Global Mining Investing $69.95, 2 Volume e-Book Set. Buy here.
Author, Andrew Sheldon

Global Mining Investing is a reference eBook to teach investors how to think and act as investors with a underlying theme of managing risk. The book touches on a huge amount of content which heavily relies on knowledge that can only be obtained through experience...The text was engaging, as I knew the valuable outcome was to be a better thinker and investor.

While some books (such as Coulson’s An Insider’s Guide to the Mining Sector) focus on one particular commodity this book (Global Mining Investing) attempts (and does well) to cover all types of mining and commodities.

Global Mining Investing - see store

Click here for the Book Review Visit Mining Stocks

Download Table of Contents and Foreword

Friday, January 18, 2008

China world's largest gold producer

According to, China has overtaken South Africa as the world's #1 gold producer.
I have not read the report but there are numerous reasons for this:
1. Falling Sth African production due to: (i) Blow out in mine costs, (ii) Strong Rand because they mostly produce precious metals, PGEs, gold, plus other high priced metals, (iii) deep underground mines that are inefficient, (iv) High pay rises for highly unionised workforce, and from memory, alot of workers (immigrants) dying of aids onsite. Black empowerment also cutting investment. Just look at the outside investment/diversification of gold producers, eg. Anglo in Philippines, Harmony in Aust & PNG. Other African states more attractive. Some of this is just globalisation, but also risk diversification. In recent years the fall in production has been quite startling, like a 15% drop in gold production last year.
2. Chinese investment - alot of USA, UK, Australian & Canadian development dollars in China has no doubt helped build the gold mining output, plus the huge gold resources in western state of China.
Andrew Sheldon - yep but sometimes he doesnt get time to read.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How high is the gold price going? Part B

Another useful ratio for anticipating future gold price movements is the chart of the oil price vs the gold-oil price ratio. Because of the importance of oil and gold, there is an even better price series to construct this ratio. Unfortunately for a great many years the gold price was fixed, so going back beyond the 1900s is futile since the gold data series is distorted.
It is apparent that the gold-oil price ratio has traded within a band (approx. 7 to 34) for the last 146 years.
This band was only breached for a short time during the 1930s Great Depression. What is interesting is that there appears to be a change in trend, or the commencement of a new cycle starting with the Depression in 1933.

I have no conclusive evidence to account for the cause in this cycle, but I can suggest some insights into its cause, or the relationship between gold and oil prices. Gold and oil are both tangible commodities priced in USD. Both commodities are driven by supply & demand for periods of time, but gold has a 2nd function as money. By 'money' I mean 'real' money with a tangible asset to support it. Unlike the paper trash that is backed by governments legal sanction to expropriate your wealth. When fiat (paper) currency is no longer trusted because of declining credit standards, then a speculative demand for gold emerges, and hence the price of gold rises in these periods. It matters little whether the credit crisis is created by business, households or government, you can be sure government will be called upon to clean it up.
For this reason, in 1933, a high gold price corresponded to a very low oil price, as demand for petroleum sank with the global economic woes. I think the black bands marked above account for the normal price variance of oil & gold during periods of normal economic conditions. I suspect the 1920s broke this trend because during a boom, gold prices were low because the metal offered no yield. This also corresponded to the ascension of the modern car-based society, so I suspect there was a shortage of oil for transportation at this time.

Ok looking to the modern times. The following chart offers a better (daily) data set - from 1986 to 2008. It shows the oil-gold price ratio trading in the same band, though on this occasion the band has a shorter time span and more data points. It is apparent that the curve slopes slightly upwards. I suspect the slow is the result of growing energy intensity for the global economy. We all know the USA reliance on oil has fallen as it has shifted to a services economy. But we need to appreciate that this shift is offset by growing reliance of China, India and other developing countries for oil - hence a rising energy (oil) intensity for them. Anyway thats my theory. More imoportant is what it implies about gold prices. It suggests in relation to oil prices they are relatively low. Of course the fortunes of gold (in terms of oil) will be greatly improved as oil prices fall. We can expect at some point inflation to prompt central banks to raise interest rates to subdue spiraling wages. This will spark a slowing in the global economy and a contraction in oil demand and prices.

It is difficult however to use this ratio as a price determinant for gold. There are several reasons:
1. Oil prices are very volatile
2. OPEC has considerable impact on oil prices
3. Oil prices - unlike the DJIA or gold - are priced at the margin for industrial demand

We can however use the ratio to give us some guidance though of when to sell as time passes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How high is the gold price going? Part A

Increasingly I am seeing the question being asked - How high is the gold price going? Its a great question. A great people are inclined to take a punt and say some huge number in the future, though few people are able to defend these numbers. I think fewer still understand the fundamentals underpinning gold. I have written so much on this subject - I wont repeat - other to say that - yes, supply and demand are driving the market price, but ultimately it has nothing to do with the metal balance calculations published by the World Gold Council. The reason those numbers mean nothing to traders is because those numbers are NET figures calculated for a market at two (annual) points only, and certainly not the points which you bought and sold your investment.
The reason why the gold price does not depend on falling gold supplies from South Africa/Australia, growth in demand from India, etc, is that the higher the price goes, the less gold Indians can buy. Indians just dont control much of the global capital. Nor do they have the leverage that fund managers have. More important than that is the fact that the investment that drives gold prices is the more transient 'speculative demand' for gold by investment funds, hedge funds and the like.
So back to the question.....There is actually a lovely correlation between the gold price and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Index that has stood the test of time. The index has proven itsel in the 3 speculative precious metals booms in the 1920s, the 1950-60s and now the 1990-2000s. It will be apparent from the following chart that gold is not just going anywhere - but that it has a target in mind. Mind you that index includes the DJIA as a variable, so its conjecture where that number is going. You will have to see my market commentary blog( on the Dow outlook to see my projections for that index.
Based on my price target for the DJIA of 11,650pts, I can see gold rising to around $US2,200/oz. Some people will laugh off this projection, but I make the following points:
1. Credit markets are highly inflated. There is so much money in the market,
2. Inflation over 35 years: Its been thirty five years since gold last peaked, so thats alot of inflation to factor into the present day price of gold, and dont be so sure that the published CPI is a legitimate measure of inflation. Governments have been fiddling with the books since before you were sucking your thumb.
3. Small size of gold market: The total gold market is worth just twice the value of Microsoft. There is few other places to place your money. Other precious metals have significant industrial demand bases, and are less liquid. The reason why gold is attractive is that there are all types of funds available.
You might think my projection for the Dow Jones falling to 11,650pts is too pessimistic, but actually that is my conservative scenario. If I used the current DJIA Index value of 12589.07 points (8 Jan-08), we would need to look at a gold price closer to $US2,600/oz.
Of course the argument is not whether we should be pessimistic or conservative, but realistic. So to be realistic, I would expect the Fed to drop interest rates slightly prior to the next US election, or at least keep them on hold. We have already seen tacit announcements by the US government to provide some level of support to the credit market. Though its hard to see a bale out on the scale necessary. With a rising threat of inflation I think there will some a point in the next months (after the US election) when the Fed will be forced to raise interest rates. I would expect it to trail the inflation in this respect so as to not cause serious economic malaise.
Periods of inflation are historically periods of flat corporate earnings, though at first businesses actually benefit from asset inflation, but earnings falter with basic cost of living inflation (food, oil, rent). That is the stage where we are now. So I see flat earnings being offset by rising inflation, causing equiities to have swings to provide yield incentives to investors, but otherwise I see broad market equities going sideways for years to come. The excitement will be in the gold market.
Based on this chart, you would have started buying gold or gold stocks back in 2000, and you would have made excellent returns, though base metals soon over-shot gold. Clearly this ratio will be a good indicator of when to sell as well.
The gold-DJIA ratio is not the only measure of when to buy and sell gold. Next we will consider the gold-oil ratio.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Base Metals surprisingly strong

Base metal mining stocks have been weak over the last 3 months - the blue chips having fallen 20- 30%, whilst the smaller emerging producers have fallen as much as 70%. The reason of course is the belief that commodity prices will fall with any softening in the global economy. I think this is sure to happen. At some point the Fed and other central banks will be forced to respond to inflation. Higher interest rates will be necessary. But until then we can expect governments to respond to subdued demand (amidst weak but growing inflation) with cuts or stable interest rates. I think we should not expect the Fed to have some balls. They might correctly sense that a 'dose of reality' will be good for the market, but they will not want to surprise it too much.
So is the sell off in base metal miners and emerging producers justified? I think it depends on the market. There are some strong factors in base metals favour:
1. Demand for metals in China remains strong. I believe Chinese demand will not remain strong. Historically I have found the Chinese traders and producers to be poor market analysts. They are sooo anti-conceptual. Demand has been strong for so long, so they believe it will be strong tomorrow. They would rather be wrong with everyone else than right alone. Chinese traders will be the last to recognise that the market is turning. That augers well for markets in the short term.
2. Weaker markets has a benign impact on domestic commodity markets. If you are a Canadian or Australian investor, you might be miffed by the fall in commodity based mining stocks. Miffed because metal prices remain strong, so why are mining equities being sold off with reckless abandon. The reason is that international investors are preparing for a slump in commodities (apart from gold). Whilst a falling $AUS or $CAN will boost or offset the fallin USD prices of commodities for domestic investors, the international investors will loose on the exchange rate. Expect those foreigners to re-enter the market at lower prices. Of course it makes sense for local (Australian & Canadian) investors to abandon mining stocks if the foreigners are going to, but they should also be ready to buy back in. The trick is to find the turning point in the $A. See my forex blog. So whilst base metals have fallen off slightly (15%), so has the Australian dollar, so producers are actually doing rather well, unless they have entered into some rather unfortunate hedging positions.
3. Tight supply. There is of course a concern in the markets that a slide in global economic activity will undermine demand for metals, and that should not be ignored. But there is also considerable tightness in equipment, plant and consumables supplies that has actually prevented an expansion of metal supply capacity. The implication is that prices might not adjust as much as expected. Having said that, prices are high in part because of that tightness, so any relief will be bad for prices. But that need not be true for all markets. A number of projects have not proceeded because they were out-bid for plant by bigger projects controlled by bigger companies. The iron ore, bauxite miners have got their ball mills before a small gold miner. So supply has been curtailed in some commodities more than others.

Gold looking for support

Gold is doing very well as expected despite weakness over the last few days. You can expect gold to fall back to $US840/oz, its highest support level. If you are worried about gold - dont be? Its true that a strong global (US) economy has been a positive for gold, but actually its under-performed other metals. During the following 'inflationary period' expect gold to out-perform. There are several reasons for this:
1. Gold is driven by speculative demand - not supply & demand. The reason is that most gold consumed is typically recycled because of its high value, and thus because there are so much gold inventory that any year's supply or demand becomes irrelevant.
2. Gold is a hedge against inflation because you dont hold gold to make a yield. It is precisely the poor yield on gold that has made it a poorer performer (against base metals) over the last decade.

The speculative demand for gold arises from several angles:
1. Gold is not priced so high compared to other tangible assets. So if there is a liquidity crunch, gold will perform better because assign from cash - everything is going down except gold. In that context, gold only goes down because ignorant speculators are selling a stronger gold security to cover positions elsewhere.
2. Gold is a tangible asset so its price will generally rise (due to inflation) along with other commodities, real estate. But there will need to be a demand-related shake out of those markets first, and that is already happening.
3. Gold is more attractive if yields are falling. With other asset classes priced so high, the yield on all asset classes is looking a little thin. If there is little yield from all asset classes, then the small yield (gold lease rates) on gold looks good. For this reason, as the Fed responds to the weakest US job figures in a long time by reducing interest rates, expect gold to perform well.

For all these reasons one can expect the gold price to fall on short term profit-taking, but there is still alot of latent speculative demand for gold that will support it on weakness.
Global Mining Investing $69.95, 2 Volume e-Book Set.
Author, Andrew Sheldon

Global Mining Investing is a reference eBook to teach investors how to think and act as investors with a underlying theme of managing risk. The book touches on a huge amount of content which heavily relies on knowledge that can only be obtained through experience...The text was engaging, as I knew the valuable outcome was to be a better thinker and investor.

While some books (such as Coulson’s An Insider’s Guide to the Mining Sector) focus on one particular commodity this book (Global Mining Investing) attempts (and does well) to cover all types of mining and commodities.

Global Mining Investing - see store

Click here for the Book Review Visit Mining Stocks

Download Table of Contents and Foreword

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