Inflation, Other Forces Will Continue to Push Gold Higher

Inflation, Other Forces Will Continue to Push Gold Higher

As Forbes contributor Frank Holmes points out, two weeks ago, the greenback hit its highest level in about a year. It beat a basket of other currencies in doing so, and once again showed strength against expectations. But was it a show of strength on the U.S. dollar’s part, or a show of weakness on the part of foreign currencies?

We’ve mentioned in the past that gold has been hitting all-time highs in currencies around the world heading up to 2019. Only when it comes to the greenback has its rise been slow, last year notwithstanding. And sure enough, checking the gold market’s price action in dollar denominations shows a familiar correlation: dollar up, gold down.

Dollar’s effect on gold’s price

Yet simple logic demonstrates that gold has little to worry about regarding dollar strength. With trillions of U.S. dollars printed last year, it’s questionable where that strength is coming from and how long it can persist.

Interestingly, despite the dollar’s relative strength recently, oil’s price has skyrocketed over the last few months. Americans notice at the gas pump when filling their tanks. However, oil price has much more far-reaching consequences than an extra $20 spent at the convenience store. Higher oil prices mean higher transportation prices, driving up costs of everything from fresh foods to imported manufactured goods.

Which leads us directly into the highest inflation in the last 30 years…

The Fed is losing control of inflation

The Federal Reserve has done nothing but downplay the threat of inflation so far. The PCE index, which monitors the prices of goods and services purchased by U.S. consumers, rose by 4.3% year-on-year in August. It was the ninth straight month of massively surging inflation, and the highest figure in the last 30 years.

It just so happens that the PCE index is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, which might explain why Fed Chair Jerome Powell voiced expectations of ongoing market disruptions, which are intrinsically tied to inflation, well into next year. Quite a statement for someone promising to embark on a major tightening program next month.

As just one example of the kind of damage that inflation is doing, home prices, as measured by the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, rose 19.7% in the year ended July 2021. Hearing that it’s the highest annual rise since 1987 is troubling. Learning that the index started in 1987 really puts this number into perspective.

The dollar’s role in determining gold’s price

One of the key points of Trump’s presidential tenure was an ongoing back-and-forth with the Federal Reserve over various things, with the greenback being near the top of the list. President Trump wanted a weaker dollar for trade purposes, often saying that China’s devaluation of the yuan is continuing to give the nation a trade advantage.

Holmes notes that while a strong dollar might sound good on paper, it’s actually harming U.S. exporters, and it’s doing so during a time when no nation can afford to have economic weakness.

How this plays out remains to be seen. And while we wait for gold to truly respond to any of these tailwinds, it’s good to remind ourselves just how liquid of an asset gold is during a time when cryptocurrencies are taking their place on the global market.

While Holmes often tells people that gold is the fourth most liquid asset, the latest World Gold Council data shows that it’s actually the second, coming only behind S&P 500 stocks. Its daily trading volume beats all commodities, government and corporate debt and even currency swaps. Even amid bouts of tepid price action, the gold market itself is as action-packed as they come.

Buy the Dip While Panic Selling in Gold Lasts

Buy the Dip While Panic Selling in Gold Lasts

Gold has always been prone to bearish Wall Street sentiment and investor overreactions, and this was perhaps on full display after the latest Federal Reserve meeting. Optimistic GDP forecasts and hints at interest rate hikes in 2023 and onwards sent gold tumbling to a two-month low, with weekly losses above 5% percent. Yet, as usual, the drivers of the move downwards are questionable at best.

Adrian Day, president of Adrian Day Asset Management, said that the Fed meeting was actually bullish for gold upon closer inspection. He expects prices to bounce back in the short-term. Day notes that the Fed chair essentially said the government wants to rein in its loose monetary policy, but doesn’t have a way of doing it. This is clearly demonstrated by their inability to hike rates for at least two more years.

Day believes a lot of the selling was automated on some level and that investors will soon return to their previous bullish outlook.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said that markets were looking for an excuse to rebalance from technically overbought gold and oversold U.S. dollar, and that the Fed meeting was just that.

Cieszynski said that it wasn’t so much the Fed’s projections that caused the pullback, but rather the signal that officials are looking for a way to tighten monetary policy. While the statement alone was enough to send the markets selling, Day is among the numerous experts who don’t see any feasible way for the Fed to either tighten its monetary policy or subdue inflation.

The latter has been an especially prominent talking point as of late, with core and consumer inflation rising at their fastest pace in over a decade and consensus forecasts that more inflation is coming. Phillip Streible, chief investment strategist at Blue Line Futures, said that his firm has been waiting for an opportunity to buy gold.

Streible said his company has already started buying the dip, noting that they are positioning themselves for higher inflation accompanied by weaker-than-expected growth later in the year.

Last week’s Kitco News Weekly Gold Survey of 18 Wall Street analysts showed that 56% were bearish on gold in the short-term, with bullish and neutral sentiment tied with 22% votes for each. A Main Street poll with 2,174 respondents showed considerably more optimistic sentiment, with 52% of voters expecting gold to bounce back this week, 31% expecting additional pullbacks and 17% voting neutral.

“Gold as an Inflation Hedge” to Push Gold Price to $1,850: Scotiabank

Gold as an Inflation Hedge to Push Gold Price to $1,850: Scotiabank

In their monthly commodity report, Scotiabank went over their expectations for gold and silver in the face of what they refer to as the best economic growth in 40 years. This, of course, refers to the bank’s forecasts that the U.S. economy will expand by 6.2% this year and 4.4% in 2022.

Economic Forces Driving Gold Higher

These figures would normally be staggering, yet context is very much a key factor in this scenario. A growth of this magnitude has only been made possible in the form of a rebound from what most agreed was the biggest blow to the U.S. economy in the last century. Unsurprisingly, investors have been quick to adopt positive sentiment and have pushed both bond yields and the U.S. dollar higher, creating tremendous short-term pressure for gold.

Nonetheless, as gold price bounced back-and-forth between the $1,700 level, it pays to reassess the foundations on which the rebound, as well as the supposed growth, lie. To facilitate a recovery, the Federal Reserve had to commit to a zero-interest-rate policy along with pumping trillions of dollars into the economy. How soon and in what way this prolonged loose monetary policy will affect the nation has been the subject of plenty of speculation, but inflation seems to be on the mind of even the most optimistic market participant.

The newly-printed dollars have to go somewhere and wind up debasing the currency, and many economists believe that the effect could be felt the hardest in the form of a sudden inflationary spike. The general consensus is that prices for all base goods will see a considerable rise over the next five years. (In other words, inflation.)

$1,850 Average Gold Price per Ounce in 2021

In good part because of this, Scotiabank’s team is sticking to the average $1,850 gold price forecast for both 2021 and 2022. While the bank projects strong economic growth around the world, the ongoing negative developments surrounding the health crisis leave much to be desired in terms of certainty. It also pays to notice that countries around the world were reporting stagnant or contracting growth ahead of the crisis, with Germany’s manufacturing sector being just one example.

Regardless of how global growth unfolds over the next two years, Scotiabank sees silver as an investment that is poised to appreciate even more than gold.

Scotiabank’s Case for Silver

In the event of another flare-up, silver is well-positioned for a flock to safe-haven assets such as the one seen last year.

While manufacturing activity was contracting in 2019, industrial demand for silver was growing due to a heavy push for green energy, and it is also something that the Biden administration has emphasized. Silver is a critical component for solar panels, and also has eco-friendly uses in high-capacity batteries, water purification and electronics manufacture.

If the manufacturing sector indeed recovers as sharply as Scotiabank forecasts, silver stands to gain significant support so long as nations’ economies grow, and even more so as the developed world pivots toward a lower-carbon footprint.

A Stagflation Flashback Ahead? Keep an Eye on Gold

Stagflation flashback ahead? Keep an eye on gold

Ever since gold’s correction from August’s high, market participants have been watching closely as to whether we will bear witness to a similar scenario to the one between 1971 and 1980. Back then, economic conditions eerily mimicked what seems to be on the horizon today: a stagflation environment propelled by low growth, rising prices and excessive interest rates.

That bout of stagflation came, most would agree, as the result of the U.S. dollar being untethered from gold. The metal subsequently jumped from its $35 tether valuation to $200, corrected to $100 and then soared far above to reach $850 within a few years’ time. What might we guess, based on this historic pattern?

Today there’s no tether-based gold valuation. Recent calls for a return to a gold standard or a similar tangible backing of the dollar from various corners have very much driven that point across.

The Federal Reserve maintains inflation is running well below its stated annual target of “around 2% on average,” and that they know this because their measurements are accurate. We are forced to wonder how that’s possible, given the historic amount of money printing. Even such a luminary as former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers fears the nation could be facing its biggest inflationary problem in 40 years.

Wealth preservation and inflation concerns

Reports from various government mints show that precious metals purchases have maintained their record-shattering pace over the past few months ‑ regardless of fluctuations in price. In other words, buyers seem very much concerned about long-term wealth preservation and aren’t deterred by momentary corrections.

And it appears they have every right to be.

With the debt bubble ballooning and government deficit perpetually increasing, many wonder how and when the Fed will choose to address these issues. In the absence of a debt default (which is viewed as highly unlikely), the remaining options boil down to spending cuts, tax increases or allowing inflation to run its course.

Spending cuts mean austerity, less services for taxpayers, less money for special interests. That’s simply not a politically tenable path.

Tax increases could raise funds for federal coffers. On the other hand, taxing the wealthy all too often results in nothing more than emigration to more wealth-friendly nations. To raise taxes on a thing is to risk driving it away.

That leaves us with inflation, which seems to be the Fed’s favored option. And it is almost certainly already underway.

Inflation destroys debts

The Fed’s comments indicate the official sector has braced for a public response over claims they wouldn’t oppose inflation running past the desired target. Given how the Fed measures inflation, it seems citizens are especially vulnerable to being caught by it off-guard in the form of a sudden spike in consumer prices.

On this topic, Indonesia’s 30% increase in tofu prices since December, Russia’s 60% rise in sugar prices over the last year and a 20% spike in grain prices are worrying examples of how consumer goods can shoot up both suddenly and unevenly.

The market response to a high-inflation environment is fairly well laid-out. An initial boost of the stock and real estate sectors is followed by erosion of purchasing power, together with excessive monetary demand, a loss of confidence in fiat currencies and an ongoing increase in money printing.

Look familiar? Initial boost in stock and real estate? Check. Erosion of purchasing power? See food inflation data above (or recent stories about manufacturing concerns over steel or lumber prices). Excessive monetary demand? Yes in capitals; businesses are issuing new debt at a record page. Might the boom in bitcoin and other digital currencies have something to do with the loss of confidence in money backed by nothing but faith? Increased money printing: yes, again at record levels.

What does the future hold?

It should come as no surprise that the public have flocked to precious metals, with the latest social-media driven rush to silver being perhaps the first of many warnings.

When inflation does hit in such a way that not even distorted CPI can disguise it, the small subset of the public who have invested in gold and silver have managed to preserve the majority of their wealth. The rest scrambled to secure any sort of hard asset with their rapidly-depreciating currency.

The End of the Gold Standard and the Explosion of Federal Debt

The End of the Gold Standard and the Explosion of Federal Debt

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. dollar going off the gold standard. This is a timely if sordid occasion. In response to the crisis, last year saw the Federal Reserve issue an unprecedented multi-trillion dollar stimulus in what seems to be a precursor of things to come. The influx of free-floating money has brought on inflationary concerns ranging from those depicting a late 1970s scenario all the way to a Weimar worst-case.

The separation of gold from the dollar in 1971 did much for both in the decades to come. The loss of the dollar’s purchasing power was expedited in force, and governments learned that they could respond to any crisis or even need by simply printing more money. Officials were also far less compelled to think about the consequences of government spending, and the comparison of federal debt now versus 70 years ago shows exactly that.

Federal debt growth over the last 60 years

In 1960, the federal debt amounted to just over half the size of the U.S. economy. Today, it sits at 130% of the U.S. economy, paired with a $28 trillion national debt figure that seemed unfathomable decades prior. The rise of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) shows just how unfathomable the debt is, along with any solution to it. Proponents of MMT say that governments should freely print more money whenever needed, and in many ways, it’s difficult to argue that MMT hasn’t already been implemented.

The M1 money supply, or the amount of currently available liquidity, rose in December by a record 67% year-on-year. And with plans for a $1.9 trillion stimulus package to be issued in the short-term, the path to inflation appears to be unavoidable.

Gold as a store of value

Gold’s tale is one of sharp contrast. The metal became available for purchase and trading in the U.S. in 1974, and by 1980, an ounce of gold was worth $850, representing a 385% increase. Many are quick to point out that this was a high inflation period for the U.S., yet gold’s value over the coming years and decades continued to grow exponentially whereas the dollar eroded.

Today’s gold price of above $1,800 attests to that, as the metal has posted a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 8%. Its scarcity, liquidity, popularity and unquestionable value have made the 50-year anniversary a particularly notable one. At no point over the past 50 years were calls for a return to the gold standard louder, as it becomes clear that faith and reassurances won’t be enough to back the dollar for much longer.

How much longer can record debt last?

Whether the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department are considering any sort of return to money backed by gold is a matter of hot debate. The enormous difficulty of returning to the gold standard stems from, and highlights, the sheer amount of money that has been printed in the meantime.

With official gold reserves at around 261 million ounces or $493 billion, the government would need to fix the price of an ounce of gold to about $100,000 to keep the economy afloat. However implausible a return to the gold standard might seem, Americans who own gold can get just as much reassurance in their investment from the inflationary policies of MMT.

In a clear example of cause and effect, each newly-printed U.S. dollar bill makes gold more valuable and the greenback less valuable. Gold’s value increases most visibly when compared to the decreasing value of the dollar.

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.

“Watch Gold” Among These 2020 Market Surprises

Despite being optimistic for the financial markets in 2020, one forecaster believes that gold prices may continue to rise in the new year. Here’s his rationale.

In an interview with CNBC, veteran forecaster and vice chairman of private wealth solutions at Blackstone Byron Wien spoke about his outlook for the next fiscal year. Known for his annual list of 10 surprises to look for in the market, the Wall Street expert chose to stick to tradition and withhold his predictions until January.

However, Wien did share some things regarding what to expect over the short and long term. While Wien didn’t go into his forecasts just yet, he singled out gold as a particularly interesting investment to watch for in 2020. Wien’s nudge towards gold stands out even more given the strategist’s general expectations for the coming year.

Despite geopolitical tensions and trade disputes, Wien isn’t too concerned that either will spill out into the coming months. Wien is optimistic regarding the early draft of a trade deal with China, a resolute Brexit and a simmering down of domestic political turmoil. While mostly bullish, Wien singled out a few possible risks on the horizon.

One would be the election of a candidate whose market policies radically differ from those of President Trump, which Wien thinks could end up causing significant upheaval to the economy. Another would be a scenario where the Federal Reserve gets caught by surprise inflation which, although unlikely, the stage does appear set for.

Over the longer term, Wien shared some notes about the pervasive issue of debt, including the federal deficit and the overall domestic debt. While the ever-expanding figures tend to be the eye-catchers, Wien explains that the U.S. economy has enjoyed an environment of low debt service rate. Although the national debt has quadrupled over the past two decades, the debt service has only gone up 25%. Wien finds this unsustainable and expects the market to eventually be shook by the coming of higher interest rates. On the other hand, Wien agreed with his hosts that any rise in U.S. interest rates is difficult to see in the near future, especially due to the amount of liquidity that central banks are currently working with.

Wien said that market participants are likewise preparing for a similar economic climate in 2020, a sentiment that has powered growth as of late. In contrast to Wien’s optimistic viewpoints, he pointed to gold as the asset to once again keep an eye out for. After an exceptional second half to the year, gold is up roughly 15% since the beginning of the year and has many forecasters calling for it to hit $1,600 in 2020.

What Your Financial Adviser Won’t Tell You About Gold

Posted on

Alan Greenspan, Peter Schiff and others have all advocated gold ownership – why hasn’t your financial adviser?Several big names from the financial world have recently came out in favor of gold, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who said that given its value as an international currency and that it’s unaffected by government decisions, gold is a good place to put your dollars these days. Yet, many financial advisers still don’t advocate gold. Why? Listen to our latest edition of the Market Report with Will Hart and Jake Kennedy.

Transcript:

[Read more…]