The 2014-15 global currency war has now boosted the buck to the world's 'best of the worst' currencies.

CHINA: "Chinese State-Sponsored Hackers Suspected in Anthem Attack," reports Bloomberg News. The information stolen from insurance giant Anthem includes; names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses, employment and income information - and ranks among the largest in corporate history. DON'T BANK ON IT! author Craig R. Smith will be discussing today's raging international cyberwar -which he refers to as "THE biggest threat facing Americans" - tonight on FOX Business TV at 6pm MT.

BANKS: "Russians advised to pull their money out of banks and prepare for black market in cash" writes Andrey Panov, a freelance columnist for Vedomosti. The ruble has tanked over 50%, from 33 rubles to the dollar to 67 rubles over the last year. Panov advises Russians to take their savings out of the banks.

GOLD: Precious metal prices came under pressure Friday amid upbeat jobs data and a stronger dollar. As discussed Thursday, this means owning gold as wealth insurance is temporarily less expensive, which we think represents a great buying opportunity. With the income tax deadline approaching, it is also wise to consider converting some of your retirement assets into precious metals while they are still at sale prices.

STRESSED: 72 percent of adults say they fretted about their finances in the past month, according to a new "Stress in America" survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). Stress related to financial issues also has a significant impact on Americans' health and well-being. Ameriprise Financial's recent survey of Baby Boomers found that emotional, financial and health preparation are the keys to a successful retirement.

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2.5.15 - The World's Fail-safe Form of Money

Gold last traded at $1,262 an ounce. Silver at $17.19 an ounce.

STOCKS: U.S. stocks traded higher on Thursday, encouraged by oil gains, while shaking off concerns about Greek debt and banking woes. "With a seriously weak banking system worldwide, funny money printed out of thin air all over the world and higher taxation coming; we are headed for some major market trouble," writes senior analyst Jim Carrillo.

JOBS: First-time weekly jobless claims in the U.S. rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000, the Labor Department said today. The consensus forecasts for January's nonfarm payrolls data expect the U.S. economy to have created 231,000 jobs in January.

EU: Greek markets tumbled after the European Central Bank raised the pressure on the country's new anti-austerity government. The ECB said it would no longer accept junk-rated Greek government bonds as collateral for cheap central bank cash because it could not assume, "a successful conclusion of the bailout program review."

FED: Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen lashed out at Senator Rand Paul's plan to give Congress more oversight over the central bank. Rand reintroduced his "Audit the Fed" legislation last month with 30 co-sponsors, including Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

DEBT: The world is awash with more debt than before the global financial crisis erupted in 2007. China's debt relative to its economic size now exceeds US levels. Global debt has increased by $57 trillion since 2007 to almost $200 trillion - far outpacing economic growth.

RETIREMENT: President Obama's massive $4 trillion 2016 budget includes targeting retirement accounts, with over a dozen provisions that could directly impact your retirement savings, including a 28% maximum tax benefit for contributions.

GOLD: Daily gold price fluctuations should be mostly ignored. Why? Because today virtually every currency, stock, bond and bank deposit are mispriced. Not so for gold, because physical gold coins will always be respected and accepted worldwide as a pure, debt-free asset; wealth insurance if you will. founder Jim Cramer agrees. Cramer says "Gold is an insurance policy." If we are happy about lower mortgage, auto or health insurance prices; why are we not equally as happy about lower wealth insurance (gold) prices? The answer: We're still thinking of gold as just another commodity ... or investment, when in fact it is the world's fail-safe form of money. Read more in our 2015 Real Money Perspectives newsletter.

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2.4.15 - China's Central Bank Cuts Bank Reserve Requirements

Gold last traded at $1,264 an ounce. Silver at $17.39 an ounce.

Overnight, China's central bank announced a system-wide cut to bank reserve requirements for the first time in over two years. The move was in an effort to unleash a fresh flood of liquidity to fight off economic slowdown and deflation. China's central bank will cut its reserve requirements to 19.5 percent for big banks, a reduction of 50 basis points, freeing up 600 billion yuan.

This reduction follows a surprise cut to guidance lending rates by the People's Bank of China back in November. Because that had an insignificant impact on producing productive investment, many had predicted a more dramatic move by the central bank, which it has now delivered.

This decision by China's central bank boosted gold prices. Metal prices tend to rise on growth-boosting measures from China because it is a major raw commodity importer.

In other economic news, the U.S. services sector had a modest rebound in January but companies reported the weakest level of new business growth in more than five years. "Companies are clearly struggling at the moment, with the surveys recording the smallest increase in new orders seen since the financial crisis six years ago amid weaker US and global economic growth and the strong US dollar," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

The U.S. private sector also suffered in January, adding only 213,000 jobs, falling short of the median forecast of 225,000 jobs made by analysts. The sharpest decline of jobs was in professional and business services while trade/transportation/utilities saw the biggest jump.

According to Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, "Businesses in the energy and supplying industries are already scaling back payrolls in reaction to the collapse in oil prices, while industries benefiting from the lower prices have been slower to increase their hiring."

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2.3.15 - New Feature Commentary: 2015 Gold Breakout

Gold last traded at $1,260 an ounce. Silver at $17.32 an ounce.

Swiss America has published a new feature commentary by James M. Carrillo that makes the case for a breakout in gold in 2015.

Mr. Carrillo's analysis includes a combination of technical, fundamental and macroeconomic analysis, which all result in the same conclusion: investors need to add gold to their holdings.

The report is available for free at the link below and we urge you to share it with friends, family and colleagues:

Gold is already proving Mr. Carrillo right thus far in 2015, having outperformed most other major asset categories. But what we have seen thus far may pale in comparison to what may come.

Writing for Yahoo Finance, Dr. Thomas Carr, also known as Dr. Stoxx, provides seven reasons why the price of gold could further surge to at least $1,800 per ounce and possibly as high as $3,000 per ounce:

1. The U.S. dollar is severely overextended.

2. Central banks--Russia, China, The Netherlands, Malaysia and others--are buying gold.

3. China's demand for gold could continue to escalate.

4. Past efforts by Western central bankers at holding down the price of gold have failed and could produce a backlash, sending prices higher.

5. When and if oil rebounds, many gold producers will have to curtail operations that are only continuing now due to low energy costs.

6. QE-type money printing is creating a huge bond bubble. When that bubble bursts, the best safe haven will be gold.

7. Government policies suggest that now is the time to accumulate gold.

One reason of course that the price of gold has been rising has been central bank activity, especially drastic interest rate cuts and money printing in the form of Quantitative Easing-like programs.

Yale professor and former Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, Stephen Roach believes all these efforts are not likely to restore sustainable economic growth, but are likely to undermine currencies and cause economic and financial market dislocation.

That is a recipe for a global breakout in gold.

Another factor that has generally been supportive of gold prices has been economic uncertainty in the US. Lately most of the economic data indicate the US economy seems to be slowing. Today was no exception.

According to the Commerce Department, new orders for U.S. factory goods fell for a fifth straight month in December. New orders for manufactured goods declined 3.4% as demand fell across a broad sector of industries. Economists had forecast new orders received by factories sliding only 2.2%. Moreover, November's orders were revised to show a 1.7% drop instead of a previously reported 0.7% fall.

Over the long-term, gold has been a hedge against a falling stock market. A widely-watched stock market yardstick, the Dow Theory, is now signalling that the U.S. stock market’s major trend is down. That suggests investors need to seek the security of gold.

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2.2.15 - Hedge Funds Turn to Gold as Economy Shows More Signs of Cracks

Gold last traded at $1,279 an ounce. Silver at $17.21 an ounce.

Hedge funds are the most bullish on gold in more than two years, betting the metal’s allure will strengthen as slowing economies in Europe and Asia threaten U.S. expansion.

Speculators increased their net-long position by 80 percent this year, U.S. government data show. The U.S. economy expanded at a slower-than-forecast pace in the fourth quarter and Federal Reserve officials acknowledged global risks at the end of their policy meeting last week.

Gold prices in January capped the biggest monthly gain in three years. Policy makers in Europe and Asia are adding to stimulus as they battle cooling growth, boosting the appeal of alternatives to currencies being revalued. Weaker foreign expansion has increased speculation among investors that the Fed will wait longer before raising U.S. interest rates. The race to devalue currencies is escalating even more and we begin the month of February and today is about to add a new victim: Denmark.

Denmark is battling to avoid its krone becoming the next victim of the global currency wars, wielding a combination of negative interest rates plus market interventions to sell its own currency plus scrapping government bond sales as it defends its peg to the euro.

Denmark sprang a rate-cut surprise last week; the central bank will now charge depositors 0.5% for the privilege of having kroner on deposit. The bank's third easing in less than two weeks came after it spent as much as 100 billion kroner ($15 billion) this month trying to weaken its currency.

Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, two fresh signs have emerged that the US economy is also showing signs of slowing.

Two measures of manufacturing sentiment in January matched their worst performance in a year, a sign that sputtering overseas growth as well as the rapid deterioration in commodity prices is hurting U.S. businesses.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index slowed to a reading of 53.5% from 55.1% in December, below the consensus forecast for a reading of 55%.

A similar index from Markit said much the same thing as the ISM report. Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers index stayed at 53.9 in January, which also was the worst reading in a year.

In addition, U.S. consumer spending slipped in December. The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending fell 0.3% in December.

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1.30.15 - Tapping the Brakes on the US Economy

Gold last traded at $1,278 an ounce. Silver at $17.25 an ounce.

As we've discussed for the past week, the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have been busy talking up the condition of the US economy lately.

It was the focus of the President's State of the Union speech and the Federal Reserve seemed to be declaring victory in its latest release on the economy this week.

A variety of analysts and observers have pointed out that not all of the economic reports and statistics back up what we've been hearing from official government sources.

Today we received the clearest indication yet that the actual economic data do not support the contention that the US economy is humming along like a finely tuned engine.

The U.S. economy slowed more than expected in the fourth quarter according to data released this morning.

Gross domestic product (GDP) — the value of all goods and services produced by the U.S. — grew at a 2.6% annual clip in the fourth quarter, the government said Friday. That’s below the 5.0% pace recorded in the July-September period.

Economists had forecast GDP would grow at a 3.2% rate.

Growth was pulled down by weaker business spending and a drop in exports.

Some economists are already saying the weaker than expected report might delay a Fed rate hike until late 2015 or 2016. Many had anticipated a rate hike in mid-2015.

Another aspect of the US economy that contradicts claims of its health have been disappointing earnings reports, particularly from multinational firms. It now appears disappointing earnings may be with us a while.

Analysts are now predicting Standard & Poor's 500 companies will see no earnings growth at all in the first quarter of 2015. That would be the worst quarter for Standard & Poor's 500 earnings since the third quarter of 2009. Revenue for the first quarter is expected to be worse, forecast to decline 2.0 percent from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The weakening profit outlook does not bode well for the U.S. stock market, which has started the year off on weak footing as energy shares have plummeted. The S&P 500 is down 2.3 percent for the year so far.

Individual Americans are not overly optimistic; some are downright worried. In fact, some Americans are sleeping on their savings ... literally. 29% say they're keeping at least some savings in cash bills and coins, according to a new survey of 1,820 adults from American Express.

Of those holding cash savings, 53% are hiding it in a secret location. Millennials are even more apt than other generations to go the mattress or freezer route, with 67% of those saving cash saying they hide it outside a bank account.

The survey also found that about one in four consumers anticipates a financial emergency this year.

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1.29.15 - The Rate Cut Race Continues

Gold last traded at $1,254 an ounce. Silver at $16.77 an ounce.

Yesterday's big news was the US Federal Reserve's decision to remain "patient" in raising interest rates. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee painted a rosy picture of the health of the US economy; a picture not well-supported by much of the economic data and the latest earnings reports from corporate America.

Nonetheless, it is generally believed the Fed won't have to raise interest rates because the rest of the world's central bankers are already in a race to see who can lower rates fastest.

In less than a month, 31 countries have eased in the form of 13 mostly "surprise" rate cuts.

In Denmark, monetary policy has resulted in it COSTING depositors 0.5% to have money in Danish banks.

Ultimately, all of this will result in the price of gold rising in terms of all these countries' currencies.

And the race to devalue currencies around the world may mask the underlying trouble in the US, but certainly not indefinitely.

No strong US economic recovery has been sustained in modern times absent a strong real estate market. As we've detailed several times, the real estate market has been showing signs of softening. The latest evidence arrived this morning.

Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in December, a sign that low mortgage rates have yet to coax more buyers into the market.

The National Association of Realtors said today that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 3.7%. Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Lackluster wage growth and rising home prices stifled buying for much of 2014. This caused the share of Americans who own homes to dip to 64% at the end of last year, down from 65.2% a year ago.

In addition, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index fell slightly this month to 57, down one point from a revised reading of 58 in December.

The 3.7% decline in December's pending home sales is the 2nd largest month to month decline since May 2010, drastically missing expectations of a 0.5% rise in sales.

Monetary policy and a softening real estate market aren't the only news today, of course. Russia is back in the news. The collapsing Russian economy seems to be barreling headlong into a full-blown financial crisis. Economic and financial crises in Russia usually result in geopolitical crisis, which in turn can impact the financial markets.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader, blamed the West and the US in particular for “dragging” Russia into what he says could be a larger, “hot war” over Ukraine.

In recent weeks, fighting has again sharply escalated along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, in violation of a cease-fire inked last Fall.

With billions in aid to cash-strapped Ukraine promised in recent days by the US and the European Union, and with more sanctions aimed at Moscow, whose forces and military support to rebels have been cycling back and forth across the border; Gorbachev lashed out especially against sanctions.

An editorial in The Economist magazine this week argues that the Ukraine crisis has slowly morphed into a war more serious than generally realized.

Gorbachev is not the only Russian speaking out.

Russia's envoy to the European security watchdog OSCE urged the United States and Europe on Thursday to stop supporting the "party of war" in Ukraine and warned "catastrophe" could result.

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1.28.15 - The Fed Stands Pat

Gold last traded at $1,285 an ounce. Silver at $18.09 an ounce.

Much of the financial world's attention was focused this morning on the news due out of the US Federal Reserve.

The Federal Open Market Committee released its statement this afternoon saying "the Committee judges that it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy."

In other words, the Fed isn't in a hurry to raise interest rates any time soon.

As an aside, the Fed appears to still be in denial about the strength of the US economy, ignoring negative economic reports and statistics and emphasizing the ones that fit its narrative of an improving US economy.

Probably the biggest factor discouraging the Fed from raising interest rates is the continued strength in the US dollar.

Raising rates would only make the dollar stronger and that strong dollar is already hurting the profits of multinational corporations.

Some of America’s biggest and best-known companies are paying the price. The surging U.S. dollar is cutting into foreign sales and profits across of a slew of industries.

In other news, famed market analyst Peter Schiff has renewed his positive outlook for gold:

“I think gold is going to go up in all currencies - it is rising faster in euros and some other currencies than it is in dollars but it’s still rising in U.S. dollars ... I think it’s breaking out - now is a good time to buy … In fact this year I believe gold prices are going to hit all time record highs in just about every major currency except the U.S. Dollar. We might have to wait until 2016 before gold prices hit a record high in dollars."

Schiff believes the strong dollar has no where to go but down, another catalyst for gold as the year plays out.

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1.27.15 - Gold Rises as Stocks Fall

Gold last traded at $1,291 an ounce. Silver at $18.08 an ounce.

The price of gold is once again sharply higher today as world stock markets have fallen dramatically.

As this bulletin is being written, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is poised for its worst hit since October.

But the Dow is not alone. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ are also down sharply, coming on the heels of sharp drops in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The decline in the U.S. is being mostly blamed on disappointing corporate earnings and the report that orders for U.S. business equipment unexpectedly declined in December.

Blue chips Caterpillar, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble all turned in disappointing results.

With orders for business equipment falling 3.4% in December, these disappointing earnings reports paint a very different picture of U.S. economic health from the one President Obama portrayed in his State of the Union speech just a week ago. This was the fourth straight month that orders for business equipment have fallen.

The Commerce Department said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 0.6% in December after a similar decline in November. Economists had expected a 0.5% gain.

In contrast, the price of gold has edged up, at least partially due to renewed softness in the U.S. dollar.

The dollar has been mostly strong as of late and, not surprisingly, some analysts are starting to point out the obvious: the dollar may very well be the latest bubble asset.

The problem of course is that the underlying fundamentals for the dollar in no way support a strong currency for the long-term. Just the opposite in fact. US fiscal policy has created a situation in which the U.S. cannot avoid monetizing its massive debt.

That's why investors cast a wary eye on dollar strength. It simply can't last.

Also boosting gold, at least psychologically, was news that The Netherlands added to its gold reserves for the first time since 1998. The Netherlands, the ninth largest holder of gold reserves, boosted its gold holdings to the highest in seven years.

Clearly, the Dutch see something coming for which they want to be prepared with the security and stability of gold.

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1.26.15 - Russia Becomes Junk While Europe Holds Its Breath After Greek Vote

Gold last traded at $1,281 an ounce. Silver at $17.93 an ounce.

The investment markets are focusing on two major stories at the open of the week.

Topping the headlines over the weekend was news that voters in Greece rebelled against the austerity program imposed by the European Union in return for loans to fund Greece’s massive debt. The radical left Syriza party, which promises better terms for Greece, won a decisive victory in the general election yesterday and is close to winning an absolute majority in parliament.

The Greek rebellion against the EU may provoke a prolonged economic siege as Syriza seeks to negotiate new terms for a bailout while the EU waits for a lack of money to force Greece to comply with existing agreements.

In many ways, the situation in Greece is a mere symptom of a broader disenchantment with the European Union as more and more Europeans sour on giving up their economic sovereignty to the multinational organization.

Because the Greek election results were widely predicted, its impact on financial markets has thus far been anticlimactic, but the subsequent actions of the new Greek government may in fact have greater consequences down the road.

Perhaps overshadowing Greece was another story that broke Monday morning. Russia's economic problems just took a turn for the worse when Standard & Poor's downgraded Russia's sovereign credit rating to junk status. Not only will this raise the borrowing costs for the Russian government; it may also prompt a political response from Vladimir Putin's regime.

At any rate, the markets' reaction to these events in the US has been interrupted by the weather. A major winter storm is headed into the New York area and traders are headed home early ahead of what is predicted to be a transportation-paralyzing weather event.

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1.23.15 - The Ironies of Switzerland

Gold last traded at $1,292 an ounce. Silver at $18.30 an ounce.

"Gold is Money, everything else is credit." -JOHN PIERPONT (J.P.) MORGAN, 1915 Congressional Testimony

There's a certain irony in the air as the uber-wealthy elite land their 1,700 private jets in Davos, Switzerland to discuss solving the world economic problems; including what President Obama referred to in his State of the Union speech as the greatest threat facing posterity - climate change.

Meanwhile this week, the world witnessed European leaders announce they will follow in the failed footsteps of the Federal Reserve by creating a $1.1 Trillion money printing scheme to help lift the EU economy out of recession. The euro currency has been falling ever since.

This week Swiss America released our 2015 newsletter, THE TRUTH ABOUT MODERN BANKING, which is packed with important news and perspectives about what to expect this next year. The forecast in 2015 is for increasing market volatility and rising gold prices (already up 7%).

As Swiss America CEO Dean Heskin states: "This year will hold many financial challenges, unexpected risks and potentially great rewards. The key is to grasp the basics of economics, seek wise counsel and then take action diversifying assets for safety."

We believe 2015 will finally expose the truth about gold, which is; Gold is neither a commodity nor an investment – it is the world's one and only trustworthy form of money ... just like J.P. Morgan once said!

Here's another irony which could be good news for you: Our sources report European banks, desperate to raise cash, are selling off a portion of their vast U.S. gold coin holdings at fire-sale prices - to the potential benefit of Swiss America clients. Call 800-289-2646 and ask your representative about this classic 'double-play' opportunity.

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1.22.15 - ECB Launches Bond Buying Program

Gold last traded at $1,300 an ounce. Silver at $18.36 an ounce.

Gold is once again on the move after the European Central Bank (ECB) launched a multi-billion euro bond-buying program aimed at reviving a sagging euro zone economy.

President Mario Draghi said the ECB would print money to buy up 60 billion euros ($69 billion) worth of sovereign bonds a month.

Gold has risen about 10% since the beginning of January partially driven by the economic and political uncertainties in the euro zone.

Gold's strength could continue for some time according to Barron's technical analyst Michael Kahn.

"With no inflation in sight and the U.S. dollar still soaring, there is no real fundamental reason for gold and silver to move higher. Yet, that is exactly what they have been doing ," Kahn wrote.

"Price and volume continue to surge suggesting growing investor interest, and all of this is taking place as the dollar continues to rally itself. Since gold is priced in dollars, there is usually an inverse relationship between the two. Therefore, when both move higher together we can only surmise that there are more than currency factors at work," he argued.

"The bottom line is that the technicals tell us that metals are back despite the fundamentals and the sentiment surrounding them."

The moves by foreign central banks to loosen their monetary policies has some observers predicting it will let the Fed off the hook. There were thoughts that the Fed would begin raising interest rates as soon as mid-2015, but that would only occur if the US economy was clearly healthy.

The latest data doesn't particularly indicate a robust economy.

According to the Labor Department today, initial claims for unemployment benefits missed expectations for the 4th week in a row, holding above 300,000 for the 3rd week in a row (for the first time since July). At 307,000, this week's report is well above the 300,000 level economists were expecting.

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1.21.15 - Central Banks Move to Loosen

Gold last traded at $1,293 an ounce. Silver at $18.19 an ounce.

World central banks appear set to loosen monetary policies, a change that will undermine their currencies, even though the financial markets will initially cheer it.

In a surprise move, Canada's central bank today announced it is lowering its "target for the overnight rate by one-quarter of one percentage point to 3/4 per cent."

The Canadians cited financial stability and downside inflation risks due to the collapse in the price of oil. The Bank is projecting real GDP growth in Canada will slow to about 1.5%.

The Canadian move is just the beginning.

Soon the world will feel the impact when the European Central Bank makes official its intentions to embark upon a massive Quantitative Easing bond buying program.

The program calls for bond purchases of 50 billion euros per month (about $58 billion) through 2016.

European and US stock markets are cheering this news, but other more sober observers are warning of the ramifications.

The former Bank for International Settlements chief economist warns that QE in Europe is doomed to failure and may draw the region into deeper difficulties.

"We are in a world that is dangerously unanchored," says William White, who is now the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD's Review Committee. "We're seeing true currency wars and everybody is doing it, and I have no idea where this is going to end."

White says the global elastic has been stretched even further than it was in 2008 on the eve of the Great Recession. The excesses have reached almost every corner of the globe, and combined public/private debt is 20% of GDP higher today. "We are holding a tiger by the tail," he explains.

He warns that QE in Europe is doomed to failure at this late stage and may instead draw the region into deeper difficulties. "Sovereign bond yields haven't been so low since the 'Black Plague': how much more bang can you get for your buck?"

"QE is not going to help at all. Europe has far greater reliance than the US on small and medium-sized companies and they get their money from banks, not from the bond market," White says.

"Even after the stress tests the banks are still in 'hunkering down mode'. They are not lending to small firms for a variety of reasons. The interest rate differential is still going up," he maintains.

Mr. White explains that QE is a disguised form of competitive devaluation. "The Japanese are now doing it as well but nobody can complain because the US started it," he says.

There is a significant risk that this is going to end badly because the Bank of Japan is funding 40% of all government spending. This could end in high inflation, perhaps even hyperinflation.

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1.16.15 - Gold's Best Week Since 2013

Gold last traded at $1,276 an ounce. Silver at $17.75 an ounce.

Gold hit a four-month high this morning and is set to post its biggest weekly gain in 17 months. The rise comes as investors continue to seek safety from volatility in equity markets and in the wake of Switzerland unexpectedly abandoning a euro peg on the franc yesterday.

Gold is now at its highest level since September 2nd. It also posted its biggest daily gain in six weeks on Thursday. And it's heading for its biggest weekly jump since August 2013, up around 4.5%.

Gold's move comes despite the dollar rising 0.7% against a basket of major currencies, which would normally hamper gains for the metal. This shows there are a variety of factors providing strength in the gold market and, when the dollar inevitably continues its descent, gold could react even more strongly:

"The Swiss announcement has added a bit of an extra juice to the gold story but from an interest rates and equity perspective it looks like there is a more solid foundation to its strength," Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Lewis said.

Gold's powerful beginning in 2015 may be the start of something big for the rest of the year. Sterne Agee's precious metals and mining analyst Michael Dudas believes gold should continue to benefit from central banks' efforts to devalue their currencies:

"All these central banks are all going to debunk their currencies," said Dudas. "And it's going to default to just one currency that can't be debunked, and that's gold."

Many investors expect the European Central Bank to announce a major stimulus plan when it meets next Thursday. That could also drive gold higher.

With global uncertainty not expected to let up anytime soon, Dudas thinks gold could rally another 11 percent by the end of the year.

Said Dudas: "We see gold going to $1,400 by the end of the year."

Not only is gold's run occurring despite recent dollar strength, it's also occurring despite the absence of significant inflation. In fact the Consumer Price Index fell 0.4% last month, the largest monthly decline since December of 2008, led by the collapse of gasoline prices.

There is a common misconception that gold is mainly an inflation hedge. While gold has been renowned as a superlative hedge against high inflation, it also provides financial security and safety in a variety of other economic and financial scenarios.

Investors really need gold for safety and security when financial institutions are shaken. That is starting to happen now.

The financial shock waves from the Swiss franc's staggering ascent - one of the most acute moves in decades by a major currency - have hit firms around the world, with at least two brokerages suddenly going out of business due to the shock.

The scale and speed of the move, in what is one of the world's most-traded currencies, caught many financial firms off guard. While holders of Swiss francs gained, those with sizeable holdings of euros or dollars against the franc suffered heavily.

While big banks can absorb big losses on markets, the volatility in the franc proved too much for some smaller firms.

Alpari, the London-based brokerage firm that sponsors the shirt of English Premier League football club West Ham United, said it had to shut down its business.

Alpari's demise follows that of Global Brokers NZ., a small currency trading house in New Zealand.

Its director, David Johnson, announced on the website of affiliate Excel Markets, it could no longer meet the regulatory minimum to continue business.

The two could be joined by FXCM, a New York-based currency broker, which has already warned it "may be in breach of some regulatory capital requirements" after its clients experienced significant losses. Those losses, it said in a statement, "generated negative equity balances owed to FXCM of approximately $225 million."

Meanwhile, in Greece, financial institutions are in trouble for far different reasons.

Two Greek banks are said to have submitted requests for emergency cash to Greece's central bank due to a growing outflow of deposits.

This situation definitely bears watching over the next several days.

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1.15.15 - Swiss Shocker

Gold last traded at $1,264 an ounce. Silver at $17.10 an ounce.

Gold prices jumped more than two percent after earlier hitting a four-month high on Thursday as European shares and the dollar turned lower after a shock move by Switzerland to abandon its three-year cap on the franc.

The central bank canceled its policy of pegging the Swiss franc at 1.20 to the euro to keep the currency from getting too strong and hurting the Swiss economy.

"Gold is gaining from a risk-off situation because nobody expected the Swiss central bank not to keep that cap, and this has created potential big losses in many places and is obviously triggering some flight to safety," Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

Gold prices are up nearly six percent so far this month.

This is happening a week before the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting which could add even further pressure on the euro in the form of a Quantitative Easing bond buying program. Swiss authorities are worried about pressure on the euro against the franc ahead of the ECB policy meeting next Thursday, in which it is widely expected to announce the dramatic monetary stimulus.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., we have been greeted yet again by more economic data indicating the U.S. economy is stagnating.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week increased to the highest level since early September. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 316,000 for the week ended January 10, the Labor Department reported this morning.

Economists had forecast claims falling to 291,000 last week. The prior week's data was also revised to show 3,000 more claims received than previously reported.

It's no surprise, then, that Americans do not believe the administration's claims that the economy is improving. According to a new poll by The Economist 52 percent of respondents believe there are more people unemployed than the president says. Only one in four think the unemployment figures are accurate. More than half think there are more people unemployed than the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures state.

Finally, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde issued her own warning on the global economy today, saying, “We see the global recovery continuing to face a very strong headwind. Too many countries are still weighed down by the legacies of the financial crisis, including high debt and high unemployment."

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1.14.15 - Gold Continues on a Roll

Gold last traded at $1,234 an ounce. Silver at $16.99 an ounce.

Gold continues to shine brighter even while other financial markets, economic statistics and forecasts provide worrying signals to global investors.

The yellow metal is trading at 12-week highs as global investors flee volatile overseas equity markets and collapsing oil prices. In the last two months, gold is up nearly 7%.

Fueling the rally in gold is renewed pessimism in U.S. equities and worries in Europe over the implications of the Greek elections slated for later this month.

Gold’s short-term technical outlook remains positive, according to the chart work of Todd Gordon, founder of

“There’s actually a nice inverse relationship with stocks and the gold market,” said Gordon. “As volatility is increasing, we’re starting to see gold get quite a bid.”

He sees bullion as breaking above a major downtrend begun in 2014 after bouncing several times from key support at $1,183 per ounce.

“We’ve broken up through resistance around $1,230,” he said.

Gordon is also keeping an eye on Greece’s elections. He says if something substantial were to happen with the results it could reverse the dollar’s rally, which would be even better news for gold.

Investment analyst Marc Faber also believes now is the time to buy more gold.

“I’m positive gold will go up substantially [in 2015] — say 30%,” Faber, whose investment letter is called the Gloom Boom Doom Report, said at Société Générale’s global strategy presentation in London on Tuesday.

“My belief is that the big surprise this year is that investor confidence in central banks collapses. And when that happens — I can’t short central banks, although I’d really like to, and the only way to short them is to go long gold, silver and platinum,” he said. “That’s the only way. That’s something I will do.”

Faber also singled out U.S. stocks as especially overvalued. So far today, he seems right about that. U.S. stocks have fallen today, on track for a fourth day of losses, as a World Bank forecast sparked concerns about weak economies and December U.S. retail sales missed expectations.

The World Bank cut its projections for the global economy, warning that the world cannot rely on the U.S. as its single growth engine. The bank forecast the world economy will grow 3.0% this year and 3.3% in 2016, down from its earlier forecast of 3.4% and 3.5%, respectively.

As if on cue, another disappointing US economic report came out today.

Retail sales in the U.S. sank in December as most stores posted weak results during the busiest month of the shopping season, government data show.

There are now fresh worries that lower oil prices aren’t helping the American economy as much as predicted.

Sales at retailers dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.9% last month to mark the biggest pullback in nearly a year, the Commerce Department said. Economists were expecting a much smaller 0.2% decline.

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1.13.15 - Gold Rises on Stock Market Volatility

Gold last traded at $1,234 an ounce. Silver at $17.16 an ounce.

The price of gold has now reached a 12-week high as investors seek shelter from stock market volatility, a slide in crude oil prices and disruptive activity in currency markets.

Gold has risen nearly 5% already this month as stocks have come under pressure.

"That gold can rally despite the dollar being relatively strong says something of the uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy," said Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler.

Interestingly, gold, oil and stocks are all interrelated. In fact, the ratio of the price of gold to the price of oil has been a good predictor of stock market volatility.

Analyst Kit Juckes of multinational financial conglomerate Societe Generale has researched the topic and says more stock market volatility could be in store.

According to Juckes, the price of gold measured in barrels of oil has been associated with spikes in stock market volatility over the last twenty years.

The most recent spike in the price of gold measured in barrels of oil takes it above its 1993 and 1998 highs, and as Juckes notes, "these have been associated with a pick-up in volatility as investors search for safe havens."

Because stocks are overvalued, that volatility is likely to be to the downside.

In fact, according to Mark Hulbert of MarketWatch, based on six well-known and time-tested indicators, stocks are more overvalued today than they’ve been between 69% and 89% of the past century’s bull-market tops.

Because gold has historically moved independently of stocks, it is a good diversification vehicle for a portfolio that includes stocks. With stocks more likely to fall from present levels than rise, that diversification is important.

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1.12.15 - Rare Coins Set Records

Gold last traded at $1,233 an ounce. Silver at $16.58 an ounce.

There may be a great deal of uncertainty in the global economy and financial markets, but that isn't preventing the rare coin market from setting new records.

First, at a January 8 auction in Florida, a 1792 Birch Cent brought $2.2 million. This handsome price for the coin graded Mint State 65 (MS65) came in after the bidding started down at $1.5 million. In the same auction, another example graded MS61 sold for $564,000.

But both of these big results were not the end of the story.

The next day, January 9, another cent brought even more at auction. A 1793 Chain Cent sold for $2.35 million. The design on the reverse features a chain with 13 linking rings symbolizing the unity of America's original 13 colonies.

Clearly, Americans are seeking alternative assets to build and preserve wealth. And it's no wonder; the financial markets and economy seem to be in a precarious position.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch research shows that US stocks have never in history been more expensive relative to the rest of the world, surpassing both the dot com bubble and the housing bubble.

And a new report published by the non-partisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation calls into doubt the US economic recovery based on statistics that show the manufacturing sector has not been improving and is in danger of derailing the recovery.

The best protection is diversification and, as the rare coin auction results show, tangible assets provide a great diversification vehicle for those seeking to build and protect their wealth going forward.

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1.9.15 - Gold Set for Weekly Rise

Gold last traded at $1,216 an ounce. Silver at $16.42 an ounce.

Gold is once again on the rise today and is on the cusp of a 2.5% gain for the week, the first full trading week of 2015.

Gold prices have been supported by a weaker dollar, something we alluded to earlier this week, and continued declines in world stock markets.

Overnight, stock markets in Shanghai, Frankfurt, Paris and London were all sharply lower and today all three major US indices followed suit.

Political uncertainty in Greece continues to prompt European investors to abandon stocks and seek the safety of gold. Combined with the turmoil in the streets of Paris, investors are in no mood to own "risk" assets right now.

US stocks largely shrugged off a better than anticipated jobs report this morning, though the details of that report may have also muted any positive response.

The U.S. economy created 252,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6%. Economists had seen job growth at 240,000, with a jobless rate of 5.7%.

However, the labor participation rate slid once more, dropping to 62.7%, or the lowest level since December 1977. This happened because the number of Americans not in the labor forced soared by 451,000 in December, far outpacing the 111,000 jobs added according to the Household Survey. It is also the primary reason why the number of unenmployed Americans dropped by 383,000. Clearly, there is nothing to cheer here and even Wall Street traders are starting to see through the Labor Department's numbers.

It's little wonder that investors are moving to gold.

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1.8.15 - Signs of Economic Troubles Buoy Gold

Gold last traded at $1,208 an ounce. Silver at $16.39 an ounce.

Economic conditions seem to be softening in Europe and the US.

Over the past 6 weeks, here in the US, continuing claims for unemployment benefits have surged the most in nearly 6 years.

In Europe, an official report showed consumer prices in the eurozone fell 0.2 percent in December from a year earlier, the first time they have turned negative since the dark days of the 2009 global financial crisis.

The latest data is adding concerns that Europe is headed for a new financial and economic crisis. Unemployment remains persistently high, the euro has been particularly weak, and the political upheaval in Greece is prompting talk about the stability of the 19-country euro currency union.

With the outlook deteriorating, pressure is mounting for the European Central Bank to take more aggressive action to avoid a downward price spiral that could undermine the economy for years to come. Top officials have already been signaling that they could announce a major bond-buying program later this month.

But the question raised by many economists is whether the European Central Bank has waited too long to act; and whether its arsenal is powerful enough to address the eurozone’s fundamental problem — a dearth of demand from businesses and consumers for goods and services.

In France and Italy, the second and third largest of the eurozone economies, the jobless rates climbed; with Italian unemployment reaching a new high of 13.4 percent. And in Greece and Spain, about a quarter of the population remains without work, a level consistent with economic depression.

With underlying economic data shaky, sooner or later stock markets will fall hard and most central banks have very few options left to stimulate other than trashing their own currencies. Gold thrives on fear and uncertainty.

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1.7.15 - Distasteful Food for Thought

Gold last traded at $1,210 an ounce. Silver at $16.54 an ounce.

Financial experts are advising investors to be cautious due to a wide variety of issues they are following.

The U.S. dollar, at its highest level in nine years, is about to fall off its perch. The decline will catch most investors by surprise.

That’s the outlook of Lawrence G. McDonald, author of the New York Times bestseller, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, and a market strategist who has a knack for spotting trouble ahead in markets.

Why is the dollar about to fall? Because that’s what the Federal Reserve wants since the strong dollar is starting to create problems in debt markets that hurt U.S. growth, McDonald maintains.

The underlying problem: Six years of cheap money, thanks to the Fed’s long-lasting zero-interest-rate policy, has put too much debt in the wrong hands. “When you leave interest rates at zero for six years, there is a price to pay,” McDonald says. Unless the Fed takes action and talks down the dollar, we may soon be paying the price, he argues.

That’s because the strong dollar is pushing a lot of that debt closer to default, which is creating systemic risk. Widespread defaults would ultimately harm the U.S. economy.

“The Fed is extremely concerned about the dollar,” McDonald says. “The Fed has to do something to calm things down. The Dow could drop a thousand points if this gets out of hand. I think the Fed is going to have to talk the dollar down.”

“They must talk the dollar down. It’s on a hurricane path of destruction,” McDonald says.

Because gold is priced in dollars, any decrease in the value of the dollar would be supportive of higher gold prices.

The dollar is not the only cause for concern.

The US stock market is overdue for a correction. There hasn't been a correction in the S&P 500 since the summer of 2011. (A correction is defined as a pullback of 10% or more.)

The biggest concern about the market is that stocks are no longer cheap.

The S&P 500 is trading at more than 16 times 2015 earnings forecasts. That seems a little rich when you consider earnings are expected to increase by less than 8% this year.

Again, gold is the best protection since it has historically moved in the opposite direction of stocks.

These concerns don't just reside in America; conditions in Europe are cause for concern.

Official data shows consumer prices across the eurozone fell by 0.2% in December, marking the first time prices have fallen in the region since the Great Recession.

The figure was worse than most analysts were expecting and the weakest since September 2009.

Falling consumer prices could herald worse times to come for Europe's stagnant economy.

It's widely expected that the European Central Bank will swoop in later this month with a program of quantitative easing, through massive purchases of government bonds, to try to stimulate the economy and prop up prices.

The problem there is two-fold. First of all, it may not work to boost economic activity. Second, it is likely to undermine the value of the euro. So, look for gold, in terms of the euro, to climb higher.

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1.6.15 - Big Names Issue Warnings Amid Global Stock Sell-off

Gold last traded at $1,219 an ounce. Silver at $16.64 an ounce.

Stock markets around the globe are selling off sharply and two very prominent experts are warning of more economic and financial trouble ahead.

The US stock markets are down across the board again today, with the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all sharply lower. This follows what happened in Europe and Asia overnight. Stock markets in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo all sold off sharply as well.

It is at times like these that diversification really becomes all-important. In this case, diversification doesn't just mean buying stocks of companies in different industry groups or investing in different stock markets around the globe. Diversification can only be truly achieved through the inclusion of different asset classes altogether.

Gold is the ultimate portfolio diversifier because it tends to react differently to the factors that negatively impact paper assets, particularly stocks. According to data from the World Gold Council, over the long-term, there is a negative correlation between stocks and gold.

The trouble in world markets has prompted two prominent experts to issue warnings.

Mark Hulbert, editor of the Hulbert Financial Digest, who has been tracking 160 financial newsletters since 1980, says the recent performance of the US stock market is an indication that the bull market in stocks is over and it is much more likely that a bear market has begun.

According to data going all the way back to 1896, the stock market’s performance in the first two trading days of January has a surprisingly good record of forecasting the direction for the next 12 months.

For the first two trading days of this year, the Dow dropped 1.8%. That’s even bigger than the 1.6% decline the Dow posted over the first two days of 2008, a fateful year that would later experience the worst bear market since the 1930s.

Bill Gross, one of the world's most successful and renowned bond fund managers over the past 30 years, advised caution for investors in the year ahead in an advisory note he issued this morning:

"Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed."

"When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over," he wrote.

Of course, the pratfall in the stock market was far from the only economic news today.

For instance, Young America’s Foundation released its Youth Misery Index (YMI) numbers for 2014 today, and it’s a record high of 106.5. The YMI is calculated by adding youth unemployment, student loan debt, and national debt (per capita) numbers.

Youth unemployment in 2014 was 18.1 percent (18.1 on YMI), with almost six million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 not in school or work. Many young people are simply giving up on finding employment.

Student loan debt for 2014 rings in at a record-breaking $30,000 (30.0 on YMI). Student debt has risen at an average of six percent per year since 2008, and today, 70% of college seniors graduate with student loan debt. In addition, the job market still hasn’t recovered, leaving many recent graduates with little or no income to pay back their loans.

National debt per capita for 2014 is the highest it’s ever been at $58,437 (58.4 on YMI). Young people will be stuck paying for government debt they had no part in creating, and they’ll have to do it with less discretionary income than ever before because of record-high levels of student loan debt.

Add it all up, and the YMI comes out to an astonishing 106.5 up from 98.6 in 2013.

As government continues to expand under President Obama’s leadership, so does the Youth Misery Index. Since 2008, the YMI has increased by 53.7 percent, the highest increase under any President, making Obama the worst President for youth economic opportunity.

Meanwhile, lost in the shuffle are two economic statistics of note. US Factory Orders for November and a private December Purchasing Managers report.

For the fourth month in a row, US Factory Orders fell month over month. November's 0.7% drop is worse than the 0.5% decline expected and leads to the biggest yearly drop since March 2013. The firm Markit's US Services Purchasing Manager Index missed expectations of 53.7, coming in at 53.3, its lowest since February 2014 (which was blamed on cold weather). From record highs in June, the PMI has plunged non-stop for six months leaving Markit noting Q4 growth is looking more like 2.0% than the 5.0% exuberance in Q3.

Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit wrote:

The US economy lost significant growth momentum at the close of the year. Excluding the drop in activity caused by the October 2013 government shutdown, the manufacturing and service sector PMIs collectively signalled the weakest expansion since the end of 2012. This is also not just a one-month wobble: the pace of growth has now slowed for six consecutive months. The PMI surveys act as good leading indicators of GDP data, and suggest that the pace of US economic growth will have slowed in the fourth quarter. According to the PMIs, fourth quarter growth is looking more like 2.0% rather than the 5.0% annualised rate of expansion enjoyed in the third quarter. Job creation has waned alongside the slowdown, with the survey indicating that monthly payroll growth has slipped significantly below the 200,000 mark. Companies have become increasingly reluctant to take on staff due to the cloudier economic outlook, in turn linked to various factors ranging from global geopolitical concerns, worries about higher interest rates and uncertainty about rising staff healthcare costs.

Given the sentiment, the activity in world stock markets and these economic statistics; it's not surprising that gold is up again today, now at a 3-week high. All of this has prompted investors to buy assets perceived as offering safety, such as gold.

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1.5.15 - Gold Shines on European Troubles

Gold rose sharply this morning as global stock markets fell on concerns over the future of Greece in the euro zone as well as lingering concerns about collapsing oil prices. In addition, gold buying from top consumer China picked up ahead of the Lunar New Year. Gold last traded at $1,203 an ounce. Silver at $16.21 an ounce.

Gold prices were underpinned by lower European shares due to political uncertainty in Greece ahead of elections later this month, while Wall Street fell one percent due to crude prices at new five and a half year lows.

"What's happening in the euro zone, particularly concerns over a possible default by Greece ... is contributing to an element of short-covering or indeed some safe-haven buying of gold, particularly in euros," Mitsubishi Corp metals strategist Jonathan Butler said.

Gold, in terms of the euro, rose to its highest since September 2013.

European policy makers are striving to fend off a return of the region's debt crisis. Greece has begun an election campaign that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said will determine the country's euro membership.

France's president also raised the possibility of Greece leaving the shared euro currency, but says that's a decision for "Greece alone" to make.

Some in Europe have expressed concern that if the left-wing Syriza party wins this month's general election in Greece, the new government may renege on terms of a hugely expensive international bailout plan. This has revived questions about Greece's fitness to stay in the euro.

Francois Hollande said on France-Inter radio Monday that Greece's new leaders "will have to respect the commitments made by their country."

But he insisted it's not up to others to say whether the result of the Greek vote means they should or shouldn't keep using the euro currency.

That, he said, "is for Greece alone to decide." A decision by a new Greek government to leave the eurozone would set off devastating turmoil in financial markets even worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, a leading international economist warned over the weekend.

A Greek exit would likely spark runs on Greek banks and the country’s stock market and end with the imposition of severe capital controls, said Barry Eichengreen, an economic historian at the University of California at Berkeley.

The exit would also spill into other countries as investors speculate about which might be next to leave the currency union, he said.

“In the short run, it would be Lehman Brothers squared,” Eichengreen warned.

Meanwhile, Chinese buying has picked up in recent weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when gold is bought for gifts. Demand is likely to stay strong until the holiday in February.

Silver also rose sharply in sympathy to the action in gold.

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1.2.15 - Gold: The Ultimate Form of Real Money

Gold last traded at $1,186 an ounce. Silver at $15.80 an ounce.

It has often been said that gold is the ultimate form of real money. That's because gold has been a universally trusted medium of exchange for some 5,000 years. Gold is the one asset that trades 24 hours per day everywhere in the world.

We saw evidence of gold's superiority to man-made currencies in 2014.

Gold was mostly flat against the US dollar in 2014 as the dollar strengthened in the last half of the year. And gold was up against virtually all other world currencies in 2014, including:

• The Russian Ruble
• The Argentine Peso
• The Swedish Krona
• The Japanese Yen
• The Brazilian Real
• The Israeli Shekel
• The Euro
• The Mexican Peso
• The Swiss Franc
• The Australian Dollar
• The Canadian Dollar
• The British Pound
• The New Zealand Dollar
• The South Korean Won
• The Chinese Renminbi
• The Indian Rupee

Now, as we start 2015, the first trading day in the US shows promise for gold as well.

Gold rallied this morning as U.S. stocks declined, boosting demand for the metal as a diversifying investment after data showed U.S. manufacturing expanded less than forecast in December.

The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index dropped to 55.5% in December, down from 58.7% in November and below the 57% consensus forecast.

In addition, U.S. construction spending fell 0.3% in November. The consensus forecast had called for a 0.2% rise.

In other words, disappointing U.S. economic reports and statistics continue to appear and this does not bode well for the U.S. stock market or the U.S. dollar. Naturally, investors are turning to gold.

Over in Europe, conditions aren't any better.

Investors are bracing for another tumultuous year in the beleaguered eurozone, as hopes run low that the European Central Bank will be able to quickly lift the currency bloc out of a period of economic malaise.

In the third quarter of 2014, gross domestic product in the 18-country region recorded an annualized growth rate of just 0.6%. Italy stumbled back into recession, Germany barely grew and France’s expansion was largely attributed to companies building up inventories.

Economists’ picture for this year isn’t much rosier, making it tricky for investors to decide where to put their money. The main challenge for investors will be identifying asset classes in Europe that will offer returns while keeping risks balanced.

At times like these it is useful to remind investors that gold is an asset in its own right, not dependent on anyone's promise to repay.

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