With so much focus centered on grand-scale and largely political issues — the upcoming presidential transition, eroding U.S.-Russia relations, and even the rise, fall, and likely rise again of bitcoin — one sector has gone largely ignored: precious metals. Particularly, gold bullion had a strong showing earlier today, moving up over 1.4% against the prior session. The gold ETF GLD had an even bigger day, closing up more than 1.5%.
But what’s causing the unexpected rally in gold prices? Since hitting a recent low in mid-December, gold bullion has moved up over 4.5%. Frankly, it’s a startling turnaround for gold prices and derivative instruments like the GLD. After criticism of U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen by the alternative investment community — and even President-elect Donald Trump himself — key interest rates are moving higher. The hawkish policy of the Fed reflects supposed improvements in the underlying economy.
That position is also buoyed by the strength of the U.S. dollar, at least relative to a basket of international currencies. With a strong greenback, American consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to foreign goods procurement. But it also means that this dynamic would impose upside resistance towards gold prices. Under conventional wisdom, gold bullion and other commodities will decline in relative value as the dollar increases in relative value.
Indeed, precious metals should be tanking below critical technical thresholds. Recall that Goldman Sachs forecasted a severe drop in gold prices below $1,000 — a level not seen since 2009. Surely, we got close. But at no time since the forecast has gold bullion fallen past that psychological barrier.
The takeaway here is not that Goldman Sachs has a conflict of interest — in reality, they do, considering that gold bullion, precious metals, even the GLD to some extent, are a hedge against the big bank conglomerates. Rather, there’s every reason in the world to believe that gold prices would succumb to outside pressures, yet gold and the “institutional” GLD are holding up quite well.
That leaves one logical and obvious conclusion — the economy is not nearly as great as advertised. If it was, a vast majority of Wall Street players would ride the equities bull. But as yet, the much-hyped Dow 20,000 has yet to occur. What I would assume is that even the powerbrokers aren’t crazy enough to buy their own horse manure.