Goldman Sachs: When Risks Rise, Gold Is Your Best Bet

Goldman Sachs: When Risks Rise, Gold Is Your Best Bet

The current geopolitical environment highlights the many reasons gold can thrive in any scenario. It’s a reminder to the attentive investor why gold has been the financial hedge of choice throughout recorded history. Let’s examine how gold compares with other assets when market volatility, recession, geopolitical conflict and inflation are all risks that are either on the horizon, or have already materialized.

Gold vs. “digital gold”

Bitcoin has emerged to prominence for several reasons, not the least of which is its fixed-supply cap. In January, the CPI saw its fastest monthly rise since 1982, exceeding already-pessimistic inflation expectations. Investors and even those who have previously had little to no interest in actively managing their savings are growing wary of currency depreciation. In other words, as time passes, each dollar buys noticeably less. A quick glance makes a fixed-supply asset look very appealing when trillions of dollars are being printed.

Yet, in a recent note, Goldman Sachs’ analysts called bitcoin a “risk-on inflation hedge” and gold a risk-off inflation hedge. The top crypto is, for better or for worse, infamously volatile, having recently shed 50% from its November high. With clear signals of a growth slowdown and worries over a recession, the team views a long gold position as the best way to protect oneself against market downturns. Recent history has indicated that, while bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have tremendous growth potential, their astonishing volatility is all-too-tightly correlated with speculative, “risk-on” investments. By this measure, bitcoin isn’t a suitable hedge.

Gold as the investment of last resort

It seems that traders are equally concerned and unconcerned about a conflict between Russia and the West, the latter by proxy via Ukraine. Some estimate an only 10% chance of a true shots-fired escalation. Nevertheless, there has been no shortage of scrambling among traders. Any conflict would make riskier investments, such as equities, vulnerable to a market rout. So what are some of the options traders are exploring to cover their bases?

With the cost of defensive assets going up, investors are betting on everything from French and German stocks to safety in the U.S. dollar and the yen. But one hardly needs reminding that the stock market can never really offer protection. And in the face of the highest inflation in decades, is hedging with paper currencies really a good idea?

Roberto Lottici, fund manager at Banca Ifigest in Milan, has minimized both cost and exposure to risk by doubling the gold and silver allocation of his fund to 6%. It’s a percentage many would find conservative even in the absence of huge red flags. Nonetheless, to Lottici, it’s enough to offer peace of mind in whatever scenario unfolds.

“If the situation spirals out of control,” said Lottici, “then it’s going to be one of the very few assets that can offer protection.”

That’s just the thing with gold, though: even if the Russia-Ukraine situation unfolds in the most peaceful manner possible, Lottici won’t regret his precious metals allocation. Just the opposite, as any of the aforementioned risks stands prepared to turn gold from a hedge and into a top performer.

Gold’s Growing Appeal in a World Desperate for Alternative Investments

Golds Growing Appeal in a World Desperate for Alternative Investments

As the World Gold Council’s latest report indicates, low interest rates are forcing investors to chase gains. Steady portfolio performance is desirable for regular investors and a necessity for portfolio managers. Yields on government and corporate bonds have reached all-time, mostly-negative lows worldwide. Even an alleged, tentative interest rate hiking schedule is unlikely to push real yields out of negative territory.

Yet investors, whether individual or institutional, must have return on investment. The combination of high inflation and negative real yields have pushed investments further and further into high-volatility, low-liquidity assets. That’s an issue, because in the world of finance and investing, risk and return are inextricably linked.

The WGC cites data from research firms and various sources which indicate that investors are showing more appetite for riskier assets. A recent survey suggesting that a third of portfolios might be allocated in alternative and other assets in the next three years.

Gold offers high liquidity and low volatility

Most of these “alternative” assets have a few things in common.

  • High growth potential
  • High risk
  • Low liquidity

Consider the relatively low liquidity of real estate, the growth potential of cryptocurrencies and the risk of NFTs. Consider also the lack of price discovery among assets that aren’t traded on open exchanges, or otherwise regularly marked-to-market.

During the financial crisis, liquidity was a major point of concern, and nearly half of the participants in the survey stated that it’s a key consideration in their long-term portfolio planning.

Here, gold once again starts to emerge as something that should be treated as a necessity, and likely will as investors take on an uncharacteristically aggressive approach. While it might seem as if though there is little room for defensive assets in a high-risk portfolio, the opposite holds true in the case of gold.

For starters, no prudent investor will forgo hedging their bets whatever their approach is. Bonds might have once been the hedge of choice for risk-on investment, but since it is their underperformance that is prompting the chase of returns, gold is there to assume the role.

There are many more nuances, of course. Risk and uncertainty go hand in hand with market crashes and selloffs. Last March was an infamous example, as even the safest of assets such as gold fell. In situations like these, investors want liquidity both for safety reasons and to make bargain bets in other asset classes. The same month also showed why gold continues to stand out among all other assets, as it was the only one to recover by the end of the month. And, as is by now known, it went on to post one of its best years on record.

This is just one of many occasions where diversification with gold would have assured a portfolio’s stability and maintained its performance as turbulence rocks the markets. There’s a reason it’s the gold standard of safe haven assets.

The world is looking more turbulent than it has in a while, and yet investors aren’t willing to wait and see what happens in order to post a return. During a time when things like farmland and collectibles enter portfolios that they might otherwise never find a place in, a time-proven and highly liquid asset like gold is a prime candidate to steady the rocking boat.

Buying Gold For “Portfolio Insurance” Could Be Lucrative

With all the parallels being drawn between the Vietnam war and the Afghanistan war, the tale of how gold plays into it is an interesting one. 1971 marked the full and official untethering of the U.S. dollar from gold and the beginning of a monetary experiment that works quite well until one looks under the hood.

But what really prompted President Nixon to make his infamous decision? As MoneyWeek’s Dominic Frisby notes, in August 1971, French president Pompidou sent his officials to New York to collect the nation’s expatriated gold, battleship and all. As the British informed Nixon that he should begin preparations, the President quickly realized that he can’t part with $3 billion of physical gold and finance a costly war with Vietnam. A concession had to be made, and between a sovereign and economic one, Nixon chose the latter.

The dollar was now untethered from gold, and the U.S. was free to print it and finance the war while eroding the greenback’s purchasing power to unimaginable levels. Perhaps most importantly, Frisby reminds us that Nixon portrayed the untethering as an extreme and temporary measure, one that would only be necessary until the war effort is over. This portrayal definitely served to cushion the impact of something that might otherwise seem unacceptable, just as in the case of quite a few other governmental interventions.

Now, 50 years later, we see that the government’s assurances don’t amount to much, and we’ve gleaned a few other things as well. Money is easy to print, but physical gold is hard to come by. Frisby notes that some gold investors might be disappointed by gold’s 15% drop from its high of $2,070. But that only really refers to spot price. An ounce of paper gold might go for its spot price, but those wanting to buy gold bullion might quickly find that the price has hardly changed since last August.

Gold owners and long-time bugs should also view gold’s lack of performance compared to stocks and other asset classes as a positive development. Wall Street instructs investors to hold 10% of their portfolio in gold and hope that it doesn’t go up. That’s because gold going up significantly means economic disaster as an optimistic scenario and a global crisis as a less pleasant one.

Yet gold is indeed going up. Over the last few weeks, it fell to $1,750 only to promptly climb back to its current level of above $1,815. Investors aren’t selling, which tells us that the outlook isn’t that great. Inflation is already here, and that it will only be temporary is yet another governmental assurance that could very well rank with the aforementioned ones. All of the drivers are in place for gold to continue its move up, and that’s not counting any black swan event during a time when everyone seems to be preparing for them.

Frisby sees room for gold to jump between 30% and 40% if trouble arises. In the meantime, gold investors should hold onto their well-performing insurance and hope that the next bout of gains comes from something mild such as a stock market crash, instead of global upheaval.

Gold’s Rally Just Getting Started, Say Numerous Analysts

Gold's Rally

Currently, prices are moving up alongside those of stocks, but a bevy of analysts agree that the yellow metal still has plenty of upside. Find out why here.

As U.S. and Chinese stocks recover after massive amounts of stimulus was pumped into both economies, some are surprised to see gold doing just as well as equities. Although the two have traditionally had an inverse correlation, it has been severed for some time now.

Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management, pointed out the differences between the respective rises in gold and stocks. In the case of the latter, the equity market’s upswing seems to rely heavily, if not exclusively, on expectations that stimulus programs will translate to corporate earnings and pave the way to an economic recovery. Prior to the pandemic, many analysts were tapping their feet as they waited for a correction in the longest-running bull market in equities’ history while warning that valuations seem to be heavily overblown.

In contrast, gold has been on a steady rise since summer last year, when central banks around the world began slashing interest rates. While a major factor, gold also had plenty of other drivers that facilitated a slew of price gains until March, when the metal briefly dipped before going on to breach $1,800 for the first time since 2011. Although the pandemic was a big reason for this move, and persistent concerns about the coronavirus are fueling gold demand, there is much more to be said about gold’s gains over the past year.

Michael Novogratz, CEO and chairman of Galaxy Digital, believes the current macro environment is a perfect one for gold to breach its all-time high. Although Novogratz took note that investors have been quick to jump on optimistic sentiment, the CEO believes things will ultimately boil down to the unprecedented amount of money printed by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. With gold having traditionally acted as the primary guard against inflation and a way of preserving wealth, Novogratz expects the metal to move past $1,950 fairly soon. The price target doesn’t look too far off, as gold has been touching and passing the $1,810 level throughout the previous trading week.

Michael Howell, CEO of Crossborder Capital, expressed very similar opinions, stating that investors should look for diversification and pegging gold as the one asset that is guaranteed to keep climbing. Like Novogratz, Howell said that stimulus programs are the best news that the gold market could receive, forecasting a climb to $2,500 within the next 18 months.

Along with being exceptionally well-positioned in both the short and long-term, a deeper analysis suggests that gold’s price should already be much higher. Peter Boockvar, an analyst at Bleakley Advisory Group, places gold’s inflation-adjusted all-time high at around $2,600 when taking into account the metal’s 1980 high of $850. Boockvar, too, believes this price adjustment is well on its way.

Is the Fed About to Become a Major Gold Buyer?

Due to a new round of fiscal stimulus and waning global confidence in the dollar, Guggenheim’s Scott Minerd argues the Fed may resume buying gold in a big way.

In a recent note, Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Investments, outlined a possible scenario that could manifest as a result of the Federal Reserve’s massive pandemic-related stimulus. The U.S. dollar has held a tight grip on its status as a global reserve currency over the past few decades, yet recent years have seen talks of that status potentially being usurped by another sovereign in the not too distant future, with the Chinese yuan as perhaps the most aggressive candidate.

Minerd doesn’t believe that the greenback’s place as the reserve currency has been placed into question so far, but he already sees concerning signals in the form of the dollar losing its market share. These are a clear result of the Fed’s attempts to deal with a massive government deficit while also staving off a recession.

In his note, Minerd expanded upon a sort of vicious cycle that the Fed could soon find itself in. As the CIO explained, the Fed’s current rate of asset purchases is outpacing the rate of bond issuance, and the central bank is likely to try and solve this problem by upping its asset purchases to a massive $2 trillion annually.

Although the Fed’s recent pumping of trillions of dollars into the economy represented the biggest stimulus to date, Minerd thinks that an official (and even greater) quantitative easing (QE) program is on the way. With a budget deficit exceeding $3 trillion and the Fed’s commitment to boost the economy at any cost, Minerd expects the central bank to keep interest rates zero-bound for a minimum of five years, if not longer.

Needless to say, any environment of low or negative interest rates greatly benefits gold, and the yellow metal has been reaching all-time highs in numerous countries whose central banks have adopted similar policies. But there are more reasons why gold could be the refuge investors need moving forward. A commitment to zero rates, especially over a protracted period of time, would likely raise inflationary expectations and potentially pave the way for a sudden spike in inflation.

Along with weakening the greenback on their own, intrusive measures such as these could reduce confidence in the dollar and intensify speculation in regards to its place as the reserve currency. In return, the Fed could attempt to offset its risky policies by accumulating even more gold, despite its reserves already far exceeding those of any other central bank. As Minerd notes, the historic tendency of sovereign nations to hoard gold in order to maintain economic leverage is well-documented, and Minerd would not at all be surprised to see the Fed becoming a major gold buyer in the near future to avoid losing dominance on the global stage.

Gold Stands to Soar in Midst of “The Great Lockdown”

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Global economic growth is projected to fall below -3% this year, and it’s exactly why Frank Holmes argues that more people must own gold. See his argument here.

As Forbes contributor Frank Holmes points out, “The Great Lockdown” isn’t just a colloquialism used to describe the current state of affairs. It is a term that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) itself has come up with to describe the economic picture, along with such dismal outlooks as predicting that the world is headed towards the worst recession since the Great Depression. And, with global economic growth projected to fall below negative 3% this year, they have no shortage of data to back up their forecast.

To Holmes, this is a wake-up call that signals it’s time for every individual to focus on preserving their savings. As evidenced by the action in the gold market so far, plenty of people around the world have indeed recognized this ominous signal. Gold has climbed roughly 13% so far this year and quickly made precious metals one of the best-performing asset classes. A look into this month’s top searches on search engine also shows that gold has piqued more interest than it has at any point over the past decade, including when the metal reached its all-time high of $1,900 in 2011.

With its exceptional performance thus far, many experts and analysts have been calling for prices that even the bullish forecasters wouldn’t have dreamt of a year or two ago. Bloomberg commodity strategist Mike McGlone recently noted that gold seems to be aiming for a reversion of its long-term mean versus the S&P 500 Index, a move driven largely due to the unprecedented amount of monetary stimulus currently taking place. If true, gold would undoubtedly move on to new highs, with Holmes highlighting a range of $2,800 to $3,000 based on the S&P 500’s current mean.

Perhaps the most notable part of this analysis, however, is that a mean reversion of this kind is far from a hypothetical scenario. In May 1990, gold and the S&P 500 were both trading inside a range of 330 to 360. For a more recent example, March 2013 also saw gold and the S&P 500 trade within a 1,500 to 1,600 range, a roughly one-to-one ratio. This makes the scenario of gold climbing to $2,800 and above in the short-term a very realistic possibility backed by historical precedent.

Yet despite the clear flock to gold and extremely bullish indicators such as this, Holmes thinks far too many people remain severely underweight on the metal. A study done by the World Gold Council (WGC) last year showed that commodity indices have a minimal gold weighting, meaning that investors whose exposure through gold comes by way of funds only receive a meager amount of benefits from an outperforming asset.

Instead, Holmes recommends a much more direct approach to owning the metal, one that involves at least a 10% allocation within a portfolio with a sizeable emphasis on physical gold. While some people might feel as if they already missed their entry point due to the strength of gold’s gains so far, Holmes notes that both price forecasts and economic predictions suggest that this is far from the case.

Jim Rickards Warns of Complete Economic Freeze

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If we reach an “Ice-9” scenario that he has alluded to in the past, here’s what the analyst says may be in store for the financial markets and precious metals.

In a recent interview with Kitco, renowned finance author Jim Rickards spoke about the state the world currently finds itself in, both economically and in an all-encompassing sense, and what individuals can do to preserve their wealth during a time of panic and when faced with shutdowns across the board.

Rickards’ books frequently feature a warning theme where the expert cautions investors that the usual band-aid methods applied by central banks to fix ailing economies, such as pumping liquidity, are just that and aren’t going to work indefinitely. The coronavirus, however, represents a threat to the global economy that neither officials nor investors are prepared to deal with.

Rickards cites prominent immunologist Anthony Fauci to highlight the fact that the markets are trying to price in a crisis whose magnitude they have yet to be made aware of, resulting in cases like the stock market’s ongoing search for a bottom. Making matters worse, Rickards thinks we might be nearing an “Ice-9” scenario that he sometimes refers to in his books, alluding to a complete economic freeze. And although some fund managers have already requested a 30-day shutdown, Rickards notes that measures like these would prove completely ineffective.

A NYSE shutdown would trigger a collapsing effect, says Rickards, with investors trying to get their hands on cash from money markets, brokerage accounts and banks as each shuts down after the other. Before long, the global economy would be in complete lockdown and no interventions by the Federal Reserve or other central banks would have an effect.

This brings Rickards to the inescapable reality that owning physical gold and silver is one of the few reliable ways of preserving access to liquidity, especially if things progress to a point where moderate-scale evacuations begin to occur.

Rickards dismisses economic views that owning bullion in these scenarios is a bad idea due to potential deflation, pointing to the stretch between 1927 and 1933. As Rickards notes, this six-year span was the most deflationary period in U.S. history, yet gold rose by 75% during that time. Furthermore, gold’s prices were still fixed in 1933, making Rickards believe that a similar deflationary bout in present day would usher in far greater gains.

Regardless of how the situation develops, Rickards urged people not to wait when it comes to acquiring precious metals, saying that many are already having difficulties trading in contracts. On the flip side, Rickards said that the keenest of traders are still waiting for gold’s price to bottom out before going all-in, as they expect the precious metals market to have a prolonged bull run similar to that between 2008 and 2011. Rounding up his advice, Rickards also suggested that people keep some of their gold and silver easily accessible to maintain flexibility in a highly uncertain environment.

The Simple Reason Gold Fell with Stocks Last Week

Although most assume that gold would have surged, this is not without precedent, with past cases resulting in massive upside for gold prices. See why here.

As the coronavirus crisis worsens throughout China and the rest of the world, the global market has seen its sharpest decline since the 2008 financial crisis. Virtually all equities plunged last week as traders rushed to dump their assets in favor of cash, with the Dow losing as much as 3,600 points within the week.

Some analysts found it curious that gold and silver prices also fell, with the metal dropping from about $1,640 to the $1,560 range during Friday’s trading session. Gold is known for its hedging properties and generally prospers as a consequence of stock selloffs, making the parallel action come off as unusual.

Yet upon closer inspection, one can see that a mutual selloff in both markets is not without precedent, and that similar cases in the past have resulted in massive upside for gold once the dust settled. Last year, much was said about the peculiarity of gold moving up together with stocks, considering the latter are seen as the metal’s biggest competitor. As gold kept climbing, however, it became clear that the metal’s numerous drivers and sturdy fundamentals were powering the gains as opposed to sentiment.

As various experts have explained, the precious metals selloff shouldn’t be of particular concern to gold investors as a massive wave of panic has taken hold of the markets. Peter Spina, president and CEO of GoldSeek.com, pointed out that some of the selling is a result of a general selloff by large funds, which recently increased their positioning in the gold market by a wide margin. Likewise, Peter Grant, vice president of precious metals at Zaner Metals, pointed out that the threat of contagion has significantly hampered physical transactions in China and India, two of the world’s biggest buyers whose bullion investors tend to favor in-person purchases.

Brien Lundin, editor of Gold Newsletter, noted that silver’s decline is also tied to diminished industrial demand, as the coronavirus has impacted both the commodity and energy markets. The already-skewed gold/silver ratio has now climbed above 95, exceeding last year’s peak and nearing its all-time high.

Despite the selling pressure from the past few days, there are good reasons to be excited about gold prices moving forward. Lundin pointed out that this kind of price action is part and parcel of any global crisis, as central banks invariably respond to damaged economies by introducing massive amounts of stimulus. The 2008 financial crisis, which ended up moving gold prices to all-time highs, was an example of investors recognizing that loose central bank policies are causing just as much damage to the economy as the crisis itself.

As in 2008, Lundin expects multiple rate cuts, quantitative easing and increased government spending in response to the crisis. Given gold’s tremendously positive response to successive and unexpected rate cuts in 2019, Lundin predicts that the coronavirus crisis will ultimately prove far more beneficial than detrimental to the precious metals market, adding that prices could retake their upwards trajectory with much greater vigor in the coming weeks and months.

Gold Settings Its Sights on $1,900

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The yellow metal is up about 20% in the last year, but at least one analyst says that it will soon go much higher. Here’s why he thinks it may set a new record.

In a recent interview with Kitco, Peter Reznicek, head trader at ShadowTrader, spoke about the extremely bullish signals that gold has been sending over the past six months. The metal is currently riding on six-year highs, oscillating in a narrow trading range above last year’s high of $1,553.

While the jump of roughly 20% in gold prices over the past year  has enticed many investors, Reznicek says that the price spike is merely the beginning of something very exciting in the market. The veteran trader explained that he favors long-term charts and, when assessing gold, looks as far back as two decades ago to get a better idea of where the metal is headed.

Observing the market from this perspective, Reznicek found it clear that last summer marked a breakout from a prolonged range bound pattern. While some view gold’s retracement from the $1,600 level as a sign that the metal might be moving too fast, Reznicek isn’t the least bit concerned and assures investors that gold is on a clear upwards trajectory.

As Reznicek points out, gold prices soared around mid-2019 before moving sideways over the next couple of months, which is a bullish sign in and of itself. Gold’s strong positioning above last year’s highs suggests that the metal is enjoying excellent support around current levels and could be one or two drivers away from a major breakout.

Reznicek has little doubt that gold bottomed out ahead of the summer price jump and that, from a longer-term perspective, the metal is preparing to shoot far above current levels. Having been bullish on gold for some time, Reznicek unequivocally advised investors that long gold is the position they want to be in right now.

In terms of price levels, Reznicek pointed to $1,613 as the next key resistance level that gold shouldn’t have a hard time breaching. Over a slightly longer period, Reznicek said that gold investors should keep an eye out for the all-time high of $1,900 as a very reachable level, while leaving open the possibility that the metal could end up even higher in the near future. Reznicek’s prediction echoes that of several other guests on Kitco’s show, many of whom are predicting that gold will indeed recapture levels last seen in 2011 and possibly leapfrog them.

Speaking about short-term drivers, Reznicek singled out the coronavirus as a potentially important tailwind for gold. Although the trader feels that the outbreak hasn’t influenced the gold market to a significant degree thus far, he noted that any significant market disruption related to the virus would definitely play into gold’s favor.

Gold Prices to Surge 30% in 2020, Says Bridgewater Analyst

On the back of a strong 2019, one analyst sees an even better year for gold in 2020. Here’s why he thinks the metal may surpass $2,000.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Greg Jensen, the co-chief investment officer at Bridgewater, shared his prediction for gold’s trajectory in the near future. The metal had most recently shot up above $1,600, the highest level in seven years, riding on high tensions between the U.S. and Iran. And although it has retraced since then, it remains perched above last year’s high of $1,553, last seen in 2013.

As great as gold’s gains have been thus far, Jensen sees a lot more positive price action ahead. In the interview, Jensen pointed out that the threat of a military conflict with Iran wasn’t the only source of concerns, as the metal had also been appreciating steadily amid ongoing trade disputes with China.

Like other experts, Jensen thinks that trade issues between the U.S. and China are far from resolved and will continue to prompt safe-haven buying, adding that the conflict with Iran likewise hasn’t fully simmered down. Furthermore, Jensen potentially sees a notable increase in geopolitical flare-ups ahead that could send gold climbing to $2,000 this year, above its all-time peak of $1,911.

Besides geopolitical uncertainty, Jensen expects central bank policies to remain supportive of gold, just as they had been in the second half of 2019. The metal began its steady climb at the beginning of summer, as central banks around the world suddenly turned dovish and followed in the Federal Reserve’s stead by slicing interest rates, which is generally seen as a major boon for gold. Since then, global negative-yielding debt has reached a dizzying peak of over $15 trillion, creating a dearth of safe-haven opportunities.

Jensen thinks that the Fed is likely to push interest cutting even further this year by possibly slicing nominal rates to zero in order to combat slowing growth and the looming threat of a U.S. recession, a red flag that became especially prominent in the second half of 2019. On the flip side, Jensen also sees the Fed potentially choosing to usher in a period of high inflation, giving gold another major price driver.

Jensen’s view is shared by several other notable fund managers, starting with his colleague Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater. A long-time advocate of the yellow metal who favors a gold-heavy strategy for his top-performing fund, Dalio doubled down on his usual sentiment last year by urging investors to start buying gold amid what he sees as a paradigm shift with loose monetary policies across the globe. Around the same time, DoubleLine CEO Jeffrey Gundlach also stated that he is adamantly long gold due to expectations of a decline in the greenback’s value.