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The crucial story for gold investors is not the pure inflation rate of the dollar, but something much deeper. When you focus on gold, you should sharpen the focus of your lens on the dollar system. As history confirms, gold can both increase and decrease under inflationary circumstances. It is also the case when considering the opposite scenario, which is deflation. It all depends on how well the dollar system is performing (how well is both dollar as a currency and dollar understood as dollar denominated assets; bonds, stocks, derivatives, credits etc.).
The easiest way to look at the dollar is to compare it as a currency against all the other currencies. This, in fact, was the best way to assess the dollar from 2002-3, when it started to lose its value against other currencies and gold began its long and spectacular upward climb. This took place while a bubble formed in dollar denominated assets, especially real estate.
In 2008 there was a radical shift. Shortage of liquidity in the financial markets lead to massive selloffs of assets in all markets, with emerging markets being hit the most. That’s when the dollar got a gust of air in its sails, and increased significantly in value. Under current circumstances, the dollar – as a currency – does not appear to look that bad. Even when compared to other strong currencies the dollar looks firm. The central bankers who print the British pound and the Japanese yen seem to be devaluation devotees and the euro is still recoiling from the turmoil of numerous internal problems.
Therefore, when looking purely at the currency markets, the dollar does not appear as endangered as it may seem. However, as we hinted at the beginning, this is not the whole story. We have to assess not only the dollar against other currencies, but the entire dollar system, that is dollar denominated assets. The dollar may be a better investment than the British pound, but the big question is whether gold may be an even better investment than the dollar even when it outperforms the pound.
So how is the dollar system performing internally? One of many possible things to focus on is the interventionist policy of the government, especially the central bank. This can tell us how firmly the economy stands.
In the recent years we witnessed tremendous expansion in the Fed’s activity. Since it all comes down to money creation (supplied for financial papers and bonds), this influence is rather negative for the whole dollar system. This means that from the economic point of view, the outlook for gold is quite favorable for the coming years.
The above essay is based on our latest (published yesterday) Market Overview report entitled "The Dollar System and Possible Tapering" in which we discuss when the tapering is likely to take place, what part of the Fed's minutes is crucial, the shocking link between Fed's assets and the stock market prices. If you're interested, you can.
Matt Machaj, PhD