With Two Potential Crises, Buy Gold In Case “Things Go Badly

It’s been a while, years in fact, but suddenly it’s gold’s time to shine again.

Gold: A primary building block of the “cockroach” portfolio. AFP/Getty Images

The yellow metal – insurance against systemic collapse, hyperinflation and infinite political stupidity – which in recent years has seen its popularity fade as the younger generation has gravitated toward the far faster moving crypto currencies – is once again back in the spotlight.

As UBS’ strategist Joni Teves, who has been recommending the precious metal for a long time despite the BOJ’s relentless suppression, writes “gold bounces from recent lows in line with other safe havens amid risk-off sentiment across markets following geopolitical headlines over the past 24 hours.” Below are the key considerations from today’s UBS note:

Key technical levels come into focus for gold, triggering some decent market activity in the middle of this typically quieter summer period. Geopolitical risks tend to have quite a volatile influence on prices and the immediate risk here is that $20 move from yesterday is quickly faded. Gold is holding well so far. We think the risks are somewhat skewed to the upside here, with a break of $1280 likely to attract further attention. Although speculative positions on Comex have increased in the past couple of weeks, overall levels remain lean. Subdued participation this year and lean positioning suggests that market participants would have to play catch-up on a break higher. On the flip side, this also suggests that a pullback is likely to be relatively contained. Additionally, we had previously argued that uncertainty on Fed policy expectations is likely to keep gold broadly supported, especially given downside risks to inflation. US CPI data on Friday should offer some insights; the next important signpost would be the Fed’s Economic Symposium at Jackson Hole, for further guidance on policy.

Separately, in an unexpected endorsement from the head of the world’s biggest hedge fund (excluding apple), overnight Ray Dalio said that clients should move 5% to 10% of their capital to gold as a hedge to the two biggest risk events unfolding today: the rapidly escalating North Korea crisis, and the seemingly intractible debt ceiling crisis, which as former CBO director Rudy Penner said yesterday, would likely lead to a market crash this fall. Here are the highlights which Dalio posted on his LInkedIn page:

… People adapt to the circumstances they have experienced and are then surprised when the future is different than the past. In other words, most people are inclined to assume that the circumstances they have recently encountered will persist, which leads them to change what they are doing to be consistent with that recently experienced environment. For example, low-volatility periods in which credit is readily available tend to lead people to assume that it’s safe to borrow more, which leads them to lever up their positions, which contributes to greater volatility and hurts them when things change.

That appears to be the case now—i.e., prospective risks are now rising and do not appear appropriately priced in because of a) a backward looking at risk and b) corporate leveraging up has been high because interest rates are low relative to many companies’ projected ROEs and because past risks have been low. The emerging risks appear more political than economic, which makes them especially challenging to price in. Most immediately, during the calm of the August vacation season, we are seeing 1) two confrontational, nationalistic, and militaristic leaders playing chicken with each other, while the world is watching to see which one will be caught bluffing, or if there will be a hellacious war, and 2) the odds of Congress failing to raise the debt ceiling (leading to a technical default, a temporary government shutdown, and increased loss of faith in the effectiveness of our political system) rising. It’s hard to bet on such things, one way or another, so the best that one can do is be neutral to such possibilities.

When it comes to assessing political matters (especially global geopolitics like the North Korea matter), we are very humble. We know that we don’t have a unique insight that we’d choose to bet on. We can also say that if the above things go badly, it would seem that gold (more than other safe haven assets like the dollar, yen and treasuries) would benefit, so if you don’t have 5-10% of your assets in gold as a hedge, we’d suggest you relook at this. Don’t let traditional biases, rather than an excellent analysis, stand in the way of you doing this.

Written by Tyler Durden for Zero Hedge ~ August 10, 2017.

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