- A nine-month extension to production cuts
- Russia’s profile rises
- Output policy now depends on a triad of the leading producers
Gold as a CurrencySince the end of the Gold standard in 1972, we see an overall correlation of -0.37 between Gold and the Dollar Index, meaning that on average Gold and the Dollar move in opposite directions. But on average, it doesn’t mean always. In looking at the calendar year returns, Gold and the Dollar have moved in opposite directions 75% of the time. That means in 1 out of every 4 years they are actually moving either up and down together. And while Gold and the U.S. Dollar tend to move in opposite directions, the moves are not anything close to proportional. Since 1972, the Dollar Index has fallen 16% (-0.4% annualized) while Gold has risen 2875% (8% annualized). There is clearly more to Gold than just a falling Dollar.
Gold as a CommodityIs Gold more of a Commodity? Let’s take a look. Since 1972, the monthly correlation between Gold and the Thomson Reuters Equal Weight Commodity Index (CCI Index) is .39. While Gold and Commodities tend to move together, that isn't the cade and the cumulative appreciation since 1972 has not been close to proportionate. In 31% of years, Gold has moved in the opposite direction to the equal weight commodity index, with an annualized return of 8.0% for Gold versus 3.1% for the CCI Index.
Gold as an Inflation HedgeSince 1972, Gold’s 2,875% advance has far surpassed the cumulative rate of inflation in the US of 480% for the overall CPI and 473% for Core CPI. Digging in a little deeper, reveals that Gold is anything but a constant or proportionate inflation hedge. From 1972 through 1980, Gold surged 1256% versus a 110% increase in the CPI. During the next 20 years (from 1981 through 2000), the CPI rose 101% while Gold fell 54%.
Gold as a Safe HavenWe know that Gold is uncorrelated to the U.S. stock market, with a monthly correlation of 0.00 since 1972. Meaning, it does provide a nice diversification from stocks but whether it’s any safer is up to debate.
The Enigma that is GoldThe truth is that Gold cannot be simply defined as a currency, commodity, inflation hedge or safe haven. At various times it has been some/all of these things and at other times none of these things. Gold is not a pure play on any one factor but the sum product of multiple factors. If you believe the U.S. Dollar is going lower, short the U.S. dollar. Gold will likely rise but the inverse Dollar ETF (UDN) is certain to rise. If you believe commodities are going higher, go long a basket of commodities. Gold will likely rise with them but a broad-based commodity exposure (DBC) will have better odds. If you are concerned about inflation, Gold may end up protecting you in the long run. But, as we have seen, Gold can be a terrible inflation hedge in the shorter run (see 1981-2000). Long-term bonds and stocks have been a much more consistent hedge against inflation than Gold over the past 40+ years. Finally, if you are seeking a safe haven – Gold may provide such exposure at times. But, the odds of that are not nearly as high as the consistency of treasury bills/bonds. Perhaps, the most important thing we can say about Gold is that it is truly an enigma. Its behavior is unique in terms of its lack of sensitivity to economic activity and non-correlation to stocks and bonds. That uniqueness, while frustrating to those who need to explain its every move, is what makes it an interesting component in a diversified portfolio. It also makes Gold an effective baseline to which you can compare more economically sensitive commodities such as Lumber. To extract long-term value from Gold, embrace the enigma. Leave the storytelling to those whose job it is to come up with a reason for its every move.
The U.S. stock market is set to wrap up a banner June, with the S&P 500 Index (SPX) fresh off all-time highs. What's more, several sectors could continue to shine in July, if recent history is any guide. In fact, the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) emerged as one of the best exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to own next month, having ended July higher 100% of the time in the past 10 years.