It is difficult to address many of the current economic and geopolitical issues without also discussing the current state of politics in the U.S. Regardless of what side of the aisle you may lean towards, the risk of a major shakeup in U.S. politics is undeniable.
The past week brought with it a guilty verdict in the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, but also brought a plea deal by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. There is widespread debate currently over the importance of these developments, however, it does seem that the President’s legal troubles are becoming increasingly serious.
The great unknown is whether recent developments and any future developments could have a real impact on the administration and how they may affect the nation going forward. The unfolding investigation has the potential to send an earthquake through global financial markets, and a constitutional crisis could plunge the country into recession as markets could potentially see massive declines on a scale not seen before. The President has alluded to this himself already, suggesting that an impeachment would cause stock markets to crash.
Stocks and other risk assets have thus far done an amazing job looking the other way. If the investigation uncovers more potentially damaging information, however, investors could begin to get significantly more anxious and possibly look to take risk off the table. Recent months have seen stocks and risk assets moving higher, while gold has been on the defensive and now trading at its lowest levels in some time. This could change in a hurry, however, and those buying gold around current levels could potentially be getting in on the ground floor of the next major bull market in the yellow metal.
In other news, the Jackson Hole, Wyoming symposium sponsored by the Kansas City Federal Reserve has come and gone. Of particular note based on commentary from central bankers is the notion of the Fed being in no hurry to hike rates much further. Although a September hike is still expected and will almost certainly take place, the Fed now seems a little more cautious and a fourth hike before the end of the year is now in considerable doubt. This could keep the economy humming a bit longer, but also poses the risk of inflation becoming a more serious threat.
The dollar index saw some pullback considering the central bank’s comments, and any further declines in the dollar could potentially help set the stage for a bottom in gold. The market may still need some type of fresh, bullish catalyst to bring the bulls out of hibernation, however.
Although attempting to call a bottom in a market is a tough way to make money, the argument can be made that gold at current levels could represent an excellent long-term value for the patient investor. Many of the issues that make the metal appealing, such as sovereign debt and weakening fiat currencies, are still very much in play. In fact, the U.S. could be running a massive deficit for short-term gain that may turn into long-term pain.
Looking at the bigger picture, now could end up being the ideal time to buy gold as prices are now around 40 percent off all-time highs while stocks could be at or near a long-term top.