GDP for the second quarter disappointed, coming in at an annualized rate of 6.5%. Is this a sign of impending stagflation?
While 6.5% growth looks good on the surface, economists polled by the Wall Street Journal expected annualized GDP to chart around 9.1%. This was a huge miss and indicates the economy isn’t growing nearly as fast as everybody assumed.
India ranks as the second-largest gold-consuming country in the world, second only behind China, but demand has languished for the last couple of years. The pandemic crushed demand, particularly for gold jewelry, but record-high gold prices in rupee terms and government policy put a drag on the gold market even before COVID-19. There were signs of a turnaround late last year and it continued through the first quarter of 2021. The most recent wave of COVID-19 stalled the gold Indian gold market’s recovery, but it appears to be regaining steam.
While the Federal Reserve continues to downplay inflation in the US, insisting that it is “transitory,” the Bank of Russia has gone to war with rising prices. Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina says she sees “persistent factors” to inflation, and on Friday, the Russian Central bank hiked interest rates by 100 basis points to 6.5%.
In a statement, the Bank of Russia said, “The contribution of persistent factors to inflation increased due to faster growth of demand compared to output expansion capacity.”
Chinese gold imports have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels and the world’s biggest gold market continues to recover.
According to the latest data reported by the World Gold Council, China imported 67.6 tons of gold in May. That was 65 tons higher than May 2020 and only three tons lower than May 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country.
The mainstream narrative is that the Fed will soon admit that inflation isn’t transitory. At that point, it will raise interest rates and taper its bond-buying program to fight rising prices. But this narrative ignores the elephant in the room – the ever-increasing national debt.
In June, the US government ran another big deficit of $174.16 billion, continuing the trend of overspending and massive budget shortfalls.
For the sixth month in a row, Consumer Price Index (CPI) data came in much higher than expected. But the question remains: how long will the Fed keep up the “transitory” inflation narrative? And when they do abandon this storyline and acknowledge inflation, what can the central bankers really do about it?
The CPI surged 0.9% month-on-month in June. It was the biggest monthly price increase of the year, blowing away expectations of a 0.5% increase. Stop and think about that number. Prices rose nearly 1% in a single month.
Gold has served as a lifeline for Indians pummeled by the economic storm caused by the government response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indian government’s response to the first wave of COVID-19 ravaged the economy. As a result, many banks were reluctant to extend credit due to fear of defaults. In this tight lending environment, many Indians used their stashes of gold to secure loans. As Indians battle the second wave of COVID-19, many Indians have now turned to selling their gold outright in order to make ends meet.
What do you do when that stimulus money runs out? You whip out the credit card.
Consumer debt was up 10% in May, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve, and we saw a big jump in credit card balances for the first time since February 2020.
Gold-backed ETFs globally added 40.7 tons of gold in the second quarter of 2021, reversing a trend of significant outflows in Q1.
In 2020, gold-backed ETFs recorded record net inflows of gold. Funds added nearly 231 more tons in 2020 than they did during the previous record year (2009/646 tons). But with declines in the price of gold and investors pivoting to riskier investments as economies improve, gold flowed out of ETFs in the first quarter. That trend reversed in May.