Mike Gleason: It is my privilege to be joined now by David Smith, senior analyst at The Morgan Report, and regular contributor to MoneyMetals.com. David, it's always great to have you with us. How are you?
David Smith: Very good, Mike. I enjoy coming back.
Mike Gleason: Well, as we're talking here on Thursday morning, we're seeing the metals holding up quite well under the circumstances, and especially given the recent strong advance by the sector. Prices have pulled back some, and maybe we're seeing a pausing of sorts here after the big run up that we saw immediately following the Brexit decision. But silver is $3 an ounce higher today than it was essentially 3 weeks ago, if you go back to the day before the Brexit vote. Coming into this week, we had 6 straight weekly gains in silver. So the question on nearly everyone's mind, David, is does this rally still have legs? If you think it does, what makes this one different from rallies we've had over the last 5 years that have always seemed to fizzle out rather quickly?
David Smith: I believe it does have legs, Mike, and I would temper that by saying we're in the middle of the summer season which usually is quite soft for the metals, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see backing and filling in here, and maybe even substantial short term decline going into August itself, and then getting stronger into September. But we've had 6 or 7 months of amazing movements upward in the mining stocks, and very strong action in gold and silver, as you mentioned. And I think what's interesting about this is the way it came off of that 4 and 1/2 year cyclical bear market low and it surprised a lot of people, and a lot of analysts were even getting in and out and kept watching, or whatever, so it's been frustrating and fascinating for people, and the main thing has just been, I think, for metal holders, to buy in tranches, and if they're going to do it every 30 days, or when they have extra money or whatever, but not to try to wait until there's some magic point where you would suddenly take or add to a position.
Just do it calmly, knowing that this is long-term trend, which has now moved to the upside, and the squiggles will bother you less if you simply come up with your plan and then adhere to it.
Mike Gleason: There does certainly seem to be somewhat of a sea change here and optimism seems to be warranted, at this point, based on what we've seen.
Why do you refer to the 2016 gains in the metals as the "Trump Rally?"
David Smith: Well, because looking at Donald Trump's political accomplishments, without being on one side or the other, in terms of making value judgements about him, is that all the commentators have been wrong. They didn't think he was going to even get out of the gates, and here he is looking like the presumptive nominee in the Republican Party. So he was continually underestimated and belittled and all this sort of thing, and he may or may not make it to the presidency, but I think he's gotten further at this point than almost anyone could have imagined.
And I think it's the same way with the mining stocks. Sometimes we try to analyze things too much rather than just sitting back and watching. Maybe think we know more than Mr. Market does. If we give Mr. Market the benefit of the doubt, and just watch and listen, we can learn a lot more than trying to interpret every little squiggle on the charts sometimes.
Mike Gleason: Speaking of the charts, our mutual friend, Steve St. Angelo, at the SRSroccoReport.comwrote an article about how silver is flirting with a sustained breakout above its 50-month average, which is sitting at around $20.35. Why would this be a major level, and what are the key levels above that?
David Smith: Well, this area has been one that has contained silver prices for quite a while, and if you look at the path that silver took from almost $50 in 2011 to its decline down into the low teens range, you can see a series of areas where on the way down, it would stop and find support, and then breakthrough that. And that was the theme from 2011 right up until last winter, and then (it) started changing with base building in silver and gold made - the physical prices - in December. And then then confirmation with the mining stocks themselves, which if you want to put a date on it, I think it was January 19th that we really saw confirmation because a lot of these mining stocks made temporary intraday lows, then reversed on higher volume and moved higher, and they've never really looked back.
All the quality mining stocks now have made very large gains, and the metals have gone along concomitant with that. So they're both moving in the same direction, and I think it's very fascinating. It really, I think, tends to prove a lot of credence to David Morgan's view that we are now entering into the last big secular leg of this market, which probably will go on for several years. It could go on even more than 3 or 4 years, but it's going on for a while. And it will carry prices eventually into a phase that will be a public mania phase, where people will be attempting to buy the metals and they won't be able to find them, and when they do, the price will be inordinately high, not only in terms of the actual nominal price itself, but the bid-ask spread will go much, much higher than it is today.
Mike Gleason: Expanding back on my first question about does the rally have legs, it sounds like there's a lot of data points out there, both technically and others that do point to the rally being sustained. Is that fair to say, David? Are we looking at a lot of different positive data here?
David Smith: I definitely think so. And here's the thing, too. An awful lot of people right now are bullish, and a lot of the commercial traders who fade the trade are bearish. And so we have this big conflict going on between the bulls and the bears, but it shouldn't bother anyone who's looking at it from a fundamental standpoint. Because we've actually had, I looked at the chart here this morning, we've had three discernible "retracements" on the way up to where we are now from January, and they lasted a couple of weeks. And if you look at them in the perspective that you would normally expect, you would look, "Well, this is interesting, and it's to be expected." And I've been almost hoping for a larger decline in here, certainly this summer. I think this will be the opportunity for it to happen over the next few weeks, which would give people an opportunity to add to their metals holdings, at a little bit better prices, and also if they've been sitting on the fence, to go ahead and make that move to establish a physical position.
The thing with human nature is that people say, "Oh, when prices decline to a certain level, I'll buy," but then when they decline there, the news sometimes is pretty negative, and they forget that they have to go against their little feeling on that and take a position, and they say, "Well, I'll wait until it gets cheaper," and they wait and they wait, and they never take a position. There are people right now that are waiting for $10 silver, and frankly, I don't think we're going to see that.
Mike Gleason: Has it surprised you how well the metals, and especially gold, which is often viewed as the ultimate safe haven asset, have performed of late, considering we're seeing all-time highs being made in the DOW and the S&P nearly every day? Not that gold has been soaring per se, because it appears to be consolidating and doing some backing and filling here, but it is holding up quite well in the face of the "risk on" trade. Gold had a huge $100 move post Brexit, and it hasn't really given much of it back. It seems to be solidly hanging in there. What do you make of that, David... what are your thoughts there?
David Smith: Well, I think the game elements are changing a little bit here. Now we have this massive liquidity that the central banks are putting into the system to try and stimulate buy in and strengthen their economies in Japan and Europe, and the United States and they think if they put enough money out there, which eventually some of it's going to become helicopter money where they actually drop it almost literally from helicopters to try to get people to spend it, and Japan is on the verge of doing that now. These type of things mean that we're in a different environment where a lot of assets are going up, and the fact that, for example, real estate, and the DOW and some of these other assets, and even the U.S. dollar going up, to me, doesn't concern me about being a gold and silver holder because fundamentally, real money is going to outlast all of these other things.
These are bubbles, and the metals are not in a bubble. They're just people returning to what has been real money for thousands of years, and gold and silver will be the last man standing when this architecture of debt finally implodes on itself. So this is an opportunity to add to your position, or to start, when prices are pretty calm and it's not on everybody's radar screen.
Mike Gleason: Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the man who coined that phrase, and the man who's also often referred to as "Helicopter Ben," as you just alluded to a moment ago there, with dropping money from helicopters, talking about how the how the central banks can always generate price inflation if needed. Many in the precious metals community have been wondering when the Fed might get around to actually implementing this policy and handing out money to people. Heaven knows they've tried all manner of radical policies. On Wednesday, FOMC member Loretta Mester confirmed that officials might just go to this length if the existing measures proven effective.
It would have sounded insane a few years ago, but we've seen some extraordinary stuff, QE's, 0% interest rates, and we already know that negative rates are on the table. What do you think is coming from the Fed, because it looks a little to us like they might be getting ready to try something even crazier than what they've been doing?
David Smith: It really looks that way, and these type of things that you just mentioned are often trial balloons which are put out there to see what the public's and the market's perception and reaction will be. I think it's interesting that Ben Bernanke is actually now almost wearing the "Helicopter Ben" as a title of honor. It's not something that he shrinks from, and the fact that they're even thinking like that just makes you really wonder. We're actually have interest rates that are the lowest in recorded history, if you can believe that, because they're negative.
Would you ever imagine that you would have a bank account where you would have to pay the bank to have your money put in there? It just goes against human nature, and it goes against the idea of capitalism and business and everything else. You have a solid capital base when you save money, and people are able to loan it out through the banks to create more businesses and more economic activity, not when you spend yourself into a hole that says that you have nothing left, and then somehow that's supposed to be helpful. You become practically a ward of the state. So all of these things are turned on their head, and people just have to remain confident that they can keep their own sanity in it, because it doesn't make sense, and eventually it will collapse of its own absurdity, the weight they've put up there.
Mike Gleason: You touched on a little bit earlier in the interview, but I'd be remiss here if we didn't spend a little bit more time on the mining sector, which has been white hot this year. What's going on there after this huge 140% up move in the GDX and the HUI gold stock indices? Is it time to take some profits there, David?
David Smith: I think it makes a lot of seen, and you know, some of these stocks are up 200, 300, 400, 500%. We're even to the point now where I would say pigs are starting to fly, some of the ones of questionable value that are running as well, too. But if you hold onto the good ones, and if you hold your core - and I think this is really important, it's something that all of us have to continually ask and remind ourselves - if we hold mining stocks, if we hold something in the resource sector, even in the physical metal, what's the difference in our view, between holding it as an investment and holding it as insurance? And in the case of the miners, what's our core holding versus our outer core or trading positions?
So you want to hold on to the main core aspects, your best companies that you want to hold through the rest of this cycle, and you can do some trading in and out, and it really, it doesn't have to be big. You can trade a little bit and it makes you feel so good that you've taken some profits, and you don't see them all erasing when the markets are down a bit like they are this morning. But if you sell too much, and this is what's happened to some people already, they've taken the advice - which in normal circumstances is great - where you sell half when you have a double. So you buy a stock at $3, and it goes to $6, and you sell half. Well, that's fine, but I bought a stock at 9 cents that was almost $3, if you can believe that 3 years ago.
I bought it at 9 cents, and it's 75 or 80 (cents) now. And I've sold some of it, and I also bought some of it back. I've taken some profit, and I've reinvested it when it dropped a little bit. If I had sold half every time it doubled, 9, 18, 27, on the way up like that, I'd have about 10% of my original position, so these are different times and they call for different strategies, and of course, we have to do what we're comfortable with, so I don't and I can't legally give financial advice, but I certainly listen to others, and I listen to myself, and I come up with a plan that works best for me, that I am comfortable with, and I think that's what all of our listeners have to do.
But I'll tell you one thing, I think that people will be much calmer and more comfortable, anyone listening to this, if they have not established a position that they're comfortable with in the physical metals, if they do so, almost regardless of what the price is this summer. It's hard to lose, if, emotionally, you just set out a 90 day program where you buy every 30 days, regardless of the price. You're not trying to catch the lows and the turns, and all this kind of stuff, and listening to all the discordant voices. You're just doing something that you know in your heart is right to establish an insurance position, and then you can go ahead and figure out how to make the big money in the mining stocks or some other venue.
Mike Gleason: That sort of leads me right into my next question here and you alluded to this a little bit ago, and I've asked you about this in the past, but it's worth revisiting. I want to talk to you about investor psychology here for a minute, because you've always had such a great level-headed approach to these markets. So talk about the idea that some folks have when it comes to timing a purchase, because many might now view the metals, after the recent run up, and the very first strong six months that we've had this year, and see them as overpriced, or too expensive. After all, silver isn't in the mid teens anymore. It's now over 20 dollars an ounce, and gold isn't $1,100 like it was back in January, it's a couple hundred dollars higher than that now. So what is your advice when it comes to first time investors in the sector, and what would you say to someone who was already heavily invested?
David Smith: Well, I think you have to work things in a way that you're comfortable with, and you have to realize that you can't have what David Morgan calls the "Amateur's Perspective" and that kind of alludes to what you just said, where they think, "Oh, shoot. I could have bought in January, February or March so I've missed the low," and they get so concerned with that, and they're trading, essentially in hindsight. The low most likely isn't going to come back in again here, and so if you wait, you're not buying at $20 silver because you missed it at $13, and then what happens is you're not buying at $26 because you missed at $20, or $40 because you missed at $26. It goes on to the point where you can watch the trade go by the whole thing, and you can watch.
At some point, you have to take the dip, and you plan your work and you work your plan. If you decide that precious metals are for you, then you start buying them, and then you don't worry that, oh, you didn't get the low, because if you believe as we do, that we'll see 3 digit silver in a few years, a very good likelihood of that, why would you be trying to get a few pennies and leave dollars behind by never taking a position? So you've got to be comfortable with what you do, you've got to be informed. And that's what I think is so great about the Money Metals website, is because there's an archive over there of all these different articles that I've written and that other people, very, very capable people have written. Read these articles, and it's a companion that can inform someone who's just starting out so they get the idea of what's going on, and how to approach things. Then, go from there. I think if people do that, they'll be very happy with the decisions that they've made going forward.
Mike Gleason: Yeah. Education is certainly a very big part of what we're trying to do, and part of our mission, and you're obviously a big part of that.
Now, maybe the guy that is more heavily invested, has a position already, maybe he can afford to gamble a little bit more on a pullback, but again, he's already got some, so adding to his position, he might try to be a little bit more strategic, versus the guy who doesn't own any, and shouldn't necessarily try to get cute with his timing. Is that what I'm hearing what you're saying?
David Smith: I think that's exactly correct, Mike. And you know, the person that has a big position, and hopefully they've got a little bit of cash reserve, or they've maybe sold a little bit over the last week or so. There's plenty of indicators that the risk/reward over the near term is shifting in the opposite direction for where it had been, but if you have a little bit of cash handy, or if you plan to deploy new cash going into here, I think the next few weeks, 4 to 6 weeks maybe, will be an opportunity. And the key there, whether you're buying the metals, if you've already got your position, or the mining stocks, is to buy into weakness. So today the prices are down. If you were going to buy, you'd do it today. You wouldn't do it no yesterday's spike, that type of a thing.
And the nice thing about that, even tranches, and my lucky number on that is 3. I don't always get all 3 of them in, but you try to buy 3 portions lower, and you start looking for lower prices. It's just the opposite. You turn on its head - and I think it's so important - the psychology of the marketplace, where people that try to buy it all at one time, they go, if it drops, they feel like they've lost, or they're panicked, and they sell out at the bottom. If you buy your first portion into a declining price, and you hope to buy the second one even lower, and if that happens you really get excited because you think, "Wow, now I have a chance to buy that third one down the line," you're rooting for lower prices, which is just the exact opposite of what most people that listen to Mad Money on TV or something like that are hoping.
They're hoping that prices will go up immediately after they buy, so they take a big plunge and they put it all on that one price point, and then the price drops, and then they're really upset and before long, they're panicked and can't sleep, and sell out right at the bottom before it turns around.
Mike Gleason: Talk a little bit about the recent article you wrote for MoneyMetals.com, titled, How High Is "Sky-High" Silver? You talk a lot about some of the things you're speaking about now, but for those that haven't checked that out yet, give us an idea of what you wrote about there.
David Smith: Well, it put out some price points for what silver could do, and a couple of the points are kind of fantastical. And so what I'm hoping, and I also try to do in the latter part of the article is get people's attention with some of those price points, but also the underlying message is two-fold. Number 1, that silver is almost destined to go much, much higher than it is. And number 2, that it's almost irrelevant what that price point is. Whether it's $100, or $200, or $500, or whatever that is, if people focus on that point, they lock themselves into a mindset that doesn't give them any flexibility, and they go, "Oh, if it doesn't get there, what am I going to do?" Or, "If it gets there, I'm going to fund my son's college education."
Rather than saying, you know what? Fundamentally, the drivers, the tectonic plates of demand, and supply are crunching together in a way that make it almost inevitable that silver and gold prices are going to go much higher, and we don't have to have a collapse in society to see 5 or 6 or $8,000 gold and $100 and some dollar silver. Supply/demand factors themselves are driving in that direction, because for example, in China, and India. A third of the world's people live in those 2 areas, a couple billion people. They want a better life, and they want financial security, and unlike most people in North America, financial security for Asians comes from having gold and silver in their hand that they can touch. They don't want it in an ETF, they don't want it in an gold CD that pays some interest.
It was so hilarious. A few months ago, the Indians tried to introduce a paper contract whereby you would bring in your physical gold and they would give you a certificate and they would pay you some interest on it, and they would hold the gold for you, but it wouldn't be in your name, right? And this thing went on and after about three weeks, they had collected something like 11 troy ounces of gold. I mean, it was stunning. This is a nationwide campaign, so it was really laughable. It shows just how little clue that bureaucrats have about what motivates humanity and human nature, and what's motivated them for thousands of years. They look askance at bureaucrats and their fantasy ideas of, "We'll hold the gold for you. We'll pay you some interest," and it doesn't bother them that gold doesn't pay interest. It bothers them that gold values have never gone to 0, unlike every paper instrument that's ever been put out there.
They know it in their gut, and they hang onto it, and more and more people in our country are coming to the same conclusion. That's why Steve St. Angelo mentioned just about a week ago, and I use this chart in this recent article for Money Metals that you mentioned, 100 million ounces of silver were sold in the United States last year to investors. We're not talking about the industry, but investors. That was 1/3 of the silver that was sold globally to investors last year. So people are starting to get it, and I'm sure some of that silver is being sold going out of the country, but a lot of it is in country, too.
We're seeing more and more people, and I'm guessing that you are, too, with your business base, we're seeing more people understand and appreciate the silver story as something they want to be a part of, in a way that sits into their own risk tolerance and their own ability to make financial decisions and how much they want to protect their other assets, as an insurance protection vehicle.
Mike Gleason: Yeah, very well put. Well, as we begin to wrap up here, David, what are you looking for, over say the next 6 to 12 months, especially given the fact that we've had a very good last 6 months in the precious metals? What are you looking for ahead as we get closer to the election this fall, and just talk about the rest of the year and into next year? What are you looking for?
David Smith: I look for volatility to increase, the prices up and down to become sharper. I think that corrections will be shorter than what we saw over the last 4 or 5 years, they'll be in the opposite direction. We've seen this played out so far the first 6 or 7 months. I think we're going to see more of the same with higher highs and higher lows, and we're going to see more people coming into the marketplace, more volume and more money coming in, and more pressure, investment pressure, against the available supplies of gold and silver. And if we have any kind of disruptions at all in some of these areas, that's going to add impetus to the bullish argument.
So I think it's a great time to be involved, and the people that have bought scaled down over the last few years, and the ones that are still just coming in now, you're coming in at a good time, because Mike, I think, if we're having this talk a year from now, I can't tell you where the prices will be at. I believe they'll be substantially higher, but the point is, by that time, another year on us, we're going to have the public recognition phase, for all sorts of reasons, I think is going to be upon us, and a lot more people are going to be understanding what's going on, and taking action. And that's going to make, regardless of where that price point is for gold and silver, it's going to make acquisition more expensive, more complicated, the bid-ask spread is going to be wider, the premiums, all of this sort of thing, it's going to be more complicated.
It's going to become much more emotional and complicated, and difficult to work your way through than it is right now. You were talking about what will prices do over the next few weeks, or are we going to get a retracement or whatever. The analogy that I'd like to use would be going out in a rowboat. You go out, you get yourself ready. You get a light preserver, you get an extra pair of oars, you have 2 motors, you do a few things, you dress properly. You know that you're going out into a situation where you may see some rough water, and you take account for those type of things, and you get started on your trip.
You're planning where you want to go, but when you get out there, the first time the wave comes up a little bit, and the wind comes up, and the temperature drops, you don't turn around and head for shore. You keep on going, because you prepared things well, you know what the risks are that you face, and you've taken a calculated risk, and you just keeping on tacking to get to your destination. And you don't turn around at the first sign of something being the other way, and so that's what I think we need to do with this.
People need to be calm, they need to come up with a plan, and then work that plan. In the letter that I wrote some time ago that you have on your site for new customers, talking about the psychology of investing and how your mind is that secret weapon, that secret tool, if people just think about that and go by some of those principles, I think they'll be well served, and they'll be able to do it without losing a lot of sleep, or having high blood pressure, because they're constantly wondering what will the price do next.
Mike Gleason: Yeah. Very well said. Good analogy. Always love the way that you are able to simplify things. You're right, the investor psychology and the way we use our mind and keep our emotions in check is going to help us sink or swim. Well thanks very much for your time and your excellent insights as usual, David. Keep up the great work that you're doing. We'll be keeping an eye out for your next article for MoneyMetals.com. It's always great stuff, and we look forward to talking with you again real soon. Appreciate your time, and enjoy your weekend, my friend.
David Smith: You bet, Mike, and you know, I always enjoy reading the comments that come in, not only from the articles that I and others write for Money Metals, but also after these podcasts, and I really enjoy responding to people that have questions or comments, and so just have them come in on the site, and I'll be happy to jump in and respond to all of them respectfully.
Mike Gleason: Well that will do it for this week. Thanks again to David Smith, senior analyst at The Morgan Report, and regular columnist for MoneyMetals.com. To check out any of David's insightful columns, just go to the news section on MoneyMetals.com, or just type in David Smith in the search box and you'll get links to all of his fabulous work. Be sure to check that out.