Gold price explodes, Fed loses market confidence

Gold price explodes, Fed loses market confidence
Gold price explodes, Fed loses market confidence

“This year, despite many signs of resistant inflation, the American central bank is implementing a dovish monetary policy, which leads to growing market skepticism and this could significantly support the growth of the gold price. It is therefore possible that the American Fed is losing credibility,” says BHS analyst Timur Barotov.

Around October 2022, a bullish trend started for gold after a sharp decline in the same year due to rising interest rates from the US Central Bank (Fed). This bullish trend continues to this day and the price of gold has just exploded above the upper edge of the growth channel at USD 2,280 per troy ounce (more than CZK 1,700/gram). What is behind it? Probably 3 factors, central bank purchases, a developing market and the declining credibility of the Fed. By all accounts, it looks like this trend may continue for years to come.

How to perceive gold?

Gold can be seen as two things: a commodity and a currency. Gold is a commodity in the sense of using the metal for industrial purposes, for the production of jewelry, decorations, etc. It is a currency in the sense of a historically reliable store of value. If we stick to the second point of view, then in the modern monetary system the attractiveness of gold is assessed in relation to the real returns of individual currencies, especially the US dollar. The real return on the dollar is determined by the amount of returns on US corporate and government bonds (which are dependent on Fed interest rates) adjusted for inflation. So if the US 10-year Treasury is now yielding 4.2% pa, how can one justify a preference for gold, which has a negative yield over mainstream currencies (investors pay for safety). This can be justified, for example, by the fact that inflationary expectations have risen. Then, in the eyes of gold buyers, the real return on the US dollar is lower and the negative return on gold is milder, so they decide to buy gold. So is the meteoric rise in the price of the yellow metal this year a reflection of higher inflationary expectations?

At BHS, we believe that partly yes. Higher-than-expected US inflation data in January and February and a dovish Fed are factors leading to rising inflation expectations. However, geopolitical disputes and central banks’ purchases of gold at a multiple rate in recent years compared to the pace before the pandemic also play a role. The US dollar is perceived as a riskier currency after the sharp decline in the value of US government bonds in previous years. Central banks are therefore diversifying this risk and very slowly replacing “risk-free” US government bonds with gold. So do the residents of developing countries, who now perceive the US dollar as riskier and the only alternative for them is often gold. The average consumption of the yellow metal is also growing due to the growing wealth of developing countries. In China, however, as a result of poor developments in the capital market and the economy, more and more consumers are seeking refuge in gold, according to a survey by Goldman Sachs.

The Fed is losing credibility

The market is looking at the actions of the US Fed with increasing skepticism after the latest release of the dovish Macroeconomic Forecast (SEP) and the related press conference by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. To the surprise of many market experts, the Fed has so far this year ignored the highly relaxed financial conditions (increasing credit availability, strong stock growth, irrational behavior around tech stocks and cryptocurrencies). In addition, it also refuses to attach importance to slowing goods disinflation and higher-than-expected inflation in the US for the months of January and February. Jerome Powell argues that financial conditions are not loose and inflation may be falling despite the aforementioned, as it was last year. However, the economic recovery, the growing confidence of consumers and entrepreneurs, markets at record highs and now inflation, which is growing above expectations, is making some market participants nervous.

Usually, when the central bank loses credibility, it can be traced, for example, to rising nominal yields of government bonds or inflation-indexed bonds. Although both have been growing at a moderate pace in the United States since the beginning of the year, there has been no significant increase now. However, as we have seen all of last year, the US government is manipulating the bond markets and keeping yields on longer-dated government bonds artificially low. It does this simply by massively issuing bonds with very short maturities, thus reducing the supply of those with longer maturities. So the question is how credible is the development in the bond market now.

However, what is more difficult to manipulate is the gold market. The Fed, and therefore the US government, can issue any amount of bonds at any time and thus affect their yields. But this cannot be done with gold. So is gold ahead and predicting that real yields will fall (either due to high inflation or falling interest rates)? Perhaps a combination of both, if the Fed refuses to push inflation down and starts to loosen monetary policy this year, we think that could lead to a significant increase in inflation. Therefore, a healthy Fed will not make such a decision, and this year we can talk about at most one reduction in interest rates, and that at the end of the year. However, gold is skeptical of the Fed. This is one possible sign of the Fed’s declining credibility. That gold reacts to the Fed could be observed, for example, after Jerome Powell’s last speech (March 20), when gold reacted with a steep rise of up to USD 50 per troy ounce during the day.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Gold price explodes Fed loses market confidence


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