The Fed Pulls The Trigger On Stimulus Plan:
Precious Metals prices spiked Thursday after the announcement that a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) would start on Friday. In a statement, the Federal Open Market Committee said, “The Committee is concerned that, without further policy accommodation, economic growth might not be strong enough to generate sustained improvement in labor market conditions.” Of course, among the current conditions the Committee mentioned is a very stubborn 8 percent unemployment rate. For QE3, the Fed will purchase mortgage-backed securities to the tune of $40 billion per month and monitor the results. This will be an “open-ended” bond-buying plan, so the end of the program will be decided at a later date when conditions improve. News of this new program sent Gold up Thursday, closing up nearly 2 percent for the day and 10 percent for the month. “After the move we had, not just yesterday, but over the last two or three weeks, I think it would be natural to look for a period of consolidation,” said Tom Kendall, an analyst at Credit Suisse in London. “But certainly going into the back end of this year, I would be looking for Gold to be getting towards at least the $1,850 level.”
Platinum Climbs As Strikes Continue:
The Platinum prices gained at a much greater pace than other metals this week due to the unrest in South Africa. The top Platinum producer in the world, Anglo American Platinum, is now being affected by striking miners, who blockaded roads leading to shafts. “Fear of intimidation and threats by unidentified individuals in and around” certain locations caused some non-striking miners to be unable to report for work, according to a statement. Reports were released that 10,000 striking platinum miners – many of whom were armed with sticks and machetes – marched on several Lonmin mine shafts threatening violence against strike breakers who are continuing to work. The recent strikes have inspired laborers in South African gold mines to rebel against their own employers. The result has been a stoppage of production at two Gold Fields (the world’s fourth largest gold producer) mines in the last several days. “We haven’t been given any demands but the pattern is the same as KDC East. It is intimidation. The strikers went around from hostel to hostel yesterday to prevent the others going to work,” Gold Fields spokesman Sven Lunsche said.
Concerns Over U.S. Debt Levels Climb:
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble brought into question the United States’ high level of debt. He said in a speech this week to the lower house of parliament that U.S. debt is a burden for the global economy. He underscores the fact that the rest of the world is keeping their eye on the U.S. elections and is concerned about our ability to deal with our mounting debt once the elections are over. This comes just after the United States national debt reached an inauspicious $16 trillion. Credit rating agency Moody’s also warned this week that the U.S. may lose its Aaa credit rating if next year’s budget policies do not show a pattern of reducing the national debt over time. If budget talks “lead to specific policies that produce a stabilization and then downward trend in the ratio of federal debt to GDP over the medium term, the rating will likely be affirmed and the outlook returned to stable,” Moody’s said in an emailed statement. “If those negotiations fail to produce such policies, however, Moody’s would expect to lower the rating, probably to Aa1.” Last year rival Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit from its top rating.