Is the Federal Reserve behind the curve when it comes to commodity prices? That is one conclusion you could draw from an interesting graph posted at Ticker Sense. In it they show the most recent Fed rate increases coming by and large after a broad-based rise in commodity prices.
This begs the question as to whether the Fed can really stop raising rates so long as commodity prices remain in an uptrend? The markets are looking for at least one more hike up to 5.00%. Other analysts have noted the secular increase in “investment demand” for commodities as more investors make a strategic commitment to this alternative asset class.
Daniel Gross at Slate.com focuses in on the gold market and sees a speculative bubble brewing. Gross notes that gold has been swept up in the general commodity market bull market. But gold is not a consumable or industrial commodity that is directly affected by strong economic growth. Something else is at work here according to Gross:
What gives? Essentially: speculation. While consumers are reacting to expensive gold by demanding less of it and recycling more, investors are reacting by bidding up the price further. And just as has been the case with every asset class over the past decade—real estate, Brazilian stocks—strong performance attracts a tidal wave of hot money.
Instruments like mini-futures contracts for gold and the two gold ETFs have made speculation in gold easier. The question is whether they will help exacerbate the decline when the commodity bull market takes a breather?