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Monetary Policy, Financial Cycle, Ultra-Low Rates and Gold

September 15, 2016, 7:25 AM Arkadiusz Sieroń , PhD

The economists from the BIS published this summer another interesting working paper, titled “Monetary policy, the financial cycle and ultra-low interest rates”. What can we learn from it?

In the world of vulgar economics, the Bank of International Settlements appears as a bastion of reason. You see, almost all central bankers and academic economists are now chatting about a decline in the natural rate of interest. For example, Brainard in her speech stated that the neutral interest rate is likely to remain very low for some time, as we reported yesterday. What always struck us was the naïve and simplistic belief that the observed decline in real interest rates is purely a function of forces beyond the central bank’s control. The central bankers seem to say: “Agree, we slashed interest rates and ballooned the central banks’ balance sheets, but, hey, it could not affect real interest rates. Nah, what a silly idea! It’s not us, it’s them! We are just innocent technocrats who merely passively track the natural rate in a heroic struggle with the dark and external forces”.

Now, Claudio Borio and his team demolish this approach. Let’s quote the abstract from their paper:

“Do the prevailing unusually and persistently low real interest rates reflect a decline in the natural rate of interest as commonly thought? We argue that this is only part of the story. The critical role of financial factors in influencing medium-term economic fluctuations must also be taken into account. Doing so for the United States yields estimates of the natural rate that are higher and, at least since 2000, decline by less. As a result, policy rates have been persistently and systematically below this measure. Moreover, we find that monetary policy, through the financial cycle, has a long-lasting impact on output and, by implication, on real interest rates. Therefore, a narrative that attributes the decline in real rates primarily to an exogenous fall in the natural rate is incomplete.”

The implications for the gold market should be clear. Mainstream economists neglect the impact of monetary policy and financial factors and, thus, overestimate the decline in the natural rate. In consequence, they conduct an excessively expansionary monetary policy and keep the interest rates too low for too long. Similarly, Borio said yesterday during a conference in Vienna that central banks should take financial stability into account rather than focus exclusively on price stability, learning to live with inflation rates that persistently miss their targets rather than fuel debt with increasingly aggressive stimulus policies. The current flawed monetary policy will not have a happy ending, as it encourages the build-up of serious financial instabilities. Therefore, investors should remember that the next crisis will strike one day. Gold should shine then. It goes without saying that this applies to the long term – this week, the uncertainty over the BoJ and the Fed meetings seems to be the one of the most important factors in the gold market.

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Disclaimer: Please note that the aim of the above analysis is to discuss the likely long-term impact of the featured phenomenon on the price of gold and this analysis does not indicate (nor does it aim to do so) whether gold is likely to move higher or lower in the short- or medium term. In order to determine the latter, many additional factors need to be considered (i.e. sentiment, chart patterns, cycles, indicators, ratios, self-similar patterns and more) and we are taking them into account (and discussing the short- and medium-term outlook) in our trading alerts.

Thank you.

Arkadiusz Sieron
Sunshine Profits‘ Gold News Monitor and Market Overview Editor

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Gold Market Overview

For a long time, pundits talked excitedly about the rapid, V-shaped recovery. I never shared this view, finding it too optimistic and without basis in reality. Like Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, I hate being right all the time, but it really seems that I was right about this issue. According to the July World Flash report by IHS Markit, we can read that "the new wave of infections has reduced the probability of a V-shaped cycle (...) and increased the risk of a double-dip recession (W-shaped cycle)."

What does it all mean for the gold market? Well, the fragile, W-shaped recovery is, of course, a better scenario for gold than a quick, V-shaped recovery. It means slower economic growth and longer recession, which would force central banks and governments to expand and extend their dovish stance and to provide the economy with additional rounds of stimulus. Music to gold's ears!

Read more in the latest Market Overview report.

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