The Flock of Black Swans Facing Gold


"While the commodity spectrum as a whole peaked out around 14 months ago, the sheer number of potential black swan events on the horizon could see gold breach $2,500/oz before year-end."

While the commodity spectrum as a whole peaked out around 14 months ago the sheer number of potential black swan events on the horizon could see gold breach $2,500 before year-end.

This is the view of Deliberations on World Markets Author, Ian McAvity, who maintains " the Continuous Commodity Index peaked in early 2011 and [commodities] have been declining and will continue declining - that's in a sense what the stock markets have been reflecting."

But, he says, gold is increasingly trading like a currency at the moment, a behaviour that is amplified by the fact that the speculative money has now largely been chased out of the gold market.

Speaking on's Metals Weekly Podcast, McAvity added, the whole point of the various levels of the gold standards that have been tried over history is largely an attempt to discipline against the irresponsible printing of paper.

"What you've seen over the last couple of years is a lot of the newly wealthy emerging countries quietly accumulating gold... I think a lot of people are converting paper - not just euros but also US dollars into tangibles and doing it quietly. Nobody advertises what they're buying until after they've bought it."

As a result of this and a multitude of other factors, McAvity, believes that gold is unlikely to trade much below $1500 but, he says, "I still think that we're going to have events - various black swans unfolding over the course of the year that will have the gold price up to $2500 sometime by year end."

Indeed, McAvity says black swans are travelling in flocks at the moment so it is difficult to predict which might be the catalyst for a sharp move higher but, there are a number of significant ones over which he is keeping a sharp eye.

The first of these is the potential for the blow-up of a European bank.

"In a sense you've got a global bear market under way that in many respects I regard as being the second half of the events that started in 2007-2009 and I don't think that the global banking system today is any better than it was back then," he says.

But. he says, that the attitude of many of the US banks is that what is happening now is very much a European problem.

"If a European bank blows up, that problem will cross the Atlantic in a Nano-second because the Federal Reserve was bailing out some of the European banks in 2008-2009 and they'll be doing it again. So we're still pretty much in the same mess and it comes down to one very simple question - how can you borrow your way out of a debt problem... and that's what they've been trying to do."

The second significant one is linked to currencies, of which McAvity says, the dollar is "the best looking horse in the glue factory."

"I think we're getting to a point where if the euro breaks 1.20 that probably will become the crisis level that could spark a major exodus out of the various euro currencies. Switzerland has already made it clear that they've got a line in the sand, but I think if the euro was to break 1.20 in the dollar, then you might see a greater level of panic coming out."

And, as McAvity points out, a strong dollar doesn't have to mean a weak gold price.

"If a trillion dollar's worth of euros was fleeing because the euro was about to blow up, perhaps 800bn, maybe 850bn of it would flow to the dollar, maybe 150bn of it would flow to gold and the relative volatility of gold is such that that 150bn going to gold might actually end up driving the gold price up in dollar terms too."

The third black swan event that McAvity is concerned about is the buildup of Israeli pressure over the past year on who's going to go in and take out some of the Iranian nuclear facilities.

"I was very concerned when I saw Israel call up six battalions of reserves about three or four weeks ago and it hasn't been in the headlines much because they're negotiating in Baghdad about not throwing Iran out of the system if they allow inspectors and that sort of thing.

"But when you look back at the history of violence in the Middle East, particularly Arab-Israeli wars and various uprisings, they all seem to have occurred between May and July. So in a sense it's almost a seasonal risk that has me extremely nervous about something going on in the Middle East that right now nobody seems to be focused on."

Geoff Candy

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