Gold was taken down very hard this week for several reasons.
First, look at both charts below of the S&P and the CCI. Notice that both are now solidly in the red for this year. What this tells us is that the vast majority of hedge funds have lost money for the year unless they have been very nimble and were able to beat the rest of their world to the sell button.
Also consider that many of their positions are heavily leveraged. Margin calls are now coming in. What do they do? They can obviously sell out of their positions and take the losses or they can try to pony up additional cash and hold the positions a bit longer in the hope that the markets will rally up and let them sell out at a better level or even initiate some new longs.
That helps to explain why gold was hit so hard this week and why many are now questioning its safe haven status as a result.
First, examine the long term charts of the S&P 500 and the CCI. Notice that both charts are underwater for the year.
What positions could a hedge fund actually sell that are PROFITABLE if they need to raise cash? Answer – They have none – the only market that is still showing a profit for this year (other than the treasuries trade) is GOLD. It started the year at $1422 on the Comex and closed today at $1640. That is a gain of 15% on the year even after the whipping put on it this week. A short note here – silver is back to where it began this year so there are no profits left in it after this week.
Now consider that hedge funds are getting a boat load of redemption requests from disgruntled clients and from those who are simply scared stiff and have had enough of the insane volatility. They want their money back even if it means sticking it under a mattress. That requires these funds to sell the assets that they have to raise the necessary cash.
In other words, gold, is the only profitable investment these funds have that is both liquid and available for them to meet margin calls and meet redemption requests. This is why it is being sold. The selling has nothing to do with it not being a safe haven but rather functioning as an extremely liquid investment that has shown them a solid profit. Winners are getting sold to meet losing trades and redemptions. Nothing more; nothing less.
Once this money flows issue is resolved sufficiently, the factors that have led gold to rise will reassert themselves.
I am a bit amused by those who keep crying up the 2008 debacle as if gold is doomed once again. I can still hear their voices from back then and as I kept some of their emails to amuse myself in the future. The same things are being said now as were being said then.
Yes, a 30% decline in the gold price then was not fun living through as gold was sold off fiercely as carry trades were unwound and a mad scramble for cash commenced for the same reasons I just listed above. However, looking back in hindsight and at the price chart, that steep move lower amounted to a tempest in a tea pot on the longer term chart. Gold went on to more than double in price from that reaction low.
Not that I would be particularly happy about it should it occur, gold could drop as low as $1500 and still not dent the long term uptrend in the metal. If you look at this chart carefully, note that the red uptrend line was actually violated in 2008 leading to cries that the end of the bull market was upon us. However, that foray lower corresponded with the advent of QE1 and the rest is now history.
I expect that before we see the global stock markets utterly implode, we are going to see more concerted Central Bank action, on a global level, to provide more liquidity to these markets in an attempt to prevent any sovereign debt meltdowns or credit lockups. I am not saying it will be effective, I am only stating that anyone who thinks these monetary authorities will sit idly by and do nothing while the global stock markets fall apart, taking the commodity markets with them, is a stranger to the nature of these people.
I will betcha dollars to donuts that the FOMC is still seething over the response of the markets to its latest “Operation Twist”. There is no doubt in my mind that they are already planning their next move.
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