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The U.S. presidential race has tightened considerably with the election likely to be decided by voter turnout, coming down to whichever side is more successful at rallying its base. Recent polls show Mitt Romney leading nationally, but trailing Barak Obama slightly in key battleground states, with less than three weeks to go till the election and with only one face-to-face debate left, on foreign policy. With both parties advancing vastly differing visions for America and with major corporations such as General Electric and Honeywell sounding the alarm about the budget policy gridlock in Washington, a decisive victory for one party or the other is crucial to getting the economy back on track.

But that's unlikely to happen, increasing the likelihood of continuing policy gridlock in Washington, which if left unchecked, will result in dozens of tax and spending cuts being triggered automatically starting on January 1, unless Congress can reach a deal. This “fiscal cliff” could slash as much as 3.75% off of U.S. economic output next year. And with many economic forecasts calling for 2013 U.S. growth rates in the 2 to 2.5% range, the inability of policymakers to agree on anything could stop this recovery in its tracks.

In Europe, the plan for a banking supervisor have advanced while the Greek bailout is badly off track. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been pushing the Eurozone to find ways to reduce Greece’s debt, but Eurozone governments ha and the European Central Bank (ECB), which holds around €50-billion of Greek bonds, have resisted any suggestion that they forgive any of the debt owed to them.

In the face of global economic turbulence, the IMF once again ratcheted down global growth expectations for 2013 at its meetings last week in Tokyo. With virtually all European economies at or in recession and with the U.S. likely to muddle along for the foreseeable future, the IMF issued yet another sobering forecast of impending doom. Markets shrugged off the dismal forecast and focused instead on last Wednesday's blowout U.S. housing number, which reignited the stalled rally in U.S. real estate stocks.

In China, a once-in-a-decade leadership change is about to take place on November 8th, with Xi Jinping set to assume the post of General Secretary and President, succeeding Hu Jintao. This leadership change comes at a time when China faces huge challenges of sustaining growth and reorienting the economy toward domestic consumption and away from export-led growth. China's over-reliance on low-end exports has exposed the country's economic expansion to Europe’s debt crisis, resulting in a third quarter annualized growth rate of just 7.4 percent, the slowest pace of growth since early 2009.

This last quarter represented China’s seventh-consecutive quarter of slowing and is echoed in falling global commodity prices and profits for companies ranging from luxury clothing makers to heavy equipment manufacturers. And while Chinese officials have been working overtime, to dream up a new economic model that isn't as reliant on fixed-asset investment and exports, the policies of Xi Jinping aren’t expected to deviate much from those of his predecessor with an emphasis on growth at the expense of wealth disparities. But the good news for China is that in the last quarter, the average disposable income of urban households climbed 13 percent so far year compared to the same period last year. China's efforts to raise wages will be key in helping to restructure the Chinese economy toward domestic consumption and away from a reliance on international trade.

Increasingly, it’s beginning to look like a long, long slog for stocks in the face of economic sluggishness from every corner of the globe. Western economies appear set to continue trying to devalue their currencies in an effort to jump start growth and with central banks priming the pump, gold has been a savvy bet lately.

During the last ten years, gold and silver have seen prices spike higher during November with gold rallying 3.4% (month over month price change), while silver has moved 5.3% on average. As I mentioned recently on CNBC, the months following an election in the United States is also a great time to be a gold investor, since spending and inflation tend to pick up in the first few months of a new administration. With markets stalling and investors such as PIMCO’s Bill Gross calling for investors to buy gold, shouldn't you be adding a little gold to your portfolio?

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