Gold Investment Compelling As Fed Likely To Create Next Recession
Is the Fed about to kill the business cycle?
16 out of 19 rate-hike cycles in past 100 years ended in recession
Total global debt at all time high see chart
Global debt is 327% of world GDP ticking timebomb
Gold has beaten the market (S&P 500) so far this century
Safe haven demand to increase on debt and equity risk
Gold looks very cheap compared to overbought markets
Important to diversify into safe haven gold now
by Frank Holmes via Gold.org
As I write this, gold is trading above US$1,330 an ounce after a strong rally that took the metal to its highest levels since August 2016. Tensions over North Korea, a weakening US dollar, political uncertainty in Washington, an overvalued US stock market, surging public and private debt and negative interest rates around the world have all boosted demand for gold as a reliable and time-tested store of value.
I often refer to this as the ‘Fear Trade.’ For centuries, investors and savers have depended on gold in times of economic and political strife, and its investment case right now is as compelling as it’s ever been.
Let’s look at debt for the moment. Most market-watchers are aware that US government debt currently stands at just under US$20 trillion, an unfathomably large figure that will only continue to climb as the interest compounds.
Worrying as this is, it doesn’t take into account other forms of debt that I believe pose an even greater risk to capital markets. US household debt, which includes mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and the like, reached a mind-boggling $12.73 trillion in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That’s $150 billion more than the end of 2016 and $50 billion above the previous peak set in 2008.
Even more worrisome is the fact that the number of delinquencies grew for the second straight quarter this year, as more income-strapped Americans binged on credit. As we all remember, this is what ultimately burst the housing bubble only 10 years ago.
Totalglobaldebt levels reached an astronomical US$217 trillion in the first quarter that’s327%of world GDP.
But let’s not stop there. According to the highly-respected Institute of International Finance (IIF), total global debt levels reached an astronomical $217 trillion in the first quarter-that’s 327 percent of world gross domestic product (GDP). Note that before the financial crisis, global debt was only around $150 trillion, meaning we’ve added close to $70 trillion in as little as a decade. Much of the leveraging occurred in emerging markets, specifically China, which is spending big on domestic and international infrastructure projects. Some are calling this mountain of debt the mother of all bubbles or the everything bubble.
Paying down this debt will not be easy, whatever you call it.
The situation is aggravated because global pension levels are sharply on the rise. People are living and drawing pensions for longer periods of time and birth rates are in decline in many advanced economies, so there aren’t enough new workers to help pay for those pensions. In May, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimated that by 2050, the size of the retirement savings gap-unfunded pensions, in other words-could grow to as much as $400 trillion. The US alone adds about $3 trillion every year to the pension deficit.
I’ve always recommended a 10% weighting in gold 5% in bullion, the other 5% in quality gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.
Central banks’ efforts to promote economic growth through monetary easing haven’t exactly been a raging success, nor can they continue on this path forever. Plus, near-zero interest rates are precisely what encouraged such inflated leveraging in the first place.
You can probably tell where I’m headed with all of this. Savvy investors and savers might very well see current imbalances as a sign to shift part of their portfolio out of risk assets and into gold and other safe haven investments. I’ve always recommended a 10 percent weighting in gold-5 percent in bullion, the other 5 percent in quality gold stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.
Is the Fed about to kill the business cycle?
Gold’s investment case becomes even more compelling when we consider the US Federal Reserve’s (the Fed’s) next moves-specifically hiking interest rates and reducing its balance sheet. Both actions have historically preceded recessions, according to 100 years’ worth of data.
It’s common knowledge that the Fed is actively in the process of gradually raising rates but a significant adjustment to its balance sheet is also coming sooner than many anticipated. In a recent address to the Economic Club of Las Vegas, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco John Williams said the Fed is likely to begin normalising monetary policy as soon as the fall. This includes unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet, composed of long-term Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The process could take up to four years to complete.
As I said, this poses a real risk for investors. According to financial management firm Incrementum Capital Partners, 16 out of 19 rate-hike cycles in the past 100 years ended in recession. The results were the same in five of the six times the Fed reduced its balance sheet, according to research firm MKM Partners.
Business cycles don’t just end accidentally, says MKM’s chief economist Mike Darda. They are killed by the Fed. If the Fed tightens enough to induce a recession, that’s the end of the business cycle.