Cycles of Boom and Bust
for the Commodity
and Top Exchange Traded Funds
for the Commodity
and Top Exchange Traded Funds
In order to sketch out the prospects downstream, the deft investor looks first in the opposite direction. On one hand, the conditions of the past will never be fully duplicated in the future. Even so, the crucial features of the market are sure to crop up again and again as time goes by.
As in other parts of the economy at large, a watershed in the gold market popped up with the financial crisis of 2008 along with the Great Recession. The severe conditions of the debacle, followed by the fitful recovery of the markets in its aftermath, laid bare the raw fibers of the financial forum and the real economy.
Looking to the future, the demand for gold is slated to burgeon until at least the second half of the 21st century. The lusty trend is the prime mover behind the yellow metal over the long haul. On the other hand, the market is sure to be battered along the way by an endless hail of upthrows and downcasts.
From a larger stance, the buildup of the global economy fuels a groundswell of demand for gold. The uplift is of course a godsend for the producers of the commodity. If prices are rising, then profits should increase for the industry as a whole over the short term as well as the medium range. Over the long run, however, the inrush of newcomers in a budding field – along with the rigors of competition – can lead to the squelch of earnings for the entire cast both old and new. The cruddy outcome is an example of the distinction between the fortunes of the commodity and its producers.
These and other factors play a vital role in sizing up the prospects for the gold market. As a first step in sorting out the muddle, a primal task is to examine the behavior of the marketplace during the tumultuous period that straddled the financial crisis and its aftermath. A second thrust lies in the difference between the movements of the raw commodity versus the antics of the mining stocks. A third function is to map out the key features of the gold market over the years and decades to come.
Since the turn of the millennium, the golden metal has enjoyed a prolonged upswell in spite of the occasional setback. A case in point was the ascent that started in early 2010 and lasted until it faltered in the latter part of the following year.
For the bulk of investors, the main vehicle for tracking the commodity lies in an exchange traded fund sporting the ticker symbol of GLD. Looking downrange, the next milestone for the index fund stands at its previous peak of some $185 per ounce. As things stand, the latter landmark will be reached in 2013. This objective lies $35 above the current support at the $150 level. In fractional terms, the increase amounts to a gain of some 23% in short order.
After regaining its previous summit, GLD will take a breather before pushing ahead once more. On current trends, the vehicle should reach a sizable barrier at the $185 mark by the following winter.
Shortly afterward, the commodity itself will touch a price of $2,000 per ounce in the commercial market. The big round number will then kindle a gale of excitement from the mass media and the investing public.
To add to the bluster, a ragtag conga of talking heads will sashay out of the woodwork. The self-proclaimed swamis will declare that the prospects for the metal are not only bounteous but simply boundless.
The outburst of hype will drive the metal higher in the futures market that serves as the touchstone for commercial transactions in gold bullion. In that case, the tracking fund in the stock market will of course follow suit. In the dash to the upside, the next hurdle for the ETF is a price level of $195 per share.
After hitting that target, the stock will fall back toward the $185 zone. Shortly afterward, the ETF should regain its vigor and zoom past $195 within a matter of months.
The next milepost is a hefty barrier at the $220 level. The latter objective lies another $35 past the first milestone at $185. In relative terms, the advance comes out to a hike of a tad under 19%.
After reaching that outpost, GLD will stagger back toward the previous hurdle at $195. Before long, though, the rig will muster enough energy to push ahead once more. All that will take us through 2014 and into the middle of this decade.
By contrast to the raw commodity, the turnout for the mining firms depends more on the hoopla amongst the punters on the bourse than the outlook for either the yellow metal or the stock market at large. When GLD pushes past its prior peak, however, the investing public will once again chase after mining stocks.
In due course, the value of the metal in the commercial market will break through the psychic barrier at $2,000 per ounce. The resulting spate of breathless reports from the mass media will then rouse the general public into a frenzy.
Soon thereafter, the index funds for the mining firms will pare back their losses to date and shoot past their previous peaks. The surge of the mining stocks will draw in a deluge of cash from all quarters, including myriads of plungers who had never before heard about GLD, let alone the index funds for the mining firms.
And so a bubble will duly form as the madding crowd rushes into the arena for a piece of the action. At this stage, however, the savvy players in the ring will begin a gradual process of withdrawal from the futures market for gold bullion as well the index funds for the mining firms.
As the bonfire in the bazaar begins to sputter, a growing cohort of antsy players will wonder whether the uptrend in gold has run its course. And soon enough, the specter of a smashup will turn into a reality.
The ensuing crash of the market will of course deal a body blow to the mass of latecomers to the game. The first big punchout is likely to occur around 2015 or so.
Even so, the fiasco will not mark the end of the boom in gold by a long shot. After wallowing in a funk for a couple of years, the commodity will be ready to stage a bigger comeback.
As the market tramps upward and pushes past one milepost after another, millions of newcomers will jump on the bandwagon. In a fit of delirium, the gamesters in the ring will drive the metal to batty levels rivaled only by the lunacy of the Internet fever during the 1990s.
Swept aloft by the uproar, the sizzling metal will not only reach fat round numbers like $5,000 per ounce but zip right past them. There’s a good chance that figures of this magnitude will spring up by the second half of the 2010s.
Moreover the beefy prices will comprise mere waystations on a multistage journey to the $10,000 level. The latter target is likely to be reached around the 2020s.
By contrast to the raw commodity, the index funds for the mining firms depend largely on the mood of the investing public rather than the action in the commercial market. In the throes of a feeding frenzy, the equities of the major producers could vault by tenfold or more within a matter of years. Meanwhile the index fund for junior miners is apt to explode in excess of a hundredfold beyond its initial peak.
Such is the wild ride that awaits investors of all stripes in the arena. In these ways, the antics of the gold market in the decades ahead will eclipse the tidal waves of boom and bust in all previous eras.
NOTE: The full report is a document of 24 pages in PDF form. The publication, “Gold ETF Forecast for the Springtime of the 21st Century”, may be downloaded from the Library at MintKit Core.