Peter Schiff, chief executive officer of Euro Pacific Capital, recently gave an interview discussing the prospects of gold. When asked how high the price of gold may reach, he responded that there is no ceiling for the precious metal, because there is no limit on how much money will be printed. The Federal Reserve’s latest announcement confirms this theory, and paves the way for much higher gold and silver prices.
On Thursday, the central bank proved it is willing to do whatever it takes to prop up asset prices in an effort to cause a wealth effect among consumers and spur a recovery. The Federal Open Market Committee launched yet another quantitative easing program. This time, the Federal Reserve will buy agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month, in addition to its current Operation Twist 2 program. The net effect of these actions will increase the Federal Reserve’s long-term holdings by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year. Furthermore, the central bank extended out its zero interest rate policy to at least mid-2015.
Interestingly, QE3 will be open-ended, meaning that the Federal Reserve has no set limit to how long the fresh money printing will last. It will also conduct additional asset purchases if the labor market does not improve. In a press conference following the statement, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke explained, “We’re looking for ongoing, sustained improvement in the labor market. There’s not a specific number we have in mind. What we’ve seen in the last six months isn’t it.” The headline unemployment rate in the U.S. has remained above 8 percent for 43 consecutive months.
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While the announcement of the first open-ended program in the Federal Reserve’s history was rough enough on the U.S. dollar, the central bank explained it will keep its finger on the print button until well after an economic recovery takes place. “To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens,” according to the FOMC statement. Bernanke later added, “We’re not going to rush to begin to tighten policy.”
A Bernanke led Federal Reserve has been very kind to precious metals. Since the Chairman was appointed in early 2006, the price of gold has increased from $570 an ounce to more than $1,700 an ounce. In the same period, the price of silver has surged from $9.70 an ounce to over $34 an ounce. After QE3 was announced, both precious metals outperformed as expected. Gold quickly increased $38, while silver jumped more than $1. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar index, which compares the greenback in a basket against six other fiat currencies, fell to 79.25 and reached its lowest level against the euro since May. On Friday, the dollar continued its decline.
In the press conference following the print-to-infinity-and-beyond announcement, Bernanke also said, “We can’t solve this problem by ourselves.” However, who is the Chairman hinting to for help, the government? The country’s two political parties appear to be unable to agree on anything these days, and their most recent accomplishment involves pushing the official national debt right through $16 trillion. With more dollar devaluation on the way and gridlock in Washington, gold and silver prices look set to rise even more. At this point, the sky really is the limit.
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Disclosure: Long EXK, AG, HL, PHYS