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1.23.18 - Why the IRS Fears Cryptocurrencies

Gold last traded at $1,336 an ounce. Silver at $16.91 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Gold prices rose Tuesday as the dollar slumped to fresh two-year lows. U.S. stocks rallied to fresh highs amid upbeat corporate earnings and a political deal to fund the federal government until Feb. 8th.

The Gold-Based Monetary System Is On Its Way -King World News
"It's only January, but we've likely already seen 2018's most significant event, and it's not the government shutdown. Rather, it was the disclosure of a fundamental architectural flaw in the design of the computer chips that are the backbone of virtually all of our technologies. The flaw potentially affects almost every industry. And it could dramatically lessen our ability to deal with resource scarcities, which I’ve long argued will determine what kind of future we have. It also likely gives China a chance to gain further ground on us. If you were bullish on gold and commodities before, you should be wildly bullish now. I certainly am. But I'm also more alarmed about the world, and America's position in it, than ever before. Especially scary is that the U.S. shows no signs of being scared....There's no easy fix through security patches. While you definitely should install the patches being offered, the trade-off is that they slow computers down. Because the flaw is in the hardware design itself, the only real solution is to redesign the computer chips that are at the heart of all computer systems, the central processing units (CPUs)....The latest word is that China will begin trading a yuan-based oil contract soon after the lunar New Year, some time in late February. The trading will take place in the same Shanghai free trade zone where China allows gold to trade. China knows time is getting short. The gold-based monetary system is on its way. It all raises the chance that gold's explosive take-off could come this year."

gold Panicky Bitcoin investors struggle to withdraw cash -The Sun
"There are mounting fears that Bitcoin investors will struggle to get their cash out after the cryptocurrency's value fell 40 per cent in a single month. Many are looking to put their money in gold instead, with some European gold traders reporting a 'five fold increase' in demand amid fears Bitcoin could collapse entirely. But it could be bad news for investors tied up in Bitconnect who fear they will lose their money after the controversial trader announced it was shutting down. It assured customers they would be able to withdraw at a 'recent exchange rate' but 'continuous cyber-attacks' have prevented them from doing so, Fortune reports. Concerned investors have since taken to social media to complain they fear losing anything from a few thousand dollars to their entire 'family savings'. Adding to fears, some panicked investors have reportedly been tricked into handing over the contents of their cryptocurrency wallets by scammers presenting themselves as Bitconnect 'customer support'. Wall Street veteran Peter Boockvar has warned of an impending 'epic crash' which could slash 90 per cent off Bitcoin, currently valued at around $10,000 (£8,300). He told CNBC the cryptocurrency's value could fall to between $1,000 (£718) and $3,000 (£2,154) over the next year. This uncertainty is driving Bitcoin owners to invest in the more reliable gold, according to Daniel Marburger, director of Coininvest."

Why the I.R.S. Fears Bitcoin -New York Times
"Many, including the Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, have warned about a 'Bitcoin bust' that could rival the dot-com crash of 2000 and wipe out speculators. But the bigger concern about cryptocurrencies may be the damage they could do, in the long run, to government finances through lost tax revenue....One approach would be for the government to accept the difficulty of directly taxing cryptocurrency transactions and to offset the revenue losses by raising tax rates. The basic economics of taxation tells us that the economic losses from taxes increase exponentially with the tax rate, so this response would transform revenue losses into a lower gross domestic product. More likely, the United States would take a tougher approach and attempt to ban cryptocurrencies. This solution throws the baby out with the bath water. While cryptocurrencies open opportunities for tax evasion and illegal operations, they also offer drastic reductions in the cost of financial transactions, especially for the poor, and less reliance on banks, which can increase the power of the Federal Reserve to control money supply and reduce the risk of bank runs. A smarter response would be for the government to switch from taxing income when it is received to taxing income when it is spent. Many economists support moving to this kind of consumption tax, but it would require a major overhaul of the tax code."

Will Americans Soon Be Totally De-Voted? -Pontification Blog
"We all know why Democrats were eager to use a government shutdown to force a path to citizenship for Latino aliens called 'Dreamers' who were brought here at age 16 or younger by illegal alien parents. These DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) 'kids' are a 'critical component of the Democratic Party's electoral success,' wrote former Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri in a memo from the left-of-center Center for American Progress Action Fund. No wonder President Barack Obama imposed DACA by what he admitted was an unconstitutional Executive Order after Congress refused to enact it into law. Now up to 36 years of age and numbering up to 3.6 million, these potential voters are inclined to vote two-to-one in favor of Democrats. Democrats thus far have refused to negotiate whether Dreamers, if made legal immigrants, can sponsor their parents and other relatives as legal residents and, soon thereafter, voting U.S. citizens…moving them ahead of other applicants....Many of these Dreamers could begin voting this year. On April Fool's Day, the State of California launches what its Department of Motor Vehicles calls 'exciting changes' that will provide automatic voter registration to anyone getting a California Driver License, without requiring any evidence of citizenship such as a birth certificate. California law prohibits asking voters at a polling place for an I.D. In other words, the once-Golden State, rushing its new law, is de facto letting non-citizens vote in the 2018 elections....DACA is in the Spanish idiom toma y daca, 'give and take.' American taxpayers give, and the Democrat-privileged 'Dreamers' take, turning our nation into a nightmare where we shall soon be outvoted - or 'de-voted,' as Craig R. Smith and I detail in our book Money, Morality & The Machine. Full story

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1.22.18 - Washington D.C. - Malfunction Junction

Gold last traded at $1,331 an ounce. Silver at $16.98 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices inched higher Monday on safe haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks hit fresh peaks as investors shrugged off the third day of U.S. government shutdown.

Shutdown extends into workweek, as Senate talks continue -Associated Press
"The government shutdown is set to sow more disruption and political peril Monday after the Senate inched closer but ultimately fell short of an agreement that would have reopened federal agencies before the beginning of the workweek. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said negotiations were still underway, with a vote to break a Democratic filibuster on a short-term funding bill scheduled for noon Monday. Under the proposal taking shape, Democratic would agree to a three-week spending measure - until Feb. 8 - in return for a commitment from the Republican leadership in the Senate to address immigration policy and other pressing legislative matters in the coming weeks. But Democrats appeared to be holding out for a firmer commitment from McConnell. 'We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward,' Schumer said late Sunday. McConnell’s comments followed hours of behind-the-scenes talks between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the display of legislative dysfunction, which began Friday at midnight after Democrats blocked a temporary spending measure. Democrats have sought to use the spending bill to win concessions, including protections for roughly 700,000 younger immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children."

gold Book Review: Nathan Lewis's Brilliant "Gold: The Final Standard" -Tamny/Real Clear Markets
"Near the end of his enlightening, myth-slaying and brilliant new book, Gold: The Final Standard, Nathan Lewis writes that 'hardly anything is created without combining goods, services, labor and capital from all over the world.' His simple statement says it all, and is a good jumping off point for a review of his essential history of quality money. In writing about the global cooperation required for the creation of goods and services, Lewis was making a much bigger point about money: it's best when it's least evident. Money is not wealth; rather money is an agreement about value that facilitates the exchange of wealth. When the value of money is unchanging, we're much more capable of trading without fear of being on the losing end of what is, by its very name, mutually enhancing. Applying all of this to the quote from Lewis that begins this review, stable money is crucial because in facilitating trade, it's propelling our individual specialization....Lewis's conclusion in the final chapter of Gold is that 'The free market economy has, inherent within it, the assumption that money is stable in value.'....Bitcoin's extraordinary volatility instructs. Precisely because its value is very much a moving target, it doesn't in any reasonable way fulfill the role of 'money.' The latter once again facilitates exchange, but Bitcoin's volatility renders it a very dangerous coin to exchange or invest with. The chances to lose, and lose BIG, are too great....People need to read Gold: The Final Standard, then read it again and again. So much information is within this brilliant book, and so much misinformation is exposed. Thank goodness for Nathan Lewis." Read full book review

Gold edges up as dollar slips after U.S. government shutdown -Reuters
"Gold prices edged higher on Monday as the dollar wallowed near three-year lows following a U.S. government shutdown, although bullishness in the wider financial markets capped the precious metal's gains. World stocks shrugged off the shutdown in Washington, with investors seemingly confident the conflict between President Donald Trump and Democrats can be resolved swiftly. 'We did see gold reach four-month highs last week on fears an agreement wouldn't be reached and indeed that came to pass. The fact that gold is a bit soft this morning suggests it was largely in the price,' said Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler....Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose over 2 percent last week, their best week since the week ended Sept. 3."

Cryptocurrencies Are Crashing Again... -Zero Hedge
"From South Korean bank blocks to Bulgarian Ponzi scheme shutdowns and a Bali bitcoin crackdown, you can take your pick as to what is driving the sudden plunge in cryptocurrencies this morning. Ethereum is back below $1000, Bitcoin is back to a $10k handle, and Ripple is down 30% from the weekend's highs. Weakness began around 6amET but really accelerated at around 8am ET...With Bitcoin and Ethereum breaking key support levels...The catalyst for the move is uncertain at best with numerous headlines over the weekend: OneCoin offices were raided and its servers seized in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Jan. 17 and 18, as yet another step in a series of international raids and court cases against the highly-controversial altcoin....Bitcoin exchanges are under fire in India, as many of the nation's top banks have suspended or greatly curtailed functionality on exchange accounts....The biggest Nordic bank sent a memo to all its employees on Monday informing them that they will not be allowed to trade in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies....Year-to-Date, Ethereum remains the only big winner of the major cryptos."

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1.19.18 - Wells Fargo Glitch Empties Accounts

Gold last traded at $1,333 an ounce. Silver at $17.03 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Friday on U.S. government shutdown worries. U.S. stocks traded mixed as blue chip stocks fell and politicians attempt a budget deal before midnight deadline expires.

Wells Fargo Glitch Leaves Customers With Empty Bank Accounts -CBSlocal
"Many Wells Fargo customers got a terrifying shock after finding their checking accounts drained due to a series of errors by the embattled bank. The Jan. 17 glitch reportedly emptied several customers’ accounts after processing their online bill payments twice and doubling transaction fees. According to CBS News, the banking error also triggered overdraft fees on many checking accounts as customers around the country were mistakenly informed they had a zero balance. The bank's phone lines were reportedly jammed through the night as angry customers demanded answers for the embarrassing mistake. Wells Fargo later put out a brief statement on Twitter explaining the situation. 'Some customers may be having an issue with their Bill Pay transactions. We are working to fix the issue and resolve this tonight. Thanks for your patience.' -Wells Fargo. The social media outrage was immediate as customers replied to the statement, many who were left without a way to pay for any goods. 'Utterly ridiculous, overdraft and in negative, four payments taken out gas station to be told that Wells Fargo card has been rejected only then found out by logging into online wells fargo account. SERIOUSLY!!! I wonder who will compensate the customers for the stress of this!!!' - Maheen Khan"

In November 2014, Swiss America chairman Craig R. Smith wrote the bestselling book, Don't Bank On It! The Unsafe World of 21st Century Banking. Since then Americans have witnessed (and often experienced first-hand) one crisis after another related to the pitfalls of keeping their money safe from; cyberhacking, banking glitches and the government's ongoing war on cash. Discover why it is wise to have alternative forms of money readily available so that your financial life remains in your own control in any situation - request a FREE Executive Summary of DON'T BANK ON IT!

Venezuela Venezuela's economy on the brink of collapse -CNNMoney
"You can't get $1 out of the bank in Venezuela, I tried. Four hours. Four banks. Six cents. This was a typical day in Caracas, Venezuela, capital of the world's most miserable economy. In most of the world, getting a little money out of the bank is an errand, something forgettable. In Venezuela, for millions of people, it is complicated, tedious and surreal, or just impossible. I moved here a year and a half ago to cover the country's economic crisis as a freelance journalist. I knew how bad things were, but I never imagined the constant daily struggle to achieve even the simplest of tasks. As Venezuela has sunk to new depths, prices have skyrocketed, and the currency, the bolivar, has become next to worthless. Supermarkets and banks have become scenes of confusion and chaos: Are they open? Do they have money or food? How much can I get? Inflation is so rampant - some experts say it ran above 4,000% last year - that it has devoured people's salaries. As I write this, one dollar fetches about 191,000 bolivars, according to the black market exchange rate that everyone uses....At 1:23 p.m., I finally presented my check and got the hard-earned cash: 10,000 bolivars, or 6 cents....With my 10,000 bolivars in hand four hours later, I met a friend for a coffee. My cappuccino cost 35,000 bolivars."

Gold bounces higher on risk of U.S. government shutdown -Marketwatch
"Gold prices climbed Friday, attempting to erase a loss for the week, as the risk of a U.S. government shutdown helped the precious metal rebound from the biggest one-day decline in more than a month. 'With the dollar struggling to gain ground and at the mercy of political uncertainty in Washington, the yellow metal is likely to remain buoyed,' said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM. 'Taking a look at the technical picture, Gold continues to fulfill the prerequisites of a bullish trend as there have been consistently higher highs and higher lows,' said Otunuga. 'There is a possibility that a new higher low has been created at $1,324.15 and as such could provide a foundation for bulls to elevate prices back towards $1,340. A decisive breakout and weekly close above $1,340 could pave a path towards $1,360,' he said....The House on Thursday passed a one-month spending bill that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16. But the stopgap measure lacks support to clear the Senate and the current interim funding bill expires at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday. U.S. economic data released Friday was downbeat, with consumer sentiment for January falling to a six-month low."

A protracted cryptocurrency crash would 'spill over' into stocks -CNBC
"A sustained sell-off in the cryptocurrency market will hit the stock market where it hurts, one major Wall Street firm warns. It's a scenario investors are underestimating, according to Wells Fargo Securities' Christopher Harvey. 'We see a lot of froth in that market. If and when it comes out, it will spill over to equities,' the firm's head of equity strategy said Tuesday on CNBC's 'Futures Now.' 'I don't think people are really ready for that.' Harvey's comments came as bitcoin, the cryptocurrency market's largest player, tanked. It plummeted 20 percent over two days, recouped much of those losses and then plunged below $10,000 Tuesday afternoon on Coinbase....In a worst-case scenario, he sees it affecting technology stocks first and then financials. Harvey believes investors don't recognize how much exposure they may have to the cryptomarket through stocks."

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1.18.18 - New Bull Market in Gold Has Begun

Gold last traded at $1,329 an ounce. Silver at $17.08 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Thursday on safe haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks retreated a day after the Dow closed above a new frothy peak of 26,000.

The Next Great Bull Market in Gold Has Begun -Rickards/Daily Reckoning
"A new, long-term, secular bull market in gold has begun. This new trend will take gold past $1,400 per ounce by the end of 2018, past $4,000 per ounce by 2020 (if not sooner) and ultimately to $10,000 per ounce or higher by the mid-2020s. This bull market actually began on Dec. 17, 2015, when the dollar price of gold sank to $1,051 per ounce. That's OK. Bull markets begin slowly, almost unnoticed in the gloom of the prior bear market. The biggest gains often come after a few years when the crowd catches on and the price action gains momentum. This new bull market in gold is the real deal and should last until 2028 or beyond. The moves so far have been relatively small compared with what's ahead. This is the perfect time to make your allocation to physical gold, gold mining shares and gold royalty companies or 'streamers.' The last secular bull market began on Aug. 25, 1999, when gold bottomed at $252 per ounce. From there, it began a spectacular 12-year run until peaking at just under $1,900 per ounce on Sept. 2, 2011. The 1999–2011 bull market represented a 655% gain over the starting price, easily outpacing stocks, bonds, emerging markets and other competing asset classes."

We agree! An exciting new bull market in gold is now upon us, which should lift both bullion and classic U.S. gold coin prices. However, that's just one of six good reasons to add to your gold holdings this year which are detailed by respected financial analyst Axel Merk in our FREE 2018 Real Money Perspectives newsletter, The Future of Money.

shutdown Washington's Dare Game -Fox News
"A blame game will consume Washington if the government shuts down this week. But first, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle must play the dare game. Republicans will essentially dare Democrats to vote no on an interim spending plan to avoid a shutdown. If Democrats vote yes, the government remains open. But if Democrats cast nay ballots, Republicans will try to turn that decision against vulnerable lawmakers in the midterm elections. By the same token, Democrats will dare Republicans to reject the same stopgap plan. This is a hope that the GOP - wielding majorities in both the House and Senate and President Trump occupying the White House - will present themselves as incapable of governing. A nay vote by Republicans could trigger a government shutdown. Democrats will cast the shutdown as emblematic of the bedlam associated with the Trump presidency. The irony is that neither side truly wants to stumble into a government shutdown this weekend. But Republicans and Democrats alike are daring the other side to do so....So first, there's the dare game. We'll likely know today which side won the dare. But if the government shuts down, we may have to wait until November to see who emerged victorious in the blame game."

Cryptocurrency Crash Sparks Bitcoin's Nouveau Riche to Run to Gold -Bloomberg
"Amid the wild Bitcoin ride that's wiped more than 40 percent off the cryptocurrency’s price in a month, a pattern may be emerging: sellers are switching out of digital gold and into the real thing. Bullion dealer Sharps Pixley regularly sees trades north of a million pounds, while sales of gold coins at Frankfurt-based CoinInvest jumped fivefold as the largest digital asset collapsed after surging 1,400 percent last year, according to Director Daniel Marburger. The current price swings across seemingly every cryptocurrency are bringing to the fore a question that has loomed over the industry since its inception: to what extent can a virtual asset be a store of value? By swapping out of digital gold and into the real thing, some investors may be providing an answer. Customers as young as 25 come in carrying laptops holding bitcoin they accumulated when it traded at $1 or below. One had 1,000 bitcoin he intends to turn into physical metal. The company doesn't take possession of bitcoin. Customers buy via an intermediary. 'Bitcoin is a bit of a lobster pot - it's easy to get in, but hard to get out,' said Ross Norman, a gold dealer with a store tucked in a corner of London frequented by the upper classes. 'Gold also offers investors 4,000 years of history as a store of value, and that’s looking quite appealing right now.'"

Banking Expert's Big Bitcoin Warning: How I Lost It All -Motley Fool
"Back in 2013, Matt Koppenheffer bought some Bitcoin when it was trading at just $768. And he never sold. With Bitcoin trading at about $16,250... Mr. Koppenheffer should be sitting on a 2,016% gain. Instead, he has zero... and some big recommendations for those wanting to profit off the Bitcoin frenzy. Even though he never sold a single bit of his Bitcoin, the exchange he used, VirWoX, began charging account inactivity fees - in Bitcoin - that munched away at his balance until he had nothing left. So much for long-term investing in Bitcoin, right? Matt is a colleague of mine who was the banking and financial services bureau chief for the Motley Fool, and host of 'Where the Money Is,' one of the top-rated business podcasts on iTunes. He recently showed me his account statements. It was amazing to see his balance head downward even as Bitcoin soared upward! As Matt told me, 'Don't make the same mistake as I did. It's still the Wild West when it comes to Bitcoin wallets and trading, so don't make any assumptions. Be careful!'"

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1.17.18 - Dow 26k: Market's "Euphoria Phase"?

Gold last traded at $1,328 an ounce. Silver at $17.04 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY:Precious metal prices hovered near 4-month highs Wednesday on a flat dollar. U.S. stocks rebounded on better-than-expected major bank earnings.

Bitcoin Sinks 50%, Below $10,000 -Bloomberg
"Bitcoin tumbled below $10,000, bringing its loss to almost 50 percent from a record set only a month ago, as increased scrutiny from regulators around the world weighs on the digital-coin craze. The largest cryptocurrency dropped 10 percent to $9,610.05 as of 9:33 a.m. in New York, its first foray below $10,000 since Dec. 1, according to consolidated pricing data collated by Bloomberg. It has fallen from a record $19,511 reached Dec. 18, and seen more than $140 billion shaved off its market value. The selloff this week brings more trauma to a digital-coin market that has lost more than $300 billion in value just since Jan. 13. After a dizzying rally pushed Bitcoin higher by 1,400 percent last year, the latest plunge cast doubt on the viability of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that underpins it. The most recent signs of a regulatory clampdown have come out of Asia, a hotbed of bitcoin trading. In South Korea, regulators warned they may shut down cryptocurrency exchanges, while China is said to have intensified its curbs on trading of the digital coins. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission asked at least 15 funds to pull applications this month for bitcoin-related exchange-traded funds."

Get the facts about the cryptocurrency craze in our free 2018 Real Money Perspectives newsletter, The Future of Money.

crash Is Dow 26,000 a sign that stocks are getting risky?-Shell/USA Today
"The Dow Jones industrial average's more than 1,000-point rise from 25,000 to "26K" in the past seven trading days has some investment pros warning that the nearly nine-year-old bull market may be entering its "euphoria phase" - which typically marks the final stage of a long, upward climb for stocks....This stretch of a bull market is characterized by higher share prices, rising investor optimism and fresh cash being funneled into the stock market by investors who fear missing out on gains despite the market's lofty levels....Main Street investors, who have been on the sidelines for most of the nine-year bull run after getting burned in the last market crash in 2008-09, are turning more optimistic. Last week, the number of individual investors who said they were "bullish" jumped to nearly 60%, the highest reading in more than seven years, according to the American Association of Individual Investors....Too much exuberance could be a dangerous thing, as it suggests Wall Street has gone from not just positive on stocks but 'all in,' says Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. 'We seem to be seeing that now.'"

A Weak Dollar Stirs A Toxic Stew -Alhambra Partners
"The dollar appears to be starting another downleg, breaking support last week to make a new low for this bear move. Next support is at the rising trend line at about 86 but a countertrend rally seems likely before a test of that level....A weaker dollar generally means stronger commodity prices and that is exactly what we've seen since the start of the year. Gold, in particular, has resumed its uptrend, not a particularly positive sign for future US growth. This is the easiest way to see how a weak dollar tends to offset the positives of tax reform. We experienced this before in the George W. Bush administration which paired a tax cut with a weak dollar policy and we know what that got us....I suspect markets - especially stocks - are in for a bit of a reality check. Expectations for growth are sky high and if I'm right about tax reform being a short tern negative, we are set up for disappointment....I am increasingly concerned about the impact of the falling dollar...A falling dollar drives investment to hard assets like gold, real estate and commodities."

Peak Gold Production Could Drive Prices Up -Money Morning
"Peak gold represents a watershed event for the yellow metal....In short, peak gold is the year in which gold miners extract as much of the yellow metal out of the ground as they ever will. Since 2015, production from gold mines has been flattening, according to data from Metals Focus. If the estimates for 2017 prove correct, peak gold happened in 2016. Metals Focus foresees a further decline this year. 'We're pretty close to [peak gold] if we're not at it,' World Gold Council Chair Randall Oliphant told Bloomberg last September at the Denver Gold Forum. Peak gold will fundamentally change the gold market by permanently restricting supply. And that in turn will serve as a major catalyst to gold prices and gold mining stocks for... well, forever....The shrinking supply is bound to drive prices up as gold-buying demand at least remains steady in 2018 and beyond. This is the perfect storm gold investors have been waiting for."

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