Chinese Demand for Gold Is the Real Deal, Long Term

You have to see these images from China.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, ten thousand Chinese demonstrated the depth of their gold fever by lining up to buy that “stupid” investment. This is despite the relative respite from inflation, according to official Chinese statistics.

All these people want gold:

Gold Line 1_0

Gold Line 2_0

Gold Line 3_0

Gold Line 5_0

Gold Line 6_0

Gold Line 4_0

China is a source of demand for gold that will be significant in the long term.

Read more at Mises.ca

Another Reason for Protectionists to Hate China

Protectionists hate China because their wages are “too low,” and that’s “not fair.”

(Mostly it’s not fair for the Chinese, whose wages would rise if their government would not print so much of its currency to prop up the US dollar.)

Prime Minister Harper wants more tariffs on Chinese goods.

Wait until the protectionists see this video. “Child labor! Child abuse!” they will cry. They will plead for more tariffs.

Apparently the boy makes a salary of 4000 RMB, which is about $675 in Canadian dollars. Not bad.

Chinese Slowdown Puts a Drag on Energy Markets

Oil is the world’s most important commodity. Its market provides a good indication of where the economy is going.

The price of oil fell for five days before jumping today because of strong consumer confidence numbers in the US. The push down had been largely due to news from China.

Chinese manufacturing activity fell in May after months of slower growth. Its PMI hit a seven-month low of 49.6. A value below 50 indicates a contraction.

Oil consumption in OECD countries has fallen the last few years. In the rest of the world, it is has grown. The biggest of these consumers is China.

China is the world’s major exporter of manufactured goods. The decline in manufacturing activity implies the world’s slowing demand. This in turn will result in a reduced demand for energy.

China is a major factor in the marginal demand for oil. The oil price is not set by speculators, but supply and demand. Producers pump as much as they can. Chinese demand — in no small part driven by radical monetary expansion — is largely responsible for the boom in oil prices, from $20 a barrel in 2001 to current levels.

Chinese slowdown will cause oil prices to fall. When the economy is growing, oil prices rise because there is greater demand for energy. Prices fall when demand falls. This is elementary economics. The price of oil will decline.

— Read more at Marketwatch

Are Chinese Women Smarter Than Warren Buffett?

Warren Buffett is one of the world’s most successful investors. He is also a well-known critic of gold as an investment. He believes buying gold is “stupid.”

Middle-aged Chinese women did not get university economics or finance degrees. They do not understand the difference between economic schools of thought. But they have lived under brutal Communism. They have suffered extreme poverty. They understand what it takes to preserve wealth under tyranny.

These Chinese women are buying gold. More than Indian fathers. From a recent report:

On Sunday afternoon, a microblogger in Beijing logged into Sina Weibo, China’s leading social media platform, to gossip about the “auntie” next door. It’s a broad term of respect for an older woman, and his followers understood precisely what he meant when he tweeted, “The auntie next door used all of her retirement savings to buy gold. When asked what she’d do if prices keep dropping, she replied that if everyone kept buying gold, the price wouldn’t drop…”

This might strike a conservative investor as reckless. But in China, where gold has long been a national obsession, a mid-April record crash in global gold prices has been seen as an unprecedented buying opportunity. According to reports in China, Chinese have purchased 300 tons of gold worth more than $16 billion since the crash.

These people are not trading gold futures on margin. They are allocating their savings to precious metals.

Photos of crowds packing jewelry shops and emptying their shelves are now regular features in the news media. On Monday, a police officer in Shanxi province tweeted, in regard to his actual aunt: “My aunt’s family has a gold store, and my colleague who’s in the market for some gold for his mother asked if I could get him a cheap price. I asked, and my aunt said first come and take a look to see if anything catches your eye. But at the moment the display cases are empty, and they are unable to get new inventory. All I can say is that the power of the Chinese is frightening.”

China’s voracious appetite for gold is long-standing. At Chinese jewelry stores, the spot price for gold is always prominently displayed. Calculators and scales are never out of a customer’s reach. Gold jewelry is desirable, but so are gold bars, and any jewelry store that considers itself full-service will stock ingots of various weights. (In April, an investor in Guangzhou bought 44 pounds of the bars, according to a local newspaper.) Special commemorative bars in various weights and designs were issued for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

The current rush is unusual in two ways. The first is its epic scale. The second is that, according to both traditional and social media, aunties are doing most of the buying.

This activity is widespread in China. When something is widespread in a country with 1.35 billion people, it’s a real phenomenon.

Social media tends to take a less critical, and more personal, view of the aunties. Depictions involving mother-daughter interactions, in particular, are very common. On Saturday, Zhongxiao Fang Fang Fang, the handle for a microblogger in Shenzhen, tweeted: “Yesterday my mother called me to say the price of gold has fallen, and to ask me to go to Hong Kong to buy gold. I said I didn’t want any. She very calmly said it would be good to prepare a dowry so I can get married!”

Reported elsewhere:

Perhaps the majority of Americans cannot comprehend the unusual feelings Chinese people have toward gold and silver. They’ve never considered that rather than being afraid to invest in gold, the Chinese are more afraid that they won’t possess gold. Maybe what Chinese aunties care about is not the price of gold tomorrow, their desire is perhaps nothing more than to buy gold, to delight in gold, to hold it. Chinese aunties’ gold investment strategies are simple and unsophisticated, they just “buy what they want.”

What do the Chinese aunties know that Warren Buffett doesn’t?

Read more at Bloomberg

Harper: Free Trade is a Tax Break for China

Harper was criticized the other day for wanting to increase taxes on various imported consumer goods.

There is no defense for raising taxes ever. This is even more important when Canada will be soon in recession. So what is Harper thinking? He rightly pointed out that the Liberals had voted against budgets in which there were some tiny tax cuts. Okay, sure, the Liberals lack any principled objection to higher taxes. What was his rebuttal to their criticism on the tariff issue?

“What the Liberal Party seems to stand for, Mr. Speaker, is that somehow we should give tax breaks to emerging economies like China.”

OMG, my brain just exploded from the unbelievable stupidity of that statement. I love a good cheap shot at a Canadian political party as much as the next guy, but Harper’s statement is just dumb.

So not taxing imports is a tax break to the countries from which we are buying those imports. So a free trade policy is a tax break for our trading partners.

That is incoherent, protectionist nonsense. First of all, the importer pays the tax, not the exporter. So China is not getting the tax break, per se. It is the one importing Chinese stuff.

But then this is kind of like saying it’s a “tax break” if the government taxes anything less than 100% of your income. The meaning of “tax break” is clearly being twisted. A “tax break” is meant to be a means of reducing a tax liability that already exists. The absence of a tax is not a tax break. Adding new taxes is not the same as taking away tax breaks. The underlying philosophy revealed in Harper’s words is that the government rightfully owns everyone else’s wealth, and letting people keep anything is a tax break. The whole notion is economically utterly perverse.

The case against protectionism is logically irrefutable. Harper, like virtually all politicians, is a mercantilist who thinks protectionism is good (for his friends), meaning he is no ally of capitalism and free trade. He is a classic Canadian crony prime minister.

— Read more at CBC News. —

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