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Ask the Expert – Jim Sinclair (November 2013)

By Nathan McDonald 5 years ago 4889 Views No comments
Count down to the Holidays with Sprott Money! Check our store at 12:00am EST each night for today's new deal! Shop Now!

In this exclusive interview, Jim Sinclair answers questions from our readers about the gold and silver market and his outlook on the economy.


Sprott Money News (SMN): Thank you, listeners, for joining us today on the Ask the Expert. My name is Nathan McDonald of Sprott Money News and we are very excited to have the pleasure of speaking with Jim Sinclair today. Jim Sinclair is the CEO of Tanzanian Royalty Exploration. He was a recently made Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Singapore Precious Metals Exchange. Jim has also authored numerous magazine articles and three books dealing with precious metals, trading strategies and geopolitical events and the relationship to world economics and the markets. In January 2003, he launched JSMineset.com, which now hosts his gold commentary and is intended as a free service to the gold community. With this, I am pleased to welcome Jim Sinclair. Hello, Jim.

Jim: Hello and thank you.

SMN: Thanks, Jim. Recently there is a topic that's come up and it's a big concern to our listeners; it's the US debt. Washington once again showed it is completely incapable of tackling this problem in a responsible manner. Do you foresee the government ever resolving the issue of the US debt? Do you believe the deadline for the next debt ceiling limit raise will be met with similar problems to that which we've recently seen?

Jim: To assume that the government would find a solution for the debt problem would require that both parties sincerely gave up a great deal of what is dear to each of the persuasions and got down to the hard discussions of what in fact can be spent, what in fact can be realized as revenue. It would require a degree of maturity and patriotism that we haven't seen, at least in my lifetime or in my business experience of 53 years. I don't believe that the distance between the recent events and February 7th is going to be a period of time in which both the Democratic and Republican parties become enlightened in the best interests of the future of America but it will once again be a caucus together on how to kick the can further down the road.

SMN: An interesting point you raised there was there isn't enough patriotism. Do you believe this is lacking in our political leadership? Do you believe they're in it for their own interests?

Jim: The problems that we're in are the spending exceeding so much of income, the size of the debt, the use of quantitative easing, the continued hyper-liquidity situation which is an absolute reality. The hyper-liquidity situation is the parent of hyperinflation, has come from a lack of interest in what is best but more interest in what the various persuasions of politics have as their agenda. I don't see anything changing that before February 7th, 2014, the next date for the go around on the debt problem.

SMN: So what is best for them isn't best for the American public?

Jim: What is best for them is not best for the world.

SMN: Agreed. Jim, can you envision a day when a Cyprus style event occurs in Canada or the United States? Is this one of the reasons why you often warn people they have to get out of the system?

Jim: I've been on a bit of a mission travelling from area to area where readers have shown interest; I'll be speaking in Singapore and in Dubai to readers just on this subject. Our Canadian friends should know that bail-in is written directly into their budgetary papers and is very much part of plans and procedures to come in the future. The bail-in exists in a white paper that was issued by the Bank of England and by the FDIC in the US, the same paper. There's a whitepaper issued by the Bank of International Settlements which recommends bail-in as a means of meeting any crises in illiquid financial institutions. Ms. Lagarde of the IMF has been extremely vocal in her support of bail-in as the means of supporting any difficulties within the financial system. The recent increase in the intensity of central banks, the US Fed and the Central Bank of Europe testing banks was a very hard approach, something different than existed before, is in my opinion the mechanism of bringing on bail-ins in certain institutions in a non-crisis environment. What I am saying is that it is definitively coming down the road. It is written in document. It is hard fact, it is not speculation on my part. It's been promised to us by our financial leaders. It is structured and ready to be applied and could be much sooner than expected. Bail-in was considered something that might be applied to the banking system in 2016. I think it's something that could be applied to the banking system in 2014, 2015. It puts it right around the corner.

SMN: So you think basically it's just waiting to happen?

Jim: I think that our listeners need to understand that when they make a deposit in a bank, they don't have an asset. They become an unsecured lender to the banking institution, that goes back to British law in the 1850s and present law in North America and elsewhere. In fact, it's universally accepted that once you make a deposit in a bank you're lending the money to the bank. When you hear that the bondholders and lenders will have to undertake the rescue of any banking institution that faces difficulty to the listener, you are the lender. You are a lender without collateral. You are in a very junior financial position. The effective amount that was withheld from depositors in Cyprus was 83% if you consider that block deposits are not money, if you consider that exchanging your deposit for shares of a bankrupt banking institution, “Bad Bank” let's call it, is by no matter of means money. You have to add all of those to what was taken straight off the top for a total of 83% of their accounts which no longer exists as money to them. This is the risk that the listeners are taking.

SMN: This seems to be a real problem with the fiat system that we're in and the fractional reserve banking that we've entered into. Basically, the money you put into the bank isn't real money, is it?

Jim: Once you put the money into the bank, to you, it's not. To you, you've lent your money to the bank and the bank will multiply that in their loans, general business and speculation.

SMN: Jim, do you believe that it's a plan of the Western governments around the world to trash the fiat currencies because to a sane person that seems to be all the actions they're taking. That seems to be what they're doing. Or do you believe they're just oblivious to what they're doing?

Jim: The question strikes me as being is there a conspiracy and if there is one could it be the conspiracy of stupidity? We've become very self-serving in everything we do, especially in politics, without an eye towards what the impact is on the future, kicking the can of debt down the road, which is in fact kicking the can of solvency down the road. I think there's a huge disconnect between how government runs its affairs and what would be in the sovereign best interests in the entire Western world. I'm not so sure that it's attached to a program to debase currencies but as each individual currency attempts to protect itself in trade relationships through interest rate policies and other currency policies, it's a “beggar thy neighbor” situation which results in a race to the bottom between the currencies competing in this trade game and competing in the game of interest rates. The recent surprise drop in interest rates by the ECB, by Draghi, over down to one quarter of a point has had effect on currencies. There is very significant pushback against that was the accusations of attempted trade advantage. It's again a reawakening; it's a reawakening of currency combat for trade reasons. That's the mechanism which takes your fiat currencies lower. Now whether that's a planned event or the conspiracy of stupidity, I tend to think there's a little bit of both.

SMN: So, regardless, the results will be the same?

Jim: Regardless, currencies are in a race to the bottom with that currency which depreciates the least appearing to be the strongest. In other words, no currency rise. They only fall at a lesser degree creating the illusion of rising.

SMN: Jim, I've often heard you talk about currencies. I know you recommend precious metals, but for currencies, what would you recommend? Is there any currency better than another or are they all a load of garbage?

Jim: Currency is for transaction. Gold is for investment. The trace now of any currency is the same thing as speculating on a tech stock as to which will rise faster than the other. There was a time when I would have said, “The Swiss franc and the Canadian dollar for various reasons will hold their position,” but didn't I just say to you that bail-in is written into the Canadian budgetary papers in black and white? It's not a question of speculation; it's a question of hard fact. The currency that you need now is the currency of your domicile for the purpose of spending, while the entity you need now, regardless of how the market looks at this instant moment, is gold for savings.

SMN: Jim, you made a lot of great points there. A logical person would look at everything you just said, the deteriorating economy, and be worried. Yet it seems that the average person on the street is completely oblivious to the dangers that we face. What's holding the system together? What's stopping them from seeing the truth?

Jim: Very intelligent, if you will, tricks. There are no bread lines because 47 million Americans use food stamps. If food stamps didn't exist then there should be, if the people taking food stamps are legitimate individuals, 47 million US people forming bread lines to be fed. Now certainly there's a lot of abuse in that but it still is a shocking fact that half of the American families are on the dole as to supplement their ability to purchase food requirements. The gross domestic product in the United States now includes research and development as an asset and intellectual property as an asset. Because of that, it’s rising towards 3% but it's again, smoke and mirrors because research and development is an expense. It's not an asset. And intellectual assets are only developing in law in terms of their validity as in fact, as asset. Can a new Twitter come up tomorrow to challenge the old Twitter? Well, the answer to that, through much discussion you've recently heard, is yes. Where is the intellectual asset that Twitter owns? All the R&D that the company does is now considered in accounting to be a valid asset when only a few months ago it was an expense. There's been a great deal of adjustments made, pointed out probably best by Mr. Williams in his shadow statistics, where he goes back to the 1970s and assumes that to be the method of showing things such as gross domestic product. Back then it would have been gross national product. Inflation rates, he locks in the formulas of the 1970s and inputs present information into it and the listeners would be shocked to see that inflation in the United States, according to how it was determined in the 1970s, is running at double digits and unemployment is running over 20%. These are the real numbers if you didn't massage and change the indices so that in some sense they may never show inflation again or they'll show a significant gross domestic product when in fact it isn't true.

SMN: I agree; he does a great job of looking at those numbers and putting them together. An example that we've recently had is McDonald's having to eliminate their Dollar Menu. Now it's the Dollar Plus Menu. There are examples of inflation. All that somebody has to do is go to the grocery store and do shopping for themselves and see that there's inflation. But it seems that people just don't want to believe it. They want to believe in the fake numbers.

Jim: Well, it's been a long term process. The master of this process was Goebbels back in Nazi Germany. What it says basically is that if you control news media you actually control teaching, economics and politics. If the amount of voters that in fact do vote are in the majority on the dole then whoever doles out is elected. The chance of all of this changing without some sort of a critical set of circumstances is nil. But the critical set of circumstances cannot be ruled out. I would say it's gone from possible to probable.

SMN: I know you talked about this previously but do you believe that hyperinflation is what's needed?

Jim: It's never advisable and “needed” is a statement such as the horrible injections in the stomach you need to take if you're suspected of having rabies. You wonder at that point which is worse: the rabies or the injections in your stomach. So to say something like that is needed...there will be an event that will make the public question their confidence in the system and it could be bail-in. Most of the listeners have bank accounts; the idea that the FDIC has the financial capacity and is capitalized to cover all of the accounts under $250,000 if there was a systemic crisis is absolutely fallacious. They simply don't have 1% to cover. The confidence the people have in things like that FDIC, the confidence people are gaining in growth factors in the US reaching towards 3% when all that's been done is an expense has been transmuted into an asset adding to the gross domestic product. The changes which have been made so clear by Mr. Williams and how the indices of the 1970s, if they were applied as they were applied in the 1970s to the present would show crisis levels of unemployment, would show crisis levels of inflation. It would totally run counter to the mass media position that not only are things getting better but they're getting better at an improving rate, which simply isn't true.

SMN: I agree with you, Jim. Hyperinflation is definitely nothing that anyone wants.

Jim: But hyper-liquidity is hyperinflation. In other words, if you dive into this great sea of semantics that inflation-deflation are. Somehow people have in their minds that inflation has to be attached to an ebullient business environment and be the product of a significant amount of demand in excess of supply both for goods and services. That's not true. There's a thing called currency induced cost-push inflation which is what all hyperinflation is made out of. It's when the volatility in the currency creates dislocations in the distribution system that results in the cost of goods and services, foods and fuels, drugs, necessities, necessaries, to go up violently. There has never been a hyperinflation where there's been a good business environment. Hyperinflation is hyper-liquidity translated into the price of goods and services. Once you have hyper-liquidity, and the four trillion and more that we've recently put into the system certainly qualifies, once you have hyper-liquidity you are getting hyperinflation. The only way to avoid it would be to reverse that liquid situation which is politically impossible because of the delicate nature of the modest recovery we have in the West. Because it's a delicate nature of the modest recovery we have in the West, you cannot get rid of the balance sheets of central banks, especially of the US Fed. There is no exit plan and there is no exit route. You are on a path to hyperinflation that cannot and will not be dissuaded, taken off the path, corrected, made ineffective because there's no way out of that balance sheet. Hyper-liquidity is hyperinflation. It's only a question of time until that becomes an absolute and functional fact.

SMN: So you see no way that government's going to be able to change its course?

Jim: It's a rock and a hard place. The huge balance sheet that the Fed has now would have to be liquidated. It's easy to buy 85 billion in a month but try selling 20 billion in a month. It's always easy to buy it and extraordinarily difficult to sell it. The thesis of exit no one has yet said how because the only “how” that really exists is ineffective. Simply would not work, would jam interest rates to new highs and would cause unemployment, even on the skewed present indices, to go to new highs and it would cause confidence to break. When confidence breaks the dollar breaks and if the dollar was to break under a loss of confidence hyperinflation would be a reality. That's exactly the formula that will happen.

SMN: Jim, the Fed must know this. Do you think they're scared of it or do you think they actually have a plan in place for when this happens? Do you think they're going to be ushering gold, ushering a new currency, SCRs? What do you think they're going to do when this happens? Because they must know. A lot of people say they're completely oblivious. I don't know if they are. I think they have at least an idea that they're going down this path. I think they know they can't do anything.

Jim: You could always make the huge mistake of buying your own public relations. Let's give Bernanke a break and say he is The Student of the Depression in the 1929-1930s and his plan was by liquefying the economic environment so enthusiastically as to set historical records that that liquidity would filter into the business environments and increase demands for goods and services. Now the basic problem is a balance sheet problem brought on by the meltdown of thederivatives in the financial area. The assumption there is if you can improve your business environment what you can do is earn your way back to solvency, that net earnings would improve the balance sheets and through that balance sheet improvement you would be able to meet the challenge of what brought on the crisis in the first place. What hasn't happened is there has not been a significant recovery in general economics. That, at best, in truth, we have a very sideways flat line recovery with a slight upward bias at the end. But only slight. There's an economic law called the Law of Acceleration which says that if you are not improving at an improving rate what you're truly doing is declining at an accelerating rate. There is economic law even though present school would have you believe, the present school being management of perspective economics, says that if media can convince the public that everything is fine, everything will be fine.

Management of perspective economics in fact does work when the wind is at your back. But when the wind is in front of you, when it's an uphill fight to recover from very significant contraction, management of perspective economics is a hopeless task and the true economic law that will come into functional reality is that of the accelerator which says the economy's not recovering, in fact, it's losing ground. That will even show in the present statistics in terms of housing, in terms of mortgage applications, in terms of the participation rate in employment which is at an all time low. The employment figures will not show significant and booming improvement. You can play this game to maintain confidence, but there is economic law that functions regardless of whether you believe it or not, that is on a contractive course. That's going to be filtering into people's understanding as economics statistics, even the skewed ones, fail to show an enthusiastic, well founded economic recovery that Bernanke was hoping for when he injected the funds into the banking system as well as, of course, the main reason being the saving of the good-old-boys in the banking and financial world that had gone bankrupt as a result of the first meltdown in the over-the-counter derivatives.

SMN: It does seem like MOPE is beginning to fail already. I think the decline in mainstream media viewership and the rise in alternative media.

Jim: That is clear, but it's still selective and still doesn't have any bearing on that 47% who are on food stamps. The 47% on food stamps that politicians talk to because it's that percentage which does in fact vote as a block and can and will elect whomever gives out the dole.

SMN: Agreed. They're in a position where they need to believe in this story.

Jim: You tend to believe in what you need to believe in. And yes, they might actually have convinced themselves of their own party line.

SMN: That's right. It's like a liar who lies to himself over and over again, eventually he begins to believe his own lies.

Jim: I would say that if you watch financial TV, they're real believers.

SMN: I agree with you; they're definitely fanatics. Jim, where do you believe is a safe place to keep money? We know gold and silver, but are there any other methods that people can take to protect themselves?

Jim: It has to be outside the system because if you maintain your confidence in general banking and leave your deposits with the banking institutions you're leaving your deposit distinctly in harm's way for a super wealth tax, let's call it, but in truth it's bail-in, and the percentage will be double digit. It may not be the experience of Cyprus but numbers like 16%, 17% and 18% that are being talked about now, I'd say are on the low side of what the super wealth tax could be, in order to ostensibly be sold in order to stabilize our system for the good of the many. You need to take a look at keeping your money out of the Western banking system, in non-Western banks. I'm on my way Friday to Singapore and it involves guarding corporate funds against bail-in. Think for a moment about companies, like some of our tech companies with so many billions of dollars in the European banking system, what they're exposing themselves to in terms of bail-in. Will they make a wise decision and recognize that they either have to be out of the Western banking system, which is basically within the BRICs to some degree, or as a stakeholder of China as the major BRIC, that we have to do banking with people we might have thought, five years ago, we were more apt to do war with.

SMN: Jim, what do you see them doing when the system falls apart? Do you think the East is going to take power or do you think the West has a plan in action?

Jim: I think the West has a plan in action and that plan in action is to pull the trigger before the panic and start doing bail-ins as a product of those banks that fail the solvency tests under pressure. Those tests have gone from being foolish little exercises in nothing to being very serious, very difficult tests to pass. Making those so difficult to pass, both in Europe and in the United States and in Canada, has to have a meaning. I think it's those banks that fail that are going to be bailed-in. In other words, bail-in before a crisis hoping with the proper public relations not to cause in that act, a crisis. What I'm on a mission to do is to make a few simple definitions to listeners: A, gold is for savings, currency is for transaction. B, money you have in a banking institution, and remember, brokers are banks now. A broker who is a bank and who took any aid can, in fact, be bailed-in. That's your account with them. So anybody leaving money in cash and securities with institutions that have taken TARPs and taken bail outs before are primary targets for not being able to pass these new stringent liquidity tests being applied to banks in the Western system resulting, in my opinion, in selective bail-ins. That's what they want to see happen. Whether or not bail-in creates a crisis in itself, it will be offered as a solution and limited to the unsecured lenders and bondholders of the banking institutions but that's you, listeners. You're the unsecured lender to the banking institution. So you need to do something to get out of it. I would not store any of my precious metals with any bank or brokerage firm that took any aid whatsoever. I would go to a private depository of which there are many legitimate firms to choose from and multiple firms in every major city in the United States. I would look to other areas. Personally I would look to Singapore for banking because Singapore is under the protection of China in an economic sense, the most unlikely to have this kind of a problem is going to be Asia. The most likely to have this is the places where it's already part and parcel of whitepapers and part and parcel of the Canadian budget papers, written right in there, clear English. It cannot be misunderstood. It's straight up. Bail-in is the way we're going with any further financial problems, and anyone who thinks there aren't further financial problems is an ostrich with their head directly in the sand.

SMN: They're just trying to ignore the problem. This is proven by what you've just said in the fact of the bail-ins, and then you look over at Asia and you see they're encouraging their citizens to buy gold, whereas there's a constant attack against gold in the Western world.

Jim: It has been so throughout the history of, let's say, the 60s on, when gold was legalized in the 70s, it has never gotten any positive commentary from mainline investment companies or from any government authority other than a momentary trading comment that might come out of a brokerage house. Gold has climbed, in the first instance, a wall of disbelief, to $887.50 and recently climbed a wall of disbelief to $1900. Now that we're in that part of the market which is total, absolute, utter and complete capitulation, we should be getting a new bull market where gold should climb to $2200 to $2400, $3200 to $3500, in different phases. Once again, against a wall of total disbelief and negative statement.

SMN: In our last interview, Jim, you make the prediction that gold could go to $50,000 per ounce which is a huge number to a lot of our listeners. I understand where you're coming from. Obviously if hyperinflation occurs, this is a real possibility. I know there would be some serious social problems that could accompany a gold price this high. What's your timeline for this target?

Jim: Let's define what would make it happen. What would make it happen is a game changer. The game changer would be some event that relieves physical gold of paper gold as a tool of manipulation. It's so easy to manipulate gold right now. If you've got the courage and a few dollars behind you, you can enter into the marketplace and offer multiple years of production for sale. If you do that in a period of illiquidity, as you've noticed, right before the first session of the COMEX, generally around 8:00 in the morning US time, or over in Asia overnight, when you see those straight line downs, that's because some huge offer has been made that there are no bids in the marketplace indicative of wanting to take it. Therefore it really wasn't because of liquidation, it was because of manipulation. That will go on as long as paper gold goes on. In order for paper gold to continue, it has to have, that is the futures exchanges and traders, enough supply in their warehouse that there can be considered some ability to actually represent hard gold. Paper gold represents hard gold.

Over the last few years and especially in the last six months there's been a very significant drawdown on the inventories of these warehouses. You get down to a level, as it did in the Hunt Affair, where they went to sellers only and for a very short period of time to cash settlement, the exchanges won't default. What the exchanges will be do will be to change their mechanism of settlement from physical gold to cash or maybe block shares of GLD, for instance. That is the beginning of the end of paper gold as the manipulative tool. It's the beginning of physical gold as the price-finding mechanism. That's the reason why I've taken the position of Chairman of the Advisory Board for the establishment of the Singapore Precious Metals Exchange, an exchange that will not trade future gold but only will trade spot gold. So if you want to go and manipulate gold on the Singapore exchange and you offered three years worth of production for sale, you better be ready within three days to deliver all that gold and on the converse side, to pay for it, because the spot gold contract does not invite maintenance by cash only. It calls for the actual buying of and calls for the actual delivering of the gold or silver itself. That would be the end of the ability to move the price by using paper gold. Now, based on that game changer taking place, we move into an entire new paradigm for the price of gold and it's in that paradigm that gold has the ability to rise above the $3500 level and seek levels as high as $50,000 or more.

SMN: So gold will be set free at that point?

Jim: That will be free gold. That's correct.

SMN: At that point do you believe Western governments...becausethe game's up at that point. They know they've lost if gold gets that high and it just runs away from them. Do you think they're going to embrace it or do you think they're going to take it away from their citizens?

Jim: Actually, what you've seen is the great flushing. That was Lehman Brothers. Now you're going to see the great leveling, because in every equity market that's been liquidity driven it gets to a point where general equities can no longer sustain the enormous levels they rise to and come down faster than they went up. That's the great leveling. Coming out of the great leveling, which should take place sometime between 2014 and 2016, you come into the great reset. The great reset will be proposed in 2016 most likely by the BRICs themselves and turned down by Western finance. The BRICs will adopt it, the Western finance will eschew it except that four years later Western finance will adopt it. Of course when they adopt it, whenever you adopt somebody else's invention you call it your own. I think that's the timetable, that's exactly what will happen and it's during that 2016-2020 period that free gold may rise to prices that it is embarrassing to quote.

SMN: I agree. As soon as they adopt it, basically fiat currencies are over at that point because capital flows are going to just flow into a currency that's backed by something.

Jim: Whether it's backed or just has it is a great agreement. If you had a globe of the earth in front of you and you took a colored pencil and penciled in every country that values gold at market you'd find that half of the earth values gold in market not at the United States valuation but at the official value of gold, $42.22. I firmly believe that currencies will, through the gold they possess, wear that as a necklace. A necklace that says “we run our business affairs in a manner whereby we trade and have a surplus and as a result of that we're able to buy additional amounts of the reserve gold to add to our cash reserves.” The more that they have and the more that it's worth in the market, the more attractive the currency will become. I don't look for gold to be an automaticity nor for currencies to make the mistake of making gold convertible. Once you make gold convertible, it will always convert, which would basically destroy the system. But having the gold and having it traded through the free market in terms of free, physical market, in terms of countries increasing and decreasing their reserves in gold for whatever their needs happen to be, will be a non-automatic, no automaticity, non-convertible gold-based valuation system. Gold-based valuation system, not convertible, not an automaticity and not automatic.

SMN: It does appear that's the way it's going. Digital gold would be a great way in today's society to transfer from customer to customer. Jim, I agree. There are a lot of great points you've made today but in conclusion to wrap this interview up can you please tell our listeners more about your company, Tanzania Royalty Exploration, and also any upcoming speaking engagements or anything else you'd like to tell them about.

Jim: The Company’s purpose... my purpose, back when I was 35 years old, in a different incarnation, I carried 22,000 long from the second break out above $400 to the $887 level. Then the way to play was in paper and the way to play was to speculate and the way to play was just to be right with the most. Right now, my personal intention, when I founded this entity, was to have the most possible gold on hand, the cheapest possible mining methods and hold that as long as I possibly could. It's simply that strategy which I'm playing out in the public company. As far as speaking engagements, I'll be in Singapore and Dubai in the upcoming two weeks after which when I return, in the early part of December, I'll be up in Boston speaking, and then in January, I'll be going towards southern Florida and Texas. I won't stop until bail-in occurs and my intention is to benefit the most people I possibly can.

SMN: Well, Jim. I believe you're doing an incredibly noble service going around the world telling people… warning people about what's coming. You obviously don't need to do this, but I know it probably gives you great satisfaction in doing so. Thank you for answering these questions today and informing our listeners.

Jim: I hope the listeners will benefit by it. They must remember gold is for savings, currency is for transaction and bail-in is a given.

SMN: Thank you, Jim.

Jim: You're welcome.

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