'Tis But a Scratch!
The bull market in gold is a long way from losing both arms and legs just yet...
WHATEVER FORCE you spy behind this week's swoon in gold prices to $1160 per ounce and lower, 'tis but a scratch - a flesh wound - so far.
"I've had worse!" as Monty Python's Black Knight says.
First, the current options contract on gold futures expired Wednesday, guaranteeing volatility. Because as bullish speculators moved to close and rollover their position in the derivatives market, those banks taking the other side of the trade were only too happy to oblige.
Call that manipulation if you must (double-check your facts first), but more broadly, long-time investors and traders would always expect to see a seasonal lull - if not drop - in gold prices between July and Sept. India's gold-hungry millions don't buy over the summer, waiting instead until autumn's post-harvest Diwali festival. And after the huge gains spurred by the Greek crisis of April and May, a pullback in gold investment pressure looked due.
Of course, that's not to say the gold bull-market starting a decade ago hasn't just met its end. Some in the finance media would like to believe it's over (even if, like this article at the Sydney Morning Herald, they seem more driven by resentment than analysis). But for now, recent history says the bull market in gold is a long way from losing both arms and legs just yet...
Dropping a little over 9% from last month's top to date, the gold price in Dollars would have to reach $1073 an ounce before matching the 15% drops of Dec '09-Jan '10 and Feb-Apr '09.
Gold would need to hit $948 an ounce before matching the 25% drop of May-Jun '06. And it would have to reach $834 before matching the 33% Mar-Sept. loss of 2008.
This current swoon is also a good way from setting new records for pace, too. Top to bottom, it's nothing - so far - next to the 16% week-on-week drops of June 2006 and Sept. 2008.
Western government deficits are set to keep rising, meantime, while real interest rates remain below zero everywhere, slowly destroying the value of cash. Gold, in contrast, continues to find favor with central-bank reserve managers, and private Chinese gold demand is undimmed.
Indeed, "with all the deregulation we've seen in China and the Chinese gold market being so alive, it may just turn out to become a bit of a casino atmosphere over there," says gold-mining magnate Pierre Lassonde, speaking to MineWeb - "a gambling atmosphere [that] could very well push the gold price beyond anything that we believe is reasonable."
Small comfort to investors or traders picking early July's dip as a bargain, perhaps. But so far, it's only a scratch. And whatever nemesis gold has stumbled across in July, it's certainly got nothing to do with the long-term drivers of its four-fold gains to date.