April 2017 - Week 4 Edition
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Gold Remains Strong
Gold had another strong week, staying above $1,280 all week, due to a series of important concerns, all coming at the same time – the controversial French elections, a confrontation in North Korea (and maybe Iran), dropping the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) in Afghanistan, facing the U.S. federal debt limit this coming Friday, more terrorism in France, a crackdown on dissent in Turkey and U.S. air strikes in Syria. Gold dipped under $1,280 on Monday, April 24, but it is still up $25 (+2%) during the month of April.
“Why Gold Could Keep Rising” – Barron’s, Monday, April 24
Barron’s (April 24) featured a Commodities Corner column titled “Why Gold Could Keep Rising,” which opened by saying “After a sharp drop at the end of 2017, gold has regained its luster, and some investors are betting that uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad is likely to keep prices elevated this year. Gold is up nearly 12% in 2017, to $1,289.10 a troy ounce for June contracts on Friday. The precious metal’s appeal reflects concerns that the U.S. economy may have slowed in the first quarter, as well as worries about the outcome of coming elections in Europe, where populist candidates loom larger than before.”
The month of April has shown that gold is more of a “crisis hedge” than an inflation hedge. There has been a rise in global unrest accompanied by a drop in inflation rates. During the middle of April, all three major inflation indicators turned negative, yet gold prices took off that week – mostly due to an outbreak of military action in Afghanistan, Syria and the Korean peninsula. While oil prices have gone down 6% in the last two weeks, gold is up 3%. Inflation and gold are moving in opposite directions, since gold’s role as a crisis hedge has begun to “Trump” (pardon the verb) gold’s historical role as an inflation hedge.
I’m at the NRA Convention This Week
Speaking of Donald Trump, I’m attending the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention this week. It runs Thursday through Sunday (April 27-30) in Atlanta. President Trump is scheduled to speak there on Friday. He will be the first President in 34 years (since Ronald Reagan) to speak to an NRA convention.
There is a great outcry among many journalists against the NRA and its Second Amendment defense. One of the most prestigious journalism schools in America is the University of Missouri. Last Thursday, a former University of Missouri journalism professor, George Kennedy, suggested that the NRA is more dangerous than ISIS. Specifically, in an editorial in The Missourian, Kennedy said the following:
“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] is a terrorist organization founded in 1899, headquartered in Syria and feared around the world. The NRA was founded in , headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, and is feared by politicians across America. What makes the Islamic State so feared is its willingness to kill in pursuit of its goal of creating a fundamentalist caliphate. What makes the NRA so feared is its willingness to spend heavily and campaign aggressively in pursuit of its goal of removing all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.”
This is an unfair characterization of the NRA, which is vociferously in favor of safety training for all its members and citizens owning firearms, and it is also in favor of prosecuting existing gun laws, including laws against use of firearms in crimes. Our company is a leading advertiser in NRA publications. I have long been a strong advocate for the Second Amendment, including strongly supporting firearms safety training for young people in the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program. Comparing the NRA to ISIS killers – who have beheaded innocent journalists! – is a sign of how irrational some journalists can be.
I believe that all sides can come together with respect in this debate about gun control, or any other controversial subject. The key is to bring those together who have “skin in the game,” and that goes far beyond left-wing journalists and gun-owners from the NRA. In my letter to the editor printed in the Beaumont Enterprise last June, reprinted below, I suggested bringing in leading researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to comment on their research into TV, movie and video game violence. We should also bring together law enforcement professionals, the media (including Hollywood producers) and psychiatric specialists, since many of the perpetrators of mass murder around the world are persons with severe psychiatric problems.
The previous White House administration showed no interest in a fair and balanced summit. Maybe the Trump team will hold such a summit. Now that they are out of power, the left may want to join in!
U.S. Needs Balanced, Gun Violence Summit
In response to the tragedy in Orlando, the left and right need to be willing to meet in the middle to reach meaningful reform. Gun bans don’t stop terrorists or criminals from acquiring firearms – as European terrorist attacks demonstrate, but leaders who support gun rights should be willing to sit down at a real debate.
Hollywood needs to change, too. A 2013 Wall Street Journal column(“Campbell Brown: The President Gives Hollywood a Pass on Violence,”) shows that the President calls on gun owners and gun makers to change but gives Hollywood a pass. Campbell Brown stated “The President has been more than willing to challenge the National Rifle Association (NRA), but that is like a Republican president standing up to labor unions – not a move that risks anything with his core supporters. Mr. Obama could show some real bravery by taking on Hollywood.” The President criticized the NRA for not debating on CNN’s Town Hall, but CNN only allowed the NRA – the nation’s premier voice for gun-owners – just one pre-screened question. That’s not a “debate.”
Both left-leaning and right-leaning interests need to give a little on this issue. Both have to have “skin in the game” to make meaningful changes happen – both from the left and the right. The media needs to be involved, too. Leading researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have concluded that TV, movie and video game violence exposure is not healthy for children and teenagers as they “gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems” and “initiate the violence they observe.” Dr. Victor Strasburger, the leading researcher on media violence for the American Academy of Pediatrics, has said that he is stunned the White House shows so little interest in the available evidence.
For a meaningful gun violence “summit” to happen, the media and the president need to invite a wide array of impacted citizens and professionals, including law enforcement professionals, the media and Hollywood, pediatric professionals, Congress, the White House and the NRA. Then we might get both sides to give a little for the greater good. If they all have “skin in the game,” we are more likely to achieve worthwhile compromises and provide cover for going against any hardliners in their base. I believe all of those factions could generate a balanced summit, at last.
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