In less than a week, on June 23, the British will vote on whether they want to remain in the European Union or leave it. Much has already been written about a possible “Brexit.” In this article, I want to outline some predictions that have been made by other market analysts. What can we really expect from a Brexit?
It is of course to be expected that gold, often praised as financial “safe haven,” is seen as one of the investments that would profit most from a possible Brexit. Better yet, in anticipation of the “leave-vote” winning, the gold price already rose to over $1,300/oz. A miraculous comeback, after gold prices were nearing the $1,200/oz-point earlier this month.
But sometimes, if everyone expects something to happen, it might actually turn out otherwise. Let us first take a look at some forecasts of other gold analysts:
- "Brexit would be very beneficial for shorting sterling and we will probably see a big pick up in gold. In that scenario we think gold could hit $1,400 [an ounce]"
- James Butterfill (ETF Securities)
- "…gold to trend past the recent highs and move toward $1,392/oz, with the more volatile silver testing the $20/oz mark”
- TD Securities
- “The price of an ounce of gold could surge above $1,400 from its current level well below $1,300 if the UK votes to leave the EU on June 23 and contagion then spreads.”
- Georgette Boele (ABN Amro)
- “If Brexit causes financial markets to deteriorate globally and spreads panic, gold will jump as high as $1,600”
- Jeffrey Rhodes (Zee Gold DMCC)
- “A vote to leave, could result in as much as a 10% rally in gold prices, to cUSD1,400/oz, we believe. (...) The argument for this is straightforward. The uncertainty spurred by an exit vote would likely elicit sufficient gold purchases to buoy prices.”
- James Steel (HSBC)
- "Brexit could see gold push towards USD1,400/oz."
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Group)
Every analyst out there seems to agree. If the Brits vote in favor of leaving the European Union, then the gold price will rise within no time to at least $1,400 per troy ounce.
However, it is clear that the financial press is somewhat biased as to how they present their information. They select the assets that would obviously profit from a Brexit and report the news from the point of view of the potential upside, because good news sells best. But what if the Brits choose to remain in the European Union? Which assets have the most downside in that case?
You might guess the answer. The so-called “safe havens,” which include gold, will be affected most. Do not forget to take the possible downside of the Brexit-vote into account.
So what to do?
Bad news sells bad. There are enough books with success stories about self-made millionaires, but few books narrate the stories of millionaires losing their fortunes and turning dirt-poor. And with the prospect of a quick and easy profit of $100 dollar on a $1,300 gold price, the latent gambling addiction of many surfaces in a blink. The additional attention from the press on top of that brings many investors into a heightened sense of excitement.
Yet financial markets are not a casino.
Investing is about buying undervalued assets, while getting distracted by non-essentials as little as possible, and staying put when things get rough.
Someone who now decides to buy gold just because a Brexit is a possibility, is not an investor but addicted to gambling.
There is nothing wrong with gambling, unless you are betting your future pension. Betting a small amount on Brexit by buying call options, turbo warrants or contracts for difference is a better option to satisfy one’s dopamine rush that gambling provides.
Do you want to invest in gold because you have concluded that gold is an undervalued investment (even when there might be some potential downside in the short run), then I would advise you not to get distracted too much by the news headlines, which are currently dominated by a possible Brexit. The last time around it was Crimea and the U.S. debt ceiling; the next time it will be the climax in the U.S. presidential elections. There has never been a shortage of news and there never will be.
Physical gold is still one of the best pension assets. It is one of those assets everyone should have (but on average few actually have).
Do you consider buying gold? Then first consider your motives. Do you buy gold to protect your pension or because you were getting excited by the prospect of a nice, quick and easy profit, which appears highly likely according to most market commentators?
Do not forget that a majority of those commentators do not have any skin in the game. They do not back up their opinions with any of their own cash.
I cannot stress it enough: investing has nothing to do with gambling on the (uncertain) outcome of unexpected events such as a possible Brexit. Investing is about buying low and selling high. The reason something is cheap or expensive is of less importance.
Yet there is no doubt that if the Brits vote to leave the European Union, we will face months or even years of uncertainty in the markets. Great Britain cannot leave the European Union on the count of three. Nobody knows how a Brexit will work out in practice. It is doubtable whether a Brexit will directly lead to a revival of the secular bull market in gold; I expect that a Brexit will be felt most on stock markets and in the world’s most important currencies.