Friday, October 23, 2009

In for a Penny, In for a Pound

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.

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The third quarter GDP figures for Great Britain were released last night and GDP fell 0.4%. I particular liked the headline "UK Still in Recession After Surprise Contraction" announcing the drop. This was the sixth quarter in a row that GDP was down in the UK. So who exactly was surprised by this? Probably just mainstream economists and anyone who reads the drivel published in their reports. One survey indicated that 100% of economic analysts had predicted that British GDP would go up this quarter - and they were all wrong. This is not uncommon. Mainstream economists frequently all ere on the wrong side of a number and are the last to know what is really going on in the economy. There is probably no profession as prone to group think and making errors in its predictions.

Once the GDP numbers were released there was immediate speculation that the Bank of England would increase its quantitative easing (aka money printing) program. The British pound fell by a penny almost immediately. This helped the trade-weighted dollar rally, since the pound is one of its components. The dollar rally was most noticeable when U.S. trading opened however. Gold and silver which reacted bullishly in overnight trading to this potentially inflationary news, dropped straight down after the U.S. markets opened. We have seen this pattern over and over again. A knowledgeable cynic would claim only blatant manipulation of the dollar and the precious metals markets backed by the U.S. government could account for it.

It's only a matter of time though before gold breaks out from its current trading range between $1050 and $1070. Indians spent $2.15 billion buying gold last week during their festival period. Gold sales were 5.7% higher than last years. India has accounted for 20% of global gold demand for many years now. There were a number of reports released by the gold bears in September about how the high price of gold would severely damage gold demand in the subcontinent this fall. It is now clear that that's not going to happen. Gold has traditionally been the way to store wealth in India and this habit goes back at least 2000 years. The Indians have never trusted paper currencies and over time have accumulated massive hoards of the precious metal. This deeply ingrained preference for gold is not going to disappear any time soon.

While Indian demand for gold is likely to remain high, it will probably be overwhelmed at some point by investment demand from ETFs and other sources thanks to the quantitative easing programs in the U.S. and UK. Jewelry has accounted for a majority of gold demand in the past. In India and other developing countries jewelry is purchased as an investment (the gold is frequently almost pure 22 caret as opposed to the diluted 14 caret gold used in jewelry in the U.S.), not as a luxury item as is the case in developed economies. Eventually, Westerners will find that the ancient habits of the East are just as good today as they were long ago.

NEXT: Interest Rates Break Out

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

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