Huge News! The Fed’s Tapering Is Finally Here!

Huge News! The Fed’s Tapering Is Finally Here!

The Fed has announced tapering of its quantitative easing! Preparing for the worst, gold declined even before the release - will it get to its feet? .

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the one and only tapering of the Fed’s quantitative easing! Yesterday was that day – the day when the FOMC announced a slowdown in the pace of its asset purchases:

In light of the substantial further progress the economy has made toward the Committee's goals since last December, the Committee decided to begin reducing the monthly pace of its net asset purchases by $10 billion for Treasury securities and $5 billion for agency mortgage-backed securities. Beginning later this month, the Committee will increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $70 billion per month and of agency mortgage‑backed securities by at least $35 billion per month.

It’s all but a bombshell, as this move was widely expected by the markets. However, what can be seen as surprising is the Fed’s decision to scale back its asset purchases already in November instead of waiting with the actual start until December. Hawks might be pleased – contrary to doves and gold bulls.

How is the tapering going to work? The Fed will reduce the monthly pace of its net asset purchases by $10 billion for Treasury securities and $5 billion for agency mortgage-backed securities each month:

Beginning in December, the Committee will increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $60 billion per month and of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $30 billion per month. The Committee judges that similar reductions in the pace of net asset purchases will likely be appropriate each month, but it is prepared to adjust the pace of purchases if warranted by changes in the economic outlook.

So, instead of buying Treasuries worth $80 billion and agency mortgage‑backed securities worth $40 billion (at least), the Fed will purchase $70 billion of Treasuries later this month and $35 billion of MBS, respectively. Then, it will buy $60 billion of Treasuries and $30 billion of MBS in December, $50 billion of Treasuries and $25 billion of MBS in January, and so on until the last round of purchases in May 2022. This means that the quantitative easing will be completed by mid-year if nothing changes along the way.

The announcement of the tapering was undoubtedly the biggest event; however, I would like to point out one more modification. The sentence “inflation is elevated, largely reflecting transitory factors” was replaced in the newest statement with “inflation is elevated, largely reflecting factors that are expected to be transitory”. It’s not a big alteration, but “expected to be” is weaker than simply “is”. This means that the Fed’s confidence in its own transitory narrative has diminished, which implies that inflation might be more persistent than initially thought, which could support gold prices more decisively at some point in the future.

The Fed also explained why prices are rising: “Supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic and the reopening of the economy have contributed to sizable price increases in some sectors”. Unsurprisingly, the Fed didn’t mention the surge in the money supply and the unconventional monetary and fiscal policies, just “imbalances”!

Implications for Gold

What does the Fed’s announcement of a slowdown in asset purchases imply for the gold market? Well, the yellow metal showed little reaction to the FOMC statement, as tapering was in line with market expectations. Actually, gold prices fell to three-week lows in the morning — right after the publication of positive economic data but before the statement. However, gold started to rebound after the FOMC announcement, as the chart below shows.

Huge News! The Fed’s Tapering Is Finally Here! - 1

Why? The likely reason is that both the statement and Powell’s press conference were less hawkish than expected. After all, the Fed did very little to signal interest rate hikes.

What’s more, Powell expressed some dovish remarks. For instance, he said that it was a bad time to hike interest rates: “it will be premature to raise rates today” (…) We don’t think it is a good time to raise interest rates because we want to see the labor market heal more.”

The bottom line is that gold’s reaction to the FOMC statement was muted, as tapering was apparently already priced in. The lack of bearish reaction is a positive sign. However, gold’s struggle could continue for a while, perhaps until the Fed starts its tightening cycle. For now, all eyes are on Friday’s non-farm payrolls. Stay tuned!

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

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.