Thursday, July 19, 2012

19/7/2012: Q2 report from the World Gold Council

Q2 analysis of the trends and drivers for gold prices from the World Gold Council is worth a read (here) for a number of reasons. Here are two, from my point of view:

Point 1: Per Gold Council: "Gold prices declined in most currencies during the second quarter with the exception of the euro, Swiss franc and Indian rupee, in part due to a strong US dollar. Despite a 3.8% decline in Q2 to US$1,598.50/oz on the London PM fix, gold was up 4.4% during the first half of the year. Volatility remained elevated amidst a busy event-risk period. However, gold generally outperformed risk assets."

Chart and table alongside:

Table explaining events in the chart above:

Table summarizing Q/Q performance of gold prices in various currencies.


"Gold’s correlation to equities and other risk assets fell towards long-run average levels in Q2 helping portfolio diversification. Gold’s increased correlation to equities in Q1 was an indirect effect related to a weaker global economy coupled with a stronger US dollar."

Tow charts to compare on the above:

So things are reverting to historical levels - just what I drew as a conclusion from the gold coins markets data.



Point 2: More importantly, the theme is that of the 'depletion of traditional safe havens': 

"Over the past year, two national bond markets have provided shelter from turbulence in global risk assets: US Treasuries and German Bunds. Additionally, the US dollar, the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc have benefited from de-risking flows... However, being an asset of last resort is not without consequences. In particular, the investors seeking more “safe” assets must also recognise that the ever-increasing supply of both currency and debt deplete the value of these assets. Furthermore, as declining yields approach zero, they create very skewed pay-off structures with much more downside risk."

In other words, these risk-free returns for safe havens start to look like return-free risks once price upside is virtually exhausted either by persistent policy interventions or by natural exhaustion of the asymptotic valuations (in the case of US Treasuries - zero yield bound on prices).

Good luck fitting zero yields into pricing equation for Treasuries, folks...
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