For many commentators, gold is considered not only a constant store of value but, also, a barometer for the health of the global economic system and the currencies that pump through its veins.
For, John Embry, chief investment strategist at Sprott Asset Management, the current parabolic rise in prices, which have beat even his optimistic performance expectations this summer, is indicative of the unsustainable debt situation in which the world now finds itself.
Speaking on Mineweb.com’s Gold Weekly podcast, Embry explains, “We’ve reached a stage in the debt cycle where it doesn’t appear we can move forward and on that basis you need more and more debt creation to generate the same dollar real GDP growth – and I don’t think we can get that kind of debt growth. So to keep these systems stuck together they [governments] are going to have employ quantitative easing in massive quantities, and if they don’t, the current softness in the economy is going to turn into a rout.”
Given the current levels of growth, Embry says, any halt in the funds propping up the banking system will result in significant deflation in “fairly short order” because the deflationary pressures within the West are huge.
But, he says, it is not just the West that is likely to suffer. “The Chinese miracle is grinding to a halt, they’ve dined out in the West for years and they paid for it by taking back our crappy paper but the fact is that they kept their economy going at breakneck pace and I would also say it is probably one of the most unbalanced economies I have ever seen.
“They have depended so heavily on exports and capital spending and now the export markets are weakening at the same time they have massive over capacity. So those two engines are coming to a halt and the hope is that they can do lateral arabesque into consumer demand to keep the thing going. I think that will be a hard act in the short run and consequently China faces some fairly difficult economic problems going forward.
What this means for prices?
While this rather bleak scenario does not bode well for the financial system as a whole, gold’s performance over time [as well as that of silver] is likely to “knock your socks off”, Embry says. But, he adds, especially after this latest move, he would prefer to see a correction in prices before that happens.
“I don’t want to see this thing just scream away and become out of control and conceivably if you got a strong effective action in either Europe or the United States – that might be the catalyst for a significant correction of a couple of hundred bucks – but having said that I don’t see the easy solution.”
Embry points out that it is also important to note that, “It’s not gold and silver that are doing anything. There have been constant stores of value for centuries. It’s the value of the paper money that they are being denominated in that is at risk here and you know every attempt in history, fiat paper currency has always ended in tears and this one has been going for 40 years since Nixon closed the gold window and it’s probably in its terminal stages.”
Indeed, he is of the belief that the world will ultimately see a return to some kind of a gold standard.
“When we do have to recast the currency system, just to restore confidence there will have to be some backing that maintains discipline – and gold has traditionally filled that role. So I can see gold being introduced as a maybe fractional reserve like there was before 1971 in the United States. but to do that given the amount of paper out there and the limited amount of gold, they would have to mark the gold price up dramatically.”
And, while he cannot put any kind of timing on such an event, he does think that gold could move as high as $2,500 within the next twelve months.