Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pundit Argues That End Of QE Will Benefit Gold

It's a counterintuitive argument, but Andrew Mickey believes that rising nominal interest rates will keep the gold market rolling. During QE2, the Federal Reserve has essentially replaced private domestic buyers because they've have turned away from buying T-bonds. Once the Fed is finished, there's no-one else to replace it at current rates. Thus, interest rates will almost certainly rise once QE2 is over.

What that rate risk has to do with gold, is demostrated by a chart that's the centrepiece of Mickey's argument:

In thirteen of fourteen years during its last primary bull market and afterwards, when nominal interest rates rose so did gold. The only exception was the post-blow-off year 1981. The three years when nominal rates fell, so did gold.

The trouble with this argument is that it deals with a time of steeply rising inflation, and it abstracts from the big push gold's gotten from near-zero interest rates. Back then, rising inflation was the motor hauling gold up. Nowadays, it's negative real interest rates and asset diversification. Consequently, this time will likely be different.

Of course, if rising rates impel the Fed to launch QE3, it's a different ballgame. Gold will likely keep rising as a result of further monetary stimulus.

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