From Morgan Stanley's Peter Richardson, who has just become one of the bigger gold/silver/platinum/palladium/platinum/rhodium bulls.
- Identified and implied investment demand has increasingly become the main driver of demand in the gold market. Since 2002, investment demand as a percentage of total demand has increased from 14% to 41.4% in 2009. We expect these percentages to rise further, to 46.9% in 2010 and 48.9% in 2011. In Q2 2010 alone, investors bought 274t of gold via exchange traded funds (ETFs).
- This development is predominantly a measure of fear regarding the purchasing power of the world’s major fiat currencies, especially the US dollar and the Japanese yen. In our view, investors have become increasingly concerned about the risk of a protracted period of deflation and low growth in the developed world. This has raised demand for investments that retain real purchasing power in a period of falling prices and weak demand.
- However, judging by the flood of money into inflation-adjusted government bonds as well as gold, investors are also worried about future inflation. This paradoxical fear of current deflation and future inflation has its roots in the anticipated policy response to the current US, Japanese and European growth environment. Most notably, gold investors are concerned about renewed quantitative easing (QE) and an anticipated expansion in liquidity and currency devaluation that is also viewed as potentially inflationary, fuelling the demand for real assets that preserve purchasing power.
- Gold has been a particular beneficiary of this safe-haven demand since the US FOMC alluded to the possibility of renewed QE in the minutes of its September 2010 meeting. However, this allusion also coincided with resurgent fears over the European sovereign debt crisis following news of higher bank bailout costs in Ireland, rating downgrades in Spain, and concerns regarding capital adequacy of European banks following the publication of Basel III guidelines.
- In addition, despite these resurgent fears over European sovereign debt and the health of some European banks, European central bank net sales of gold actually fell in the first year of the third Central Bank Agreement on Gold, to only 6.2t. Given purchases by non-European central banks, the official sector is likely to be a net buyer of gold in 2010, and net selling will probably be smaller than previously anticipated.
- As a result, we have raised our 2011 gold price forecast in our base case by 14.3%, to an average US$1,315/oz, and in our bull case, which anticipates a more aggressive level of dollar weakness and a protracted period of negative real interest rates, we have raised our price forecast to US$1,512/oz from US$1,380/oz.