Has Gold Broken Free?

I am hesitant to comment on financial markets based on just a few days of moves, even if they are big moves.  A few days up or down do not necessarily make a trend.

With that said, it is interesting to observe what has happened in the markets over the last week or so.  The stock market has done poorly.  Bonds have also done poorly, as the 10-year yield is getting within striking distance of 3% as of this writing.  You can't always believe the headlines, but many are speculating that the recent down days for stocks and bonds is over fear of the Fed's possible "tapering" of its monetary inflation.

The problem here is that gold has been doing well recently.  While this could certainly change quickly, the price of gold (in terms of dollars) is nearing $1,400 per ounce.  While this is obviously still well off its all-time highs, it has bounced up from its recent lows.

So if stocks and bonds are down due to fears over the Fed reducing its easy monetary policy (the understatement of the century), then why hasn't gold gone down too?  Perhaps the simple explanation is that gold was not being propped up as much as stocks and bonds from the Fed's "quantitative easing".  You could say that stocks and bonds are bubbles.

Regardless, it looks as though gold is breaking any correlation it had with stocks.  One of the reasons that some financial advisors recommend gold for a portfolio (although usually too low of a percentage) is because gold and stocks are not highly correlated.  If stocks do poorly, the hope is that gold will soften the blow.

However, in the last several years, gold and stocks have actually been somewhat correlated.  They were going up together prior to 2008 and they went down together with the crash of 2008.  They also bounced back together.  It was only in the last year or so that gold pulled back while stocks made new all-time highs, at least in nominal terms.  And now it seems that they have really divorced themselves, as gold rises in the face of falling stocks, even if temporarily.

This is particularly interesting because much of the talk in the investment world has been revolving around the Fed's monetary policy.  If the Fed's monetary inflation were the sole source of investments doing well, then you would expect gold and stocks to be more highly correlated at this time.

It is always important to remember that investment markets don't have to be rational.  Demand is made up of millions of people making decisions.  For some reason, in this round of quantitative easing, the newly created money has found its way into stocks.  There has been no bubble in gold.

It is also important to remember that things can change quickly as we have seen in the last couple of weeks.  All of a sudden, gold is showing signs of life, while stocks are struggling.  Again, this isn't to say that it will continue this way for sure.  But maybe this is the early sign of a newly recharged bull market in gold that will see new all-time highs.