24 Sep 2010, Risk magazine, Risk magazine
In this forum discussion, Risk editor Nick Sawyer discusses how gold and precious metal prices have changed over the past year, driven by the global crisis and evolving financial products.
The forum includes the following panellists:
1. Edel Tully, director, head of precious metals strategy, UBS
2. Marcus S.A Grubb, managing director, investment, World Gold Council
3. John Levin, managing director, HSBC
The following questions were posed to the panellists:
1. The gold market has risen considerably over the past year, confirming its status as a safe haven in times of crisis. However, there was a significant sell-off in July, which some in the market have attributed to a return of confidence in the European financial markets as gold investors cut their holdings. Edel, could you explain what the drivers of gold prices have been over the past year?
2. Are we seeing a return of some jewellery demand driving gold prices with investors pulling back somewhat?
3. Could you give us the view from the trading perspective - how are investors taking their positions in gold and how important is the ETF market? What sorts of strategies have we been seeing?
4. Is the ETF market primarily retail-driven? Does it depend on what side of the Atlantic you're on? What sort of effect are the ETF flows having on supply and demand? Are investors very much keeping a hold of gold and not lending it out at all?
5. How do you see the ETF market developing? While retail investors are stickier than some of the other leveraged investors, there are still concerns that, if there's a significant change in conditions, those retail investors might sell out of the ETFs, which could create more volatility in the market. Do you see those dynamics at play?
6. You mentioned there was an acceleration in interest in gold in May and June when the eurozone debt crisis was at its peak. Did you see new types of buyers coming in - people who weren't traditional gold investors and were using gold as a macro hedge?
7. If you were talking to a pension fund, for example, what arguments would you give for them turning to gold?
8. How do you see gold in the inflationary environment, particularly as gold has been seen traditionally as a good hedge for inflation? There are a lot of different opinions on the direction of inflation, a lot of investors are going out there buying inflation floors as a hedge against deflation - do you see these dynamics having any impact on gold?
9. There seem to have been some changing dynamics in the gold market over the past years, specifically with regard to lease rates. Are you able to describe the trends we've been seeing on that front and what they mean?
10. Where do you think the gold price is going to be at the end of the year?