In April, I noted that I thought the gold bull market is over. Since then, gold has fallen over 10% down to below $1400 today. That’s quite a severe correction.
Today, I found an interesting graphic showing that the gold price peaked out while housing bottomed out, and since then, the two have gone in opposite directions:
Correlation, of course, is not causation, but this is an interesting association. Gold flourished on the back of a deep and severe correction in the housing market. Demand for gold as a countercyclical alternative asset proved very strong in the years when very few other assets and asset classes were performing, and prices soared.
So it stands to reason that a large number of individuals putting their money into gold in the boom years were putting their money there because of risks and losses in other markets and areas, and because of the belief that gold was a safe, antifragile asset for troubled times. In 2011, according to Gallup, a plurality of Americans considered gold to be the best asset class to own — something of a psychological bubble that has been burst as prices have fallen.
Indeed, in 2013, gold has been knocked off its perch by real estate — a sensational comeback given the depth of the real estate slump. Real estate, of course, was also ranked the safest in 2006 before the bubble burst. What this signifies is that money, credit and sentiment that once upon a time was flowing into gold and alternative investments is now flowing back into more traditional investments like real estate now that prices are rising again.
So long as investments like stocks and housing that produce a yield continue rising in price, the incentive driving this trend will continue to exist. Investments once thought antifragile — gold, but also AAPL, guns and ammunition, etc — may prove fragile to a different (and less apocalyptic) economic climate.
The last time a gold bull market ended (1980) the dollar-denominated price remained depressed for over 20 years! Perhaps this time is different, but maybe not…