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Key Change That Nobody Talks About


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Last week, everyone focused on the stock market sell-off. Reasonably enough, given the pace of the declines. But the analysts failed to pay enough attention to the very important shift. That change may be more important than Trumps victory in the presidential election. Will the critical switch make gold shine or dull?

Three Important Legacies of Yellens Fed Tenure
A crucial change is behind us. Powell is the new boss. Yellen is out. For better or worse, she doesnt serve as the Fed Chair any longer. Although economists rated Yellens tenure very highly, President Trump didnt renominate her for the position. Rightly or not? We dont care. Let journalists debate endlessly we will analyze the crucial Yellens imprints on the Fed, which could affect the gold market in the future.

First, Yellen focused mostly on the labor market, not without some successes. We dont attribute it solely to her, but the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 to 4.1 percent under her tenure. As a reminder, the Fed has a dual mandate: maximum employment and stable prices. Although many Fed officials used to worry about high inflation, she was different. Yellen didnt fear the uptick in inflation as long as there was a slack in the labor market. She, thus, believed that ultra low interest rates could and should stay near zero for far longer than previously thought to combat unemployment. Yellen hiked them not earlier than in December 2015. Since then, she gradually raised them to the range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent, which is still very low. The gradual tightening was positive for gold, which would have likely struggled more, had monetary policy been more aggressive. If Jerome Powell continues this cautious policy, gold may shine, despite rising interest rates.

Second, Yellen managed to start the unwinding of the Feds massive balance sheet, without triggering stock market turmoil. After unconventional actions of Bernanke, she had to get back to normal monetary policy, but not too fast. She definitely succeeded. If anything, the Fed is behind the curve. This is why gold wasnt strongly hit by the Feds tightening. The U.S. central bank raised interest rates a few times, but the financial conditions remained easy.

Third, Yellen mastered communication with the public. She held quarterly news conferences and smoothly telegraphed the Feds moves well in advance. Thanks to well-planned expectations guidance, Yellen contrary to Bernanke who triggered a taper tantrum by his unexpected remarks in 2013 avoided any major stumbles. The clear communication transformed golds reaction function. The yellow metal now reacts more to the changes in the rate hike expectations than to real monetary policy decisions. Sell the rumor, buy the fact as one can see in the chart below.

Chart 1: Gold prices under Yellens Fed tenure

Gold under Yellen and her hikes

Jerome Powell Great Continuator or Game Changer?
Jerome Powell is now the new Fed Chair. Analysts expect that he will continue Yellens stance. But will he? How you play depends on your opponent. Yellen faced a sluggish recovery. But Powell sees tax cuts, higher economic growth, very low unemployment and perhaps finally rising wages. He will have to deal with the accelerating inflation, so Powell could move faster on normalization. Actually, such a scenario scared some investors last week into deciding to sell their equities. As people werent sure what to expect of Powell, good economic data turned out once again to be bad news for the financial markets. Surprisingly strong payrolls make traders to worry that the Fed will tighten its stance more. Hence, unless Powell convinces the markets that he will continue Yellens gradual approach, gold may react paradoxically for a safe-haven : decline on bad news and rise on good news.

But will he intervene to calm the financial markets? We dont bet on that. Greenspan cut interest rates after the stock market declined 35 percent in the three months after he became the Fed Chair, but the current downturn is much smaller. Actually, we have seen some rebound since Friday. Another paradox: the correction in stock prices may help Powell in doing his job, because lower equity prices could relieve concerns about the formation of dangerous asset bubbles.

Conclusions
The conclusion is clear: although the latest declines were a tough welcome for Powell, they may actually be helpful for him. He is expected to continue Yellens policy. It is generally true, but economic conditions changed as well as the composition of the FOMC in 2018. It is now more hawkish than last year.

Given these developments, the shift from Yellen to Powell may importantly strengthen the hawks among the Fed. Hence, unless the correction evolves into turmoil, we still expect three (or even four) hikes this year. Indeed, according to CME data, the Fed remains on track to lift the federal funds rate in March. The market odds of a hike are above 75 percent. Higher interest rates should theoretically be negative for gold. But the usual link seems to be broken now. The part of the answer is the U.S. dollar. Another issue is that we are in the late stages of the economic cycle as the cycle matures, volatility increases and investors start to buy more gold as a hedge.

Tomorrow, we will see the newest CPI report, which may affect the markets, given that inflation worries were one of the key reasons behind the recent stock market volatility. Stay tuned!

If you enjoyed the above analysis, we invite you to check out our other services. We focus on fundamental analysis in our monthly Market Overview reports and we provide daily Gold & Silver Trading Alerts with clear buy and sell signals. If youre not ready to subscribe yet and are not on our gold mailing list yet, we urge you to sign up. Its free and if you dont like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Sign me up.

Disclaimer: Please note that the aim of the above analysis is to discuss the likely long-term impact of the featured phenomenon on the price of gold and this analysis does not indicate (nor does it aim to do so) whether gold is likely to move higher or lower in the short- or medium term. In order to determine the latter, many additional factors need to be considered (i.e. sentiment, chart patterns, cycles, indicators, ratios, self-similar patterns and more) and we are taking them into account (and discussing the short- and medium-term outlook) in our trading alerts.

Thank you.

Arkadiusz Sieron, Ph.D.
Sunshine Profits Gold News Monitor and Market Overview Editor


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About the author


Arkadiusz Sieron is a certified Investment Adviser. He is a long-time precious metals market enthusiast, currently a Ph.D. candidate, dissertation on the redistributive effects of monetary inflation (Cantillon effects). Arkadiusz is a free market advocate who believes in the power of peaceful and voluntary cooperation of people. He is an economist and board member at the Polish Mises Institute think tank. He is also a Laureate of the 6th International Vernon Smith Prize. Arkadiusz is the author of Sunshine Profits’ monthly Market Overview report and daily Gold News Monitors, in which he keeps subscribers up-to-date regarding key fundamental developments affecting the gold market and helps them prepare for the major changes.

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