first majestic silver

The Rapidly Approaching Layoff Tsunami

January 26, 2016

Well, I may not have had “much” to say yesterday, but I SURE DO TODAY! My god, have the “horrible headlines” multiplied in the past 24 hours (it’s early Tuesday morning), which the following two pictures summarize perfectly – in spades.

Yes, the Baltic Dry Index plunged 6% last week to a new all-time low, down a whopping 70% in the past five months. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, despite yet another “record liquidity injection” by the PBOC, plunged 6.4% today alone – down 46% from June’s hyper-bubble top, as it sliced through August’s spike-bottom low of 2,850 like a hot knife through butter. The 10-year Treasury yield is back below 2.0% – “rate hike” and all; WTI crude plunged an astounding 8% yesterday alone, again, to below $30/bbl; whilst the PPT was routed in yesterday afternoon’s trading. And how about that? Yet again gold and silver prices rose. Not to mention, U.S. Mint gold and silver Eagle sales; which, based on early-year results, are on pace to set new annual records.

Meanwhile, junk – sorry, “high-yield” – bond spreads are not just screaming recession, but depression; as commodities continue to plumb four-decade lows; and currency markets continue their historic, freight train-like implosion. Yielding, I might add, surging gold prices – and subsequently, physical demand – across the planet; with prices in not just “third world” and “emerging market” nations surging, but “first world” nations like Japan, Canada, and Australia, where gold prices are just 12%-14% from their respective all-time highs. Putting it into perspective, if U.S. dollar-priced gold was just 12%-14% from its all-time high – which I assure you, it will be – it would be trading at $1,650-$1,700/oz!

Of course, per what I wrote in yesterday’s “how close are we to America’s inevitable Precious Metals demand explosion,” the average American, as yet, is completely unaware of such cataclysmic trends – as depicted by yesterday’s Merrill Lynch research note, which listed the relative “cheapness” of various market crash “hedges,” but “neglected” to mention Precious Metals, despite their being essentially the only rising asset classes today, and the best performing assets in 2008.

As for economic data, yesterday’s Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey plunged from -20 in December to a whopping -35 in January; perhaps, the lowest such figure I’ve seen in any regional survey in my entire career. And when I read of how Texas’ real estate and labor markets have still not experienced a death plunge reminiscent of the early 1980s, I can only cringe considering what’s coming.

Meanwhile, in Europe, it appears the “powers that be’s” worst fears are unfolding – as support for a UK “BrExit” later this year is surging; as is the Catalonian secession movement; whilst, as of yesterday, the overthrow of Mariano Rajoy just one month after being re-elected Spain’s Prime Minister – in lieu of a Socialist coalition eerily reminiscent to what occurred in Portugal three months ago – appears imminent. In other words, the “anti-austerity” – read, pro-default, anti-Euro” – movement is literally exploding across Europe, with “much larger fish” like Italy and France right behind it.

And then there’s China – where diesel fuel consumption is down year-over-year for the fourth straight month, yet the government claims GDP is growing by “6.9%.”; albeit, its lowest “growth” rate in 25 years. Which, amidst the early stages of the massive Yuan devaluation I not only predicted well in advance, but deemed the “upcoming, cataclysmic, financial big bang to end all big bangs,” is experiencing capital outflows unparalleled in human history, with much more to come. Which is probably why it’s so-called “treasure chest” of foreign exchange reserves is dissolving; its economy imploding; financial markets collapsing; and the risk of rampant social instability exploding. Providing the perfect segue into today’s principal topic, of the “rapidly approaching layoff tsunami” that will not only swamp the last vestiges of the Federal Reserve’s pitiful “improving labor market” propaganda, but the BLS’ best efforts to “cook the books” with unprecedentedly fraudulent statistical legerdemain.

In China alone, we learned this week that an astounding 400,000 steel workers are being laid off – following 100,000 coal workers three months ago. Which, due to the “multiplier effect” of China’s resource supply-chain, could yield 1.5 million layoffs in these two sectors alone. In Europe, the economy is imploding so rapidly, that major nations like France are experiencing all-time high joblessness; whilst in the U.S., the 2015 Challenger Job Cut report registered its highest annual amount since 2009. And this, before upcoming labor force “adjustments” to the worst retail holiday spending since the 2008-09 crisis, as exemplified by Wal-Mart’s decision last week to lay off 16,000 workers. And oh yeah, that little thing known as the historic oil crash, as exemplified by Schlumberger’s announcement last week that it is laying off 10,000 workers – with many more to come.

Of course, the upcoming, “tsunami-like” amount of layoffs simply due to cyclical factors – i.e., the expanding economic Depression; are only a small part of the total, as cataclysmic secular trends – like automation and technology change, for example – are converging to create the “perfect layoff storm” in 2016. To wit, this terrifying article published in Barron’s yesterday, predicting a whopping 333,000 layoffs in the U.S. tech sector alone this year, simply due to industry-wide shifts from “back-end” IT operations to cloud computing. Let alone, the utterly massive amount of layoffs – of increasingly scarce high-paying jobs – anticipated due to the gargantuan, Central bank-abetted mergers announced in 2015, but set to close in 2016.

All told, the “final pillar” of the Fed’s “recovery” propaganda is about to be cut right out from under its feet – comically, mere weeks after having the audacity to actually suggest the economy was strong enough to stand on its own, un-ZIRP-aided feet. Let alone, to achieve the mythical “escape velocity” that, amidst today’s unprecedented, parabolically rising debt levels; and collapsing economic activity; is mathematically impossible. Which only puts us closer to the inevitable “Yellen Reversal” – when she and her world-destroying cohorts are forced by plunging markets and economic activity to reverse course, take rates negative, and launch history’s largest QE scheme. Which, with each passing day, appears more and more likely to be a 2016 event – potentially, starting with “hints” of such at tomorrow’s FOMC meeting. Which is why, more than ever, the urgency to PROTECT YOURSELF has reached “DEFCON-1” levels.

Andrew ("Andy") Hoffman, CFA joined Miles Franklin, one of America's oldest, largest bullion dealers, as Media Director in October 2011. For a decade, he was a US-based buy-side and sell-side analyst, most notably as an II-ranked oil service analyst at Salomon Smith Barney from 1999 through 2005. Since 2002, his focus has been entirely on precious metals, and since 2006 has written free missives regarding gold, silver and macroeconomics. Prior to joining the company he spent five years working as an investor relations officer or consultant to numerous junior mining companies.

The average human body contains 0.2 mg of gold with the bone containing .016 ppm and the liver .0004 ppm.
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