Don’t Catch Recovery Fever
By Peter Schiff
Thursday, 5 April 2012
Gold has been holding steady in the the $1,600-$1,800 band since early October. This could be attributed to consolidation after last summer’s historic run up to $1,895, but I think this wait-and-see attitude reflects current market sentiment toward the US dollar.
In fact, the first few days of April have seen a sharp dollar rally and decline in gold. This is rooted in deflated expectations of a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE3) after the most recent Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Once again, the markets are responding to the headlines while losing sight of the fundamentals.
This is especially peculiar because the Fed did not explicitly take QE3 off the table. In fact, according to the minutes, if the recovery falters or if inflation is too low, the Fed is already prepared to launch QE3. While there is not much chance of low inflation, I’ll explain below why the recovery is not only going to falter – it’s going to evaporate like the mirage that it is!
The Obama Administration is touting recent job growth, and while this is a pleasant story to hear in an era of massive unemployment, it disintegrates when put in context. The 227,000 jobs gained – which merely kept the unemployment rate steady at 8.3% – were counterbalanced by a much worse trade deficit tally: $52.4 billion, the highest level since just before ’08 crash.
The trade deficit is a real measure of whether our jobs are producing enough wealth to pay for our consumption. If we were adding productive jobs, I would expect the deficit to be shrinking. A look at the data shows that employment increased by only 16% in the primary and secondary sectors, where we need them the most. The majority of new jobs are still inflated sectors like healthcare (26%), temp work (20%), hospitality (19%), and consulting (16%), which will disappear as fast as they appeared when the bubble collapses. This is what we saw in finance and real estate when the housing bubble burst in ’08.
Imagine the trade deficit is like a corporate balance sheet. You hire a bunch of new employees for your company, but instead of making bigger profits, you find yourself losing even more money than when you started. Are you going to hold on to those people?