As investors await the incoming Biden administration and the uncertainties that a transition of power may bring, precious metals markets regained some ground through Thursday’s close but have pulled back again on Friday, especially silver and platinum.
Precious metals prices and financial markets have seemingly been unaffected by recent political turmoil. Investors have been nonchalant in the face of Capitol unrest and a second impeachment of President Donald Trump – not to mention fresh new records in daily COVID deaths.
Against this unfavorable backdrop, the stock market continues to hit new highs on an almost daily basis. Fundamental analysts are left scratching their heads as to what’s fueling such elevated valuations.
The most likely explanation is that there hasn’t yet been a downside catalyst powerful enough to take investors’ eyes off the prospect of more fiscal and monetary stimulus to come.
Joe Biden is calling for $1,400 stimulus checks to be delivered to Americans on top of the $600 payments that recently went out. The total cost of the President-elect’s COVID relief plan, which includes a $15 minimum wage, enhanced unemployment benefits, and a variety of other handouts, comes to over $1.9 trillion.
Joe Biden: Direct cash payments, extended unemployment insurance, rent relief, food assistance, keeping essential frontline workers on the job, aid to small businesses. We'll focus on minority-owned small businesses, women-owned small businesses, and finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and to rebuild. Our rescue plan also includes immediate relief to Americans hardest hit and most in need. We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most. The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough.
All this new spending will be done with money the government doesn’t have. But borrowing another $1.9 trillion into existence would be just a formality at this point.
Biden is already set to inherit a record budget deficit. The Treasury Department reported Wednesday $573 billion in red ink over the last three months alone. That’s over 60% higher than the same period a year ago.
Deficit hawks are virtually nowhere to be found in Washington, D.C. And the Federal Reserve Board is full of doves who intend to keep pumping out easy money into the financial system.
Monetary policy is one thing that investors can count on not changing in the new administration.
When he leaves office next week, Donald Trump will go down in history as one of America’s most controversial Presidents. He continues to have passionate supporters as well as passionate haters.
Trump can certainly claim some major accomplishments on taxes, deregulation, and border security as part of his legacy. But he won’t earn high marks on his handling of the national debt. It has surged by a staggering $7.8 trillion over the past four years.
As a candidate, Trump had vowed to reduce the nation’s debt burden. But as President, he rarely used his veto pen to try to hold Congress’ spending ambitions in check.
Even before the COVID outbreak, big spenders in both parties were fueling more federal borrowing than ever before.
Now it’s not even a question of whether the next President will pay down the debt or balance the budget. It’s a question of what will be required of the Fed to enable four more years of annual deficits measured in the trillions of dollars.
The risk is that more explicit central bank monetization of federal borrowing causes the bond market and the U.S. dollar itself to lose credibility in the eyes of global investors.
As a consequence, price inflation could run much hotter than most investors currently expect. It’s possible that stocks could continue to push higher in such an environment, but it’s also likely that we would see some major sector rotation.
Mining companies have big upside potential in an inflationary environment. But they also have big downside risks, especially if the political environment turns hostile.
The safer play is to own the mined products themselves – physical metals. Gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and copper are all easily accessible to investors in the form of bullion bars, rounds, and coins.
At Money Metals Exchange, we are seeing signs in the first two weeks of 2021 that investment demand for bullion is in a word: strong. Some tightness is emerging in popular products.
As Democrats take power with a massive spending and borrowing agenda, safe haven demand for sound money will likely remain strong.
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