Fifty shades of gold

Goldman Sachs created a stir recently when it forecasted that gold (COMEX:GCZ13) would fall to $1,000 an ounce by the end of 2014, as the firm expected the Federal Reserve to reduce its bond buying program. Goldman also suggested that gold miners might want to hedge their output, locking in 2013 prices.

HSBC analysts have also been bearish on gold, although the firm admits that lower gold prices tend to draw out tremendous demand from emerging markets, especially China. Because of that demand, HSBC believes gold will end 2014 at around $1,435 an ounce, says MarketWatch.

Keep in mind that “Goldman Sachs does things that are good for Goldman, not you,” says Bryon King from Agora Financial. Things can change quickly in the gold market, as investors saw when, only days after Goldman’s assertion, the Federal Reserve surprised everyone by announcing it would continue purchasing $85 billion worth of bonds. Gold investors cheered as the precious metal shot up the most in 15 months.

Unlike many commodities, there are many shades to gold, such as the Love Trade’s buying gold for loved ones and the Fear Trade’s purchasing gold as a store of value. An additional “shade” investors need to be aware of is how the Fed interprets the recovery of the U.S. economy.

I had a few reasons to believe Ben Bernanke was going to pull the rug out from under the market’s feet. Before word came out, I told Canada’s Business News Network that the ending of quantitative easing was not going to be abrupt because it’s not a black and white issue.

Consider the lack of significant job growth in the U.S., as many of the jobs that have been created in recent history were part-time positions. Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) links this lackluster employment situation to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. According to the publication’s scorecard, “more than 300 employers have cut work hours or jobs, or otherwise shifted away from full-time staff, to limit liability under ObamaCare.” While providing affordable health care to Americans sounds honorable, the loss of full-time jobs seems to be an unintended consequence from the onerous regulations placed upon a business.

Take a look at IBD’s chart, which shows the accommodations industry’s average weekly hours that nonsupervisors put in since 2000. During each recession, in 2001 and again in 2008 to 2009, the hours dropped. But since ObamaCare was signed into law, which mandated that employers would need to provide health care coverage for staff who work more than 30 hours a week, the average plummeted. As of July, the accommodations industry workweek hit 28.8 hours, “at a record low,” according to IBD.

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