Gold remains inert to President Biden’s large and hazardous economic plan, and ended up dropping below $1,700.
President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus is coming! On Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan on a party-line 50-49 vote. This means that after the House’s vote on Tuesday, Biden could sign the bill into law soon, and those $1,400 payments to most Americans could start to go out as soon as this month.
The final bill includes not only $400 billion in checks of $1,400 to most Americans, but also $300 a week in extended unemployment benefits, and $350 billion in aid to state and local governments.
The American Rescue Plan would be one of the largest stimulus packages in U.S. history. It would also be one of the most frivolous and superfluous economic programs. There is simply no need for such a large plan. Please take a look at the chart below.
As one can see, U.S. personal income has increased during the pandemic, not decreased. Once again, people are now receiving higher income than one year ago. So, Biden’s stimulus with another round of $1,400 checks is not economically or socially justified.
Indeed, the U.S. economy is already recovering. On Friday (Mar. 5), we got surprisingly good data about the American labor market , that showed the economy added 379,000 jobs in February, much above expectations. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has slightly decreased further, as one can see in the chart below. Employment is still down by 9.5 million, or 6.2 percent, from the pre-pandemic level seen one year ago, but additional unemployment benefits or plain checks will not help bring people back into employment – in fact, the effect may turn out to be the reverse.
Hence, Biden’s fiscal stimulus will bring little benefit to the economy, while significantly expanding the federal debt and risking overheating the economy. Indeed, the plan is estimated to increase the already high public debt (see the chart below) by an additional ten percentage points as a share of GDP .
Implications for Gold
What does this all mean for gold prices? From the fundamental point of view, Biden’s plan should be positive for the yellow metal. This is because it can increase inflation in the long-run, if people finally decide to spend all the money they got from Uncle Sam. It will not happen in the immediate future, as households will initially save the received payments, and some of them will repay their debts, but they are likely to spend more this year, to compensate for curbed consumption in 2020.
However, whether Biden’s plan turns out inflationary or not, it will expand the already mammoth public debt. It should weaken the position of the greenback and increase the odds for a debt crisis or paying out this debt through inflation or financial repression. The higher the debt, the more difficult it will be for the Fed to normalize interest rates (welcome to the debt trap , my friends). All these factors should support gold prices in the long run.
However, gold remains deaf to Biden’s disharmonious symphony. Indeed, as the chart below shows, the yellow metal has declined below the important level of $1,700 last week. It seems that the fiscal stimulus (together with the rollout of vaccinations and the economic recovery) has so far strengthened the risk appetite among investors who don’t focus on long-term consequences of the fiscal stimulus.
This may change one day, but the sentiment in the gold market is clearly negative right now, and the fundamentals are more positive. The fundamentals may come to the fore in the end. However, gold may struggle further, especially if real interest rates go up again.
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