This month, I had the rare good fortune of sitting down with none other than Dr. Mark Skousen, editor in chief of Forecasts & Strategies — a popular, award-winning investment newsletter currently celebrating its 40th year in publication.
Dr. Skousen is also the founder and producer of FreedomFest – the world’s largest gathering of free minds – which meets every July in Las Vegas (www.freedomfest.com).
Click here to jump straight to the interview.
I’m bringing you this month’s issue a tad earlier than usual as I wanted to provide my Hard Asset Digest audience with an early heads-up on this year’s FreedomFest for those who may be interested in attending.
And if you think Dr. Skousen is even considering bowing to the pressures of switching to an all-virtual event due to the coronavirus — think again!
The fact is, this year’s FreedomFest (July 13-16th) is slated to be the very first live convention to be held in Las Vegas – and quite possibly the entire nation – since April’s pandemic-induced shutdown. It’s all in the interview… and much more!
First, a little background. If you don’t know Mark Skousen, yet he seems sort of familiar… it’s likely because you’ve seen him on your television countless times as a regular contributor to news and business programs on CNBC (Larry Kudlow, Rick Santelli), ABC, CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN.
From being a former analyst to the CIA to authoring more than 25 books — Mark is a true Renaissance man whose bestsellers include The Making of Modern Economics, The Big Three in Economics, and The Maxims of Wall Street (www.skousenbooks.com).
As a history buff, I was excited to learn that, in 2006, he and his wife, Jo Ann, completed Benjamin Franklin’s famous autobiography, which ended abruptly in 1757 when Franklin was just 51 years old. In “Volume 2” of his life, the Skousens compiled and edited Franklin’s writings from 1757 until his death in 1790, resulting in The Completed Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin (Regnery, 2006). It covers his life as a colonial agent, signer of the Declaration of Independence, ambassador to France, and signer of the US Constitution.
Dr. Skousen earned his Ph.D. in monetary economics from George Washington University in 1977 and has taught economics and finance at Columbia Business School, Barnard College, Mercy College, Rollins College, and Chapman University — where he’s currently a Presidential Fellow. Last year, he received the “My Favorite Professor” award at Chapman.
Dr. Skousen has been a columnist for Forbes magazine and has written articles for the Wall Street Journal, Reason, Human Events, the Daily Caller, and The Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Few in American academia have had a greater impact on economics and investing than Dr. Skousen, and, in 2018, in honor of his work in economics and finance, Steve Forbes presented him with the Triple Crown in Economics.
Heralded as one of the 20 Most Influential Living Economists – it has been a personal thrill getting to know Dr. Skousen, and I’m excited to bring you this exclusive interview.
But before we get to that, I wanted to quickly mention gold’s solid performance of late.
Gold’s Stability in Times of Stress
While the stock market has been all over the place the past few weeks – including last Thursday’s 1,860-point drubbing – the price of the yellow metal has held firmly above $1,700 an ounce — as expected!
I say “as expected” because – in a healthy gold bull market like the one we’re in now – we fully expect the price of gold to ratchet higher without any catastrophic pullbacks no matter what the market does.
That’s because gold has long been considered a store of value, a calming voice, if you will, during times of tumult — whether it be financial, societal, or both.
The same goes for select gold equities within a healthy gold bull market. You’ll typically see the more established producers grinding higher in tandem with a rising gold price without too much volatility.
And that indeed has been the case so far.
Comparing the 12-month gold chart (below) with the 12-month chart for a company Mr. James Dines discussed in our February issue – Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX: AEM)(NYSE: AEM) – you’ll see that they practically mirror each other.
Silver also tends to closely mimic gold in a precious metals bull market, and we’re seeing that play out in our favor as well. For example, in our March issue, Brent Cook discussed Pan American Silver (NASDAQ: PAAS).
Again, comparing the 12-month silver chart (below) with that of Pan American Silver – you’ll note a strikingly similar value performance, especially from March on, with silver climbing from $12 to $18 per ounce and Pan American Silver doubling from $15 to $30 per share.
As Brien Lundin intimated in last month’s issue… gold tends to move up in times of undue stress – like what we have today – with the exact opposite being true during periods of relative calm.
The key is to be invested in gold and select precious metals mining stocks during these intermittent upswings. Eventually, gold will overshoot… signaling it’s time to get out. But that appears to be a long ways off.
The bottom line is… we’re in the Right Market and this one appears to have legs!
Yours In Profits,
Mike Fagan, editor
Hard Asset Digest
Mike Fagan: Dr. Skousen, I appreciate you taking the time today – and I honestly can’t think of a better time to connect with all the upheaval happening in the world right now.
First, I understand that in your January issue of Forecasts & Strategies, you predicted a “black swan” event would derail the longest bull market in history. How did you know a crisis was brewing?
Dr. Mark Skousen: Thanks for having me, Mike. Indeed, I did make such a prediction.
As you know, I’ve been writing my newsletter for 40 years, and every January issue I make a prediction for the year. I’m not always right, but I do like to assess the state of the world and the signs of the times.
In my mind, the stock market had advanced too far, too fast, and any number of “black swan” events could quickly turn the “mother of all bull markets” into a raging bear market.
I began the January prediction issue with the statement:
“The outlook for stocks, gold and the dollar is positive as we enter 2020, but beware of a ‘black swan’ event that could derail the longest running bull market in history.”
And that’s what happened.
MF: It sure did, and it seems that each year presents its own unique set of challenges in terms of governmental overreach and the erosion of personal wealth protection and personal liberty.
Yet, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a year quite like 2020!
What’s your take on the, shall we say, draconian measures this administration has instituted thus far in shutting down the US economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic?
DMS: You know, Mike, I was surprised by the “draconian measures,” as you call them, that the government took.
I compared it to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut!
We’ve had influenzas of all sorts over my lifetime, but I’ve never seen us shut down the entire economy like we did this year. The Greatest Generation would have never stood for it.
The shutdown was unprecedented, and now we realize that it was unnecessary since the early models vastly overestimated the lethal nature of the Wuhan virus. And yet, because our generation blundered, we have to pay the price with massive inflation and deficit spending.
I’ve always been an optimist about my country, but now I doubt that we can sustain American Exceptionalism of the past.
MF: Definitely, a long rough road ahead. And it’s interesting because, even before any of us had heard the term COVID-19, we seemed to be setting up for a significant market correction. The pandemic certainly sent that into motion. Yet, here we are just a few short months later, and the market has essentially come roaring all the way back.
I think we all understand that the market is forward-looking in nature, but did you ever imagine a rebound of this ferocity? And perhaps more importantly — is it sustainable?
DMS: Mike, I was surprised by the dramatic comeback of the stock market, but fortunately I stayed mostly invested during the selloff — so I benefited from the rally.
I see a U-shaped or even an L-shaped recovery, but the stock market is responding to rock-bottom interest rates, ultra-cheap energy, massive fiscal stimulus, and unlimited central bank liquidity.
They are a powerful tonic in the short-run, but the long-run problems are pretty severe.
MF: True and one thing in particular that stands out to me, Dr. Skousen, is the stability of gold and related gold stocks. Most everyone I’ve spoken with of-late believes we’re at the beginning stages of a long-term bull market for gold in the face of out-of-control monetary policy.
I saw recently you made the correct call to buy the top-tier gold producers. What do you like about gold, and would you mind sharing a couple of your current gold picks with my readers?
DMS: Mike, I gave a sell signal for gold and silver back in December 2011, which was one of my better calls. But by December 2018, I thought it was time for gold to shine again and recommended the most conservative, well-managed mining companies that paid dividends.
There aren’t very many, as you know. Almost none of them have a long-term upward trend because they are overleveraged and highly volatile.
At the beginning of 2020, I was asked by The Money Show to pick my two favorite “stocks of the year,” and I chose Franco Nevada Corp. (NYSE: FNV)(TSX: FNV) and B2Gold (NYSE: BTG)(TSX: BTO).
Both are profitable and growing and have a rising dividend policy. Both have moved up sharply in 2020. Who knows, I might win the contest!
MF: As a Professor of Economics and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, I’m very interested to hear your take on what America is going to look like in a post-pandemic landscape.
DMS: Mike, I have three concerns. First is the out-of-control government spending and easy-money policies by the central banks, both here and abroad, caused by the overreaction to the Wuhan virus.
The national debt could easily hit $30 trillion in the next year or two, and the broad-based money supply is growing at 25% a year — the fastest rate in our lifetimes.
I don’t know how our legislators are going to deal with a bloated government that now represents 50% of the economy.
Second, the degree in which overweening government officials at the federal, state, and local level, responded to the crisis – issuing executive orders right and left without any regard for our First Amendment rights and liberties – is disturbing.
What happens when another influenza comes along? Have we learned any hard lessons of what not to do? I hope so, but I have my doubts. We have given far too much emergency power to state and federal officials.
Third, I have geo-political concerns. What will happen if radical Democrats take over in November? How will we deal with Russia and China and the Middle East and Latin America in the near future? Is globalization over?
We are entering a dangerous new decade.
MF: Indeed, and with everything that’s going on in the world, I have to imagine that this year’s FreedomFest in Las Vegas is going to be one of the most important in-person events of its kind ever!
We talked the other day about the importance of defending one’s First Amendment right to freedom of assembly as it relates to your steadfast determination of moving forward with next month’s live, in-person event.
As founder of FreedomFest, where are you now in the planning process, and what can attendees expect at this year’s convention?
DMS: As you know, Mike, FreedomFest is now in its 14th year. It’s my effort to bring together everyone in the freedom movement once a year in Vegas to learn from each other, network, socialize, and celebrate liberty.
It’s been very successful with 2,000 to 3,000 people showing up every July.
When the economic lockdown was imposed, every organization complied. Conferences were postponed or canceled and went online. Our conference was scheduled for July 13-16th, and we didn’t want to give in so easily.
We were determined to defend our Constitutional right to freedom of assembly. When we told Caesars Entertainment that we were going ahead with FreedomFest in July, they were ecstatic because all the other conventions had cancelled. Not us!
We are forging ahead, and already over 1,000 brave souls have registered. Yes, we had a bunch of cancellations from people who live in fear of getting the virus, but we continue to get new registrations every day.
Caesars Entertainment was so impressed that they moved us to their premier property — Caesars Palace.
The dates are the same, July 13-16th.
They’ve cut their hotel rates to $119 a night and are offering hotel rates of only $57 across the street at the Flamingo. And they have brought back FREE PARKING!
We are planning an “Emergency Meeting” on Monday, July 13th to assess the impact of the pandemic on the economy, the markets, culture and government — led by our ambassador, Steve Forbes.
We have over 100 speakers, including Dr. Drew, Dave Rubin, Stephen Moore, Grover Norquist – and we just confirmed the two most libertarian senators in the country — Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee.
We also have the Anthem Film Festival and a full 3-day investment conference with top financial gurus such as Alex Green, Louis Navellier, Jim Woods, Hilary Kramer, Rob Arnott, Jeff Phillips, Van Simmons, Adrian Day, and Doug Casey.
If people want to register, or know more, go to www.freedomfest.com. Or call 1-855-850-3733, ext. 202. If they use code FREEDOM they get $75 off the registration fee. And guests pay only $299.
MF: Certainly, no better way to celebrate the right to freedom of assembly than that! Dr. Skousen, you’re also the editor of Forecasts & Strategies, a very well-respected monthly investment advisory that’s currently celebrating its 40th year of publication.
What can you tell my readers about your distinguished letter, and what’s the best way for them to get involved?
DMS: Yes, I’ve been writing my monthly newsletter since Ronald Reagan was elected president, so I’ve seen it all – bull and bear markets, booms and busts, stock market crashes — you name it. I consider myself a survivor.
I’d like to think my track record has improved over the years. It’s called Forecasts & Strategies, so I do my best to predict where the economy and the markets are headed and then offer the best investment strategies to protect and grow one’s portfolio.
It comes out monthly, but I do offer a Monday hotline to update everyone. I also offer some short-term trading services that have been quite profitable. For more details, your readers should go to www.markskousen.com or call Eagle Publishing at 800-211-0600.
At this year’s FreedomFest, my publisher is celebrating the 40th anniversary of my newsletter with a big reception. I hope to see some of you there!
MF: Dr. Skousen, thank you again for taking the time and for sharing your insights.
DMS: Anytime, Mike.
We have four reports now available highlighting several opportunities for investment in the resource space.
Opportunities discussed in those reports and past issues include: