If Post-1971 Monetary System Is Bad, Why Isn’t Gold Higher?

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of President Nixon’s suspension of the convertibility of US dollars into gold. This move broke the last, thin link between world currencies and the yellow metal, effectively ending the ersatz of the gold standard that we still had back then (the official end came in March 1973, marking the start of an era of freely-floating fiat currencies).

I wrote about the collapse of the Bretton Woods in the last edition of the Gold Market Overview, but as it was a truly revolutionary event that paved the way for today’s monetary conditions, it’s worth mentioning the topic again.

You see, as weak the diluted post-war version of the gold standard was, it limited the US central bank’s ability to increase the money supply, as there was still a possibility that other participants of the system would redeem their dollars for gold. But Nixon “suspended temporarily” the convertibility of the dollar into gold, and while gold is away, the mice will play. Without any true constraints, the pace of annual money growth hit double digits. The CPI inflation rates followed, and the great stagflation of 1970s emerged, as the chart below shows.

What’s more, without the discipline imposed by the gold standard, the central bank could much easier monetize the public debt. The governments could spend more, maintain fiscal deficits and increase their indebtedness. In short, without gold as an anchor for monetary policy, we got more money printing, more debt, higher inflation, and more severe financial crises.

Now, one could ask: if the current monetary system, or – as some analysts prefer to call it – non-system is so bad, why isn’t the price of gold higher? Shouldn’t it be rallying, indicating how rotten our fiat-money-debt-fueled economy is?

Well, there are many answers to this questions. First of all, let’s note that the price of gold has already surged about 4100%, or more than 7.7% annually, on average, since 1971 (see the chart below), which is really something!

Second, financial markets are great supporters of the current monetary system, as they love loose monetary policy and liquidity drips from the central banks. Please remember that the US stock market welcomed the closure of the gold window by increasing 3% the next day after Nixon’s infamous speech.

Third, even poor systems can work for a while. Communist economies didn’t collapse immediately, despite their obvious inefficiency. The Breton Woods worked for almost 30 years despite its evident flaws. Furthermore, there were some institutional changes implemented in order to strengthen the current system, such as central banks’ independence, inflation targeting, prohibition of direct monetization of public debt, etc.

However, probably the most important reason is that the gold standard was in a way replaced by the US dollar standard, as the greenback substituted gold as the world’s reserve currency. In such a system, there is simply no alternative to the US dollar as a global reserve. This is because America became even more central to global finance than it was in 1971 and because practically all countries conduct similarly unsound monetary and fiscal policies (and some central banks like the ECB or BoJ are even more radical than the Fed). The greenback’s strength limits dollar-denominated gold prices.

However, it’s worth remembering that unlike the gold standard, under which currencies were backed by gold (or: they were actually defined as units of gold’s weight), today’s currencies are backed only by the reputation of their issuers, which is not set in stone. This is actually why the Breton Woods eventually collapsed. Initially, the US enjoyed a great reputation, and no one even dared to question Uncle Sam’s ability to convert dollars to gold. But the prolonged war in Vietnam, Johnson’s great social programs, increased government spending and growing deficits undermined this reputation, and other countries started to demand gold for their dollars.

The same may happen in the future, especially given that Trump has left some scratches on America’s reputation. With Biden continuing his predecessor’s populist economic doctrine, the greenback should face further headwinds. What’s more, with ultra-low interest rates and a mammoth pile of debt, the room for inflating the economic bubble is limited. Although the return to the gold standard seems unlikely, the recurring business cycles and economic crises are more than certain. That’s great news for gold.

In other words, the current system persists mainly thanks to the faith in the central banks’ ability to control inflation, even without the discipline of the gold standard. However, this belief can break down one day. The Fed might be right that the current high inflation is temporary. But if not, we could have “Powell’s shock”, which could strengthen gold, just as Nixon’s shock did.

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

 

Softening Inflation: Gold Jumps Again

Consumer inflation eased further in August. According to the latest BLS report on inflation, the CPI increased 0.3% last month after rising 0.5% in July. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, also softened — it rose 0.1% after increasing 0.3% in the preceding month. It was the smallest increase since February 2021. The deceleration was mainly caused by declines in the index for used cars and trucks, which fell 1.5%, and in the index for transportation services, which decreased 2.3% (driven by a sharp fall of 9.1% in airline fares).

However, on an annual basis, the overall inflation stayed practically unchanged, rising again at a disturbingly high pace, as the chart below shows. The overall index surged 5.3% in August, following 5.4% in the previous month. Meanwhile, the core CPI soared 4%, following a 4.3% jump in July.

So, as one can see in the chart above, inflation peaked in June and decelerated for the second month in a row. However, what I wrote last month remains valid: “[inflation] remained disturbingly high, despite the deceleration in several subindexes, including the index for used cars. I dread to think what inflation would be if these categories weren’t moderate!”

Inflation did soften, but it remains elevated and above 5% on an annual basis. Moreover, it doesn’t have to go away anytime soon. Why? The first reason is that the supply-chain crisis hasn’t ended yet. The supply-side problems are keeping the producer prices hot. In August, the PPI for final demand rose 0.7%, following 1% in July. Although the monthly pace decreased, it was still above expectations. But over the past 12 months, the producer price inflation soared 8.3%, significantly faster than 7.8% in July. It was the biggest jump since November 2010, when the series started, as the chart below shows.

The unresolved supply-chain crisis and stubbornly high producer price inflation imply that inflationary pressures are likely to persist and to be translated into higher consumer prices in the future. Because inventories are tight and because the mindset has changed, producers are relatively easily passing on higher costs to consumers.

Secondly, the index for shelter – the biggest component of the CPI – has been rising gradually since February 2021, and it accelerated from 2.79% in July to 2.82% in August, as the chart above shows. As a reminder, home prices – which are not covered by the CPI – have been surging recently, which should translate into further increases in the index for shelter.

Last but not least, the annual growth of the M2 money supply has stabilized at about 12%, as the chart below shows. It’s of course much lower than the 27% recorded in February 2021, but it’s still almost twice as fast as the 6.8% seen just before the pandemic started. And the easy fiscal policy could also add something to the inflationary pressures if the fiscal deficits are monetized. All these developments suggest that inflation isn’t disappearing just yet.

Implications for Gold

What does the August report on the CPI imply for the gold market? Well, theoretically, softer inflation should be negative for assets sensitive to inflation such as gold. The yellow metal is seen as an inflation hedge, but the data says that it shines when inflation is high and accelerating. So, the deceleration should be bad news for gold.

However, as the chart below shows, the price of gold has increased after the publication of the inflation report, jumping again above $1,800. Just as one month ago, slightly softer inflation has offered some hopes that inflation would prove to be transitory, in line with Powell’s narrative, and provide the Fed with an excuse to continue its ultra-dovish monetary policy. Indeed, according to the CME FedWatch Tool, the expectations for the Fed’s tightening cycle have diminished slightly from the previous week. For instance, the odds for the interest rate hike in December 2022 have declined from 54% to 50%, so it’s a coin toss. The softening of these expectations has supported gold prices.

However, the dark clouds are still present on the horizon. Although the August CPI eases somewhat the need for the Fed to begin to taper its quantitative easing, the inflation report shouldn’t materially change the Fed’s stance. After all, inflation is still significantly above the target and partial normalization of the monetary policy is coming anyway.

What’s more, this month the FOMC statement will be accompanied by a fresh dot-plot. As a reminder, the latest Fed’s projections plunged gold prices, as they revealed that the US central bankers were eager to hike the federal funds rate earlier than previously thought. Given the increase in inflation since June and all the employment progress the economy made, the upcoming dot-plots could be hawkish and send gold prices lower. You have been warned.

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

 

Eurozone Impact on Gold: The ECB and the Phantom Taper

Tapering has begun. For now, in the Eurozone. This is at least what headlines suggest, as last week, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank held its monetary policy meeting. The European central bankers decided to slow down the pace of their asset purchases:

Based on a joint assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council judges that favourable financing conditions can be maintained with a moderately lower pace of net asset purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) than in the previous two quarters.

The financial markets were only slightly moved by the ECB’s action. The price of gold also barely changed, as the chart below shows. One reason is that such a step was widely expected. Another one is that this “tapering” is actually “pseudo-tapering”, or not tapering at all. Why?

The answer is: the ECB will continue to conduct net asset purchases under the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme with an unchanged total envelope of €1,850 billion. So, the total number of assets bought under this program won’t necessarily change, as the ECB could still spend all of the envelope. Only the pace will slow down, but please remember that it was boosted earlier this year. Hence, even Christine Lagarde admitted during her press conference that the ECB’s move was rather a “re-calibration of PEPP for next three months” than tapering.

What’s more, the net purchases under the Asset Purchase Programme, the original quantitative easing program, will continue at an unchanged pace of €20 billion per month. Last but not least, the ECB left its interest rates unchanged. And it reiterated that it was not going to normalize interest rates anytime soon, even in the face of strong price pressure. In other words, the ECB signaled once again that it would tolerate higher inflation:

In support of its symmetric two percent inflation target and in line with its monetary policy strategy, the Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it sees inflation reaching two percent well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon, and it judges that realized progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilizing at two percent over the medium term. This may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above target.

Implications for Gold

What does the ECB’s last meeting imply for gold? Well, although Lagarde and her colleagues didn’t signal any further reduction of monetary accommodation, the slowdown in asset purchases under PEPP is a small step toward normalizing the monetary policy after the pandemic. Additionally, please note that the ECB’s September economic projections boosted both the expected pace of the GDP growth and inflation in the coming years, which should provide the bank more room for hawkish actions. In this context, the ECB could be seen as a shy harbinger of the withdrawal of emergency measures introduced during the epidemic. This is probably why the euro has strengthened slightly after the ECB meeting.

However, the ECB remained very dovish in fact. It will just reduce the pace of asset purchases under PEPP, which was boosted earlier this year. And the European central bankers didn’t provide any timeline, nor any clues about the possible end of its quantitative easing programs. The Fed will also likely maintain its very accommodative stance, especially given the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and the disappointing August nonfarm payrolls.

Having said that, the recent comments from the Fed officials suggest that they are determined to start or at least announce tapering by the end of the year. For instance, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in an interview that “The big picture is that the taper will get going this year and will end sometime by the first half of next year”.

Hence, the big picture for gold remains rather negative, as the prospects of the Fed’s tightening cycle could still exert downward pressure on gold. However, the actual beginning of the process, especially if accompanied by more dovish signals from the Fed than expected, could provide some relief for the yellow metal, in line with “sell the rumor, buy the fact”. My intuition is that 2022 may actually be better for gold than this year, but a lot will depend on the future economic developments, as well as the US central banks’ actions and communication. This week we will get fresh CPI data, and the FOMC will gather next week. Stay tuned!

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!

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

 

Stagflation: A Stagnation Breaker?

One of the greatest risks cited currently by the markets is stagflation. The term means a situation in which there is high inflation and stagnation at the same time. So far, we have only had high inflation (CPI annual rate has soared 5.4%, and almost 5% if we take the quarterly average), but some analysts believe that inflation has already peaked. However, the economic growth is fast (the GDP surged 12% in Q2 2021 year-over-year), as the chart below shows. So, why bother?

Well, although a recession is rather not lurking around the corner, slowing economic momentum quite clearly is. The GDP growth for the second quarter (although impressive) came below expectations, the consumer confidence declined, and, more generally, the index of US data surprises has recently turned negative.

Among negative surprises, we should point out the decline in retail sales by 1.1% in July, which was worse than expected (0.3%) and the drop in the New York Fed’s Empire Manufacturing Index from 43.0 in July to 18.3 in August, much below the expected 29.0. So, the recent decline in the bond yields may not be as nonsensical as it may seem.

I warned my readers a long time ago that the recovery from the pandemic would be spectacular but short-lived and caused mainly by the low last year’s base. If you lock the economy, it plunges; when you open it, it soars, simple as that. Now the harsh reality steps in, and it’s yet to be seen how the US economy will perform in a post-pandemic reality with the spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus, a slowdown in China’s economy, and without government stimulus.

When it comes to the price front, it’s also highly uncertain. Inflation has softened a bit in July, but it remains high, and I’m afraid that it could prove to be more persistent than it’s believed by the Fed and some analysts. The latest Empire Index, mentioned above, tells us: although the index of manufacturing activity fell more than expected, the inflationary pressure strengthened. As the report says, “input prices continued to rise sharply, and the pace of selling price increases set another record”.

What’s disturbing in all this – and this is why inflation may stay with us for longer – is that the Fed is downplaying the inflation risk. And even the monetary policy 101 says that the best way of preventing inflation is acting early as inflation pressure builds up. Friedrich Hayek, a great economist and a Nobel Laureate, once compared taming inflation to catching a tiger by the tail – it’s not an easy task when the cat has already escaped the cage. The problem is that when central bankers wait to see the whites of inflationary tiger’s eyes before acting, it’s already too late. If you stare at the tiger in the eyeballs, you are probably to be eaten soon – unless you hike interest rates abruptly, choking economic growth off.

Going into specifics, the Fed’s view that inflation is transitory mainly rests on the belief that price increases are caused by supply disruptions related to the epidemic. However, inflation is not limited to just a few feverish components — it’s broad-based. In particular, the cost for shelter, the largest component of the CPI, has also been gradually rising, even though the owner’s equivalent rent component doesn’t reflect properly the recent record surge in U.S. home prices (see the chart below). If this is not inflation, I don’t know what is!

The increase in house prices is important here, as Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist and Director of the Research Department, IMF, admitted at the end of July: “More persistent supply disruptions and sharply rising housing prices are some of the factors that could lead to persistently high inflation”.

What does it all mean for the gold market? Well, stagflation should be negative for almost all assets. When we have a stagnant economy coupled with high inflation, stocks and bonds are selling off together. In such an environment gold shines, as it is a safe haven uncorrelated with other assets.

Stagflation is so terrifying because the Fed won’t be able to rescue Wall Street simply by cutting interest rates, as it could only add fuel to the inflation fire. The only viable solution would be to engineer another ‘Volcker moment’ and tighten monetary policy decisively to combat inflation. Given that debts are much higher than in the 1970s and some analysts even point to a debt trap, it could put the economy into a severe economic crisis. So far, investors seem not to worry about high inflation, but just as things go well until they don’t, investors are relaxed until they don’t. For all these reasons, it seems smart to own such portfolio diversifiers as 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!

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

 

Gold Back Below $1,800!

Ugh, the recent rally in gold prices was really short-lived. As the chart below shows, the price of gold increased after the publication of disappointing nonfarm payrolls on Friday. However, it declined as soon as on Tuesday, and on Wednesday it slid below $1,800.

I have to admit that I expected a more bullish performance. To be clear: I was far from opening champagne. For instance, I pointed out that the tapering of quantitative easing remained on the horizon, and I expressed some worries that gold’s rally was rather moderate despite the big disappointment of job gains:

Another caveat is that gold failed to rally above $1,835 despite softened expectations of the future path of the federal funds rate

However, I thought that the likely postponement of the Fed’s tightening cycle in the face of weak employment data would allow gold to catch its breath for a while. Well, it did, but only for a few days.

The quick reversal is clearly bearish for gold. Sure, without disappointing job numbers, the yellow metal could perform even worse. However, the inability to maintain gains indicates gold’s inherent weakness in the current environment.

Of course, the recent decline in gold prices was at least partially caused by new developments in the financial markets, namely: the strengthening in the US dollar and the rise in the bond yields. So, one could say that earlier bullish news was simply outweighed by later bearish factors.

However, please note that the US dollar strengthened and the interest rates rose amid an increase in risk aversion. The fact that gold, which is considered to be a safe-haven asset, drops when investors become more risk-averse, is really frustrating.

What’s more, some analysts pointed out that the dollar strength and higher yields were not enough to account for the plunge in gold prices – so, it seems that the momentum is simply negative and gold wants trade lower, no matter the fundamentals.

Indeed, neither the negative real interest rates, nor curbed dollar, nor high inflation were able to get gold to rise decisively this year. Nor the recent weak nonfarm payrolls that lifted the expectations of a more dovish Fed and the postponement of normalization of the monetary policy.

Implications for Gold

What does it all mean for the yellow metal? Well, the recent volatility in the gold market reminds us that in fundamental analyses it’s smart not to draw too far-reaching conclusions from the immediate price reactions and to look beyond the hustle and bustle of the trading pits. It also confirms that I was right, writing in the recent Fundamental Gold Report that “a long quiet summer has ended, and a more windy fall has started”.

Now, I have to point out that fundamental factors turned out in recent days to be more positive for the gold market than a few weeks ago. The announcement of the Fed’s tapering will be likely postponed from September to November 2021. Indeed, yesterday’s remarks of the New York Fed President John Williams at St. Lawrence University suggest that the FOMC may continue its wait-and-see approach this month and taper later in 2021:

There has also been very good progress toward maximum employment, but I will want to see more improvement before I am ready to declare the test of substantial further progress being met. Assuming the economy continues to improve as I anticipate, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year.

Meanwhile, the economic activity has slowed down, partially because of the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. For example, the recent edition of the Beige Book says that:

Economic growth downshifted slightly to a moderate pace in early July through August (…) The deceleration in economic activity was largely attributable to a pullback in dining out, travel, and tourism in most Districts, reflecting safety concerns due to the rise of the Delta variant, and, in a few cases, international travel restrictions.

Given that inflation remains high, the slowdown in economic growth will push the economy into stagflation, which should be a positive macroeconomic environment for gold.

Having said that, more bullish fundamentals without positive momentum could not be enough. As I’ve written earlier, gold has recently shrugged all the bullish factors off – it’s focused now on the economic normalization after the pandemic recession and the upcoming Fed’s tightening cycle. So, it seems to me that gold needs more than the postponement of tapering (think about next economic crises, the decline in economic confidence, or the abandonment of monetary policy normalization) to rally decisively. Until this happens, it is likely to continue its struggle.

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!

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

 

Weak August Payrolls: Why We Should Care

They say that September is a good time for gold. Indeed, historically, gold used to shine during the ninth month, and the yellow metal also started this year’s September on a good note. As the chart below shows, it jumped above $1,800 on the last day of August, and it has continued its rebound since then.

So, what happened? Well, on Friday, the newest report on the US labor market was revealed. The publication showed that the American economy added only 235,000 jobs in August, as one can see in the chart below. The number came much below expectations (of more than 700,000) and much below the impressive gains in July (above one million, after an upward revision). It was also the worst report since January 2021.

To be clear, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report included some positive news as well. For instance, the unemployment rate declined from 5.4% to 5.2%, as the chart above shows. Additionally, it turned out that employment in June and July combined was 134,000 higher than previously reported. However, these strong revisions are not enough to outweigh the disappointing nonfarm payrolls.

Implications for Gold

What does the fresh report on the US job market imply for the gold market? Well, the slowdown in employment growth lowers the odds that the FOMC will announce the timeline of its tightening cycle this month. Before the employment report was published, many analysts bet that the Fed would present a plan of tapering of its asset purchases as early as at the September meeting. Now it’s not so clear, as it seems that the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus weighs on the economic activity. And, as a reminder, the Fed focuses now more on its employment mandate rather than the price stability. Weak payrolls mean that the shortfall from full employment will be eliminated later than previously anticipated.

It goes without saying that a more dovish Fed is positive for gold prices, as the postponement of normalization of the US monetary policy provides relief for the yellow metal. The prospects of the tightening cycle were creating downward pressure on gold earlier this year.

Another hidden positive factor for the gold market is the stagflationary character of the recent employment report. You see, job growth slowed down while wage inflation accelerated. According to the BLS, wages jumped 0.6% in August, up from a 0.4% increase in July. Indeed, we have inflation above 5%, while the economy is slowing down despite all the monetary and fiscal stimulus it got. It doesn’t sound good, does it? Given the size of monetary and fiscal injections, the economy should be booming, but it’s far from doing so. Well, prices are booming, but the economic activity is far from being spectacular right now.

The bottom line is that the August nonfarm payrolls might be, in a sense, a game-changer for the gold market. To be clear, the Fed won’t drop its plans to tighten monetary policy entirely (especially that August nonfarm number often disappoints initially), but it may postpone the beginning of tapering and reduce its asset purchases even more gradually than it was previously thought.

However, they can still announce tapering this year. Another caveat is that gold failed to rally above $1,835, despite the softened expectations of the future path of the federal funds rate. But it seems that gold bulls can enjoy the ride – at least for a while – until some hawkish comments from the Fed rattle markets again. One thing is sure: a long quiet summer has ended and a more windy fall has started. The upcoming FOMC minutes should provide some clues as to whether or not gold will face more headwinds or tailwinds later 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!

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

 

Bond Conundrum – Boom or Bust for Gold?

Would you like to see something mysterious? If yes, please look at the chart below. It shows the yields on 10-year US Treasuries (red line) and CPI annual inflation rates (blue line) in recent years. As you can see, a huge divergence emerged this year: while inflation surged above 5%, nominal bond yields declined from 1.6% to 1.3%.

Why is it so strange? Well, economic theory says that when inflation goes up, it erodes the purchasing power of bonds’ coupon payments. Thus, the price of bonds declines, and yields increase. In other words, when inflation accelerates, investors demand higher inflation premium to protect their real returns.

But now we can observe rising inflation and declining bond yields at the same time. The yield on the 10-year Treasury is 1.3%, which is 4 percentage points below the inflation rate, so investors who buy bonds lose a lot of money in real terms. Something is clearly wrong here. Let’s solve this bond conundrum!

The first potential explanation is that bond investors trust the Fed and believe that high inflation is mainly transitory. If so, the bond yields are more or less accurate and could stay around current low levels, and the inflation rates will adjust. The supply disruptions caused by the pandemic will eventually resolve, while the Fed is going to tighten its monetary policy, adding to disinflationary forces.

At first glance, the scenario in which inflation is declining seems to be negative for the yellow metal, as it implies lower demand for gold as an inflation hedge. However, in this case, interest rates could stay at very low levels for a long time. And gold likes the environment of low yields.

The second possible reason for the decline in interest rates is that bond investors expect slower economic growth than previously thought. Indeed, recent data suggests that the pace of GDP growth could be peaking. The spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, smaller infrastructure plan than initially outlined, a slowdown in China’s economic growth and the Fed’s tightening cycle – all these factors could soften the US growth prospects, translating into lower yields.

It goes without saying that this scenario would be very positive for gold prices. High inflation plus a slowdown in economic growth equals stagflation, a dream environment for gold. However, the stock market didn’t weaken, as one could expect after a downward revision of investors’ growth prospects. On the other hand, the spread between yields on 10-year and 2-year Treasuries has narrowed substantially since March, as the chart below shows. The flattening of the yield curve often indicates a slowdown in economic growth.

But it’s also possible that technical factors or the central bank’s interventions trumped the fundamentals. Strong demand for the US Treasuries that pushed yields down despite rising inflation could be the case here. After all, the Fed has been purchasing $80 billion a month in Treasuries (and $40 billion in mortgage-backed bonds) since June 2020. In other words, quantitative easing could disrupt the functioning of the bond market.

Indeed, the unprecedentedly easy monetary policy conditions with ultra-low interest rates and abundant liquidity could explain why both stock and bond prices are so high right now (and bond yields so low). In an environment of negative real interest rates created by Powell and his colleagues, asset managers search for yield in every possible asset, even if it is not economically viable — including cryptocurrencies that are just memes (like Dogecoin) or bonds with yields lower than inflation rates.

What does it all imply for the gold market? Well, I have good and bad news. So, the bad news is that the real interest rates seem to be excessively low (see the chart below) and they are likely to move up over the economic expansion (especially when the Fed tightens its monetary stance), whereas inflation expectations could ease somewhat later this year. Unfortunately for gold bulls, the increase in the real interest rates would likely push gold prices lower.

The good news is that that an increase in interest rates would put the governments and other debtors in a very difficult position, potentially leading to a debt crisis. Asset valuations could decline and financial crisis could follow suit. In other words, the Fed’s tightening cycle could sow the seeds of another recession and rally in gold.

Having said that, we have just recovered from one economic crisis, and it will take some time for another to unfold. Until that happens, real interest rates may normalize somewhat without entailing substantial perturbations, which would be negative for gold prices.

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!

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

 

Surging Home Prices and Gold – What’s the Link?

Home price growth in the US has accelerated even further, reaching a new record. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index rose from 255.3 in May to 260.9 in June, boosting the annual percentage gain from 16.8% to 18.1%, as the chart below shows. That’s the largest jump since 1988 when the series began.

Why is it so important? Well, for two reasons. First, such quick growth in home prices increases the risk of a housing bubble and all related economic problems. Please note that home prices are surging now even faster than in the 2000s, which ended in a financial crisis and the Great Recession.

Second, rallying home prices add to the inflationary pressure. What’s important, this year’s impressive home inflation hasn’t shown up in the CPI yet. It will though, as increases in house prices translate into housing inflation, which lifts consumer price measures. This effect may be substantial, given that shelter represents one-third of the overall CPI and about 40% of the core CPI.

Indeed, the recent research from the Dallas Fed, entitled “Surging House Price Expected to Propel Rent Increases, Push Up Inflation”, finds that rising housing prices are usually a leading indicator for rents that are included in the CPI. According to the authors, the correlation between house price growth and rent inflation is the strongest with about an 18-month lag. It means that rent inflation is likely to increase substantially over the next two years, contributing materially to consumer price indexes:

Our forecasting model shows that rent inflation and OER inflation are expected to increase materially in 2022 and 2023. Given their weights in the core PCE price index (which excludes food and energy), rent and OER together are expected to contribute about 0.6 percentage points to 12-month core PCE inflation for 2022 and about 1.2 percentage points for 2023. These forecasts also suggest that rising inflation for rent and OER could push the overall and core PCE inflation rates above 2 percent in 2023, when current supply bottlenecks and labor shortages may have subsided.

So, this research suggests that inflation could stay significantly above the Fed’s target in the coming years and that it might be more persistent than it’s widely believed by the central bankers and Wall Street. In other words, the Fed’s own research suggests that the US central bank might be wrong in claiming that inflation will prove to be temporary – after all, the core inflation is expected to stay above 2%, even when supply-side disruptions resolve.

Importantly, soaring home prices are not the only factor adding to inflation worries. Another one is the fall in consumer confidence in August, partly because of stronger expectations of inflation. According to the Conference Board, consumers’ inflation expectations over the next year increased from 6.6% in July to 6.8% in August.

Last but not least, inflation in the Eurozone has also surged recently. It soared from 2.2% in July to 3% in August, far above expectations and the ECB’s target. The global character of inflation (although it’s stronger in the US) suggests that it’s not caused merely by idiosyncratic factors (as Powell claims), but rather by the combination of supply-side disturbances and demand factors, such as an increase in the money supply entering the economy through consumer spending.

Implications for Gold

What does it all mean for the gold market? Well, rising home prices imply that inflation will be higher in the future than widely expected. Higher inflation could increase the demand for gold as an inflation hedge. It’s also the best guarantee that real interest rates will stay low, which should support gold. More persistent inflation increases the odds of stagflation, gold’s favorite macroeconomic environment.

However, higher inflation could force the Fed to adopt a more hawkish stance and, for example, accelerate its tapering of quantitative easing, which could exert some downward pressure on gold. Actually, this is what is happening right now. Given high inflation, low bond yields and the US dollar in a sideways trend, gold seems undervalued to many analysts. On the other hand, the narrative about transitory inflation combined with the prospects of the Fed’s tightening cycle could make gold struggle.

Having said that, gold has recently managed to return above $1,800 again, while September is historically a good month for gold. So, we will see – this month’s FOMC meeting could be crucial in determining the yellow metal’s path.

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!

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

 

Gold Moves Above $1,800 After Jackson Hole

The 2021 Jackson Hole Economic Symposium “Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy” is already a thing of the past. It was a stimulating conference with a few interesting presentations. But the key appearance for the financial markets was Powell’s speech. Let’s dig into it!

So, the Fed Chair started his remarks with the observation that even though the pandemic recession was the briefest yet deepest on record, the pace of the recovery has exceeded expectations. That being said, the economic expansion has been uneven, and its continuation is threatened by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, high inflation and the remaining slack in the labor market. However, Powell was generally optimistic about the future, saying that the prospects were good for continued progress toward maximum employment, while the elevated inflation would likely be temporary:

The baseline outlook is for continued progress toward maximum employment, with inflation returning to levels consistent with our goal of inflation averaging 2 percent over time.

Actually, Powell was so optimistic about the US economy that he stated that the criteria for tapering of the quantitative easing had been met. The key passage from his speech is as follows:

We have said that we would continue our asset purchases at the current pace until we see substantial further progress toward our maximum employment and price stability goals, measured since last December, when we first articulated this guidance. My view is that the “substantial further progress” test has been met for inflation. There has also been clear progress toward maximum employment.

At the FOMC’s recent July meeting, I was of the view, as were most participants, that if the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year. The intervening month has brought more progress in the form of a strong employment report for July, but also the further spread of the Delta variant. We will be carefully assessing incoming data and the evolving risks. Even after our asset purchases end, our elevated holdings of longer-term securities will continue to support accommodative financial conditions.

This passage is clearly hawkish, as it implies that the Fed will probably end its asset purchases this year if nothing bad happens.

However, the price of gold futures increased on Friday (after Powell’s remarks) from around $1,790 to almost $1,820, as the chart below shows. Why? Well, it seems that the markets read between the lines and interpreted the Fed Chair’s speech as actually quite dovish, or less hawkish than expected.

After all, Powell didn’t present any clear timeline of the Fed’s tightening cycle. Although the Fed Chair mentioned that it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year, he also noted some uncertainty about the spread of Delta and its economic aspect.

What’s more, Powell reminded the public that the tapering doesn’t automatically imply hiking the federal funds rate, as raising interest rates would require much more progress towards the Fed’s goals:

The timing and pace of the coming reduction in asset purchases will not be intended to carry a direct signal regarding the timing of interest rate liftoff, for which we have articulated a different and substantially more stringent test. We have said that we will continue to hold the target range for the federal funds rate at its current level until the economy reaches conditions consistent with maximum employment, and inflation has reached 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. We have much ground to cover to reach maximum employment, and time will tell whether we have reached 2 percent inflation on a sustainable basis.

So, we will not see higher interest rates anytime soon, despite higher inflation. This is clearly a dovish signal, and it supports gold prices. After all, the Fed’s monetary policy will remain accommodative, even after the start of tapering. The Fed will still be purchasing assets — the only difference is that it will do so at a slower pace, which means that its balance sheet will remain enormous (see the chart below), implying still large reinvestments of principal repayments.

Implications for Gold

What does it all mean for the gold market? Well, although Powell stated that the Fed’s test of “substantial further progress” had been met for inflation and suggested that it would soon be met for employment as well, his speech didn’t include any revolutionary insights. And, more importantly, it didn’t include any tapering statement. As a result, gold caught its breath.

However, the bullish joy may be premature. The Fed is likely to taper this year, especially if August nonfarm payrolls prove to be strong. Also, the FOMC may issue a tapering statement after its September meeting, announcing the start of reducing the pace of asset purchases in the last quarter of the year. So, the downward pressure on gold prices could stay with us in 2021. On the other hand, the Fed clearly pointed out that the timeline for tapering is not the timeline for interest rates, which could stay at ultra-low levels for months, if not years, working in favor of gold.

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Nixon’s Closure of Gold Window Still Supports Gold Prices

It’s been 50 years since one of the most important events in contemporary – or, perhaps, all of – economic history. And, no, I don’t mean the foundation of the Nasdaq stock exchange nor the bankruptcy and nationalization of Rolls-Royce. Half a century ago, on August 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon closed the gold window.

It meant that America unilaterally canceled the convertibility of the US dollar to gold. Nixon’s action was a nail in the coffin of the Breton Woods system and the beginning of the current monetary system (or, actually, the current non-system) based on freely floating fiat currencies (the ultimate end of the gold standard came in 1973). So, for the first time in history, money ceased to have any intrinsic value, use value, and any links to the precious metals or other commodities. Humankind has begun an experiment with national fiat monies that weren’t in any, even the loosest way, backed by gold.

How did this experiment go then? Not very well… The idea was that unshackling the dollar from gold would allow the Fed to conduct independent and ‘scientific’ monetary policy to boost economic growth and provide full employment while avoiding harmful recessions. Nixon’s shock was also presented as an action that would halt inflation and strengthen the stability of the dollar. As President Nixon promised himself in a television speech on August 15, 1971:

The third indispensable element in building the new prosperity is closely related to creating new jobs and halting inflation. We must protect the position of the American dollar as a pillar of monetary stability around the world (…)

I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold or other reserve assets, except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interests of the United States. (…)

The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.

Well, it didn’t work out as planned. The greenback plunged by a third during the 1970s. It also lost a lot of its domestic purchasing power. The average annual inflation rate between August 1971 and May 2021 was almost 4%, generating a cumulative price increase of about 560%. Indeed, as the chart below shows, the Consumer Price Index is now 6.6 times higher than in mid-1971.

It means that $1 then is equivalent in purchasing power to about $6.6 today, an increase of $5.6. In other words, a dollar today only purchases less than 18% of what it could buy back then (so, it has lost more than 82%of its purchasing power since 1971). So much about curbing inflation and stabilizing the dollar.

Other promises have also been broken. The unemployment rate was, on average, higher, while the GDP growth was slower in the period after 1971. And since Nixon terminated the gold standard, there have been a lot of financial instability and several economic crises, including the stagflation in the 1970s and the global financial crisis in 2008-09.

The post-1971 monetary system was good at only one thing: at boosting the money supply and the public debt. Without the gold anchor, the Fed could create money (as well as the Treasury) and spend it more freely than under the gold standard. Indeed, as the chart below shows, both the monetary base and the federal debt have accelerated since the 70s, surging to a level about 650 times greater.

Hence, the closure of the gold window still has an impact on the global economy and the precious metals markets. If gold continued to serve as the ultimate money, monetary and fiscal policies would be more rational and the public debt wouldn’t exceed 100% of GDP in peacetime.

It means that the lack of the gold standard is, somewhat paradoxically, good for gold prices. When Nixon killed the Breton Woods, some analysts claimed that the price of the yellow metal would decline without being linked to the dollar. As we all know, and as the chart below shows, the opposite happened.

Over the past fifty years, the price of gold has soared about 4100% – or more than 7.7% annually, on average. Additionally, given all the instabilities present in the contemporary monetary system based on fiat currencies, unlimited money-printing and monetization of debt, in the long run, the price of gold may only continue its upward trend.

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

 

Jackson Hole Ahead! What Should We Expect?

Finally! The price of gold returned above $1,800 this week, as the chart below shows. It’s a nice change after the slide in early August. Although gold has rebounded somewhat, bulls shouldn’t open the champagne yet. A small beer would be enough for now, as the yellow metal already retreated from $1,800 on Wednesday (the fact that gold was unable to stay above this level is rather disappointing).

So, what is happening on the gold market and what are its prospects? Well, it seems that two narratives are competing with each other ahead of the Jackson Hole conference. The first one is that Powell could provide some clues about the Fed’s tightening cycle, signaling when the tapering would start and how this process would look like. In other words, after July’s FOMC minutes, which came in more hawkish than expected, some analysts expect another hawkish signal from the Fed this week. Gold may suffer due to this, although tapering of the quantitative easing is already priced in to a large extent.

On the other hand, the recent rebound in gold prices might have been caused by investors positioning for a more dovish Fed than before. This is because of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is spreading quickly through the US, as the chart below shows.

The rising number of new cases could soften the Fed’s stance or temper its tapering plans. Indeed, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said that “COVID-19 delta variant matters a lot”, while Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan admitted that he might “rethink his call for the Fed [to] start to taper its 120 billion per month and bond purchases if it looks like the spread of coronavirus Delta variant is slowing economic growth.” Of course, both presidents are not voting members of the FOMC this year, but their comments may still be indicative of the thinking within the Fed.

After all, the US central bank says that it’s data-dependent, and some data seems to confirm recent worries about Delta’s impact on the GDP growth. For instance, the HIS Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index declined from 59.9 in July to 55.4 in August. This means that U.S. business activity growth slowed for the third month in a row, partially due to Delta and softer consumer demand. The Fed’s more dovish tone and postponement should be positive for gold prices.

Having said that, investors have to remember that Delta’s impact on the economy would be rather limited, as economic agents have already accommodated to the pandemic and nobody wants further lockdowns.

Implications for Gold

What does all this mean for the gold market? Well, the Jackson Hole conference might determine gold’s future direction, as many investors are waiting on the sidelines just to hear what Powell and other central bankers have to say. However, it’s also possible that this year’s symposium will be less impactful than expected. I mean, Powell could refrain from announcing any timeline of the Fed’s tightening cycle, preferring to wait until the FOMC September meeting when August non-farm payrolls are available and it is easier to assess the economic impact of Delta.

However, the lack of hawkish action is dovish action. So, it’s possible that gold investors will find delight in Jackson Hole. However, this “a bit dovish scenario” might already be priced in, so a lot depends on the details of Powell’s speech. My bet is that he will point out both the economy’s strength and the threats of the Delta variant. Nonetheless, I don’t expect that Delta will radically change the Fed’s stance on tapering, so medium-term downward pressure on gold should remain intact.

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!

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

 

Inflation Is Prone To Delta. The Same With Gold?

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading all around the world. Although it won’t affect the world economy as much as the first wave of the pandemic, it will add to the already existing problems. Namely, the rising number of new cases will prolong the supply disruptions, hampering the GDP growth and strengthening the already high inflation (see the chart below).

In particular, last week, the Ningbo-Zhousan port in eastern China was partially closed until further notice after its worker was infected with the Delta strain. The problem is that it’s the world’s third-busiest cargo port, so its closure will cause fresh pressure to the already disrupted shipping industry.

The spread of the Delta variant and related disturbances in global trade have already caused Goldman Sachs to cut its forecasts for the US economy from 6.4% to 6% this year. “The impact of the delta variant on growth and inflation is proving to be somewhat larger than we expected”, the bank’s analysts explained in a note to the clients. The supply chain’s hurdles are expected to curb production and further raise prices, which would lower the purchasing power of consumers and limit their spending.

It implies that high inflation will likely stay with us for longer than the Fed thinks, just as I’ve been saying for a long time. The current situation shows a disturbing resemblance to the 1970s. As you know, inflation was surging then, but the US central bank was downplaying it, blaming the temporary effects of the first oil shock. The result of such a careless stance was the Great Stagflation and the need to aggressively hike federal funds rate by Paul Volcker. Inflation was defeated, but a double-dip recession emerged.

We also have a negative supply shock now (or, I should say, a series of shocks). It’s not an oil shock, but it’s also significant, as the issue broad-based — namely, the semiconductor shock and container shock, which hit all kinds of products. Semiconductors are key for the modern economy. They are used in various industries from consumer electronics to vehicles, and you practically cannot transport goods without containers. And as in the 1970s, the Fed believes that inflation is transitory and will go away on its own.

Yeah. Maybe it would happen if we had to deal with the supply shocks only. But the economy has also been hit by demand shocks – i.e., by the surge in the broad money supply and fiscal deficits used to finance cash transfers to the citizens and generous unemployment benefits. All this adds to inflationary pressures.

Implications for Gold

What does all this mean for the gold market? Well, slower economic growth and higher inflation due to the spread of the Delta variant are good news for gold. It brings us closer to a stagflationary environment, which should be welcomed by the yellow metal. Although gold doesn’t always protect against inflation, it served as a good inflation hedge during the 1970s, so we could reasonably expect similar performance during the potential 2020s stagflation.

Unfortunately, there is one big scratch in this picture: the Fed’s tapering of quantitative easing. More persistent inflation could mobilize inflation hawks to tighten monetary policy in a more rushed manner. As a result, the bond yields could increase, especially given that they are at very low levels, creating downward pressure on gold prices.

Luckily, history teaches us that bond yields can increase in tandem with gold prices. As the chart below shows, this is what happened in the 1970s. After all, what really counts for the gold market is real interest rates, and they could stay at an ultra-low level or even decline further if inflation surges.

Last but not least, the Delta variant is also likely to hamper economic growth. So, the Fed could actually become more dovish and postpone the end of its asset purchases, especially given that it has already expressed some concerns about the Delta spread. So, although the price of gold could decline further amid potential normalization in interest rates, inflation risk should provide some support or even materialize, pushing inflation itself higher.

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!

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

 

Fed to Taper This Year – What Are the Odds?

Yesterday, the FOMC published minutes from its last meeting in July. The publication is rather hawkish, as it shows growing appetite among the Fed officials for tapering the quantitative easing as early as this year:

Looking ahead, most participants noted that, provided that the economy were to evolve broadly as they anticipated, they judged that it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year because they saw the Committee’s “substantial further progress” criterion as satisfied with respect to the price-stability goal and as close to being satisfied with respect to the maximum-employment goal.

The discussion about the tapering of the Fed’s asset purchases must have been the key point of July’s FOMC meeting, as it was reiterated later in the minutes with a similar conclusion:

Most participants anticipated that the economy would continue to make progress toward those goals and, provided that the economy evolved broadly as they anticipated, they judged that the standard set out in the Committee’s guidance regarding asset purchases could be reached this year.

Additionally, starting tapering sooner rather than later has several advantages, as it would help to manage the upward risk of the inflation outlook, giving the Fed the opportunity to hike the federal funds rate sooner, if needed. It would also allow the US central bank of a more gradual pace of tapering, reducing the risk of the taper tantrum:

Several participants noted that an earlier start to tapering could be accompanied by more gradual reductions in the purchase pace and that such a combination could mitigate the risk of an excessive tightening in financial conditions in response to a tapering announcement (…)

Some participants suggested that it would be prudent for the Committee to prepare for starting to reduce its pace of asset purchases relatively soon, in light of the risk that the recent high inflation readings could prove to be more persistent than they had anticipated and because an earlier start to reducing asset purchases would most likely enable additions to securities holdings to be concluded before the Committee judged it appropriate to raise the federal funds rate.

What’s more, although FOMC participants decided that the economy had not yet achieved the Committee’s broad-based and inclusive maximum-employment goal, a majority of them stated that most of the negative factors which weighed on the employment growth would ease in the coming months, warranting the start of the tapering.

Last but not least, the Fed seemed to become more hawkish on inflation. The staff considered the risks of the inflation projection to be tilted to the upside, while FOMC members started to see it as potentially more persistent than previously believed:

Looking ahead, while participants generally expected inflation pressures to ease as the effect of these transitory factors dissipated, several participants remarked that larger-than-anticipated supply chain disruptions and increases in input costs could sustain upward pressure on prices into 2022.

It seems that someone at the Fed has finally noted that inflation had jumped above 5%, as the chart below shows!

Of course, there were also dovish parts, in particular related to the possibility that the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus would hamper the economic growth, or that the slack in the labor market could be greater than commonly believed. Thus, several participants emphasized that the Fed should be patient with tapering and that it would be better to start it early next year:

Several others indicated, however, that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases was more likely to become appropriate early next year because they saw prevailing conditions in the labor market as not being close to meeting the Committee’s “substantial further progress” standard or because of uncertainty about the degree of progress toward the price-stability goal (…) Those participants stressed that the Committee should be patient in assessing progress toward its goals and in announcing changes to its plans on asset purchases

Implications for Gold

What do the recent FOMC minutes imply for the gold market? Well, they came in, on balance, hawkish, so they should be negative for the yellow metal. However, the initial reaction was bullish. Perhaps investors were afraid that the minutes would be even more hawkish. The decline in equities could also fuel some safe-haven demand for gold. It’s worth noting that the reaction was rather muted, as the publication didn’t offer any groundbreaking revelations. It seems that next week’s annual Jackson Hole conference could provide more clues about the future US monetary policy.

Having said that, the minutes clearly show that tapering is coming. The Fed could announce it as early as in September, as Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan prefers, and start it later this year. So, precious metals investors should brace for the inevitable. Luckily, the Fed’s tightening cycle is largely priced in, but any unexpected acceleration in the pace of the monetary policy normalization could rattle 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!

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

 

Gold Rallies on Softening Inflation. What’s Going On?

Inflation eased a bit in July, but it remained disturbingly high. According to the latest BLS report on inflation, the CPI increased 0.5% in July after rising 0.9% in June. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy, also softened, as it rose 0.3% in July after increasing 0.9% in June. The deceleration was mainly caused by a much smaller advance in the index for used cars, which increased only 0.2% (it was 10.5% in June).

However, on an annual basis, inflation practically stayed unchanged since June, as the chart below shows. The overall index surged 5.4% for the second month in a row (on a seasonally unadjusted basis), while the core CPI soared 4.3%, following a 4.5% jump in the previous month.

So, at first glance, it seems that inflation has peaked. This might be true, but please notice that it remained disturbingly high despite the deceleration in several subindexes, including the index for used cars. I dread to think what would be if these categories didn’t moderate!

What’s more, the producer price index for final demand rose 1% in July (MoM) and 7.8% over the past 12 months, as one can see in the chart below. It was the largest advance since the 12-month data was first calculated in November 2010. Part of this increase could be passed on to consumers later, as companies have recently gained more ability to lift prices seeing weak resistance to price increases.

Additionally, the index for shelter – the biggest component of the CPI, not hit by the pandemic as strongly as restaurants and hotels industries – has been rising gradually since February 2021, and it has accelerated to 2.8% in July. Last but not least, the US Senate passed Biden’s infrastructure plan, which could also add something to the inflationary pressure by an increase in the money supply. All these developments suggest that inflation isn’t going away just yet.

Implications for Gold

What does the recent inflation report imply for the gold market? Well, theoretically, softer inflation should be negative for gold, which is seen as an inflation hedge and which historically shined during periods of high and accelerating inflation.

However, as the chart below shows, the price of gold has rebounded somewhat from last week’s low, gaining about $50 from Tuesday to Friday. It seems that steady (and partially below expectations) inflation gives the Fed room to maintain its ultra-dovish monetary policy. Indeed, according to the CME FedWatch Tool, the expectations for the Fed’s tightening cycle have diminished slightly from the previous week, which supported gold prices.

However, a bullish hurray might be premature. Inflation is still high and significantly above the Fed’s target. Inflation expectations remain elevated, and some measures even increased slightly in July. Unfortunately, markets seem not to worry significantly about inflation any longer, and the stock market continues its rally.

Even if inflation really softens later this year, which is likely given that some supply disruptions will probably resolve, it shouldn’t suddenly dive below 2%. So, the July report shouldn’t materially change the Fed’s stance, especially that the US central bank focuses more on the labor market now. Hence, gold investors should brace themselves for the upcoming tapering of quantitative easing.

However, just as day comes after night, upward waves come after bearish trends. The most likely macroeconomic scenario is that inflation will remain high, while the economic growth will slow down, which means stagflation. Indeed, the downward trend in the bond yields – despite high inflation – could signal weak growth, requiring dovish monetary policies. If history is any guide, gold will shine during stagflation.

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!

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

 

August Starts Illy for Gold. Could September Change Anything?

Following three previous reports, the WGC revealed two more interesting publications at the turn of July and August. The first one is the report about gold demand trends in Q2 2021. As we can read, the demand for gold was virtually flat in Q2 (y-o-y), but in the first half of the year it decreased 10.4%. Importantly, there were modest inflows into gold ETFs in Q2 and also in July, but they only partially offset the huge outflows of the previous quarter. Hence, investors’ sentiment turned more positive in the second quarter, which helped gold prices rebound somewhat after Q1.

Indeed, as the chart below shows, the price of gold plunged 10% in Q1 2021. Then, it rebounded 4.3% in the second quarter, but it was not enough to offset the blow from the first three months of the year. In July, the price of gold jumped 3.6%, although it retraced most of that increase in August (it decreased 2.1% in a single day – Aug. 6). So, gold prices declined more than 6% year-to-date.

Unfortunately, there is potential for further declines. After strong July’s nonfarm payrolls, the Fed has no excuses not to start tapering of its quantitative easing. What’s more, the current levels of the real interest rates are very low, so they are likely to normalize somewhat later this year.

The second WGC publication is the newest edition of the Gold Market Commentary entitled Equity yields support gold as investors position for historical September strength. The main thesis of the article is that “August could be the opportune time to position for the historically strong September gold performance”. Well, given last week’s plunge in gold prices, this suggestion looks rather amusing, but who knows? There is plenty of time until September, which is historically quite positive for gold.

The justification for this thesis is two-fold. First, central banks focus now more on employment than inflation, which could prolong tapering activity. It’s true that the upcoming Fed’s tightening cycle will be very gradual, and the Fed’s balance sheet (as well as the federal funds rate) won’t probably return to the pre-pandemic levels. However, it’s also true that the Fed has already started the tapering clock and will likely tighten its monetary policy somewhat this year. This is what the markets are pricing in, and such expectations boost the real interest rates and create downward pressure on gold prices.

Second, the S&P 500’s real yield (i.e., companies’ earnings yield plus the dividend yield minus inflation) has turned negative, which reduces the opportunity costs of holding gold. Well, the equity market looks overbought, but with low interest rates, high inflation and the Fed always ready to reach out a helping hand, investors may continue to flow into this market.

Implications for Gold

What can we learn from the recent World Gold Council reports? Well, just like the WGC, I’m bullish on gold in the long run, but I’m more bearish in the shorter timeframe. In other words, I believe that gold may go down first before it rallies again. September is a historically good month for gold, but this year it might also be the month when the Fed announces the start of the tapering of its asset purchases. The hawkish Fed would push bond yields higher and strengthen the dollar, sending the price of the yellow metal down in the short-to-medium term.

Luckily, an abrupt taper tantrum similar to the one from 2013 is not likely to happen again. Moreover, a bit later either the post-tightening recession or inflation running out of control could make gold shine again. After all, inflation is well above the Fed’s target, while the real yields will likely remain negative for a long period. These factors should provide support for gold over a longer horizon, but investors shouldn’t downplay the upcoming tightening cycle and rising interest rates.

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!

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

 

The Newest Nonfarm Payrolls Crushed Gold Like a Sandcastle

Another blow to gold! July’s nonfarm payrolls came in strong. As the chart below shows, the US labor market added 943,000 jobs last month, following 938,000 additions in June (after an upward revision). More than one-third of all gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, reflecting the economy’s reopening after the Great Lockdown.

What’s more, the nonfarm payrolls surprised the markets on the positive side. The economists surveyed by MarketWatch forecasted “only” 845,000 gains. Additionally, the employment in May and June combined was 119,000 higher than previously predicted. Another positive revelation was the decline in the unemployment rate from 5.9% to 5.4% – a much lower level than it was expected (5.7%), as the chart above shows.

Although the number of employed people is still down by 5.7 million from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020, it’s much higher than in April 2020 (by 16.7 million) – a clear sign that the US labor market is recovering from the last year’s recession and heading into full employment.

Importantly, the July nonfarm payrolls came in one week after the strong advance estimate of the US GDP in Q2 2021. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the real GDP increased 12.2% year-over-year (or 1.59% quarter-to-quarter or 6.5% at an annual rate). As the chart below shows, it was the quickest pace of economic growth since the fourth quarter of 1950. Of course, the number results from a very low base last year, but it doesn’t change the fact that the economy has strengthened recently.

Implications for Gold

What does the recent employment report imply for the gold market? Well, in the last Fundamental Gold Report, I pointed out that the Fed started the countdown to the tapering of its quantitative easing and would announce it later this year:

The tapering clock is ticking. In June, the Fed started talking about tapering, while last month it noted that some progress has been made towards its goals. It’s likely that within a few months mere progress will transform into substantial progress, especially given that the job gains in July were strong and above the forecasts. With further improvements in the labor market, the expectations of a more hawkish Fed should strengthen, exerting downward pressure on the gold prices.

The latest surprisingly strong nonfarm payrolls bring us closer to the beginning of the Fed’s tightening cycle. You see, the thing the Fed lacked to recognize “substantial progress” towards its goal of maximum employment was a few strong employment reports. Last month, the US economy added almost 1 million jobs, which significantly reduced the slack in the labor market.

If August turns out to be similarly strong, the FOMC could announce the start of the tapering of its asset purchases in September. Actually, some analysts believe that Powell could signal it in his speech in Jackson Hole at the end of August.

So, in line with my previous commentary, the strong nonfarm payrolls lifted the expected path of the federal funds rate, sending gold prices much lower. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, the odds of an interest rate hike in December 2022 increased after the publication of the employment report from 58.8% to 66.2%. As a result, the price of gold plunged from around $1,800 to $1,760, as the chart below shows.

Unfortunately, gold has further room to continue its slide. Each positive economic news or any hawkish signal from the Fed (e.g., Richard Clarida, Fed Vice Chair, expressed his belief last week that “necessary conditions for raising the target range for the federal funds rate will have been met by year-end 2022”) could add to the expectations of higher interest rates and to the downward pressure on the yellow metal.

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!

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

 

Will the Fed Bring Gold to the Bottom?

Something interesting is happening in the financial markets. As you probably know, the Fed’s reverse repurchase operations have been increasing recently. At the very end of June, their volume almost reached one trillion dollars ($991.9 billion)! It’s a record high, as the chart below shows.

Oh boy, what a spike! What does it mean? Well, when the Fed purchases assets, it injects liquidity into the markets. On the contrary, when the US central bank engages in reverse repurchase operations, it drains liquidity from the markets. This is because reverse repurchase agreements are purchases of securities with the agreement to sell them at a higher price at a specific future date – of course, we refer here to buying and selling from the point of view of financial institutions. They are purchasing assets from the Fed to resell them later, so they basically lend some money to the US central bank.

In other words, the record high volume of repos means that financial institutions pour cash into the Fed like mad. We could say that there is an excessive liquidity problem in the financial markets, so commercial banks and other institutions deposit abundant cash at the Fed (you can think of reverse repos as short-term loans).

So, we have a somewhat paradoxical situation. The Fed is still purchasing assets under its quantitative easing program, injecting liquidity into the financial sphere. However, market participants don’t need this liquidity, so they buy back some assets from the Fed in the form of reverse repo operations. Given that the Fed buys about $120 billion per month in Treasuries and MBS, the reverse repos have already undone more than eight months of QE!

Part of the problem here is the crazy world of negative real interest rates. In such an environment, commercial banks prefer safe, close-to-zero interest rates from the Fed to risking anything in the market. In other words, the bond yields are so low that banks don’t want to deploy funds productively but prefer to hold them safely at the Fed. Such behavior is completely understandable in the world of negative yields, but it will lead to sluggish investment and economic growth. Well, abundant liquidity that becomes a hot potato, as well as slow real growth, sound like positive factors for gold, which likes stagflation-like conditions.

However, the reverse repos are strictly linked to the Fed’s plan to normalize its monetary policy at some point in the future. But hiking the federal funds rate is not simple with such a mammoth balance sheet. You see, the Fed’s balance sheet is simply too big. As the chart below shows, the US central bank’s assets amount to above $8 trillion.

Such a giant balance sheet creates downward pressure on the interest rates. If left alone, they could even drop below zero. This is why the Fed started the overnight repurchase operations – to drain some excessive liquidity from the markets in order to regain control over the interest rates. So, the current developments in the repo market are a strong signal that the Fed is preparing for raising the interest rates. Actually, the Fed has already lifted its repo rate from 0% to 0.05%, allegedly as a technical adjustment. This is a fundamentally negative factor for the gold market.

Nonetheless, gold bulls may find comfort in the fact that it’s not easy to return to normalcy. Remember the Fed’s previous attempt to normalize its monetary policy? The US central bank had to reverse its course in 2019, just two years after starting the balance sheet’s reduction. It turned out that quantitative tightening was too harsh for fragile financial markets, and the Fed had to pump liquidity again (in the form of repo operations), as well as cut the interest rates – even before the pandemic and the following economic crisis started. Similarly, by paying trillions in reverse repos at 0.05% now, the Fed makes them more attractive, planting the seeds of the next liquidity crisis.

In other words, the Fed’s tightening cycle practically always ended up in a recession. Moreover, there were many indicators that the recession would take place in 2020 or 2021 anyway, even without the coronavirus and the Great Lockdown. So, this time won’t be different. Well, actually, it could be different –in such a way that the next recession will be accompanied by higher inflation. If stagflation really occurs, gold will shine as it did in the 1970s.

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

 

Allocation to Gold Is Set to Rise. How Will Prices Respond?

In July the WGC published three interesting reports. The first one, Rethink, Rebalance, Reset: Institutional Portfolio Strategies for the Post-Pandemic Period, is an interesting survey of 500 institutional investors around the world ran by Greenwich Associates between October 2020 and January 2021. The study investigated investors about portfolios, allocations and views on various markets, gold, and other individual asset classes.

The main result of the survey is that institutional allocations to gold are expected to increase over the next three years. To be more specific, the study finds that, currently, only 20% of institutions have an allocation to gold in their portfolios, which amounts to 4% of their portfolios, on average. However:

Almost 40% of current gold investors expect to increase their allocations in the next three years, and about 40% of institutional investors who do not have gold exposure but have a target or have considered it, plan to make an investment in that time frame.

The growing allocation to gold partially reflects rising concern about inflation and a search for inflation-protection assets. According to the WGC, gold performs well in periods of high inflation: in the years when the US CPI annual rates were higher than 3%, gold prices rose 15%, on average. My own research shows that gold doesn’t protect against low inflation readings; it hedges only against high and accelerating inflation.

However, the study suggests that institutional investors have a broader view of gold than just as an inflation hedge. Actually, portfolio diversification tops inflation-hedging as the major role gold plays in the portfolios. After all, market downturns often boost demand for gold, as the yellow metal has a negative correlation to risk assets, which often increases when these assets sell off. Also, institutions use gold for long-term risk-adjusted return enhancement, especially in the environment of negative interest rates.

Importantly, gold may be useful not only for commercial financial institutions but also for the central banks. The second recent WGC report, “Monetary gold and central bank capital“, discusses the vulnerabilities specific to central bank balance sheets and discusses how gold holdings can mitigate the risks posed. The publication points out that gold provides central banks with extra protection, as it mitigates the risk of asset losses. In particular, gold offsets gains and losses in the US dollar held as a reserve by central banks all around the world:

Gold can play a role as a counter-cyclical hedge to USD exposure because, as the dollar weakens, gold strengthens. Hence, revaluation gains on a central bank’s gold portfolio should offset losses suffered on its USD portfolio and help to maintain its core equity.

The last report is “Gold mid-year outlook 2021: Creating opportunities from risks.” The main thesis is that the negative impact of higher bond yields would likely be offset by inflation and stronger demand for gold as a portfolio-diversification in an environment of ultra-low real interest rates and strong risk-taking.

The WGC’s thesis corresponds with my observation that gold is at a crossroads of a more hawkish Fed and higher inflation (I will elaborate on this in the upcoming edition of the Gold Market Overview). The report rightly states that gold’s performance in H1 2021 was driven primarily by higher interest rates, which could continue to create headwinds for the yellow metal in the second half of the year.

However, the WGC believes that the Fed will be cautious with its tightening cycle. Although that may be true, gold is likely to struggle during the period of strengthening expectations of quantitative tightening and rising interest rates.

Implications for Gold

What can we learn from the recent WGC reports? Well, I believe that the most important information is that the institutional allocation to gold is going to increase in the upcoming years. Given that investment demand for gold is the most important driver of its price, this is positive news for gold bulls.

The survey results should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but the recent ETF flows confirm that there is still significant interest in gold. In June, the inflows to gold ETFs slowed down, as the chart below shows, but remained positive (+2.9 tons) despite the plunge in gold prices.

According to the WGC, this adjustment suggests that “investors may have taken advantage of the lower price level to gain long gold exposure”. In other words, gold could decline even more, but inflation concerns provided some support. What’s important, the recent dynamics of the ETFs flows don’t look as bad as in 2013 (at least not yet) when gold definitely sank into the bear market. So, although ETFs flows don’t necessarily drive the gold prices, there is a hope that the upcoming Fed’s tightening cycle will be less harmful to gold than the infamous 2013 taper tantrum.

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!

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

 

Gold at a Crossroads of Hawkish Fed and High Inflation

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, a bull market from a bear market? It’s not so easy, as gold seems to be at a crossroads. On the one hand, accelerating inflation should take gold higher, especially that the real interest rates stay well below zero. On the other hand, a hawkish Fed should send the yellow metal lower, as it would boost the expectations of higher bond yields. The Fed’s tightening cycle increases the interest rates and strengthens the US dollar, creating downward pressure on gold.

However, gold is neither soaring nor plunging. Instead, it seems to be in a sideways trend. Indeed, as the chart below shows, gold has been moving in a trading zone of $1,700-$1,900 since September 2020.

Now, the obvious question is: what’s next? Are we observing a bearish correction within the bull market that started in late 2018? Or did the pandemic and the following economic crisis interrupt the bear market that begun in 2011? Could a new one have started in August 2020? Or maybe gold has returned to its sideways trend from 2017-2018, with the trading corridor simply situated higher?

Oh boy, if I had the answers to all the wise questions that I’m asking! You see, the problem is that the coronavirus crisis was a very special recession – it was very deep but also very short. So, all the golden trends and cycles have intensified and shortened. What used to be years before the epidemic, took months this time. Welcome to a condensed gold market!

Hence, I would say that the peak of July 2021 marked the end of the bull market which started at the end of 2018, and triggered a new bear market, as traders decided that the vaccines would save the economy and the worst was behind the globe. This is, of course, bad news for all investors with long positions.

I didn’t call the bear market earlier, as the combination of higher inflation and a dovish Fed was a strong bullish argument. However, the June FOMC meeting and its dot-plot marked a turning point for the US monetary policy. The Fed officials started talking about tapering, divorcing from its extraordinary pandemic stance.

So, I’ve become more bearish in the short-to-medium term than I was previously. After all, gold doesn’t like the expectations of tapering quantitative easing and rising federal funds rate. The taper tantrum of 2013 made gold plunge.

Nonetheless, the exact replay of the taper tantrum is not likely. The Fed is much more cautious, with a stronger dovish bias and better communication with the markets. The quantitative tightening will be more gradual and better announced. So, gold may not slide as abruptly as in 2013.

Another reason for not being a radical pessimist is the prospects of higher inflation. After all, inflation is a monetary phenomenon that occurs when too much money is chasing too few goods – and the recent rate of growth of the broad money supply was much higher than the pace needed to reach the Fed’s 2% target. The inflationary worries should provide some support for gold prices. What gold desperately needs here is inflation psychology. So far, we have high inflation, but markets remain calm. However, when higher inflation expectations set in, gold may shine thanks to the abovementioned worries about inflation’s impact on the economy – and, thanks to stronger demand for inflation hedges.

In other words, gold is not plunging because the Fed is not hawkish enough, and it’s not rallying because inflation is not disruptive enough. Now, the key point is that it’s more likely that we will see a more hawkish Fed (and rising interest rates) sooner than stagflation. As the chart below shows, the real interest rates haven’t yet started to normalize. When they do, gold will suffer (although it might not be hit as severely as in April 2013).

Therefore, gold may decline shortly when the US central bank tapers its asset purchases (and the bond yields increase) while the first bout of inflation softens. But later, gold may rise due to the negative effects of rising interest rates and the second wave of higher inflation.

In other words, right now, the real economy is thriving, so inflation is not seen as a major problem, as it is accompanied by fast GDP growth. However, the economy will slow down at some point in the future (partially because of higher inflation) – and then we will be moving towards stagflation, gold’s favorite macroeconomic environment.

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 a 7-day no-obligation trial for all our premium gold services, including our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts. Sign up today!

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

 

Behavior of Inflation and Bond Yields Seems… Contradictory

The markets hide many mysteries. One of them is the recent slide in the long-term bond yields. As the chart below shows, both the nominal interest rates and the real interest rates have been in a downside trend since March (with a short-lived rebound in June). Indeed, the 10-year Treasury yield reached almost 1.75% at the end of March, and by July it decreased to about 1.25%, while the inflation-adjusted yield dropped from -0.63% to about -1%.

What’s intriguing, this drop happened despite the surge in inflation. As you can see in the chart below, the seasonally adjusted annual CPI inflation rate surged to 5.3% in June, the highest level since the Great Recession. Even as inflation soared, the bond yields declined.

Why is that? Are bond traders blind? Don’t they see that the real interest rates are deeply negative? Indeed, the TIPS yields are the lowest in the history of the series (which began in 2003), while the difference between the nominal 10-year Treasury yields and the CPI annual rates is the lowest since June 1980, as the chart below shows.

The pundits say that the decline in the bond yields suggests that inflation will only be temporary and there is nothing to worry about. This is what the central bankers repeat and what investors believe. However, history teaches us that the bond market often lags behind inflation, allowing the real interest rates to plunge. This happened, for example, in the 1970s (see the chart above), when the bond market was clearly surprised by stagflation.

Another issue here is that the central banks heavily influence the bond markets through manipulation of interest rates and quantitative easing, preventing them from properly reacting to inflation. Actually, some analysts say that the bond market is the most manipulated market in the world. So, it doesn’t have to predict inflation properly.

Implications for Gold

What does the divergence between the bond yields and inflation imply for gold? Well, as an economist, I’m tempted to say “it depends”. You see, if inflation is really temporary, it will start declining later this year, making the real interest rates rise. In that case, gold would suffer (unless inflation decreases together with the pace of economic growth).

It might also be the case that the divergence will narrow as a result of the increase in the nominal interest rates. Such a move would boost the real interest rates and create downward pressure on gold.

However, if inflation turns out to be more persistent than expected, investors will fear an inflation tail risk, and they will be more eager to buy gold as an inflation hedge. As I’ve explained, the decline in the bond yields doesn’t have to mean low inflation expectations. It may also indicate expectations of slower economic growth. Combined with high inflation, it would imply stagflation, a pleasant environment for gold.

Another bullish argument for gold is the observation that the price of gold has recently lagged the drop in the real interest rates, as the chart below shows. So, it might be somewhat undervalued from the fundamental point of view.

However, given the upcoming Fed’s tightening cycle and the record low level of real interest rates, I would bet that the above-mentioned rates will increase later this year, which should send gold prices lower. But if they rise too much, it could make the markets worry about excessive indebtedness and release some recessionary forces. Then, the current reflation could transform into stagflation, making gold shine. So, gold could decline before it rallies again.

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!

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