While Peter Schiff, and others of his ilk, have remained staunchly bullish on gold since the all-time highs in 2011, I feel they have done a terrible disservice to those who have followed them for the last three-plus years of (relative) pain.
Schiff is an uber-bull, or gold bug, as some may call him, who continually calls for $5000 gold. Since markets move in two directions and not just up, I believe that anyone who is uber-anything should be dismissed, as there is no appropriate substance being proffered by simply saying the word up every day. Ultimately, they will be right, but, in this case, you have to deal with a multi-year 40%-60% drawdown before eventually being correct.
Myra Saefong had a piece earlier this week reiterating Peter Schiff’s perspective about gold going to $5000. So, let’s look at Mr. Schiff’s underlying perspective a little more closely, and see if he is finally going to be right. Or should people consider our perspective that Mr. Schiff’s followers have more pain to experience in the near term, as metals have a lower low to be seen before the next bull phase takes hold.
First, last year, Mr. Schiff was of the exact same perspective regarding gold, and, he has been of the same perspective on gold since it topped in 2011. However, we called the top to gold within six dollars of the actual top in 2011, while most were still looking for gold to exceed the $2000 mark along with Mr. Schiff. In fact, we even called the downside targets correctly even before gold topped. Since that time, gold has lost 41% of its value from its high to low during this correction. Yet, Mr. Schiff has stayed staunchly bullish during this 40% draw down.
Second, last year, Mr. Schiff maintained the perspective that “renewed weakness in the dollar and strength in oil and other commodities will add to gold’s appeal during 2014.” Despite its drop, Mr. Schiff simply dismisses it as being “completely out of touch with reality.”
I want to digress for a moment and point out something to those that feel that the dollar must drop in order for metals to rise. There is nothing written in stone that states that the dollar must fall for the metals to rise. In fact, if one closely observed the market action since November of 2014 until the end of January of 2015, gold rallied almost 15% while the dollar rallied over 9%. And, yes, we expected both markets to rally together at that time, too.
Third, Schiff seems to claim that only further quantitative easing will cause the metals to rise. But, this was the same perspective he had with all the previous QE programs were instituted by the Fed. We had QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, and then QE3, and metals are still near their lowest levels in four years. Yet, we are to believe that QE4 will be the one that supposedly causes the metals to rise to $5,000? Does anyone else see the inconsistency in this argument?
Fourth, in Schiff’s recent interview, he noted that “what is holding gold back . . . is the idea that the Fed is going to be raising interest rates.” Wait a second. For years, all people have been talking about is that a rise in interest rates evidences inflation, which is the real driver of gold. So, isn’t the common theme that gold will go up when rates go up, because that is supposedly a signal of inflation?
Yet, when looking a little deeper into what Schiff is now suggesting, it seems that low interest rates are needed to cause gold to rally? Is not a drop in rates commonly viewed as being associated with periods of deflation? So, is it deflation which will cause gold to rally or is it inflation?
The answer is that gold’s movement is not based upon either if you look honestly at the history of gold’s movements. Let’s take a look at the 2007-2009 time frame, which evidenced the most recent period of deflation in our markets, and see if we can glean anything from the metals action in relation to deflationary market pressures and dropping interest rates.
We all know that the S&P 500 topped in October of 2007 and began an estimated 300-point decline into March of 2008, and then we saw a corrective bounce in the equities for a couple of months. During that same period of time, the metals continued to rally. So, here we have “evidence” of the metals supposedly rising during a period of deflation.
But, when we then look toward the May 2008-March 2009 severe decline in the equity market, we witnessed the metals also experienced significant declines within that time period. In fact, gold lost a little more than 30% (yet, rallied again, thereafter). So, when one is presented with these facts, does it make sense that the metals are surely going to rise during periods of deflation and/or low interest rates?
One has to put aside their personal biases toward the metals and recognize that they are not necessarily going to rise during periods of deflation, or due to the drop in the dollar or interest rates. Oddly enough, metals can rally during periods of deflation or dollar appreciation, and they can fall during periods of deflation and dollar appreciation.
The same applies to periods of inflation as well. I know you are likely thinking to yourselves, “Avi has really lost it this time.” But in all honesty, how can you come to terms with the reality of how they reacted during the 2008 broad equity market carnage, which was clearly a deflationary event? Did they act as the supposed “safe haven” during the strongest period of deflationary pressures experienced since the Great Depression, especially while interest rates were dropping precipitously?
The one thing said by Mr. Schiff with which I agree is that “the moves in gold come in waves.” And, these wave movements are driven by waves of sentiment. That is exactly what we track. In fact, not only did the tracking of market sentiment allow us to make various calls, such as the drop into the November 2014 low, but at this time, unlike Mr. Schiff, we still believe that lower lows and more pain are still in store for those that have been continually bullish since 2011.
So, I would urge anyone reading prominent pundit “expectations” about metals to test them against the reality of the price action history. If someone suggests to you that it is a matter of interest rate sensitivity or an inflation/deflation argument or a factor of quantitative easing, you need to think long and hard about if the price history of metals supports their proposition. I suggest that it will not.
Rather, metals are purely a sentiment trade, and unless you understand how sentiment drives metals, you will more than likely be caught on the wrong side of a popular fundamental argument. Ultimately, he will be right. But, do we all have the deep pockets to be able to withstand yet another drop to lower lows before being proven right?
See chart on GLD 2007-2009.
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