Tag: gold

Ahead of the G20 meeting in Seoul on 11 and 12 November 2010, there has been much debate about exchange rates and the dangers of currency and trade wars. This debate has heated up since the Federal Reserve Bank announced that it was embarking on a second round of quantitative easing: a policy likely to drive down the exchange rate of the US dollar.

Writing in the Financial Times, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, argues that co-ordinated global action needs to be taken to promote economic growth and stability. Amongst other things, this should include using gold as an ‘international reference point’.

“… the G20 should complement this growth recovery programme with a plan to build a co-operative monetary system that reflects emerging economic conditions. This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a renminbi that moves towards internationalisation and then an open capital account.

The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.”

Would this be a return to the adjustable peg system designed at Bretton Woods in 1944 – a system that collapsed in the early 1970s? Zoellick thinks that the world should begin moving back to some sort of Bretton Woods system, with gold as the anchor against which currencies are pegged. Critics argue that this could be dangerously deflationary as the supply of gold is not something that can easily be increased. Read the articles below and consider whether such a move would be a good idea.

Zoellick seeks gold standard debate Financial Times, Alan Beattie (7/11/10)
The G20 must look beyond Bretton Woods Financial Times, Robert Zoellick (7/11/10)
World Bank chief calls for gold to anchor forex AFP on Google hosted news (8/11/10)
In Which Bob Zoellick Makes His Play for the Stupidest Man Alive Crown Grasping Reality with Both Hands blog, J Bradford DeLong (8/11/10)
Return to the Gold Standard would be madness Telegraph, Edmund Conway, (8/11/10)
There is room for debate on a gold standard Financial Times, James Mackintosh (8/11/10)
Private sector should lead gold standard adoption Reuters blogs, Martin Hutchinson (8/11/10)


  1. How did the Bretton Woods system work to correct balance of payments disequilibria?
  2. What was the role of (a) gold and (b) the dollar under the Bretton Woods system?
  3. If countries adopted a pegged exchange rate, what implications would this have for their monetary policy?
  4. Would using gold as a world currency, to which other currencies were pegged, inevitably have a deflationary effect on the world economy?
  5. To what extent is gold currently used as a world currency?
  6. What other measures could the G20 countries adopt to create greater exchange rate stability between the major currencies?
  7. What is the case for the private sector to start using gold in ordinary transactions?

The price of gold has hit a record high of over $1282 per ounce. By contrast, in 2007 it was trading at under $700 per ounce and in 2001 at under $300 per ounce. Various uncertainties in the world economy have led to large rises in the demand for gold by both central banks and investors in general.

But why has the gold price risen so dramatically and what is likely to happen to the price in the coming days and months? Some commentators are saying that the gold price has further to rise. Others are saying that it is already over priced! The following articles look at the explanations and the arguments.

Monetary easing fears lift gold to record high Financial Times, Javier Blas (17/9/10)
Five-fold rise in gold price ‘is not a bubble’, claims industry body Independent on Sunday, Mark Leftly (19/9/10)
Gold Prices Today Are Increasing to Record Levels Business and Finance News, Aidan Lamar (18/9/10)
Gold hits new peak of $1,283 Telegraph, Richard Evans (17/9/10)
Gold hits new record high Guardian, Julia Kollewe (17/9/10)
Gold prices – the highs and lows since 1971 Guardian, Julia Kollewe (17/9/10)
Gold is overpriced, so be wary of those ads to buy it Idaho Statesman, Peter Crabb (17/9/10)

Gold prices World Gold Council
Commodity price data (including gold) BBC Business: Commodities


  1. Why has the price of gold risen? Illustrate your arguments with a demand and supply diagram.
  2. How are these demand and supply factors likely to change in the near future?
  3. What is the role of speculation in the determination of the gold price? What particular factors are speculators taking into account at the moment?
  4. Why have actions by the Bank of Japan (see A Japanese yen for recovery) influenced the gold price?
  5. Why have possible future actions by the US Federal Reserve Bank influenced the gold price?

Until recently, gold prices had been rising. If you watch TV, you can hardly have failed to notice the adverts offering cash back for your gold. After peaking on the 2nd December 2009, however, at about $1220 an ounce, the price of gold fell almost $100 in just four trading days.

Over the past two months, we’ve seen a fluctuating US dollar and a fluctuating price of gold. In the news item ‘A golden age‘ we looked at the factors that led to a rising price of gold and one key factor was the weakness of the dollar. However, the dollar’s downward spiral appears to have halted, at least for the time being.

Figures for US GDP were higher than expected, with increases in economic activity in the 4th quarter of 2009. This may partly explain why the dollar strengthened, and prices of gold began to fall, as people began investing in US assets. And it was not just gold that fell – there was speculation that the price of copper too would fall as investors switched to US assets.

Then, at the end of January the dollar fell against most currencies and a variety of refined products recovered from recent losses incurred. This pause in the demand for the dollar may cause gold prices to increase once again, as traditionally, gold moves inversely to Greenback. Although the price of gold was down 1.1% for the month of January, speculation that the US budget deficit could be as big as $1.6 trillion could mean further support for gold and testing times to come for the dollar.

At the beginning of February 2010, the US dollar weakened against the euro, as investors favoured a return to riskier assets in search of higher returns, encouraged by signs of strengthening manufacturing in key economies. With the global economy coming out of the worst downturn in decades, will the dollar begin to strengthen?

Dollar advances on reduced demand for risk Wall Street Journal (15/1/10)
US dollar on defensive as risk appetite rises Business News (2/2/10)
US dollar on defensive as risk appetite rises Business News (2/2/10)
Why the price of gold is rising BBC News (13/10/09)
Gold trend remains firmly down despite dollar rally confronted by massive US budge deficit The Market Oracle (1/2/10)
Gold may rise for first time in week as dollar spurs demand The China Post (2/2/10)
Dollar and Yen fall as optimism returns Daily Forex Strategy Briefing, Hans Nilsson (2/2/10)
Gold declines for second day, as dollar’s advance curbs demand Bloomberg, Kim Kyoungwha (8/1/10)
Crude ends up as equities rise, dollar slips Reuters (25/1/10)
Copper may decline as stronger dollar saps demand Bloomberg (22/1/10)


  1. How is the price of gold determined? Use a diagram to illustrate this process. If there is a change in demand or supply for gold, what factors will affect the extent of the price change?
  2. Why does a strengthening dollar imply a lower price of gold?
  3. Why will a large US budget deficit support gold, but test the dollar?
  4. How is the exchange rate determined? What factors affect the supply of dollars and the demand for dollars?
  5. What are the main factors that could explain why there has been a rise in the dollar? Could speculation play a role?

Gold prices have been soaring in recent months. In fact, such is the demand for the precious metal that Harrods has just started selling gold bars. “The Knightsbridge department store yesterday began selling bars of pure Swiss gold bullion as part of a range that is being displayed in a miniature vault on the lower ground floor” (see eighth link below).

In November 2008, gold was trading at around $750 per ounce; by October 2009, the price had reached $1080 per ounce. Why has this happened? Will the trend continue? What does it signify about the world economy – both its current and likely future state? The following articles look at the causes and effects of this new ‘golden age’.

Gold prices continue to hit new highs Guardian (7/10/09)
Gold price hits fresh high Guardian (14/10/09)
Gold’s bull run set to roar ahead This is Money (17/10/09)
Why the price of gold is rising BBC News (13/10/09)
Gold price ‘set to double in four years’ (includes video) Telegraph (10/10/09)
Gold at $1,500? Don’t hold your breath Telegraph (10/10/09)
Bullion bulls The Economist (8/10/09)
Harrods put Swiss gold bars up for sale in a miniature vault Times Online (16/10/09)
Gold Eases from New High as “Less Bad” Data Drives Up Equities, Oil & Wall Street Bonuses BullionVault (14/10/09)
Gold Just Broke Its Neck, Targets $5,250? The market Oracle (14/10/09)


  1. Use a demand and supply diagram to illustrate the change in the price of gold between November 2008 and October 2009. Does the explanation lie largely of the demand or the supply side? Use the concepts of price elasticity of demand and supply to explain the size of the price change for any given shift in demand or supply.
  2. How is the price of gold related to the strength of the US dollar?
  3. Explain whether gold is a commodity or a currency (or both).
  4. What is meant by the ‘head and shoulders pattern’ in the price of gold? Is the use of ‘patterns’ a good way of predicting future prices? Give reasons why it may or may not be.

The pound has been rising against the US dollar recently. And as the dollar has fallen, so the prices of various commodities, such as gold and silver, have been rising. So what are the reasons for these currency and commodity price movements? The simple answer is that they merely reflect changes in demand and supply. But why have demand and supply been changing? Are there changes in the underlying economic fundamentals, or do they largely reflect speculation in times of uncertainty and resulting market overcorrection? The following articles address these questions.

Sterling rises on hopes of recovery Financial Times (4/6/09)
Jeremy Warner: Dollar weakness is a sign that things are on the mend Independent (4/6/09)
Stephanie Flanders Blog: What goes down… BBC News (3/6/09)
Dollar on the rack International Business Times (1/6/09)
Sterling hits six-month high against the dollar Times Online (29/5/09)
Exchange rates: What next for the pound? This is Money (2/6/09)
Gold News BullionVault (3/6/09)
The Top 10 Reasons to Hold Gold, Bar None! The Motley Fool (2/6/09)


  1. Explain why the pound been rising strongly against the dollar.
  2. What is likely to happen to the exchange rate of the pound against the dollar and the euro over the next few months?
  3. If it were possible to predict the future exchange rate today, what would happen to the exchange rate today?
  4. Why might it be a good time to buy gold? Why might it be too late?