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Gold Is The Ultimate Contrarian Investment Right Now – Forbes

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June 30, 2021

Legendary global investor John Templeton once said that the best time to buy was when there was “maximum pessimism,” and the best time to sell was when there was “maximum optimism.”

This type of contrarian investing takes great conviction and nerves of steel, but its practitioners—Templeton included—can be rewarded handsomely. The trick is to find the opportunities.

Right now I see gold as the ultimate contrarian investment. The yellow metal is largely unloved at the moment. It’s set to notch its worst monthly slump since November 2016, and the 50-day moving average is threatening to fall below the 200-day moving average.

Bloomberg reports that the S&P 500-to-gold ratio is nearing its highest level in over 15 years. As of this week, it takes close to two and a half ounces of gold to buy one “share” of the S&P 500. That’s up significantly from September 2011 when two thirds of an ounce of gold was enough to get you entry. 

All of this points to the fact that gold is extremely undervalued right now, and no one seems to be paying much attention. I don’t know if this means we’re at “maximum pessimism.” What I do know is that all of the traditional drivers of the gold price are firmly in place, making the yellow metal very attractive, I believe. I’ll highlight two of those drivers below.

Record Money-Printing Favors Gold

Over the past 18 months, central banks have taken unprecedented measures to prop up their economies. That includes printing money at a record pace, which has the direct effect of diluting the purchasing power of the local currency.

Recently I shared with you that nearly a quarter of all U.S. dollars in circulation has been created since January 2020. What that means, essentially, is that the greenback has lost a quarter of its value thanks to the actions of Powell & Company.

Such money-printing has rightfully triggered massive interest in Bitcoin, which (unlike the dollar) is completely decentralized and has no third-party risk. The rate of new Bitcoin issuance is cut in half roughly every four years. No central banker, then, can push a button and create millions more Bitcoin out of thin air.

The same can be said of physical gold. Gold’s supply growth is naturally restricted by a lack of new large discoveries and companies’ reluctance to spend more to develop harder-to-mine deposits.

One advantage that gold has over Bitcoin is that there’s decades’ worth of data illustrating the near-perfect positive correlation between the amount of money circulating in the U.S. economy and the price of gold. As the value of the U.S. dollar has decreased due to greater rates of money-printing, gold has surged to new record highs.

The implication, of course, is that gold may continue to benefit from the Fed’s easy-money policies. 

Inflation to Remain Elevated

The second factor is something I’ve been writing a lot about lately—inflation. May’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 5% over the same month last year. That’s the highest rate we’ve seen since August 2008.

The real inflation, though, could be much higher. The price of used cars and trucks are up more than 36% from last year, according to vehicle auction company Manheim, with some pre-owned vehicles selling for more than their original sticker price.

Or consider home prices. They climbed at their fastest rate on record in April, increasing 14.5% year-over-year, surpassing the previous record rate set in September 2005.

Despite the Fed’s insistence that this current spate of inflation is “transitory,” analysts at Bank of America believe prices could remain elevated for two to four years. Short of a major financial crisis, central banks are unlikely to raise rates in the next six months to tame inflation, according to the bank. The CME Group’s FedWatch Tool shows there’s a 100% chance of rates staying near zero until at least the end of 2021.

Everyone’s heard at one point or another that gold is an excellent inflation hedge. That hasn’t been true in every cycle, and it’s not true now: The CPI is up 5% while gold is effectively flat compared to a year ago.

But that may be because we’re at “maximum pessimism,” as Templeton called it. Gold is presently out of favor as stocks chart new all-time highs. If Templeton were alive today, he might say now is the time to buy.

Plus, with bond yields trading below zero on a real basis right now, investors may have little alternative than to consider gold and gold mining stocks in an effort to combat inflation’s impact on their portfolios.

Is gold overbought or oversold? How can you tell? Find out in my video by clicking here!

All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor. By clicking the link(s) above, you will be directed to a third-party website(s). U.S. Global Investors does not endorse all information supplied by this/these website(s) and is not responsible for its/their content.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change overtime in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. M2 is a measure of the U.S. money stock that includes M1 (currency and coins held by the non-bank public, checkable deposits, and travelers’ checks) plus savings deposits (including money market deposit accounts), small time deposits under $100,000, and shares in retail money market mutual funds. The S&P 500 is a stock market index that tracks the stocks of 500 large-cap U.S. companies. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index is a composite of single-family home price indices for the nine U.S. Census divisions and is calculated monthly. It is included in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index Series which seeks to measure changes in the total value of all existing single-family housing stock.

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Goldman and DWS prepare bids for NN Investment Partners – Financial Times

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Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Germany’s DWS are preparing bids for NN Group’s investment management arm as consolidation in the industry gathers pace.

The Dutch insurer said in April it was considering a sale of NN Investment Partners, which has €300bn in assets under management.

The deadline for final binding offers is Monday. GSAM, which has more than $2tn in assets under supervision, and Frankfurt-based DWS are still in the sale process and preparing bids, said people familiar with the situation.

The deal price is in the region of €1.4bn, one of the people said. NN Group, GSAM and DWS declined to comment.

UBS Asset Management, Janus Henderson and US insurer Prudential Financial are among those to have previously registered their interest. All three declined to comment.

Investment managers globally are embarking on mergers and acquisitions designed to shield profits from rising costs and falling fees, while seeking to tap into fast-growing markets such as passive investing, private assets and ESG, and open up new distribution channels.

“The competitive environment for traditional active asset managers has intensified and a smaller group of larger players are now dominating the institutional segment,” said Vincent Bounie, senior managing director at Fenchurch Advisory, a specialist investment bank for financial services.

“It has become complicated to grow and very difficult to have a profitable business, in particular if you have undifferentiated plain vanilla products.”

Asoka Woehrmann, chief executive of DWS, which is majority owned by Deutsche Bank, told shareholders at the €820bn group’s annual meeting last month that it wanted to be “an active player” in industry consolidation. It is seeking further scale to challenge rival Amundi for supremacy in Europe.

Meanwhile for insurance companies, a prolonged period of low interest rates and higher capital requirements under Solvency II rules is prompting groups to weigh up where they allocate their capital, Bounie said. “For many of them, subscale asset management divisions are no longer core activities and there will probably be more divestments.”

NN Group, which is based in The Hague, came under pressure last year from activist hedge fund Elliott Management to improve returns and streamline its operations. It said in April it was considering options including a merger, joint venture or a partial divestment of the division.

NN Investment Partners has about 950 employees. Of its €300bn in assets under management, two-thirds is managed on behalf of its insurance parent company with the remaining third run for external investors.

The division’s range of funds covers fixed income, equity, multi-asset and alternative investment strategies. It has a strong position in ESG investing, notably in areas such as green bonds, impact equity and sustainable equity.

Additional reporting by Ian Smith in London

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Condo Smarts: Existing buildings can be good investment – Times Colonist

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Dear Tony: We are retiring this year and considering downsizing to a condo. We have started looking at both new and existing properties around Vancouver and Victoria, but we encounter challenges with both options.

New developments are often available only through presales and the time periods for completion would require us to sell, rent until the property is ready, and with few assurances of completion dates would require us to move twice with no guarantees how the properties would be managed or how fees would be structured for long term operations.

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Existing buildings are more attractive; however, we find most properties are sold within days of listing, and there appears to be more of a concern by realtors to keep strata fees low rather than looking at the age of the buildings and the long-term maintenance to protect owner investments.

Are there any standards or consumer rules we might consider following? As new buyers into a condo lifestyle we would like to avoid a sinking investment.

Karyn and Jerry W.

There are many existing buildings and communities that are an excellent investment. They are easily identified by reviewing the financial reports, investments, a depreciation report completed by a qualified consultant or reserve planner, and by reviewing the minutes of the strata corporation to identify how they address maintenance, planning and funding for the future.

While every building has different amenities, staffing and servicing requirements, an annual budget that identifies all the service contracts for maintenance and operations is a significant asset. An active use of the depreciation report to plan for future renewals and major maintenance components is a healthy indication of a well managed property.

Low strata fees are problematic for strata corporations as they often indicate a community dependent on special levies. Special levies require a 3/4 vote of owners at general meetings and many owners vote against a special levies generally due to affordability issues. The result of failed special levies is deferred repairs that will only rise in cost and damages, and the potential for court actions or CRT orders.

There is also a direct link between low strata fees, deferred maintenance and renewals, and higher risks for insurers. This results in higher insurance rates and deductibles for strata corporations.

Buyers should always request copies of depreciation reports, any engineering and environmental reports, minutes of annual meetings, the bylaws and rules of the property, copy of the strata insurance policy, and a Form B Information Certificate, which will also identify any courts actions or decisions against the strata corporation. Read all documents and discuss any issues with your realtor and lawyer. This should help separate the well managed buildings vs the buildings at risk.

New construction in some ways is easier to manage as the strata corporation is enabled to make the right decisions that will impact funding and future operations. Owners can have a direct effect on their investments by joining and supporting the newly formed strata council and making decisions that ensure a well funded and planned operations plan.

Strata fees for new properties often start low in the first year as there are service contracts included with the new construction that are included in the warranty period and some developers will entice buyers with low costs. Plan on an increase of fees once all units are occupied and the strata corporation is fully serviced for operations and maintenance.

This may be impacted by insurance costs, staffing, and consulting for warranty inspections, legal services and the management of warranty claims, the commissioning of a deprecation report, and operational requirements.

Every building, which consists of endless components, will have failures. The effective management and planning of those issues when they arise is the true test of a well managed property. Product failures and installations are often beyond anyone’s control; however, a well funded property will also be able to respond without a significant crisis for owners.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association.

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Investing inside a corporation: what you need to know – MoneySense

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FPAC responds:

Congratulations on your successful retirement! At a stage when most people are focussed on decumulation, you’re asking about establishing an approach for long-term, tax-efficient investing inside your corporation. Let’s walk through these important considerations:

Investment decisions: robo-advisor or DIY—and ETFs or bank stocks?

A robo-advisor is a great choice for automated, tax-efficient and low-cost investing. A robo-advisor will be able to set you up with a portfolio of low-cost, widely diversified ETFs. Regular rebalancing, quarterly reporting and ease of use will make this option attractive if you are looking for a hands-off approach. Most of the leading robo-advisor platforms in Canada will help you set up a corporate account. 

If you’re comfortable being a little bit more hands-on, you might consider implementing a multi-ETF model portfolio. This approach will require you to open an account at a brokerage and do some regular investment maintenance, including allocating cash, reinvesting dividends and rebalancing

Alternatively, you could also consider implementing an asset-allocation ETF solution. These “all-in-one” ETFs are available in different stock/bond allocations to suit your risk preferences, and they are globally diversified. 

You mention tax-efficiency being important to you. Broad index-based ETFs track an underlying market index. The stocks and bonds in these indices do not change often, so there isn’t a lot of buying and selling of stocks—also known as “turnover”—happening inside of your ETFs. A portfolio with low turnover will not stir up a lot of unwanted capital gains in years that you don’t want to take money out of your accounts, and less turnover means less tax payable year-to-year, leaving more of your money working for you. All in all, tax efficiency is a huge benefit of an index fund ETF approach to investing, especially if you’re investing inside of a corporation. 

You also mentioned bank stocks as an alternative. I can understand the appeal of this approach, as buying stocks of Canada’s large financial institutions has proven to be an effective strategy over the past several years. Unfortunately, the past performance of any investment strategy does not tell us much about its performance in the future. And, in the case of bank stocks, your investment will be very concentrated on a single sector, in a single country. This approach to investing carries risks that can be easily diversified away by using broad, globally diversified index-based ETFs. (In fact, Nobel Prize laureate Harry Markowitz famously called diversification “the only free lunch in investing.”)

Understanding the ins and outs of corporate investing

Investing inside of a corporation can be complicated. A corporation is taxed differently than an individual in Canada. As individuals, we are taxed based on a progressive income tax system, meaning higher amounts of income are taxed at higher rates. In your case, if you are earning (or realizing) a lower income in retirement, your last dollar of income is likely taxed at a lower rate than it was while you were working. When you combine lower tax rates with other benefits that the tax system provides to seniors—such as pension income splitting and age credits—it is possible that you will not be taxed at the high end of the marginal tax table in retirement. 

Passive investment income generated inside a corporation, on the other hand, is taxed at a single flat rate of around 50% in Ontario, or close to the highest marginal tax rate. Passive income tax rates are so high because the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) doesn’t want us to have an unfair tax advantage by investing our portfolios inside corporations.

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