Jim Rickards Warns of Complete Economic Freeze

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If we reach an “Ice-9” scenario that he has alluded to in the past, here’s what the analyst says may be in store for the financial markets and precious metals.

In a recent interview with Kitco, renowned finance author Jim Rickards spoke about the state the world currently finds itself in, both economically and in an all-encompassing sense, and what individuals can do to preserve their wealth during a time of panic and when faced with shutdowns across the board.

Rickards’ books frequently feature a warning theme where the expert cautions investors that the usual band-aid methods applied by central banks to fix ailing economies, such as pumping liquidity, are just that and aren’t going to work indefinitely. The coronavirus, however, represents a threat to the global economy that neither officials nor investors are prepared to deal with.

Rickards cites prominent immunologist Anthony Fauci to highlight the fact that the markets are trying to price in a crisis whose magnitude they have yet to be made aware of, resulting in cases like the stock market’s ongoing search for a bottom. Making matters worse, Rickards thinks we might be nearing an “Ice-9” scenario that he sometimes refers to in his books, alluding to a complete economic freeze. And although some fund managers have already requested a 30-day shutdown, Rickards notes that measures like these would prove completely ineffective.

A NYSE shutdown would trigger a collapsing effect, says Rickards, with investors trying to get their hands on cash from money markets, brokerage accounts and banks as each shuts down after the other. Before long, the global economy would be in complete lockdown and no interventions by the Federal Reserve or other central banks would have an effect.

This brings Rickards to the inescapable reality that owning physical gold and silver is one of the few reliable ways of preserving access to liquidity, especially if things progress to a point where moderate-scale evacuations begin to occur.

Rickards dismisses economic views that owning bullion in these scenarios is a bad idea due to potential deflation, pointing to the stretch between 1927 and 1933. As Rickards notes, this six-year span was the most deflationary period in U.S. history, yet gold rose by 75% during that time. Furthermore, gold’s prices were still fixed in 1933, making Rickards believe that a similar deflationary bout in present day would usher in far greater gains.

Regardless of how the situation develops, Rickards urged people not to wait when it comes to acquiring precious metals, saying that many are already having difficulties trading in contracts. On the flip side, Rickards said that the keenest of traders are still waiting for gold’s price to bottom out before going all-in, as they expect the precious metals market to have a prolonged bull run similar to that between 2008 and 2011. Rounding up his advice, Rickards also suggested that people keep some of their gold and silver easily accessible to maintain flexibility in a highly uncertain environment.

The Simple Reason Gold Fell with Stocks Last Week

Although most assume that gold would have surged, this is not without precedent, with past cases resulting in massive upside for gold prices. See why here.

As the coronavirus crisis worsens throughout China and the rest of the world, the global market has seen its sharpest decline since the 2008 financial crisis. Virtually all equities plunged last week as traders rushed to dump their assets in favor of cash, with the Dow losing as much as 3,600 points within the week.

Some analysts found it curious that gold and silver prices also fell, with the metal dropping from about $1,640 to the $1,560 range during Friday’s trading session. Gold is known for its hedging properties and generally prospers as a consequence of stock selloffs, making the parallel action come off as unusual.

Yet upon closer inspection, one can see that a mutual selloff in both markets is not without precedent, and that similar cases in the past have resulted in massive upside for gold once the dust settled. Last year, much was said about the peculiarity of gold moving up together with stocks, considering the latter are seen as the metal’s biggest competitor. As gold kept climbing, however, it became clear that the metal’s numerous drivers and sturdy fundamentals were powering the gains as opposed to sentiment.

As various experts have explained, the precious metals selloff shouldn’t be of particular concern to gold investors as a massive wave of panic has taken hold of the markets. Peter Spina, president and CEO of GoldSeek.com, pointed out that some of the selling is a result of a general selloff by large funds, which recently increased their positioning in the gold market by a wide margin. Likewise, Peter Grant, vice president of precious metals at Zaner Metals, pointed out that the threat of contagion has significantly hampered physical transactions in China and India, two of the world’s biggest buyers whose bullion investors tend to favor in-person purchases.

Brien Lundin, editor of Gold Newsletter, noted that silver’s decline is also tied to diminished industrial demand, as the coronavirus has impacted both the commodity and energy markets. The already-skewed gold/silver ratio has now climbed above 95, exceeding last year’s peak and nearing its all-time high.

Despite the selling pressure from the past few days, there are good reasons to be excited about gold prices moving forward. Lundin pointed out that this kind of price action is part and parcel of any global crisis, as central banks invariably respond to damaged economies by introducing massive amounts of stimulus. The 2008 financial crisis, which ended up moving gold prices to all-time highs, was an example of investors recognizing that loose central bank policies are causing just as much damage to the economy as the crisis itself.

As in 2008, Lundin expects multiple rate cuts, quantitative easing and increased government spending in response to the crisis. Given gold’s tremendously positive response to successive and unexpected rate cuts in 2019, Lundin predicts that the coronavirus crisis will ultimately prove far more beneficial than detrimental to the precious metals market, adding that prices could retake their upwards trajectory with much greater vigor in the coming weeks and months.