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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.

Gold Price and U.S. Interest Rates

Do recent reactions of gold price to interest rate-related U.S. economic announcements (rising on rate-suppressing news) mean that gold acts like a bond? In their September 2013 paper entitled “What if Gold is a Bond?”, Claude Erb and Campbell Harvey re-examine the relationship between gold price and interest rates as proxied by U.S. government bond prices. Using monthly spot gold price, 10-year U.S. Treasury note (T-note) yield and U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) yield as available during January 1975 through August 2013, they find that: Keep Reading

Future of the Price of Gold

Will increases in central bank and investor holdings of gold drive its price higher? Or, is the price of gold in bubble territory, portending weak future returns? In the May 2013 update of their paper entitled “The Golden Dilemma”, Claude Erb and Campbell Harvey investigate how investors should treat gold in asset allocation. They consider a range of arguments for owning gold, such as: (1) gold hedges inflation; (2) gold hedges currency decline; (3) gold is attractive when other assets are not; (4) gold is a safe haven in times of crisis; (5) gold is a de facto world currency; and, (6) central banks and investors in aggregate are still underweighting gold. Using gold price in U.S. dollars, the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) and values of several currencies, mostly during January 1975 (the end of the government-fixed gold price era) through March 2012, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Diversification Power Failure?

Do the relationships among returns for stocks and the most heavily traded commodities (gold and crude oil) consistently offer risk diversification? In their July 2013 paper entitled “Gold, Oil, and Stocks”, Jozef Baruník, Evzen Kocenda and Lukas Vacha analyze the return relationships among stocks ( the S&P 500 Index), gold and oil (light crude) over the past 26 years. Specifically, they test the degrees to which their prices: (1) co-move; (2) reliably lead one another; and, share any long-term relationships (such as ratios to which they revert). They seek robustness of findings by employing a variety of methods, data sampling frequencies and investment horizons. Using intraday and daily prices of the most active rolling futures contracts for the S&P 500 Index, gold and light crude oil during 1987 through 2012, they find that: Keep Reading

Gold Bubble? Yes

Does the rapid appreciation in gold price over the past decade represent a price bubble? In the October 2012 draft of their paper entitled “A Gold Bubble?”, Dirk Baur and Kristoffer Glover test for bubbles in gold price over the past four decades. Their test method is purely technical, focusing on price explosiveness and requiring no assessment of fundamental value. They consider also a complementary behavioral explanation of the technical analysis. Using daily and monthly gold prices in U.S. dollars during January 1970 through August 2012 (see the chart below), they find that: Keep Reading

Modeling and Forecasting the Price of Gold

Does modeling gold price relationships with other variables based on entire distributions differ from that based only on distribution means? In their May 2012 paper entitled “Is Gold Overpriced?”, Lingjie Ma and George Patterson apply a quantile regression model (considering effects across the distribution) to investigate long-run relationships between the price of gold and various economic and financial variables. Specifically, they relate gold price to lagged quarterly nominal U.S. GDP growth rate, lagged monthly U.S. unemployment rate, monthly U.S. inflation rate, U.S. dollar index, monthly Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) return, 3-month U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield and monthly West Texas Intermediate crude oil spot price. They compare quantile regression results to those from a conventional Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) model (which focuses on distribution averages). Using daily London P.M. gold prices in dollars per ounce and values for the selected predictive variables from April 1968 (when the price of gold began to move freely) through March 2012, they find that: Keep Reading

“Real” Assets and Inflation

Which asset class best hedges inflation? In the September 2012 draft of his book chapter entitled “‘Real’ Assets”, Andrew Ang examines the behaviors of the following assets commonly thought to hold their value during times of high inflation (“real” assets): inflation-linked bonds, commodities, real estate and U.S. Treasury bills (T-bill). He focuses on inflation as year-over-year change in the U.S. Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers and all items, but considers also inflation rates for medical care and higher education. He distinguishes inflation hedging (measured by correlation of returns and inflation) from long-run asset class performance. Using asset class proxy returns and U.S. inflation rates as available through 2011, he finds that: Keep Reading

Gold as Diversifier Versus Safe Haven

Has increasing use of gold as a portfolio diversifier changed the response of its price to crises? In their August 2012 paper entitled “The Destruction of a Safe Haven Asset?”, Dirk Baur and Kristoffer Glover examine the potential of investor behavior to extinguish the safe haven property of gold. Specifically, they consider how widespread inclusion of gold as a diversifier in investment portfolios affects gold price behavior in times of crisis. Based on theoretical conjecture and price data for gold during major financial market crises, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Safe Haven Asset Dynamics

How does the effectiveness of safe havens vary over time? In the February 2012 draft of their paper entitled “Safe Haven Assets and Investor Behaviour under Uncertainty”, Dirk Baur and Thomas McDermott examine the roles of gold and U.S. Treasury instruments as safe haven assets during times of financial markets uncertainty. They define a safe haven asset as an asset that is either uncorrelated or negatively correlated with other assets when those other assets are in distress. They focus on the effects of changes in uncertainty (shocks) on asset values and on the pairwise relationships between stocks, bonds and gold. Using daily returns in U.S. dollars for a global stock market index, U.S. Treasuries (2-year, 10-year and 30-year) and gold bullion (spot and futures) from 1980 through 2010 (more than 8,000 daily returns over 31 years), they find that: Keep Reading

Gold Seasonality Drivers

Does seasonal fear of stock market weakness or demand for jewelry drive gold prices? In his January 2012 paper entitled “The Seasonality of Gold – Jewelery Demand and Investor Behavior”, Dirk Baur examines calendar month seasonality of the price of gold. Using daily gold bullion spot prices (London fixing) and COMEX gold futures prices during 1981 through 2010 (30 years), along with contemporaneous stock market index and gold jewelry demand data, he finds that: Keep Reading

Multi-year Performance of Non-equity Leveraged ETFs

An array of leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETF) track short-term (daily) changes in commodity and currency exchange indexes. Over longer holding periods, these ETFs tend to veer off track. The cumulative veer can be large. How do leveraged ETFs perform over a multi-year period? What factors contribute to their failure to track underlying indexes? To investigate, we consider a set of 12 ProShares 2X leveraged index ETFs (six matched long-short pairs), involving a commodity index, oil, gold, silver and the euro-dollar and yen-dollar exchange rates, with the start date of 12/9/08 determined by inception of the youngest of these funds (Ultra Yen). Using daily dividend-adjusted prices for these funds over the period 12/9/08 through 11/4/11 (almost three years), we find that: Keep Reading

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