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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.

Negative 30-year Real Yield as Gold Buy Signal

A subscriber asked for corroboration of an assertion that a negative 30-year U.S. Treasury real yield indicates a good time to buy gold. To investigate, we employ the following monthly data:

Each month, we subtract the 12-month past change in CPI (lagged one month for release delay) from the 30-year yield. When this real yield turns negative, we buy spot gold at the end of the same month and sell it the at the end of the month when the real yield turns positive. Using monthly data as specified through May 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Real Interest Rates and Asset Returns

How sensitive are returns of stocks, bonds and gold to levels real interest rates (nominal rates minus inflation)? To investigate, we consider three nominal interest rates and two measures of inflation, as follows:

These choices offer six alternative real interest rates. We use end-of-month interest rates and inflation measures lagged by one month to account for release delay. We use the S&P 500 Index (SP500) capital gain only, the 10-year yield (with bond prices moving inversely) and spot gold price, all measured end-of-month, to represent returns for stocks, bonds and gold. We then relate monthly changes in real interest rates to asset class monthly returns in two ways: (1) calculate correlations of monthly real interest rates to asset class returns for each of the next 12 months to get a sense of how real rates lead asset returns; and, (2) calculate average asset class monthly returns by ranked tenths (deciles) of prior-month real interest rates to discover any non-linear relationships. Using monthly PCEPI and Core PCEPI since January 1961, interest rates since January 1962, SP500 level since December 1961 and spot gold price since December 1974 (when controls are removed), all through May 2021, we find that:

Keep Reading

Gold Price Drivers?

What drives the price of gold: inflation, interest rates, stock market behavior, public sentiment? To investigate, we relate monthly and annual spot gold return to changes in:

We start testing in 1975 because: “On March 17, 1968, …the price of gold on the private market was allowed to fluctuate…[, and] in 1975…the price of gold was left to find its free-market level.” We lag CPI measurements by one month to ensure they are known to the market when calculating gold return. Using monthly data from December 1974 (March 1978 for consumer sentiment) through May 2021, we find 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 test 14 ETFs as potential safe havens:

Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU)
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF)
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY)
iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
iShares Core US Aggregate Bond (AGG)
iShares TIPS Bond (TIP)
Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ)
SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
PowerShares DB Commodity Tracking (DBC)
United States Oil (USO)
iShares Silver Trust (SLV)
PowerShares DB G10 Currency Harvest (DBV)
SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill (BIL)

We consider three ways of testing these ETFs as safe havens for the U.S. stock market based on daily or monthly returns:

  1. Contemporaneous return correlation with the S&P 500 Index during all market conditions at daily and monthly frequencies.
  2. Performance during S&P 500 Index bear markets as defined by the index being below its 10-month simple moving average (SMA10) at the end of the prior month.
  3. Performance during S&P 500 Index bear markets as defined by the index being -20%, -15% or -10% below its most recent peak at the end of the prior month.

Using daily and monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the 14 ETFs since respective inceptions, and contemporaneous daily and monthly levels of the S&P 500 Index since 10 months before the earliest ETF inception, all through late April 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Comparing and Contrasting Gold and Bitcoin

Are gold and bitcoin similar assets? In his December 2020 paper entitled “Bitcoin is Exactly Like Gold Except When it Isn’t”, Claude Erb compares and contrasts the following aspects of gold and bitcoin:

  • Inflation hedge – how well an asset tracks some measure of inflation/purchasing power.
  • Store of value – the ability of an asset to hold its value over long periods.
  • Safe haven – how well an asset holds its value during equity market crashes.
  • Valuation – intrinsic value of an asset.

Based on a survey of related research and arguments, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Tactical Signals from a Gold/Silver Ratio?

Can investors holding a position in gold as inflation hedge/equity crash protection improve performance of this position by shifting to silver when the gold-to-silver ratio is high? To investigate, we track the ratio of SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) price to iShares Silver Trust (SLV) price and look to switch from GLD to SLV while the latter is relatively undervalued. Using end-of-month prices of GLD and SLV during April 2006 (limited by inception of SLV) through January 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

QQQ:IWM for Risk-on and GLD:TLT for Risk-off?

A subscriber asked about a strategy that switches between an equal-weighted portfolio of Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) and iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) when the S&P 500 Index is above its 200-day simple moving average (SMA200) and an equal-weighted portfolio of SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) when below. Also, more generally, is an equal-weighted portfolio of GLD and TLT (GLD:TLT) superior to TLT only for risk-off conditions? To investigate, we (1) backtest the switching strategy and (2) compare performances of GLD:TLT versus TLT when the S&P 500 Index is below its SMA200. We consider both gross and net performance, with the latter accounting for 0.1% portfolio switching frictions 0.001% daily portfolio rebalancing frictions (rebalancing one hundredth of portfolio value). As benchmarks, we consider buying and holding SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) and a strategy that holds SPY (TLT) when the S&P 500 Index is above (below) its SMA200. Using daily S&P 500 Index levels starting February 5, 2004 and daily dividend-adjusted levels of QQQ, IWM, GLD, TLT and SPY starting November 18, 2004 (limited by inception of GLD), all through November 25, 2020, we find that:

Keep Reading

Bitcoin Displacing Gold?

Is Bitcoin beginning to displace gold as a U.S. dollar hedge? To investigate, we look at rolling correlations of returns for the following pairs of exchange-traded funds (ETF):

  1. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and SPDR Gold Shares (GLD). This relationship should perhaps trend negative if investors are shifting from gold to Bitcoin.
  2. GBTC and Invesco DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (UUP). This relationship should perhaps trend negative if investors are hedging currency weakness with Bitcoin.
  3. GLD and UUP. This relationship should perhaps trend less negative if investors are shifting away from gold as a currency hedge.

Using daily and monthly adjusted prices for these three ETFs during May 2015 (limited by GBTC) through mid-November 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Any Seasonality for Gold or Gold Miners?

Do gold and gold mining stocks exhibit exploitable seasonality? Using monthly closes for spot gold and the S&P 500 Index since December 1974, 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 September 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Gold Globally

Is gold a hedge and safe haven for other asset classes globally? In their September 2020 paper entitled “Gold as a Financial Instrument”, Pedro Gomis‐Porqueras, Shuping Shi and David Tan explore effectiveness of gold as hedge and safe haven for a variety of international market risks. They define a hedge as an asset with return uncorrelated or negatively correlated with that of another asset overall. They define a strong (weak) safe haven as an asset with return negatively correlated (uncorrelated) with that of a crashing asset. Their methodology accounts for both the magnitude and speed of asset price change. They focus on reactions of gold price to crises associated with European government debt, crude oil (an inflation proxy) and equity markets. Using gold, European government debt, crude oil and stock market prices and U.S. dollar exchange rates with other currencies during June 1997 through June 2020, they find that: Keep Reading

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