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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Financial media and market observers have been straining to explain market movements over the past few weeks. If retrospective analysis is hard, prediction is impossible. This week promises to be even more volatile and exciting, with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole speech and eurozone leaders coming back from their vacation from austerity and all earthly concerns.
But long gold, via the
SPDR Gold ETF(GLD) seems a likely winner for the short term (days to weeks) amid the chaos.
Before going to my arguments, I'd like to clarify a fundamental aspect that often seems detrimental to insightful analyses of gold: of the two hedging utilities of gold, inflation risk and general currency risk, the stellar rise of gold since 2001 is primarily driven by the latter. Reality is inflation hasn't been a worldwide problem; rather, deflation has been a constant threat since the '08 crisis.
On the other hand, 9/11 marked a fundamental shift in the market psyche: whereas the U.S. dollar, via the
PowerShares DB US Dollar Bull ETF(UUP), had been the unquestioned foundation of worldwide commerce, 9/11 demonstrated its potential vulnerability, no matter how remote, for the first time. In retrospect, that was the biggest regime shift in worldwide commerce since Bretton Woods. If the Nixon Shock was merely formalization of the inevitable reality, the '08 crisis was merely continuation of the tectonic shift away from the dollar.
This theory has the neat side effect of explaining gold's retraction since the summer of 2011, which coincided with the onset of full-scale euro crisis, marked by the emergence of Spain and Italy as source of trouble. The euro crisis reversed the U.S. dollar's shift away from the central role, although this reaffirmation is accepted reluctantly by many in the world. By the same token, unless and until either the euro crisis is resolved or inflation becomes a real problem in the U.S., gold is likely to continue its retraction.
But the hope for some form of meaningful measure to ease the euro crisis has been very strong this time, probably stronger than when Long Term Refinancing Operation was introduced. If, as hoped for, the European Central Bank sets a limit on eurozone sovereign bond yields and backs it with "unlimited," whatever that means, peripheral sovereign bond purchase, and/or a eurozone banking supervisory entity is formed, confidence in euro's viability would increase materially and sustain for awhile.