Neither Inflation nor the Fed Moves Gold

“Inflation is too high,” admitted Lael Brainard during her nomination hearing in the Senate for the Vice Chair of the Fed. You don’t say, Governor Obvious! Indeed, the latest BLS report on inflation shows that consumer inflation rose 0.5% in December on a monthly basis, after rising 0.8% in the preceding month. The core CPI rate increased 0.6%, following a 0.6-percent increase in November.

The situation is actually worse: inflation is not merely high – it’s high and still rising. As the chart below shows, the annual, seasonally adjusted CPI inflation rate spiked 7.1%, the highest move since February 1982.

However, 40 years ago, inflation was coming down, and now, it is still accelerating. Inflation has been in a clear upward trend since May 2020, and getting worse month after month since August 2021 (practically, since November 2020, when we skip a short moderation in summer 2021), as the chart below shows.

What is really disturbing is that core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, spiked 5.5%, the highest since February 1991. It shows that inflation has moved deeply into the economy. It’s not a phenomenon caused merely by soaring energy prices – we are witnessing widespread, general inflation that covers practically all prices. For example, the shelter subindex, which is the biggest component of the CPI and is much less volatile than energy or food, rose 4.2% in December, the highest since February 2007, as the chart below shows.

Although inflation could calm down somewhat in the first quarter of 2022 or even peak amid the spread of Omicron and the recent peak in the Producer Price Index, it’s not likely to disappear quickly. Its negative impact on the economy is beginning to be felt more and more. For instance, retail sales plunged 1.9% in December, much worse than the forecasted decline of 0.1%. The drop was caused partially by surging prices that took a big bite out of spending.

Implications for Gold

What does rising inflation imply for the gold market? Well, theoretically, the yellow metal loves high and accelerating inflation, so it should shine under the current conditions. Last year, gold didn’t perform spectacularly, but it has recently managed to rise above $1,820, as the chart below shows. I wouldn’t draw too far-reaching conclusions on this basis, but at least that’s something.

Inflation has been accompanied by an expanding economy last year and, more recently, also by the Fed’s more hawkish rhetoric. For a shamefully long time, the Fed kept refusing to deal with inflation. However, Powell and his colleagues have finally awoken. They’ve already accelerated the pace of tapering asset purchases and signaled successfully to the markets that they’ll likely start raising interest rates as early as March. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, the odds of a hike in the federal funds rate have risen from 46.8% last month to above 90% now. Hence, the lift-off is almost certain.

The prospects of more hawkish monetary policy and the sooner start of a tightening cycle should be negative for the yellow metal, but gold didn’t care too much about a more aggressive Fed. This is encouraging, but the risk of normalization of real interest rates remains. It might also be the case that neither high inflation nor a hawkish Fed is able to shake gold out of the sideways trend right now. Let’s be patient – it might be just the silence before the storm.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

Gold Wars: Revenge of Supply and Inflation

If George Lucas were to make a movie about 2021 instead of Jedi knights, he would probably call it Revenge of the Supply. After all, last year will be remembered as the period of semiconductor shortages, production bottlenecks, disrupted value chains, delayed deliveries, surging job vacancies, rising inflation, and skyrocketing energy prices. It could be a shocking discovery for Keynesian economists, who focus on aggregate demand and believe that there is always slack in the economy, but it turned out that supply matters too!

As a reminder, state governments couldn’t deal with the pandemic more smartly and introduced lockdowns. Then, it turned out – what a surprise! – that the shutdown of the economy, well, shut down the economy, so the Fed and the banking system boosted the money supply, while Congress passed a mammoth fiscal stimulus, including sending checks to just about every American.

In other words, 2021 showed us that one cannot close and reopen the economy without any negative consequences, as the economy doesn’t simply return to the status quo. After the reopening of the economy, people started to spend all the money that was “printed” and given to them. Hence, demand increased sharply, and supply couldn’t keep up with the boosted spending.

It turned out that economic problems are not always related to the demand side that has to be “stimulated”. We’ve also learned that there are supply constraints and that production and delivery don’t always go smoothly. The contemporary economy is truly global, complex, and interconnected – and the proper working of this mechanism depends on the adequate functioning of its zillion elements. Thus, shit happens from time to time. This is why it’s smart to have some gold as a portfolio insurance against tail risks.

Evergiven, the ship that blocked the Suez Canal, disrupting international trade, was the perfect illustration. However, the importance of supply factors goes beyond logistics and is related to regulations, taxes, incentives, etc. Instead of calls for injecting liquidity during each crisis, efficiency, reducing the disincentives to work and invest, and unlocking the supply shackles imposed by the government should become the top economic priority.

Another negative surprise for mainstream economists in 2021 was the revenge of inflation. For years, central bankers and analysts have dismissed the threat of inflation, considering it a phenomenon of the past. In the 1970s, the Fed was still learning how to conduct monetary policy. It made a few mistakes, but is much smarter today, so stagflation won’t repeat. Additionally, we live in a globalized economy with strong product competition and weak labor unions, so inflation won’t get out of control.

Indeed, inflation was stubbornly low for years, despite all the easy monetary policy, and didn’t want to reach the Fed’s target of 2%, so the US central bank changed its regime to be more flexible and tolerant of inflation. It was in 2020, just one year before the outbreak of inflation. The Fed completely didn’t expect that – which shows the intellectual poverty of this institution – and called it “transitory”.

Initially, inflation was supposed to be short-lived because of the “base effects”, then because of the “supply bottlenecks”. Only in November, the Fed admitted that inflation was more broad-based and would be more persistent than it previously thought. Well, better late than never!

What does the revenge of supply and inflation imply for the gold market? One could expect that gold would perform better last year amid all the supply problems and a surge in inflation. We’ve learned that gold doesn’t always shine during inflationary times. The reason was that supply shortages didn’t translate into a full-blown economic crisis. On the contrary, they were caused by a strong rebound in demand; and they contributed mainly to higher inflation, which strengthened the Fed’s hawkish rhetoric and expectations of higher interest rates, creating downward pressure on gold prices.

On the other hand, we could say as well that gold prices were supported by elevated inflation and didn’t drop more thanks to all the supply disruptions and inflationary threats. After all, during the economic expansion of 2011-2015 that followed the Great Recession, gold plunged about 45%, while between the 2020 peak and the end of 2021, the yellow metal lost only about 13%, as the chart below shows.

Hence, the worst might be yet to come. I don’t expect a similarly deep decline as in the past, especially given that the Fed’s tightening cycle seems to be mostly priced in, but the real interest rates could normalize somewhat. Thus, I have bad news for the gold bulls. The supply crunch is expected to moderate in the second half of 2022, which would also ease inflationary pressure. To be clear, inflation won’t disappear, but it may reach a peak this year. The combination of improvement on the supply side of the economy, with inflation reaching its peak, and with a more hawkish Fed doesn’t bode well for gold.

Thank you for reading today’s free analysis. We hope you enjoyed it. If so, we would like to invite you to sign up for our free gold newsletter. Once you sign up, you’ll also get 7-day no-obligation trial of all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

 

Powell Sent a Smile to Gold

“We have totally screwed up inflation and now we are in deep trouble,” admitted Jerome Powell during his appearance before the Senate. OK, he didn’t formulate it exactly that way, but it was the message of his testimony. Powell admitted that the Fed wrongly expected a faster easing of supply disruptions and thought that price pressures would be much lower by now. As a consequence, inflation was believed to be only ‘transitory’. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

“The supply-side constraints have been very durable. We are not seeing the kind of progress that all forecasters thought we’d be seeing by now. We did foresee a strong spike in demand. We didn’t know it would be so focused on goods,” said
Powell.

As a result of the Fed’s inaction, inflation has risen 7% in 2021, the fastest pace since February 1982, as the chart below shows. After conducting very complicated calculations, Powell admitted that “inflation is running very far above target.” Bold deduction, Sherlock!

Such high inflation is indeed a troublesome and even central bankers realize that. This is why Powell stated that “the economy no longer needs or wants the very accommodative policies we have had in place,” and that “we will use our tools to support the economy and a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched.”

However, there is a problem here. The main tool the Fed has to fight inflation is raising the federal funds rate, but hiking interest rates may hamper economic expansion and even trigger the next financial crisis. As Powell admitted, “if inflation does become too persistent, that will lead to much tighter monetary policy and that could lead to a recession.” Thus, the central bank is between a rock and a hard place, between high inflation and the risk of slowing economic expansion or even of an economic crisis.

Implications for Gold

What does Powell’s testimony imply for the gold market? Well, theoretically not much, as it didn’t include any major surprises. However, Powell sounded quite hawkish. For example, he downplayed the economic consequences of the current surge in coronavirus cases, and said that it’s likely not changing the Fed’s plans to tighten its monetary policy this year. These plans are relatively bold for this year: “We are going to end asset purchases in March. We will raise rates. And at some point this year will let the balance sheet runoff,” Powell said.

However, it seems that Powell sounded less hawkish than investors were afraid of. Given such worries, the lack of any surprises could be dovish. This is at least what gold’s performance suggests. As the chart below shows, Powell’s testimony triggered a small rally and revived optimism in the gold market.

That’s for sure encouraging. After all, gold jumped above a key level of $1,800, catching some breath, but it’s too early to call a major reversal in the gold market. The yellow metal would have to sustain itself above $1,820 and then surpass $1,850, or even higher levels, to trumpet a bullish breakout.

There are still several headwinds for gold. First of all, the monetary hawks haven’t struck yet. They are growing in strength, as several regional bank presidents have recently called for a rate hike as soon as in March. Such calls may strengthen the expectations of rate increases, boosting bond yields, and creating downward pressure for gold prices. We’ll find out soon whether it will happen or not, as the January FOMC meeting is in two weeks, and it could be a groundbreaking event in the gold market.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Weak Payrolls Saved Gold. For How Long?

On Thursday (January 6, 2022), I wrote that “the metal may find itself under hawk fire in the upcoming weeks”. Indeed, gold dropped sharply in the aftermath of the publication of the FOMC minutes. As the chart below shows, the hawkish Fed’s signal sent the price of the yellow metal from $1,826 to $1,789.

This is because the minutes revealed that the Fed would be ready to cut its mammoth holdings of assets later this year. Previously, the US central bank was talking only about interest rate hikes and the ending of new asset purchases, i.e., quantitative easing. Now, the reverse process, i.e., quantitative tightening, is also on the table.

What is surprising here is not the mere idea of shrinking the Fed’s assets – after all, they have risen to $8.7 trillion (see the chart above) – but its timing. Last time, the central bank started the normalization of its balance sheet only in 2018, nine years after the end of the Great Recession and four years after the completion of tapering. This time, QT may start within a few months after the end of tapering and the first interest rate hikes. It looks like 2022 will be a hot year for US monetary policy – and the gold market.

Consequently, markets have been increasingly pricing in a more decisive Fed, which boosted bond yields. As the chart below shows, the long-term real interest rates (10-year TIPS) jumped from -1.06% at the end of 2021 to -0.73 at the end of last week. The upward move in the interest rates is fundamentally negative for gold prices.

Implications for Gold

Luckily for the yellow metal, nonfarm payrolls disappointed in December. Last month, the US labor market rose, adding just 199,000 jobs (see the chart below), well short of consensus estimates of 400,000. This negative surprise lifted gold prices slightly on Friday (January 7, 2021). The latest employment report suggests that labor shortages and the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus are holding back job creation and the overall economy.

However, gold bulls shouldn’t count on weak job gains to trigger a sustainable rally in the precious metals. This is because the American economy is still approaching full employment. The unemployment rate declined further to 3.9% from 4.2% in November, as the chart below shows.

The drop confirms that the US labor market is very tight, so weak job creation won’t discourage the Fed from hiking the federal funds rate. As a reminder, in December, FOMC members forecasted the unemployment rate to be 4.3% at the end of 2021. What is crucial here is that disappointing job gains reflect labor shortages rather than weak demand. Additionally, wage growth remains pretty fast, despite the decline in the annual rate from 5.1% in November to 4.7% in December.

The key takeaway is that, despite disappointing job creation, the US economy is moving quickly towards full employment. The unemployment rate is at 3.9%, very close to the pre-pandemic low of 3.7%. Hence, the latest employment situation report may only reinforce arguments for the Fed’s tightening cycle. This is fundamentally bad news for gold, as strengthened expectations of the interest rate hikes may boost real interest rates further and put the yellow metal under downward pressure.

Some analysts believe that hawkish sentiment might be at its peak. I’m not so sure about that. I believe that monetary hawks haven’t said the last word yet, and that the normalization of the interest rates is still ahead of us. Anyway, Powell will appear in the Senate today, so we should get more clues about the prospects for monetary policy and gold this year.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Gold Market in 2022: Fall and Revival?

You thought that 2020 was a terrible year, but we would be back to normal in 2021? Well, we haven’t quite returned to normal. After all, the epidemic is not over, as new strains of coronavirus emerged and spread last year. Actually, in some aspects, 2021 was even worse than 2020. Two years ago, the pandemic was wreaking havoc. Last year, both the pandemic and inflation were raging.

To the great surprise of mainstream economists fixated on aggregate demand, 2021 would be recorded in chronicles as the year of the supply factors revenge and the great return of inflation. For years, the pundits have talked about the death of inflation and mocked anyone who pointed to its risk. Well, he who laughs last, laughs best. However, it’s laughter through inflationary tears.

Given the highest inflation rate since the Great Stagflation, gold prices must have grown a lot, right? Well, not exactly. As the chart below shows, 2021 wasn’t the best year for the yellow metal. Gold lost almost 5% over the last twelve months. Although I correctly predicted that “gold’s performance in 2021 could be worse than last year”, I expected less bearish behavior.

What exactly happened? From a macroeconomic perspective, the economy recovered last year. As vaccination progressed, sanitary restrictions were lifted, and risk appetite returned to the market, which hit safe-haven assets such as gold. What’s more, a rebound in economic activity and rising inflation prompted the Fed to taper its quantitative easing and introduce more hawkish rhetoric, which pushed gold prices down.

As always, there were both ups and downs in the gold market last year. Gold started 2021 with a bang, but began plunging quickly amid Democrats’ success in elections, the Fed more optimistic about the economy, and rising interest rates. The slide lasted until late March, when gold found its bottom of $1,684. This is because inflation started to accelerate at that point, while the Fed was downplaying rising price pressures, gibbering about “transitory inflation”.

The rising worries about high inflation and the perspective of the US central bank staying behind the curve helped gold reach $1,900 once again in early June. However, the hawkish FOMC meeting and dot-plot that came later that month created another powerful bearish wave in the gold market that lasted until the end of September.

Renewed inflationary worries and rising inflation expectations pushed gold to $1,865 in mid-November. However, the Fed announced a tapering of its asset purchases, calming markets once again and regaining investors’ trust in its ability to control inflation. As consequence, gold declined below $1,800 once again and stayed there by the end of the year.

What can we learn from gold’s performance in 2021? First of all, gold is not a perfect inflation hedge, as the chart below shows. I mean here that, yes, gold is sensitive to rising inflation, but a hawkish Fed beats inflation in the gold market. Thus, inflation is positive for gold only if the US central bank stays behind the curve. However, when investors believe that either inflation is temporary or that the Fed will turn more hawkish in response to upward price pressure, gold runs away into the corner. Royal metal, huh?

Second, never underestimate the power of the dark… I mean, the hawkish side of the Fed – or simply, don’t fight the Fed. It turned out that the prospects of a very gradual asset tapering and tightening cycle were enough to intimidate gold.

Third, real interest rates remain the key driver for gold prices. As one can see in the chart below, gold plunged each time bond yields rallied, in particular in February 2021, but also in June or November. Hence, gold positively reacts to inflation as long as inflation translates into lower real interest rates. However, if other factors – such as expectations of a more hawkish Fed – come into play and outweigh inflation, gold suffers.

Great, we already know that 2021 sucked and why. However, will 2022 be better for the gold market? Although I have great sympathy for the gold bulls, I don’t have good news for them.

It seems that gold’s struggle will continue this year, at least in the first months of 2022, as the Fed’s hiking cycle and rising bond yields would create downward pressure on gold. However, when the US central bank starts raising the federal funds rate, gold may find its bottom, as it did in December 2015, and begin to rally again.

Thank you for reading today’s free analysis. We hope you enjoyed it. If so, we would like to invite you to sign up for our free gold newsletter. Once you sign up, you’ll also get 7-day no-obligation trial of all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

 

Fed Hawks Grow Stronger. Will Gold Stand Its Ground?

During the Battle of the Black Gate in the War of the Ring, Pippin cried out: “The eagles are coming!”. It was a sign of hope for all those fighting with Sauron. Now, I could exclaim that hawks are coming, but that wouldn’t necessarily give hope to anyone fighting the bearish trends in the gold market.

Yesterday (January 5, 2022), the FOMC published the minutes from its last meeting, held in mid-December. Although the publication doesn’t reveal any revolutions in US monetary policy, it strengthens the hawkish rhetoric of the Fed.

Why? First, the FOMC participants acknowledged that inflation readings had been higher, more persistent, and widespread than previously anticipated. For instance, they pointed to the fact that the trimmed mean PCE inflation rate, which trims the most extreme readings and is calculated by the Dallas Fed, had reached 2.81% in November 2021, the highest level since mid-1992, as the chart below shows. It indicates that inflation is not limited to a few categories but has a broad-based character.

The Committee members also noted several factors that could support strong inflationary pressure this year. They mentioned rising housing costs and rents, more widespread wage growth driven by labor shortages, and more prolonged global supply-side frictions, which could be exacerbated by the emergence of the Omicron variant; as well as easier passing on higher costs of labor and material to customers. In particular, supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages could likely last longer and be more widespread than previously thought, which could limit businesses’ ability to address strong demand.

Second, the FOMC admitted that the US labor market could be tighter than previously thought. They judged that it could reach maximum employment very soon, or that it had largely achieved it, as indicated by near-record rates of quits and job vacancies, labor shortages, and an acceleration in wage growth:

Many participants judged that, if the current pace of improvement continued, labor markets would fast approach maximum employment. Several participants remarked that they viewed labor market conditions as already largely consistent with maximum employment.

The consequence of higher inflation and a tighter labor market would be, of course, a more hawkish monetary policy. Although the central bankers didn’t discuss the appropriate number of interest rate hikes, they agreed that they should raise the federal funds rate sooner or faster:

Participants generally noted that, given their individual outlooks for the economy, the labor market, and inflation, it may become warranted to increase the federal funds rate sooner or at a faster pace than participants had earlier anticipated.

Additionally, Fed officials also discussed quantitative tightening. They generally agreed that – given fast economic growth, a strong labor market, high inflation, and bigger Fed assets – the balance sheet runoff should start closer to the policy rate liftoff and be faster than in the previous normalization episode:

Almost all participants agreed that it would likely be appropriate to initiate balance sheet runoff at some point after the first increase in the target range for the federal funds rate. However, participants judged that the appropriate timing of balance sheet runoff would likely be closer to that of policy rate liftoff than in the Committee’s previous experience. They noted that current conditions included a stronger economic outlook, higher inflation, and a larger balance sheet and thus could warrant a potentially faster pace of policy rate normalization.

Implications for Gold

What do the recent FOMC minutes imply for the gold market? Well, referring once more to the Lord of the Rings, they are more like the Nazgûl that wreak despair rather than the Eagles offering hope. They were hawkish – and, thus, negative for gold prices. The minutes revealed that after tapering of quantitative easing, the Fed could also reduce its overall asset holdings to curb high inflation.

In December, the US central bank accelerated the pace of tapering and signaled three interest rate increases in 2022. The minutes went even further, signaling a possibility of an earlier and faster rate hike and outright reduction in the Fed’s balance sheet:

Some participants also noted that it could be appropriate to begin to reduce the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet relatively soon after beginning to raise the federal funds rate. Some participants judged that a less accommodative future stance of policy would likely be warranted and that the Committee should convey a strong commitment to address elevated inflation pressures.

Hence, the price of gold responded accordingly to the FOMC minutes and declined from about $1,825 to $1,810, as the chart below shows. Luckily, there is a silver lining: the drop hasn’t been too big, at least so far. It may indicate that a lot of hawkish news has already been priced into gold, and that sentiment is rather bullish.

However, the hawks haven’t probably said the last word yet. Please remember that the composition of the Committee will be more hawkish this year, but also that the mindset is changing among the members. For example, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, one of the Committee’s most dovish members, said this week that the U.S. central bank would have to need to raise interest rates two times this year. Previously, he believed that the federal funds rate could stay at zero until at least 2024. Thus, although inflationary risk may provide support for gold, the yellow metal may find itself under hawkish fire in the upcoming weeks. We will see whether it will stand its ground, like the soldiers of Gondor.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Bang and Plunge: 2022 Replays 2021 for Gold

So far, so good – the first three days of 2022 didn’t bring a new catastrophe. It’s probably just the calm before the storm, but the new year started well. Even the price of gold has risen! As the chart below shows, the yellow metal managed to jump above the key level of $1,800 at the very end of 2021, but it still maintains its position (at least as of early January 3, 2022).

It reminds me of the beginning of 2021. Gold also started last year with a bang, only to plunge later. Its price increased 3.5% during the first week of the year, reaching $1,957, and then began its big downward move. As the chart below shows, the yellow metal plunged below $1,700 at the very end of March.

Hence, although January is historically a good month for gold, it might be too early to celebrate, and investors should exercise caution. However, luckily for gold bulls, there is one significant difference between 2021 and 2022. Last year, there were Georgia runoffs and Democrats took over both the White House and the full Congress (the House and the Senate). That was when the blue wave plunged the yellow metal.

This year should be politically calmer for the US (so, we don’t count the odds of Russia invading Ukraine and China attacking Taiwan), but the major threat to the gold market remains the same: a rise in the real interest rates. In January 2021, it was the blue wave that triggered a rebound in rates, but it may be induced by many more factors in the future. It could be the development of a new cure against coronavirus and the end of the pandemic, a more hawkish Fed, or a decline in inflation.

The spread of the Omicron variant keeps worries alive. After all, as the chart below shows, the 7-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases in the United States has hit a record high of about 405,000. When we are completely back to normalcy, risk appetite and bond yields may increase.

Another risk for gold is the stabilization of inflation and even subsequent disinflation. As the chart below shows, we got a one-off boost in the money supply, so inflation is likely to peak this year. Inflation expectations should ease then, and real interest rates may rebound in such a scenario.

What gives me some comfort here is that the pace of money supply growth hasn’t returned to the pre-pandemic level yet, but it stays at an elevated level (although much below the peak). It should support high inflation this year. Moreover, the Fed is likely to remain behind the curve and the peak in inflation may only strengthen the dovish camp within the FOMC (although investors should remember that the composition of the voting members of the Committee has become more hawkish in 2022).

Implications for Gold

What does it all imply for the gold market? Will the yellow metal resume its long-term bullish trend in 2022? Well, this is what a majority of investors that took part in Kitco News’ annual outlook survey believe. Of nearly 3,000 retail investors, 54% said they see gold prices above $2,000 by the end of the year. This is also in line with Goldman Sachs’ call for gold in 2022.

Other forecasters see gold prices trading in a range between $1,800 and $2,000. It’s certainly a possible scenario. After all, much of the Fed’s tightening cycle has already been priced in; and the last time gold bottomed was in December 2015, just around the first hike in the federal funds rate after the Great Recession.

However, I expect more volatile trading with strong downside potential. As a reminder, my educated guess is that gold may plunge at some point amid a rebound in bond yields, but will rise later as worries about the next economic crisis accumulate.

Indeed, it’s quite funny, but I haven’t even finished this article, and the price of gold has already started to slide amid rising US dollar index and Treasury yields, in line with my warnings from the beginning of this text. This is how I became a prophet. Now I can see that as soon as you finish reading this article you will continue surfing the internet!

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

Excuse Me, Mr. Gold. What Year Is It?

Did you go overboard with your time travel and lose track of time? Probably not, but just in case, I assure you that the current year is 2021. To be 100% sure, I fact-checked it on a dedicated webpage for time-travelers. However, the authority of science is being questioned, and there are people who say that, from a macroeconomic point of view, we are approaching the 1970s, or at least the 1960s. There are also voices saying that the gold market is replaying 2012-2013. Although appearances point to 2021, let’s investigate what year we really live in.

The similarities with the 1970s are obvious. Just like then, we have high inflation, large fiscal deficits (see the chart below), and easy, erroneous monetary policy. Fifty years ago, the Fed blamed inflation on exogenous shocks and considered inflation to be transitory too. The new monetary regime adopted by the US central bank in 2020 also takes us back to the 70s and the mistaken belief that the economy cannot overheat, so the Fed can let inflation run above the target for a while in order to boost employment.

The parallels extend beyond price pressure. The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan reminded many of the fall of Saigon. The world is facing an energy crisis right now, another feature of the 1970s. If we really repeat those years, gold bulls should be happy, as the yellow metal rallied from $35 to $850, surging more than 2300% back in that decade (see the chart below).

However, there is one problem with this narrative. In the 1970s, we experienced stagflation, i.e., a simultaneous occurrence of high inflation and economic stagnation with a rising unemployment rate. Currently, although we face strong upward price pressure, we enjoy economic expansion and declining unemployment, as the chart below shows. Indeed, the monthly unemployment rate decreased from 14.8% in April 2020 to 4.2% in November 2021.

The current macroeconomic situation, characterized by inflation without stagnation part, is reminiscent of the 1960s, a decade marked by rising inflation and rapid GDP growth. As the chart below shows, the CPI annual rate reached a local maximum of 6.4% in February 1970, similar to the current inflation level.

Apparently, we are replaying the 1960s right now rather than the 1970s. So far, growth is slowing down, but we are far from stagnation territory. There is no discussion on this. My point was always that the Fed’s actions could bring us to the 1970s, or that complacency about inflation is increasing the risk of de-anchoring inflation expectations and the materialization of a stagflationary scenario. In the 1960s, the price of gold was still fixed, so historical analysis is impossible.

However, it seems that gold won’t start to rally until we see some signs of stagnation or an economic crisis, and markets begin to worry about recession. Given that the current economic expansion looks intact, the yellow metal is likely to struggle at least by mid-2022 (unless supply disruptions and energy crisis intensify significantly, wreaking havoc).

Do we have to go back that far in time, though? Maybe the 2020 peak in gold prices was like the 2011 peak and we are now somewhere in 2012-2013, on the eve of a great downward move in the gold market? Some similarities cannot be denied: the economy is recovering from a recession, while the Fed is tightening its monetary policy, and gold shows weakness with its inability to surpass $1,800. So, some concerns are warranted. I pointed out a long time ago the threat of an upward move in the real interest rates (as they are at record low levels), which could sink the precious metals market.

However, there are two key differences compared to the 2012-2013 period. First, inflation is much higher and it’s still accelerating, while ten years ago there was disinflation. This distinction should support gold prices. The peak in the inflation rate could be a dangerous time for gold, as the disinflationary era would raise interest rates, putting downward pressure on the yellow metal.

Second, the prospects of the Fed’s tightening cycle are probably already priced in. In other words, the next “taper tantrum” is not likely to happen. It implies that a sudden spike in the interest rates similar to that of 2013 (see the chart below) shouldn’t repeat now.

Hence, the answer to the question “what year is it?” should be that we are somewhere in the 1960s and we can move later into the 1970s if high inflation stays with us and stagnation sets in or if the next crisis hits. However, we can leap right into the 2010s if inflation peaks soon and the hawkish Fed triggers a jump in bond yields. It’s also possible that we will see a temporary disinflation before the second wave of elevated inflation. So, gold could continue its struggle for a while before we see another rally.

Thank you for reading today’s free analysis. We hope you enjoyed it. If so, we would like to invite you to sign up for our free gold newsletter. Once you sign up, you’ll also get 7-day no-obligation trial of all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

 

Will 2022 Be Better for Gold Than 2021?

Bye, bye 2021! It definitely wasn’t a year of gold. As the chart below shows, the yellow metal lost 5% of its value over the last twelve months, declining from $1,887.60 on December 30, 2020, to $1,794.25 on December 29, 2021. Thus, the gold bulls won’t miss 2021, I guess.

What about me? Well, I correctly predicted in January that “gold’s performance in 2021 could be worse than last year”. However, I expected more bullish behavior. I thought that rising inflation would be more supportive of gold prices. I’m fully aware that gold is not a perfect inflation hedge, but historical analysis suggests that high and accelerating inflation should be positive for gold prices. After all, inflation lowers the real interest rates, the key fundamental factor in the gold market.

However, rising inflation has prompted the Fed to tighten its monetary policy and speed up the tapering of its quantitative easing. Expectations of hikes in the federal funds rate in 2022 also strengthened. In consequence, as the chart below shows, bond yields rose, especially those short- and medium-term, creating downward pressure on gold prices. Thus, we’ve learned two important lessons in 2021: don’t just count on inflation, and don’t fight with the (hawkish) Fed.

As you can see, bond yields haven’t returned to their pre-pandemic level yet. Although they don’t have to fully recover, they do have room for further increases. The issue here is that when inflation peaks and disinflation starts, inflation expectations could decline, boosting the real interest rates. Actually, market-based inflation expectations already peaked in November, as shown in the chart below. This indicates that worries about inflation had calmed and investors had regained some confidence in the US central bank’s ability to contain upward price pressure.

Implications for Gold

Will 2022 be better for gold than 2021? It’s possible, but I’m not an optimist. I mean here: macroeconomic conditions will turn more bearish for gold. Despite the spreading of Omicron variant of coronavirus, 2022 could mark the end of the global Covid-19 epidemic with a full economic recovery and a return to normal conditions. Fiscal policy will tighten, while the Fed will adopt a more hawkish monetary policy than in 2021. Supply shocks are easing, so inflation may peak, while real interest rates go up further. Moreover, the US dollar may strengthen against the euro, as the ECB is slower with its monetary policy tightening.

On the other hand, there are also some factors that could support gold prices. In 2021, GDP rebounded greatly after the economic crisis of 2020, and financial markets also recovered robustly. 2022 may be more challenging for economic growth and the financial sector, though. One thing is the base effect, while another is central banks’ policy normalization and rising interest rates. With massive public and private debts, the Fed’s tightening cycle could deflate asset and credit bubbles and even trigger a recession, or at least a market correction.

However, there are no signs of market stress yet, so a financial crisis is not in my baseline scenario for the next year. 2023 (or even later) is a more probable timeframe. Hence, I believe that the end of 2022 may be better for gold than the beginning of the year, as mere expectations of the Fed’s tightening cycle could be replaced by worries about the consequences of interest rate hikes.

Anyway, 2021 is (almost) dead. Long live 2022! I wish you a return to normalcy, shining profits and all the golden next year!

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

2022 – The Year of (Gold) Inflation?

If 2021 was tough for you, I don’t recommend reading Nostradamus’ predictions for the next year. This famous French astrologer saw inflation, hunger, and much more coming in 2022:

So high the price of wheat,

That man is stirred

His fellow man to eat in his despair

Yuk! So, life is about to get a little more complicated: we must now avoid becoming infected and being eaten by our fellow citizens! If you are interested in how cannibalism will affect the gold market, I’m afraid that I don’t have adequate data. Anyway, if you end up in the pot together with vegetables and your colleagues, gold’s performance probably won’t be your top priority.

Hence, let’s focus on inflation. Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the latest data on the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index. This measure of inflation surged 5.7% in the 12 months ended in November, which was the fastest increase since July 1982. Meanwhile, as the chart below shows, the core index, which excludes energy and food, rose 4.7%. It was the highest jump since February 1989.

This is very important, as it shows that inflation is not elevated merely by rising energy prices. Instead, it’s more broad-based, which can make inflation more lasting. Indeed, there are strong reasons to expect that high inflation will stay with us in 2022.

As the chart below shows, the shelter index – the biggest CPI component – has been rising recently, which should move the whole index up. In other words, surging home prices could translate into higher rents, supporting consumer inflation.

Additionally, the Producer Price Index has also been rallying this year. The final demand index rose 9.6% on an annual basis in November, the largest advance since 12-month data was first calculated in late 2010. Moreover, the commodity index surged 23%, and it was the highest jump since November 1974. All this indicates that inflationary pressure remains strong.

Implications for Gold

To be clear, inflation will eventually peak, and this will probably happen in 2022. This is because a one-time helicopter drop (the surge in the money supply) leads to a one-time jump in the price level. However, inflation is like toothpaste. It’s easy to get it out, but it’s difficult to get it back in again.

To use another metaphor, if you wait with your actions until you see the whites of the eyes of a tiger, you can be eaten (sorry for being monothematic today!). This was exactly the Fed’s strategy with the inflationary tiger for most of 2021. Yes, the US central bank accelerated tapering of quantitative easing in December, but it remains behind the curve (or, to continue the metaphor, it’s still holding the tiger by the tail).

What does it all mean for the gold market? High inflation should support gold prices. The expectations of a more hawkish Fed probably prevent a big rally, but ultra-low real interest rates are supportive of the yellow metal.

However, what is one of my biggest worries for the next year (except for the perspective of being eaten by hungry neighbors) is how gold will react to the peak in inflation. Although inflation will stay elevated, it won’t rise indefinitely. When it peaks, real interest rates could go up, negatively affecting the yellow metal.

Of course, one would say that the peak of inflation would be accompanied by a more dovish Fed, so disinflation doesn’t have to hurt gold, just as rising inflation didn’t make it shine. However, this is not so simple, and if inflation stays above 5%, the Fed could still feel obligated to act and bring inflation to its 2% target. Anyway, US monetary policy (together with fiscal policy) will be tighter compared to 2020 and to other major countries, which (together with a likely peak in inflation) creates a rather challenging macroeconomic environment for gold in 2022 (at least until worries about the negative consequences of the Fed’s tightening cycle emerge).

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Is the End of Transitory Inflation the End of Gold Bulls?

Welcome, my son. Welcome to the inflationary machine. Welcome to the new economic regime of elevated inflation. That’s official because even central bankers have finally admitted what I’ve been saying for a long time: the current high inflation is not merely a transitory one-off price shock. In a testimony before Congress, Jerome Powell agreed that “it’s probably a good time to retire” the word “transitory” in relation to inflation. Bravo, Jay! It took you only several months longer than my freshmen students to figure it out, but better late than never. Actually, even a moderately intelligent chimpanzee would notice that inflation is not merely temporary just by looking at the graph below.

To be clear, I’m not predicting hyperinflation or even galloping inflation. Nor do I claim that at least some of the current inflationary pressures won’t subside next year. No, some supply-side factors behind recent price surges are likely to abate in 2022. However, other drivers will persist, or even intensify (think about housing inflation or energy crisis).

Let’s be honest: we are facing a global inflation shock right now. In many countries, inflation has reached its highest rate in decades. In the United States, the annual CPI rate is 6.2%, while it reached 5.2% in Germany, 4.9% in the Eurozone, and 3.8% in the United Kingdom. The shameful secret is that central banks and governments played a key role in fueling this inflation. As the famous Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises noticed once,

The most important thing to remember is that inflation is not an act of God; inflation is not a catastrophe of the elements or a disease that comes like the plague. Inflation is a policy — a deliberate policy of people who resort to inflation because they consider it to be a lesser evil than unemployment. But the fact is that, in the not very long run, inflation does not cure unemployment.

Indeed, the Fed and the banking system injected a lot of money into the economy and also created room for the government to boost its spending and send checks to Americans. The resulting consumer spending boom clogged the supply chains and caused a jump in inflation.

Obviously, the policymakers don’t want to admit their guilt and that they have anything to do with inflation. At the beginning, they claim that there is no inflation at all. Next, they say that inflation may exist after all, but is only caused by the “base effect”, so it will be a short-lived phenomenon that results solely from the nature of the yearly comparison. Lastly, they admit that there is something beyond the “base effect” but inflation will be transitory because it’s caused only by a few exceptional components of the overall index, the outliers like used cars this year.

Nothing to worry about, then. Higher prices are a result of bottlenecks that will abate very soon on their own. Later, inflation is admitted to be more broad-based and persistent, but it is said to be caused by greedy businesses and speculators who raise prices maliciously. Finally, the policymakers present themselves as the salvation from the inflation problem(that was caused by them in the first place). Such brilliant “solutions” as subsidies to consumers and price controls are introduced and further disrupt the economy.

The Fed has recently admitted that inflation is not merely transitory, so if the abovementioned scheme is adequate, we should expect to look for scapegoats and possibly also interventions in the economy to heroically fight inflation. Gold could benefit from such rhetoric, as it could increase demand for safe-haven assets and inflation hedges.

However, the Fed’s capitulation also implies a hawkish shift. If inflation is more persistent, the US central bank will have to act in a more decisive way, as inflation won’t subside on its own. The faster pace of quantitative easing tapering and the sooner interest rate hikes imply higher bond yields and a stronger greenback, so they are clearly negative for gold prices.

Having said that, the Fed stays and is likely to stay woefully behind the curve. The real federal funds rate (i.e., adjusted by the CPI annual rate) is currently at -6.1%, which is the deepest level in history, as the chart below shows. It is much deeper than it was at the lows of stagflation in the 1970s, which may create certain problems in the future.

What is important here is that even when the Fed raises the federal funds rate by one percentage point next year, and even when inflation declines by another two percentage points, the real federal funds rate will increase to only -3%, so it will stay deeply in negative territory. Surely, the upward direction should be negative for gold prices, and the bottom in real interest rates would be a strong bearish signal for gold. However, rates remaining well below zero should provide some support or at least a decent floor for gold prices (i.e., higher than the levels touched by gold in the mid-2010s).

Thank you for reading today’s free analysis. We hope you enjoyed it. If so, we would like to invite you to sign up for our free gold newsletter. Once you sign up, you’ll also get 7-day no-obligation trial of all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

 

Bulls or Bears: Who Is Pulling Santa’s Gold Sleigh?

During the holiday week, not much happens in the marketplace. Investors focus on two things right now: whether Democrats will be able to pass Biden’s spending bill in the face of Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition, and whether the coronavirus Omicron variant will trigger new restrictions and hamper economic growth. After all, this strain has already become the dominant one in the US, but its effects are not yet known.

Like most of 2021, gold has been rubbing against $1,800 this week but did not have the strength to permanently rise above this level. Despite a surge in inflation and very low real interest rates, the yellow metal didn’t rally. Thus, we could say that gold was rather naughty this year and doesn’t deserve gifts from Santa.

However, maybe it’s not gold’s fault, but our too high expectations? After all, gold had to compete with cryptocurrencies and industrial metals (or commodities in general), both of which performed exceptionally well during periods of high inflation. Despite all the Fed’s hawkish rhetoric and tapering of quantitative easing, gold didn’t break down.

Hence, it all depends on the perspective. The same applies to historical analyses and forecasts for 2022. The bears compare the current situation with the 2011-2013 period. The 2020 peak looked like the 2011 peak. Thus, after a period of consolidation, we could see a big decline, just as it happened in 2013.

On the other hand, gold bulls prefer to compare today with 2015, as we are only a few months away from the Fed’s interest rate hikes. As a reminder, gold bottomed in December 2015, so the hope is that we will see another bottom soon, followed by an upward move. In other words, the bears believe that the replay of the “taper tantrum” is still ahead of us, while the bulls claim that the worst is already behind us.

Implications for Gold

Who is right? Of course, me! But seriously: both sides make valid points. Contrary to 2013, the current tapering was well telegraphed and well received by the markets. Thus, the worst can indeed be already behind us. Especially that the 2020 economic crisis was very deep, but also very short, so everything was very condensed. I mean: the Great Recession lasted one and a half years, while the Great Lockdown lasted only two months. The first taper tantrum occurred in 2013, while the first hike in the federal funds rate – at the end of 2015. We won’t wait that long now, so the period of downward pressure on gold prices stemming from expectations of the Fed’s tightening cycle will be limited.

Having said that, gold bears highlight an important point: real interest rates haven’t normalized yet. As the chart below shows, although nominal bond yields have rebounded somewhat from the August 2020 bottom, real rates haven’t followed. The reason was, of course, the surge in inflation. However, if inflation eases, inflation-adjusted rates will go up. Additional risk here is that the Fed will surprise the markets on a hawkish side.

The bottom line is that Santa Claus may bring gold a rod this time. Although gold’s reaction to the recent FOMC meeting was solid, the overall performance of the yellow metal this month is worse compared to the historically strong action in December. I don’t expect a similarly strong downward move as in 2013, but real interest rates could normalize somewhat in 2022, given the upcoming Fed’s tightening cycle and possible peak in inflation. The level of indebtedness will limit the scope of the move, but it won’t change the direction.

Anyway, whether you are a gold bull or a gold bear, I wish you a truly merry and golden Christmas (or just winter holidays)! Let the profits shine, even if gold won’t!

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Powell Sent Gold Above $1,800 – But Only for a Short While

Who are you, Mr. Powell: a reptilian or a human? A dove or a hawk? Since we all know the answer to the first question, let’s focus on the second one. Markets decided that Powell’s last press conference was rather dovish, but a careful reading doesn’t support this view. The main dovish signal was Powell’s emphasis that quantitative easing tapering and interest rate hikes are separate issues, as the tightening cycle criteria are stricter. So, the first rate hike may not come immediately after the end of tapering, which is scheduled for mid-March.

Even if they are separate, we shouldn’t expect a long break between the end of quantitative easing and the first rate hike. This gap will definitely be shorter than in 2014-2015. In the last tightening cycle, the Fed ended asset purchases in October 2014, while the first increase in the federal funds rate occurred in December 2015. Powell himself, however, pointed out that the economy is much stronger, while inflation is much higher, so a long separation before interest rate hikes is not likely:

I don’t foresee that there would be that kind of very extended wait at this time. The economy is so much stronger. I was here at the Fed when we lifted it off last time and the economy is so much stronger now, so much closer to full employment. Inflation is running well above target and growth as well above potential.

There wouldn’t be the need for that kind of long delay (…) The last cycle that was quite a long separation before interest rates, I don’t think that’s at all likely in this cycle. We’re in a very, very different place with high inflation, strong growth, a really strong economy (…) So this is a strong economy, one in which it’s appropriate for interest rate hikes.

In fact, this delay may be very short. On Friday, Fed Governor Chris Waller said that the interest rate increase will likely be warranted “shortly after” the end of asset purchases, possibly even at the FOMC meeting in March 2022.

Another hawkish message sent by Powell was his acknowledgment of stronger inflation risks, i.e., that inflation may turn out to be more lasting than expected now:

There’s a real risk now, we believe, I believe, that inflation may be more persistent and that may be putting inflation expectations under pressure. And that the risk of higher inflation becoming entrenched has increased, it’s certainly increased. I don’t think it’s high at this moment, but I think it’s increased. And I think that’s part of the reason behind our move today, is to put ourselves in a position to be able to deal with that risk.

Thus, the Fed has become more concerned about high inflation and has timidly started reacting to it. The acceleration in the pace of tapering was, except for the more hawkish rhetoric, the first step – but not the last one.

Implications for Gold

The yellow metal responded surprisingly well to the last FOMC meeting, at which the Fed announced a more aggressive pace of tapering and rate hikes next year. As the chart below shows, gold rose almost $40, or more than 2%, from Wednesday to Friday last week, jumping again above the key level of $1,800.

Perhaps investors expected even more forceful actions. After all, despite all the hawkish reaction, the Fed remains behind the curve and shows no hurry to become really proactive. Such a passive attitude is really risky, as history teaches us that high inflation doesn’t just go away on its own, but its stabilization requires a decisive tightening of monetary policy. The longer the Fed waits, the more severe reaction would be needed, which increases the odds of putting the economy into recession.

All this seems bullish for gold prices. However, gold was unable to retain its position above $1,800 and declined on Monday (December 20, 2021), so gold bulls can only hope that the yellow metal will the find strength to rally next year. It’s possible if inflation wreaks more havoc in 2022, but a hawkish Fed’s rhetoric remains an important headwind for the gold market.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Not Only Gold Lacks Energy – We All Do Now

Brace yourselves, winter is coming! And this time I’m deadly serious, as there is a global energy crisis. Not only does gold lack energy to fuel its rally right now, but people from all over the world lack it to fuel their operations and to heat their houses. Apparently, the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t enough, so we also have to deal with inflation, supply bottlenecks, and the energy crisis. I guess there is nothing else to do now but wait for the frogs to start falling from the sky.

But let’s not give the gods ideas and focus on the energy crisis today. What is it about? A picture is worth a thousand words, so please take a look at the chart below, which presents the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, Europe’s leading benchmark for natural gas prices. As you can see, future prices for European natural gas have skyrocketed to a record level in October 2021, surging several times from their low in May 2020. The persistence and global dimension of these price spikes are unprecedented, as natural gas prices have also surged in Asia and America (although to a lesser degree).

Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated

What caused such a spike? Well, as a trained economist, I cannot resist answering that it’s a matter of demand and supply! Yeah, thank you, Captain Obvious, but could you be a little more specific? Sure, so on the demand side, we have to mention a fast recovery from the epidemic and cold fall that increased the use of energy. Oh, and don’t forget about the ultra-low interest rates and the increase in the money supply that boosted spending on practically everything. The increased demand for energy is hardly surprising in such conditions.

On the supply side, there were unpredictable breakdowns of gas infrastructure in Russia and Norway that decreased deliveries. The former country reduced its exports due to political reasons. What’s more, the reduction in the supply of CO2 emission rights and unfavorable weather didn’t help. The windless conditions in Europe generated little wind energy, while drought in Brazil reduced hydropower energy.

More fundamentally, the decline in energy prices in response to the economic crisis of 2020 prompted many producers to stop drilling and later supply simply didn’t catch up with surging demand. You can also add here the political decisions to move away from nuclear and carbon energy in some countries.

Last but not least, the butterfly’s wings flapped in China. Coal production in that country plunged this year amid a campaign against corruption and floods that deluged some mines. Middle Kingdom therefore began to buy significant amounts of natural gas, sharply increasing its prices. China’s ban on importing coal from Australia, of course, didn’t help here.

Great, but what does the energy crisis imply for the global economy and the gold market? First, shortages of energy could be a drag on global GDP. The slowdown in economic growth should be positive for gold, as it would bring us closer to stagflation. Second, the energy crisis could cause discontent among citizens and strengthen the populists. People are already fed up with pandemics and high inflation, and now they have to pay much higher energy bills. Just imagine how they will cheer when blackouts occur.

Third, the surge in natural gas prices could support high producer and consumer inflation. We are already observing some ripple effects in the coal and oil markets that could also translate into elevated CPI numbers. Another inflationary factor is power shortages in China, as they will add to the supply disruptions we are currently facing. All this implies more persistent high inflation, which should provide support for the yellow metal as an inflation hedge, although it also increases the odds of a more hawkish Fed, which is rather negative for gold.

It’s true that a replay of the 1970s-like energy crisis is remote, as today’s economies are much less energy-consuming and dependent on fossil fuels. However, the worst is possibly yet to come. After all, winter hasn’t arrived yet – and it could be another harsh one, especially given that La Niña is expected to be present for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, gas stocks are unusually low. You can connect the dots.

So far, gold has rather ignored the unfolding energy crisis, but we’ve already seen that market narratives can change quickly. It’s therefore possible that prolonged supply disruption and high inflation could change investors’ attitude toward the yellow metal at some point. The weak gold’s reaction stems from the limited energy crisis in the US and from the focus on the Fed’s tightening cycle. But investors’ attention can shift, especially when the Fed starts hiking federal funds rate. Brace yourselves!

Thank you for reading today’s free analysis. We hope you enjoyed it. If so, we would like to invite you to sign up for our free gold newsletter. Once you sign up, you’ll also get 7-day no-obligation trial of all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

 

Fed Accelerates Tapering, but Gold Shows Resilience

The Fed’s full capitulation and unconditional surrender of the doves! Yesterday (December 15, 2021), the FOMC issued) the newest statement on monetary policy in which it erased any description of inflation as “transitory.” It took them only half a year to figure it out, but better late than never. Additionally, the Fed practically rejected its new monetary framework called “Flexible Average Inflation Targeting”, which allowed inflation to run hot for some time. In November, we could read:

The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With inflation having run persistently below this longer-run goal, the Committee will aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time so that inflation averages 2 percent over time and longer‑term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2 percent.

The Committee expects to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved. The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.

In the last statement, however, this mammoth paragraph was substantially altered.

The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. With inflation having exceeded 2 percent for some time, the Committee expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment.

What is missing is the reference to the Fed’s tolerance of inflation above its target. This means that the US central bank has turned the hawkish mode on. Indeed, in line with expectations, the Fed has accelerated the pace of tapering of its quantitative easing. The Committee announced a doubling of the monthly reduction in the purchased assets from $10 billion for Treasuries and $5 billion for MBS to, respectively, $20 and $10 billion. It means that the Fed will end its asset purchase program by March rather than by mid-year.

In light of inflation developments and the further improvement in the labor market, the Committee decided to reduce the monthly pace of its net asset purchases by $20 billion for Treasury securities and $10 billion for agency mortgage-backed securities.

Dot-Plot and Gold

These are not all December monetary fireworks we got, though. The statement was accompanied by fresh economic projections conducted by FOMC members. How do they look at the economy right now? As the table below shows, central bankers expect faster economic growth and a lower unemployment rate next year compared to the September projections. This is not something the gold bulls would like to hear.

More importantly, however, FOMC participants see inflation as more persistent at the moment because they expect 2.6% PCE inflation at the end of 2022 instead of 2.2%. In other words: inflation is currently believed to reach this level only a year from now! Interestingly (at least for economic nerds like me), Committee members expect that core PCE inflation will be higher than the overall index in 2022, and will amount to 2.7%. It is an indication that the Fed considers inflation more broad-based now than just driven by rising energy prices.

Last but definitely not least, more interest rate hikes are coming. According to the latest dot plot, FOMC members see three increases in the federal funds rate next year as appropriate. That’s a huge hawkish turn compared to September, when they perceived only one interest rate hike as desired. Central bankers expect another three hikes in 2023 (the same as in September) and additional two in 2024 (one less than in September). Hence, the whole forecasted path of the interest rates becomes steeper and the Fed is now anticipating eight 25-basis point rate hikes from 2022 to 2024, one more than they saw in September.

Implications for Gold

Given the hawkish FOMC statement and economic projections, gold is doomed, right? Well, in theory, a more aggressive Fed’s tightening cycle should boost bond yields and strengthen the greenback, pushing gold prices down. However, what does gold say to the God of Bears? Not today!

Indeed, the chart below shows that theory and practice are not the same. Initially, the price of gold declined from around $1,765 to around $1,755, but it quickly rebounded and even increased to $1,780.

So, what happened and what does it imply for gold’s future? Well, gold didn’t panic, as hawkish statements and dot-plot were widely anticipated. They were probably a little more hawkish than expected, but, on the other hand, Powell’s press conference was deemed as more dovish than predicted. Since Powell’s earlier transparency and dovish heart rescued gold from falling down, gold bulls may breathe a sigh of relief.

However, we believe that this wasn’t the Fed’s last word. Inflation is likely to increase further next year; so, the US central bank, which is terribly behind the curve, could be forced to tighten its monetary policy even more. Thus, although my worries about this FOMC meeting turned out to be unnecessary, they could materialize later.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Inflation Beast Roars – Gold Only Modestly Up

“Woe to you, oh earth and sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short (…). Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast,” says the Bible. The current number of the beast is not 6.66%, but 6.8% – this is how high the CPI annual inflation rate was in November.

The number came above expectations and implies further acceleration in inflation from 6.2% in October. It was also the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982, as the chart below indicates.

The latest BLS report on inflation also shows that consumer inflation rose 0.8% on a monthly basis after rising 0.9% in October. The core CPI rate increased 0.5% in November, following a 0.6-percent increase in the previous month. On an annual basis, it jumped 5% after a 4.6% increase in October (see the chart above). So, as Iron Maiden sings, “hell and fire was spawned to be released”.

Indeed, November readings clearly falsify central banks’ narrative about transitory inflation (which was already partially abandoned) and confirm my claim that inflation will stay with us for longer. As a reminder, my bet is that we will see the peak of inflation no earlier than somewhere in Q1 2022. Actually, it might be even a bit later, as the Omicron coronavirus variant could contribute to supply disruptions and add to inflationary pressure.

What’s important here is to remember that current inflation is not merely a supply problem. It’s true that the energy index is surging, but the shelter index is also rising, and it has even surpassed the pre-pandemic level, as the chart below shows. So, inflation has a really broad nature, which makes perfect sense, as it was caused by a boost in the money supply and strong demand. The BLS report confirms this view: “The monthly all items seasonally adjusted increase was the result of broad increases in most component indexes, similar to last month.”

Implications for Gold

The inflationary beast not only reared its ugly head, but it started roaring and growing stronger. The CPI inflation rate jumped to 6.8% in November, and it’s probably not the final number! Actually, it could have been even higher if the Omicron variant of coronavirus had not emerged, slowing down some expenditures.

What does this acceleration imply for the gold market? Well, one week ago I wrote: “My bet is that inflation will stay elevated or that it could actually intensify further. In any case, the persistence of high inflation could trigger some worries and boost the safe-haven demand for gold.” Indeed, inflationary pressure intensified further, which pushed gold prices higher, as the chart below shows.

However, I also expressed concerns about the Fed’s reaction to high inflation and its implications for gold:

I’m afraid that gold bulls’ joy would be – to use a trendy word – transitory. The December FOMC meeting will be probably hawkish and will send gold prices down. Given the persistence of inflation, the Fed is likely to turn more hawkish and accelerate the pace of tapering.

The higher than expected inflation rate in November, and a very modest gold’s reaction to it, only strengthen my fears that tomorrow could be a great day for monetary hawks and a sad day for gold. Given such high inflation, the Fed has simply no choice and must accelerate the pace of the tapering and hiking cycle. So, to paraphrase Iron Maiden, sacrifice is going on tomorrow.

On the other hand, gold often bottomed out in December historically (in recent years, it did so in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019). We’ll find out soon whether my fears were justified!

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Another 4 Years of Gold’s Tricky Romance With Jay

“It’s complicated” – this is how many people answer questions about their romantic lives. The relationship between gold and Jerome Powell is also not a clear one. As you know, in November, President Biden announced that he would reappoint Powell for the second term as the Fed Chair. It means that gold will have to live with Jerome under the same roof for another four years.

To say that gold didn’t like it is to say nothing. The yellow metal snapped and left the cozy living room of $1,850, slamming the door loudly. In less literary expressions, its price plunged from above $1,860 on November 19 to $1,782 on November 24, 2021, as the chart below shows.

The impulsive gold’s reaction to Powell’s renomination resulted from its failed dream about a love affair with Lael Brainard. She was considered a leading contender to replace Powell. The contender that would be more dovish and, thus, more supportive of gold prices.

However, is a hawkish dove a hawk? Is Powell really a hawk? Even if more hawkish than Brainard, he still orchestrated an unprecedentedly accommodative monetary policy in response to the pandemic-related economic crisis. It was none other than Powell who started to cut interest rates in 2019, a year before the epidemic outbreak. It was he who implemented an inflation-averaging regime that allowed inflation to run above the target. Right now, it’s also Powell who claims that the current high inflation is transitory, although it’s clear for almost everyone else that it’s more persistent. I wouldn’t call Powell a hawk then. He is rather a dove in a hawk’s clothing.

So, gold doesn’t have to suffer under Powell’s second term as the Fed Chair. Please take a look at the chart below, which shows gold’s performance in the period of 2017-2021. As you can see, the yellow metal gained about 34% during Powell’s first term as the chair of the Federal Reserve that started in February 2018 (or 40% since Trump’s November 2017 nomination of the Fed).

Not bad! Actually, gold performed much better back then than under Yellen’s term as the Fed Chair. During her tenure, which took place in 2014-2018, the yellow metal was traded sideways, remaining generally in a corridor between $1,100-$1,300.

I’m not saying that Yellen despised gold, while Powell loves it. My point is that gold’s performance during the tenures of Fed Chairs varies along with changes in the macroeconomic environment in which they act and the monetary stance they adopt. Gold suffered strongly until December 2015, when Yellen finally started hiking the federal funds rate. It then rebounded, only to struggle again in 2018 amid an aggressive tightening cycle. However, at the end of that year it started to rally due to a dovish shift within the Fed, and, of course, in a lagged response to unprecedented fiscal and monetary actions later in 2020.

I have bad and good news here. The former is that the macroeconomic environment during Powell’s second term could be more inflationary, demanding more hawkish actions. The Fed has already started tapering of its quantitative easing, and bets are accumulating that it could start hiking interest rates somewhere around mid-2022. What’s more, the continuation of Powell’s leadership ensures more stability and provides markets with more certainty about what to expect from the Fed in the coming years. This is bad news for safe-haven assets such as gold.

Last but not least, the composition of the FOMC is going to shift toward the hawkish side. This is because some strong doves, such as Daly and Evans, are out, while some notable hawks, such as George, Mester (and also Bullard), are among the voting members in 2022. Gold may, therefore, find itself under downward pressure next year, especially in its first half.

On the other hand, the current FOMC expresses clearly dovish bias. With mammoth public debt and elevated asset prices, aggressive tightening would simply be very risky from a financial and political point of view. So, the Fed is likely to generally remain behind the curve. By the way, Biden not only reappointed Powell for the second term as Fed Chair, but he also appointed Brainard as Vice-Chair. We also can’t exclude that Biden agreed to Powell’s second term only if he conducts “appropriate” monetary policy.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren once called Powell “a dangerous man.” Well, in a way, it’s true, as powerful people can be dangerous. However, history shows that Powell doesn’t have to be a threat to gold. After all, he is not a hawk in the mold of Paul Volcker, but merely a hawkish dove, or a dove that will have to normalize the crisis monetary policy and curb inflation.

In the upcoming months, gold may struggle amid prospects of more interest rates hikes and likely strengthened hawkish rhetoric from the Fed. However, precious metals investors often sell the rumor and buy the fact. So, when the US central bank finally delivers them, better times may come for the yellow metal, and gold and Jay could live happily ever after. The End.

Thank you for reading today’s free analysis. We hope you enjoyed it. If so, we would like to invite you to sign up for our free gold newsletter. Once you sign up, you’ll also get 7-day no-obligation trial of all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care.

 

Gold Stuck Between High Inflation and Strong Dollar

I have good and bad news. The good is that the price of gold rose 2% in November. The bad –is that the price of gold rose 2% in November. It depends on the perspective we adopt. Given all the hawkish signals sent by the Fed and all the talk about tapering of quantitative easing and the upcoming tightening cycle, even a small increase is an admirable achievement.

However, if we focus on the fact that US consumer inflation rose in October to its highest level in 30 years, and that real interest rates have stayed deeply in negative territory, gold’s inability to move and stay above $1,800 looks discouraging.

We can also look at it differently. The good news would be that gold jumped to $1,865 in mid-November. The bad news, on the other hand, would be that this rally was short-lived with gold prices returning to their trading range of $1,750-$1,800 in the second half of the month, as the chart below shows.

Now, according to the newest WGC’s Gold Market Commentary, gold’s performance in November resulted from the fact that higher inflation expectations were offset by a stronger dollar and rising bond yields that followed Powell’s nomination for the Fed Chair for the second term.

Indeed, as you can see in the chart below, the greenback strengthened significantly in November, and real interest rates rallied for a while. Given the scale of the upward move in the dollar, and that it was combined with a surge in yields, gold’s performance last month indicates strength rather than weakness. As the WGC notes, “dollar strength was a headwind in November, acting as a drag on gold’s performance, but not enough to outweigh inflation concerns.”

Implications for Gold

Great, but what’s next for the gold market in December and 2022? Well, that’s a good question. The WGC points out that “gold remains heavily influenced by investors’ continued focus on the path of inflation (…) and the Fed’s and other central banks’ potential reaction to it.” I agree. Inflation worries increase demand for gold as an inflation hedge, supporting gold, but they also create expectations for a more hawkish Fed, hitting the yellow metal.

It seems that the upcoming days will be crucial for gold. Tomorrow (December 10, 2021), we will get to know CPI data for November. And on Wednesday (December 15, 2021), the FOMC will release its statement on monetary policy and updated dot plot. My bet is that inflation will stay elevated or that it could actually intensify further. In any case, the persistence of high inflation could trigger some worries and boost the safe-haven demand for gold.

However, I’m afraid that gold bulls’ joy would be – to use a trendy word – transitory. The December FOMC meeting will probably be hawkish and will send gold prices down. Given the persistence of inflation, the Fed is likely to turn more hawkish and accelerate the pace of tapering.

Of course, if the Fed surprises us on a dovish side, gold should shine. What’s more, the hawkish tone is widely expected, so it might be the case that all the nasty implications are already priced in. We might see a “sell the rumor, buy the fact” scenario, but I’m not so sure about it. The few last dot-plots surprised the markets on a hawkish side, pushing gold prices down. I’m afraid that this is what will happen again. Next week, the Fed could open the door to earlier rate hikes than previously projected. Hence, bond yields could surge again, making gold move in the opposite direction. You’ve been warned!

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Weak November Payrolls Won’t Help Gold

Nonfarm payrolls disappointed in November. As the chart below shows, the US labor market added only 210,000 jobs last month. This number is much lower than both October’s figure (546,000 gains) and the market expectations (MarketWatch’s analysts forecasted 573,000 added jobs). So, it’s a huge blow to those optimistic about the US economy.

However, this is a huge blow that nobody will care about because the disappointing payrolls were accompanied by a big decline in unemployment. As the chart above shows, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points, from 4.6% in October to 4.2% in November.

What’s more, the unemployment rate declined simultaneously with the increases in both the labor-force participation rate (from 61.6% to 61.8%) and the employment-to-population ratio (from 58.8% to 59.2%). This means that the reduction in unemployment was genuine and rather not a result of dropping out from the labor market.

Additionally, wage inflation has slowed down from 4.84% in October to 4.8% in November, remaining below expectations, which could slightly ease inflationary concerns. Last but not least, after revisions, employment in September and October combined was reported to be 82,000 higher than previously indicated, and the monthly job growth has averaged 555,000 so far this year. Therefore, even a weak November doesn’t change the fact that 2021 marked a great improvement in the US labor market.

Implications for Gold

What does the November employment report imply for the gold market? The nonfarm payrolls disappointed, but it’s not enough to stop the Fed from accelerating the pace of tapering its quantitative easing, especially given the significant reduction in the unemployment rate. So, the hawkish revolution won’t be stopped. It may even be strengthened, as a big decline in unemployment brings us closer to “full employment” and meeting the criteria for hiking interest rates.

This is, of course, not good news for the gold bulls. After hearing worries about inflation a few weeks ago, the Fed managed to calm investors. They’ve believed that Powell and his colleagues would take the inflationary threat seriously. Markets now expect a speed-up in the pace of tapering in December and as much as three interest rates hikes in 2022 (there are even investors who bet on seven hikes by the end of the next year!).

However, there is a silver lining here. With the unemployment rate at 4.2%, the potential for further improvement is rather limited. And when a new upward trend begins, we will have rising unemployment rate and high inflation at the same time. Such conditions create stagflation, which would take gold higher.

This is still a song of the future, though. Let’s focus on the recent past: gold prices increased slightly on Friday (December 3, 2021). Although the London P.M. Fix hardly changed (see the chart below), the New York price rebounded to about $1,783 on Friday from $1,769 the day before. However, it doesn’t change the fact that gold remains stuck in a sideways trend below $1,800, as concerns about inflation exist along with expectations of a more aggressive Fed tightening cycle.

Luckily for gold, despite its hawkish rhetoric, the US central bank will remain behind the inflation curve. The cautious, dovish policy is simply too tempting, as hitting the brakes too hard could trigger a financial crisis and a recession. With the CPI annual rate above 6%, the Fed should have already hiked the federal funds rate instead of waiting until Q2 2022. And even with three 25-basis point hikes, real interest rates will remain deeply in negative territory, which should be supportive of gold prices.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

 

Hawks Triumph, Doves Lose, Gold Bulls Cry!

People live unaware that an epic battle between good and evil, the light and dark side of the Force, hard-working entrepreneurs and tax officials is waged every day. What’s more, hawks and doves constantly fight as well, and this week brought a victory for the hawks among the FOMC.

The triumph came on Tuesday when Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress. He admitted that inflation wasn’t “transitory”, as it is only expected to ease in the second half of 2022. Inflation is therefore more persistent and broad-based than the Fed stubbornly maintained earlier this year, contrary to evidence and common sense:

Generally, the higher prices we’re seeing are related to the supply and demand imbalances that can be traced directly back to the pandemic and the reopening of the economy. But it’s also the case that price increases have spread much more broadly and I think the risk of higher inflation has increased.

Importantly, Powell also agreed that “it’s probably a good time to retire that word.” You don’t say! Hence, the Fed was wrong, and I was right. Hurray! However, it’s a Pyrrhic victory for gold bulls. This is because the recognition of the persistence of inflation pushes the Fed toward a more hawkish position. Indeed, Powell suggested that the FOMC participants could discuss speeding up the taper of quantitative easing in December:

At this point the economy is very strong and inflationary pressures are high and it is therefore appropriate, in my view, to consider wrapping up the taper of our asset purchases, which we actually announced at the November meeting, perhaps a few months sooner, and I expect that we will discuss that at our upcoming meeting in a couple of weeks.

What’s more, Powell seemed to be unaffected by the Omicron coronavirus strain news. He was a bit concerned, but not about its disturbing impact on the demand side of the economy; he found supply-chain disruptions that could intensify inflation way more important. That’s yet another manifestation of Powell’s hawkish stance.

Implications for Gold

What does the Fed’s hawkish tilt imply for the gold market? Well, gold bulls get along with doves, not hawks. A more aggressive tightening cycle, including faster tapering of asset purchases, could boost expectations of more decisive interest rates hikes. In turn, the prospects of a more hawkish Fed could increase the bond yields and strengthen the US dollar. All this sounds bearish for gold.

Indeed, the London price of gold dropped on Wednesday below $1,800… again, as the chart above shows. Hence, gold’s inability to stay above $1,800 is disappointing, especially in the face of high inflation and market uncertainty. Investors seem to have once again believed that the Fed will be curbing inflation. Well, that’s possible, but my claim is that despite a likely acceleration in the pace of the taper, inflation will remain high for a while.

I bet that despite the recent hawkish tilt, the Fed will stay behind the curve. This means that the real interest rates should stay negative, providing support for gold prices. The previous tightening cycle brought the federal funds rate to 2.25-2.5%, and we know that after an economic crisis, interest rates never return to the pre-crisis level. This is also what the euro-dollar futures suggests: that the upcoming rate hike cycle will end below 2%. The level of indebtedness and financial markets’ addiction to easy money simply do not allow the Fed to undertake more aggressive actions. Will gold struggle in the upcoming months then? Yes. Gold bulls could cry. But remember: tears cleanse and create more room for joy in the future.

If you enjoyed today’s free gold report, we invite you to check out our premium services. We provide much more detailed fundamental analyses of the gold market in our monthly Gold Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. In order to enjoy our gold analyses in their full scope, we invite you to subscribe today. If you’re not ready to subscribe yet though and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. It’s free and if you don’t like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign up today!

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care