Opportunity in Crisis
Roger Wiegand interviewed by Brian Sylvester of The Gold Report
August 30, 2010
LISTENING TO TRADER TRACKS EDITOR ROGER WIEGAND TALK ABOUT MARKET conditions and precious metals is like listening to your favorite uncle tell stories at Thanksgiving. The difference is that Roger’s stories are a lot more likely to make you money. In this exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Roger offers up a few of his favorite gold and silver plays and some sage market advice.
The Gold Report: In a recent edition of Trader Tracks you quoted a former Nixon speechwriter who said, “Economics should never be treated as a science. Its claims are not falsifiable, which is why economists can disagree so violently among themselves. Economics is a branch of anthropology and psychology… a moral discipline.” Do you believe that’s true?
Roger Wiegand: I definitely agree with that. I think there’s more psychology in economics than many people realize. You can see that with the current economic reports coming out of Washington and New York. It’s obvious to intelligent people who follow these things that there’s a lot of manipulation going on in economics, in the stock market and in politics. It is often effective if it’s very timely. There’s no question that psychology plays a major role in economics.
TGR: Further to the point, do you believe the American public is somewhat conditioned to believe that economics is a science and thus place too much faith in it?
RW: I think that could be true. I really believe that 80%–90% of the American public is regularly sold a bill of goods by the Wall Street media from New York and Washington. It just keeps coming day after day and, after awhile, it wears them out. I think the majority of Americans still believe a lot of this information. From my point of view, a good portion of it is just nonsense.
TGR: If you could speak directly to the public and tell them what you believe they should know, what would you tell them?
RW: Well, I would say that the U.S. president is not really the man in charge. The people who are in charge of world economics, world currencies, governments and corporations are a shadow political group that has a great deal of power. Presidents in the U.S. are just puppets. They’re selected for their ability to do what they’re told. Congress is basically just a tool for these corporations and outsiders to manipulate the rules to get what they want. I think that’s obvious when you look at what’s happened with all the offshoring of American jobs. The issue that’s got a lot of people disturbed right now is the open border between Mexico and the United States. That exists because corporations want cheap labor. And there are obviously a lot of people involved in the Mexican drug trade. There’s a sheriff in Arizona who said that even members of Congress are involved. Until the teeth are taken out of pharmaceutical economics, these things are going to continue. Recently it’s become much worse because of what’s happened with the global banks and derivatives market. That’s what caused the Lehman Brothers collapse and took down the global economy. To make it worse, then–Treasury Secretary Henry (Hank) Paulson basically took government taxpayer money and gave it to the banks. He conjectured that, if we didn’t, the global financial system would implode. Quite frankly, I think it would’ve been better if we had taken our medicine and just moved on. But what’s happened now is that 90% of the toxic debt in those banks remains in those banks. They’ve taken it off balance sheets and put it into other corporations or partnerships (i.e., offshored it). They’re just holding the money given to them by the U.S. government earning bond interest. They’re not making loans to improve the economy.
TGR: Do you believe U.S. economic policy will ultimately lead to the demise of the USD?
RW: It’s hard to say. These things take years and they happen slowly. Our three- to five-year forecast for the U.S. dollar is 46 on the Dollar Index. One of our better analyst friends, whom you’ve interviewed before, pegs it at 40. We’re now at 82 or 82.5. Eighty is a magnetic number so to speak for the dollar. We expect it to stay there for two or three months, and then gradually drift lower. But is the dollar going to go away? I’m not so sure. It’s going to diminish in value in fits and spurts. Other currencies will replace the dollar to some extent; but, considering that the USD covers about 85% of all reserve currencies, I think it’s doubtful it will go away. They may try backing it by gold, silver or other precious metals; but it would take so much in precious metals to give it even a marginal backing that it’s difficult to imagine. For people buying and selling shares in our business, the biggest thing to watch for is the bond markets. That’s the Achilles heel of the worldwide credit system. The stock market is big but it’s peanuts compared to bonds. Bonds are 70x larger than stocks. The bond market today is in very big trouble.
TGR: Could you explain that further?
RW: At this point, Fed Chairman Bernanke can’t find buyers for his bonds; so he’s got to print bonds and buy them back himself. Recently, the Fed had a bond auction. It was said that 30% of the offering went to indirect buyers (meaning Bernanke bought the stuff back himself). We’ve seen some other auctions where they’ve had to buy back as much as 60%. In our view, that’s the beginning of the end because the other American bond and bill buyers are backing away.
TGR: You put quite a smattering of different quotes in your newsletter and some are quite grim. You had a couple from accounts of when hyperinflation plagued Germany’s Weimar Republic in the 1920s. Why do you put quotes like that into Trader Tracks?
RW: I’ve been accused of scaring people. But I don’t really do that. I just want them to understand what kind of situation we’re facing. When I speak at conferences, I explain that, while things look pretty nasty right now—and they do look comparatively grim to Germany in the early 1920s and America in the 1930s—if you look at what’s available to us today in terms of trading and investing, I think we’ve got an opportunity that we won’t see again for many, many years. I’m speaking specifically about gold and silver and shorting these major stock markets. While some of these quotes are pretty upsetting—frightening even—it’s merely to get your attention so you’ll get off your duff and do something. A lot of people we talk to at conferences understand and agree, but they don’t do anything. That’s not going to work anymore.
TGR: What are some of those opportunities, Roger?
RW: I’ve got three favorites that I trade for myself. I trade gold spreads, silver spreads and soybean spreads. Last year, on those three kinds of trades, I made 95%. They don’t require a lot of time, which is good, because I’m very busy writing my letter and helping my readers. I’m one of the few newsletter writers who will answer emails from subscribers when they get into trouble on a trade or are looking for some ideas about an opportunity. Our newsletter subscription price is higher than others, but we like to think we give good value because many of our traders can make the subscription cost back on just one or two trades.
TGR: Probably upwards of 80% of the stocks you list in your newsletters are junior gold and silver plays. The majority are juniors. What makes you believe these are places that investors should put their money?
RW: Let’s look at history. From 1979 to 1981, the last time we had a major gold rally to $850, silver went up to $50. If you picked 20 good juniors, probably half would fail. Another 25% would make some money. But there’s probably three to five that would be tremendous homeruns, like 1,000% or 2,000%. Of course, none of us really knows when that big blowoff is coming. Also, we can’t know which ones are going to be the best. I’m constantly sifting through companies, trying to take out the ones that just sit there and don’t move. It may be a good company; but, if it’s not going to move what good is it?
TGR: Do you have a trading philosophy?
RW: We encourage people to trade on the calendar: ‘Sell in May and go away’ and on the September–October selling event, which is quite common. The precious metals stocks, the juniors in particular, have been tied to the big markets. Over the past few months, we can see a separation. We can see now that the HUI, XAU and GDX are all going on their merry ways—away from the inverse trade of the dollar and from some of the big, mainstream stock indexes. We’ve been waiting for this. To me, it indicates that there’s going to be a major divergence or breakout in gold, silver and the related stocks.
TGR: How high is that going to take gold this fall?
RW: This fall we’re looking at $1,325 as a minimum goal on the December futures, which expire after Thanksgiving. We’re in an uptrend at the moment, but I think you’ll see a little leveling off and some light selling in August. After that, you’ll see a rebound. Normally, on the calendar between the last week of August all the way to April or May, we see a big rally in gold and silver with some intermediate profit-taking corrections. The 10-year trend has been solidly up. There’s no question that we’re going to have a good fall season.