Gold is definitely not in a bubble, said Nicholas Brooks, ETF Securities’ head of research and investment strategy, recently. The yellow metal hasn’t experienced the typical exponential rise seen in the run up to the collapse of previous asset price bubbles. As long as countries have to tackle economic problems over the next year, Brooks predicts the price of gold will do well.
“Gold could rally if we go over the fiscal cliff,” said Brooks at the ETF Securities Annual Precious Metals Conference in New York. “There seems to be a growing view that gold may be one of the better hedges against the risk that a policy mistake is made and we go off the fiscal cliff.”
The fiscal cliff is the name given to the dramatic spending cuts across the federal budget that will go into effect January 1, 2013. This is the same day Bush era tax cuts expire, causing tax across the board to increase to the rates seen during the Clinton Administration. The big fear is that spending cuts and higher taxes will hurt the economy so much the U.S. will fall back into a recession. This could also spark another downgrade of U.S. debt by the debt rating agencies. While not good for the economy, such a situation would be good for the price of gold, he said.
Brooks said structural factors continue to support the gold price, especially behavioral changes among the world’s central banks. Prior to the second quarter of 2009, central banks were large net sellers of gold, selling between 10% and 15% of their supply. But in 2009 they became net buyers. Now between 10% and 15% of the annual supply of gold is being bought by central banks, a switch of 30 percentage points which is a net positive for the precious metal, he said.
He also pointed to central banks around the world, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, saying they will continue to increase liquidity until their economies recover.
“Low real interest rates and a decline in the real return on cash are enormously good for gold,” said Brooks. And if later in the year, “European sovereign risk concerns rise again, a relatively high probability scenario, the gold price has the potential to rally strongly, as it did last summer when Spain saw its bond yields rise sharply on growing fears it would not be able to finance its debt payments.”
The British-based ETF Securities says it launched the first exchange-traded commodity (ETC) in the world when it listed the Gold Bullion Securities in Australia and London in 2003. When the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) launched in 2004, it was the first U.S.-listed ETC. Today, GLD, with $73.5 billion in assets, is one of the largest ETP’s in the world.
ETF Securities manages seven precious metal exchange-traded products in the U.S. The ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (SGOL) and the ETFS Physical Asian Gold Shares (AGOL) each charge an expense ratio of 0.39%, one basis point less than the SPDR Gold Shares. ETF Securities’ other products track silver, platinum and palladium.