Has Gold Become A New Reserve Currency?

For decades, the U.S. dollar has been the reserve currency of the world.  This has given the United States an extraordinary amount of economic power, but as the U.S. economy has started to come apart over the past decade, other nations have increasingly sought to move away from the U.S. dollar and find other alternatives.  For a long time it was thought that the Euro would become the next great reserve currency of the world.  However, the recent Greek debt crisis, along with massive financial instability in nations such as Portugal, Spain and Italy, has caused investors to rapidly lose confidence in the Euro.  In fact there are even some whispers that the Euro may not even survive the sovereign debt crisis as it sweeps across Europe.  With both the U.S. dollar and the Euro looking shaky, investors have been searching somewhere safe to put their money.  Increasingly, they have been turning to gold.  So has gold now become a new reserve currency?  Will all of this new demand drive the price of gold into unprecedented territory?

Well, the truth is that as long as paper currencies around the world continue to show instability, gold will continue to be a preferred choice.  Nations all over the world are looking for ways to diversify their very large foreign exchange reserves.  For example, China now has approximately $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, and has been wanting to reduce its position in U.S. dollars for quite some time now.

But where should they put their money?

The Euro is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit.  There is a very real fear that Greece is only the first domino to fall and that soon nations like Italy, Spain and Portugal will be begging the IMF for assistance as the sovereign debt crisis sweeps across Europe.

Well, what about the British pound?  The truth is that the pound is not very appealing right now because the U.K. is facing a massive government debt crisis as well.  In fact, Bank of England governor Mervyn King recently warned that public anger over the “austerity measures” that soon must be implemented in the U.K. will be so intense that whatever party wins this election will be out of power for a generation.

Well, how about the Japanese yen?  Ironically, there has been a move towards the Japanese yen in recent days, but the truth is that the Japanese debt situation is one of the worst in the world.  Japan’s gross public debt has reached 201 percent of GDP and  Japan’s battle with deflation dragged into its 13th straight month in March.  No, the yen is not safe at all.

So does that bring us back to the U.S. dollar?  No.  There is a reason why nations all over the world have been wanting to get out of the U.S. dollar.  The United States has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and even official U.S. government reports admit that the U.S. government is on a financial path that is not even close to sustainable.  The U.S. economy is caught in a death spiral, and that makes the U.S. dollar very unsafe.

So, what is safe at this point?

Well, gold is.

The price of gold rose to $1,210 an ounce on Friday.  The terms “flight to quality” and “safe haven” are increasingly being used for the precious metal as investors flee all of the major global paper currencies.

Just consider some of the recent comments about gold by financial experts that have shown up in the news….

Stephen Platt, a commodity analyst at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago:

“The sovereign-debt panic is spreading and forcing a flight to quality into gold.”

Citigroup analyst David Thurtell:

“Gold is now enjoying safe haven status, partly because bonds, particularly peripheral euro zone government and bank paper, is no longer a safe haven.”

Dennis Gartman, an economist and the editor of the Suffolk, Virginia-based Gartman Letter:

“There is a clear flight into quality to the gold market as frightened capital seeks a haven of any sort while confusion reigns.”

So will this move towards gold continue?

Sure.

Although anyone who follows the gold market knows that big financial institutions regularly work to suppress the price of gold.  In fact, one industry insider recently decided to be a whistleblower and came forward with “smoking gun” evidence of price manipulation in the precious metals markets, but the CFTC didn’t do a thing about it.

Fortunately, the overwhelming demand for gold is now pushing the price up despite efforts to suppress it.

In addition, once it becomes apparent that most of the “gold” that is traded in the world is not backed by the actual metal itself, the price of gold will go even higher.

For years, almost everyone has assumed that the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the world’s largest gold market, had actual gold to back up the massive “gold deposits” at the major LBMA banks.

But that is just not the case.

People are now starting to realize that there is very little actual gold in the LBMA system.

When most people think they are buying “gold”, what they are actually buying are just pieces of paper that say they own gold.

Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland recently elaborated on this point.  He says that “a lot of people who have studied it closely are convinced that there is a major shortage in physical gold at LBMA. LBMA trades around 700 tons net of gold daily. That is 25% of world annual production and around $6 trillion annually. To back that amount of trading on a 100% reserve ratio basis, it would need several year’s production of physical gold, which they definitively haven’t got.”

So what is going to happen when investors start demanding physical delivery of the gold that they purchase?

It is going to create a huge mess.

Needless to say, if you are investing in gold make sure that you take physical delivery of the gold.

As the paper currenices all over the globe continue to unravel (as all debt-based paper currencies always do), all precious metals, including gold, will be increasingly in demand.

In fact, the idea of gold being a “reserve currency” is not anything new.

Gold has been a “reserve currency” for thousands of years, and those who understand history know that it will always remain one.

8 Theories For Why The Stock Market Plunged Almost 1000 Points In A Matter Of Minutes On May 6th

In one of the most dizzying half-hours in stock market history, the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points on Thursday, May 6th before bouncing back to close down 347.80 points.  This represented the biggest intraday decline since 1987.  But what made this crash so absolutely shocking is that it happened in the course of less than an hour.  Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. the Dow lost over 700 points before dramatically bouncing back about 600 points.  Two of the 30 stocks in the Dow, Procter & Gamble and 3M, plunged more than 30% in just 15 minutes.  Accenture went from trading at around 40 dollars a share all the way down to one cent before bouncing back.  Traders and investors were left completely stunned and wondering what in the world had just happened.

So what did happen?

The following are some of the most common theories being put forward to explain what happened….

#1) A Bad Trade

It has been widely suggested that a “fat finger trade” was responsible for triggering the panic.  According to CNBC, “sources” have told that network that a trader (possibly at Citigroup) entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade involving Procter & Gamble.

However, Citigroup has already announced that it has found “no evidence” that it was involved in any erroneous trades.  In fact, a statement was released in which Citigroup spokesman Stephen Cohen said this….

“At this point, we have no evidence that Citi was involved in any erroneous transaction.”

#2) A Computer Glitch

New York Stock Exchange spokesman Rich Adamonis says that “there were a number of erroneous trades” on May 6th, and that these could have been caused by computer error.

And the truth is that trading in the financial markets is more automated and more reliant on computers than it ever has been before.  Trading literally moves at lightning speed now, and a number of analysts are warning that the pace of the market is so fast at this point that it is really easy for things to spin out of control very quickly.

But if this was really primarily caused by a “computer glitch”, how are investors supposed to have any confidence at all in the market?  After all, if a computer error can wipe out half your account in less than an hour, why invest at all?

#3) Cascading Stop Losses

Once the market hits certain technical levels, it is going to automatically start triggering stop loss orders.  Once those stop loss orders are triggered, it will push the market down further thus triggering more stop loss orders.

While there have been some protections implemented to guard against this kind of thing, the reality is that it does still happen.

#4) Hackers

Hackers have become more sophisticated and more cunning than ever before.  In fact, the bigger a target is, the more enjoyment most hackers get out of taking them down.  Is it a possible that someone could have hacked in to the New York Stock Exchange?

#5) Cyberterrorism

Rogue nations and terrorist organizations have been developing their “cyber warfare” capabilities for some time now.  We have been repeatedly warned that someday we will see an “Internet 9/11”.  Could this stock market plunge be a preview of that?

#6) Fear Of The European Debt Crisis Spreading

There are mounting concerns in the financial markets about Greece’s financial condition and that the European debt crisis could spread around the globe.

In fact, the Dow has lost 631 points, or more than 5%, in just the last three days amidst worries about the situation in Greece.  This represents the biggest three day drop since March 2009.

#7) Stop Hunting

Anyone who has spent much time in the Forex market knows what this is all about.  The truth is that some of the big financial sharks in the marketplace seem to really enjoy blowing out stop losses.

So could have this have been a situation where a stop loss hunting expedition spun wildly out of control?

#8) A Real Panic

There is also the possibility that this was a real financial panic.  There are huge concerns about what is going on in Europe and the currency markets are fluctuating wildly.  The Dow was already down several hundred points even before the massive plunge took place.  The reality is that there is a lot of fear in the financial markets right now.

But if it was a real panic, then why did the Dow bounce back so quickly?  Well, it is the job of the “plunge protection team” to keep the stock market from declining too rapidly.  So did the “plunge protection team” swing into action today?  Well, the truth is that we will probably never know because the general public is not supposed to know when they intervene.

In any event, the next couple of days should hopefully make all of this a lot clearer.  The trading during the afternoon of May 6th at the big firms will be gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and the exchanges will be closely analyzing their systems for any glitches.

It has already been announced that some of the most erroneous trades will be cancelled.  The Nasdaq and NYSE’s ARCA trading unit have both said that they will cancel trades executed between 2:40 p.m. and 3 p.m. on May 6th where a stock price rose or fell more than 60 percent from the last trade in that security at 2:40 p.m.

But this episode shows just how vulnerable our financial markets really are.  After witnessing what we saw today, it is going to be really hard to have confidence in the system.

In fact, even if this was just one “bad trade” or a “simple computer glitch”, the reality is that this episode is going to inject even more fear into a marketplace that is already filled with tension.

When fear grips a market things can go south very, very quickly.  The truth is that markets tend to fall more quickly than they rise, and if a wave of panic starts sweeping over the financial markets we could see things get quite messy in the coming days.

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