Gold, Climate Change and the Cap-and-Trade Revolution

Last week, I spent a full day in a seminar on climate change. It was a totally sober and professional seminar, sponsored by a group that specializes in continuing legal education for attorneys. I heard talks by a variety of lawyers, academics and regulators, mostly about how “the train has left the station” on climate change and carbon regulation. And wow… has that train ever steamed out. But did you ever hear the conductor call, “All Aboard?”

This is a critical matter and here’s the takeaway point: We’re about to see an UTTER TRANSFORMATION of the U.S. economy.

Your life will be regulated — directly and surely indirectly — by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mostly through its powers under the Clean Air Act (CAA). And the parts of your life not regulated by EPA will fall under the jurisdiction of your friendly state or provincial environmental authorities. Many of the policy details will be rounded out via litigation in state and federal courts, mostly initiated by the likes of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations.

You should expect to see STRICT controls on carbon emissions, via taxes, regulation and outright bans on many energy-using systems. And since 40% of North America’s electricity comes from burning coal, you can plan on having less electric power and on paying much higher electric rates. The utility companies will just pay the fees and costs for cap and trade and pass the bill on to you in your monthly statement, for example.

But it goes beyond just the utility companies writing checks to the government. We’re talking about BIG money, from every nook and cranny of the economy. One panelist compared the amount of money in play with cap and trade to completely rewriting the U.S. tax code. “Just tear up the tax code. Abolish it. Pulverize it so it goes away completely,” he said. “Now, rewrite it to raise even MORE money than before, and do it by taxing energy usage.”

United States of Clean Air Act?

So the CAA — which came about in the early 1970s as a way of fighting smog — is now morphing into the new constitution for the U.S. Really, I’m not exaggerating. I know some of you think I overstate my points every now and then. But I’M NOT KIDDING!

We’re seeing a new “American Revolution.” Except the key players are not exactly Ben Franklin and George Washington and James Madison. In the name of fighting climate change, there is a new class of bureaucrats, regulators and judges who will control your life down to what time you plug in your coffeepot. And with “smart metering,” they’ll know if you leave your water heater on for too long. (“Well,” is the reply, “just get a solar heater for your roof.”)

One university professor who spoke at the seminar said that if the U.S. adopts a per capita approach to sustainable worldwide energy usage — a serious proposal that’s in front of several powerful international bodies — we’ll have to reduce carbon-based energy demand in the U.S. by 97%. Basically, if that happens, the environmental true believers will take the U.S. back to an energy state that existed in the 1850s. No typo. The 1850s.

Heck, the energy future of the U.S. might make the scenes in James Kunstler’s 2008 book World Made By Hand look like a day at the beach.

So you can see why I’m saying you should accumulate gold and silver. And while you’re at it, own those geothermal power producers. They’ll be the gold mines of the future.

The “Axis of Overspending,” Inflation and the Rush to Precious Metals

Why am I banging the drum so hard for precious metals? Well, you must know the drill by now. Government spending is out of control. We have a big-spending Congress in Washington that can’t say no to anything (except the token defense cut, or taking away school vouchers from inner-city kids in the District of Columbia). It’s been going on for way too many years, under both previous and current party management.

Everybody who’s anybody in this country, it seems, gets a permanent, pet government program, if not a large bailout. (Huh? You didn’t get your program or bailout?) How long can it last? I think we’re about to find out.

As Bernie Madoff might say, “Bailout, schmailout.” Still, the axis of overspending leads to inflation. It’s the 1970s redux. And inflation will soon rear its head and roar so loud that even the wizards of Washington will have to admit the obvious.

Washington Is Awakening! But Clueless!

Actually, our betters in Washington are waking up to the issue of inflation and the decline of the dollar. Just yesterday, I received an inquiry asking if I want to appear on a nationally syndicated show that originates from Washington, D.C. (well, Alexandria, Va., to be exact). The audience is Washington people — you know the type — and their intellectual and spiritual kin in “blue spots” across the country.

Here’s the exact inquiry:

“We’re doing a story on hoarding behavior and I am looking for people who have taken some (or all) of their savings out of traditional investments and are now storing money as cash or in the form of physical gold or some other precious metal in a safe or secret place. I am having trouble finding anyone like this. Do any of you know of someone who fits this description, who might be willing to talk to me about it? I am looking for someone in Boston; Washington, D.C.; New York; or maybe Chicago. If anyone has any leads, please let me know!”

Oh, man! That’s rich! Verbatim! Honest to God, I have not edited this inquiry by EVEN ONE WORD! These people are clueless!

The producer wants to interview gold bugs for the show. In an anthropological fashion that would do Margaret Mead proud, the subject of the story is “hoarding behavior.” But the poor producer says, “I am having trouble finding anyone like this.” (Like looking for a registered Republican at the Harvard Faculty Club?) And how about that request to find somebody in Boston, Washington, New York or Chicago? If you’re from, say, the silver mining town of Wallace, Idaho, you need not apply.

Here was my reply: “People who’ve taken their savings out to buy gold and store it or hide it probably don’t want to brag about it on NPR.”

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

Remember that line from the movie Apollo 13? “Houston, we have a problem.”

Wow. Do we have a problem in this country, or WHAT? It’s WORSE than Apollo 13. We should be so lucky as to be in a small capsule in the cold of space heading away from Earth toward the moon with almost no oxygen or electrical power. Instead, we’re watching the national currency declining and dying right before our eyes. And the opinion makers of the nation don’t know anybody who owns gold. Amazing!

Meanwhile, Over in Dubai…

Well, the producer could always go find somebody in Dubai. Because from that distant desert kingdom comes word that the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has finished building a state-of-the-art precious metals vault, with world-class tracking and security systems. Think Fort Knox, but in the desert and without the trees and pretty landscaping we see in the hills of Kentucky.

You want “hoarding behavior”? The new vault will become the home for the exchange-traded fund (ETF) of Dubai Gold Securities. Also, “It’s a natural home for the central banks in the region to store their gold in Dubai, rather than in London, where they have typically held their gold,” said a Dubai-based gold dealer INTL Commodities DMCC’s CEO Jeffrey Rhodes. Yep. “Natural home.” (Margaret Mead, call your office!)

A DMCC official stated that the new vault will be used to store precious metals associated with precious metal-based ETFs that are on the drawing boards and scheduled for launch later in 2009. This can only add to worldwide demand for gold and silver, especially from the traditionally gold-friendly Middle East.

Here’s the Bottom Line…

OK, so here’s the bottom line. When the American people realize that the dollar is in for another round of inflation, they’re going to look for a way out. When people envision the future decline in their purchasing power, we’ll see a rush for the monetary exits. It’ll be the “Gold Panic” of 2009, or 2010 or 2011… Whichever year gets the naming rights.

When the reality sinks in, people will flock in droves to physical precious metals (yeah, try to get some!), as well as mining shares. I’m old enough to remember the last time it happened, in the 1970s and early 1980s. And I’ve studied enough history to know it won’t be pretty.

So beat the gold rush! Hoard now!

Until we meet again,
Byron King

May 28, 2009

The Daily Reckoning