July 24, 2024

Gold, Dow and Oil All Plunge On Economic Weakness – Is Gold Still A Safe Haven?

The combination of increasingly ominous economic reports along with the Fed’s failure to announce bold new monetary initiatives resulted in a brutal reassessment of risk by investors.  Stock, commodity and precious metal markets all plunged with the Dow down 250 points, gold down by $41.60 per ounce  to $1,566 and silver off by 4.4% to $26.98.  Crude oil in New York trading was off 4%, dropping below $80 a barrel for the first time in eight months.

Since the end of May, the Dow had rallied over 700 points on rumors of massive coordinated central bank easing.  Investor optimism changed in a flash after yesterday’s FOMC announcement that Operation Twist would continue in an effort to further reduce long term interest rates.  Markets were clearly expecting more concerted action.  The Fed has already suppressed interest rates to all time lows with little to show for it.  In addition, the crisis in the Europe is on the verge of spinning out of control as insolvent sovereign states comically attempt to bail out insolvent banks.

The steep sell offs in oil and other commodities since early May have been a screaming warning sign of a steep slowdown in the global economy.   Further adding to investor concerns is the inability of policy makers to address fundamental economic problems that have beset the global economy since 2008.  Government borrowing, spending and a storm of money printing  has only made the fundamental problem of excessive debt burdens worse.  Now, as the world rapidly slides back into recession, we have to wonder – where do we go from here?


Oil - courtesy stockcharts.com

Gold - courtesy stockcharts.com

Despite Bernanke’s frequent remarks that “We stand ready to act” and his assertion that the Fed has many “tools in the toolbox”, the worst nightmare seems to be unfolding – a Fed that is out of options (or out of touch) as the world economy marches to the brink of a financial meltdown.

Will the world slide into a deflationary abyss as central banks stand aside and allow free markets to clear the debt excesses of the past two decades?  Not likely based on the entire history of the Federal Reserve.  What is highly likely, however, is that as the United States reaches the limits of credit expansion and taxation, neither the public nor our elected politicians will accept austerity as the road to restructuring the economy and national balance sheet.   Reality be damned as we reach the tipping point – the public will demand their entitlements and the politicians who resist will be voted from office.  The pressure on the central bank to “solve” our economic problems through an endless series of QE follies will result in a national financial nightmare.

Where does gold go from here as the world financial system totters on the brink?  No one can predict the short term moves in gold, but in a very uncertain world, there is one undeniable  dictum – “Gold is money.  Everything else is credit.”  (JP Morgan -1912).