Gold is still range-bound at around US$1,280 per ounce, in spite of day-to-day gyrations in the US dollar as investor enthusiasm for Donald Trump’s tax plans ebb and flow and concern about his administration’s ties to Russia rise and fall.
The effects on the wider currency markets are evident too, with the pound rising this week on news that more than a dozen officials from the Trump team were subpoenaed last month by special investigator Robert Mueller.
Donald Junior, it turns out, did after all have contact with Wikileaks during the US election, a fact that’s retrospectively damning (for those suffering from information overload) because Wikileaks was central to the email scandal which cost Hilary so much credibility.
But markets, including the gold market now seem to have priced in this uncertainty in regard to the Trump administration’s future. At the moment, the damage seems very much to be on the periphery. That’s how it looked with Watergate too, at first, but whether or not there really are any serious comparisons to be made remains to be seen.
Instead, gold, and inversely the dollar, is currently more sensitively attuned to the mood music coming out of the US Federal Reserve. This is currently somewhat muted, as it’s expected that a new chairman will be announced imminently, following a round of interviews undertaken by the President.
He and the current incumbent Janet Yellen haven’t exactly seen eye to eye, and although she would be eligible to serve again, the President’s need to present his administration as a serious changing of guard amongst top level elites looks ultimately to have won out.
Either way though, it seems the Fed is likely to bump up interest rates as many as three times next year, meaning the world at large will be returning at long last to something like a normalised interest rate environment, if there is such a thing.
The backdrop to this is a strongly performing global economy, including a significant recovery in the US. Mr Trump will undoubtedly take much of the credit for this, although the steady hand of the current incumbent at the Fed is at least due a significant share.
Whether or not she gets it remains to be seen, and to her technocratic credit, she’s probably not overly bothered.
So gold will feel the pressure as interest rates rise, not just in the US but elsewhere around the world.
Offsetting that though, and a significant reason why gold has been rangebound in recent weeks rather than on the slide, is that the long-term outlook for the political structures that support the global economy is becoming increasingly cloudy.
US citizens may have slid into the process almost without noticing, but it has now become the norm for political opponents at Presidential and lower levels to fling accusations of criminality around like confetti, with each new incumbent subject to legal challenge.
Why is this? Why does “crooked Hilary” resonate in a way that seems utterly alien to the slogans of a hundred years ago? - in 1912 and 1916 Woodrow Wilson built campaigns around slogans like “Win with Wilson” and “He proved the pen mightier than the sword.
The answer lies almost as far away from market short-termism as it’s possible to get, which is possibly why volatility at times of serious uncertainty is so wild – no-one understands or even realises that there is a bigger picture.
But there always is, and it can be as big as you want to make it: the collapse of any overarching moral structure in the West was underscored by the work of Martin Heiddegger in the 1920s and 1930s in works like being in time.
From that moment on the philosophical viability of morality was dead in the water. It was alright if you were Christian of course, as a good part of the US still is – there you can look for your morality in God.
But otherwise, it’s down to each individual to build their own version of morality. For a while this short-term solution played well in the US, a country built in a different sense on individualism and a man’s right to be free from interference to do as he pleases.
But it was only a matter of time before too many conflicting individual ideas of morality evolved and they clashed. It’s known in the US as the culture wars, but really it’s a civilisation searching for meaning, and terrified that short-term edifices that have been put in place will be undermined by people with opposing ideas.
You want opposing theories about anything from Trump, to Harvey Weinstein, to Putin, to Libya, to 9-11, to Brexit, to JFK, you got it, one mouse click away. The last time information exploded like this we got the Reformation.
And a hundred years of warfare.
And that’s why gold isn’t weaker than it is.