Gold has surged in 2016 against a backdrop of political uncertainty and consistently low interest rates, but it has not broken past its 2011 high.
Gold is up 24% year-to-date, a performance bettered in the past 12 years only in 2011 at the height of the eurozone sovereign-debt crisis. But as analysts at Macquarie note, the price of about $1,300 an ounce is still 30% below gold's all-time high of $1,895. And the real gap is even bigger. Adjusting for US inflation, "that 2011 high is worth over $2,000/oz in today's money," Macquarie said in a note to clients. Gold is a popular asset in 2016. Gold is seen as a haven for cash. It does not pay a coupon like a bond, and it does not pay a dividend from a stock, but it does mean you own ounces in a physical precious metal that you can hold onto. A spike in the gold market usually means investors are worried about the state of more volatile asset classes like stocks. So, with the political uncertainty of the Brexit fallout and of US elections coupled with central banks continuing to hold interest rates at or below zero, it should be a lot more expensive than it is.
Here are the three reasons gold is not at $2,000 (yet), according to Macquarie:
1. Low base price in 2015: high return on gold investment is provided by the low level of prices in 2015, when futures for the supply of a gold ounce dropped to $1,050.
2. Low demand for jewellery and physical gold. Investors are not the only buyers of gold, and the third reason we think the gold price is far from its old highs is that physical demand is not as strong as it once was.
3. Strengthening of the US dollar. The most important shift since September 2011 has been the much stronger US dollar. Gold might have lost 30% of its value against the USD since that date, but it's not alone. The British pound has lost 19%, the euro 21%, yen 25%, Canadian dollar 24%, Australian dollar 29%, rupee 32% and South African rand 52%.
Source: Uncommercial joint ownership "Trans-regional Association of precious metals producers"