Gerald Celente predicts a none-too-pretty trajectory of U.S. economic recovery from the damage coronavirus has wrought: “a country road full of potholes,” with debt-heavy corporations defaulting on loans, and in financial services, smaller firms failing, he argues in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
The gold expert and controversial founder of Trends Research Institute, publisher of Trends Journal, Celente accurately called Donald Trump’s election, the Trump market rally, the dot-com bust and the 1987 market crash. Critics charge that his forecasts flow chiefly from intuition. But he insists they’re based on studying a wide range of global government, business and political data.
Now the uninhibited popular keynote speaker, who consults to industry and government, maintains that the nation has already entered the deepest depression ever — as he has been forecasting for years — and that “the worst is yet to come”: poverty, crime in the streets and business thievery.
In an August 2019 interview with this reporter, he proclaimed that the country was in “a stage one recession.”
In an interview on April 22, he railed against governors who ordered state lockdowns, which, he maintains, are “destroying” the economy, and scientists that, he believes, greatly overestimated the death toll from COVID-19, forecasts that largely prompted the closures.
Celente also discusses what he calls the death of the oil industry and labels struggling emerging markets “submerged.”
Celente was speaking by phone from Kingston, New York, where his company is headquartered. A sunny spot? Gold. Citing something of a rush to gold ETFs, he predicts it to spike to $2,000 an ounce and above once it stabilizes at about $1,740.
Here are highlights of our interview:
THINKADVISOR: Is the U.S. now in the greatest depression, as you’ve been forecasting for the last few years?
GERALD CELENTE: Yes. It has begun. It was coming before all the panic hit. But this has accelerated it. My heart is broken to see what the [governors] have done to the economy. They’re destroying the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
What’s the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and near nationwide lockdown on people who were investing for their retirement?
They‘re screwed. I’m passionately angry, and I don’t need power-hungry freaks [governors] with track records of nothing more than one stupid thing after another, to, all of a sudden, under the guise of government, become brilliant geniuses at telling me what to do.
Are you arguing that the lockdown shouldn’t have happened?
Absolutely it shouldn’t have happened. The quarantining should have been limited to those who are most susceptible to COVID-19.
Instead of stay-at-home orders, what should have been done to try to halt the virus’ spread?
Nothing. People should have been told: “Better stay in shape. Better start taking care of yourself. Start eating healthy. Be careful about going into places [stores, etc.].” And that should have been it. But don’t lock down the whole global economy! The politicians that did that have track records of nothing but total failure.
But if there weren’t lockdowns, more people would have contracted COVID-19, and many of those likely would have died of complications.
The same amount or possibly more unhealthy chronically ill people would have died. Hardly any younger people are dying, [a portion of them because] obesity is linked to severe illness especially in younger people, according to a study that NYU Langone did. In New York City, people age 75 and up are dying at rates nearly eightfold compared to the deaths of those who are 45 to 64, the Wall Street Journal reported.
President Trump, who was slow to deal with the pandemic and didn’t seem to have a focused approach to handling it, told governors to take the reins; hence the shutdowns.
That doesn’t have anything to do with my constitutional rights. The lockdowns have robbed us of democracy and freedom. The numbers add up to nothing compared to outbreaks of other things. We’re looking at 45,000 people dead in America [more than 53,000 as of April 26] out of a country of 328.2 million. They closed down California. It had 1,322 deaths [1,695 as of April 25] out of 39.51 million people.
Are you ignoring or discounting what scientists are saying about the coronavirus and that hundreds of thousands of people globally have died because of it?
The scientists said that 2 million people would die in America. Let’s go to the scientist that everybody loves, [Anthony] Fauci [director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Presidential Coronavirus Task Force Advisor]: He started with a million, backed down to 250,000 and is now down to 60,000. We have the grand total dead all over the world of 181,000 [203,000 as of April 26] out of 7.7 billion. [Far more] people worldwide [likely] died of the flu last year, according to the World Health Organization.
What’s your forecast for the U.S. economy?
The worst is yet to come — people will be sinking into poverty, robbing banks and stealing food. It’s already happening. The lower ends are going broke right away; the middle and upper [strata] will take a longer time. Seventy percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. But paychecks are no longer coming. You’ll see more and more people doing more and more dirty business — there’ll be more thievery.
Some states are planning to reopen this weekend. Do you agree with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that it’s a good idea to open nail salons, gyms and massage parlors and other businesses on Friday [April 24]?
Yes. People have to go on living. They have to get back to work. You can’t stop the whole economy and have everybody go broke! What will happen to all the people who do?
But what if reopening at this point spreads the virus? We could be back to where we were before stay-at-home orders went into effect, couldn’t we?
I think that the people getting COVID-19 are [mostly] the ones who are extremely unhealthy.
What’s your outlook for the speed of recovery from this economic catastrophe?
There’ll be little bumps, like a country road full of potholes. It will go up and down, but the trajectory is down for the both economy and the markets. Wait till those earnings reports come out — for the airlines, the food business, retail, which was going down even before all this. It’s like hitting somebody with a sledgehammer that was already heading down.
How do you think financial services firms will fare?
The big ones will survive. They’re only going to get bigger, just like the panic of 2008 when the too-big-to-fails were bailed out. The smaller [advisory firms] will go out of business. They won’t do well at all. That’s why I say we have socialism for the rich.
It’s socialism for the rich, and capitalism for the rest of us. You’re seeing it with the close-down: We’re on our own. It’s: “[The government] will give industry $15 billion — and we’ll give you twelve hundred bucks.” The whole thing about Bernie Sanders was that if we elected him president, we’d have a socialist country. Guess what? We’ve got a socialist country — socialism going to the rich.
How is it technically “socialism?”
The bailout money is going to the upper ranks; it ran out for the little people right away. The politicians are thieves. They take our money and give it to their too-big-to-fail buddies. They’re murderers: They get us into wars with no exit strategies. And they have no exit strategy for this [calamity] either.
If Joe Biden, presumed Democratic presidential nominee, were president now, what do you think he would have done to manage the pandemic?
Nothing. It’s the same thing. It’s a two-headed one-party system — murderers and thieves. “By their deeds, you shall know them.”
Against the backdrop of the multitrillion-dollar CARES Act fiscal aid package, let’s talk about America’s sky-high debt level. You’ve pointed out that mortgage-backed securities are “troubled assets once again.” Please explain.
All the loans that are backed by mortgages aren’t worth anything. It’s just going to keep getting worse. The debt loads are gigantic. It’s a $250 trillion debt bubble globally. [U.S. corporate debt is more than $6.6 trillion, according to Moody’s.] All these companies borrowed money because it was dirt-cheap. The personal debt load in the U.S. is [$143 billion]. There’s credit card debt and car loans. How are people going to pay this stuff? How are corporations going to pay back their debts? They’ll go into default.
What’s your outlook for the beaten-up oil industry?
It’s dead. Oil is telling the story. Look at it now: You saw negative oil prices [for the first time in history]. It went down to [negative $37.63 on April 20]. It’s unprecedented. West Texas Intermediate is at $14.41 a barrel now. Brent Crude is $20 a barrel. In Russia, they need $42 for the economy to break even.
You write of yet another gloomy scenario: “Emerging markets are submerged.” Please elaborate.
They were already in deep debt. Now their currencies are crashing because the central banks are printing more and more money. Today, South Africa announced a [$26 billion] fiscal stimulus [package]. South Africa! Their [sovereign credit] has been rated “junk” by [Moody’s, Standard & Poor's and Fitch]. All of these emerging markets will go way down, while they’ll continue to have civil unrest.
As a gold expert, you’ve predicted for some time that gold will spike higher than $2,000. What’s happening in that market now?
Gold is the ultimate safe haven. All the cheap money they’ve been printing is digital cash backed by nothing. I called the gold bull run that began on June 6, 2019, when it hit $1,332 an ounce. Now it’s at $1,729. My forecast is that when it stabilizes above the $1,730 or $1,740 mark, it’s going to spike to $2,000 and above. The downside risk is the very bottom of $1,450.
Are people rushing to buy gold?
Physical gold has become rarer and rarer. It’s very difficult to get, and the margins that they put on it have gone way up. But you can buy futures, and the [number of] buyers for gold ETFs is way up.
The coronavirus “pandemic pandemonium was hyped by the media,” you contend. What would have been behind that?
They’re the ones who sold it and promoted it, especially the broadcast media — just like they sell fear and hysteria when a hurricane comes, and they get dressed up in their hurricane drag and go, “The hurricane is 150 miles off the coast of Miami!” and show the water coming over the boardwalk. They did the exact same thing with coronavirus — just to get ratings.
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