Liberty is better than a rising Gold Price...
WITH OVER TWO DECADES' experience writing about precious and base metals, Leonard Melman has visited and reported on mining operations on four continents. His articles appear on numerous mining company websites, and he has also contributed commentary and corporate studies to other publications, including the Aspermont group of publications in Australia and DEL Communications in Winnipeg. Melman was previously a manager of multi-million Dollar consumer lending operations and a securities and commodity broker.
The Gold Report: Your report is a hot commodity in the mining space. You also recently published a book, Reversing the Way In. Can you tell me about it?
Leonard Melman: It amounts to this: I believe the world has too much government. I don't think too many people would argue about that, except the dedicated leftists. Two phases have occurred in the last 300 years to create our present situation. The first, from 1700 to 1850, was immensely positive because the principles of real liberty became established.
Authors like John Stuart Mill wrote about the tremendous benefits of economic liberty combined with individual liberty. Freedom became dominant and life improved dramatically.
But then people like Marx came in and provided the social justification for increased government intervention. Politicians began to try to create happiness through laws and regulations aimed at improving peoples' lives. Woodrow Wilson almost singlehandedly transformed the US government from free enterprise into government controlled.
John Maynard Keynes gave the economic justification for larger government. Franklin Roosevelt took Keynes's philosophies and translated them into political action to enlarge government.
For the last 150 years, we have been enlarging government. I believe the solution to the problem is to reverse that way in, to start diminishing government and reduce its stranglehold over commerce.
TGR: You obviously see this as a major problem. Is that what prompted you to write the book?
Leonard Melman: The biggest passion in my life is individual liberty. I don't think a person is free when his whole life can be dominated by government. We are subject to government laws in so many directions. All of these laws require money to enforce and operate. The government has to extract more taxes.
It's creating tremendous economic difficulties because government has no way to tax people sufficiently to support itself. That's why debt levels around the world, for governments in country after country, are exploding. It's an unhealthy environment. I think we need a restoration of freedom. That was the purpose of writing the book.
TGR: One theme you discuss is that our freedom will continue to erode if US monetary policy continues down its current path. But that path is ultimately good for gold and other precious metals. How do you on one hand recommend gold and precious metal stocks in your newsletter, and on the other hand advocate change in monetary policy that, if successful, would diminish the Gold Price?
Leonard Melman: It's an unfortunate reality. A precious metal investor who expects the price of gold and silver to go up should also be expecting an increase in social and economic problems.
The investment side of me says, "Yes, gold and Silver Prices will go up because the trends moving in that direction are so powerful." The libertarian, freedom-loving side of me says, "I would rather have a world of freedom if it's possible to achieve it." There is a direct contradiction in those two statements and I'm aware of that.
Just think back to the Ronald Reagan era. In 1980, the world was headed into ultimate calamity. Gold shot up from $106/oz. in 1976 to more than $800/oz. in 1980. Reagan came along and tried to crunch down, limit the growth of government, reduce inflation and reduce monetary growth. He was relatively successful, and a period of stability was obtained.
Of course, gold and silver did horribly during that time, even though the country was generally becoming a better place to live.
There is a contradiction between the two. But I am advocating gold and silver because the forces behind monetary expansion are so strong that they're going to continue. The forces for expansion of government still remain powerful because of its ability to create money.
The public believes that we can keep adding social programs to the list and the government will find a way to finance them as long as it can print more money. As long as that mentality remains in effect, gold and silver are going to achieve great heights.
TGR: Last spring, Greece needed a bailout from other Eurozone countries. It created panic that sent global markets into volatility. Now, Ireland requires an extra $34 billion in bailout cash from the European Union. Portugal seems headed for a bailout, too. But this time, there's little panic. What's your view on what's happening there?
Leonard Melman: The European monetary crisis is in its early stages. Portugal is headed toward a calamity. Italy is also very weak. Spain is showing real signs of deterioration. In fact, its bonds were downgraded by both Standard & Poor's and Moody's. There is no question there is a growing crisis.
There have been many panic calls from the media and mining investment gurus saying, "This crisis is the end, head for the hills!" None of those calamities have ensued. It's going to take one of these calamities to actually evolve into a catastrophe before people will really pay attention.
Underlying it all is this residual faith that the government can still handle calamities as they come along by some legislative manipulation or by monetary creation. Until that underlying faith is broken, I don't think we'll see the worldwide panic some are predicting.
TGR: The June COMEX gold chart says there's support for gold at $1,411/oz., but there's technical resistance above $1,450/oz. Do you put much faith in the technical charts?
Leonard Melman: Absolutely. Charts tell what people are doing. I'm always much more interested in what they're doing than what they're saying. If there is a rush to buy something, it's going to show up on the charts. Charts create a clear determination of what real action is taking place. Of course, I choose my investments through thorough fundamental analysis, but charts are a tremendous aid in my investment strategies.
TGR: Do you agree with COMEX's forecast?
Leonard Melman: In my annual forecast, I actually call for gold to be relatively static during the first half of the year, but to move toward $1,850/oz. by the second half of the year. I think faith in government is starting to deteriorate. It's evident in the tremendous gulf between unionists and anti-unionists, the failure of QE1 and QE2 to produce prosperity, the tremendous tower of debt that's growing around the world.
However, it hasn't yet reached the tipping point. In the second half, there is going to be a breakout and it's going to be a powerful one. Gold could move toward $1,800 to $2,000/oz. by the end of the year.
TGR: What's your range for silver over the same period?
Leonard Melman: The range is between $35.50 and $38/oz. Silver may trade with a little more volatility on a percentage basis than gold. In the second half, silver could move towards $45 to $50/oz...
TGR: Faith in government may be deteriorating, but there were 216,000 new jobs in the US in March — the sixth straight month of increases. It seems like the recovery continues to gain momentum.
Leonard Melman: I don't know how much I trust government figures. They keep changing the parameters and adding special factors, so the figures get a little mushy. Since 2008, the US government has undergone stimulative programs far beyond the scope of anything that has ever occurred. Frankly, if this is the only result from literally trillions of Dollars of stimulus, then it's not much of an achievement.
The government has not yet proven the effectiveness of its programs. I will certainly acknowledge that the results that have come in the last six months are better than what went before. But the world is still vulnerable to a sudden downturn in the economic picture. I think that's going to happen. And that's what is going to break the faith.
TGR: In a recent edition of The Melman Report, you recommended investors take flight to the safety of precious metals if such an economic downturn occurs. What percentage of an investment portfolio do you recommend ought to be in precious metals?
Leonard Melman: It depends entirely on a person's objective. If an investor is interested in preserving wealth in case of a catastrophe, they want physical gold, and silver and copper coins hidden in a secret place that only their family knows. They might want to leave Gold Coins on deposit in a bank or another secure facility. They might simply want to buy and sell gold futures and get a Dollar-for-Dollar play through non-leveraged investments.
It just depends on how much risk an investor is willing to accept, and there's always the reality that the greater the profit, the greater potential for risk.
For myself, I enjoy trading long term in the money call options on stocks, which appear to have a sound future. I think that gives the best bang for the buck, while still maintaining a good degree of safety.
TGR: Could you give us a forecast of what you see happening in the precious metals and mining commodities spaces over the next four to six months?
Leonard Melman: I have never seen a period of time in which there have been so many cross turns. The fires of inflation are starting to rise. I chart all the major grains, such as wheat, corn and soybeans. Those charts have headed higher over the last two years.
Increased ethanol production is monopolizing huge acres of corn and leaving the rest of the world short of basic corn supplies. Because so much acreage is going to corn, it's diminishing the acreage of soybeans and wheat, sending those commodity prices higher.
There's also petroleum price inflation. The world uses 85 million barrels of petroleum per day. We are depleting the resource. The Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia supplies about 6% of the world's petroleum. It's only still in production because water is being floated under the oil to raise it up. That can't go on forever.
Plus, there are the problems of debt around the world. The US national debt is $14.2 trillion. It's all very unstable. It's coming closer to a point at which government simply will not be able to resolve these problems.
We could have a truly chaotic situation. For that reason alone, I believe investors should be in gold and silver, not only for insurance, but for potential profits.
TGR: Thanks, Leonard.
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