Gold will be the only winner in the current crisis. This is the opinion of a bank's (Natixis) research department, which is not so common, it should be pointed out, as financial institutions rarely speak highly of the precious metal, as it is precisely because it allows one to free oneself from the financial system.
The reasoning is simple: central banks are going to spin their printing presses like never before. They have to finance the explosion of budget deficits but also to support the whole economy by acquiring a lot of private debt. As a result, the supply of money will increase considerably, but where will it go, what assets will it carry?
- Bonds? The rates are barely positive at best, zero or negative for a large part (which means that the price of bonds is at its highest), the margin for progression is therefore very small. The bond market is already in a bubble situation: it absorbed most of the money creation after the subprime crisis in 2008, it cannot repeat the same rally.
- Equities? Many analysts were already talking about bubbles before the coronavirus crisis. Prices fell violently in March, and if they have recovered since then, the economic depression that is looming should cause them to plunge back down. The decline in GDP, i.e. income, consumption and investment, will have a severe impact on all companies and their profits. How can we believe that the stock markets will progress in this context?
- Real estate? On the one hand, commercial real estate will collapse because of the recession, but also because of changes in behaviour (increased use of telecommuting, strong growth in home delivery services, which have benefited from lockdown). On the other hand, residential real estate will suffer from rising unemployment as well as the credit crunch on the part of banks, which are endangered by the rising default rate on their loans (individuals and businesses). Whether prices will fall in a limited or significant way is the only question.
- Commodities? Metals, oil and energy will suffer from the recession, they are absolutely not in a position to take advantage of the situation. Agricultural raw materials will certainly be less affected, but there is no significant increase to be expected, especially as their production can easily be increased if prices rise.
So what remains as an asset that can absorb this monetary tsunami and reassure all investors? An asset that is already significant in size, which excludes- even if they should not be overlooked-narrower sectors (bitcoin, art market, vintage cars). It is gold, of course. Physical gold, because paper gold remains under the threat of a financial crash, the failure of a market place, a "gold run"; physical gold embodies true safety.
How big is the physical gold market? The total gold existing on earth (bars, coins, jewellery) is estimated at 185,000 tonnes, according to several concordant estimates (GFMS Gold Survey, GATA.org). If we consider one kilogram of gold at $50,000 (which makes one ounce, 31.1 grams, at $1,555, approximately the price just before the coronavirus crisis), this stock is worth $9.25 billion. A huge amount, but not even half of the U.S. federal debt, and the global bond market is worth more than $50 trillion. The stock market is also worth much more. The size of the gold market is large enough to be of interest to all investors, but small enough to allow its holders to see its price "rise considerably" as the note says ...
Let's end by saying that it's not too late to buy it- far from it. If its price has already risen, gold is not already too expensive. The amounts at stake are gigantic, we are only at the beginning of the reallocation of portfolios...