Gold Prices - Just Like the 1980s?

John Robertson

It is tempting to infer a continuing uptrend in the gold price but this year’s price action bears a strong resemblance to the adjustment in the early 1980s which preceded two decades with no net gain in price. In both the 1970s and 2000s, the gold price rose dramatically in the aftermath of large shifts in the geographical distribution of global income before giving up 40-50% of the increase. In the first period, the income shifts reflected the emergence of Middle East oil wealth. In the second case, the change came with the rapid emergence of China as an economic power. As the gold market began to search for a new sustainable level in the early 1980s, it failed to revert to earlier peak prices (retrieving 47% of the earlier loss) which was followed by a series of diminishing upward moves as prices settled into a narrower trading range. The rebound this year accounts for 40% of the losses going into late 2015 leaving scope for some modest increase while still leaving open the possibility of a 1980s-style outcome.


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