Gold

Can investors/speculators use gold as a hedge for equities or as a general safe haven? Does it hedge against inflation? These blog entries relate to gold as an asset class.

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Simple Gold-Gold Miner Stocks Fund Pair Trading

A reader asked whether the gold-gold miner stocks arbitrage-like argument in Jay Kaeppel’s February 2010 article “Don’t Give Up On Gold Stocks Just Yet” (for which his September 2004 article “Gold Stock and Gold Bullion” is a more robust antecedent) supports frequent timing of these assets. For example, if SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and Market Vectors Gold Miners GDX) diverge over some recent interval, do they then reliably converge quickly? To check, we examine the relative price behaviors of these funds. Using weekly dividend-adjusted closes for GLD and GDX during late May 2006 (inception for GDX) through mid-May 2016, we find that: Keep Reading

Asset Class Momentum Interaction with Market Volatility

Subscribers have proposed that asset class momentum effects should accelerate (shorter optimal ranking interval) when markets are in turmoil (bear market/high volatility). “Asset Class Momentum Faster During Bear Markets?” addresses this hypothesis in a multi-class, relative momentum environment. Another approach is to evaluate the relationship between time series (intrinsic or absolute) momentum and volatility. Applied to the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Implied Volatility Index (VIX), this alternative offers a longer sample period less dominated by the 2008-2009 equity market crash. Specifically, we examine monthly correlations between S&P 500 Index return over the past 1 to 12 months with next-month return to measure strength of time series momentum (positive correlations) or reversal (negative correlations). We compare correlations by ranked fifth (quintile) of VIX at the end of the past return measurement interval to determine (in-sample) optimal time series momentum measurement intervals for different ranges of VIX. We also test whether: (1) monthly change in VIX affects time series momentum for the S&P 500 Index; and, (2) VIX level affects time series momentum for another asset class (spot gold). Using monthly S&P 500 Index levels and spot gold prices since January 1989 and monthly VIX levels since inception in January 1990, all through April 2016, we find that: Keep Reading

Do Conventional SMAs Identify Gold Market Regimes?

Do simple moving averages (SMA) commonly used to identify stock market bull and bear regimes work similarly for the spot gold market? To investigate, we consider two market regime indicators: the 200-day SMA and a combination of the 50-day and 200-day SMAs. Because trading days for gold and stocks are sometimes different, we also check a 10-month SMA based on monthly closes. Using daily and monthly spot gold prices and S&P 500 Index levels during January 1973 through April 2016, we find that: Keep Reading

Any Seasonality for Gold or Gold Miners?

Do gold and gold mining stocks exhibit distinct seasonality? Using monthly closes for the spot price of gold in dollars per ounce and the S&P 500 Index since January 1979, PHLX Gold/Silver Sector (XAU) since December 1983, AMEX Gold Bugs Index (HUI) since June 1996 and SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) since November 2004, all through March 2016, we find that: Keep Reading

Illiquid Asset Returns over the Long Run

Are illiquid assets competitive as investments with liquid financial assets over the long run? In his March 2016 paper entitled “The Long-Term Returns to Durable Assets”, Christophe Spaenjers summarizes long-term returns for three types of illiquid assets since the start of the 20th century:

  1. Houses and farmland.
  2. Collectibles (art, stamps, wine and violins).
  3. Gold, silver and diamonds.

He focuses on capital gains but comments on ancillary costs and potential associated income where relevant. Using available monthly price indexes for these assets from a variety of sources during 1900 through 2014, he finds that: Keep Reading

Best Safe Haven ETF?

A subscriber asked which exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies make the best safe havens for the U.S. stock market as proxied by the S&P 500 Index. To investigate, we consider the the following 12 ETFs as potential safe havens:

Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU)
SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (RWR)
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF)
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY)
iShares Core US Aggregate Bond (AGG)
iShares TIPS Bond (TIP)
SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
PowerShares DB Commodity Tracking ETF (DBC)
United States Oil (USO)
iShares Silver Trust (SLV)
PowerShares DB G10 Currency Harvest ETF (DBV)

We consider three ways of testing these ETFs as safe havens for the U.S. stock market based on daily, weekly and monthly return measurement frequencies:

  1. Contemporaneous return correlation with the S&P 500 Index during all market conditions.
  2. Return/performance during S&P 500 Index bear markets as specified by the index being below its 200-day/40-week/10-month simple moving average (SMA) for the prior measurement interval.
  3. Return/performance during S&P 500 Index bear markets as specified by the index being in drawdown from a prior high-water mark by more than some percentage (baseline -10%) for the prior measurement interval.

Using daily, weekly and monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the 12 ETFs from their respective inceptions through January 2016, and contemporaneous daily, weekly and monthly levels of the S&P 500 Index from 10 months before the earliest ETF inception through January 2016, we find that: Keep Reading

Gold Futures vs. Gold Miner Stocks

How do gold futures and gold miner stocks interact? In their January 2016 paper entitled “Are Gold Bugs Coherent?”, Brian Lucey and Fergal O’Connor examine the relationship between gold miner stock behavior (NYSE ARCA Gold Bugs Index) and the price of gold (COMEX gold futures). Specifically, they apply wavelet transforms to analyze the degree of co-movement (coherency) and lead-lag tendencies between changes in the Gold Bugs Index and gold futures price measured at both short and long intervals. Using daily closes for the two series during January 1998 through most of November 2015 (see the chart below), they find that: Keep Reading

Gold a Consistent Dynamic Inflation Hedge?

Is gold a consistent hedge against inflation? In their October 2015 preliminary paper entitled “Is Gold a Hedge Against Inflation? A Wavelet Time-Frequency Perspective”, Thomas Conlon, Brian Lucey and Gazi Salah Uddin examine the inflation-hedging properties of gold over an extended period at different measurement frequencies (investment horizons) in four economies (U.S., UK, Switzerland and Japan). They consider both realized and unexpected inflation. They also test the inflation-hedging ability of gold futures and gold stocks. Using monthly consumer price indexes (not seasonally adjusted) for the four countries and monthly returns for spot gold (bullion) in the four associated currencies since January 1968, monthly survey-based U.S. inflation expectations since January 1978, and monthly returns on the Philadelphia Gold and Silver Index (XAU) as a proxy for gold stocks since January 1984, all through December 2014, they find that: Keep Reading

GDX vs. GLD

How are performances of physically backed gold and gold miner exchange-traded funds (ETF) similar and different? To investigate we consider SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX). Using weekly returns for these assets, and for SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), over the available sample period of May 2006 through September 2015 (limited by GDX), we find that: Keep Reading

Best Bear Market Asset Class?

A subscriber asked which asset (short stocks, cash, bonds by subclass) is best to hold during equity bear markets, defined simply as intervals when SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) is below its 10-month simple moving average (SMA10). To investigate, we test the following nine alternatives, five of which are bond-like mutual funds and two of which are gold-related:

Short SPY
Cash, with return estimated as the yield on 13-week U.S. Treasury bills (T-bill)
Vanguard GNMA Securities (VFIIX)
T. Rowe Price International Bonds (RPIBX)
Vanguard Long-Term Treasury Bonds (VUSTX)
Fidelity Convertible Securities (FCVSX)
T. Rowe Price High-Yield Bonds (PRHYX)
Fidelity Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX)
Spot Gold

Specifically, we compare monthly return statistics, cumulative performances and maximum drawdowns of these nine alternatives for months during which SPY is below its SMA10. Using monthly T-bill yield and monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the above assets during January 1993 (as limited by SPY) through August 2015, we find that: Keep Reading

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