How AlphaNorth's Steve Palmer Copes With The Commodity Blues

TM editors' note: This article discusses a penny stock and/or microcap. Such stocks are easily manipulated; do your own careful due diligence.

Steve Palmer's AlphaNorth funds have a history of making high returns from investments in Canadian commodity juniors, including gold and energy plays. With regard to the current commodity markets, however, Palmer pulls no punches: Profits are not easy to reel in. But the downturn does not signal the end of the world. Commodity markets change cyclically, and there is money to be made buying undervalued precious metals and energy juniors, including the handful of companies Palmer names in this interview with The Gold Report.

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The Gold Report: How do you account for falling commodity prices?

Steve Palmer: The strong U.S. dollar is driving commodity prices down. The dollar-based slide is magnified by the summer doldrums and the lack of liquidity in many of the junior names. There is also a widespread perception that the Chinese growth rate is slowing, which is negatively impacting the value of commodity stocks in general.

But the reality is that, even though the growth rate in China has declined to 7%, it is growing from a much higher base, and this still translates into strong demand for commodities.

TGR: Why does the strong dollar drive down commodity prices?

SP: Commodities are priced in U.S. dollars. As the U.S. dollar exchange rate goes up, commodities become more expensive for buyers and demand falls. There is an inverse correlation between the U.S. dollar and commodities, particularly gold, but also energy.

TGR: If the U.S. dollar keeps getting stronger, and producers cannot afford to buy industrial commodities, then the supply of these commodities is going to increase, which will also drive prices lower. Between the strong dollar effect and its consequent supply/demand responses, it sounds like the perfect storm is brewing. If the Federal Reserve uncaps interest rates, will that help the energy and gold markets weather the storm and recover?

SP: Historically, the Fed has always waited until commodity prices are rising before increasing interest rates. It raises rates to cool a strengthening economy, so that prices do not inflate. We are longer away from interest rates rising than most people think, in my view.

However, I do believe that the U.S. dollar is poised to weaken, which should have a positive impact on commodity prices. Accelerating global growth in 2016 will also increase demand for commodities and have a positive impact on prices.

TGR: What would be the main catalyst for a weakening dollar?

SP: The U.S. was among the hardest hit countries in the global financial crisis. The Fed provided a significant amount of stimulus to keep the battered economy from imploding. The super-stimulated U.S. economy has been leading the world since 2008. Investors have flocked into large-cap U.S. stocks and the perceived safe haven of the U.S. dollar. But as Europe and emerging markets around the world recover and growth strengthens in these regions, money will start to flow out of the U.S. and into the faster-growing economies. There will be less demand by investors looking for the safe haven of the U.S. dollar. This should be positive for commodity prices. Commodities are cyclical.

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Disclosure: Peter Byrne conducted this interview for Streetwise Reports LLC, publisher of  more

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