The man himself famously started out by reading all the books in the Omaha Public Library with “finance” in the title. Over the years, Buffett took that knowledge and turned it into investing tips that have helped countless investors. The Motley Fool has even taken the best of Warren Buffett’s wisdom and packaged it in a new special report that you can get free just byclicking here now.
Today, we also have blogs that can make the learning process quicker. But with so many blogs out there on the subject of value investing, the quality of content varies widely. So here, in my opinion, are the 10 best value investing blogs for you to follow and what you can learn from them.
Why you should follow it:Two reasons. One is that its author, Vitaliy Katsenelson, is a well-known value investor who’s been dubbed “the new Benjamin Graham” by Forbes. The other is the wonderfully eclectic nature of its content, ranging from insightful analysis of popular stocks like Apple and Amazon.com to musings on Tchaikovsky.
Philosophy: “I invest, I educate, I write, and I could not dream of doing anything else.”
Why you should follow it:This site started in 2010 as a simple value-investing blog but has mushroomed into a popular site delivering breaking news, analysis, and syndicated content from other blogs. Expect multiple posts a day, as well as useful resources like a list of books recommended by Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and other gurus.
Philosophy: “Many academics claim investing is a random walk. We believe this to be partially true, but believe that value investing can outperform the market.”
Why you should follow it:Well, not for the design, which is old-school BlogSpot. The draw here is the supremely detailed posts analyzing individual securities, taking extracts from annual reports and investor presentations and explaining what they mean for investors. Even if you don’t plan to invest in the companies in question, the posts offer great insight into some good ways of researching a stock.
Philosophy: “Random Thoughts on Investing and Investment Ideas.”
The Aleph Blog
Why you should follow it:Asset manager David Merkel has been blogging since 2007, covering a range of different topics but accumulating almost 700 posts on value investing. He looks at both individual stocks and more general investing principles, and his posts are full of detail but easy to follow.
Philosophy: “To fight for what is right in money management, and encourage readers to pursue strategies that reduce risk and enhance returns.”
Why you should follow it:This blog spends a lot of time analyzing Irish stocks, which may not immediately seem useful to people from other parts of the world. But even if the companies are unfamiliar, the methods are classic value investing, picking through the numbers and trying to uncover value other investors have overlooked. And the breezy writing style makes it fun to read!
Philosophy: “I think the most valuable ‘skill’ any investor can wish for is a little dose of humility.”
Why you should follow it: Author Tobias Carlisle runs a value investment firm and has some smart insights on value investing. His posts often introduce interesting research on subjects like negative-enterprise-value stocks and present them in a way that the rest of us can understand.
Philosophy: “Deep value, contrarian, and Grahamite investing.”
Value Investing World Why you should follow it:This blog takes a cerebral approach, bringing in a broad range of articles on investing and economicsthat are relevant to value investing, along with quotes from people like Seneca and Einstein.
Philosophy: “Promoting the multidisciplinary approach to investing.”
The Graham Investor
Why you should follow it: Posts here aren’t released very often — just once or twice a month — but they’re usually well thought-out. And the worth of this site lies not only in the blog posts, but also in the stock screens to help you find investments that meet the criteria proposed by famed value investor Benjamin Graham.
Philosophy: “I am generally a long-term value investor and try to use as many of Ben Graham’s principles as possible.”
Old School Value
Why you should follow it: This is a long-running blog with five years of value investing posts, some of them collected into series of tutorials that are a great way to learn the basics. Owner Jae Jun also writes very detailed posts analyzing particular stocks using a variety of valuation methods to show you how value investing works.
Philosophy: “Provide practical and actionable value investing tools, tutorials and educational material to help empower the individual investor.”
Long Term Value Blog
Why you should follow it: Some bloggers tend to trumpet their successes and gloss over their failures. This one is refreshingly honest, charting its owner’s real-life investing experiences and analyzing both what worked and what didn’t.
Philosophy: “Value Investing for the Long Term.”
Notice that www.csinvesting.org is off the radar. Good.
I started at page one [of these manuals-Moody’s and Value-Line] and went through every company that traded, from A to Z. When I was done I knew something about every company in the book.
I like businesses that I can understand. Let’s start with that. That narrows it down by 90%. There are all types of things I don’t understand, but fortunately, there is enough I do understand. You have this big wide world out there and almost every company is publicly owned. So you have all American business practically available to you. So it makes sense to go with things you can understand.
First, you need two piles. You have to segregate businesses you can understand and reasonably predict from those you don’t understand and can’t reasonably predict. An example is chewing gum versus software. You also have to recognize what you can and cannot know. Put everything you can’t understand or that is difficult to predict in one pile. That is the too-hard pile. Once you know the other pile, then it’s important to read a lot, learn about the industries, get background information, etc. on the companies in those piles. Read a lot of 10Ks and Qs, etc. Read about the competitors. I don’t want to know the price of the stock prior to my analysis. I want to do the work and estimate a value for the stock and then compare that to the current offering price. If I know the price in advance it may influence my analysis. We’re getting ready to make a $5 billion investment and this was the process I used.
You have to turn over a lot of rocks to find those little anomalies. You have to find the companies that are off the map – way off the map. You may find local companies that have nothing wrong with them at all
Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.
I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.
If we were to do it over again, we’d do it pretty much the same way. The world hasn’t changed that much. We’d read everything in sight about businesses and industries we think we’d understand. And, working with far less capital, our investment universe would be far broader than it is currently.
7 Gems from Buffet on Analyzing Stocks
You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no.”
There’s nothing different, in my view, about analyzing securities today vs. 50 years ago.
We favor businesses where we really think we know the answer. If we think the business’s competitive position is shaky, we won’t try to compensate with price. We want to buy a great business, defined as having a high return on capital for a long period of time, where we think management will treat us right. We like to buy at 40 cents on the dollar, but will pay a lot closer to $1 on the dollar for a great business.
Munger: Margin of safety means getting more value than you’re paying. There are many ways to get value. It’s high school algebra; if you can’t do this, then don’t invest.
If you’re going to buy a farm, you’d say, “I bought it to earn $X growing soybeans.” It wouldn’t be based on what you saw on TV or what a friend said. It’s the same with stocks. Take out a yellow pad and say, “If I’m going to buy GM at $30, it has 600 million shares, so I’m paying $18 billion,” and answer the question, why? If you can’t answer that, you’re not subjecting it to business tests.
Capital-intensive industries outside the utility sector scare me more. We get decent returns on equity. You won’t get rich, but you won’t go broke either. You are better off in businesses that are not capital intensive.
No formula in finance tells you that the moat is 28 feet wide and 16 feet deep. That’s what drives the academics crazy. They can compute standard deviations and betas, but they can’t understand moats. Maybe I’m being too hard on the academics.
7 Nuggets from Buffett on Valuing Stocks
When Charlie and I buy stocks which we think of as small portions of businesses our analysis is very similar to that which we use in buying entire businesses. We first have to decide whether we can sensibly estimate an earnings range for five years out, or more. If the answer is yes, we will buy the stock (or business) if it sells at a reasonable price in relation to the bottom boundary of our estimate. If, however, we lack the ability to estimate future earnings which is usually the case we simply move on to other prospects. In the 54 years we have worked together, we have never foregone an attractive purchase because of the macro or political environment, or the views of other people. In fact, these subjects never come up when we make decisions.
In 1986, I purchased a 400-acre farm, located 50 miles north of Omaha, from the FDIC. It cost me $280,000, considerably less than what a failed bank had lent against the farm a few years earlier. I knew nothing about operating a farm. But I have a son who loves farming, and I learned from him both how many bushels of corn and soybeans the farm would produce and what the operating expenses would be. From these estimates, I calculated the normalized return from the farm to then be about 10%. I also thought it was likely that productivity would improve over time and that crop prices would move higher as well. Both expectations proved out.
Intrinsic value is terribly important but very fuzzy. We try to work with businesses where we have fairly high probability of knowing what the future will hold. If you own a gas pipeline, not much is going to go wrong. Maybe a competitor enters forcing you to cut prices, but intrinsic value hasn’t gone down if you already factored this in. We looked at a pipeline recently that we think will come under pressure from other ways of delivering gas [to the area the pipeline serves]. We look at this differently from another pipeline that has the lowest costs [and does not face threats from alternative pipelines]. If you calculate intrinsic value properly, you factor in things like declining prices.
Investors making purchases in an overheated market need to recognize that it may often take an extended period for the value of even an outstanding company to catch up with the price they paid.
We use the same discount rate across all securities. We may be more conservative in estimating cash in some situations.
Just because interest rates are at 1.5% doesn’t mean we like an investment that yields 2-3%. We have minimum thresholds in our mind that are a whole lot higher than government rates. When we’re looking at a business, we’re looking at holding it forever, so we don’t assume rates will always be this low.
The appropriate multiple for a business compared to the S&P 500 depends on its return on equity and return on incremental invested capital. I wouldn’t look at a single valuation metric like relative P/E ratio. I don’t think price-to-earnings, price-to-book or price-to-sales ratios tell you very much. People want a formula, but it’s not that easy. To value something, you simply have to take its free cash flows from now until kingdom come and then discount them back to the present using an appropriate discount rate. All cash is equal. You just need to evaluate a business’s economic characteristics.
Most of these quotes came from Buffett FAQ which contains the Q&A from shareholder meetings and goes beyond what you’ll find in the annual letters.
Just from these small selection of quotes, you can see how Buffett manages to dance in zone 4.
I’m writing this e-mail to ask for advice, as I value your opinion.
I’m 22 and graduated in Psychology. I moved to New York back in March as everyone said this was the place to be to get a job in finance. Since then I’ve been networking a lot, learning, and pretty much bugging every fund manager I’ve managed to get a hold on.
Attached you can find my current security analysis template; in Word and Excel (tables). I’d appreciate any feedback on anything to add.
I’m writing to you as I’m almost down to the penny (excluding my investing capital which is untouchable) and I need actionable advice. I’ve been crashing at a girl’s place in Brooklyn for the last 2 months and down to $400.
For write-up purposes, looking at equities, I still believe ESV and CLD are among the best plays.
ESV is currently the only driller making a profit and management has proven wise. It’s a good play for both safety and capital gains. The same could be said about CLD.
Looking at bonds, I haven’t analyzed them quite as much as equity opportunities since I can’t invest there yet. However, from a glance at the BTU bonds trading at around 34 cents and maturing on Nov. 15 18, they seem as potentially worth a closer look. BTU’s dominant size, presence and assets makes it unlikely to go through a disastrous formal chapter 11, so if it goes through an out of court restructuring or simply plows through, you’re seeing either full recovery or getting new equity in the restructured entity. It seems as a similar play to the equities I’ve looked at, albeit less secure. Can’t say the same on the BTU equity.
I would really appreciate any actionable advice you have for me. At this point I’m even willing to mow the lawn of whoever takes me in (funny, but true).
Thanks for reading such a long message, and thanks again for sharing your knowledge. Your advice and the Deep-Value group’s really helped me both intellectually and psychologically as I was feeling a bit bummed out.
Dear D (name withheld)
I am not quite sure what you are asking advice on:
Your investing templates, stocks, and/or job/career advice.
First, I did not post your templates here for others to see and comment on because of privacy, but I do think you put alot of effort and thought into constructing them. Just remember John Templeton’s advice to his analysts, “We want our analysts to adopt whatever approaches are appropriate to a particular situation.” Use your templates as a guide but don’t cut and paste.
There are many in the Deep-Value group with varied experiences who could give you their thoughts. I find it is hard to give advice not knowing the person well. The key is knowing yourself which can be difficult for a young person starting out. You seem to have a passion to learn and become an investor, so you are part way on your journey, but you have much to learn (as we all do). You have met other money managers and what has been the response? I can promise two things:
No one trains you on Wall Street and you have to show what you can do. In your case, that would be a well-written research report on a company or an industry to show an employer your through process and skills. You need time to develop your skills–about five years.
Do you need to be in an expensive city like New York or even work on “Wall Street?” I place Wall Street in quotes because I mean the investment business. Could you work as an assistant to a CFO at a small growing company? Would you think of working as a broker or back office clerk to get your foot in the door. You could work in a job to keep food on the table while you constantly build your skills and a track record no matter how small and keep networking. Francis Chou did this while he worked at a telephone lineman (Francis Chou) But again, easy to give advice while not knowing all your alternatives.
Perhaps think through EXACTLY what advice you want, but other people reading this can also provide their thoughts.
Cheer up, I remember being broke and staring up at the ceiling in an Indian brothel and wondering how the hell would I ever survive?
If you are seeking ways to becoming a master investor/analyst, the road is a long but rewarding one:
http://thefelderreport.com/2015/07/21/its-time-to-get-greedy-in-the-gold-market/John Chew: Don’t ever just concentrate in one gold stock since the company and operational risks can be high. SDGJ by Sprott offers diversification and sensible companies. Sprott Junior ETF Mining. Why even consider investing in such a bad industry? Because of price and the counter-cyclical nature of these stocks. You buy when the industry is losing money and hated and sell when the pundits recommend it and the trend is forever extrapolated higher. There is no law that miners won’t go lower; miners are extremely volatile moving up and down 10% in one day.
What Happens When You Buy Assets Down 80%? farber
We’ve done a lot of articles on value and drawdowns on the blog before (search the archives). I was curious what happens when you bought the US equity sectors back when they were really hammered (French Fama to 1920s).
Average 3 year nominal returns when buying a sector down since 1920s:
60% = 57%
70% = 87%
80% = 172%
90% = 240% The average of 80% to 90% down is a triple.
Average 3 year nominal returns when buying an industry down since 1920s:
60% = 71%
70% = 96%
80% = 136%
90% = 115%
Average 3 year nominal returns when buying a country down since 1970s:
If you want a cogent metaphor for the central bank enabled crack-up boom now underway on a global basis, look no further than today’s scheduled chapter 11 filling of met coal supplier Alpha Natural Resources (ANRZ). After becoming a public company in 2005, its market cap soared from practically nothing to $11 billion exactly four years ago. Now it’s back at the zero bound.
This article by David Stockman perfectly illustrates that capital DESTRUCTION or mal-investment occurs DURING the boom phase. The bust which is what Alpha and the entire coal industry are going through creates the healing process as assets are redeployed to their higher uses and supply is re-balanced to meet changed demand.
From 2006 to today during the greatest coal boom in history, Alpha has lost almost $5 billion for its shareholders. At the peak of its earnings, the market cap (not including debt) traded at 25 times and during the insanity at over 50 times. Investors were destroying their capital and the company was mis-allocating its shareholder’s capital DURING the boom phase. Now is the cleansing process. Ditto for many coal companies. So ask yourself why do reasonably intelligent management teams and Board of Directors make such a CLUSTER of errors and why do investors pay stupid multiples on peak earnings? A combination of central bank distortion and psychology and momentum chasing?
Yes, bankruptcies happen, and this is most surely a case of horrendous mismanagement. But the mismanagement at issue is that of the world’s central bank cartel.
The latter have insured that there will be thousands of such filings in the years ahead because since the mid-1990s the central banks has engulfed the global economy in an unsustainable credit based spending boom, while utterly disabling and falsifying the financial system that is supposed to price assets honestly, allocate capital efficiently and keep risk and greed in check.
Accordingly, the ANRZ stock bubble depicted above does not merely show that the boys, girls and robo-traders in the casino got way too rambunctious chasing the “BRICs will grow to the sky” tommyrot fed to them by Goldman Sachs. What was actually happening is that the central banks were feeding the world economy with so much phony liquidity and dirt cheap capital that for a time the physical economy seemed to be doing a veritable jack-and-the-beanstalk number.
In fact, the central banks generated a double-pumped boom——first in the form of a credit-fueled consumption spree in the DM economies that energized the great export machine of China and its satellite suppliers; and then after the DM consumption boom crashed in 2008-2009 and threatened to bring the export-mercantilism of China’s red capitalism crashing down on Beijing’s rulers, the PBOC unleashed an even more fantastic investment and infrastructure boom in China and the rest of the EM.
During the interval between 1992 and 1994 the world’s monetary system—–which had grown increasingly unstable since the destruction of Bretton Woods in 1971——took a decided turn for the worst. This was fueled by the bailout of the Wall Street banks during the Mexican peso crisis; Mr. Deng’s ignition of export mercantilism in China and his discovery that communist party power could better by maintained from the end of the central bank’s printing presses, rather than Mao’s proverbial gun; and Alan Greenspan’s 1994 panic when the bond vigilante’s dumped over-valued government bonds after the Fed finally let money market rates rise from the ridiculously low level where Greenspan had pegged them in the interest of re-electing George Bush Sr. in 1992.
From that inflection point onward, the global central banks were off to the races and what can only be described as a credit supernova exploded throughout the warp and woof of the world’s economy. To wit, there was about $40 trillion of debt outstanding in the worldwide economy during 1994, but this figure reached $85 trillion by the year 2000, and then erupted to $200 trillion by 2014. That is, in hardly two decades the world debt increased by 5X.
To be sure, in the interim a lot of phony GDP was created in the world economy. This came first in the credit-bloated housing and commercial real estate sectors of the DM economies through 2008; and then in the explosion of infrastructure and industrial asset investment in the EM world in the aftermath of the financial crisis and Great Recession. But even then, the growth of unsustainable debt fueled GDP was no match for the tsunami of debt itself.
At the 1994 inflection point, world GDP was about $25 trillion and its nominal value today is in the range of $70 trillion—-including the last gasp of credit fueled spending (fixed asset investment) that continues to deliver iron ore mines, container ships, earth-movers, utility power plants, deep sea drilling platforms and Chinese airports, highways and high rises which have negligible economic value. Still, even counting all the capital assets which were artificially delivered to the spending (GDP) accounts, and which will eventually be written-down or liquidated on balance sheets, GDP grew by only $45 trillion in the last two decades or by just 28% of the $160 trillion debt supernova.
Here is what sound money men have known for decades, if not centuries. Namely, that this kind of runaway credit growth feeds on itself by creating bloated, artificial demand for materials and industrial commodities that, in turn, generate shortages of capital assets like mines, ships, smelters, factories, ports and warehouses that require even more materials to construct. In a word, massive artificial credit sets the world digging, building, constructing, investing and gambling like there is no tomorrow.
In the case of Alpha Natural Resources, for example, the bloated demand for material took the form of met coal. And the price trend shown below is not at all surprising in light of what happened to steel capacity in China alone. At the 1994 inflection point met coal sold for about $35/ton, but at that point the Chinese steel industry amounted to only 100 million tons. By the time of the met coal peak in 2011, the Chinese industry was 11X larger and met coal prices had soared ten-fold to $340 per ton.
And here is where the self-feeding dynamic comes in. That is, how we get monumental waste and malinvestment from a credit boom. In a word, the initial explosion of demand for commodities generates capacity shortages and therefore soaring windfall profits on in-place capacity and resource reserves in the ground.
These false profits, in turn, lead speculators to believe that what are actually destructive and temporary economic rents represents permanent value streams that can be capitalized by equity owners.
Jeremy Grantham points out the unusual increase in China’s coal demand:
After every historical major rally in commodity prices, there has been the predictable reaction whereby capacity is increased. Given the uncertainties of guessing other firms’ expansion plans, the usual result is a period of excess capacity and weaker prices as everyone expands simultaneously. The 2000 to 2008 price rally was the biggest in history, above even World War II. It was therefore not surprising that the reflex this time was the mother of all expansions and excess capacity. This was further exaggerated by a sustained slowdown in demand from China, which is still playing through. The most dramatic example of this was in China’s use of coal, which had grown from 4% of world use in 1970 to 8% in 1988 and to 50% in 2013, the world’s most remarkable expansion in the use of anything since time began. And yet this remarkable surge was followed in 2014 by a reduction in China’s use of coal! And that in a year in which China was still growing at over 6%. See:price-insensitive-sellers-and-ten-quick-topics-to-ruin-your-summer
Continued…..But as shown below, eventually the credit bubble stops growing, materials demand flattens-out and begins to rollover, thereby causing windfall prices and profits to disappear. This happens slowly at first and then with a rush toward the drain.
ANRZ is thus rushing toward the drain because it got capitalized as if the insanely uneconomic met coal prices of 2011 would be permanent.
Needless to say, an honest equity market would never have mistaken the peak met coal price of $340/ton in early 2011 as indicative of the true economics of coking coal. After all, freshman engineering students know that the planet is blessed (cursed?) with virtually endless coal reserves including grades suitable for coking.
Yet in markets completely broken and falsified by central bank manipulation and repression, the fast money traders know nothing accept the short-run “price action” and chart points. In the case of ANZR, this led its peak free cash flow of $380 million in early 2011 to be valued at 29X.
Self-evidently, a company that had averaged $50 to $75 million of free cash flow in the already booming met coal market of 2005-2008 was hardly worth $1 billion. The subsequent surge of free cash flow was nothing more than windfall rents on ANZR’s existing reserves, and, accordingly, merited no increase in its market capitalization or trading multiple at all.
In fact, even superficial knowledge of the met coal supply curve and production economics at the time would have established that even prices of $100 per ton would be hard to sustain after the long-term capacity expansion than underway came to fruition.
This means that ANRZ’s sustainable free cash flow never exceeded about $80 million, and that at its peak 2011 capitalization of $11 billion it was being traded at 140X. In a word, that’s how falsified markets go completely haywire in a central bank driven credit boom.
As it happened, the full ANZR story is far worse. During the last 10 years it generated $3.2 billion in cash flow from operations——including the peak cycle profit windfalls embedded in its reported results. Yet it spent $5 billion on CapEx and acquisitions during the same period, while spending nearly another $750 million that it didn’t have on stock buybacks and dividends.
Yes, it was the magic elixir of debt that made ends appear to meet in its financial statements. Needless to say, the climb of its debt from $635 million in 2005 to $3.3 billion presently was reported in plain sight and made no sense whatsoever for a company dependent upon the volatile margins and cash flows inherent in the global met coal trade.
So when we insist that markets are broken and the equities have been consigned to the gambling casinos, look no farther than today’s filing by Alpha Natural Resources.
Markets which were this wrong on a prominent name like ANRZ at the center of the global credit boom did not make a one-time mistake; they are the mistake.
As it now happens, the global credit boom is over; DM consumers are stranded at peak debt; and the China/EM investment frenzy is winding down rapidly.
Now comes the tidal wave of global deflation. The $11 billion of bottled air that disappeared from the Wall Street casino this morning is just the poster boy—–the foreshock of the thundering collapse of inflated asset values the lies ahead. See: Pop Goes the Alpha Bubble.
So I have bought coal companies like FELP, CLD, HNRG, BTU because IF there exists a coal industry, the best reserves, lowest costs, and well-capitalized companies should thrive on the other side of this HEALTHY bust. Yes, BTU does have a heavy balance sheet but it does have world-class reserves, operations and low-cost structure. However, Austrian economics teaches that the bigger the boom, the greater the bust. The TIME and DEPTH of the depression in coal will probably be underestimated by all, including me. One has to keep your positions diversified and small enough to sleep at night. I don’t see a turn before the next 18 to 24 months at least. Cyclical stock require a five to seven year horizon, perhaps longer. But NO ONE really knows until well after the bust when it is over. We must live with uncertainty.
Where is the next BUST. Capital is BEING DESTROYED TODAY:
The same phenomenon that is driving Biotech to unsustainable valuations (ON THE WHOLE) is what has caused coal stocks to collapse:
UBS– $1,180 average price over second half of 2015
Towards the end of 2010 I (Bron Suchecki) started recording forecasts in a spreadsheet, as I noticed many analysts revised their forecasts frequently in response to moves in the gold price. By 2012 I had given up as it was a lot of work to make one point – that in general analysts were just following or projecting the trend.
The chart below shows the forecasts I accumulated from late 2010 to early 2012 (the clustering around July are yearly average forecasts) and I’ve added in the recent ones above.
Continued….on recent gold “smash”
When the gold price has a big move the news agencies ring up traders for a comment. When I read these articles I’m looking for two things: why do traders think it happened and what do they think about gold going forward. Understanding these consensus narratives around gold is useful as they control large amounts of money and their views influence others.
Before I go on to discuss the comments, please note that narratives (see Ben Hunt) are not about truth, they are about what everyone thinks is the truth. For many finance professionals, the truth is less important (if at all) than being in the herd – most are not interested in the career risk of taking a position contra to the consensus view.
In terms of the why, here are some of the more sensible comments:
Ross Norman: They choose the optimal moment in the early morning and when Japan was closed for a holiday to get the biggest bang for the buck. It was clearly ‘short’ traders using leverage to trigger (technical) stops” he said. The price later regained some of its ground, allegedly as the profiteers cashed in jackpot gains on options that they also had. “It was a trade within a trade”. (link)
Marex Spectron: no coincidence that this happened in the quietest, thinnest period of the week … they deliberately want to move it in a big way (link)
“Traders”: Gold also fell in the Chinese derivatives market, which, traders said, added to the impression of an orchestrated attempt to push the price down, triggering others to sell their positions. (link)
Martin Armstrong: many rumors floating around from China off-loading because wrong storage figures were released, to a large spec investor who sold 6 tonnes and has taken a huge loss on a leveraged trade! (link)
“Traders and Analysts”: attributed the massive move to high-frequency trading algorithms as well as stop-loss selling. (link)
Societe Generale: It was just a bit of a bear raid and there was nobody on the other side to mop up the selling (link)
Chuck Butler: maybe the gold sale on the SGE was “margin influenced,” which would mean that large investors use gold as collateral on stock trades, and as the Chinese stock market has dropped the margin calls have come in (link)
“Market Participant”: The fact that it was done in Asian hours and in a loud, messy manner suggests it may be done by people not directly under European and US regulation (link)
The general view seems to be that it was a deliberate tactical move to push the price down, trigger stops, and try to get gold down to the technically important level of $1080, but with the real objective of making money on another derivative position.
On to the narratives around gold after this price smash. Here are a selection:
Singapore-based trader: “We do see a lot of people in China selling gold to get fast cash to go back into the equity market” (link)
Phillip Securities: “It looks like the end of an era for gold, China has been grappling with oversupply after importing a record volume in 2013.” (link)
Societe Generale: “We have breached significant support levels, we know U.S. rate hikes are coming, there is no inflation and there is no catalyst to hold gold when other markets are doing better” (link)
Momentum Holdings Ltd: “With low global inflation and an improving U.S. economy, I doubt we’ll see big economic shocks, which is not good for gold” (link)
KBC Asset Management: “Gold is a hedge against everything that can go wrong. But at the moment it appears that not a lot is going wrong. We have an Iran deal, a Greece deal and we have good news from European and U.S. economies. There is no real reason for us to invest in gold and gold companies.” (link)
Deutsche Bank: “the “fair value” for gold is around $750. … “All the ducks are now aligned for a gold slide: real interest rates are rising, the dollar is getting stronger and the risk premium on equities is going down” (link)
So no change in the “improving US economy” and “Fed raise rates” story, indeed I feel that market participants see this price smash as confirmation of this narrative. That is not good for gold as it will give them confidence to test gold again. I’m not as confident as they are that everything is looking rosy and all the problems have been solved so I find myself agreeing with Adrian Ash that just like in 1999, this is a case of “peak hubris of policy-makers thinking they had abolished the boom-bust cycle” and that “gold continues to do what it does, rising when you need it and slipping when the financial world thinks it’s just a useless commodity”.
From Bloomberg(Bloomberg belongs to a limousine socialist, and is well-known for its pro-central banking/ pro-money printing and anti-gold editorial line. Some of the most ludicrous articles about gold ever published have appeared on Bloomberg):
Let’s Get Real About Gold: It’s a Pet Rock – actually, as we have previously pointed out, it’s a door stop, not a pet rock. We should perhaps mention here what Jason Zweig, the author of this WSJ article, wrote in 2011 right at gold’s peak. From Mr. Zweig’s WSJ Article of September 17, 2011:
“Growing numbers of investing experts have been declaring that gold is a bubble: an insanely overvalued asset whose price is bound to burst. There is no basis for that opinion.”
With respect to gold miners (which since then are down by more than 80%) he opined:
“But there is one aspect of gold investing where it is possible to make rational estimates of value: the stocks of gold-mining companies. And, by historical standards, they seem cheap—based not on subjective forecasts of continuing fiscal apocalypse, but on objective measures of stock-market valuation.”
This is really a textbook example of how market sentiment works.
Interestingly the author of this article, Matt O’Brian, actually gets one thing right, although his conclusion remains utterly wrong – he writes:
“When you think about it, a bet on gold is really a bet that the people in charge don’t know what they’re doing.”
That’s exactly what it is Mr. O’Brian. The wrong conclusion he comes to is this one:
”But economists do, for the most part, know what they’re doing.”
Yes, in some parallel universe perhaps. That people can profess such beliefs after the twin debacles of the tech and housing bust and after yet another giant asset bubble has been blown by these “economists who know what they are doing” is truly stunning. How blind and naïve can one possibly be? This article is a good example of statist propaganda. Our wise leaders know what they are doing! How can anyone doubt it!
Meanwhile, the mirror image of bearishness, we see:
2015 has seen the largest amount ever raised in a biotech IPO, as well as the largest valuation for bio IPO with no drugs. via @IPOtweet. Can anyone guess how those investments will do over the next five years?
A reader contributes: http://www.buffettfaq.com/ The blog has questions and answers of Buffett and Munger categorized by different parts of investing.
There is no stand-alone Narrative regarding gold today (June 2013), as there was in 1895. Today gold is understood from a Common Knowledge perspective only as a shadow or reflection of a powerful stand-alone Narrative regarding central banks, particularly the Fed … what I will call the Narrative of Central Banker Omnipotence. Like all effective Narratives it’s simple: central bank policy WILL determine market outcomes. There is no political or fundamental economic issue impacting markets that cannot be addressed by central banks. Not only are central banks the ultimate back-stop for market stability (although that is an entirely separate Narrative), but also they are the immediate arbiters of market outcomes. Whether the market goes up or down depends on whether central bank policy is positive or negative for markets. The Narrative of Central Banker Omnipotence does NOT imply that the market will always go up or that central bank policy will always support the market. It connotes that whatever the central bank policy might be, it will drive a market outcome; whatever the market outcome, it was driven by a central bank policy.
The stronger the Narrative of Central Banker Omnipotence, the more likely it is that the price of gold goes down. The weaker the Narrative – the less established the Common Knowledge that central bank policy determines market outcomes – the more likely it is that the price of gold will go up. In other words, it’s not central bank policy per se that makes the price of gold go up or down, it’s Common Knowledge regarding the ability of central banks to control economic outcomes that makes the price of gold go up or down.
Instead, the focus of the mainstream Narrative effort moved almost entirely towards what open-ended QE signaled for the Fed’s ability and resolve to create a self-sustaining economic recovery in the US. And it won’t surprise you to learn that this Narrative effort was overwhelmingly supportive of the notion that the Fed could and would succeed in this effort, that the Fed’s policies had proven their effectiveness at lifting the stock market and would now prove their effectiveness at repairing the labor market. Huzzah for the Fed!