Sell-Side Analysts Tripping Over Each Other With Bearish Pronouncements

While the debt ceiling farce is playing out, a full court press against gold has become visible in the media (once again), with mainstream sell-side analysts trying to out-bear each other. Never mind that not one of them told people to buy gold when the bull market started – in fact, they were for the most part completely silent until it moved above the $1,500 level, at which time they all turned bullish. Having done their clients the favor of telling them to buy high, they are now apparently quite eager to advise them to sell low.

We have previously remarked that rising gold prices are not in the interest of the fractionally reserved banking cartel, which requires faith in the State’s confetti to remain strong. Since rising gold prices inter alia indicate that this faith is crumbling, both banks and governments have a vested interest in not seeing gold rally.

We are however not necessarily alleging here that the individual analysts making these calls are acting in order to defend these vested interests. Rather, we think most (but not all) of them simply don’t understand the gold market and that their arguments are simply in error. Mind, we have no opinion on whether their price forecasts will or won’t turn out to be correct, we are just saying that they are throwing darts. If they turn out to be right, it will be for the wrong reasons.

We will focus on some reasoning that strikes us as especially misguided. Here is the view from Goldman Sachs, apparently seconded by Credit Suisse:

“Gold, set for its first annual loss in 13 years, is a “slam dunk” sell for next year because the U.S. Economy will extend its recovery after lawmakers resolve stalemates over the nation’s budget and debt ceiling, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Jeffrey Currie said.

The bank has a target for gold prices next year at $1,050 an ounce, Currie, Goldman Sachs’s head of commodities research, said today on a panel in London. The precious metal has tumbled 21 percent this year to $1,322.28 an ounce on speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, as the economy recovers. Lawmakers probably will reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling before the Oct. 17 deadline, Currie said.

“Once we get past this stalemate in Washington, precious metals are a slam dunk sell at that point,” Currie said. “You have to argue that with significant recovery in the U.S., tapering of QE should put downward pressure on gold prices.”

Currie and Ric Deverell, the head of commodities research at Credit Suisse AG, both said on a panel at the Commodities Week conference in London today that selling gold is their top recommendation for trading in raw materials in the next year.”

(emphasis added)

We should perhaps point out the glaringly obvious here because it seems  Mr. Currie hasn’t noticed: all that ‘speculation’ about the ‘end of QE’ and even a mere ‘tapering’ has so far turned out to be 100% wrong. It was not possible to make a more incorrect forecast on this issue than Goldman Sachs and other mainstream banks have so far made. We would remind here that the Fed has been mumbling about ‘exit strategies’ since 2009 and has instead vastly increased its ‘QE’ programs. Meanwhile, since ‘QE to infinity’ has so far not helped gold to rally, why should a slight deceleration thereof mean anything?

As to the ‘US recovery’ – it remains a sorry sight indeed.

US Real GDP Per Capita

US real GDP per capita, 9 and 5 year change rate, via our friend BC – click to enlarge.

Then there is this idea that all that is holding gold up at present is the ‘debt ceiling’ stalemate. We would note to this that gold has actually not rallied so far on the budget stalemate, precisely because there is a broad consensus (Mr. Currie’s view reflects the consensus thinking) that nothing untoward can possibly happen, that we ‘will soon get past this’ and so forth. Maybe so. As we have noted, these budget impasses have occurred many times in the past and have never amounted to much. It is usually nothing but an exercise in political grandstanding.

However, one must also keep in mind that many members of the tea party faction are acting based on principles and deeply held convictions. So this time, the fight may be of a different nature. However, to forecast that there will eventually be a ‘resolution’ is not exactly a great feat.

One is tempted to ask though why the gold market should be negatively affected by a decision that allows the government to simply continue to spend with both hands. The opposite has historically been the case  – gold prices have often tended to follow increases in the debt ceiling.

We cannot deny that gold has been in a cyclical bear market since the 2011 peak and that it remains debatable where and when this bear market will end. However, it appears to us that most of the euro debt crisis related premium has come out of gold’s price and that leaves us with pondering other fundamentals.

Here we see a recent increase in the yield curve spread, vastly overvalued junk bonds (liable to lead to a reversal in credit spread trends), administered interest rates that remain deeply negative in real terms, and the most reckless central bank policies of the entire post WW2 period, so far with very little to show for them.

The embarrassingly weak recovery in aggregated economic data after literally trillions in new money have been thrown at the economy by central bank printing presses and deficit spending tells us only one thing about the true state of the economy: it is horrendous. Capital consumption always looks like ‘good times’ while it is occurring of course, so even if these data were to look better than they do, one could not possibly conclude that a sustainable economic expansion was underway. Let us not forget, the housing bubble was also mistaken for a sustainable expansion by all the usual suspects.

We Can Have it Both Ways

If we look around further, we find that while Mr. Currie thinks gold will decline because there will be a ‘recovery’. JP Morgan’s analysts believe the exact opposite: it will decline because there won’t be a recovery. So according to these worthies there exists no economic environment at all that could be considered bullish for gold.

There is a long list of bears joining GS and Credit Suisse in the article we are linking to above, so one thing that is immediately apparent is that this bearish outlook is currently the consensus. However, we want to look at the argument forwarded by JPM’s analyst because it strikes us as especially misguided:

The investment case for gold relies on the expectation of rising inflation,” says analysis from investment bank and bullion market-maker J.P.Morgan, “which in turn relies on growth.

“Yet the US shutdown is damaging US growth, both in direct terms through the furlough of 800,000 government employees and through a host of indirect channels.”

(emphasis added)

First of all, allow us to point out that since government merely redistributes resources, a cessation or diminution in government spending cannot possibly be a negative for actual growth. It will show up as such in the statistics of course, but that is mainly an artifact of how these statistics are constructed.

The most glaring error however is the belief that ‘inflation depends on growth’. This is hair-raising nonsense, even keeping in mind that what they mean by ‘inflation’ is only one of its possible effects, namely rising prices of consumer goods.

Just consider what economic growth actually is: it is an increase in the production of goods and services. So according to JPM, when more of something is produced, its price will rise! The ‘stagflation’ of the 1970s should have once and for all laid such debates to rest, but apparently it hasn’t.

In fact, an economy can almost come to a standstill and the money issued by the State can still continue to decline in purchasing power. This was last seen during Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation. Since much of the country’s industry no longer had access to complementary capital goods that needed to be imported, a lot of it simply stopped operating. Growth collapsed, but that did absolutely nothing to arrest the decline in the value of the currency.

Such confusion comes about precisely because the true meaning of the term ‘inflation’ has been lost and replaced with one of its effects.

Lastly we would note to all this that the long term negative effects of the massive monetary inflation since the 2008 crisis have yet to materialize. Once they do, gold prices are likely to soar and it is to be expected that the market will actually discount this to some extent in advance. Whether gold will first fall to $1,000 or rise from where it is now we cannot know (and neither can any of the recently suspiciously overconfident bears, unless they have access to the crystal ball of the Mighty Zoltar). However, we are always intrigued when such a broad consensus develops. It reminds us a bit of the bearish consensus on bonds, which prevailed through the entire second half of their bull market.

Technically, gold remains in ‘neutral’ territory for now:

Gold, dailyGold, December contract, daily. There is short term support near $1,275, medium term support at around $1,180 and short term resistance at $1,350 and $1,430. Gold therefore remains in neutral territory for now – via BarCharts – click to enlarge.

 


 

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27 Responses to “It Is Unanimous: Gold Remains the Most Hated Asset Class”

  • All-Your-Gold-Are-Mine:

    Apologize if this has already been addressed, but a good portion of the $45 Billion per month goes directly into the economy in the form of payments to government employees, military, retirees, disability, welfare, etc… How is this not pressuring prices higher despite the anemic recovery? And how can the Fed ever “taper” its purchases with 10 & 30 yr treasury rates rising – threatening the housing market recovey, consumers and corporations that need cheap money, etc.? Who cares about money velocity when prices can rise from direct payments from the government? And what about all the “price inflation” that has bee exported overseas for decades (Asia, etc)? Surely, the “price inflation” will be re-imported as foreign sovereigns reduce their exposure to US Dollar denominated assets and/or slow the rate of accumulation at a time when the US needs evermore demand.

    Yes, price inflation a lagging effect of monetary expansion – brace yourselves!

    • worldend666:

      Maybe I am just a lost boy in the fog here but I saw an estimate that US credit stands at around 50 trillion dollars. 45 billion$ a month will have a minimal effect on that so long as the money is not cash which would be multiplied by the banks.

      Will it be multiplied? I don’t know. The Fed minted it but if it’s spent into the economy it will go in through the banking system and I have no idea if it does that as high powered money.

  • I don’t know that QE has any effect, other than to glut the bank balance sheet with Fed cash. Banks could just as easily buy the bonds and use them for reserves. What it does, in my opinion, is force the holding of capital reserves as debt deposits in banks, including the Fed. This money is not is available to the public at large for economic expansion, but primarily for speculation. The problem here is stock prices, real estate prices, etc., have no memory of their own. Speculators do have a memory, mainly to get out before the bottom comes out. Being all of this is debt, it is actually not owned in sum by the economy at large.

    To me, gold is like buying insurance. It is really a zero sum game, except when the house burns down. Those that aren’t insured become homeless. It might pay to never buy insurance, if a fire never occurs.

    So, the question isn’t the price, but how near in time will the fire occur? The debt ceiling isn’t the fire, it is merely the smoke. There are all kinds of insane ideas out there, all of them revolving around either devaluing the debt, by creating more of it or borrowing the interest, as in the case of payment in kind conventions that are being put in some bond offerings. PT. Barnum would have loved this time, as suckers reside in high as well as low places.

  • therooster:

    QE is “the stick” to drive people to bullion. The donkey is stubborn and a carrot would not likely work. Gold is money since it was set free to float back in 71 and now bullion has the flexibility in trade value to respond to market needs for the sake of full scalable liquidity. (Liquidity is the product of (weight x trade value) The “catch” is that because of the real-time (floating factor), gold cannot be remonetized in a top-down method by the PTB. Gold must be reintroduced , as money, by way of the marketplace, bottom-up and organically. Whenever migrating from any legacy system (USD) to a new system (gold-as-money in real-time), it’s imperative that neither system crashes. Rate of change is critical. This is why the market and only the market can be the instrument of monetary change toward real-time gold-as-money.

    You cannot pour new wine into old wineskins.

    • worldend666:

      That made no sense to me whatsoever. Gold doesn’t need to float if the government decides to fix a price for it. Even FOFOA agrees that the government could set the price. In fact that’s his dream scenario.

      • HitTheFan:

        Your Fofoa comments are totally wrong, amazing that you ascribe views to someone that are 100% opposite to their actual stated view. You must be disingenuous or stupid.

        • zerobs:

          Even if the government COULD set a fixed price of gold, they’d have to set it at the actual price OR HIGHER to get anyone to use a new gold-backed currency or else people would continue to use specie (possibly even something other than gold) as much as possible.

        • worldend666:

          Hello HitTheFan. A surprise for you to show up after I mentioned FOFOA. Are you going to tell us again we are all deluded fools because we are unable to see the way you are graciously paving for us?

          I remember reading on his site a couple years ago that one mechanism he suggested for Freegold to come about was for the EU to suddenly start paying 50,000 dollars an ounce for gold (a revaluation) which would then be transmitted to the rest of the world via the ECB’s credibility. Obviously if they were to do this they would be fixing the price, at least temporarily. I don’t have time to search for the article now because I have to catch a plane, but if you would like I can dig it out later today.

          • HitTheFan:

            What you describe is just one way the ECB (or any entity with sufficient heft) could make a physical gold market, simply by bidding to buy any and all gold offered to it.

            The bidding would start low and move up until such time as sellers emerged.

            Maybe you don’t realise that is how markets work?
            How you conflate that with ‘fixing a price’ (sorry to repeat myself) demonstrates either a lack of understanding, or you are being disingenuous.

            At least other readers are now clear on this issue.

            • worldend666:

              And the point of such an exercise would be….?

              What would the target gold holdings be? What is the end game? Why not just buy gold on the open market like all the other central banks? There is plenty of gold for sale from Indian brides at a fraction of 55000$ an ounce. There is no need to buy it in a secretive manner from other central banks at the internal price 50x the current market price.

              FOFOA also pointed out that when an entity is both buyer and seller of last resort that it always ends in tears.

              • HitTheFan:

                ‘And the point of such an exercise would be…?’

                Well, that proves that you’re not being disingenuous, rather you have zero grasp of what gold still means to the world, especially the oil producers.

                I can’t be bothered to explain any of it to you though (no sense flogging a dead horse is there), so I suggest you just sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.
                Time will reveal all things.

  • Andrew Judd:

    >>Lastly we would note to all this that the long term negative effects of the massive monetary inflation since the 2008 crisis have yet to materialize. Once they do, gold prices are likely to soar

    I find it impossible to see a situation where the money held by the banks begins to move into the economy, prices start rising, tapering is not completed, *and* QE is not unwound, *and* the fed funds rate is not higher even while prices rise higher. One option is that prices rise and just like back in the 1960’s interest rates are not raised sufficiently because of poverty.

    • No6:

      I don’t believe that the Fed funds rate can be raised at all. Nor do I believe that QE can be unwound nor tapering completed (or even attempted for very long). Not because of poverty but because massive mis-allocation of capital and malinvestments, much on margin, will be exposed.

      Indeed I think that this process will occur eventually even if the FED continues with its current level of QE requiring greater asset purchases in due course.

      Also, we should remember that money is entering the economy via Govt, so banks aren’t required to see prices rise.

      In 2008 a decision was made to socialize the enormous financial losses. By doing so they have jumped upon a slippery slope. Talk of suffering, unemployment and poverty is a smoke screen.

    • There is no ‘money held by the banks ready to move into the economy’ – if what you are referring to are their excess reserves at the Fed. Banks create new credit literally from thin air, and the level of reserves has ceased to matter completely by the mid 1990s when ‘sweeps’ were introduced. There is however one problem that cannot be avoided, even if one has the power to create ‘money’ (actually, fiduciary media) from thin air: if too many credit booms have occurred, too many balance sheets in the economy have been ruined, and the pool of real funding is stagnating or shrinking, then there is literally ‘nothing left to lend’. Yes, banks can issue more credit and money even under such circumstances, but they would then do so in the full knowledge that it will be defaulted upon because real wealth creation has ground to a halt. My guess is that this is the main reason why private sector credit growth is actually faltering 5 years into the ‘recovery’.
      I did not say by the way what precise shape the negative long term consequences of the monetary inflation to date will take, because it is too early to judge that. We know that a number of negative effects have already occurred of course, as relative prices in the economy have been distorted, and along with them the economy’s production structure (I often show a chart comparing the production of capital versus consumer goods to illustrate this particular point – it has never before been as distorted as today).
      However, this ‘looks’ like ‘good times’ on the surface, as it leads to an increase in aggregated economic statistics – without telling us the first thing about whether they describe sensible, wealth creating activities or capital consumption. It is of course the latter – and it is when this, and other potential effects (such as sharply rising consumer prices, which are likely to arrive with a very big lag) become glaringly obvious to all, gold tends to rally.

  • Andrew Judd:

    Goldman Sachs must surely be right that if there is a recovery sufficient to enable tapering it is a slam dunk that Gold is not going to do well.

  • No6:

    I think we can safely say that after the inevitable debt ceiling resolution Gold will be hit hard (in the usual manner). GS has now issued its Gold warning so all is following the same script.

    • No6:

      2 days after I wrote this:

      8:42 AM: 367 Dec. contracts traded
      8:43 AM: 7,993 Dec. contracts traded
      8:44 AM: 4,860 Dec. contracts traded
      8:45 AM: 4,050 Dec. contracts traded

      16,903 December contracts were sold in just 3 minutes.

      This was done on the news that the two sides were talking. Not even a resolution required.

  • JasonEmery:

    “However, one must also keep in mind that many members of the tea party faction are acting based on principles and deeply held convictions.”

    I’m curious to know what those ‘deeply held’ convictions are. They certainly don’t include a hatred for gigantic, recently enacted socialist medical programs that add trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities to backs of the American taxpayer. If that were the case, they would be demanding the repeal of Bush’s very socialist prescription drug benefit for Medicare.

    More likely, they are in cahoots with Obama to serve their common master, whoever that is. I just know who it isn’t, the American people. Surely you saw how the Republican leadership gave their unflinching approval to Obama’s Syria, shoot first, ask questions later, trial balloon.

    I agree with your thoughts on gold. Rather than overweight gold, however, I think it is better to hoard a basket of many tangible goods. Obviously, someone living in an apartment might not have that luxury. But anyone with a rural property should diversify to a much greater extent. I don’t think they will be coming to confiscate the people’s brass, copper, and Black Walnut Trees, but I could be wrong, lol.

    • Jason,

      I’m only referring to the minority faction of those who do hold such convictions, not the Republican party as such. As I pointed out previously, there are a number of reps identifying with the tea party that cannot really be regarded as Republicans (even if they are ideologically close and are on the ballots as Republicans).
      Of course I remain suspicious even so, but I think the current shutdown wrangle may be a bit more serious than the previous one…just a hunch.
      Anyway, if they caved it wouldn’t surprise me all too greatly either, I only have a feeling the current consensus on this blowing over very quickly could actually turn out to be wrong.

      • georgew:

        My guess is that there are less than a dozen Federally elected politicians who are there to “serve the people”, meaning not demagogically motivating self-“serving”. The rest is marketing.
        As power is increasingly concentrated, that power not only corrupts more directly, but also attracts more corrupt people to it. In other words, Washington D.C. will feel more like the Kremlin with each passing year.

  • jimmyjames:

    Gold stumbling along- looking anemic-
    Still adding to GDX/GDXJ on steep pull backs- now sitting a few bucks above the 08 lows.. again….
    Colour me stupid-

    • I know three people who are taking out second mortgages on their homes to sell gold futures short. Oh dear! Slam dunk short–they say it is like an annuity.

      GDX and GDXJ had fear sell off in June and are now in capitulation mode. Note non-stop selling today. Get me out! At least we know we are at the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

    • georgew:

      Janet Yellen will eventually remedy this for you JJ.

      (Please excuse the error above) Typing responses when helping a 7 y.o. with homework is always hazardous.

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