|Quarterly statistics commentary Q2 2012
We have just published our commentary on gold’s price performance in various currencies, its volatility statistics and correlation to other assets in the quarter. It provides macroeconomic context to the investment statistics published at the end of each quarter and highlights emerging themes relevant to gold’s future development.
Review: key macroeconomic themes during Q2 2012
Gold prices declined in most currencies during the second quarter with the exception of the euro, Swiss franc and Indian rupee, in part due to a strong US dollar. Despite a 3.8% decline in Q2 to US$1,598.50/oz on the London PM fix, gold was up 4.4% during the first half of the year. Volatility remained elevated amidst a busy event-risk period. However, gold generally outperformed risk assets.
Global inflation eases but underlying trends supportive for gold: A substantial drop in energy and some agricultural commodities during the period has eased inflation pressures in many parts of the world and put downward pressure on gold prices.
Reassessing “risk-free” assets: Even assets traditionally considered safe are under pressure. German Bunds interest rates climbed in June. The Swiss franc, yen and US Treasuries are also facing issues – challenging their role as assets of last resort. Despite pressures on the price of gold, its lack of credit risk, its liquidity and hedging characteristics has made gold an attractive vehicle for long-term wealth preservation.
Correlation between gold and risk assets approaches long-term averages: Gold’s correlation to equities and other risk assets fell towards long-run average levels in Q2 helping portfolio diversification. Gold’s increased correlation to equities in Q1 was an indirect effect related to a weaker global economy coupled with a stronger US dollar.
Outlook: emerging macroeconomic themes in H2 2012
Deflationary concerns in some countries provide room for further fiscal and monetary stimulus. This may lead to a further debasement of currencies through unconventional monetary policy and an increased risk of future inflation. These factors should provide support for future gold investment.
The underlying structural issues that affect the euro zone remain unresolved, despite advances in the formation of more comprehensive burden-sharing mechanisms. In such an environment of uncertainty and higher market volatility, gold will continue to be an asset that investors use to diversify risk and preserve capital.
The flight to the US dollar as a safe-haven in the first half of 2012 could be reversed. The US debt ceiling debate in Q3 and federal elections in November, followed by the necessity to confront a US$1.3tn budget deficit will prove challenging to the US dollar. With most currencies under pressure in one form or another, gold is likely to provide a hedging mechanism for investors.