Tag Archives: Paul Singer

Buy Hatred and Fear: Kinross (Russian assets for practically free)


Gold Sentiment (CEF)

The above shows the extreme negativity in the gold market. You can buy the Canadian Closed-End Fund (CEF) at a 10% to 11% discount to gold (60% of assets) and silver (40%) approximately.  Gold and silver have no counter-party risk. Such is the world of closed-end funds.  Note the 20% premiums during bull runs!


The absurdity of gold stock valuations is illustrated by Kinross. Consistently improving operations with $5.30 book value and with no value attributed to their Russian mine. Net-debt-to-EBITDA of 1.28 with their debt covenants being 3.5xs to 1. Cash of $879 million. 1.14 billion outstanding shares. 27 cents of operating cash flow this quarter share, up 22%. A 2.6 to 2.7 million gold equivalent oz. producer. $698 cash costs and $919 All-in Sustaining Cash Cost.  They can survive at $1,000. Below $1,000 operations would be reduced.  Of course, Kinross represents a trifecta of hatred: poor past acquisitions (declining stock price), the gold market, and some Russian assets.

Basically, the market is heavily discounting their assets because the market is assuming sub-$1,000 gold. No value given to their Russian mine.


110514 kinross reports 2014 third quarter results


You should listen to the  Kinross conference call

Mining is a crappy business

Miners at or near ALL-TIME (past 90 years) low of stock price to gold price. Part of the reason for the decoupling is the time to find new deposits and place them into production has gone from five to six years out to ten years. Mining costs hve not been kept in check until recently. Past mining managements made poor capital allocation decisions. A mine is a depleting asset! But the market has had four years to replace managements and adjust.


Current sentiment in the gold miners ZERO (0). The recommended allocation is Zero. Contrarians take note but you better have a strong stomach in the near-term.


But what you need to focus on is not so much the nominal price but the REAL price of gold.  15% or more of the costs of a mine are energy based.

gold to oil

That said, do your own thinking and use this as a case study of where to look for negative sentiment.   The question is…..are you being paid enough for the risks?

Can gold go to $800? Sure and Kinross and other miners will be closing down many of their operations or even going bankrupt. But consider what $800 gold would mean in a world choking on debt! Perhaps stocks might not hold up in a deflationary bust!  It is not just the gold price but the real gold price that matters to miners.  However, nominal gold prices in US dollars matter to miners that have debt denominated in US dollars.

Just never buy one miner because of the risks to any one company. Use the EXTREME price volatility to your advantage. Don’t buy the stock all at once. If you need to diversify and have limited capital, then SGDM might be a choice–IF you think owning miners is the lowest cost way to participate in either a deflationary bust or inflationary response by the Fed.  Otherwise, CEF (above) might be a cheap form of insurance to monetary mayhem.

Miners in a capitulation phase–crashing on huge volume–after four year price decline. Folks have had enough. Money managers in forced liquidation?


Some history

Just remember that you are trying to buy assets at extremely low prices since this is not a franchise. A mine is a DEPLETING asset.   How much money goes into a mine versus what is sold discounted by your cost of capital.

Obviously, with a cyclical asset you will find losses and the widest spread between price and financial operating metrics because a trough occurs in a bear market of declining product prices.  The reverse occurs at the top of a cycle–huge revenues and profits during the boom. So you MUST sell–this is a “burning” match not a franchise. Burn this into your brain.

What could go wrong with financial assets?

Paul Singer grits his teeth while holding gold during a monetary delusion

Paul Singer on “illogical” market trends: http://www.valuewalk.com/2014/11/paul-singer-q3-2014-letter/

I disagree with Mr. Singer because the bubble in confidence in central planning by the Fed means extreme trends.   For example, massive printing of money will cause LOWER gold prices because the market sees perpetual support of financial assets. Why own gold when equities will NEVER drop more than 10% in our lifetimes.  Thus, massive monetary intervention is bearish for gold. Of course, house prices could NEVER fall nation-wide and the Internet Bubble ushered in a new normal.  Timing is impossible. 

THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO OWN MINERS THIS PAST MONTH–Please no women or children to click on this link! http://youtu.be/82RTzi5Vt7w?t=1m52s

Gold, Inflation Expectations and Economic Confidence

Wednesday November 05, 2014 11:29

Below is an excerpt from a commentary originally posted at www.speculative-investor.com on 2nd November 2014. Excerpts from our newsletters and other comments on the markets can be read at our blog: http://tsi-blog.com/ 

As a result of what happened during just one of the past twenty decades (the 1970s), most people now believe that a large rise in “price inflation” or inflation expectations is needed to bring about a major rally in the gold price. This impression of gold is so ingrained that it has persisted even though the US$ gold price managed to rise by 560% during 2001-2011 in parallel with only small increases in “price inflation” (based on the CPI) and inflation expectations. The reality is that gold tends to perform very well during periods of declining confidence in the financial system, the economy and/or the official money, regardless of whether the decline in confidence is based on expectations of higher “inflation” or something else entirely.

Inflation expectations are certainly part of the gold story, but only to the extent that they affect the real interest rate. For example, a 2% rise in inflation expectations would only result in a more bullish backdrop for gold if it were accompanied by a rise of less than 2% in the nominal interest rate. For another example, a 1% decline in inflation expectations would not result in a more bearish backdrop for gold if it were accompanied by a decline of more than 1% in the nominal interest rate.

Other parts of the gold story include indicators of economic confidence and financial-market liquidity, such as credit spreads and the yield curve.

That large rises in the gold price are NOT primarily driven by increasing fear of “inflation” is evidenced by the fact that the large multi-year gold rallies of 2001-2006 and 2008-2011 began amidst FALLING inflation expectations. These rallies were set in motion by substantial stock market declines and plummeting confidence in central banks, commercial banks and the economy’s prospects. Even during the 1970s, the period when the gold price famously rocketed upward in parallel with increasing fear of “inflation”, the gold rally was mostly about declining real interest rates and declining confidence in both monetary and fiscal governance. After all, if the official plan to address a “price inflation” problem involves fixing prices and distributing “Whip Inflation Now” buttons, and at the same time the central bank and the government are experimenting with Keynesian demand-boosting strategies, then there’s only one way for economic confidence to go, and that’s down.

Since mid-2013 there have been a few multi-month periods when it appeared as if economic confidence was turning down, but on each occasion the downturn wasn’t sustained. This is due in no small part to the seemingly unstoppable advance in the stock market. In the minds of many people the stock market and the economy are linked, with a rising stock market supposedly being a sign of future economic strength. This line of thinking is misguided, but regardless of whether it is right or wrong the perception is having a substantial effect on the gold market.

For now, the economic confidence engendered to a large extent by the rising stock market is putting irresistible downward pressure on the gold price.

Steve Saville

Analyst Handbook Chapter 1: What is Investing?


Gold is not necessary. I have no interest in gold. We’ll build a solid state, without an ounce of gold behind it. Anyone who sells above the set prices, let him be marched off to a concentration. That’s the bastion of money.~Adolf Hitler

There are about three hundred economists in the world who are against gold, and they think that gold is a barbarous relic – and they might be right. Unfortunately, there are three billion inhabitants of the world who believe in gold.~Janos Fekete

Chapter 1: Analyst Book for CSInvesting_Chapter 1_What is Investing


  1. Chapter 20_Margin of Safety Concept
  2. Mr Market by Ben Graham
  3. Mises on Money_Vol_3 by Gary North

Postscript (Adding)  Montier


Read–Financials: Opportunity or Value Trap   on 13 August 2008. Mr. Montier does a good analysis at trying to find a margin of safety in banking stocks on the eve of the 2008/2009 credit crisis. 

Thank you for your prior comments on the introductory chapter. My main takeaways were: 1. many liked the commentary in the case study and 2. Perhaps break up the large intro into smaller sections.

Listen carefully to this interview with Paul Singer

Paul Singer





Fiat Currencies vs. Gold; Paul Singer on Current Conditions; Readings

Fiat Currencies

Curiously, many people argue this would be a good time to abandon gold. We don’t think so – we rather think that faith in central banks will eventually crumble, and then it will be well and truly ‘game over’ for these perpetual bubble machines. As a friend of ours frequently remarks: at that point the question of how to price gold will be akin to asking what the last functioning parachute on an airplane that is going down should be worth. http://www.acting-man.com/?p=23082

Hedge fund “friend” upon hearing that I own gold, “If you were a lot smarter, we could call you stupid.”

Why Gold?

No, I am not actually doing what I posted here:http://wp.me/p2OaYY-1Vv. I own gold bullion and several precious metals miners, so yesterday when the stock market is up 1/2% while my portfolio drops 1%+, I take comfort when I review why I own gold:

“In a speech in Rome, ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank would monitor incoming data closely and be ready to cut rates further, including the deposit rate currently at zero.

For southern European countries, a euro above $1.30 would be too high for their economy. Among major central banks, the ECB has been the only bank that is not expanding its balance sheet. But It will likely consider such a step,” said Minori Uchida, chief FX analyst at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.”

Meanwhile, sentiment in gold and precious metals miners is at historic (20 year) lows: http://thetsitrader.blogspot.com/2013/05/gold-and-silver-sentiment-reversal-is.html and Short Side of Long

While……..China and other Asian countries buy on dips.China Gold Imports

China_official_20gold holdings

I don’t buy the gold bugs premise that central banks will back their currencies with gold unless forced to by the market/the public. However, central bankers buying may indicate the lack of trust in their colleagues’ fiat currencies.  Also, gold “flowing” East represents a wealth transfer from West to East.

Print, print: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-08/germany-under-pressure-create-money

In The Wilderness by Paul Singer

[T]he financial system (including the institutions themselves, products traded, and risks taken) has “gotten away from” the Fed’s ability to comprehend. The Fed is primarily responsible for that state of affairs, and it is out of its depth. Former Chairman Greenspan created — and reveled in — a cult of personality centered on himself, and in the process created a tremendous and growing moral hazard. By successive bailouts and purporting to understand (to a higher and higher level of expressed confidence) a quickly changing financial system of growing complexity and leverage, he cultivated an ever-increasing (but unjustified) faith in the Fed’s apparent ability to fine-tune the American (and, by extension, the world’s) economy. Ironically, this development was occurring at the very time that financial innovations and leverage were making the system more brittle and less safe. He extolled the virtues of derivatives and minimized the danger of leverage and risky securities and dot-com stocks, all while he should have been putting on the brakes. It was not just the disappearance of vast swaths of the American financial system into unregulated subsidiaries of financial institutions, nor was it just government policies that encouraged the creation and syndication of “no-documentation” mortgages to people who could not afford them. It was also the low interest rates from 2002 to 2005, the failure to see the expanding real estate bubble caused by an unprecedented increase in leverage and risk, and the general failure to understand the financial conditions of the world’s major institutions.

Under Chairman Bernanke, the combination of ZIRP and QE completed the passage of the Fed from sober protector of a fiat currency to ineffective collection of frantically-flailing, over-educated, posturing bureaucrats engaged in ever more-astounding experiments in monetary extremism.

If you look at the history of Fed policy from Greenspan to Bernanke,you see two broad and destructive paths quite clearly. One path is the cult of central banking, in which the central bank gradually acquired the mantle of all-knowing guru and maestro, capable of fine-tuning the global economy and financial system, despite their infinite complexity. On this path traveled arrogance, carelessness and a rigid and narrow orthodoxy substituting for an open-minded quest to understand exactly what the modern financial system actually is and how it really works. The second path is one of lower and lower discipline, less and less conservative stewardship of the precious confidence that is all that stands between fiat currency and monetary ruin.

Monetary debasement in its chronic form erodes people’s savings. In its acute and later stages, it can destroy the social cohesion of a society as wealth is stolen and/or created not by ideas, effort and leadership, but rather by the wild swings of asset prices engendered by the loss of any anchor to enduring value. In that phase, wealth and credit assets (debt) are confiscated or devalued by various means, including inflation and taxation, or by changes to laws relating to the rights of asset holders. Speculators win, savers are destroyed, and the ties that bind either fray or rip. We see no signs that our leaders possess the understanding, courage or discipline to avoid this.

It is true that the CEOs of the world’s major financial institutions lost their bearings and were mostly oblivious to their own risks in the years leading up to the crash. However, as the 2007 minutes make clear, the Fed was clueless about how vulnerable, interconnected and subject to contagion the system was. It is not the case that the Fed completely ignored risk; indeed, several Fed folks made “fig leaf” statements about the risks of the mortgage securitization markets, as well as other indications that they appreciated the possibility of multiple outcomes. But nobody at the Fed understood the big picture or had the courage to shift into emergency mode and make hard decisions. In the run-up to the crisis the Fed was a group of highly educated folks who lacked an understanding of modern finance. After convincing the nation for decades of their exquisite grasp of complexities and their wise stewardship of the financial system, they didn’t understand what was actually going on when it really counted.

Ultimately, of course, as the system was collapsing and on the verge of freezing up completely, the Fed shifted into the (more comfortable and much less difficult) role of emergency provider of liquidity and guarantees.

All this background presents an interesting framework in which to think about what the Fed is doing now. QE is a very high-risk policy, seemingly devoid of immediate negative consequences but ripe with real chances of causing severe inflation, sharp drops in stock and bond prices, the collapse of financial institutions and/or abrupt changes in currency rates and economic conditions at some point in the unpredictable future. However, the lack of large increases in consumer price inflation so far, plus the demonstrable “benefits” of rising stock and bond markets, have reinforced the merits of money-printing, which is now in full swing across the world. In the absence of meaningful reforms to tax, labor, regulatory, trade, educational and other policies that could generate sustainable growth, “money-printing growth” is unsound.We believe that the global central bankers, led by the Fed as “thought leader,” have no idea how much pain the world’s economy may endure when they begin the still-undetermined and never-before attempted process of ending this gigantic experimental policy. If they follow the paths of the worst central banks in history, they will adopt the “tiger by the tail” approach (keep printing even as inflation accelerates) and ultimately destroy the value of money and savings while uprooting the basic stability of their societies. Read the 2007 Fed minutes and you will understand how disquieting is the possibility of such outcomes and how prosaic and limited are the people in whom we have all put our trust regarding the management of the financial system and the plumbing of the world’s economy.

Printing money by the trillions of dollars has had the predictable effect of raising the prices of stocks and bonds and thus reducing the cost of servicing government debt. It also has produced second-order effects, such as inflating the prices of commodities, art and other high-end assets purchased by financiers and investors. But it is like an addictive drug, and we have a hard time imagining the slowing or stopping of QE without large adverse impacts on the prices of stocks and bonds and the performance of the economy. If the economy does not shift into sustainable high-growth mode as a result of QE, then the exit from QE is somewhere on the continuum between problematic and impossible.

Central banks facing high inflation and/or sluggish growth after sustained money-printing frequently are paralyzed by the enormity of their mistake, or they are deranged by the thought that the difficult and complicated conditions in a more advanced stage of a period of monetary debasement are due to just not printing enough. At some stage, central banks inevitably realize, regardless of whether they admit the catastrophic nature of their own failings, that the cessation of money-printing will cause an instant depression. Even though at that point the cessation of money-printing may be the only action capable of saving society, that becomes a secondary consideration compared to the desire to avoid immediate pain and blame. The world’s central banks are in very deep with QE at present, and the risks continue to build with every new purchase of stocks and bonds with newly-printed money.

* * *

[And, as an added bonus, here are Singer’s views on gold:]

There are many current theories as to why the price of gold had been drifting down and then collapsed in mid-April. We are trying to sort out various possible explanations, but we urge investors to be cautious in their thinking about what circumstances would likely cause gold to rise or fall sharply. The correlations with other assets in various scenarios (risk on or off, economic normalization, inflation, the rise and fall of interest rates, euro collapse) may shift abruptly as the macro picture evolves. Many people think that if stock markets continue rising, and/or if the U.S. and Europe restore normal levels of growth and employment, then the rationale for owning gold is weakened or destroyed. This perception may be correct, and it is certainly a topic that is currently much discussed, but ultimately another set of considerations is likely to dominate.

The world is on a seemingly one-way trip to monetary debasement as the catchall economic policy, and there is only one store of value and medium of exchange that has stood the test of time as “real money”: gold. We expect this dynamic to assert itself in a large way at some point. In the meantime, it is quite frustrating to watch the price of gold fall as the conditions that should cause it to appreciate seem more and more prevalent. Gold may not exactly be a “safe haven” in the sense of an asset whose value is precisely known and stable. But it surely is an asset that, in a particular set of circumstances, becomes a unique and irreplaceable “must-have.” In those circumstances (loss of confidence in governments and paper money), there are no substitutes, and the price of gold may reflect that characteristic at some point.

Disprove Your Opinions on Gold

Gold BubblePure nonsense, April 24, 2012

By Bobnoxy

This review is from: Gold Bubble: Profiting From Gold’s Impending Collapse (Hardcover)

This book will no doubt go into the proverbial dustbin of history along with Dow 36,000. Ask yourself some honest questions and then compare your answers to this book’s entire premise.

Is gold in a bubble? Well, what do bubbles look like? Luckily, we have two recent examples, the housing bubble, and the tech stock bubble in the late 90’s. What did those look like?

To me, they looked like everyone was getting rich in techs stocks and flipping houses. Regular people were quitting their jobs and day trading or flipping houses full time. The average guy, the little guy, sometimes referred to as the ”dumb money” was making an easy fortune.

Now, how many of your friends own any gold and talk about it with you? How much do you own? The writer points to all the publicity around gold, like those ads telling people to sell their gold. And ever since gold hit $1,000, people were doing just that, selling their gold.

In a bubble, those people would be loading up, but they’re selling! The world’s central banks, the smartest people in the world when it comes to money, are the big buyers. This would be the first bubble in history that the dumb money was selling into and the smartest money on the planet was buying. Do you really think that the people with the least knowledge about money are getting this right?

It would also be the first bubble to happen with almost no participation from the general public. This could be the weakest analytical book written this year. Just because the price of something is up does not mean it’s in a bubble.

If you look at the average selling price of gold in the year it peaked for the last bull cycle, 1980, or $660 an ounce, and look at today’s price, the average annual gain for that 32 years is about 3%. If stocks had risen by 3% annually for that long, would anyone be calling it a bubble?

Then look at our trillion dollar deficits and the growth in the Fed’s balance sheet, total government debt of $18.5 trillion when you include state and local debt that as taxpayers, we’re all on the hook for, and there’s your bubble, and the best reason to defend yourself by owning gold.


Thanks to a reader’s contribution: Here is a good article attached on bureaucracy and leading to misguided incentives. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/magazine/the-food-truck-business-stinks.html?ref=magazine&pagewanted=print

Another reader:

I came across your website via your interview with Classic Value Investors. I like the way you try to help people learn the craft. Value investing is in principle not that difficult, as long as you have a good teacher. So well done!

On my own value investing blog (http://www.valuespreadsheet.com/value-investing-blog). I try to share my knowledge on the subject as well, but not per sé with case studies like you do. However, your approach is very informative for readers, so maybe I should try that some more.

I’ve also written a free eBook which explains three valuation models in simple words. Feel free to add it to your value investing resources if you like it:


Kind regards, Nick Kraakman, www.valuespreadsheet.com


Thanks for the above contributions.