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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.

These 3 Charts Will Convince Investors That Time May Be Running Out
May 13, 2019

These 3 Charts Will Convince Investors That Time May Be Running Out

Before we get to looking at those three charts, I want to talk about trade for a moment. On Friday the Trump administration made good on its threat to raise tariffs on as much as $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from the previous 10 percent. The president also said that a decision could be made soon on whether to impose the same 25 percent rate on an additional $325 billion of Chinese goods, which, all told, would cover approximately the total amount of goods the U.S. imported from China in 2018.

So what does this mean? As I’ve made clear here, here and elsewhere, a tariff—beside being a strain on international relations—is essentially a tax that must be paid to the U.S. government before a shipment can clear customs. But here’s the kicker: Tariffs are typically paid not by the exporting company but by the importer. In other words, it’s U.S.-based companies that are picking up the tab—then passing the extra expense on to American consumers.

With the exception of the U.S. Treasury, which collects the tariff payments, few stand to benefit here. A February study by Washington, D.C.-based Trade Partnership Worldwide (TPW) estimated that 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods cost families of four close to $2,300 extra on average per year. They also have the potential to impact upwards of 2.2 million American jobs as well as risk diverting trade to other markets.

“By any measure, the imposition of tariffs by the United States and U.S. imports of steel, aluminum, motor vehicles and parts… is a net loss for the U.S. economy and U.S. workers,” the report reads. Workers “experience greater losses than gains,” and in many cases, according to TPW, “the tariff actions erase all of the anticipated gains from tax reform.”  

Market Sentiment at Its Lowest in 10 Months

Stocks sold off last week on the tariff news and plunged even further Monday after China announced that it would retaliate.

Equities are now officially in oversold territory. Our own U.S. Global Sentiment Indicator, which tracks as many as 126 commodities, indices, sectors, currencies and international markets, calculates the percentage of positions whose five-day moving averages are above or below their 20-day moving averages. Then we compare the data to the S&P 500 Index. Last week the sentiment indicator fell to 20 percent, showing that the market is at its most oversold since July 2018. Statistically, we should expect to see a bounce.

U.S. Global Sentiment Indicator Is Showing That the Market is Oversold
click to enlarge

Stocks may still have further to slide before a resolution to the trade dispute is reached. But for now this could be a good opportunity for investors to pick up some distressed stocks as we await mean reversion. In a Frank Talk post last week, I recommended that investors who seek to get access to the robust U.S. economy but limit their exposure to international trade would do well to look at high-quality small and mid-cap equities. Smaller firms, those with market caps between $1 billion and $10 billion, have the potential to outperform right now because they rely much less on trade than their larger multinational peers. They’re also supported by a stronger U.S. dollar.

I would also recommend considering government and investment-grade municipal bonds, which historically have helped investors improve their risk-adjusted returns in times of economic uncertainty. And of course there’s always exposure to gold and other metals that are expected to be in greater demand in the coming years, copper chief among them.

This leads us to the main event. Below are three charts that I think will convince investors that time is running out to prepare for the next major downturn. All charts and data were brought to my attention by Michael Kantrowitz, head of portfolio strategy at market research firm Cornerstone Macro, who visited our office last week.

1. Is U.S. Manufacturing Growth Projected to Stall?

I recently reported that the ISM Manufacturing Index for the U.S. fell sharply in April to 52.8, down from 55.3 in March. This means that although the manufacturing sector is still expanding, it’s doing so at a much slower pace. What’s more, the manufacturing index could soon fall below 50.0, indicating a slowdown. For this we’d largely have the Federal Reserve to thank.

Every Fed Tightening Cycle Has Preceded a Slowdown in U.S. Manufacturing
click to enlarge

That’s according to Michael, who pointed out to us that every Fed tightening cycle going back to the 1950s has preceded a pullback in the ISM Manufacturing Index. And each of these pullbacks coincided with an economic recession and/or market selloff. (One notable exception was 1995, when the market continued to rally despite manufacturing weakness.)

So will this time be different?

I’ll let my friend Bob Moriarty—whose excellent book Basic Investing in Resource StocksI reviewed earlier this month—tackles this one: “The most dangerous words in investing are ‘This time it’s different.’ It’s never different.”

2. Trying to Predict Future Earnings Per Share Growth? Monitor Lumber Prices

One of the most eye-opening charts Michael shared illustrates the close relationship between lumber prices and future earnings per share (EPS) growth. “Believe it or not,” he told us, “lumber prices are among the most reliable leading indicators available.”

I believe it. Housing is a massive part of the U.S. economy, contributing between 15 percent and 18 percent to gross domestic product (GDP), according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Housing also has an extremely high multiplier effect. Every 100 homes in the U.S. can support up to 70 jobs on average and generate as much as $4.1 million in local income on an ongoing annual basis.

So it stands to reason that lumber prices can give us an incredibly accurate forecast of where the market is headed. In the chart below, lumber prices have been advanced forward six months to illustrate the lag time between changes in price and EPS estimates. When lumber tanked over the 12-month period, EPS followed around six months later. And when lumber soared, EPS estimates shot up.

Timber! A Sign of Earnings Weakness Ahead? Lumber Price Change
click to enlarge

You may have already detected the warning signal that lumber’s flashing right now. From its high in May of last year, the lumber price has plunged almost 50 percent. That’s the commodity’s sharpest 12-month decline on record. Going forward, then, keep your eyes on earnings, which are a central driver of stock prices.

3. New York Fed on Recession Watch

Every month, the New York Fed updates its probability of an economic recession in the next 12 months. Probabilities are calculated using the spread between the 10-year and three-month Treasury yield—which inverted again last week for the first time since March.

According to the Fed’s most recent report, the probability that a recession will make landfall between now and April 2020 rose to 27.49 percent, its highest reading since January 2007 (as it was ascending, not falling), and before that, September 1999.

Probability of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months has surged to pre crisis levels
click to enlarge

Past performance does not guarantee future results, of course, but the point I’m trying to make by sharing these charts is that it might be time to consider making some adjustments to your portfolio. That doesn’t mean rotating entirely into safe havens, especially since the market is so oversold right now.

When Picking Gold Stocks, Be Sure to Focus on Quality

But if you’re concerned about what the data suggests, it might be prudent to ensure you have exposure to fixed income, specifically tax-free muni bonds, as well as gold and gold stocks. One of our favorite gold names, Franco-Nevada, just reported record net revenue of $179.8 million and record net income of $65.2 million in the March quarter. But when selecting gold stocks, it’s important to stick with quality companies that have competent management, little to no debt and a portfolio of high-grade mines. Go gold!

Is the eurozone slowdown over? In case you missed last week’s commentary from European research analyst Joanna Sawicka, watch it now by clicking here!

 

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 ISM manufacturing composite index is a diffusion index calculated from five of the eight sub-components of a monthly survey of purchasing managers at roughly 300 manufacturing firms from 21 industries in all 50 states.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.

Mean reversion is a theory used in finance that suggests that asset prices and historical returns eventually return back to the long-run mean or average level of the entire data set.

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 3/31/2019: Franco-Nevada Corp.

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Copper Well Positioned to Lead the Next Resource Cycle
May 6, 2019

Summary

  • Ivanhoe’s high-grade Kamoa-Kakula copper mine to come online soon.
  • Once again, bitcoin won’t replace gold.
  • Peak gold is closer than you think.

Ivanhoe Mines' high-grade Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The world is on a path to vast shortages in copper, nickel, lithium and other important minerals that are necessary to build the batteries in electric vehicles. So says Tesla’s global supply manager, according to Reuters.

The comment comes as the electric car maker broke ground in Shanghai for its first overseas “Gigafactory.” Tesla’s first battery factory, in Reno, Nevada—the largest in the world—is still in expansion mode and aims to produce as many as 105 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cells and 150 GWh of battery packs by next year.

All combined, that’s a lot of copper that will need to come down the pipeline very soon.

But some analysts now say that capacity isn’t quite there yet to feed global demand, and the industry could be running in deficit by 2021. Commodities analyst firm CRU Group expects copper supply to be short some 41,000 tons that year and 270,000 tons a couple of years later.

Meaning: We could be looking at another commodities super-cycle, with the red metal leading the way.

Global Copper Market is Expected to Go into deficit in 2021
click to enlarge

“You’re going to need a telescope to see copper prices in 2021,” my friend Robert Friedland, billionaire founder and executive chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, told us last year during a visit to our office.

I had the opportunity to hear Robert speak last week at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), where he explained that investment in metals and mining must increase to meet the unique demands of the future. I also caught up with Ivanhoe executive vice chair Egizio Bianchini, who previously served as vice chair and co-head of metals and mining at BMO Capital Markets.

visiting with ivanhoe mines executive co-chairman robert friedland (left) and executive vice chairman egizio bianchini

Robert and I are in agreement: The trend toward mass electrification—of everything from vehicles to renewable energy—favors copper, and investors might want to consider getting in now.

Ivanhoe remains my favorite way to get copper access. I own the stock personally. The Vancouver-based miner is nearing the start of production at its long-awaited, high-grade Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has recently gone through leadership change. Ore grades are off the charts. The Kamoa-Kakula deposit—“unquestionably the best copper development project in the world,” as Robert describes it—was fast-tracked after China’s CITIC Metal invested more than $450 million, or nearly $3 a share, late last month.

If fears of a bear market or economic recession are keeping you up at night, I think high-quality resource stocks like Ivanhoe are where you want to be because they’ve historically held up very well.

Ivanhoe Mines is testing its 52-week high
click to enlarge

I’m also heartened to hear that infrastructure might soon be moved to the top of the U.S. government’s priorities, which would be a boon to copper and other base metals. President Donald Trump recently met with Democratic congressional leaders and tentatively agreed to a $2 trillion infrastructure package to overhaul U.S. roads, highways, bridges, railroads and waterways. Where this money will come from, I don’t know, but it’s a start.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, made a similar pledge in April, promising as much as $1.44 trillion in infrastructure spending should he win reelection later this month.

Once Again, Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold

Moving on to another metal, a new TV and social media ad blitz is urging investors to “drop gold” in favor of bitcoin. Maybe you’ve seen it. The ad, from crypto investment firm Grayscale, tries to make the case that investing in gold is tantamount to “living in the past,” and that bitcoin is the more logical investment in today’s digital world.

Nonsense.

I’ve commented on the comparison between the two asset classes before. As much as I believe bitcoin has a bright future, I couldn’t agree less with the idea that it will replace gold in people’s portfolios.

Gold is a tangible, time-tested commodity and currency—the best possible candidate for money among all of the known elements, in fact. It’s highly liquid. In 2018, daily trading volume averaged an incredible $112 billion, the sixth largest of any asset class for the year. Gold transactions don’t require electricity or computer technology, and it has a number of other applications besides trading and investing—think jewelry, electronics, dentistry and more.

The same can’t be said of bitcoin or any other digital coin.

That’s not to demean bitcoin. I’m only saying that the two assets are very different. It baffles me that some people continue to try branding bitcoin as a digital replacement for gold. This isn’t the same as upgrading from analog VHS to 4K Blu-ray.

As you know by now, I recommend a 10 percent weighting in gold, split evenly between physical bullion and gold mining stocks. I wouldn’t advise the same percentage weighting in bitcoin, which is much more speculative and volatile. Whereas gold has a daily standard deviation of only ±1 percent—approximately the same as the market—bitcoin’s is closer to ±5 percent. The difference in volatility is even greater for the 10-day, as you can see in the table.

Bitcoin and Ethereum Are More Volatile Than Gold and the Stock Market
Standard Deviation For One Year as of 3/31/2019
  One Day Ten Day
Gold Bullion ±1% ±2%
S&P 500 Index ±1% ±3%
Ethereum ±5% ±16%
Bitcoin ±4% ±12%
Past performance does not guarantee future results. Source: Bloomberg, U.S. Global Investors

What’s Supporting Gold Right Now?

Gold tested its 2019 low of around $1,266 an ounce this week, but some recent developments should be supportive of prices going forward.

For one, the pool of negative-yielding government bonds in Europe continues to surge. So far this year, it’s climbed some 20 percent to around $10 trillion, the highest level since 2016, according to Deutsche Bank. And it’s not just government debt. According to Tradeweb, nearly a quarter of the $3.6 trillion worth of investment-grade corporate debt in Europe carries a negative yield. This is constructive for gold, which has been trading closely with the amount of negative-yielding debt.   

rising negative yielding debt in europe should support the price of gold
click to enlarge

Gold prices jumped a bit last week following the news that the manufacturing sector, both in the U.S. and abroad, continues to slow on global trade concerns.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that its U.S. manufacturing index fell sharply in April to 52.8, 2.5 points down from the March reading of 55.3. This is the lowest reading since Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016. Meanwhile, a closely watched barometer of manufacturers in the Chicago metropolitan area fell even more dramatically in April to 52.6, down 6.1 points from 58.7 a month earlier. The WSJ Dollar Index fell a marginal 0.2 percent to 90.45 on the news, which helped support the gold price.

U.S. Manufacturers Grew at Their Slowest Pace in April Since Trump Was Elected
click to enlarge

Peak Gold Is Closer Than You Think

Looking more long term, I think the idea of “peak gold” still makes the case for investing in gold very compelling. This is something I’ve been writing about since as far back as 2010.

Although global gold output is expected to hit a new record high this year—to the tune of 109.6 million ounces, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence—production is seen falling steadily every year thereafter. The only major gold-producing country to increase its production between now and 2024 is expected to be Canada. As a result, it could become the second largest producer after China.

production from major gold producing countries, 2014 - 2024
click to enlarge

South Africa is currently on an extended losing streak—it recorded its 17th straight month of declines in gold production in February—but Australia is expected to fall the most over the next five years, thanks to faster-than-anticipated depletion of older mines such as St Ives, Paddington, Telfer and others. Today Australia is the second largest gold producer, but by 2024 it could edge down to number four.

The largest Australian gold miner, Newcrest Mining, reported lower production in the first quarter of 2019 relative to the previous quarter. Output stood at more than 623,000 ounces, about 5 percent down from 655,000 ounces in the December quarter.

Central Banks Aren’t Done Adding Gold to Their Reserves

The yellow metal is a finite commodity, one of the many reasons why it’s so highly valued, and it’s about to get even more finite. Demand, meanwhile, is only increasing, as evidenced by central banks’ insatiable consumption.

According to the latest report by the World Gold Council (WGC), gold purchases by central banks totaled 145.5 tonnes in the first quarter. Not only was this the strongest first quarter since 2013, but on a rolling four-quarter basis, demand reached an all-time record high of 715.7 tonnes.

Perhaps the central bank chiefs didn’t see Grayscale’s ad to “drop gold.”

Missed my review of legendary small-cap resource investor Bob Moriarty’s new book? Read it now by clicking here!

Some links above may be directed to third-party websites. U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by these websites and is not responsible for their content. All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

The standard deviation is a statistic that measures the dispersion of a dataset relative to its mean and is calculated as the square root of the variance.

The ISM Manufacturing Index is a widely-watched indicator of recent U.S. economic activity. Based on a survey of purchasing managers at more than 300 manufacturing firms by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the index monitors changes in production levels from month to month.

The Chicago Business Barometer is also known as Chicago PMI. It is calculated based on a survey of purchasing managers in the Chicagoland area. Respondents are polled to assess production volume, new orders, backlogs, unemployment and supplies in their firms. Instead of providing a quantitative measure, respondents provide a relative assessment of changes in the currents month: whether the situation has improved, worsened or has not changed.

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 (03/31/2019): Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.

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Hard Truths in Resource Investing, According to Bob Moriarty
May 1, 2019

"The day you start thinking you are smarter than the market, you have made a giant mistake that will cost you dearly.”

“All debts get paid… They are paid either by the borrower or by the lender.”

“The mob is always wrong. All you have to do is figure out what they think and then do the opposite.”

“Listening to liars gets very expensive.”

I could keep going, but these are just some of the kernels of wisdom and hard truths I came across while reading Robert Moriarty’s latest book, Basic Investing in Resource Stocks: The Idiot’s Guide. I’ve known Bob for many years, and if there’s one thing he’s proven about himself time and again is that he doesn’t mince words.

Nor should he. Bob’s accomplished far too much in his life to worry about tiptoeing around the truth. Many people reading this right now probably know Bob best from his highly popular resource websites 321Gold and 321Energy. 321Gold, I should point out, has done a lot over the years to bring U.S. Global Investors to people’s attention, and I’m grateful to Bob for that.

Besides extreme contrarian resource investing, Bob also has a place in the history books as an aviator. Not only was he the youngest naval combat pilot, at 20 years old, during the Vietnam War, but he still holds the time record for flying from Paris to New York and back again, in 1981. Three years after that, he famously flew his Beechcraft Bonanza V35 under the Eiffel Tower.

But back to the book.

Beware of False Prophets

Perhaps what I admire most about Basic Investing is how refreshingly open it is. Again, Bob doesn’t mince words, and he’s more than willing to share what he describes as his own past errors so that readers might learn from them. (To be perfectly honest, though, the longer anyone spends in the capital markets, the more likely it is that he or she will make a bad bet or 10. No one gets it right all of the time.)

Just as he does in his 2016 bestseller Nobody Knows Anything,  he makes the case that you should be skeptical of anything the “experts” and “gurus” tell you. Otherwise, you could get seriously burned. In Bob’s experience, that’s amounted to placing too much trust in a junior resource company’s management team, some of whom go on to squander the money they raised.

“If you find a company with a story so compelling, so bulletproof that it simply cannot fail, rest assured that the village idiot is right around the corner looking for a job,” he colorfully writes. “When you believe [the company] would work even if someone spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week trying to screw it up, you will find that the village idiot ends up running the company and puts in a lot of overtime.”

No Alternative to Gold and Precious Metals

Despite the risk of having to deal with the occasional ineffective or destructive CEO, Bob says, “investing in resource shares may be the only logical investment for those looking to hedge other potentially more dangerous alternatives.”

Government, corporate and household debt are all at record highs, and the “Yellow Vest” revolution in France threatens to spill over into the rest of the world. The coming financial meltdown could make 2007-2008 look like a dress rehearsal, and Bob sees gold “as a solution to our continuing financial chaos. It worked for much of history and nothing says it won’t work again.”

“If you don’t own some gold (or silver or platinum or palladium or rhodium) that you can lay your hands on, you may regret it. Precious metals are the most secure insurance policy that you can buy to protect your financial house, even as it begins to burn down.”

Trading Metals and Resource Stocks 101

Bob’s book is rich with practical advice on trading precious metals and resource stocks. Timing is key on both sides of the trade, and Bob uses a number of tools to help him make as large a profit as he can. Obviously you want to buy low and sell high, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. That’s where metal price ratios come in.

In the chart below is the gold-to-silver ratio. What it shows is the number of ounces of silver it takes to buy one ounce of gold. Since January 2000, the average has been about 64. But in the past few months, it’s spiked up to an incredible 85 or 86—meaning silver is “dirt cheap” relative to gold. Buying silver at this time, then, might make a lot of sense if you believe silver prices will soon go up or gold prices will go down.

Silver is dirt cheap relative to gold
click to enlarge

“All commodities deviate from the mean at times, and always regress to the mean,” Bob writes. “Prices naturally go up and naturally go down, but they always go back to the mean eventually.”

Chapter 14 of Basic Investing includes a helpful list of other tools and websites Bob uses on a regular basis to track commodity prices and trends, and to time his trades.

Hard truths, practical guidance, invaluable insight. It’s all there in Bob’s book, which, I should add, is also a delightful, often humorous read. Order your copy today!

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 standard deviation is a statistic that measures the dispersion of a dataset relative to its mean and is calculated as the square root of the variance. Mean reversion is a theory used in finance that suggests that asset prices and historical returns eventually return back to the long-run mean or average level of the entire data set.

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What Ballooning Corporate Debt Means for Investors
April 8, 2019

Frank Homles speaking at the Money Map Press Black Diamond Conference in Delray Beach Florida

Last week I was in Delray Beach, Florida, where I presented at Money Map Press’ Black Diamond Conference.

What I love about this event, and others like it, is that it gives investors a chance not only to hear from their favorite newsletter writers but also speak with them face-to-face on a wide range of topics, from metals and mining to bitcoin and cannabis, and so much more. Among the most sought-after presenters this year were early-stage tech investor Michael Robinson, who I interviewed last year; Money Map Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald; and Sprott CEO Rick Rule.

In case you didn’t get the chance to attend, I’ll be sure to cover the highlights in the coming days.

Right now I want to share with you the latest from Metals Focus. The London-based commodities research group just released the 2019 edition of its widely-read Gold Focus report, and the big news is that global gold demand will climb to its highest level in four years. The uptick is expected to be driven by an increase in jewelry fabrication, with India, China and Italy leading consumption higher.

Global gold demand forecast to edge marginally higher in 2019
click to enlarge

Interest in gold jewelry has indeed improved in recent years, a phenomenon we’ve noticed with the success of such companies as Menē. Late last year, Google inquiries for “gold jewelry” hit an 11-year high.

But there’s more to the story than the Love Trade. Metals Focus analysts see gold also benefiting from a more dovish Federal Reserve and fears of a global economic slowdown.

“We expect U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) to slow in 2019 and 2020,” comments Metals Focus Director Nikos Kavalis. “This reflects a natural tapering, following two very strong years, the fading of windfall gains from the late-2017 tax reforms and, eventually, also the impact of trade wars on U.S. consumer spending.”

Are We Headed for Another Recession?

Few people know the risks in today’s economy and marketplace as much as David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Canadian wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff & Associates. For years he’s educated investors with his popular “Breakfast with Dave” newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. He’s also a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail and the Financial Post.

Considered by many to be a Wall Street permabear, Rosenberg successfully predicted the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

Now he’s predicting another recession to make landfall as soon as the second half of this year. Why? In short, the Fed has been too aggressive tightening liquidity at a time when corporate debt is at an all-time high. What’s more, the Trump administration has already enacted fiscal stimulus in the form of tax reform, which has historically been reserved for times of economic turmoil, not expansion.

“How are we going to stimulate fiscal policy [in the event of a recession]?” he asked recently on CNBC’s Trading Nation. “We already did that at the peak of the cycle. We don’t have the fiscal ammunition.”

Corporate Debt Nearing Half of U.S. GDP

Rosenberg recently spoke at the CFA Societies Texas Investor Summit in San Antonio, U.S. Global Investors’ hometown, where he laid out his thought process.

Since the last recession, nonfinancial corporate debt has ballooned to more than $9 trillion as of November 2018, which is nearly half of U.S. GDP. As you can see below, each recession going back to the mid-1980s coincided with elevated debt-to-GDP levels—most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the 2000 dotcom bubble and the early 90s slowdown.

Non-financial corporate debt to GDP has exceeded record levels
click to enlarge

Through 2023, as much as $4.88 trillion of this debt is scheduled to mature. And because of higher rates, many companies are increasingly having difficulty making interest payments on their debt, which is growing faster than the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

On top of that, the very fastest-growing type of debt is riskier BBB-rated bonds—just one step up from “junk.” This is literally the junkiest corporate bond environment we’ve ever seen.

Combine this with tighter monetary policy, and it could be a recipe for trouble in the coming months.

During his presentation, Rosenberg reiterated the saying that business cycles don’t die of old age, but rather they’re killed by the Fed. Take a look at the chart below. It shows commercial and industrial loan delinquency rates, overlaid by fed fund rates shifted 10 quarters ahead. What it suggests is that roughly 10 quarters after the Fed began to tighten, loan delinquencies surged.

Corporate loan delinquencies have surged following rate hike cycles
click to enlarge

The good news is that it’s been more than 10 quarters since the Fed started lifting rates in December 2015, and so far we haven’t seen a noticeable increase in delinquencies.

Could this be because the rate hikes this cycle have been small relative to those in past cycles? Not likely, says Rosenberg. According to him, it’s not the amount that matters so much as the change. Whether rates go up 2.50 percent or only 0.25 percent, it can still be a shock on the financial system.

To be clear, I’m not predicting a recession any time soon, only passing along Rosenberg’s expert opinion.

But if his position makes sense to you, it might be time to consider your options on how to prepare. Rosenberg recommends overweighting fixed-income and REITs (real estate investment trusts).

I would add gold to that mix, as it’s performed well as a store of value during economic pullbacks. As always, I recommend a 10 percent weight in gold, with 5 percent in gold bars, coins and jewelry, and 5 percent in gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

Concerned about Brexit? Read my thoughts on how it could impact gold prices by clicking here!

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.

A bond’s credit quality is determined by private independent rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. Credit quality designations range from high (AAA to AA) to medium (A to BBB) to low (BB, B, CCC, CC to C).

Investing in real estate securities involves risks including the potential loss of principal resulting from changes in property value, interest rates, taxes and changes in regulatory requirements.

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 12/31/2018: Menē Inc.

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7 Market-Moving Charts Investors Need to See
March 25, 2019

Stocks erased their weekly gains and bond yields fell on Friday as investors reacted to a number of economic developments. Chief among them were a Treasury yield curve inversion, the first since before the financial crisis, and continued slowdown in the pace of U.S. manufacturing expansion.

I had my eye on several other market-moving news items, some of which I share with you below.

1. Palladium in Overbought Territory

The price of palladium briefly topped $1,600 an ounce for the first time ever last week on a widening supply-demand imbalance. Markets sent the metal higher on news that Russia, the world’s number one producer of palladium, was set to ban the export of scrap metal, which would have the effect of squeezing global supply even further. This comes a week after car manufacturers signaled an increase in demand for palladium, which is used in the production of pollution-scrubbing catalytic converters.

As such, the palladium-to-gold ratio—or the measure of how many ounces of gold can be purchased with one ounce of palladium—is now at an historical high.

Palladium historically overbought relative to gold
click to enlarge

2. Nickel Also Performing Well on Supply Deficit Concerns

Palladium is the best performing metal so far in 2019, up nearly 27 percent. In second place is nickel, which is facing supply issues of its own. Global demand for nickel in 2019 is estimated at around 2.4 million metric tons, two thirds of which will be processed in stainless steel mills, mostly in China, according to Reuters.

Palladium is the best performing metal so far in 2019
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3. Markets Grapple With First Yield Inversion Since Before the Financial Crisis

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to a more-than-one-year low last week on a dovish Federal Reserve. Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated that interest rates were likely to stay unchanged throughout 2019 as officials assess the impact of a potential global economic slowdown. “Just as strong global growth was a tailwind,” Powell said, “weaker global growth can be a headwind to our economy.”

10 year treasury yields dipped to a 15 month low after wednesdays fed meeting
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On Friday, the yield curve between the three-month and 10-year yield inverted, or turned negative, for the first time since before the financial crisis. Although past performance does not guarantee future results, it’s worth noting that such an inversion has preceded every U.S. recession over the last 60 years.

4. Traders Don’t See Rates Changing

Even before Wednesday’s Fed announcement, a surging number of futures traders were betting that rates would stay unchanged, or even be lowered, between now and the end of 2019. Three quarters of traders this month were positive that rates would stay pat in the 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent range, up sharply from 26 percent of traders 12 months earlier, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. The probability that rates will be hiked by the end of the year are now at 0 percent.

Traders betting interest rates will hold or be lowered by the end of the year
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5. Pace of Manufacturing Growth Continues to Slow

The preliminary U.S. purchasing manager’s index (PMI), released on Friday, shows manufacturing growth slowing to a 21-month low, from 53 in February to 52.5 in March. “Softer business activity growth reflected more subdued demand conditions in March, with new work rising at the weakest pace since April 2017,” the IHS Markit report reads.

US manufacturing expansion estimated to fall to a 21 month low in March
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6. A “Substantial” Amount of Tariffs

Markets also appear to be coming to terms with the realization that tariffs could be the norm for a lot longer than anticipated. Last week President Donald Trump said that the U.S. would keep trade barriers on China-made imports in place for a “substantial period of time”—even after a deal is eventually reached.

The U.S. currently has tariffs on approximately $265 billion worth of Chinese goods. This resulted in an eye-opening $2.7 billion tax increase on American businesses in November 2018 alone, according to Census Bureau data. Companies, as you might expect, have largely passed these extra costs on to consumers.

And then there’s lost export revenue and jobs to consider. According to a report this month by IHS Markit, tariffs are estimated to have a negative impact on the U.S. economy over the next 10 years. Ramifications include suppression of hundreds of thousands of American jobs, a dramatic reduction in consumers’ real spending power and a loss in gross output in a number of industries. 

Estimated loss in gross output bny industry due to tariffs
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7. Fed Decides the Government Shutdown Wasn’t as Bad as All That

The good news is that on Friday the Atlanta Fed revised up its estimate for real U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter. It now stands at 1.2 percent quarter-over-quarter, up from an anemic 0.4 percent on March 13.

Palladium historically overbought relative to gold
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The new estimate still trails the Blue Chip consensus of top U.S. business economists. But it appears that Fed policymakers have determined that the government shutdown between December 22 and January 25 didn’t impact the U.S. economy as negatively as previously thought.

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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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Net Asset Value
as of 05/24/2019

Global Resources Fund PSPFX $4.31 0.05 Gold and Precious Metals Fund USERX $6.53 0.04 World Precious Minerals Fund UNWPX $2.51 0.01 China Region Fund USCOX $7.91 0.05 Emerging Europe Fund EUROX $6.53 0.05 All American Equity Fund GBTFX $23.95 -0.02 Holmes Macro Trends Fund MEGAX $16.43 0.14 Near-Term Tax Free Fund NEARX $2.21 No Change U.S. Government Securities Ultra-Short Bond Fund UGSDX $2.00 No Change