Pivotal Events

By: Bob Hoye | Tue, Jul 4, 2006
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Extract From The Edition Dated Thursday, June 29, 2006

Base Metal Prices were likely to top shortly after gold and silver and it was simultaneous.

Our index, less nickel, fell 23.7% from 779 on May 11 to 594 on June 20.

Last week's edition was looking for a rebound to test the highs and, so far, the index has made it to 615.

While the action until May had the signature of a cyclical blowoff, which explains the size of the initial plunge, the test of the high will determine whether a cyclical bear follows or not.

A couple of things suggest a melancholy outcome. The yield curve has inverted, from which the rule is that a recession follows.

The next item is that the stock market is technically very weak and, as everyone knows, the stock market leads the economy.

Another indicator is that our Peak Momentum Indicator, which only registers at close to the top of a huge speculation, has given the biggest signal since 1998.

Of course, the biggest indicator of a peak is the takeover mania, with Phelps Dodge coming into the nickel play. They could take on some $22 billion in debt to do the deal.

In 1980, the Secretary of Energy stated "One thing is for certain, [crude] prices will continue to rise ... traditional criteria of supply and demand don't apply.", which meant that crude oil was beyond market forces. Naturally, "Big Oil" applied this reasoning to the hitherto cyclical base metals and started the acquisitions.

One that is recalled, and quite likely not in perfect detail, involved Amax Inc., which was the biggest producer of molybdenum. The company then was the equivalent in molybdenum to what Inco was once in nickel.

The offer was around $80 and Amax management advised shareholders that the company was worth a lot more. On that play, moly went from about $6.50 per pound to $30.

Amax and Placer thought they had control of the market and held the price too high for too long. The steel companies pushed out the high strength light alloy steel and the price of molybdenum fell to around $2.50.

From around $80, Amax stock plunged to $10, indicating that metals, earnings, and mining shares were still cyclical.

Ironically enough, Amax became Cyprus Amax and was acquired by Phelps Dodge in 1999.

Perhaps the word cyclical means "what goes around comes around".

Odds are it has been a cyclical peak and the summer's action will likely confirm that history has recorded a fabulously speculative peak.

Rallies should be used by investors, producers, and traders to get defensive.

Golds: Using the key indexes, gold stocks are likely to rally for about 4 months. This style of bottoming pattern is usually followed by gains ranging from 28% to 40%.

A few weeks ago, the advice was to accumulate going into the bottoming pattern and last week's advice was to aggressively buy.

Gold's nominal price has been recovering from the 562.5 low, but the real price has been declining, which indicates that costs are still going against the producers.

One proxy for this is our gold/commodities index (chart follows), which has declined from 242 in January to yesterday's 203. This rally in gold will likely be inspired by the rebound in base metal and energy prices, so it won't be "real".

What is needed for "real" is straightforward. Gold's real price always declines in a boom and increases in the consequent contraction. Associated with this is that credit spreads widen, which has been moderate. The other financial item is a steepening yield curve and the latest on this is that the latest curve flattening took the 10s to 2s to -5 bps on June 4, which was also the low for gold.

Although only modest, the couple of ticks of steepening since is a plus for gold's nominal price, so today's pop is within the appropriate credit market conditions.

When gold is weak, we still see worries that the central bank cartel is rigging the market down.

As history shows, there can be a world of difference between policy ambition and policy result.

One example is when the U.S. went on the two-tiered price system for gold. On this idiotic scheme, the official price was $35 and the other was a constantly changing market price, which was higher.

Then the Treasury Secretary, Henry Fowler, was a strong supporter and, as Barron's reported on May 27, 1968: "The 'two-tiered' system, so the master craftsman recently boasted about his handiwork, will endure for decades. Frederick Deming, Under Secretary of the Treasury, outdid his boss by predicting that it would last 'until hell freezes over'."

- Sure !!




Bob Hoye

Author: Bob Hoye

Bob Hoye
Institutional Advisors

Bob Hoye

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