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The Nonsense From Schiff Continues
Wednesday, May 26, 2010, by Stathis
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Today, I’m going to show you just how misguided Peter Schiff remains. As expected, Schiff continues to cling onto his one-way investment approach, which is focused on extremes. 

I am convinced that Peter will go to his death bed proclaiming the same things as he has over several years. 
 
As you might appreciate, things change and investments must be managed to account for these changes. However, as any good salesman would do, Schiff sticks to extremes, while never altering his course no matter how bad his “strategies” might look because extremes are what lure in the sheep, who have very little ability to think for themselves. 
 
Below is a recent newsletter from EuroPacific Capital released on May 18th, where Schiff discusses the dollar, euro, gold and oil. Let’s have a look.
 
“Last week, the European Central Bank abandoned all pretense that the euro would be the worthy heir of the Deutsche mark; based on the enormity of the nearly $1 trillion bailout of Greece and the moral hazard it creates for other spendthrift member-states, the euro is instead on its way to becoming the worthy heir of the drachma. While the bailout was intended to restore calm to the continent, thereby strengthening the euro, the result is a currency that has lost its shot at glory. Like Terry Malloy... it coulda been a contender.”
 
“Prior to this bailout, many investors – myself included – held to the belief that the German-led eurozone would be more fiscally responsible than countries whose governments have unilateral control over their own currencies. Given the decentralized political structure of the eurozone and the independence of the ECB, it was assumed that Western Europe would be unlikely, and perhaps unable, to inflate its way out of debt. As a result of this assumption, Europeans have enjoyed low interest rates and favorable exchange rates since the euro's introduction.”  
 
I want you to read this passage from Schiff, as he attempts to explain the problems which resulted in Greece’s crisis…
 
“However, many member-states, Greece first among them, abused the borrowing privileges conferred by a strong currency and, to put it bluntly, bit off more than they could chew. Rather than allowing Greece to default, which would have put real teeth into Europe’s previously untested commitment to fiscal responsibility, Europe proved it was all bark and no bite. The net effect has been to demonstrate that the ECB will monetize the debts of any member-state that has borrowed too much. As this understanding sinks in around the globe, the euro just sinks.”
 
Apparently, Mr. Schiff really has no idea what is going on in Greece. This is a nation that has had internal issues for several years. Greeks have been protesting national pension woes for many years.
 
Furthermore, no where does Schiff mention that U.S. banks pushed Greece over the edge with refinanings and other transactions that turned out to be devastating. Of course, you don’t hear about that in the media because there has been a big cover-up. Mark my words, it will come out down the road.
 
I know for a fact that Goldman Sachs was involved in helping the Greek debt crisis escalate. And I suspect that many of the other banks were involved as well. 
 
Next, Schiff goes on to discuss the euro…
 
“Unfortunately, many are mistaking this euro weakness for dollar strength. A quick glance at the price of gold – which has made new highs in both currencies – quickly disproves this myth. The fact is that both the dollar and the euro are losing value. At the moment, the euro is losing value faster; however, in the race to the bottom, my money is still on the dollar to win.”
 
Schiff continues to make the same mistake he has for years by implying that the dollar and euro are linked to gold. As Peter knows, the U.S. left the gold standard in the early 1970s. Since then, the dollar became linked to oil. Gold’s rise versus the euro’s recent weakness is a reflection of panic. As I have discussed before, gold rises (or outperforms, meaning it does not have to rise, but it will not fall as much as other assets) under the following conditions:
 
§         Stock market sell-offs
§         Global crisis
§         Deflation
 
However, under these instances, gold serves merely as a place to park money temporarily. Thereafter, gold prices fall.
 
As discussed in America’s Financial Apocalypse, gold is very volatile and should be traded. Institutions know this well. If you examine the surge in gold following market sell-offs and global crises, you will see that the price comes back down shortly after.
 
As for gold’s long-term upward trend, this may be explained by noting that gold has been in a bull market since late 2001. 
 
Moreover, it has experienced some characteristics of a bubble over the past year. This bubble has been due mainly to various myths and scare tactics preached by thousands of gold bugs.
 
The fact is that the dollar is displaying strength versus the euro for good reason. Schiff claims that people are mistaking the dollar’s strength for the euro’s weakness.
 
Peter, this is precisely why one currency rises against another. It’s all relative.
 
In fact, Schiff apparently has not bothered to examine the chart of the USD/EUR, for if he had, he would see that the dollar is approaching a major longer-term trend reversal. I alerted newsletter subscribers of this recently.
 
Schiff continues…
 
“It is generally believed that the US government will never default on its debt, no matter how much red ink it generates nor how onerous servicing that debt might become. For now, the rest of the world seems content to buy our debt – despite the fact that they are paid next to nothing for the favor. To those who have raised concerns that foreign buying may someday cease, the Fed has clearly telegraphed its intention to print as much money as needed to buy up any debt that remains unsold. Under these conditions, those who now question the future validity of the euro without casting similar warnings on the dollar are employing a shameless double standard.”
 
“For all of its new faults, the euro remains more reliable than the dollar. Once the re-rating process is complete, and the euro finds a new floor, I expect the dollar to resume its relative slide against its transatlantic cousin. Meanwhile, I expect both currencies to continue to lose value relative to gold and other key currencies. Given the euro’s damaged reputation, I expect pledges from European governments to rein in budget deficits and from the ECB to defend the value of its currency. While the long-term implementation of such commitments may prove lacking, a short-term rally in the euro should ensue – especially given the rapidity of its recent descent, and the overwhelming bearish sentiment against it. It is my intent to use such strength as an opportunity to re-evaluate our eurozone holdings.”
 
What Schiff fails to realize is that foreign investors want U.S. Treasuries for a damn good reason. Schiff needs to ask them why they want treasuries instead of listening to his fortune-teller predictions. Understand this. No serious investor listens to Schiff, Faber or any of the other media whores. They are on TV to lure the sheep.
 
The U.S. dollar is the universal currency. It is linked to the global oil supply and the U.S. remains as the most dominant nation on Earth. As such, U.S. Treasuries remain as the safest investments on Earth.
 
The U.S. has never defaulted on its obligations. And while I certainly see some big problems for the U.S. going forward, the fact is that the euro has a very short history. This is the first time it has been tested and it is not making an impressive showing.
 
For Schiff to state that the euro “remains more reliable than the dollar” is preposterous. When the challenges for the U.S. are highlighted, the dollar’s weakness reflects this. But when the globe faces a meltdown, everyone flocks to the dollar as a safe haven for a good reason.
 
Going forward, we will see continued problems around the globe. In the not so distant future, it is likely that the emphasis of these problems will shift back again to the U.S. and the dollar will reflect this. However, we are looking at a global depression. That means that the dollar will remain as the safe haven, despite the internal issues faced by America.
 
I predicted the collapse of the euro a few years ago. And I reiterated that back in 2009. In short, the economic differences between member nations will create severe economic disparities.
 
Furthermore, member nations are struggling with the loss of sovereignty. My prediction was for the euro to be finished sometime around 2020. Thus, for Schiff to state that the euro remains more reliable than the dollar is nonsense.
 
Finally, Schiff praises the euro, while in the end, he implies that he is concerned. As a result, he plans to reevaluate his euro holdings. Please.
 
And of course, to close out his piece, Schiff pitches his books, as if everyone does not already know about them. Reputable “strategists” working for brokerage firms don’t plug their books every chance they get, especially when they are provided with daily opportunities to market to millions via the media.
 
In fact, reputable strategists working for brokerage firms rarely even write books. When they do, you had better believe these books are largely useless and serve only as marketing tools.
 
It would appear that Schiff is Superman, having written several books in a couple of years, while managing his brokerage firm, submitting daily You Tube videos, making the daily rounds on the radio and TV stations, all while doing investment research.
 
If should be clear to those with a brain what is going on here. Peter Schiff is a marketer, not a researcher. And his extreme views serve as his sales pitch, which he refuses to change regardless of changing market conditions.
 
Next, Schiff’s newsletter discusses a couple of oil stocks. So let’s have a look.
 
Investment Ideas
Oil Patch Moves North
“In light of the inflationary environment being teed up by the Fed’s relentless money printing, we feel commodity prices will continue their upward trend. As a result, we see opportunities in companies involved in petroleum production. In particular, we are focusing on firms working in the Bakken Formation, an expansive oil-producing region of North America.
The Bakken is part of the Williston Basin located in eastern Montana, western parts of North Dakota and South Dakota, and southern Saskatchewan. Identified by geologists in 1953, the field extends approximately 475 miles north-south and 300 miles east-west. Based on recent development of the Bakken field, only Texas, Alaska, and California currently produce more oil than North Dakota. (According to the Energy Information Agency, North Dakota had been ranked 8th among the states just three years ago). In 2008, the USGS (US Geological Survey) estimated the Bakken Formation had 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, recoverable oil – a 25-fold increase compared to the agency's 1995 estimate.
A key factor in North Dakota’s rise in oil production has been the advancement of a drilling technique known as ‘horizontal multistage fracturing.’ The Bakken Formation is two miles underground, and its oil is held in a fairly shallow horizontal layer. Extraction requires a two-mile deep conventional (vertical) well that turns 90 degrees for another two miles. Short segments of this horizontal section are then pumped with pressurized water to fracture the surrounding rock, allowing access to additional oil that would otherwise be unrecoverable. As a direct result of this technical innovation, North Dakota’s annual crude oil production has doubled since 2000. 
This activity has attracted oil services companies to help drill, fracture, transport, and refine the increasing amounts of oil gushing from the Bakken. Here are two that we like:
Company #1
North Dakota's production of 275,000 barrels per day (bpd) has nearly outpaced the state's refining and transportation capacity. The state's only refinery has a capacity of 58,000 bpd. This company's pipeline, which moves oil east, has recently expanded its capacity significantly. The company is a publicly-listed limited partnership headquartered in Texas, with over 4,000 miles of pipes in its system.
The company's stock price fell dramatically in the latter half of 2008, as fear drove the market heavily into cash. As activity returned to the energy patch, demand for pipelines resumed. The company raised its dividend after reporting solid improvement in net income for the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year.
The company's market capitalization is now almost $6.0 billion, with an attractive distribution.
 
Company #2
Company #2 provides consulting services and solutions for the process of hydraulic fracturing – a method of breaking through stone to reach oil pockets. It is also the world's largest supplier of an essential component in the fracturing process. As the rock surrounding the wellbore breaks as a result of pressurized water injections, this company's product wedges itself into the newly formed crevices. Without the product, the fractures could close and stop the flow of oil.
This Texas-based company has little debt and sells its oil production improvement and recovery services in North America, Europe, and China. The company reported increased year-over-year revenue and announced that it plans to increase its production capacity by 40% over the next 20 months.
The company's market capitalization is now approximately $1.5 billion, with a promising dividend yield.
 
 
 
Doesn’t this remind you of one of those email newsletters that tries to tempt you to invest so that you can get in on their “secret” investment? 
 
First, note the statement he makes; it’s a bit worrisome to me and emphasizes the approach taken by brokers…
 
“In light of the inflationary environment being teed up by the Fed’s relentless money printing, we feel commodity prices will continue their upward trend. As a result, we see opportunities in companies involved in petroleum production.”
 
As noted, Schiff’s newsletter was sent out on May 18th, in the midst of the collapse in oil prices. While I myself bought some oil stocks a week earlier, oil had not yet entered the collapse stage. And I stated I would be cautious and wait and take a wait-and-see approach.
 
Finally, for me, buying oil made sense because I bought it below my cost basis a few months ago when I sold it. Thus, to enter new positions now seems quite hasty, especially for stocks that don't pay cash dividends! 
 
If you are going to buy oil stocks in this market (or any stocks for that matter) you need to make sure you are getting good dividends, ESPECIALLY if you are going to buy-and-hold, which is apparently the approach employed by EuroPacific's brokers (much like the brokers most everywhere else).
 
If you aren't getting dividends, you need to be making short-term and swing trades. Otherwise, you are best to stay out of this market.
 
You need to understand that brokerage firms are in the business of always selling you stocks, regardless how much things are going down, as if they think investors have unlimited money and can keep averaging down their position cost basis.
 
While this is probably a good time to be buying oil, there certainly is no rush.
 
Investors should take a step back and be patient. Timing is important. Like all other brokers, apparently Schiff disagrees. This is likely to reflect his brokers’ inability to determine securities timing, which certainly isn’t a sin, as this is extremely difficult to do. However, those who have access to my newsletter might have a different opinion about that. 
 
Next, notice he used the word “inflationary,” while avoiding the use of hyperinflation. This seems a bit odd coming from a man who has preached hyperinflation for several years now. Perhaps Mr. Schiff does not want to get into trouble with FINRA; just a guess.
 
It’s quite easy to determine which oil stocks Peter (or one of his associates) is mentioning. Just do a Google search for “Bakken oil stocks” and match the parameters. For instance, the first stock he discusses is most likely EOG.
 
Why would anyone want to buy an oil stock in this environment (secular bear market) which doesn’t pay cash dividends? The ONLY way I would justify this move is if the stock was being actively managed via trading and covered calls in order to reduce risk and capture income. I doubt this is being done by EuroPac brokers. Some of Schiff’s clients can let me know if I’m wrong.
 
Why do I have doubts that these positions are being actively managed? Because brokers typically buy-and-hold. Very few take the time to actively manage accounts. They focus on sales.
 
Do you see any mention of topics like relative undervaluation of securities or risk management?  
 
Next, notice the charts for these stocks. 
 
What do you see?
 
Do you see long-term price appreciation? I don’t.
 
What I see are stocks that have been floundering.
 
What I can tell you is that based on the lack of price appreciation, these stocks should be paying out nice dividends because they obviously aren’t growing earnings sufficiently to justify higher valuations.
 
This is a basic rule of investing. I actually discuss this in detail in the Wall Street Investment Bible.
 
Now, by no means do I want to send the message that Schiff is the most clueless of all media whores. Most of the others that share his extremist one-way views like Marc Faber and others in his circle of doom are more clueless.
 
As well, those on the other extreme are even more clueless; the traditional Wall Street establishment that denies problems. 
 
However, it really does not matter because this is not a contest to see who is least clueless among a group of extremists.
 
All that matters is whether you can invest and manage risk well.

 

 

 

 

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