In the past few weeks, the prices of gold and silver have been soaring and have hit all-time (nominal) highs. Over the past 12 months, gold has risen by 31%, while silver has risen by 149% and 64% since the start of February. Part of this reflects the general rise in commodity prices (see also). Oil is trading at around $125 per barrel, up 43% on a year ago; wheat is up 66%, maize by 114%, coffee (Arabica) by 118% and cotton by 122%.
Part of the reason for the rise in the price of precious metals, however, has been the weakness of the dollar. In such times, gold and silver are often seen as a ‘safe haven’ for investors.
So why have commodity prices been rising and why has the dollar been falling? What is likely to happen to the prices of gold and silver in the coming weeks and months? Is their meteoric rise set to continue? Will the ratio of the gold price to the silver price continue to fall? The following articles investigate.
Gold and silver prices jump to new record highs BBC News (25/4/11)
Gold rises 7% in April as US dollar continues to weaken BBC News (29/4/11)
Gold and silver set new highs after S&P move Financial Times, Jack Farchy (22/4/11)
Real Interest Rates Explain the Gold Price Perfectly…Too Perfectly? The Market Oracle, Andrew Butter (25/4/11)
Silver, platinum to outshine gold Toronto Sun, Sharon Singleton (25/4/11)
Gold Bugs Beware Of Fed Extermination Forbes blogs: Great Speculations, Mark Sunshine (25/4/11)
Shock and Au: Hedging Against Fear EconomyWatch, Alice Briggs (26/4/11)
Keeping an Eye on the Gold/Silver Ratio Seeking Alpha, Evariste Lefeuvre (25/4/11)
Commodity Prices Index Mundi
Commodities Financial Times
Commodities BBC Market Data
- Why have the prices of gold and silver risen so much recently?
- Why has silver risen more than gold?
- Why may higher rates of world inflation make investors turn to precious metals for investment?
- How are future decisions by the Fed likely to affect the price of gold?
- According to the efficient capital markets theory (strong version), the current price of a commodity should already reflect all knowable factors that are likely to affect the price? Does this mean that speculative buying (or selling) is pointless?
- How is the price elasticity of supply of silver and gold relevant in explaining the magnitude of their price movements?
Over the weekend of the 5 and 6 February, the finance ministers of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA) met to discuss the state of the world economy. They agreed that the recovery was still too fragile to remove the various stimulus packages adopted around the world. To do so would run the risk of plunging the world back into recession – the dreaded ‘double dip’.
But further fiscal stimulus involves a deepening of public-sector debt – and it is the high levels of debt in various countries, and especially the ‘Piigs’ (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), that is causing worries that their debt will be unsustainable and that this will jeopardise their recovery. Indeed, the days running up to the meeting had seen considerable speculation against the euro as worries about the finances of various eurozone countries grew.
Of course, countries such as Greece, could be bailed out by other eurozone countries, such as Germany of France, or by the IMF. But this would create a moral hazard. If Greece and other countries in deep debt know that they will be bailed out, this might then remove some of the pressure on them to tackle their debts by raising taxes and/or cutting government expenditure.
Group of 7 Vows to Keep Cash Flowing New York Times, Sewell Chan (6/2/10)
Forget cuts and keep spending, Brown told Independent, Sean O’Grady (9/2/10)
European debt concerns drive dollar higher during past week Xinhua, Xiong Tong (6/2/10)
G7 prefers to stay on stimulants Economic Times of India (7/2/10)
G7 pledges to maintain economic stimulus Irish Times (8/2/10)
Mr. Geithner, On What Planet Do You Spend Most of Your Time? Veterans Today (6/2/10)
Gold Price Holds $1,050 – Gold Correction Over? Gold Price News (8/2/10)
Darling ‘confident’ on economic recovery at G7 meeting BBC News (7/2/10)
Britain has to fight hard to avoid the Piigs Sunday Times (7/2/10)
Europe needs to show it has a crisis endgame Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau (7/2/10)
Speculators build record bets against euro Financial Times, Peter Garnham (8/2/10)
The wider financial impact of southern Europe’s Pigs Observer, Ashley Seager (7/2/10)
Medicine for Europe’s sinking south Financial Times, Nouriel Roubini and Arnab Das (2/2/10)
Yes, the eurozone will bail out Greece, but its currency has taken a battering Independent on Sunday, Hamish McRae (7/2/10)
- What is meant by a ‘double-dip recession? How likely is such a double dip to occur over the coming months?
- Why has there been speculation against the euro? Who gain and who lose from such speculation?
- Why might the ‘gold correction’ be over? Why might gold prices change again?
- What is meant by ‘moral hazard’? Does bailing out countries, firms or individuals in difficulties always involve a moral hazard?
- What is the case (a) for and (b) against a further fiscal stimulus to countries struggling to recover from recession?
- Would there be any problems in pursuing a tight fiscal policy alongside an expansionary monetary policy?