The Gold Report: What is the consensus among Haywood analysts on what 2012 will bring for mine commodities, particularly precious metals?
Joe Mazumdar: Last year, risk aversion was a common market theme. In 2012, some of the same global economic concerns, such as the ongoing Eurozone crisis and the future of the euro, will continue to draw attention. But we also believe there is potential for positive economic indicators, primarily from the U.S., where there have been upticks in manufacturing and GDP growth. Also, unemployment in the U.S. is down to 8.5%, generating some consumer confidence. Recently, GDP growth for Q411 came in at 2.8%, which was slower than consensus forecasts-3%-but still the strongest in over a year.
Political factors will play a role in 2012. There could be a change in leadership among four of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The presidential election will be a key focus of the U.S. and global market. There are also presidential elections in Russia, France and Mexico. There also may be a changing of the guard in China in the latter part of 2012. The potential for changes in leadership in these key nations will generate a bid to market volatility in 2012.
Beyond gold and silver, our preferred commodity sectors include copper, iron ore and coal. Gold continues to be adversely affected by its own volatility, which continues to tarnish its reputation as a safe-haven asset. We note that during 2011, U.S. Treasury securities, the most liquid safe-haven asset, was a preferred recipient of capital investment, providing a ~10% return, its highest annual return since 2008 when it was 14%.