The problem with gold bugs

by Pop on March 13, 2010

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Or: Gold, what is it good for.

You’ve heard of gold’s great run lately. I’ve never seen such a large concentration of “buy gold coins” ads in my life. Heck, in Germany, they now have vending machines that sell gold at the airport! Glenn Beck recently found himself in hot water for pumping gold on his radio and TV shows while a gold-selling company listed him as a paid sponsor (it turns out they were merely one of his top advertisers).

But enough with the preamble. It might seem reasonable to include gold in your portfolio as an inflation hedge, currency devaluation hedge, or economic holocaust hedge. I happen to disagree. Here’s why.

Problem number one: What are you supposed to do with it?

I once spoke to a mutual fund manager who at the time had 25% of his clients’ money in gold. I’ve always been something of a gold skeptic. After all, it’s not really good for anything, right? It doesn’t generate income. It doesn’t have a significant scientific or industrial use. Its value is completely beholden to society’s perception of its value. The mutual fund manager said something like this: “I don’t know why people value gold or why its value rises during inflation. It just does. It always has. That’s good enough for me.”

That kind of talk makes me a little nervous. Gold as a status symbol has staying power. Some families in India keep most of their net worth in gold jewelry. But if investors at some point did decide to invest in something more, well, useful, it wouldn’t be the first time an inexplicably favored asset turned south.

In the mid-1600s, Dutch investors became enamored with the tulip, which was recently introduced from the Ottoman Empire. Tulip bulb prices went wild, and at its peak, they reportedly sold for 10 times the annual wage of a skilled craftsman. Then, in the span of a few months, bulb prices fell more than 90%. It seems someone woke up and realized they were just flowers.

I know it’s a bit unfair to compare gold bugs to tulip lovers. The tulip craze lasted a year, whereas our obsession with gold has lasted generations. But I’d argue there are plenty of similarities. You can’t eat gold or tulips. You can’t do anything particularly extraordinary with gold or tulips. One day someone might wake up and realize gold’s just a yellow metal.

So what should you do with it?

My honest and short answer is “nothing.” I don’t see any pressing need to have it in a portfolio. You can get inflation protection more directly with I-Bonds or TIPS. If you want commodities exposure, you can invest in stuff industries actually use, like oil, silver, or (what the hell) timber. At least we consume trees! And if you’re afraid of the Armageddon, I truly find it less crazy to store dried food in your basement than I find it crazy to stock up on gold bars. Forget the “golden rule.” In the face of nuclear holocaust, I predict we will live by the rice rule. He who has the rice, makes the rules.

But if you insist on putting some of your portfolio in gold, I’d treat it the same way you treat the rest of your play money. Don’t give it any more than 10% of your money, and hopefully less than 5%. Forget the TV ads soliciting you to buy gold coins and the ads that will no doubt appear in Adsense next to this story. The pricing you’ll get from those guys when you buy will be bad, and the pricing you’ll get from a gold dealer when you sell will be worse. Storing the gold in a safe place will also be a pain.

It’s much easier to get direct gold exposure through an ETF like GLD. Each share represents about 1/10th of an ounce of bullion. As far as I know, you can’t actually redeem your shares for the physical gold. But frankly, if you found an ETF that did let you redeem shares, I doubt there’d be an orderly line at the Swiss vault to redeem them when doomsday arrives.

But by all means, if that day does come, bring your gold bars over to my place. I’ll make dinner with my rice. You can use your gold bars to…I don’t know…build a chair.


{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike March 13, 2010 at 9:28 am

I was reading “Snowball” by Warren Buffet last year and one thing he said about gold was “[gold] gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head. “

Rob Bennett March 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

One day someone might wake up and realize gold’s just a yellow metal.

Oh, sure.

But then another day not too many later they might wake up a second time and realize that our currency is just green pieces of paper with funny graphics on it.

I don’t have lots of gold. But I understand why some people do.


J.D. March 13, 2010 at 11:34 am

Oh, Pop, I wish you had gone even further with this! The more I learn about gold, the more crazy the gold “investors” seem to me. I’ve been too scared to write a piece for GRS on this subject so far, but maybe I’ll get some balls and do it.

In his book “Stocks for the Long Run”, Jeremy Siegel (I think that’s the correct name) points out that gold has a long-term return of 1% over inflation, and he says that even that might be over-stating things. Gold may be inflation hedge, but that’s it. (He also points out that if, in 1802 — which is how far back his data goes — you had to choose between buying gold and keeping your cash in paper currency, you would have been better off keeping the cash in paper currency; it’s worth more now than the gold you could have purchased! But, of course, nobody lives 208 years.)

The goldbugs are fond of pointing at the recent housing and stock bubbles and saying “nyah nyah, if you’d had your money in gold, you wouldn’t have had problems”. But my question is: What makes them think we’re not in the middle of a gold bubble now?

And a final complaint: Goldbugs talk about how if the economy goes to hell, paper money won’t be worth anything, and that you’ll only be able to buy stuff with gold. There are a couple of problems with this argument. First of all, how many of these folks actually own gold itself? I mean, how many have the physical stuff in their possession? Second, how are you going to enforce gold as a store of value if the economy goes to hell? I have to say that if we’re living in a post-petroleum world and you come to me with a hunk of gold in exchange for my fresh garden produce, I’m not going to take it. I’m going to want something tangible and real, like a book or a jacket or your help patching my roof. (And also, how are you going to use gold as a means of exchange? How will you decide how much gold to trade for a loaf of bread?)

A lot of people complain about fiat currency. They think we ought to return to the gold standard. But this puzzles me because to my way of thinking, saying that gold has value makes it just as much a fiat currency as the U.S. dollar, you know? Gold has no intrinsic value. It only has value because a few people agree it has value, just like paper money. (Which, I’d like to point out, is what every country in the world has. It’s not like the U.S. is alone with its fiat currency.)

Sorry for the long rant. But goldbugs are strange critters, and I find them frustrating to deal with because they seem to embrace some irrational beliefs.

Maybe I should write about this at Get Rich Slowly. It’d surely stir a heated debate.

Pop March 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm

@Mike: Wish I had that quote when I was writing this!

@Rob: But you can use dollars to pay taxes, buy oil, buy food…it’s the agreed-upon medium of exchange for goods and services. I can’t use a gram of gold to fill up my gas tank. If we were still on the gold standard, maybe the argument would be a little different.

Pop March 13, 2010 at 1:25 pm

@J.D. Roth: Yeah, it’d definitely start a heated discussion. I think this post started at about twice the length it is now, but I’ve found that the more space you devote to upending someone’s deep-seated beliefs, the more they’d rather not listen at all.

J.D. March 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Another thing: How are gains on gold taxed? My understanding is that if you own the actual stuff, any profit is taxed at ordinary rates. This along puts it at a huge disadvantage to stocks and mutual funds, where your profits are taxed as capital gains. Of course, one could argue that it’s best to old gold indirectly (with certificates and funds), but then you’re losing the purported “doom and gloom” advantage of owning the actual asset.

I’m not opposed to folks putting a bit of their portfolio into gold. I just don’t think it’s the cure-all some make it out to be.

Pop March 13, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Yep, you’re right. When you sell physical gold, it’s treated as if you were selling a collectible and subject to regular income tax. Though if someone’s hoarding gold for the worst-case scenario, I doubt they’re doing much selling anyway.

2 Cents March 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm

If you want proof that gold is not necessarily the place to be during a financial crisis, just look at its performance during the one we just had. During the worst of the crisis, it tanked like every other asset class.

Having said that, I wouldn’t use Jeremy Siegel’s logic to make my case. His argument for “stocks for the long run” is just as flawed as the gold bugs’. In the long run we’re all dead.

Rob Bennett March 14, 2010 at 7:15 am

But you can use dollars to pay taxes, buy oil, buy food…it’s the agreed-upon medium of exchange for goods and services. I can’t use a gram of gold to fill up my gas tank. If we were still on the gold standard, maybe the argument would be a little different.

The dollar is the agreed-upon medium of exchange, Pop. Please note the present-tense wording that even you employ.

The entire point of the gold bugs is that the present-tense arrangement can not sustain itself indefinitely. They would argue that it was the fact that for a long time we were on a gold standard that sustained our paper currency, that once you go off the gold standard you put the entire arrangement at risk. Once the system breaks down, it becomes imperative to create trust in a new,/i> system and gold has historically been the thing that has done the trick.

Your arguments make sense from the standpoint of someone who hates gold. They don’t make sense from the standpoint of those who love gold. You are ignoring their core premise and assessing their arguments from the standpoint of someone who proceeds from an entirely different set of beliefs.

I am not a gold bug. I take a middle ground. I have discussed these matters with gold bugs. I can tell you that they are not generally dumb people. They are generally very smart people. It’s not that they have never considered the arguments you are putting forward. They have considered them and rejected them (whether rightly or wrongly is a different question).

You certainly should write about the topic, J.D. However, I urge you to try extra hard to be fair (while of course stating your own views just as you hold them). The discussion will be at a much higher level (and we will all learn more) if it comes across that you are making an effort to be fair to both sides.


K Smith March 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm

The problem is not with gold bugs – it is with the Fed.

Gold is not an investment. It is protection against debasement of the dollar.

Gold serves as a store of value. Paper does not. Prudent people who seek a haven to protect their wealth in times of inflation move their wealth out of dollars that are decreasing in value and into gold that is increasing in value.

In 2006 the Fed stopped reporting M3, the best indicator of how quickly it creates new money and credit. But it cannot hide the fact that our money supply has risen even faster than Mr. Bernanke can throw it out of his helicopter.

The idea that money created out of thin air can work economic miracles when properly managed is pervasive among our political and economic leaders. It is less so in the heartland. More and more Americans understand that gold protects against a depreciating currency. More and more of them understand that the 1913 pre-Federal Reserve dollar is now worth only four cents. In 1934 $20 bought an ounce of gold. Today it takes $1,100 to buy the same amount.

Many assume that inflation of the money supply will not only continue, but accelerate. The interest cost on our national debt is $1 billion a day. This week Congress may institute a new $1 trillion entitlement program.

There is a tragic component of all this that no one ever talks about – what little wealth the middle class has left after losing 30% of their home equity in the housing bubble will be stolen from them due the inflation that will be necessary to pay off all the debt.

Only the wealthy have the ability to protect their wealth by buying real gold.

K Smith March 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

In the event of a meltdown, it is not the rice rule that will prevail.

If the proverbial excrement hits the air handler, we will all live by the guns and ammo rule. He who has the guns and ammo steals all the rice – and makes the rules.

Chad March 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I’ve been following the gold debate for a few months now; far to soon to call myself knowledgeable. Here’s my question: IF (and thats a BIG if, despite rampant inflation of the money supply) people do lose faith in the convention of paper money, how do we facilitate trade? JD seems to be laboring under the impression that he’ll jus barter for everything. I think thats possible to a degree, but what if you need candles, and the candlemaker already has a fridge full of eggs, which is all you have to trade?He’s either not going to buy them, or hes going to exchange them at his marginal value for additional eggs, which is going to be low. You either need to find a commodity he does need/want, or another that he can easily trade for the items he needs/wants. If he has a stocked pantry, hes probably not going to be interested in stuff that spoils, or is indivisible (like a cow) or hard to transport. The candlemaker, and others like him, will naturally search for a medium of exchange that provides the most utility – enter gold and silver. For this reason, I think its false to say that gold has no inherent value. Along with other precious metals, it has value as a medium of exchange. Please correct me if you disagree!

The Biz of Life March 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Gold, guns and groceries for Armageddon….. The argument of the hard currency crowd is that gold is the real money, paper money is just faith in ink on paper; it’s something that is wired into the human psyche . Back when you could exchange dollars for gold that was certainly true. After dropping the gold standard, governments are a lot freer to debase their currencies, inflate their way out of their overspending problems. Fear and gold’s 300%+ performance since 2000 is fueling a lot of the speculative frenzy. When everyone wants is hyping an investment, that is not the time to buy. Gold has value, like other commodities, and will likely appreciate over time. But no one one knows at what rate, or how to rationally value it since it has no cash flow or dividend. I view it as a speculation or a hedge against those black swan type of events. It’s major disadvantage is that there is nothing to compound, and no intrinsic value other than what your neighbor is willing to pay an ounce. It may never be fall to $0, but who knows what it is worth?

abc March 19, 2010 at 5:37 am

As Rob Bennett and K Smith pointed out, the article kind of misses the point. Sure, gold is treated by some as an investment vehicle. They believe they can make lots of money with it. And over the past decade, they actually could, much more than by investing in index funds. It possibly is a bubble that one day may pop and lead to lower prices for a goal.

However, for a true gold bug, it’s not the possible performance as an investment that makes gold attractive but its value as a hedge against hyperinflation, government default and currency collapse which result in currency reforms. It’s a fundamentally conservative approach to personal finance. Currency reforms always lead to massive hair cuts for savers. Savers are the big losers of any currency reform because their savings will be gone. It makes no difference if you put your money in government bonds or in an online savings account.

And gold is one way to at least store a little of your wealth because for some reason gold has always had a value even though you it has no industrial use (unlike silver…the problem is that it’s not worth much per ounze, so you’d need to buy lots of kilogramms). There’s a saying in Germany: an ounze of gold will buy you a suit at any given time. Of course, some time it might buy you one of higher quality than in other times but the point stands.

You as well as many personal finance sites portray an unshakable believe in the US Dollar (or any given currency). Gold bugs believe the opposite. Historically, defaults and currency crisis happened all the time. And these days, quite a number of advanced Western countries once again face the fate of government default and currency crisis. If Greece leaves the Eurozone, a haircut for all holders of Greek government bonds for example seems inevitable. Don’t believe it cannot happen in the US. In comparative perspective, the situation in the US does by no means look bright (actually, rather dire!) and if action isn’t taken anytime soon, the US (much like European countries) will have no other way than default or hyperinflate its way out of this mess. And this is what gold bugs want to insure themselves against.

There are two threats to the gold-as-hedge-strategy:
- Governments can forbid private ownership of gold (happened in the US and also in Nazi Germany). In that case, you can do little with your gold and people should prepare for that by buying gold anonymously without a personalised bill and in cash. At least over here (Germany), this is perfectly legal.
- The end of civilization as we know it. There are some people out there who believe that the global economic system may collapse one day and result in a state of anarchy. In that case of course, gold will be useless. Buying weapons, tinned food learning how to grow food for yourself will be much more important. You can judge for yourself how likely such a scenario is…

In any case, the threat of events as government default and high inflation and currency reforms are very real ones. Nobody knows what the world will look like in 20 years. And you shouldn’t be too surprised about the Germans buying lots of gold because they actually had two defaults/hyper inflations/currency reforms in the 20th century: 1923 and 1948. As said before, in both cases, savings essentially evaporated. Now, why care about personal finance if you ignore very real threats? That’s why gold bugs say you should have at least a fraction of your wealth in gold.

Scott March 19, 2010 at 7:49 am

Members of my family and I have recieved a few ounces of gold as gifts on various very special occassions by an old fashioned relative. They have apprecaitesd in value significantly but in the meaintime I have felt that I now have to rent a saftey deposit box to store it all in which of course means a cost of ownership. Addtionally I have toyed with selling it and putting it elsewhere. This stuff is highly illiquid and carries a rather large liquidity discount. I agree if you want to be in gold as a hedge, buy into an ETF. If you want it as a shield buy a gun or rice.

Cathy March 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Ok, I get that when hyperinflation hits all the cash in my savings account is going to be worthless, but what good is a gold coin going to be? Like JD said, am I going to be able to buy eggs or milk with it? Even if it’s worth twice as much as paper, what good is it going to be if I can’t use it?

chacha1 March 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Fascinating. To me, the biggest things the gold bugs miss are that 1) their gold isn’t worth a thing until they sell it, and 2) in order to have purchasing power, something has to be exchangeable. If you stockpile gold for Armageddon, you have to be able/willing to exchange it for the things you need. The person who has the things you need has to be able/willing to accept gold in exchange AND to send it on down the economic chain. You can’t eat it, so you have to be able to trade it more or less infinitely.

I don’t really care if people want to stockpile gold; I just wish they weren’t so often the same people who want to stockpile guns. It seems often they are the people who view society as a zero-sum game: in order for me to win, you have to lose.

I’m with J.D. on this issue: I’d rather prepare for uncertainty by becoming as self-sufficient as possible, and trust to good faith and the barter system if the government & economy should simultaneously collapse into chaos. It’s unlikely that this would ever happen in North America. If by some hideous chain of events it did, I believe that the majority of people, after the first shock of adjustment, would act in concert to establish new, mutually-agreeable rules for the exchange of goods and services. That’s just how civilized societies work, and despite evidence in some nations to the contrary, the global trend is toward greater, not less, civility and interdependence.

Historically, mediums of exchange have ranged from peppercorns to glass beads to metals to gemstones to paper to horses to women to weapons. Gold is only one of many potential economic media, and I think it’s naive to assume it is The One that would survive a global governmental/economic meltdown.

A Brit March 20, 2010 at 5:02 am

A mistake made both by some gold fans and their critics is to conflate gold as part of investment diversification and as preparation for the apocalyptic end times.

Of course, there are some who see gold, guns and land as the only true investments. These types, thankfully, seem to live mostly in the USA. Europeans know from experience that you can have war and economic depression without the societal breakdown that Americans seem to fear.

But for most people, gold is just another hedge. We aren’t planning for the day when paper money has no value – we’re just aware that it frequently has less value.

For some it is slightly more than just a financial hedge but we still don’t need to invoke the end of the world. Europe’s long history of war and economic turmoil is still fresh in the minds of many. The grandparents and parents of my generation have experienced currencies changed, devalued and abolished. Even the youngest generation now use Euros instead of the coinage they grew up with. A gold sovereign with Queen Victoria’s head on it offers visceral security in this environment.

And this security is still needed. We live in a globalised economy – dependent on global free trade. An investment in equities is, in effect, a bet on world peace. As I may live for 40 more years and I have children for whom I want to provide, that’s a big bet to leave unhedged.

We also don’t have to worry about tax. In the UK, buying and selling sovereigns is exempt from both Value Added Tax and Capital Gains Tax. British gold coins are treated as any other coin of the realm.

Chris March 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Gold hoarding is a two-sided sword.

One one hand you have a fiat currency that is inflated continuously. It loses its value as we speak. For example, compare a 1965 U.S. Dollar with a 2010 one and it’ll have lost over 90 percent of its value. It translates into a tax on the poor and those who don’t understand the financial system.

On the other hand you have gold. It’s worth is defined through demand for it. So it has a “perceived” value. It can also be made into jewellery. But here’s the main point: It’s not going to lose its value over time like a fiat currency. A 1oz. gold coin will stay a 1oz. gold coin (unless you count abrasion) for ever and ever. Its monetary value changes, but its concrete value will never change, unlike a fiat U.S. Dollar.

I suggest that we shouldn’t think of gold as an investment, but as a insurance of concrete value and as a protection against inflation. Of course you can invest your money into an index fund and get higher yearly average (!) return than yearly rate of inflation, but you still end up with a fiat currency.

Bender March 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Gold bugs are awesome – once every 30/40 years they come out of the wood work saying “see I told you so” then proceed to ride decline in gold all the way down.

You know who makes money on physical gold . . . the retail market makers. The bid/asked spread is insane.

K Smith March 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

If you ascribe to the TEOTWAWKI scenario – The End Of the World As We Know It – having gold won’t do you much good. You are better off converting all your financial assets to cash and buying tools, food, guns, and ammo, and heading for the hinterlands.

If you ascribe to the hyperinflation scenario, gold can be a store of value as your nation moves thru hyperinflation and currency devaluation. If you bought your gold prior to hyperinflation and devaluation, you bought your gold with pre-inflation/devaluation dollars. Once the dust has settled you will be able to convert your gold to the newly devalued and stabilized currency.

If you ascribe to the Carter-years-style-inflation scenario, gold can still be a way to protect part of your assets against the debasement of the dollar.

Gold is not meant to serve as a means of exchange. It is a means to protect assets held in fiat currency from evaporating away during times of inflation.

Central banks were net sellers of gold beginning in Oct 2009. They don’t intend to use the gold as a medium of exchange in their countries. They hold lots of dollar denominated assets, and the gold buys indicate that they seek a store of value against the inflation of the dollar.

If you are seriously considering items for barter, some things to think about include cans of tuna, whiskey, butane lighters, duct tape, batteries, salt, cigarettes, and razors.

K Smith

K Smith March 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

**** Cathy ****
Ooops! I mean to type, “Central banks were net BUYERS of gold beginning in Oct 2009.”

As my high school English teacher Mrs. Bring admonished,”Proofread, proofread, proofread!”

K Smith

Amy March 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I’m not a gold bug, but I know quite a few and I definitely understand where they’re coming from.

I studied the origins of money a while back, and it was interesting to hear how people theorized that money originated. Many assume that it was instituted by government, but it’s more likely that it spontaneously arose… and that it did so in the form of gold for several reasons:
1) Gold is easy to divide and shape (a relatively soft metal)
2) Gold has no expiration date (advantage over cows or rice or eggs)
3) Gold’s perceived value is concentrated, and therefore it is easily transported (unlike that cow)

If we did experience some sort of disaster, whether it is hyperinflation or semi-apocalypse, and moved back to a barter system, that system wouldn’t remain in place for long. Some sort of currency would arise because it’s easier and smarter to use a currency than to barter one-to-one. I wouldn’t be surprised if that currency did end up being gold for the reasons it did long ago, but that’s only one of many scenarios.

Gold as an investment, though (and not as a hedge against disaster) seems to miss the point.

Amy March 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Oh, I forgot 4) There is a fixed amount of gold on earth, and the rate at which we discover more gold seems to correspond pretty well with economy growth

K Smith March 23, 2010 at 4:29 am

It is interesting that you bring up the topic of the institution of money. When people think government instituted money it is easy to maintain popular support for a central bank.

There are alternative currencies in the US created by local communities, such as “Berkshares” in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts, and “Ithaca Hours” in Ithaca, New York.

There is growing support for a national alternative currency. The proposed Free Competition in Currency Act would allow private mints to create currencies to compete with Federal Reserve Notes. Such currencies would have no linkage at all to government.

It remains to be seen whether confidence in our monetary system will decline to the point where this act will receive popular support. I find it interesting that confidence in our monetary system is so low that last fall the Fed hired a PR firm to burnish its image.

K Smith

Economic Awakening March 24, 2010 at 11:06 pm

In the old days, much before modern governments figured out that they could print their way out of trouble (except for Greece of course), the kings used to create more money by mixing less precious metals along with gold when making coins. This new money could then be used to finance all sorts of nonsense, including expensive wars, etc…

This would work for a little while, until the people figure out that they were getting less valuable coins. In a sense, the gold insured that coins could only be produced when the kingdom ran into more gold, which was generally at a very slow pace.

All this to say that gold is valuable because it keeps governments honest… In other words, they are limited in the amount of new currency they can put in circulation.

K Smith March 27, 2010 at 1:19 am

Economic Awakening, you raise an interesting topic.

Gold keeps government honest only when the currency is linked to gold – ours is not. Our currency was de-linked from gold in 1971. Without the gold link, government can to inflate the currency and put as much of it in circulation as it wants to. This dilutes the value of the money already in circulation and makes the money we have already earned worth less.

It steals wealth out of people’s pockets without most of them even knowing it. This is why monetary inflation is called the Stealth Tax.

This is happening now with our own Fed. It dumped bucketfuls of money onto the books of the too-big-to-fail zombie banks to prop them up in the bailout in late 2008, and it is reinflating the housing bubble by buying up huge numbers of mortgage backed securities. It recently finalized a $1.25 trillion purchase.

Mr. Bernanke’s helicopter is running 24/7.

Economic Awakening March 28, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I fully agree with you K Smith.

I believe that a large percentage of the price increase of gold in any currency is simply due to the loss of value in paper currencies (not backed by gold). This loss of value has become more accutate over the last decade as individuals and governments were amassing huge sums of debt.

Steven May 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm

The more I delve into the subject of economics, the less sense it makes.

I’m currently doing a Bachelor of Commerce and have economics as a core subject. Amongst other things, the fact that gold is still a kingpin in foreign trade and has a reserve value is baffling. It truly shows how outdated world trade patterns are. It harks back to the era of royalty and extreme elitism. It’s just silly!

As said before it has no real use, and you just gotta have the feeling that one day people are gonna see gold for what it is (a yellow metal), and investors are gonna be caught with their pants down. So to say!

Our perception of what is valuable is so distorted, globally.
Tycoons, investors, entrepreneurs, etc. are in a rat race to take out this metal from the earth, as much as they can in the quickest time, totally ignoring the things that are actually valuable! The natural environment surrounding mines is WAY more valuable. So is the youth, skill and uniqueness of the people that are in these mines everyday. Wasted potential on a silly metal, or should I say, a silly perception of value.

Really baffles the mind!

PS great blog. I’ve been looking for something like this

Tim May 31, 2010 at 2:29 am

A lot of the arguments the gold people make in the comments (inflation! inflation! inflation!) are excellent arguments for not storing your money under your mattress for 70 years. However, I’m not sure anyone is recommending doing this.

I’d much rather take the inflation risk than the huge volatility of gold prices (I hate to think how badly things are likely to bottom out in a year or two).

peter cooper November 30, 2010 at 10:51 am

what commodity has risen by the biggest percentage over the past decade?

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