Gartman: Buying Gold, But Not A Gold Bug
October 10, 2012
Buying gold is clearly sensible, given how it is moving up on concern about inflation and a weakening dollar amid easy-money central bank policies, but don’t get carried away by the bullish dreams of gold bugs, macro trader Dennis Gartman said today.
Taking issue with prevalent views that the Federal Reserve is dangerously expanding its monetary base with its quantitative easing (QE) programs, the editor of “The Gartman Letter” told attendees at IndexUniverse’s Inside Commodities conference that the Fed’s monetary base is coming down.
“I’m amused at how often we talk QE-infinity now. The monetary base has actually fallen in the last year,” Gartman said during a panel at the conference on the outlook for commodities in 2013 that was moderated by IndexUniverse President of ETF Analytics Matt Hougan.
“I’m bullish gold, but I’m not a gold bug,” Gartman added, hewing to a sort of “trend is your friend” position on trading the yellow metal, and staking out a far less alarmist tone about Fed policy than, say, Peter Schiff, the head of Euro Pacific Capital and a pointed critic of the U.S. central bank who believes QE will create major inflation and cause gold to skyrocket. Schiff took part in a panel on precious metals at the conferencce.
IndexUniverse’s fifth annual Inside Commodities conference is taking place when the world of commodities investing finds itself at a critical juncture. On the one hand, China’s growth is easing, putting a damper on demand for sundry materials. On the other hand, the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing has fueled renewed concern about inflation and a new rally in gold prices.
“I want to own gold and short other things,” Gartman said, noting going short grains makes sense now, as the grains markets should see drought conditions alleviate in the next year.
That said, the run-up in gold ahead of the Fed’s QE3 announcement in September—from $1,550 to $1,730 a troy ounce—has essentially stalled since the central bank said it planned to buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities per month indefinitely. Still, because of the Fed’s program, many gold analysts are fairly confident gold will eventually break through $1,800 an ounce.
Overall, Gartman sounds a less concerned message than many commodities investors—such as Jim Rogers—who argue that demand for various materials risks outstripping supplies in coming years, ushering in a crisis-ridden era featuring high prices in developed countries and food shortages in the developing world.
Noting that back in 1984, people were already predicting food shortages as well as oil supply constraints as population grew worldwide, Gartman said that what the world has seen instead is technological advancement that has enabled production to keep up with demand.
“We grow more grain now than we ever have and with far fewer farmers than we ever have,” he said.
What’s more, China and other emerging market nations are only now beginning to understand how to grow crops, so supply shouldn’t be a concern, as everyone suggests. That applies to oil as well, he said. “We will find much more crude oil in the ground. We have more reserves today than we did in 1984.”
Optimism notwithstanding, Gartman does have one overriding concern as he surveys global commodities markets: “What keeps me up at night is Nigeria.”
Nigeria ranks as anywhere from the second- to the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S., and it’s dealing with a separatist movement that could affect supplies coming out of there.
A shutdown in production in Nigeria would have a very big impact in the U.S., which especially relies on exports of sweet Bonny light, heavily favored by refiners for making gasoline, said Gartman, who also worries about rising geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea.
“Inside Commodities: Long-Term Growth, Immediate Opportunities” was a one-day event, and was held at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago.