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Gold prices surged this year due to greater uncertainty in the global macroeconomic environment.

By August, the price briefly regained the $1,500/ounce price point and stood at $1,460/ounce in late November.

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Over the longer term, gold prices and the dollar tend to move in an inverse relationship, as demonstrated by this chart, which shows prices from July 2012 through early November 2019:

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

However, the relationship does not always hold true.

More recently, we’ve once again seen a break in the relationship, which started late last year (the vertical blue dotted line above) and picked up steam around June.

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Both gold and the dollar trended up in value overall, especially from July until September. However, gold prices gained greater momentum and increased by a greater measure than the dollar. Then, both values fell in September and October.

The relationship appeared to switch back to an inverse pattern in November.

Gold prices and the dollar-yuan exchange rate

Source: MetalMiner data from MetalMiner IndX(™)

Because the value of the yuan is set by the central government, the graph above using the CNY/$ exchange rate serves as a proxy to examine the relationship between the currency and gold prices.

Keeping in mind that a higher value on the right axis means a weaker yuan, we should expect to see these two prices moving together.

As the yuan weakens against the dollar, gold prices weaken. As the yuan rises in value, gold prices rise in value.

In real life, the relationship gets impacted by multiple variables. The yuan and the dollar do not have to move in an inverse pattern; the yuan is not a commodity but a currency (the same is true for gold).

However, in recent months, the gold price appeared to more tightly follow the CNY/$ exchange rate in a predictive fashion, rather than holding to its longer-term inverse dollar relationship.

This type of pattern emerged during 2016, as well.

Will quantitative easing by the Fed send gold prices up in Q4?

Monetary policy is known to impact commodity prices.

Quantitative easing is a form of monetary policy; therefore, we can expect any such actions in this direction to impact gold prices.

Quantitative easing can be used when interest rates are already quite low. In effect, it increases liquidity in the system, thus spurring growth.

U.S. Federal Reserve balance sheet since 2008

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Quantitative easing occurs when the government purchases certain financial assets, which in turn raises the value of the assets but lowers their yield.

Basically, easing targets asset classes that are performing poorly, thus correcting losses for financial institutions. This, in turn, allows financial institutions to lower borrowing rates, creating more liquidity in the system.

The ease of access to funds by businesses and individuals then stimulates economic growth.

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What this means for industrial buying organizations

With the overall macroeconomic environment characterized as unstable, gold prices may generally continue to trend higher in the short term, as gold gets used as a hedge.

However, over a longer period, current monetary policies could weaken prices once more — assuming they take effect as intended.

Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors

General Motors is teaming up with Tokyo-headquartered Isuzu, with plans to invest $175 million toward a new plant in Ohio, the Detroit automaker recently announced.

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The investment will be made through its joint venture with Isuzu, called DMAX, which is 60% GM-owned.

“Due to the growing strength of GM’s all-new 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups, General Motors and Isuzu announced today a $175 million investment through its DMAX joint venture to build an all-new, diesel engine components plant in Brookville, Ohio,” General Motors said. “The new 251,000 square-foot facility would expand the production of critical engine components for the company’s current DMAX diesel engine manufacturing operation in Moraine, Ohio.”

According to GM, the new plant will create 100 manufacturing jobs.

As we’ve noted in previous articles, while much is made of the rise of electric vehicles, one thing is clear: the U.S. automotive consumer loves pickup trucks and SUVs. So much so that fellow Big Three automaker Ford last year announced plans to phase out its traditional sedan lineup.

Within the pickup truck segment, according to GM, heavy-duty trucks account for 25% of U.S. pickup sales.

GM sues Fiat Chrysler, alleging ‘multi-year pattern of corruption’

In other automotive news, GM is suing Fiat Chrysler, announcing late last month it had filed a RICO lawsuit against the rival automaker.

GM argued Fiat Chrysler had engaged in a “multi-year pattern of corruption” that was “used to undermine the integrity of the collective bargaining process and cause GM substantial damages.”

“This lawsuit is intended to hold FCA accountable for the harm its actions have caused our company and to ensure a level playing field going forward,” said Craig Glidden, GM executive vice president and general counsel.

In late October, GM concluded negotiations with the striking United Auto Workers (UAW) union, reaching a new four-year labor deal. The nationwide strike, GM’s first since 2007, resulted in two weeks of lost production in the third quarter and will ultimately cost the automaker around $4 billion this year.

The UAW is currently involved in negotiations with Fiat Chrysler.

“While we have had a few outside distractions since then, your negotiators have remained focused on resolving all your outstanding demands,” said Cindy Estrada, vice president and director of UAW’s Fiat Chrysler department.

“The National Parties have negotiated every day, and long hours since then. Much progress has been made but we still have some difficult issues to resolve. Your negotiators are committed to bargaining a pattern agreement that meets the needs of the membership and provides long term job security.”

GM alleges Fiat Chrysler has paid millions of dollars in bribes to UAW in an effort to unfairly impact the collective bargaining process.

“FCA was the clear sponsor of pervasive wrongdoing, paying millions of dollars in bribes to obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages in the negotiation, implementation, and administration of labor agreements over time,” GM said in a statement.

“FCA corrupted the implementation of the 2009 collective bargaining agreement. It also corrupted the negotiation, implementation, and administration of the 2011 and 2015 agreements.

“FCA’s manipulation of the collective bargaining process resulted in unfair labor costs and operational advantages, causing harm to GM.”

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Late last month, then-UAW President Gary Jones announced his resignation, as the union is under the spotlight due to an ongoing federal corruption probe.

In August, the Detroit Free Press reported the FBI and IRS raided Jones’ metro Detroit home (among raids of other union leaders’ homes).