20 August 2008

Market behaviour does not indicate a gold top

When did a bull market last end with commentators correctly calling the top? It just does not happen that way. The top comes when the last bear has thrown in the towel and is silent, having been proven wrong for too long.

That was the case with UK housing last summer. And look what has happened since then.

So the extent of the sudden bearishness among commentators about gold and silver should be no cause for concern, although the short term impact can be painful, particularly for those who ignore the cardinal rule and insist on buying precious metals with borrowed money.

Only when the mass media and great unwashed public are roaring gold bulls will this bull market come to an end. That will mean that few buyers are left and exhaustion is setting into the market.

With hindsight that was the condition of UK housing last summer with the first-time buyer market having crashed and mortgage finance stretched to the limit. But did anybody call the end of the housing boom then? Roger Bootle, for example, had been doing so for two years and had shut up.

Clearly precious metals are nowhere near this point, although in increasingly nervous times they are getting more media attention. Yet the idea that because the dollar rallies and precious metals fall means that all is now well with the US economy is just lunacy.

Today we have a former IMF chief economist warning a major US bank is likely to go bankrupt within three months, and the bail out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is likely to prove so expensive that the US national debt will double. Meanwhile, geopolitics from Pakistan to Georgia are a reminder of the flash points in the world that could ignite oil prices which remain very high.

So I will be sitting out this market madness while opportunists will be piling into gold and silver for the next round of the bull run. Even the US dollar rally is bad for exporters who have been the only thing keeping the US out of recession. This downturn has much further to go and systemic failure will be the catalyst for very much higher precious metal prices.

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