Gold shined brightly at the beginning of 2014, with bullion prices jumping by about 13% from New Year’s Day until mid-March.
But since spring, and particularly since July, gold prices GCZ4, +0.69% have been on the decline. Last week, the precious metal settled near lows not seen since Christmas 2013.
So should investors consider this sell-off as an opportunity to buy precious metals on the cheap? Or is gold really tarnished for some time to come? Sadly for gold bugs, it’s the latter.
There’s always a big argument for gold as the only alternative amid overpriced stocks, a weak U.S. recovery and a fragile dollar that will collapse at any time. If you want to make those arguments in the face of the facts, feel free to scroll down to the comments section and make fun of my receding hairline.
But for those interested in reality, it’s important to note how much those arguments have missed the mark over the past few years and how they ignore recent data to the contrary.
The stock market, U.S. economy and the dollar are all doing quite well. Judging by recent data, all three look like they will improve.
Here’s why I wouldn’t expect gold to rebound anytime soon, and why the outlook for this precious metal is quite tarnished:
The dollar is strong: The U.S. Federal Reserve has been telegraphing its moves for some time, and last week reiterated that October will bring about the end of its bond-buying program and that key interest rates will almost certainly rise in 2015.
Higher interest rates will only bolster the U.S. dollar further. And thanks to the inverse relationship between our currency and the pricing of dollar-backed commodities, a stronger dollar means gold prices will fall.
After all, a big reason for gold’s trouble in recent months has been a strengthening greenback. After the Fed news, the dollar is now at a 14-month high vs. other major currencies. This will continue to put downward pressure on gold prices.
It’s not just our central bank fueling this trend, either. The European Central Bank, for instance, unexpectedly just cut rates and announced a stimulus plan despite opposition from Germany. Similarly, Japan has been maintaining loose policies to weaken its currency and drive up inflation. As other central banks weaken their currencies, the dollar gets an added boost there as well.
Now, I know there are gold bugs who like to talk about the death of the dollar. But with other central banks actively debasing their currency and America on the cusp of tightening monetary policy, well, I simply don’t see how we can expect anything but a strong dollar for some time.