Investors traditionally load up on gold when domestic or global events signal potential problems ahead. Despite the budget battle in the U.S., the continuing credit crisis in Europe and ongoing tension in the Mideast, gold prices are retreating. Gold futures are now trading below $1,700 an ounce after peaking just above $1,900 in June 2011.
Goldman Sachs today warned about "growing downside risks" in the yellow metal and reduced its 12-month price forecast by 7.2% to $1,800 an ounce. "The cycle in gold prices is near an inflection point," Goldman says.
Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, doesn't agree. He says the factors pushing down gold prices are temporary and the precious metal will ultimately rally to $3,000, $5,000 or even more per ounce in the near future.
In the meantime, says Schiff, gold prices are retreating because investors in the U.S. are taking profits before capital gains taxes potentially rise. European investors are unloading their gold holdings as they become more confident about their own economies. Redemptions by hedge funds and other institutional investors positioning themselves for the new year are also contributing to the selloff, Schiff notes.
"Even if you consider all those factors, the price of gold has barely gone down," Schiff tells The Daily Ticker. "The uptrend is still intact and gold is going a lot higher particularly if we avoid the fiscal cliff."
(If the U.S. does not avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, massive tax hikes and spending cuts will automatically take effect and threaten to send the economy into recession, which would reduce demand for gold and other commodities. But some analysts say a stronger economy is bearish for gold because demand for gold as a safe haven declines, often as demand for the U.S. dollar rises.)
"We're asking the world to give us money indefinitely so that we can live beyond our means," Schiff adds. "When the world figures this out and decides it doesn't want to play this anymore, it's going to mean a much bigger drop in the dollar. The fed will have to print even more money to keep interest rates artificially low and [gold] prices will skyrocket."