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Gold Rush Of 1980 Sparked By Turmoil In Iran & Afghanistan

September 29, 2014

During the financial crisis in September 2008,  the gold price rose $50 in one day, September 18, as investors sought refuge in the one asset that they perceived to be a safe-haven of high liquidity and high credit quality. This one day move in September 2008 was the largest one day move since February 1980. 

Back in late 1979 and early 1980, some of the key drivers that propelled the gold price higher were the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis.

Just looking back at old newspaper gold market commentaries in 1979 and 1980 will highlight that a lot of the key drivers for the rise in the gold price at that time were geo-politically related.

Today, the world appears to be as uncertain if not more uncertain. Indeed, in 1980 there was little risk of terrorism - state sponsored or otherwise.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the gold futures markets did not have nearly as large an impact on the world gold price as they does now, and the gold price was primarily driven by physical demand for gold, a lot of which was Middle Eastern and Asian demand. 

The concept of unallocated gold accounts in the London market was in its infancy and was only being discussed by the five gold fixing bullion banks as a security issue in not having to move gold shipments around London so often. The practice of having unallocated gold not fully backed by allocated gold was not encouraged at that time.

Fast forward to today, and the 'flight to quality' and 'financial insurance' characteristics of gold should in theory be as important now as they were in 1979-1980 given similar invasions and occupations in various countries, not least in the Middle East with ISIS, and the renewed bombing in Syria/Iraq by the US and/or a US coalition. 

Coupled with these worsening geopolitical developments, global macro economic risks remain elevated, with official interest rates at historically low levels, continued central bank balance sheet expansion through quantitative easing programs, and continued fiat currency debasement in the US dollar, Euro and other reserve currencies. 

Inflationary risks therefore remain at the forefront. But at the same time, the gold price barometer is not signalling these inflationary risks either. 
  
The key driver of the gold price at the moment is perceived to be the relative strength of the US dollar, yet the US dollar is only stronger compared to the other main currencies because these currencies, such as the Euro, are weak due to their economies remaining weak and their money supplies having been debased. 

The economic recovery in the US is tentative at best. With the current weakness in the gold price, there is a growing cacophony that the safe haven qualities of gold are no longer relevant. Indeed, some in the financial markets are saying that the current gold bull market is dead. 

It would appear to us that the factors that would make gold a safe-haven asset have not gone away. 

In fact these factors are strengthening, as described above. The only rational explanation appears to be that gold remains an investment safe-haven as it has always done, but that this is not yet being recognised by the price discovery process in the market.

Adding in the fact that there is a continued disconnect between, on the one hand, the global physical gold market primarily driven out of China and India, and on the other hand, the New York gold futures market and unallocated London bullion market on the other hand, then this disconnect should not be expected to persist over the medium term.

This is especially the case given the heightened geopolitical and macroeconomic risks. 

With the gold price not yet signalling the geopolitical and macroeconomic alarm bells that many would have expected it to, the question of gold price manipulation remains a valid question.

Recent gold price manipulation by an investment bank for commercial reasons has been established in the case of the successful prosecution against Barclays by the FCA regulator. 

For strategic reasons, central banks do not welcome a disorderly increase in the gold price because it makes their fiat currencies look vulnerable and adds to inflationary expectations.

It is therefore not unrealistic to think that some of the current gold price weakness may be related to nonpublic gold market interventions by some of the world's central banks such as the Federal Reserve and the ECB, perhaps under the auspices of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). 

There is plenty of documentary evidence to suggest that the G10 central banks have historically discussed the gold price during their regular meetings and they also are very cautious on allowing more recent document releases through freedom of information requests. 

For different reasons, the Chinese government welcomes a low gold price since it allows China to continue to accumulate gold in large quantities. Even if this accumulation of gold by China is being done for other reasons, it does act as a way of hedging China's exposure to its vast holdings of US dollar denominated Treasuries. Time will tell if this has been China's strategy.    

Most markets these days are being manipulated. Therefore it seems very possibly that the gold and silver markets are too. This could be one of the factors in the precious metals surprisingly poor performance in recent weeks despite significant geopolitical and indeed economic uncertainty.

The Middle East is a powder keg that seems likely to explode. The U.S. and western nations have taken a hard stance against an increasingly powerful Russia. This is effecting an already fragile Eurozone and other economies.

Brinkmanship and a failure of diplomacy has brought the world close to a serious military conflict.

Gold has protected wealth throughout history from financial crises and war. We believe it will continue to do so in the coming years

It is very likely that tensions will lead to safe haven demand for gold and higher prices. An economic war has broken out between major world powers and the historical record shows that sanctions and protectionism tend to lead to military confrontation and war.

Everybody should own some physical gold as a hedge and a safe haven asset to protect against the significant risks challenging us today which include bail-ins, currency wars, terrorism and war.

The contention therefore is that, for now, the death of safe haven gold has been greatly exaggerated.

Gold is a hedging instrument and a safe haven asset as seen in history and much academic research in recent years. That is not apparent in recent weeks but we believe it will be in the medium and long term.

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Courtesy of http://www.goldcore.com/


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