September 2023 - Week 1 Edition
August Report on the Markets
August is generally a time of market doldrums and that was true for the major stock market indexes this year. They all declined, ranging from -1.77% for the benchmark S&P 500 to -5.17% for the small-stock Russell 2000 index. The S&P fared worse in the opening three weeks but closed August strong.
Silver rose just over 1% and platinum was the leading metal in August at +3.27%, while gold declined 1.44% and palladium was the worst-performing precious metal for both August and 2023 year-to-date.
Now that premiums have moderated somewhat, the U.S. Mint’s sales of bullion coins picked up in August, particularly the Silver American Eagle, and silver has risen faster than gold during this year’s summer months.
Gold American Eagle sales have nearly doubled this August, compared to last August. The year-to-date sales are now fairly level in gold but August’s silver sales bonanza made a difference in the annual sales totals of silver. Maybe all of our encouragement to the Mint to address their production and pricing problems has worked!
Check Each Newspaper’s “Cartoon Fairness Index” For Political Balance
As I travel the nation meeting with other industry leaders and giving insight on issues impacting the numismatic and precious metals community, I don’t have time to watch all the local TV news or read all the local editorials but a quick glance at their daily political cartoons gives me a hint about their political balance or bias. If I am in a town for three or four days at a major money show, I will tally the political cartoons each day in the largest newspaper in that city and if the cartoon index leans 100% in one direction or the other, I can assume their editorials and political bias also lean in that same direction. In the rare case in which they “harpoon” candidates of both political parties equally, I tend to believe that I have found a reasonably fair news outlet.
The two most influential national newspapers haven’t endorsed a Republican for President for many decades. The last time the New York Times editorial board endorsed a Republican for President was in 1956, when Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for re-election against Adlai Stevenson. They did not recommend Ronald Reagan, even in 1984, when Reagan swept 49 of 50 states. The Washington Post editorial board has not recommended a Republican in any year since 1976, when they first started making Presidential endorsements. Think about that, the Washington Post has NEVER endorsed a Republican for President of the United States.
In our local area, the Houston Chronicle editorial board has been more balanced. In this century, since the Year 2000, they have endorsed George W. Bush twice and they also endorsed Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012. On the other side of the ledger, they endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020, so they made three endorsements for each major party. I wish I could say the same for their political cartoons, which have not harpooned liberals in the last 12 days. Their cartoonist has become “nose blind” to his/her bias. Contrast that with another Hearst Publication I subscribe to and advertise in, The Beaumont Enterprise, that is typically balanced in targeting the left and the right.
As for late night talk shows, I’m old enough to remember the wonderful opening monologues of the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson and Jay Leno hosted the leading late-night variety show for over 50 years, from 1962 to 2014. Although I’m sure they leaned slightly Democratic, as does most of Hollywood, they didn’t let their bias show, as their comic jabs hit both political sides almost equally.
A study by George Mason’s Center for Media and Public Affairs tracked 44,000 jokes by Jay Leno over his 22-years hosting the Tonight Show (1992 to 2014). It turns out Bill Clinton earned the most (4,607) jabs, but Clinton’s scandals earned him that top spot over #2 George W. Bush (3,239 jokes) or the more boring Al Gore (1,026) and Barack Obama (1,011), but that results in about 15 percent more jabs at Democrats than Republicans.
You couldn’t say that about any of Leno’s successors or any other late-night hosts in the past decade, all of whom seem to be obsessed with bashing Donald Trump, whether he is currently in or out of the White House….and most of their jokes aren’t that funny. There is certainly plenty of fodder for similar jokes about the current President, Joe Biden – even ignoring the sadness of his age limitations – but you seldom hear a current late-night host daring to utter a word lampooning our current President’s failures.
The Biden Administration now seems determined to go beyond humor and jail the leading political opponent. In doing so, they are walking a slippery slope. What if their opponents did the same thing to them in some future year? All politicians need to beware that any current precedent can be used against them in future years. As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, in Beyond Good and Evil: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Donald Trump should heed these words, too.
The good news for us is that the current unbalanced reporting by many larger newspapers and by some television networks and affiliates leads to a rising level of frustration among conservatives, who feel they have no voice. This drives many conservatives to become huge buyers of gold and silver, which you see reflected in the recent U.S. Mint sales and the various polls by Gallup and Bloomberg about investor’s favorite asset classes at this time.
We advise investors to keep up to 25% in gold-related investments, especially going into a contentious election year, as gold has risen in all four of the latest Obama/Biden/Clinton/Trump election seasons. Don’t wait to contact your professional account representative, do it now, and discuss your options on adding more gold and silver to your portfolio.
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