I’d argue that — more or less — this reflects the U.S. government’s attempts to deal with broad and deep social and financial problems through monetary policy. The higher the price of gold goes, the more it reflects that monetary policy just isn’t working, and that the big problems in American and Western society — oil dependency, deindustrialisation, unemployment, regulatory capture and debt saturation — are just not being effectively addressed.
The point here is that economic health — and real industrial output, measured in joules, or in “needs met” — and money circulation are in reality almost totally decoupled. Getting out of a depression requires debt erasure, and new organic activity, and there is absolutely no guarantee that monetary easing will do the trick on either count. Most often, depressions and liquidity traps are a reflection of underlying structural and sociological problems, and broken economic and trade systems. Easing kicks the can down the road a little, and gives some time and breathing room for those problems to be fixed, but very often that just doesn’t happen. Ultimately, societies only take the steps necessary (e.g. a debt jubilee) when their very existence seems threatened.
The simple expansionary recipe for getting out of depressions is a sad smile, a false promise of an easy route out of complex and multi-dimensional problems. It gives succour to the simplistic, and those enamoured with linear thinking.
If these problems are fixed, then the correlation between the debt ceiling and the price of gold will go away. The trouble is, I don’t see any evidence that these problems are going away. Japan is still — more or less — in the same place it was twenty years ago. Now the whole world is moving to the Japanese model. Readers are welcome to try and convince me otherwise.