There are some troubling signs for the economy in the bond market. Yield curves are going flat.
On Wednesday, the yield curve from 5 to 30 year bonds flattened to as little as 29 basis points. That represents the narrowest spread since 2007. The yield curve between 2-year and 10-year Treasuries also narrowed, touching 41 basis points, also the smallest gap since before the financial crisis. Investors extending to 10 years from 7 pick up just 4.3 basis points, less than a quarter of what they got a year ago, according to Bloomberg.
So, what does this mean?
In recent years, gold has been increasingly valued for its use in various technological applications. In a report late last year, the World Gold Council reported the demand for gold in the technology sector has been growing since 2016 and that growth is continuing to accelerate due to new innovations.
Some of the most amazing developments utilizing the yellow metal have been in the field of medicine. For instance, researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a blood test using gold nanoparticles that could help oncologists in their treatment of cancer patients. According to the university, the test will provide doctors with an early and more accurate prognosis of how cancer treatment is progressing and help guide ongoing therapy.
In a world drowning in debt, the US stands out, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Global debt has reached record levels. According to a recent IMF report, the world has amassed $164 trillion of debt. That comes to 225% of global debt to GDP, levels not seen since the peak of the 2008 financial crisis when combined public and private sector global debt-to-GDP hit 213%.
Late last month, China finally launched its much anticipated yuan-denominated oil futures contract. Many analysts think this is yet another sign that the mighty dollar’s world dominance is coming to an end.
Jim Rickards called them “A-list of top-tier economists.” Michael Boskin, John Cochrane, John Cogan, George Schultz and John Taylor are all senior fellows at the prestigious Hoover Institute. And they all agree on one thing.
The US is going broke.
In his latest podcast, Peter Schiff said we are basically enjoying the calm before the storm right now.
With the US missile strike in Syria, rumblings of a trade war and a generally weak dollar, gold briefly flirted with $1,365 last week. But the anticipation of Federal Reserve rate hikes continues to create strong headwinds against the yellow metal. Last week, the Fed released its March FOMC minutes and most analysts interpreted them as “hawkish.” In fact, many people now think the Fed will nudge rates up again in June, leaving six months to get in the much-anticipated third hike of the year and possibly even get in a fourth.
Turkey went on a gold-buying spree in 2017 and that trend continued in the first two months of 2018. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likes gold and it’s pretty clear the president has been pushing Turkey’s central bank to buy gold and reduce foreign currency reserves in an effort to move away from dependence on the dollar and euro.
On April 16, Erdoğan got a little more overt in his apparent quest to dethrone the dollar, suggesting international loans should be made in gold instead of greenbacks in order to prevent exchange rate pressure on economies.
If reports from two major London gold dealers serve as any indication, a lot of Brits are buying gold.
According to a report in Business Insider, Sharps Pixley reported a whopping 253% year-on-year increase in physical gold sales in March. Showroom sales last month came in at over $12.7 million compared to $3.6 million during the same period in 2017.
Meanwhile, according to Investment Europe, the Pure Gold Company recorded a 62% increase in physical gold investment last Wednesday compared to the daily average.
Global silver mine supply dropped for the second straight year as industrial demand rose for the first time since 2013, according to the World Silver Survey 2018 produced by the GFMS team at Thompson-Reuters and released by the Silver Institute this week.
The Germans are showing off their gold.
The country ranks second in the world only to the US in official gold holdings. This week, the Bundesbank launched a six-month exhibition on gold showcasing its reserves along with the bank’s most interesting gold bars and coins. The official exhibit is part of a renewed emphasis on the yellow metal in Germany.