The gold price went over $1,900 and looked as though it was going to mount $2,000, but since then has fallen back to $1,600 and is in the process of consolidating around the lower $1,600 area. It was expected that it would have moved a lot higher faster, but that hasn’t happened, yet.
In the face of Italy’s downgrade to A2 by the ratings Agency, Moody’s summary that, “There has been a profound loss of confidence in certain European sovereign debt markets, and Moody’s considers that this extremely weak market sentiment will likely persist. It is no longer a temporary problem that might be addressed through liquidity support, and several euro-area governments are increasingly affected by the loss of confidence.” The downgrading was expected, as are further downgrades for the different Eurozone members, shouldn’t the gold price be on its way through $2,000 to much higher levels?
The news over the last few weeks has sent global financial markets down very heavily as a slow recovery morphed into a downturn and at best a flat economic future in the developed world. These falls have been accompanied by tremendous worries that there could be a major banking crisis that will cripple the Eurozone economy as a whole, not just the debt-distressed nations. In France growth is now at zero, in Greece it is somewhere south of a 5% dip in growth well into recession. Greater austerity simply adds to the fall in government revenues defeating their purpose of reducing their deficit. All of this implies an ongoing shrinkage of the Eurozone economy. This hurts investor capacities in all financial markets and wealth throughout the Eurozone. Cash becomes ‘king’ as investors flees markets to a holding position waiting for much cheaper prices before re-entering markets at lower levels.
The path to deflation is then made. Deflation in its early stages causes tremendous de-leveraging.
That is the selling of positions to pay off loans taken to increase positions. It may come about because of investor prudence, banks calling in loans, stop-loss triggers and margin calls [where the level of debt against positions becomes too high and forces sales]. This often and particularly in the case of precious metals has nothing to do with the fundamentals of the market. It is simply the position of investors. This happened in the precious metal markets as well. This is why gold and silver prices fell.
As was the case in 2008 and often through history, the process of de-leveraging is a short-lived one, even when it is savage. Once and investor has sold the positions he feels he needs to that downward pressure on prices disappears. Leveraged positions are the most vulnerable of investor held positions and can make up the froth or ‘surf’ in the markets, which cause the volatility levels to increase when dramas strike. In 2008 these positions were huge because there had been two and a half decades of burgeoning markets that encouraged greater risk taking. Since then, while leveraging has taken place it has been less and rapidly removed when dramas hit.
In 2008 we saw a similar drop in prices from $1,200 to $1,000 [20%], which equates to the fall from $1,910 to $1,590 [16.9%]. In 2008 the precious metal prices then slowly rose as buyers started to come in from all over the world. It took over a year for prices to recover back to $1,200.
Change in market structure
Today the shape of the precious metal markets is quite different, particularly that of gold. In 2008 central banks were sellers, today they are buyers.