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Gold Consolidates as Fed Considers Balance Sheet Normalization

by Peter A. Grant

September 19, AM
(from --

(Pete Grant is taking a few days off. He will be back Monday, September 25, 2017.)

Gold is consolidating near its two-week low with the two-day FOMC meeting now underway. Expect trading to be relatively subdued until the Fed announces policy tomorrow at 2:00ET.

The yellow metal remains calm, despite a rather significant escalation of of the geopolitical rhetoric at the UN General Assembly this morning. "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," said President Trump. The DPRK will almost assuredly respond in some manner, further escalating an already extremely tense situation.

Jim Rickards was asked what brought gold down yesterday, he responded by tweeting, "Chatter about higher inflation, rate hikes, momentum, etc. None of it will come to pass, but it's the flavor of the month." Someone else asked how many rate hikes he saw for the rest of the year. "Zero" was the reply.

As the Fed ponders policy and whether to start winding-down it's massive $4 trillion balance sheet, a Fed economist raised questions as to whether the build-up of that balance sheet via quantitative easing (QE) did any good at all.

"With respect to QE, there are good reasons to be skeptical that it works as advertised, and some economists have made a good case that QE is actually detrimental." — St. Louis Fed economist Stephen D. Williamson
That assessment begs the question, did global central banks really need to go more than $20 trillion down the QE rabbit-hole in order to reach such a conclusion? I mean the BoJ had been at the QE game for nearly a decade, with little to show for it, before the Fed launched QE1 in late-2008. Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned there.

One thing a world awash in liquidity did accomplish was to inflate asset prices, particularly the stock market. If central banks take the monetary punch-bowl away, is that party about to end?

The ECB is apparently already having doubts about their plan to start tapering asset purchases, particularly with the euro reaching near three-year highs. Some at the central bank are in favor of keeping their options open to expand QE into 2018.

According to Reuters, "Hawks see the currency’s strength as testament to the euro zone’s strong economic growth, while doves fear it reflects weakness in the United States and Britain." If the reality is ultimately revealed to be closer to the latter, easier Fed policy and a weaker dollar will prevail. And that should be bullish for gold.

Opinions expressed in commentary on the website do not constitute an offer to buy or sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any precious metals product, nor should they be viewed in any way as investment advice or advice to buy, sell or hold. USAGOLD, Inc. recommends the purchase of physical precious metals for asset preservation purposes, not speculation. Utilization of these opinions for speculative purposes is neither suggested nor advised. Commentary is strictly for educational purposes, and as such USAGOLD does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information found here.


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For those seeking a deeper understanding of gold's role in the modern investment portfolio

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mkMichael J. Kosares, the author of these articles, has more than 40 years experience in the gold business. He is the founder and executive director of USAGOLD (both the website and gold brokerage service), the author of three books on the gold market, and the editor of "News & Views, Forecasts, Commentary & Analysis on the Economy and Precious Metals," the firm's client letter. He has written numerous magazine and internet essays and is well-known for his ongoing commentary on the gold market and its economic, political and financial underpinnings.


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