How Strange! Gold Rises on Strong Payrolls!

How Strange! Gold Rises on Strong Payrolls!

US economy added 531,000 jobs in October, surpassing expectations. Gold reacted… in a bullish way, and jumped above $1,800!

The October nonfarm payrolls came surprisingly strong. As the chart below shows, the US labor market added 531,000 jobs last month, much above the expectations (MarketWatch’s analysts forecasted 450,000 added jobs). So, it’s a nice change from the last two disappointing reports. What’s more, the August and September numbers were significantly revised up – by 235,000 combined. Let’s keep in mind that we also have the additions of 1,091,000 in July and 366,000 in August (after an upward revision).

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Additionally, the unemployment rate declined from 4.8% to 4.6%, as the chart above shows. It’s a positive surprise, as economists expected a drop to 4.7%. In absolute terms, the number of unemployed people fell by 255,000 - to 7.4 million. It’s a much lower level compared to the recessionary peak (23.1 million), however, it’s still significantly higher than before the pandemic (5.7 million and the unemployment rate of 3.5%).

Implications for Gold

What does the recent employment report imply for the precious market? Well, gold surprised observers and rallied on Friday despite strong nonfarm payrolls. As the chart below shows, the London P.M. Fix surpassed the key level of $1,800.

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To show gold’s reaction more clearly, let’s take a look at the chart below, which shows that the price of gold futures initially declined after the October Employment Situation Report release. Only after a while, it rebounded and rallied to about $1,820.

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It’s a surprising behavior, as gold usually reacted negatively to strong economic data. Until now, gold liked weak employment reports as they increased the chances of a dovish Fed that would continue its easy monetary policy. Now, something has changed. But what?

Well, some analysts would say that nothing has changed at all. Instead, they would tell us that the latest employment report is not as strong as it seems. In particular, the labor force participation rate was unmoved at 61.6% in October and has remained within a narrow range of 61.4% to 61.7% since June 2020, as the chart below shows. The lack of any improvement in the labor force participation rate could be interpreted as a lack of full employment and used by the Fed as an excuse to leave interest rates unchanged for a long time.

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I’m not convinced by this explanation. “Full employment” does not mean that all people are working, but all people who want to work are working. And, as the chart above shows, the fact that after the Great Recession the labor participation rate didn’t move back to the pre-crisis level didn’t prevent the Fed from hiking interest rates in 2015-2019.

There is also another possibility. It might be the case that investors are now focusing on inflation. The employment report showed that the average hourly earnings have increased by 4.9% over the past twelve months, raising some concerns about wage inflation and general price pressure in the economy. Remember: context is crucial. If the new narrative is more about high inflation, good news may be positive for gold if they also indicate strong inflationary pressure.

Although I like this explanation, it’s not free from shortcomings. You see, stronger inflation concerns should increase inflation premium and bond yields. However, the opposite is true: the real interest rates declined last week (see the chart below), enabling gold to catch its breath. After all, the markets are expecting a more dovish Fed than before the announcement of tapering. This is a fundamentally positive development for the gold market.

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Having said that, it’s too early to declare the start of the breakout. If inflation stays high, the US central bank could have no choice but to hike interest rates next year. Also, although the recent jump despite strong payrolls is encouraging, gold has yet to prove that it can stay above $1,800.

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Arkadiusz Sieron, PhD
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care

Arkadiusz Sieron

Arkadiusz Sieron

Hi, my name is Arkadiusz Sieroń. Call me a liar, but I am writing about the precious metals thanks to Arthur Laffer, Alan Greenspan, John Keynes and Fredrich Hayek. Really! Would you like to know how these economists, some of whom have been dead for a long time, triggered my adventure with gold? When I was in high school, I took part in the Entrepreneurship Olympic, one of the biggest thematic competitions for pupils from secondary schools. During my preparations, I studied an academic textbook, in which I came across a Laffer curve. Eureka! If the tax revenues are the same at low and high tax rates, the government should lower them! I did not win the competition, but I achieved much more. I decided to become an economist! And I loved the idea of small government and economic freedom since that very moment. After graduating from high school, I moved to the capital. I was very excited, as I started to study economics at the best economics university in the country. However, the professors disappointed me very quickly. Why? They all were statists, supporting extensive government intervention and fiat currencies. Gold? It is a barbarous relic! Have you not read Lord Keynes? I was very depressed. I even considered giving up my studies in economics and enrolling in the Philosophy Faculty! You can see now that I was really desperate. When I was contemplating nothingness and vanity of vanities, a few of my classmates lent me a handful of fascinating books, such as Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. I also discovered the publications of the Austrian economists who supported the idea of the gold standard. It sounded crazy in the 21th century, but it was inspiring. I rediscovered the sense of studying economics. I continued my studies and one day I read these words: “Gold and economic freedom are inseparable”. Try guess who wrote them. Don’t give up, try once again. Don’t know? Alan Greenspan. Shocking, right? This is a quote from his “Gold and Economic Freedom”, an article published in 1966. Several years before he became the Fed Chair, and several more before the real estate bubble, that he helped to pump, up burst. Quite ironic, don’t you think? Both his essay and the Great Recession (and the accompanying bull market) motivated me to study investment portfolio management and the precious metals. I became a certified Investment Adviser very soon and I started to work for the biggest pension fund in the country. My corporate career seemed to be very promising. However, I quickly discovered that the company invested most of the participants’ funds into Treasuries or shares of the big state companies. And they didn’t even want to hear about investing in precious metals. I quit. I found a shelter at the university, as a Ph.D. candidate and – after a defense of my thesis about certain negative consequences of inflation (i.e. the Cantillon effect) – as an Assistant Professor. I was finally free to study economics, freedom, and gold. The more I read about gold, the more I was terrified. Most of the so-called experts who write about the precious metals, don’t have any idea about the subject they discuss. They treat gold as a mere commodity. Or they claim that gold is either worthless as it does not bring any yield or that its price should always rise. I was really let down by the state of understanding of the gold market among the analysts and investors. But I could not do too much. Until the sun shined down on me. I got a job offer at Sunshine Profits. I didn’t hesitate a second and accepted it, although many professors discouraged me: “You are a scholar, focus on science and do not write silly newsletters about bullion" -they advised me. But I did not listen to them, as they clearly didn’t understand the nature of gold. It is not a barbarous relic, it is the longest used money in history, and a clinking witness of human civilization. Gold is the asset, which used to serve as the safe- haven and portfolio diversifier for investors from the entire world for years. I wanted to study its properties and to share with my knowledge with people who do not have time for that. I wanted to help investors to better understand fundamentals of the gold market and improve their investment decisions. I’m happy that I can do that at Sunshine Profits. I’m really proud to be a member of our team and provide investors with high quality investment analyses about the gold market.