Gold Is Not a Good Hedge Against a Bad Economy

Royal Economic SocietyGold has not served very well as a hedge against bad macroeconomic and stock market outcomes. That is the central conclusion of research by Professors Robert Barro and Sanjay Misra, published in the August 2016 issue of the Economic Journal. Their study draws on evidence from long-term US data on gold returns, as well as gold returns during some of the worst macroeconomic disasters experienced across the world.

Gold has historically played a prominent role in transactions among financial institutions even in modern systems that rely on paper money. What’s more, many observers think that gold provides a hedge against major macroeconomic declines. But after assessing long-term US data on gold returns, the new research finds that gold has not served consistently as a hedge against large declines in real GDP or real stock prices.

From 1836 to 2011, gold delivered low average real price appreciation and experienced high average volatility. The mean real rate of price change was 1.1% per year, close to the 1% average real rate of return on three-month US Treasury Bills and comparable assets.

—Royal Economic Society
Gold Has Never Been a Great Hedge Against Bad Economic Times: Evidence From Decades of Us and Global Data

The Donald Trump RNC Bounce — Or Lack Thereof

Donald Trump RNC BounceYou may have noticed that I was very depressed last week. After the RNC, I figured that Donald Trump’s political prospects would go down. The convention was so vile and so incompetent that I figured Donald Trump would not get an RNC bounce; I figured he would get a reverse-bounce. Yet Trump got a real bounce from it.

I guess it comes down to the fact that, at base, I’m an optimist. I really do think the best about the future and about my fellow human beings. And it was upsetting to me that people could listen to Donald Trump go on for over an hour in the most demagogic way and that everyone wouldn’t just be appalled. It still amazes me that people sitting on the fence saw the RNC and decided that Donald Trump would be a good choice for president.

Hillary Clinton is not my ultimate candidate. But even if everything ever said about her is true, she will still make a better president than Donald Trump. If Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered, she is still the better choice to lead this country. Donald Trump is a joke now. If he became president, he would be the single biggest threat to the world since in the Cuba Missile Crisis.

But it turned out that Donald Trump’s RNC bounce didn’t mean much. I knew this was likely the case; it’s just that I feared that it wasn’t.

So let’s go over it. Let’s look at FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast, Who Will Win the Presidency? I’ll be dependent on Archive.org for this. For the record, the internet would be about 75% less useful without Archive.org. It really does make the ephemeral nature of the internet bearable.

16 July 2016

This is well before the RNC and the RNC bounce. This is how I see the presidential election:

586 Presidential Prediction: 16 July 2016

23 July 2016

Clinton’s percentage went down a little over the course of week, but there was no clear indication of an RNC bounce until the Saturday after it was over. It wasn’t big, but it was disturbing:

586 Presidential Prediction: 23 July 2016

25 July 2016

It wasn’t until Monday that things really started to look bad. I hadn’t been paying attention up to this point. So I was shocked to see that suddenly (for me, anyway), Trump was basically in a tie with Clinton. And it was only going to get worse.

586 Presidential Prediction: 25 July 2016

31 July 2016

These numbers held fast throughout the DNC. In fact, they got slightly worse for Clinton. This amazed me, because I thought the DNC was actually quite good. It was at least competently produced. And it featured Meryl Streep while the best the Republicans could muster was Scott Baio. Then, on the Sunday after the DNC, we got the following horrifying prediction:

586 Presidential Prediction: 31 July 2016

And that wasn’t even the worst of it. It isn’t available on Archive.org, but FiveThirdEight got to the point of having Clinton down to roughly a 48% chance of winning with Trump at roughly 52%.

1 August 2016

This was, clearly, not the state of things. A number of polls were going on. They just hadn’t been made public. On Monday morning, things had turned around. First, Clinton was back up to a 53.3% chance of winning. Then, by evening, the number had jumped to 60.3%. And as I write this on Monday night, we get this:

586 Presidential Prediction: 01 August 2016

Conclusion

So after two weeks, we seem to have returned to exactly where we are at. It’s still terrifying that Trump has any chance of becoming president of the United States. But at least I’m not freaking out. At least not yet. We will have to see what the polls show in a month when they really mean something.

Update: 3 August 2016

I had meant to do this last night. The change is even bigger today:

586 Presidential Prediction: 01 August 2016

Update: 3 August 2016 — Evening

Now it’s just getting sad:

586 Presidential Prediction: 01 August 2016 -- Evening