By Bud Conrad, Casey Research

Though late to the party as usual, the proverbial man on the street – along with members of mainstream media and Wall Street heavyweights – is finally waking up to the decade-long, 700% increase in the price of gold, joining a growing buzz around the monetary metal. From questions whether gold is in a bubble to predictions that soaring prices are just around the corner, one thing is clear: a new phase of awareness for gold is upon us. How far might it move before these troubling times are over?

The Big-Picture Economic Environment

Kicking things off, I would like to explore several themes in order to put the current economic situation in context.

For example, continuing weakness in employment and housing indicates that the big slowdown that started in 2007 persists. Actually, the economy never exited the recession but rather – thanks to massive intervention – enjoyed a temporary reprieve that I have called the “Eye of the Storm.”

We experienced the first part of the storm from 2007 to 2009, but by late 2009 and into 2010 massive bailouts, stimulus, and deficit spending produced a false-dawn recovery. This recovery was most pronounced in the financial sector where the government transferred toxic private-sector debt – including large amounts held at Fannie and Freddie – onto the government’s own balance sheet.

We now are entering the second half of the storm, as it is becoming impossible to ignore the unprecedented and intractable sovereign debt problems sweeping the globe. These problems are especially obvious in the weak countries of Europe where punitive levels of interest rates are pushing weaker members of the eurozone to the brink. As the parts begin to fail, so will the whole.

And the US is not so far behind, with its own historic levels of government debt and deficits running at levels never seen before.

As we at Casey Research have warned of ahead of time, in their attempts to avert a 1929-style depression, governments took on the bubble in toxic private debt, stupidly transferring that burden onto the government (and taxpayers), causing the problem to morph into today’s sovereign debt crisis. Simply, with the government debt too big to ever be repaid, we are now beyond the point of no return. READ MORE…

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