Gold bugs, who have just begun to digest bullion’s more than $100 drop over the past month, need to prepare for the possibility of an even bigger decline.
That, at least, is the forecast of Claude Erb, a former commodities manager at fund manager TCW Group, and co-author (with Campbell Harvey, a Duke University finance professor) of a mid-2012 study that forecast a plunging gold price. They deserve to be listened to, therefore, since — unlike many latter-day converts to the bearish thesis — they forecast a long-term gold bear market when it was only just beginning.
You might think that, with gold now trading more than $500 lower than when the study was released, Erb would declare victory and leave well enough alone. But Erb is doing nothing of the sort. Earlier this week, he told me that the gold community now needs to consider the distinct possibility that gold will trade for as low as $350 an ounce.
Erb bases this particularly chilling prospect on two premises. The first is gold’s fair value, which is currently $825 according to the formula proposed in Erb and Harvey’s study. The second is the likelihood that, whenever gold does eventually drop to fair value, it will overshoot and drop to a much lower value. He calculates that, if gold drops below fair value to the same extent it did in the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, bullion would trade around $350 an ounce.