Despite Inflation, Gold Has Been on a Bumpy Road
Gold is among the first assets that come to mind when investors look to hedge against inflation. The U.S. and other nations are now experiencing the highest levels of inflation in forty years. As consumer prices continue to increase, gold, in all of its investible forms, has been trading down or sideways at best. Will its value pick up and catch up, or has it lost its shine as an inflation hedge?
Up is Down
In any market, the economic inputs impacting prices are many. One overriding factor that has been keeping gold prices at bay is inflation expectations. That’s right; it sounds counter-intuitive, but up is now down, and down is now up in the markets as investors look several steps out to determine their expectations. In this case, the steps follow this path:
Inflation >> Raising Rates >> Slower Economic Growth >> Recession = Low Inflation
Even during the weeks when the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy making board, the FOMC, meets and is universally expected to raise interest rates, longer rates on the treasury curve trade lower, not up. The markets are being very forward-looking and are more concerned with recession than inflation. I suspect this confounds the Fed’s efforts to slow growth and price pressures via rate increases that are being undermined by recession fears.
Gold is not seeing investors increasing their allocation of bullion, gold certificates, ETFs, gold mining companies, or any other assets linked to the price of gold, in large part because markets view the Fed as on a path to wipe out the economy and inflation. This was apparent last week as so-called meme stock AMC Theaters (AMC) shared a positive event related to their gold holdings, the stock traded down.
Outside of the U.S., expectations for a deep or deeper recession are growing. This week the German central bank (Bundesbank) said “There are mounting signs of a recession in the German economy in the sense of a clear broad-based and prolonged decline in economic output. This drives investment in the stronger U.S. economy.
In addition to viewing inflation as a reason for rates to be brought down, global unrest and the U.S. central bank being perceived as tightening the most aggressively among trading partners has brought consistent strength to the U.S. dollar. When the performance of dollars and gold are viewed side by side, it hasn’t made sense to exchange the U.S. currency for gold. So in effect, gold which is often viewed as a currency is not competing well with greenbacks.
Inflation has been rising. And not just in supply chain-related industries, in services as well. The Federal Reserve’s resolve to bring it down by increasing rates in the U.S. is attracting capital from overseas which has been keeping the dollar strong and as a perceived better alternatve to gold.
While gold prices are historically a beneficiary of higher inflation growth, the expectation that the Fed may quickly overshoot and cause a recession which could halt the run-away prices is winning the price tug-of-war with gold buyer enthusiasm.
Paul Hoffman Managing Editor, Channelchek