Many Factors to Affect XAU This Year. What About The Past?

Many Factors to Affect XAU This Year. What About The Past?

 

Gold’s fate in 2021 will be determined mainly by inflation and the Fed’s reaction to it.

In the epic struggle between chaos and order, chaos has an easier task, as there is usually only one proper method to do a job – the job that you can screw up in many ways. Thus, although economists see a strong economic expansion with cooling prices and normalization in monetary policies in 2022, many things could go wrong. The Omicron strain of coronavirus or its new variants could become more contagious and deadly, pushing the world into the Great Lockdown again. The real estate crisis in China could lead the country into recession, with serious economic consequences for the global economy. Oh, by the way, we could see an escalation between China and Taiwan, or between China and the US, especially after the recent test of hypersonic missiles by the former country.

Having said that, I believe that the major forces affecting the gold market in 2022 will be – similarly to last year’s – inflation and the Fed’s response to it. Considering things in isolation, high inflation should be supportive of gold prices. The problem here is that gold prefers high and rising inflation. Although the inflation rate should continue its upward move for a while, it’s likely to peak this year.

Indeed, based on very simple monetarist reasoning, I expect the peak to be somewhere in the first quarter of 2022. This is because the lag between the acceleration in money supply growth (March 2020) and CPI growth (March 2021) was a year. The peak in the former occurred in February 2021, as the chart below shows. You can do the math (by the way, this is the exercise that turned out to be too difficult for Jerome Powell and his “smart” colleagues from the Fed).

Gold in 2022: Between Inflationary Rock and Hard Fed - 1

This is – as I’ve said – very uncomplicated thinking that assumes the stability of the lag between monetary impulses and price reactions. However, given the Fed’s passive reaction to inflation and the fact that the pace of money supply growth didn’t return to the pre-pandemic level, but stayed at twice as high, the peak in inflation may occur later.

In other words, more persistent inflation is the major risk for the economy that many economists still downplay. The consensus expectation is that inflation returns to a level close to the Fed’s target by the end of the year. For 2021, the forecasts were similar. Instead, inflation has risen to about 7%. Thus, never underestimate the power of the inflation dragon, especially if the beast is left unchecked! As everyone knows, dragons love gold – and this feeling is mutual.

Gold in 2022: Between Inflationary Rock and Hard Fed - 2

The Saxo Bank, in its annual “Outrageous Predictions”, sees the potential for US consumer prices to rise 15% in 2022, as “companies bid up wages in an effort to find willing and qualified workers, triggering a wage-price spiral unlike anything seen since the 1970’s”. Actually, given the fact that millions of Americans left the labor market – which the Fed doesn’t understand and still expects that they will come back – this prediction is not as extreme as one could expect. I still hope that inflationary pressure will moderate this year, but I’m afraid that the fall may not be substantial.

On the other hand, we have the Fed with its hawkish rhetoric and tapering of quantitative easing. The US central bank is expected to start a tightening cycle, hiking the federal funds rate at least twice this year. It doesn’t sound good for gold, does it? A hawkish Fed implies a stronger greenback and rising real interest rates, which is negative for the yellow metal. As the chart below shows, the normalization of monetary policy after the Great Recession, with the infamous “taper tantrum”, was very supportive of the US dollar but lethal for gold.

Gold in 2022: Between Inflationary Rock and Hard Fed - 3

However, the price of gold bottomed in December 2015, exactly when the Fed hiked the interest rates for the first time after the global financial crisis. Markets are always future-oriented, so they often react more to expected rather than actual events. Another thing is that the Fed’s tightening cycle of 2015-2018 was dovish and the federal funds rate (and the Fed’s balance sheet) never returned to pre-crisis levels. The same applies to the current situation: despite all the hawkish reactions, the Fed is terribly behind the curve.

Last but not least, history teaches us that a tightening Fed spells trouble for markets. As a reminder, the last tightening cycle led to the reversal of the yield curve in 2019 and the repo crisis, which forced the US central bank to cut interest rates, even before anyone has heard of covid-19. Hence, the Fed is in a very difficult situation. It either stays behind the curve, which risks letting inflation get out of control, or tightens its monetary policy in a decisive manner, just like Paul Volcker did in the 1980s, which risks a correction of already-elevated asset prices and the next economic crisis. Such expectations have boosted gold prices since December 2015, and they could support the yellow metal today as well.

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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.