Last week we dropped the "risk off" bomb. Today, with the help of Eric Meyer, hedge fund stalwart and the driver behind DSAM's Kauthar Gold Fund, the Middle East and North Africa's (Mena) top performing fund over the last three years, the message gets worse. Let's start with his rhetorical question: "Where are your investors when the music stops playing?"
"The music" to which Meyer refers is that of Western governments and their ability (inability?) to manage their own economies. Admittedly, Meyer has a keen interest in the "Doomsday View" because after a Lehman-esque "2008 and all that", Global Collapse No 2 would suggest that the asset class with the greatest benefit would be gold. The traditional safe haven at global crash time.
Yet Meyer is not only pro-gold, he is pro-gold equities, currently at a discount of 50 per cent to the gold price. The only other time such a discrepancy occurred was, guess when: in the fourth quarter of 2008, post Lehman's. "We believe that gold equities will revert to their mean," says Meyer in explaining the current opportunity in distress.
For gold and its miners to benefit, there needs to be bad news elsewhere. The doomsday scenario emerges out of a pincer collapse of Europe on the one hand and the US on the other. Both current scenarios look bleak; Meyer sees a commonality in serious political mismanagement. Proof he says that "democracy isn't all that great". However, the worst is yet to come.
To Meyer, "we have been kicking the can [of debt] down the road too long", where the road is putting debt repayments off for a future date. "We Americans have kicked the can down to December and we can't kick it any further until the $7 trillion (Dh25.70 trillion) has been dealt with. It means that November and December will be actioned-packed and dramatic." For those who view December 2012 as a long way off, Meyer has a more imminent doomsday scenario painted for Europe. Indeed, it could all start this afternoon if the French decide to play their politics down the right wing, instead of a more pro-German formation.
A Hollande victory, Meyer believes, opposes a financial policy based only on austerity and has promised to renegotiate the European Fiscal Compact. If France negotiates, says Meyer, why wouldn't Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy et al?
Meyer concludes: "If France starts spending, it will have to borrow. If Hollande sticks to his campaign promise, the euro is dead. You heard it here first".
If the pro-German Sarkozy wins, Europe's troubles don't disappear, they just get re-focused onto Spain!
The upside to all this calamity, for Meyer, is gold's traditional safe haven status. "Investors should be looking for a higher element of investment insurance at this point in time, and our conviction is that gold will flourish during this uncertainty."
The writer is Chairman of Mondial Financial Partners.
Doomsday scenario: American exigency
Doomsday in the US suggests that the US has a ‘date with destiny' somewhere around November (elections) and December (deficit discussions).
President Barack Obama has increased the national debt by an average of $4.24 billion per day (US treasury).
Obama is on course to accumulate more debt than all the US presidents between George Washington and Bill Clinton before the end of this term.
In December, the US needs to organise around $7 trillion of debt. Issues that need attention to manage that figure include:
1. Borrowings will reach the federal debt limit
2. The expiration of George W. Bush tax cuts on income, capital gains, and dividends
3. The expiration of payroll tax cut
4. The expiration of alternative minimum tax rate
5. The extension of the $1.1-trillion deficit-reduction plan comes due (postponed from Aug of 2011)
George Soros has indicated the euro crisis is worse than earlier estimations. Only last month, Soros increased his exposure to gold equities.
John Paulson believes the euro is "structurally flawed". Paulson invested $1.2 billion in a long/short gold fund last month.
Nouriel Roubini has said more European countries will be forced to restructure debt. He recommended gold last month.
If Spain seek debt financing, it will be the Eurozone's fourth largest economy asking for money — an economy needing to borrow 20.9 per cent of GDP with a 22.4 per cent unemployment rate.