The last 18 months have been
gut-wrenching for mining equity investors.
As the above chart demonstrates, the TSX
Venture Composite Index, a fair representation of the junior mining sector,
has come back down to levels seen in 2002, when gold first broke out of
While the TSX Venture Composite Index is
still well above its 2008 low, the pain is just as pronounced now as it was
then, as the TSX Composite Index, relative to the Dow, is now trading below
2009 levels. The following chart indicates a flight out of Canadian markets
into the U.S. markets.
With emerging markets, such as China,
struggling and the Eurozone in outright crisis mode, global investors not only
have been pouring money into U.S. stocks but have also driven U.S. bonds into
an all-time high, ignoring the fact that the bonds are sporting negative real
While this represents an extreme flight
to perceived "safety", the U.S. dollar index has failed to break
out of its 2009 high, indicating the fundamental weakness of the U.S. dollar.
Focusing back on the gold sector, the
severe correction is not just felt by the juniors, but senior producers as
well. Kinross, for example, is now back to its 2008 low, when gold was below
Overall, gold producers, relative to the
price of gold have indeed reverted back to the 2009 level as the following
Despite the financial crisis worldwide,
gold has held up very well in the last 23 months, currently ($1,600/oz) trading comfortably above the 2008 crisis level
($900). This clearly shows that gold is gaining momentum as the safe haven
and reserve currency in the time of crisis.
Also notice, post 2008 crisis, gold
doubled from $800/oz level to peak at more than
$1,900/oz in less than 3 years. In 2008, the U.S.
Federal Reserve embarked on unprecedented quantitative easing, creating
trillions of dollars to revive the banks, and the equity and housing markets.
Such inflationary measures had a direct positive impact on gold.
As we seemingly come out of the Euro
crisis and with world governments eager to again embark on unlimited monetary
easing, there are reasons to be again bullish on gold as it completes the
current 18 months consolidation.
My conclusion is that the degree of
flight to safety today and risk aversion is no less than the case in 2008.
The dollar and U.S. bonds were the main beneficiary during the 2008 crisis
and as they are in the current crisis.
Post 2008 crisis, gold and gold equities
were the big winner, registering triple digit gains. There are preliminary
signs of gold and gold equity market bottoms if one considers the bottoming
ratios of TSX to Dow and gold equity to gold, and the blow off of U.S. bonds.
I am reminded of two old famous adages:
never catch the falling knife, and a market bottom is only known in
hindsight. For me, successful investing means buying 20% from the bottom and
selling 20% from the top. If we are not currently 20% from the bottom,
I’d say we are darn near.
John Lee, CFA
other articles by John Lee
John Lee is a portfolio manager at Mau Capital Management. He is a
CFA charter holder and has degrees in Economics and Engineering from
Rice University. He previously studied under Mr.
James Turk, a renowned authority on the gold market, and is specialized in
investing in junior gold and resource companies. Mr.
Lee's articles are frequently cited at major resource websites and a esteemed speaker at several
major resource conferences.
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