Wondering How Inflation And Fed Reaction Will Affect Gold

Wondering How Inflation And Fed Reaction Will Affect Gold


Not only won’t inflation end soon, it’s likely to remain high. Whether gold will be able to take advantage of it will depend, among others, on the Fed.

Do you sometimes ask yourself when this will all end? I don’t mean the universe, nor our lives, nor even this year (c’mon, guys, it has just started!). I mean, of course, inflation. If only you weren’t in a coma last year, you would have probably noticed that prices had been surging recently. For instance, America finished the year with a shocking CPI annual rate of 7.1%, the highest since June 1982, as the chart below shows.

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Now, the key question is how much higher inflation could rise, or how persistent it could be. The consensus is that we will see a peak this year and subsequent cooling down, but to still elevated levels. This is the view I also hold. However, would I bet my collection of precious metals on it? I don’t know, as inflation could surprise us again, just as it did to most of the economists (but not me) last year. The risk is clearly to the upside.

As always in economics, it’s a matter of supply and demand. There is even a joke that all you need to turn a parrot into an economist is to teach it to say ‘supply’ and ‘demand’. Funny, huh? When it comes to the demand side, both the money supply growth and the evolution of personal saving rate implies some cooling down of inflation rate.

Please take a look at the chart below. As you can see, the broad money supply peaked in February 2021. Assuming a one-year lag between the money supply and price level, inflation rate should reach its peak somewhere in the first quarter of this year.

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There is one important caveat here: the pace of money supply growth has not returned to the pre-pandemic level, but it stabilized at about 13%, double the rate seen at the end of 2019. Inflation was then more or less at the Fed’s target of 2%, so without constraining money supply growth, the US central bank couldn’t beat inflation.

As the chart above also shows, the personal saving rate has returned to the pre-pandemic level of 7-8%. It means that the bulk of pent-up demand has already materialized, which should also help to ease inflation in the future. However, not all of the ‘forced savings’ have already entered the market. Thus, personal consumption expenditures are likely to be elevated for some time, contributing to boosted inflation.

Regarding supply factors, although some bottlenecks have eased, the disruptions have not been fully resolved. The spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and regional lockdowns in China could prolong the imbalances between booming demand and constrained supply. Other contributors to high inflation are rising producer prices, increasing house prices and rents, strong inflation expectations (see the chart below), and labor shortages combined with fast wage growth.

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The bottom line is that, all things considered – in particular high level of demand, continued supply issues, and de-anchored inflation expectations – I forecast another year of elevated inflation, but probably not as high as in 2021. After reaching a peak in a few months, the inflation rate could ease to, let’s say, around 4% in December, if we are lucky. Importantly, the moderate bond yields also suggest that inflation will ease somewhat later in 2022.

What does it mean for the gold market? Well, I don’t have good news for the gold bulls. Gold loves high and accelerating inflation the most. Indeed, as the chart below shows, gold peaks coincided historically with inflation heights. The most famous example is the inflation peak in early 1980, when gold ended its impressive rally and entered into a long bearish trend. The 2011 top also happened around the local inflationary peak.

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The only exception was the 2005 peak in inflation, when gold didn’t care and continued its bullish trend. However, this was partially possible thanks to the decline in the US dollar, which seems unlikely to repeat in the current macroeconomic environment, in which the Fed is clearly more hawkish than the ECB or other major central banks. The relatively strong greenback won’t help gold shine.

Surely, disinflation may turn out to be transitory and inflation may increase again several months later. Lower inflation implies a less aggressive Fed, which should be supportive of gold prices. However, investors should remember that the US central bank will normalize its monetary policy no matter the inflation rate. Since the Great Recession, inflation has been moderate, but the Fed has tightened its stance eventually, nevertheless. Hence, gold may experience a harsh moment when inflation peaks.

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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.