With inflation once again hitting records not seen in 40 years, and continuing to climb each month, the Federal Reserve finds itself in a sticky situation. Its hand is being forced, and it is coming under increasing pressure to do something, anything, in order to stave off inflation.
The midterm elections are coming up quickly, and continued high inflation this fall would likely doom Democrats in the elections, so the political pressure is ramping up. Approval ratings for the Biden administration are also low, and most Democrats don’t even want Biden to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency in 2024, that’s how bad his performance has been.
So the pressure is out there for the Fed to do something, but just what is it that the Fed will do? We’ve already heard from the Fed that its tapering program is going to be accelerated and should wrap up in March. At some point the Fed intends to normalize its balance sheet, although it would likely take a decade or more to do so. And the market expects the Fed to hike rates, but when and how much is anyone’s guess at this point.
Right now even Fed policymakers and Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voting members aren’t in agreement over the proper course of policy. And that disagreement could frustrate the Fed’s ability to get anything done, potentially sabotaging the Fed’s response to inflation. If the Fed were unable to keep a lid on inflation, that could provide significant impetus for gold to continue rising in price.
Hawks vs. Doves
As in years past, the conflict at the Fed is going to be between hawks and doves. Many Fed officials aren’t necessarily going to stay true to their previous beliefs however, as 7.5% inflation has a way of making hawks out of even the most inflationary doves.
What we do have, however, is a potential conflict over how high to raise interest rates and how fast. After all, according to the Taylor Rule, the current federal funds rate should be 18.9%. Instead, it’s at 0-0.25%.
Attempting to raise the federal funds rate to a level that is actually able to fight inflation would be suicidal and would cause an immediate recession, if not an outright depression. But even smaller hikes could still cause some damage to the economy, hence the reason for disagreement among Fed economists.
San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly has sounded the alarm already, claiming that if the Fed is too aggressive in hiking rates that it could damage the economy. That seems to indicate that she wouldn’t be supportive of the 50 basis point hike that some people are speculating might happen at the Fed’s next FOMC meeting.
On the other hand you have St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard, who just two weeks ago was discounting the need for a 50 basis point rate hike. Yet now he himself is proposing a rate hike of a full percentage point, i.e. 100 basis points.
That’s a pretty stunning about face, but Bullard justifies it by claiming that the Fed’s credibility is on the line. If the Fed doesn’t demonstrate that it’s serious about inflation, then the public won’t believe that it’s serious, and thus inflation expectations could get out of control. In essence, Bullard wants a big move in order to restore public confidence in the Fed’s ability to combat inflation.
The odds are that Bullard won’t get that. But it’s also increasingly clear that a 25 basis point hike just isn’t going to cut it. That would be too little, too late. That’s why markets are expecting a 50 basis point hike in March, and possibly successive 50 basis point hikes thereafter. That’s about the minimum the Fed can do at this point to try to tame inflation that risks spiraling out of control.
Gold Price Forecast
Normally the conventional wisdom states that rate hikes are a bad thing for gold, and that the gold price will fall when rates are being hiked. But we’re not in normal times right now, and the conventional wisdom is likely wrong.
Instead, we’re entering a period in which, despite rates being hiked, real interest rates are going to be strongly negative. After all, with inflation at 7.5%, even a 5% nominal federal funds rate would imply a real federal funds rate of -2.5%.
Then there’s the fact that the US economy could likely be entering a recession, as economic growth is beginning to stagnate as high inflation and continuing supply chain problems take their toll. That right there should be conducive to further price growth.
Goldman Sachs has announced that its 12-month price target for gold is $2,150 per ounce, up from its previous target of $2,000 an ounce. And the worse the economy gets, the more gold should rise.
Gold in Your Portfolio
Thousands of investors have already taken advantage of the opportunity to invest in gold recently. With stock markets in what looks to be a slow and steady decline, inflation pushing ever higher, and the economy weakening, many investors want to place themselves ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting their assets.
Many investors still remember the 2008 crisis, and the painful losses they endured as stock markets lost over 50% of their value. And they also remember how gold performed phenomenally in the aftermath of the crisis, nearly tripling in price by 2011 to set a new record high, all while stock markets continued to flounder.
Buying and holding gold could be one of the best decisions many people make today, if the economy does enter a recession and if gold performs as well during the next recession as it has during previous recessions. If investors had invested in gold before the 2008 crisis instead of stocks, they could have prevented significant losses to their portfolios, and improved their portfolio’s performance after the crisis. And that’s why so many investors are rushing into gold today.
Whether you invest in a gold IRA or prefer to directly buy gold coins or bars, there are numerous options out there for you. Call the gold experts at Goldco today to learn more about the options available to you so that you too can benefit from owning gold.