Predictions for 2014 from a cold war spy
Paper gold in the developed world may trade based on the whims of marginal momentum chasers, and of course, the daytrading mood of the BIS gold and FX trading desk, but when it comes to physical gold and China's appetite for it, one word explains it best: unstoppable.
Historical data tells us that the unemployment falls when the confidence ratio is high. Now, there are three ways for a government to increase that confidence ratio: 1) increase debt; 2) sell off gold; and/or 3) pray for the price of gold to fall (obviously in a non-manipulative manner that doesn't direct profits to favoured entities). The fall in confidence that we observed in the latter half of the last decade was entirely due to the rising price of gold. Look at what that did to the unemployment rate! Clearly the fault of gold-bugs and conspiracy theorists. The rising price of gold completely overrode the excellent work of the Government in driving up the country's debt.
In 1933, FDR confiscated the gold of Americans. This common telling portrays it as a simple case of robbery. It makes people wonder if 1933 is a precedent. I don’t think it is so simple.
One of the most published academics on gold in the world is Dr Brian Lucey of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and he and another academic who has frequently covered the gold market, Dr Constantin Gurdgiev have just this week had an excellent research paper on gold published.
They have researched the gold market, along with Dr Cetin Ciner of the University of North Carolina and their paper, ‘Hedges and safe havens: An examination of stocks, bonds, gold, oil and exchange rates’ finds that gold is a hedge against US dollar and British pound risk due to “its monetary asset role.”
“Is the gold market manipulated?” This is one of those extremely dodgy questions that has left both investors and economists very divided. By arguing whether or not gold manipulation exists, we may find that we are wasting our brain cells on the question. A better question, and one that we might choose to monitor on a regular basis, might be, “To what degree is successful manipulation taking place?” We might then use the on-going answer as a guide, to inform our reasoning going forward, as to what impact any perceived manipulation is likely to have with regard to our precious metals investment.
In the classic fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride, the beautiful maid Buttercup orders the farm boy Westley to perform numerous tasks to test his servitude. No matter the magnitude of the request, Westley simply answers "As you wish" and makes it so. Buttercup eventually comes to view Wesley with similar devotion, and true love is born. Similarly, investors have fallen back in love with the capital markets, whose continual response their increasingly irrational hopes has been "As you wish." It's inconceivable!
In principle, holding gold is a form of insurance against war, financial Armageddon, and wholesale currency debasement. And, from the onset of the global financial crisis, the price of gold has often been portrayed as a barometer of global economic insecurity. In fact, the case for or against gold has not changed all that much since 2010 - it makes perfect sense to hold a small percentage of your assets in gold as a hedge against extreme events. As Ken Rogoff explains, the recent collapse of gold prices has not really changed the case for investing in it one way or the other. Yes, prices could easily fall below $1,000; but, then again, they might rise; but he warns, policymakers should be cautious in interpreting the plunge in gold prices as a vote of confidence in their performance.
Citi's FX Technicals group is biased to believe that the low in this correction may have been posted for Gold. Here's why...
The price of gold fell last week to the $1,200 level. The lemming sentiment in capital markets is uniformly bearish, yet every price-drop brings forth hungry buyers for physical gold from all over the world. Even hard-bitten gold bugs in the West are shaken and frightened to call a bottom, yet it is these conditions that accompany a selling climax. This article concludes there is a high possibility that gold will go sharply higher from here. There are three loose ends to consider: valuation, economic and market fundamentals.
Barry Ritholtz is convinced that once the current short-term bounce is over with, the recent cyclical bear market in gold will resume. The reality is of course that neither Mr. Ritholtz, nor anyone else actually knows the future. Therefore, he cannot know whether the bear market is or isn't over. However, judging from the remainder of his post, he actually seems to think that the secular bull market in gold is over. In our opinion there is no evidence for that, and we will explain below why we think that he and others in the long term bear camp are wrong. Further below is the evidence marshaled by Mr. Ritholtz (actually, apart from the technical analysis he provides, it isn't really evidence at all – it reads like an unsupported opinion). Sure enough, gold has no yield, no conference calls, and no income statements (paraphrasing Jim Grant). That is actually the beauty of it. But that does not mean it 'has no fundamentals', nor does it means that it 'cannot be an investment'. We comment on his article (and its errors) further below.
The New York Times had the definitive take on the vicious sell off in gold. The analysis provides a good representation of the current conventional wisdom. The only twist here is that the article from which this summary is derived appeared in the August 29, 1976 edition of The New York Times. At that time gold was preparing to embark on an historic rally that would push it up more than 700% a little over three years later. Is it possible that the history is about to repeat itself?
James Steel, chief commodities analyst at HSBC in New York continues to be constructive on gold in the medium and long term and sees gold rising to $1,600/oz in the second half of 2013.
Earlier this month, in an article for “Project Syndicate” famous American economist Nouriel Roubini joined the chorus of those who declare that the multi-year run up in the gold price was just an almighty bubble, that that bubble has now popped and that it will continue to deflate. Gold is now in a bear market, a multi-year bear market, and Roubini gives six reasons (he himself helpfully counts them down for us) for why gold is a bad investment. His arguments for a continued bear market in gold range from the indisputably accurate to the questionable and contradictory to the simply false and outright bizarre. But what is most worrying, and most disturbing, is Roubini’s pathetic attempt to label gold bugs political extremists. It is evident from Roubini’s essay that he not only considers the gold bugs to be wrong and foolish, they also annoy him profoundly. They anger him. Why? – Because he thinks they also have a “political agenda”. Gold bugs are destructive. They are misguided and even dangerous people.