VanEck is a global investment manager with offices around the world. To help you find content that is suitable for your investment needs, please select your country and investor type.
Trends with Benefits is a podcast by VanEck with a forward-looking perspective. Host Ed Lopez interviews a guest each week to discover new ways of thinking about the markets, investing, work and life.
Find all relevant documents regarding VanEck’s ETNs such as KIDs, Prospectuses and Final Terms.
Find general legal policies and procedures of VanEck such as the Remuneration Policy or Complaints Procedure.
Through forward-looking, intelligently designed active and ETF solutions, we offer value-added exposures to emerging industries, asset classes and markets as well as differentiated approaches to traditional strategies.
Search the latest job roles and career opportunities at VanEck. Apply today to join our growing European team.
Find the VanEck contact details for all European countries. If you have questions about our range of ETFs and mutual funds, please let us know.
Central banks are tightening, the global commodities shock is intensifying and over the first few days of April the 2/10 treasury yield curve – i.e., the spread between the U.S. 2-year and 10-year treasury yields – turned negative. Historically, these have been harbingers of a slowing economy or recession. Traditional safe havens gold and the U.S. dollar trended higher in early April. Gold tested the $2,000 per ounce level with an intraday high of $1,998 on April 18. While the U.S. Dollar index (DXY)1 went on to test its 20-year highs, the gold market pulled back when, on April 21, U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell sent a strong message at an International Monetary Fund (IMF) gathering where he indicated that more aggressive hikes in interest rates are needed, presumably to fight inflation. Gold was also caught up in a broader commodities selloff when, on April 25, news of China’s worsening COVID outbreak threatened to weaken demand for basic materials. We believe the selling pressure on gold was misplaced, as gold has different drivers than other commodities. Chinese gold demand has returned to pre-COVID levels and the volatility and declines in the Chinese stock and real estate markets have sparked investment demand for gold.
For the month of April, gold declined $40.51 (2.1%) to $1,896.93. The NYSE Gold Miners Index (GDMNTR)2 fell 8.18% and the MVIS Global Junior Gold Index (MVGDXJTR)3 fell 7.71%. A number of companies have reported first quarter results which, so far, have been mostly below expectations. Aside from nagging operating issues that crop up periodically for all mining companies, it became apparent that two primary reasons for the misses – COVID and cost inflation – may persist in the longer term. Canada and Australia are the regions hit hardest by temporary slow-downs or shut downs due to COVID. Remote operations with on-site camps are most vulnerable to outbreaks. Vaccinations have not become the cure-all as hoped, so it looks like miners will have to deal with COVID problems periodically until the virus is eradicated.
Gold companies have been controlling costs by adopting new mine practices and technologies. Examples include autonomous haulage, efforts to replace diesel with battery electric haul vehicles, renewable energy and new communication and data processing systems. However, with first quarter results, it has become apparent that the inflation that has been plaguing many companies and consumers is beginning to impact the gold miners. Scotiabank’s tally of the larger producers shows that, on average, 45% of cash costs are attributable to labor, 8% to fuel, 6% to power, 21% to consumables and 20% to other miscellaneous costs. Costs have been increasing in all of these categories to varying degrees, depending on where a mine is located, how much fuel is hedged and how much inventory is on site. We were expecting a 7% rise in all-in-sustaining-costs to $1,150 per ounce, on average, in 2022. If the inflation we are seeing in the first quarter persists, many companies will probably have to increase their cost guidance by between 1% and 5% later in the year. With gold in a bull market hovering around $1,900, we believe that even with inflation, the industry’s robust margins are safe and gold stocks remain attractive.
In the seventies, a wage-price spiral fueled inflation for years. It now looks as if a new wage-price spiral has begun. The March U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI)4 rose 8.5% and the Producer Price Index (PPI)5 surged 11.2%, the most on record. Meanwhile employment costs also jumped by the most on record, as the employment cost index gained 1.4% in the first quarter. Wide-ranging anecdotal evidence for long-term inflation continues to mount. According to April Wall Street Journal articles:
The Fed’s preferred inflation measure is the Core Personal Consumption Expenditures Index (PCE),6 for which it carries a long-term target of 2%. The chart shows how far behind the Fed is in its inflation fight. When inflation peaked in 1980, 1989 and 2007, the targeted Fed funds rate required to curb inflation stood at roughly double the Core PCE rate. Today, the Fed funds rate is 0.025% – 0.050%, while Core PCE is at 5.2%. This suggests a Fed Funds rate of 10% is in order, a rate that would likely devastate the U.S. economy.
Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Data as of April 2022.
An April report by HSBC’s Stephen King contends that the Fed responds far too slowly to mounting inflation because it attributes inflation to a series of exogenous shocks and it believes its own forecasts that show inflation in decline. Many of the drivers of inflation may have begun as exogenous shocks, but now represent structural changes in the economy. Changes in demographics, labor habits, supply chains, consumption patterns, commodities and manufacturing needs have combined in an inflationary cocktail.
The Fed’s task is only made harder by the fact that the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio was around 30% in 1980, whereas today it is nearly 140%. Aside from a potential debt mess, inflation and rising rates could bring a host of unintended consequences or “black swans”. The first might come from Japan, which has the highest debt/GDP ratio in the developed world. Because of this, the Japanese financial system cannot tolerate higher rates. While the Fed and other central banks are driving rates higher, the Bank of Japan is keeping rates pegged near zero. The U.S. dollar/yen has collapsed to twenty-year lows due to these rate differentials.
Also, Japan is the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries. The currency volatility is causing the cost to hedge the U.S. dollar to surge, which has made U.S. Treasuries unattractive in Japan, despite their much higher yields. According to BMO Capital Markets, Japan has offloaded $60 billion of U.S. Treasuries over the past three months. More volatility in currencies and rates can be expected if Japan continues to sell portions of their $1.3 trillion hoard of U.S. Treasuries at the same time the Fed is reducing its own trillions in U.S. Treasuries through quantitative tightening.
Other countries might feel the sting of a rising U.S. dollar, too. According to the Bank for International Settlements, U.S. dollar debts owed by borrowers outside the U.S. totaled $13 trillion as of the last year’s third quarter. These debts become more expensive in local currencies as the dollar appreciates.
Inflation, Cold War and World War II are topics learned from history books. Ours was a world that would never allow such turmoil or evil to happen again on a global scale. What happens in Venezuela, Syria or Myanmar could never happen here, in the West. Now we find that civilization is not as advanced as we’d like to believe. The worst of human cycles is now repeating, climaxing with war and threats of nuclear annihilation. Gold is again serving its historic role as financial safe haven and store of wealth. However, many gold advocates wonder why the gold price isn’t higher, given all that has transpired.
Gold has been in a secular bull market since December of 2015 when it bottomed at around $1,050 per ounce. Gold’s performance so far is no match for the other secular bull markets in the 1970s and the 2000s. The current bull market is driven by similar macro-economic and geopolitical risks, with some drivers made worse by the pandemic. There is one stark difference that may explain the weaker gold performance so far in this bull market. The U.S. dollar was in a secular bear market in both the 1970s and the -2000s. From 1971 to 1978 the DXY declined 45% and from 2002 to 2008 it fell 41%. However, since December 2015, the DXY has gained 5.2% as it has bounced around in a sideways trend that is currently testing its twenty-year high. While gold and the U.S. dollar sometimes trend higher together in periods of acute financial stress, the normal relationship is inverse. We believe the firm U.S. dollar has muted gold’s advance in the current bull market.
China and Europe appear to be leading the world into recession and the Fed is leading the charge in rate hikes. This all bodes well for the U.S. dollar, at least for now. Gold also has many drivers. The strong U.S. dollar is creating financial stress abroad, it looks like inflation is becoming unhinged and there are geopolitical and economic risks that should continue to drive gold. While we believe gold prices are heading higher, until the U.S. dollar trends lower, gold may not see the spectacular gains of past secular bull markets.
1The U.S. Dollar Index measures the value of the U.S. dollar relative to a basket of foreign currencies, often referred to as a basket of U.S. trade partners' currencies. 2NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDMNTR) is a modified market capitalization-weighted index comprised of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold. 3MVIS Global Junior Gold Miners Index (MVGDXJTR) is a rules-based, modified market capitalization-weighted, float-adjusted index comprised of a global universe of publicly traded small- and medium-capitalization companies that generate at least 50% of their revenues from gold and/or silver mining, hold real property that has the potential to produce at least 50% of the company’s revenue from gold or silver mining when developed, or primarily invest in gold or silver. 4U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in the price for goods and services paid by urban consumers between any two time periods. It can also represent the buying habits of urban consumers. 5The U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) represents the average movement in selling prices from U.S. domestic production over time and is typical utilized as a measure of inflation based on input costs to producers. 6Core Personal Consumption Expenditures Index (PCE) is a price index that measures the prices paid by consumers for goods and services without the volatility caused by movements in food and energy prices.
For informational and advertising purposes only.
This information originates from VanEck (Europe) GmbH which has been appointed as distributor of VanEck products in Europe by the Management Company VanEck Asset Management B.V., incorporated under Dutch law and registered with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). VanEck (Europe) GmbH with registered address at Kreuznacher Str. 30, 60486 Frankfurt, Germany, is a financial services provider regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority in Germany (BaFin). The information is intended only to provide general and preliminary information to investors and shall not be construed as investment, legal or tax advice. VanEck (Europe) GmbH and its associated and affiliated companies (together “VanEck”) assume no liability with regards to any investment, divestment or retention decision taken by the investor on the basis of this information. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) but not necessarily those of VanEck. Opinions are current as of the publication date and are subject to change with market conditions. Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts and other forward looking statements, which do not reflect actual results. Information provided by third party sources are believed to be reliable and have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. All indices mentioned are measures of common market sectors and performance. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.
All performance information is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of principal. You must read the Prospectus and KIID before investing.
No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of VanEck.
© VanEck (Europe) GmbH
ⓘ Learn how to invest in gold