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Is a Trade War Good for Gold?

One of the hottest issues on the planet today is global trade.  The issue tears apart nations, states, and families in ways that few other topics can. 

Question – Is a trade war good for the price of gold? 

Some would say that a trade war is bad for the price of gold because it could lower global demand for the previous metal, thereby reducing the price of gold. 

On the other side of the debate are those who argue that a trade war would be beneficial to the price of gold because a trade war brings about political and economic uncertainty.  Anytime markets deal with uncertainty, they turn to safe assets.  Gold is the top, or one of the top “safe” assets.

What type of response would you guess gold has had to trade war mentions over the past week?  A look follows.

Google Trend Mentions of a Trade War

First, a look at searches for “trade war” on Google Trends. 

Interestingly, over the past week, searchers for “trade war” peaked on September 18th.  Searches then trended downward until bottoming on the 23rd, after which “trade war” searches began increasing again. The recent peak for “trade war” searches occurred on the 25th.  overall, trade war was a popular topic, usually floating above 50.

Google Trend Mentions for Gold

What about searchers for “gold”?  The following figure captures the minds of Google searchers over the prior week.

Overall, recently gold has been a very popular search term, reaching 100 or almost 100 numerous times in the past week.  The ebbs and flows stem from the time of day.  Searches generally peaked between the 21st and 23rd hours of the day, and generally bottomed during the early mornings.

Putting the Two Together

Now, let’s put the two together. 

The following figure is a scatterplot of searches for “gold” and searches for “trade war”.  Each color represents the hour of the day.

Fascinatingly, in all cases, the slope of each colored line in downward sloping.  This means that searches for “trade war” were generally met with lower searches for “gold”. 

On the surface, this may mean that the price of gold will be stronger once concerns about a global trade war subside.

Of course, should a real global trade war break out, the demand for gold from individuals seeking “uncertainty” protection may boost the price of gold.

Conclusion

In a review of Google Trend searchers, this past week’s results show a generally negative relationship between searches for “gold” and searches for “trade war”.  This may mean that the price of gold may jump when concerns about a global trade war subside.  Then again, should a global trade war break out, it would be surprising if the price of gold did not jump because investors would then be searching for “safe” assets.  Gold is the world’s most well-known safe asset.