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Please note: The Frank Talk articles listed below contain historical material. The data provided was current at the time of publication. For current information regarding any of the funds mentioned in these presentations, please visit the appropriate fund performance page.

Manufacturers Just Had a Gangbuster Month
October 5, 2017

U.S. Manufacturing activity expanded at fastest pace since 2004 in september

American manufacturers grew at their fastest pace since May 2004 in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). Manufacturing activity, as measured by the ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), expanded for the 100th straight month, climbing to a 13-year high of 60.8. The higher above 50, the more rapid the acceleration.

U.S. Manufacturing Activity Expanded for 100th straight month in september
click to enlarge

Not only is this reflective of a strengthening U.S. economy, but it also supports demand for commodities going forward. With construction spending also up in the U.S., I think the time could be ripe for investors to consider increasing their allocation to energy, natural resources and basic materials.

According to the ISM report, growth was fastest in prices, which rose 9.5 percentage points from the August level. Factories reported having to pay higher prices for materials including textiles, plastics, wood products, chemical products and more. Other areas that saw rapid expansion were supplier deliveries, up 7.3 percentage points in September, and new orders, up 4.3 percentage points.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma disrupted supply chains in August and September, prompting companies to stockpile goods as a precautionary measure. This likely lifted the already-impressive ISM reading somewhat, but it doesn’t change the strong fundamentals that underlie the U.S. economy in general right now.

Optimism Among Manufacturers Historically High

Manufacturers’ optimism remained historically high during the September quarter, with nearly 90 percent of those surveyed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) saying they expected to see strong industry growth over the next 12 months. That reading’s up more than 28 percentage points compared to the same quarter last year.

U.S. Manufacturers' Business Optimism Remained Historically High in Third Quarter
click to enlarge

In the March quarter following the U.S. election, the survey rose to the highest level in its 20-year history as manufacturers expressed optimism in President Donald Trump’s plans to lower corporate taxes and streamline industry regulations. Although the reading has cooled since then, optimism still remained at historically high levels during the quarter.

Other Regions Showed Marked Improvement

The U.S. wasn’t the only region that made strong gains. Manufacturing activity in the world’s two other major economies, China and the eurozone, surged in September. China’s official manufacturing PMI rose to a five-year high of 52.4, representing the 14th straight month of expansion and beating analysts’ expectations.

Chinese manufacturing profits are among the highest in years, spurred by government spending on infrastructure, higher prices and stronger exports.
The eurozone PMI, meanwhile, climbed to a 79-month high of 58.1 in September, with output and new orders expanding in all eight of the ranked countries. Backlogs of work reached its steepest acceleration in over 11 years.  Even Greece, which has struggled to come out from under mountains of debt, registered a 52.8, a 111-month high.

All of this could be a tailwind for companies engaged in the production of natural resources and basic materials. Such companies make up a little over 60 percent of our Global Resources Fund (PSPFX). We believe energy companies also stand to benefit from increased manufacturing activity, make up close to 20 percent of the portfolio.

I urge you to visit our fund page and see if the Global Resources Fund is right for you.

 

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, Distributor. U.S. Global Investors is the investment adviser.

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk.

The ISM Manufacturing Index is based on surveys of more than 300 manufacturing firms by the Institute of Supply Management. The ISM Manufacturing Index monitors employment, production, inventories, new orders and supplier deliveries.

The NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey is conducted quarterly among the National Association of Manufacturers’ membership of small, medium and large manufacturers.

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The PMI is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

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This Could Be a No-Brainer Gold Buying Opportunity
October 2, 2017

GoGo Gold

Last week I was pleased to be the keynote speaker at the Denver Gold Show in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado. Attendance was strong, sentiment was up and my presentation on quant gold investing was very well received.

Frank Holmes keynote Speaker at The Denver Gold Show

As I’ve explained before, our firm uses quantamentals in our gold investing process, combining old-fashioned, bottom-up stock picking with big data and machine learning. This allows us to screen for the best possible producers with the most attractive balance sheets. We prefer miners that have a proven track record of sustainable profitability even when precious metal prices are down.

It’s these quantamentals that went into the creation of our newest quant ETF, our first to launch in Canada.

On Friday, I was thrilled to be back in my hometown of Toronto, where Galileo team members and I had the privilege of opening the Toronto Stock Exchange. The TSX, as you may know, has a long history of being the world’s premiere marketplace for mining stocks, and in 2016, 57 percent of the world’s financing for mining companies was done on the TSX. It’s only fitting, then, that our new ETF is traded there.

I urge you to listen to the ETF Trends webcast in which Tom Lydon and I discuss the gold market today and the factors we use in picking the strongest gold stocks.

Prepare for Gold to Get Sloppy, but Backdrop Remains Strong into Year-End

Early last week, North Korea said it was interpreting some of President Donald Trump’s comments as a declaration of war, insisting it can freely shoot down American military planes even if they’re not flying in North Korean airspace. As everyone is pointing out, the country has made similar threats in the past, but with Trump as president, there could be an added level of unpredictability.

Ordinarily, we would expect geopolitical risk of this scale to boost the price of gold on increased safe haven demand. Instead, the yellow metal struggled last week to extend the gains it’s made in 2017 so far.

Markets are closed but shopping is in during Chinas Golden Week

The main contributor to the pullback is likely the fact that markets in China will be closed this week in observance of Golden Week. Think of Golden Week as China’s Fourth of July—if the Fourth of July lasted for several days. This year marks the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Given that the country is the world’s largest gold market, the metal has in the past depreciated leading up to the week-long celebration. If you remember from last year, gold was knocked down significantly after someone dumped as much as $2.25 billion of the metal in the futures market, and on October 2, gold suffered its biggest one-day loss in three years. Last week it fell 1.33 percent.

Gold price has traded down prior to chinas Golden Week in October
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As you can see above, gold immediately rallied following the correction in 2014 and 2015, but it continued to drop in 2013 and 2016.

There’s no telling what it might do this year, of course, but I believe this could be a good buying opportunity, as the fourth-quarter Indian wedding season has historically brought with it higher gold prices on stronger demand. The backdrop looks favorable for all metals, in fact, as we head into the final quarter of the year, with improving global economic and manufacturing activity suggesting demand could surge.

Granted, other factors besides Golden Week are putting pressure on gold right now. The U.S. dollar just had one of its best months of the year, and the real five-year Treasury yield turned positive. Keep your eyes on yields, though, because as soon as they turn negative again, gold could take off.

Then there’s the record-setting stock market, which might discourage some investors from seeking a safe haven. But I think it’s worth pointing out that gold has remarkably held its own during this bull run, closely keeping track with the S&P 500 Index in 2017. As of last Friday, the S&P 500 was up 11.6 percent year-to-date, gold 11.5 percent.

U.S. Ready to Reform Tax Code for First Time in More than 30 Years

Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, were among the biggest winners immediately following the November election, the idea being that Trump’s “America first” policies would benefit smaller, domestic companies with less exposure to foreign markets the most.

This trade was put on hold somewhat as Trump’s pro-growth agenda repeatedly stalled in Congress. But renewed talks of tax reform last week excited investors, helping to push the Russell 2000 back into record-closing territory. For the 12-month period, the index of American small-cap stocks is beating the S&P 500 by nearly 3 percent.

Small cap stocks jump on tax return excitement
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The bottom line is that Congressional Republicans—and Trump—need this win after the multiple failed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Tax reform should be much easier to achieve, as there seems to be greater consensus on what needs to be done.

Indeed, the tax code has not been fundamentally changed in more than 30 years. If Trump gets his way, the number of personal income tax brackets will fall from seven to three, with the top marginal rate lowered from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.

US tax code hasnt been overhauled in a generation
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The corporate tax rate, meanwhile, would be set at a more reasonable 20 percent, down from 35 percent—currently the highest rate in the world among developed economies. This should help U.S.-based firms become much more competitive, and ideally it would encourage multinationals to bring home the estimated $3.6 trillion in cash held overseas.

As I told Fox Business’ Liz Claman on her show recently, I’m very bullish right now, with global GDPs and the purchasing manager’s index (PMI) headed higher. U.S. tax reform should only encourage further growth, both here and abroad.

Stay Informed

Many exciting developments are coming down the pipeline! I’ll be traveling more, speaking to investors, executives and other business leaders. Make sure you’re subscribed to my award-winning CEO blog Frank Talk to stay in the loop!

 

 

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The Russell 2000 Index is a U.S. equity index measuring the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000. The Russell 3000 Index consists of the 3,000 largest U.S. companies as determined by total market capitalization.

The Purchasing Manager’s Index is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

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Here’s Why China Region Stocks Are in the Spotlight Right Now
September 29, 2017

Chinese automaker geely saw an 80% increase in sales in the first eight months of 2017

Between escalating tensions with North Korea and a U.S. Congress in gridlock, it can sometimes be challenging to stay positive. That’s why I’m pleased to share with you this good news: Our China Region Fund (USCOX) was up more than 45 percent for the 12-month period as of September 22, 2017, beating its benchmark, the Hang Seng Composite Index (HSCI), which gained 20.7 percent over the same period. This means USCOX outperformed the index by roughly 25 percent.

China Region Fund USCOX outperformed its benchmark by roughly 25% for 12-month period
click to enlarge

Put another way, USCOX has beaten the HSCI in eight of the past 11 months, or 73 percent of the time, with the greatest monthly spread between fund and index occurring in June.

china region fund uscox bet its benchmark 73% of past 11 months
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One of the main contributors to our outperformance is our overweight positions in information technology and consumer discretionary stocks, which made up a combined 61 percent of the fund as of September 22. As we see it, these sectors are where the growth is, driven by innovative tech firms, from Sunny Optical to Tencent, and automakers such as Geely Automative, Guangzhou Automotive and Great Wall Motor.

asian stocks excluding Japan are the frontrunner of 2017
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Asian Stocks Look Cheap Compared to the American and European Markets

When measured against the American and European markets, Asian stocks, excluding Japan, have been the top performers of 2017 so far, returning more than 30 percent year-to-date. That’s compared to an 11.7 percent gain for the S&P 500 Index and 20 percent gain for the STOXX Europe 600.

Asian stocks also have a more attractive valuation than these other two regions. With the S&P 500 trading at 21.4 times earnings and the STOXX Europe 600 trading at 21.2 times earnings, the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index looks more reasonable at 15.6 times earnings.

The China Region Fund, meanwhile, trades at 15.5 times earnings, making it, I believe, an exceptional value.

Cars, Tech and Sportswear Driving Growth

We believe our exposure to Chinese automakers and tech firms makes USCOX well-positioned for long-term growth. Not only is China the largest passenger car market in the world, it was also the fastest growing. In the first eight months of this year, auto sales in the country were up close to 5 percent compared to the same eight months in 2016, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Geely, which completed its acquisition of Volvo in 2010, sold 718,000 vehicles during this period, an amazing 88 percent increase year-over-year.

Tech manufacturers, especially those that supply Apple, look very attractive. Our favorite right now is Sunny Optical, which specializes in lenses for a number of advanced applications. The company announced that shipments of handset lenses surged 96 percent in August, while vehicle lenses rose 65 percent. For the 12-month period as of September 22, its stock was up 264 percent.
We’re also fans of Anta Sports Products, China’s largest sportswear company by revenue. By selling pricier athletic gear under its Fila brand, the company is seeking to capitalize on rising incomes and the Chinese government’s push to boost participation in sports. According to Bloomberg, the government aims for 435 million of its citizens, a third of its population, to work out more frequently by 2020. This bodes well for Anta.

The sportswear company is among our top 10 holdings.

See what other companies round out the fund!

 

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Foreside Fund Services, LLC, Distributor. U.S. Global Investors is the investment adviser.

Total Annualized Returns as of 6/30/2016
  One-Year Five-Year Ten-Year Gross Expense Ratio
China Region Fund 33.80% 7.01% -0.35% 2.76%
Hang Seng Composite Index 28.24% 9.43% 4.60% n/a

Expense ratios as stated in the most recent prospectus. The Adviser of the China Region Fund has voluntarily limited total fund operating expenses (exclusive of acquired fund fees and expenses of 0.02%, extraordinary expenses, taxes, brokerage commissions and interest, and advisory fee performance adjustments) to not exceed 2.55%. With the voluntary expense waiver amount of 0.38%, total annual expenses after reimbursement were 2.36%. U.S. Global Investors, Inc. can modify or terminate the voluntary limit at any time, which may lower a fund’s yield or return. Performance data quoted above is historical. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. For a portion of periods, the fund had expense limitations, without which returns would have been lower. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance does not include the effect of any direct fees described in the fund’s prospectus which, if applicable, would lower your total returns. Performance quoted for periods of one year or less is cumulative and not annualized. Obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end at www.usfunds.com or 1-800-US-FUNDS.

Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio.

The Hang Seng Composite Index is a market-cap weighted index that covers about 95% of the total market capitalization of companies listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies. The STOXX Europe 600 Index is derived from the STOXX Europe Total Market Index (TMI) and is a subset of the STOXX Global 1800 Index. With a fixed number of 600 components, the STOXX Europe 600 Index represents large, mid and small capitalization companies across 18 countries of the European region. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Index captures large and mid-cap representation across 5 Developed Markets countries and 9 Emerging Markets countries in the Asia Pacific region. With 1,034 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index captures large and mid-cap representation across 4 of 5 Developed Markets countries (excluding Japan) and 9 Emerging Markets countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings in the China Region Fund as a percentage of net assets as of 6/30/2017: Tencent Holdings Inc. 6.20%, Sunny Optical Technology Group Co. Ltd. 6.75%, Apple Inc. 0.00%, AAC Technologies Holdings Inc. 3.00%, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd. 4.63%, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. 8.96%, Great Wall Motor Co. Ltd. 1.01%, HSBC Holdings PLC 0.00%, AIA Group Ltd. 0.00%, ANTA Sports Products Ltd. 2.57%.

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

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The Biggest Global Tax Break Ever Bubbles Up from Texas Oil Industry
September 25, 2017

What Makes Texas Unique and Great

Recently, I had the privilege of appearing on “Countdown to the Closing Bell,” Liz Claman’s program on Fox Business. When asked if I was nervous that stocks are heading too high, I said that I’m very bullish. All around the world, exports are up, GDPs are up and the global purchasing manager’s index (PMI) is up.

Oil prices continue to remain low, however, thanks in large part to the ingenuity of Texas fracking companies. As I told Liz, this has served as a multibillion-dollar “peace dividend” that has mostly helped net importing markets, including “Chindia”—China and India combined, where 40 percent of the world’s population lives—Japan and the European Union.

What Makes Texas Unique and Great

I can’t emphasize enough how impressive it is that Texas shale oil producers continue to ramp up output even with crude remaining in the $50 per barrel range.

This underscores their efficiency and innovation in drawing on oil reserves that were largely out-of-reach as recently as 10 or 12 years ago. What’s more, common law property rights here in the U.S. benefit mining companies in ways that simply can’t be found in Latin America and other parts of the world that operate under civil law.

According to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) most recent report on drilling productivity, total U.S. shale oil output is expected to climb above 6 million barrels a day for the first time in September. The biggest contributors are Texas shale oilfields, which will exceed 4 million barrels a day. West Texas’ Permian Basin alone represents nearly 400 percent of these gains, according to research firm Macrostrategy Partnership.

Drilling productivity up in Texas shale regions despite lower oil prices
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The typical Permian well remains very profitable even with $50-a-barrel oil, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The research group estimates that oil would need to drop below $45 a barrel for some Permian wells to become unprofitable.

Christi Craddick, the Texas Railroad Commissioner, praised the Texas fracking industry in her address at the annual Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association (PPROA) meeting last week. She noted how essential shale oil producers are to the Texas economy, adding that despite the downturn in oil prices, “the Texas oil and gas industry has shown extraordinary resilience.”

“When times were tough, the industry did what it does best—innovate,” she said. “Because of your ingenuity, we’re seeing industry growth today despite the price of oil.”

Again, it’s this ingenuity that’s kept oil prices relatively low, which in turn has helped strengthen GDPs in oil-importing emerging markets and squeeze the revenue of exporters such as Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and others.

Texas-based oil and gas exploration company Anadarko Petroleum was one of the top performing natural resource stocks last week, gaining more than 12 percent. The surge came on the heels of the company’s announcement that it approved a $2.5 billion stock buyback program.

Explore investment opportunities in oil and other natural resources!

Coming Together as a Community

A month after the Texas Gulf Coast was devastated by the unprecedented wind and rains of Hurricane Harvey, the cleanup and rebuilding continues. As I shared with you in an earlier post, the Texas economy is one of the strongest in the world, and its residents are committing to rebuilding Houston and other affected areas better than ever before. As a proud Texan by way of Canada, I can say that it’s in our culture to come to one another’s aid in times of need and help rebuild.

Synchronized Global Growth Is Finally Here: OECD

What Makes Texas Unique and Great

I believe that my bullishness was validated last week with the release of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) quarterly economic outlook. According to the Paris-based group, synchronized global growth is finally within sight, with no major economy in contraction mode for the first time since 2008. World GDP is expected to advance 3.5 percent in 2017—its best year since 2011—and 3.7 percent in 2018.

A synchronized short term global upturn
click to enlarge

This news comes only a couple of weeks following the release of the August global manufacturing PMI, which shows that manufacturing activity around the world accelerated to its highest level in over six years. Not only is the index currently above its three-month moving average, but it’s also now held above the key 50 threshold for a year and a half, indicating strong, sustained industry expansion.

Global manufacturing PMI at 75 month high in August
click to enlarge

As I’ve shown before, the global PMI has been a good indicator of exports and commodity prices three to six months out, so I see this as very positive.

Where to Invest in the Global Bull Run

World markets seem to agree. Not only are domestic averages closing at record highs on a near-daily basis, but global stocks continue to head higher as well. The MSCI World Index, which tracks equity performance across 23 developed countries, is up 14 percent so far this year as of September 20. And just so we’re clear that emerging countries aren’t being left out, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has gained close to 30 percent over the same time period.

One of the most attractive regions to invest in right now is Asia, specifically the China region, which has outperformed both the American and European markets year-to-date. The Hang Seng Index has advanced more than 27 percent, driven mostly by financials and tech stocks such as Tencent and AAC Technologies.

In addition, Asian stocks look very cheap, trading at only 13.97 times earnings. The S&P 500 Index, by comparison, is currently trading at 21.44 times earnings.

 

A Rebalance of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Needed for Sustainable Growth

But back to the OECD report. The group points out that the good times could easily come to an end if world governments don’t make efforts to balance monetary and fiscal policies, something I’ve been urging for years now.

Central banks are eyeing the stimulus exit door, with the Federal Reserve planning to begin unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet as early as next month. The European Central Bank (ECB) ready to reduce its monthly bond-purchasing program sometime in early 2018, and the Bank of England (BOE) isexpected to raise interest rates in November for the first time since 2007.

As such, governments need to strengthen business investment, global trade and wage growth. The OECD adds that “more ambitious structural reforms” in emerging economies “are needed to ensure that the global economy moves to a stronger and more sustainable growth path.”

Only then can this new period of synchronized global growth be sustained in the long term.

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

The J.P. Morgan Global Purchasing Manager’s Index is an indicator of the economic health of the global manufacturing sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

The MSCI World Index is a free-float weighted equity index. It was developed with a base value of 100 as of December 31, 1969. The index includes developed world markets, and does not include emerging markets. The MSCI EM (Emerging Markets) Index is a free-float weighted equity index that captures large and mid-cap representation across Emerging Markets (EM) countries. The index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country. The Hang Seng Index is a free-float capitalization-weighted index of a selection of companies from the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. The components of the index are divided into four subindices: Commerce and Industry, Finance, Utilities, and Properties. The index was developed with a base level of 100 as of July 31, 1964. The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks. The Index is designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. The index was developed with a based level of 10 for the 1941-43 based period.

Holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. The following securities mentioned in the article were held by one or more accounts managed by U.S. Global Investors as of 6/30/2017: Tencent Holdings Ltd., AAC Technologies Holdings Inc.

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Gold and Bitcoin Surge on North Korea Fears
September 11, 2017

bicion

If you’re familiar with ABC’s popular reality show Shark Tank, you should already be familiar with the concept behind the San Antonio Angel Network (SAAN). Select entrepreneurs and innovators pitch their startup ideas to accredited investors, who can choose to make early-stage investments in a potentially successful company.

I attended an SAAN meeting last week at Ferrari of San Antonio, and what struck me the most was how fluid and seamless the whole thing is. Other professionals in attendance, including lawyers and CPAs, had a similar opinion, with some of them saying it was because there wasn’t any bureaucracy or red tape to hamstring the presenters.

This is unlike the world of mutual funds, which I believe has become excessively regulated.

As I’ve said numerous times before, regulation is essential, just as referees are essential to a basketball game. No one disputes that, because otherwise there would be chaos.

Similarly, the new and very unregulated world of cryptocurrencies has grown dramatically, beyond bitcoin and ethereum. Did you know there are over 800 cryptocurrencies? These new initial coin offerings, called ICOs, are like initial public offerings (IPOs) but with little regulation or accountability. As I’ve commented before, if the refs get too powerful or too numerous, and the rules too complex, the game becomes nearly unplayable.

Cryptocurrencies Still Draw Investor Attention Following China Crackdown

Bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies have had a meteoric year, with more than $2 billion raised in ICOs so far in 2017, according to Bloomberg. Approximately $155 billion in cryptocurrencies are in circulation around the world right now. Bitcoin by itself is at $78 billion, which is close to the $90 billion invested in all gold ETFs.

Cryptocurrencies have made red hot moves this past year
click to enlarge

Like gold, cryptos are favored by those who have a deep distrust of fiat currency, or paper money. Money, after all, is built on trust, and the blockchain technology that bitcoin is built on top of automates trust through an electronic ledger that cannot be altered. Every transaction is anonymous and peer-to-peer. The system is entirely decentralized and democratic. No monetary authority can see who owns what and where money is flowing.

This, of course, is a huge reason why some world governments want to crack down on the Wild West of virtual currencies, especially with bitcoin surging close to $5,000 this month.

China did just that last week, putting a halt to new ICOs and crypto transactions. In response, ethereum tumbled as much as 15.8 percent last Monday, or $55 a unit. Bitcoin lost $394 a unit.

China’s decision comes a little more than a month after the SEC said cryptocurrencies are securities and therefore should probably be regulated as such. At this point, though, the implications are unclear.

What’s clear to me—after seeing firsthand how easily and quickly transactions are made—is that there’s no going back. It’s possible cryptocurrencies will one day be regulated. But I’m confident bitcoin, ethereum and some other virtual currencies offer enough value to weather such a potential roadblock.

I also believe there has to be a happy medium between the excessively regulated fund industry and the potential chaos of the cryptocurrency. This is what I witnessed at the SAAN event I mentioned, which allowed the professionals in attendance to gain information, ask questions and make informed decisions.

Gold Trading Above $1,350 an Ounce

Speaking on cryptocurrencies last week, Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said gold could be a beneficiary of China’s decision to clamp down on ICOs. As more governments and central banks turn their attention to virtual currencies, investors could move back into the yellow metal as a store of value.

That’s a possibility, but I think gold’s price action right now is being driven by negative real Treasury yields and fears over a potential conflict with North Korea. Adjusted for inflation, the two-year and five-year Treasuries are both currently yielding negative amounts, and the 10-year continues to fall closer to 0 percent.

Real treasury yeilds fall further
click to enlarge

As I’ve explained numerous times before, gold and real interest rates share an inverse relationship. It makes little sense to invest in an asset that’s guaranteed to cost you money—which is the case with the two-year and five-year government bond right now. Investors seeking a “safe haven” might therefore add to their weighting in gold, especially with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un raising tensions.

The yellow metal closed above $1,350 an ounce, more than a one-year high.   

Gold price up more than 15 percent year to date
click to enlarge

Despite Efforts to Control Spending, National Debt Expected to Continue Growing: CBO

Similarly driving the gold Fear Trade are concerns over the national debt. Last week President Donald Trump sided with Congressional Democrats in raising the federal borrowing limit to allow Hurricane Harvey recovery aid to pass. An initial package of $7.85 billion for Harvey victims was agreed upon, but with total costs expected to be as high as $190 billion—more than the combined costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy—and with Hurricane Irma yet to make landfall in Florida, the federal aid amount could eventually run even higher.

Trump partially ran on reigning in government spending, which I and many others would like to see. Even so, this might not be enough to control our runaway debt. According to an August report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), debt will likely continue to grow as spending for large federal benefit programs—Social Security, Medicare and the like—outpaces revenue. Interest payments on the debt will only continue to accelerate as well.

Below is a chart showing national debt as a percentage of GDP going back to the founding of the U.S. Although we’ve seen periodic spikes in response to national crises, the debt could soar to unprecedented levels within the next 10 years.

Federal debt expected to continue rising
click to enlarge

Financial writer Alex Green, the Oxford Club’s chief strategist, told me during my recent interview with him that he thought out-of-control spending posed a greater threat to our country than even North Korea.

I tend to agree with him, and that’s why I believe that investors should have a 10 percent allocation in gold, with 5 percent in bullion and 5 percent in gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

I urge you to watch this brief video on investing opportunities in gold miners!

 

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

Gold, precious metals, and precious minerals funds may be susceptible to adverse economic, political or regulatory developments due to concentrating in a single theme. The prices of gold, precious metals, and precious minerals are subject to substantial price fluctuations over short periods of time and may be affected by unpredicted international monetary and political policies. We suggest investing no more than 5% to 10% of your portfolio in these sectors.

Share “Gold and Bitcoin Surge on North Korea Fears”

Net Asset Value
as of 02/23/2018

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $6.24 0.07 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $7.03 0.09 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $4.25 0.07 China Region Fund USCOX $12.01 0.21 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $7.83 -0.01 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $25.53 0.31 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $19.61 0.28 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.20 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 0.01