2021: Deficits, Inflation, Overvalued Stocks Drive Gold Higher

In 2021 Deficits, Inflation, Overvalued Stocks Drive Gold Higher

The factors that drove gold to a new all-time high of $2,067 last year are well-known. The unprecedented amount of global panic caused a flock towards precious metals, one that had just as much to do with reactionary government policies as the crisis itself. Over the span of 12 months, gold gained around 25% while silver topped a seven-year high and became the main item on many a watchlist. In their Gold Outlook report for 2021, the World Gold Council (WGC) stated that it expects gold to post an almost as strong of a performance this year due to a combination of new and existing tailwinds.

Inflated stock valuations are a boon for gold

According to the report, the stock market is again shaping up to be a massive red flag. Long before the crisis hit, many experts were warning that equities’ valuations are overblown and that the longest bull run in the market’s history is slated for a correction, if not an altogether crash. The WGC points out that the S&P 500 price-to-sales ratio is at historic highs, yet also likely to expand further.

Near-zero bond yields send investors to gold as a safe haven

With the effective elimination of most sovereign bonds from portfolios, investors will now look to take on a more risk-on approach in search of gains, said the WGC. The renewed appetite for risk will also be powered by optimism in regards to a rapid global economic recovery after one of the worst slowdowns over the past century. The increased reliance on dubiously-valued stocks is likely to bring on strong pullbacks and market swings. While this turbulence alone is beneficial to gold, the metal is likely to receive even more support as higher risk will place more emphasis on hedging, especially in the absence of bonds that formerly fulfilled this role.

Inflation fears and inflation-resistant assets

Though not yet materialized in substantial form, inflation has been on the mind of every market participant ever since the government decided to expand the money supply with an unseen multi-trillion dollar stimulus. With the Federal Reserve and the European Central bank both stating their willingness to allow inflation to run past the targeted rate of 2%, the WGC’s report notes that gold prices increased by 15% on average during years where the inflation rate exceeded 3%. Of course, inflationary policies are just one of gold’s government-backed tailwinds, with ballooning budget deficits and the aforementioned normative of low to negative-yielding debt acting as pillars of support on their own.

Overseas gold demand increases

While last year’s demand for physical gold reached sky-high levels on one side, it was subdued from another as economic activity from the world’s top gold consumers slowed. The WGC expects this to change in 2021, projecting that consumer demand for gold from both China and India will return to form. The report cites data from the Indian Dhanteras festival in November as evidence that jewelry demand is already well on the track to recovery, having bounced back from the Q2 lows.

Central banks influence gold’s price

In contrast to 2018 and 2019, two record years in terms of central bank purchases, the WGC’s report forecasts a change in dynamic. With gold prices being near all-time highs, central banks could alternate between buying and selling, along with purchases no longer being widely spearheaded by Russia. Nonetheless, the WGC says that the official sector will continue to offer strong support for gold in the ever-growing bid to diversify foreign reserves, especially during a time of questionable fiat.

Investor Survey: Silver to Outperform in 2021

As part of its 2021 Outlook feature, Kitco surveyed a total of 1,015 analysts and investors regarding their outlook for precious metals heading into the new year. While the participants were bullish on commodities across the board, silver emerged as the standout forecast as has been the case for much of the previous year.

Why silver looks bright in 2021

56% of the participants, or 568 Main Street investors, named silver as their top metals investment and said that they expect it to outperform gold. Both gold and silver have done exceptionally well over the past 12 months, but certain nuances to the silver market have caused some forecasters to call for a price of as high as $50, up from current levels of around $24. A major part of this bullish sentiment has to do with an economic recovery and an overall push towards green infrastructure, one that was already prominent in Europe and Asia but should now gain traction in the U.S. as well.

The reinvigorated manufacturing sector, boosted by trillions of dollars of monetary stimulus, should help spur a bid for silver that could strain supply as the metal’s production is more complex than that of gold. Besides demand for silver in hydrogen power cells and other green technologies, silver’s investment component will also keep the metal on the same track that has seen prices more than double from their March lows, said the participants. The aforementioned stimulus has made inflationary expectations as high as they have been in recent memory, and few market watchers aren’t bracing for a significant rise in inflation over the next few years.

The many reasons gold will continue to shine

The same inflationary concerns should likewise help gold reclaim the $2,000 level sometime next year, up from its current level of around $1,900. Over the past year, there have been plenty of big banks and top names in finance who predicted that 2021 would see gold posting a new all-time high, above the current one of $2,070 set in August.

Besides inflationary concerns, a persistent low interest rate environment should also remain a major driver of gold prices. Interest rate slices started pushing gold prices up in the summer of 2019, and the surveyed participants expect low or negative interest rates around the globe to stick around until at least 2023. The dire straits that the sovereign bond market has found itself in has caused portfolio managers to reassess their stance, with many now beginning to view gold as a better alternative to hedge against stocks. While silver took the center stage of the survey, 10% of participants, or 140, nonetheless stated they expect gold to be the best performing asset this year.

Promising prospects for platinum and palladium

As for other precious metals, participants in the survey said they see platinum outperforming palladium by a slight margin in 2021, despite the latter’s shrinking supply and recent climb to all-time highs. Like silver, platinum has a strong industrial component and its price ties heavily into economic strength.