The World Gold Council issued a summary on gold’s price performance in various currencies during the third quarter. The report looks at influences that monetary policies and central bank actions have on gold. Gold’s 11.1% USD/oz return in 3Q was in response to central bank stimulus measures. Volatility decreased and generally correlated with other assets. Central banks announced a continuation of their unconventional monetary policy programmes in Q3 which mainly are used to lower borrowing costs and supporting financial markets.Financial assets have responded to central bank policy announcements, but gold's reaction has been the strongest. There is a consensus that these policies drive investment into gold purely due to inflation-risk impact. The World Gold Council believes that there are not one but four principal factors that provide further support to the investment case for gold: Inflation risk, Medium-term tail-risk from imbalances, Currency debasement and uncertainty, and Low real rates and emerging market real rate differentials.
Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who destroyed the Zim dollar by creating hyperinflation, weighs in on the parallels between QE3 and the policy he followed last decade, in the RBZ’s mid-term 2012 monetary policy statement. Even though Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi and all other central bankers will try to convince you that what they are doing are really different to what Gideon Gono did, you should really be taking Gideon Gono more seriously, who is basically admitting that the money printing strategy does not work to ‘stimulate’ growth. All it can stimulate are high- and hyperinflation risks.
Forget Micro economists.
One way or another, change is coming.
It feels different this time. It also 'looks' different this time in that our 'recovery' just is not bouncing back from its Friedman-ite 'plucked' level to rise phoenix-like back to Potential GDP - as it is 'supposed' to. In an excellent two-part animated series, Stanford's John 'Rule' Taylor and Russ Roberts discuss this recovery's differences along many variables including GDP trend reversion, percent of the population that is working and, economic growth overall. They then go on to discuss potential reasons for this sluggish recovery; the ongoing slump in construction employment, the effect of housing prices on saving and spending decisions by households, and this recovery's having been preceded by a financial crisis. Taylor rejects these arguments, arguing instead that the sluggish recovery can be explained by poor economic policy decisions made by the Bush and the Obama administrations. Simple, clear, 20 minutes of Sunday evening preparation for the week.
A few weeks ago we noted Bundesbank president and ECB governing council member Jens Weidmann's analogy between the Faustian bargain offered by a money-printing Mephistopheles in Goethe's classic prose and today's ubiquitous oh-so-tempting short-term solution to everyone's pain. His full speech (below), while a little dramatic, should indeed strike fear into many with its clarity. The financial power of a central bank is unlimited in principle; it does not have to acquire beforehand the money it lends or uses for payments. Many believe Goethe was portraying the modern economy with its creation of paper money as a continuation of alchemy by other means. While traditional alchemists attempted to turn lead into gold, in the modern economy, paper was made into money. Indeed, the fact that central banks can create money out of thin air, so to speak, is something that many observers are likely to find surprising and strange, perhaps mystical and dreamlike, too – or even nightmarish. Of course, Weidmann concludes, it is important that central bankers, who are in charge of a public good – in this case, stable money – bolster public confidence by explaining their policies. The best protection against temptation in monetary policy is an enlightened and stability-oriented society. [and Gold!]
"Liquidity trap" was a term coined by John Maynard Keynes in the aftermath of the Great Depression. He argued that when yields are low enough, expanding money supply won't stimulate growth because bonds and cash are already near-equivalents when bonds pay (almost) no interest. Some, like Citi's credit strategy team, would say that it is a pretty apt description of the state of play these days. To their minds (and ours), there is very little doubt that central banks have played an absolutely crucial role in propping up asset prices in recent years, Why have markets responded so resolutely when growth hasn't? The answer, we think, is that in their attempts to free markets from the liquidity trap, central banks are ensnaring markets in what we'll call a "liquidity lure". That lure is three pronged... but tail risks are bound to re-appear and from this position, there is no painless escape.
Goldman "Hannibal Lecter" Sachs used to be the visible ringleader of The Gold Cartel. They have since disappeared from the gold price suppression scheme totally, at least as far as this eye can see.
With equities sat the edge of an ugly-looking cliff and precious metals leaking lower, FX markets remain somewhat less shell-shocked (for now). Citi's Steve Englander provides a quick-and-dirty view of the five key issues FX investors are focusing on.
A mere three weeks ago we noted that Tim Geithner is preparing to transition to a Blackrock cubicle...
Geithner Reiterates Refusal to Talk About Monetary Policy. Or which floor of Blackrock his cubicle will be on
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 25, 2012
Today, it seems, the FT has finally got the memo as they note that Mr. Fink (Geithner's new boss?) trumped Mr. Rubin (Geithner's old boss?) as the most frequent 'can-I-phone-a-friend' call - speaking 49 times over 18 months (once every 11 days). We wonder if this is simply a 'rotation' discussion/interview process as Fink transitions to Geithner's little seat at Treasury and Geithner slides into his capacity as official guard of the Blackrock Stapler in the 3rd sub-basement.
One-year "money" is offered at .9750. The .9700 bid is vulnerable. I don't get it.
Economists, market analysts, journalists and investors alike are all talking about it quite openly, generally in a calm and reserved tone that suggests that - to borrow a phrase from Bill Gross – it represents the 'new normal'. Something that simply needs to be acknowledged and analyzed in the same way we e.g. analyze the supply/demand balance of the copper market. It is the new buzzword du jour: 'Financial Repression'. The term certainly sounds ominous, but it is always mentioned in an off-hand manner that seems to say: 'yes, it is bad, but what can you do? We've got to live with it.' But what does it actually mean? The simplest, most encompassing explanation is this: it describes various insidious and underhanded methods by which the State intends to rob its citizens of their wealth and income over the coming years (and perhaps even decades) above and beyond the already onerous burden of taxation and regulatory costs that is crushing them at present. One cannot possibly "print one's way to prosperity". The exact opposite is in fact true: the policy diminishes the economy's ability to generate true wealth. If anything, “we” are printing ourselves into the poorhouse.
It seems our recent re-introduction of the world to Robert Triffin has struck a note among a number of market participants. The gold-convertible U.S. dollar became the global reserve currency under the Bretton Woods monetary system, which lasted from 1944-1971. This arrangement ended because foreign central banks accumulated unsustainably large reserves of U.S. Treasuries, threatening price stability and the purchasing power of the dollar. Today, central banks are once again stockpiling massive Treasury reserves in an attempt to manage their currency values and gain advantages in export markets. We have, effectively, returned to Bretton Woods. The trouble is, as Guggenheim's Scott Minerd notes, that the arrangement is as unsustainable today as it was during the middle of the last century. None of this should come as a surprise given the unorthodox growth of central bank balance sheets around the world. The collapse of Bretton Woods in 1971 caused a decade of economic malaise and negative real returns for financial assets. Can anyone afford to wait to find out whether this time will be different?
Some prefer to see the 'employment' glass half-full, some half-empty, and others see the glass smashed into a million shards on the keynesian kitchen floor. The zealousness with which the 'number' has been dismissed and praised has generated more questions than answers. Goldman's Jan Hatzius addresses the question of the pace of progress in the labor market, the reasons for the contrast between GDP and employment, the amount of slack left, and the implications for Fed policy.