Gold just wrapped up a strong quarter, up 13%, and finishing at the highest price level in over eight years. On the year, gold is up about 16% and many mainstream analysts are starting to eyeball record gold prices in the coming months. But there has been some drag on the gold market, particularly sluggish consumer demand in the East – particularly in India.
That could be changing.
Gold is serving as a lifeline for beleaguered Indians in the midst of severe credit crunch.
The government response to the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the Indian economy. As a result, many banks are reluctant to extend credit due to fear of defaults. In this tight lending environment, many Indians are using their stashes of gold to secure loans.
The silver market in India has enjoyed massive growth over the last several years. Demand for the white metal has increased from around 3,000 to 6,000
tons over the last five years, according to Chirag Thakkar, CEO of the Indian bullion company Amrapali Gujarat.
The Silver Institute interviewed Thakkar for the latest edition of Silver News.
Gold has become a lifeline for Indians in the midst of a severe credit crunch.
When the state-run lender refused to extend Babasaheb Mandlik credit, he used his wife’s gold jewelry as collateral for a loan in order to buy cotton seeds before the summer sowing season window closed.
After a dip in demand in 2018, it appears Indians are buying gold again.
Anecdotal data seemed to indicate strong demand for the yellow metal in India during the Akshaya Tritiya holiday. Retailers reported sales were up by as much as 25%. As it turns out, demand was indeed strong. Gold imports into India were up 36% year-over-year in May, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.
Jewelers and dealers in India reported brisk gold sales on Akshaya Tritiya, despite the holiday falling on a workday and extreme heat in some regions of the country.
Akshay Tritiya ranks as one of the four most important days for Hindus. The word Akshay roughly translates to “the never diminishing.” The day is believed to bring good luck and success. It is also considered one of the most auspicious occasions to buy precious metals, including gold.
The Reserve Bank of India has jumped on the gold bandwagon.
Since December 2017, the Indian central bank has added 50.4 tons of gold to its reserves.
India bought 8.2 tons of gold in January and February of this year and analysts project that pace to pick up. Economist Howie Lee told Bloomberg he expects the RSB to add as much as 1.5 million ounces of gold to its reserves in 2019. That comes to about 46.7 tons.
Everybody wants gold. Some people want it so bad that they’re willing to break the law to get it. That’s why we have police. They stop the bad guys.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. But don’t miss what I said. Everybody wants gold. Police officers fall into the category of “everybody.” So, it should come as no surprise that every once in a while, you run into a cop willing to break the law to get his hands on some sparkling yellow metal.
This, in fact, happened recently in India.
Last week, there was some significant news out of India that could further boost the country’s gold market.
The Indian government will now allow banks to engage in gold bullion business – including holding, buying, selling, hedging and leveraging the yellow metal. Under current rules, banks can only serve as a consignment or channeling agent in the import of gold bullion for jeweler and exporters.
The loosening of regulations could increase a gold market that already ranks as the second-largest in the world behind only China.
Last Friday, I told you where you can get coffee with real gold mixed into it. It’s part of this trend of edible gold. People are mixing gold into all kinds of foods — even beer and chicken wings. Like I said last week, I think people like to eat gold because it seems indulgent and decadent. Not my thing, but I get it. But you know what? There’s a more pragmatic reason to eat gold.