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Steve Saville: Dubai, Inflation, and Gold

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December 08, 2009 – Comments (5)

I have said this many times in the past, that gold is not only a hedge against inflation, but is a hedge against financial shenanigans and economic instability (loss of confidence). In fact I said the same thing this morning in the comment section of my post: http://caps.fool.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?bpid=307389

"There is absolutely nothing in economics that has only one cause and one effect. There are primary causes and secondary causes (and always multiple ones), and the primary cause at one time might become a secondary cause at a later time!!

"Gold is only a hedge against inflation". First this is an incomplete statement because it does not distinguish between monetary inflation and price inflation (most people are not even aware of the difference). And gold is a hedge against inflation and it is also a hedge against financial instability / loss of confidence.

It the 1980s, we had massive inflation. However gold dropped. So there is a contradiction right there. Why? Because Volcker's policies returned confidence back to the financial markets. And the future outlook, even though it was inflationary at the time, was deemed to be bright enough that people poured back into equities and left the safety of gold. (An example of a primary cause and a secondary cause switching importance)."


I think Steve Saville puts it very accurately here:

As we've explained a number of times over the years, it is not strictly correct to say that gold is a hedge against inflation. We are convinced, however, that under the current system a high rate of monetary inflation is one of the two primary ingredients of a long-term gold bull market. Monetary inflation is not sufficient by itself, but when mixed with the second ingredient the result will be a powerful advance lasting many years.

The second ingredient is: enough economic weakness/problems to bring about a general increase in the desire to save. The economic problems cause both an increase in the desire to save and a reduction in the demand for growth-oriented investments such as equities, while a high rate of monetary inflation prompts people to save in terms of something other than the official currency.

Rather than saying that gold is a hedge against inflation it is therefore more correct to say that gold is a hedge against inflation under certain economic conditions. At other times, investments such as general equities could prove to be far better hedges against inflation.



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Dubai, Inflation, and Gold -- http://news.goldseek.com/SpeculativeInvestor/1260288000.php
by Steve Saville
    
December 08, 2009

What caused Dubai's boom and bust?


Frank Shostak had some interesting things to say about Dubai's financial troubles in the brief article posted at http://blog.mises.org/archives/011119.asp. Of particular importance, he explains that the boom/bust policies of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) central bank are at the root of today's predicament. According to Shostak, in response to the central bank's rapid money pumping the yearly rate of growth of the UAE's AMS (Austrian Money Supply) jumped from 6% in October 2006 to 62% in April 2008. This massive money pumping supported various activities that would/could not have persisted in its absence.

He goes on to point out that the pace of pumping by the central bank reversed course and began to trend downward in January of 2008, resulting in the yearly rate of growth of AMS falling to MINUS 12.5% by July this year. The fall in the money-supply growth rate put pressure on the 'bubble' activities that sprang up on the back of previous pumping.

To varying degrees, something along the lines of the Dubai experience is taking place throughout much of the world. Describing it in general terms, an investment bubble big enough to engulf a large part of the economy gets fomented by the central bank's inflationary policies (money pumping, suppression of interest rates and manipulation of currency exchange rates). After a considerable time the central bank tries to deflate the bubble, typically because the evidence of an inflation problem has spread from the financial markets to the realm of everyday goods and services, and these restrictive efforts eventually lead to sharp declines in asset prices and an economic slump. To stem the price decline and support the economy, the central bank then returns to its inflation-promoting ways. The additional money it helps create eventually leads to rapid price increases somewhere in the economy, and so on. The process can -- and probably will -- continue until there is a complete collapse of the monetary system.

A relevant point not mentioned in the Shostak article is that the UAE's rapid monetary inflation was an indirect consequence of US monetary policy. The UAE pegs its currency (the Dirham) to the USD, so a large increase in the supply of US dollars brings about the need for a large increase in the supply of the UAE's currency (to prevent the Dirham from rising in value relative to the USD). Moreover, to maintain the currency peg the UAE central bank's money pumping had to be disproportionately fast because a disproportionately large quantity of the newly created dollars made their way to the UAE. This was because the oil market was one of the main beneficiaries of inflation during 2003-2008.

Dubai's dire financial situation is therefore a good example of how the Fed wreaks havoc throughout the world, not just in the US.

Is gold a hedge against inflation?

As we've explained a number of times over the years, it is not strictly correct to say that gold is a hedge against inflation. We are convinced, however, that under the current system a high rate of monetary inflation is one of the two primary ingredients of a long-term gold bull market. Monetary inflation is not sufficient by itself, but when mixed with the second ingredient the result will be a powerful advance lasting many years.

The second ingredient is: enough economic weakness/problems to bring about a general increase in the desire to save. The economic problems cause both an increase in the desire to save and a reduction in the demand for growth-oriented investments such as equities, while a high rate of monetary inflation prompts people to save in terms of something other than the official currency.

Rather than saying that gold is a hedge against inflation it is therefore more correct to say that gold is a hedge against inflation under certain economic conditions. At other times, investments such as general equities could prove to be far better hedges against inflation.

Before leaving this topic we'll point out that under the current monetary system gold will never be a hedge against deflation. If the public believes that the official currency will be worth more in the future than it is in the present then its demand for gold will almost certainly not rise (and will most likely wane). For example, the investment demand for gold has been ramping upward over the past 12 months because, rightly or wrongly, most people don't believe the arguments being made by the deflationists. Instead, they are looking at how the authorities reacted to last year's financial crisis and are assuming -- again, rightly or wrongly -- that every crisis will be met with a flood of new money. If at some future time this belief proves to be wrong and the deflationists' arguments prove to be correct, then at that time the investment demand for gold -- and the gold price -- will fall.

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 08, 2009 at 9:18 PM, Tastylunch (29.30) wrote:

I have said this many times in the past, that gold is not only a hedge against inflation, but is a hedge against financial shenanigans and economic instability

I'd argue it's actually far more effective at the latter than the former though both are true. However It can work in some deflationary environments as well (such as the great D).

I like to call it a hedge against government. In all honesty I really think that's what it is. It took me awhile to really hammer this out in my mind.

Which is why I'm back to bullish midterm on Gold (short term looks like it could go negative which would be sweet!).

Shenanigans ahoy!

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#2) On December 08, 2009 at 11:52 PM, UltraContrarian (31.53) wrote:

The content on this site is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and is the property of GoldSeek.com and/or the providers of the content under license.

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#3) On December 09, 2009 at 12:02 AM, Tastylunch (29.30) wrote:

UltraContrarian

That brings up and interesting issue that may become a problem for CAPS blogs at some point

I don't think there is a clear legal standard on linking and copyright as it applies to the internet sharing.

My understanding is that as long as you only copy 1-2 paragraphs and link to the story it's perfectly legal. Beyond that it gets kinda murky. Lots of conflicting rulings

Still I'm pretty sure Wapo made the Fool take down one of Jakila's blogs...

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#4) On December 09, 2009 at 8:45 AM, binv271828 (< 20) wrote:

Tastylunch, Thanks man. Absolutely, that is another great way to put it, a hedge against the government. GDP manipulation through government spending works to manipulate a few quarters into + GDP Quarters, but it changes the structure of the economy and ultimately props up non-productive enterprise that will fail once the stimulus is removed. This plus very finanical top-heavy econonmic activty (as a product of past government policies) in the midst of high monetary inflation (directly governmental) makes gold a good government hedge.

I really like that man, thanks!

UltraContrarian, Oops!!! Shame on binv for not reading the print at the bottom of the website! Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I need to be much more careful in the future when I repost things and where I repost them from..

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#5) On December 09, 2009 at 9:43 AM, cthomas1017 (95.48) wrote:

Generally speaking, we're safe if we post the first two paragraphs and then link to the original source.

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