Gold Outlook – Gold as safe haven?

by: Georgette Boele

Until recently gold prices had been rising in tandem with equities and the US dollar, but this week the sell-off in equities has weighed on both the US dollar and gold prices. This positive relationship is quite unusual. Gold prices have the tendency to weaken when the dollar rises and/or if equity markets rise. This is because gold is non-yielding, i.e. interest on the dollar and dividends from stocks are more attractive than the zero-income alternative of gold. However, the dynamics changed in 2019. Expectations of rate cuts by the Fed and negative yields in the eurozone, Switzerland and Japan have supported gold prices. Not from a safe haven point of view, but because at least gold does not charge a penalty (which negative-yielding currencies do). So, gold rallied with stocks because at the time it was a risk-on investment. For around 6 months now gold is a crowded trade. Investor positions are around 80% of the annual supply (mine supply and recycling) and could come to market at any time when investors change their minds. As sentiment has deteriorated, investors have closed some of their open positions in currencies, but most likely also in gold. Therefore, gold prices have failed to make new highs now that equity markets have aggressively sold off. If risk aversion were to result in a market panic, investors will find cash and very liquid assets attractive. They will probably liquidate gold investment positions.