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Recession Fears Mount

Gold Gleams as Recession Fears Mount and Debt Ceiling Looms

Posted on May 30, 2023
Writer: James Miller

Key Points:

  • Recession fears are mounting, with economists forecasting a 99% probability by year’s end.
  • The U.S. risks defaulting on its $30 trillion debt by June due to an unresolved debt ceiling crisis.
  • Unprecedented hikes in interest rates by the Federal Reserve are escalating financial pressure on consumers and businesses.
  • As economic uncertainties rise, gold investments become increasingly appealing, offering a potential hedge against market volatility.
  • Gold prices have reached a three-year peak, nearly doubling since April 2022, highlighting increased investor interest.
  • Historical patterns suggest gold prices could rise significantly in the event of a debt default, reflecting trends seen after the 2008 crisis.

Looming U.S. Debt Crisis, Inflation, and the Recession 

In a climate of swelling uncertainty, the U.S. faces economic challenges that have left many questioning the stability of their financial futures. Economists are now predicting with an unprecedented 99% certainty that a recession will hit by the end of the year, and the signs are already showing in the American economy.

To start, the looming U.S. debt ceiling crisis is casting a long shadow over the nation’s economy. Congress faces a ticking clock, and failure to act may cause the U.S. to default on its $30 trillion debt by June. 

 “A U.S. default is an international worry,” warns Andrew Mastro, CFP, President of Wrought Advisors, “it could destabilize economies across the world.” 

A default by the world’s largest economy could shake international markets, create turmoil in global supply chains, and cause a stock market crash. Most worryingly for the average American, it could lead to a sharper increase in borrowing costs – expect higher costs on mortgages, car loans, and credit card debt, putting a squeeze on household budgets.

Adding to the list of concerns are the rising interest rates. In an unprecedented move, the Federal Reserve has hiked rates nine times within the past year. Each hike has driven up the cost of borrowing and put additional pressure on consumers and businesses alike.

The banking sector is also showing signs of distress. In a chilling echo of 2008, two central banks have recently closed their doors. Bank failures can lead to a loss of confidence in the financial system and potentially trigger a run on banks, as depositors rush to withdraw their savings out of fear of losing their money.

Gold: A Shining Beacon in the Dark

As the specter of a recession and debt crisis looms large, the resiliency of gold offers a unique hedge. 

A recession often triggers a bear market for stocks and bonds, sending their values plummeting. In stark contrast, with its inherent value and global acceptance, gold frequently swims against this tide, either maintaining or increasing its value. In response to this stability, investors often turn to gold as a safe harbor during these rocky economic periods.

Gold prices in 2023 hit an all-time high in three years, with an ounce costing $2,048. Compared to April 2022, gold prices have nearly doubled this year. 

As a result, investors looking to protect their wealth from the potential fallout of a recession are showing an increased interest in gold investments. In fact, the average daily trading volume of gold in May 2023 was around $130.9 billion.

Similarly, the swelling national debt could lead to a depreciation of the dollar, shaking investor confidence in traditional investments and fiat currency. However, gold is not tied to any single economy. As a result, its intrinsic value is not diminished by rising national debts or weakening currencies. In fact, during such periods of financial strain, demand for gold often surges, pushing its prices higher. 

For instance, during the beginning of the 2008 recession, gold prices shot up by approximately 50% in nine months. In fact, gold broke the $1,000 per ounce spot price for the first time. 

Following the 2008 crisis, the price of gold continued to rise, with an approximately 30% year-over-year increase in 2009 and 2010. As Mastro suggests, if a debt default happens, gold prices could climb even higher, mirroring the patterns seen in 2008, as more investors seek a safe haven.

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