Compared with stocks and other financial assets, gold looks inexpensive. More important, inflation is starting to pick up in the U.S. and in much of the world as central banks shrink their enormous balance sheets. And gold has represented a good defense against inflation eroding the value of a stock or bond portfolio. Over time, it has held its value against the dollar. Gold was $20.67 an ounce 100 years ago and that bought a good men’s suit. At $1,200 an ounce, the same is true today.
“Gold is rare, and it’s hard to rapidly increase the supply of it,” says Keith Trauner, co-portfolio manager of the GoodHaven (ticker: GOODX) mutual fund, which holds Barrick Gold(ABX), a leading mining company. “People have historically viewed it as a hedge against government depreciation of local currency.”
There are an estimated six billion ounces of gold in the world, worth more than $7 trillion, about 30% of the value of the S&P 500. Annual new mined supply adds less than 2% to the global total.
“Virtually every government in the world is trying to promote inflation partly because there is so much sovereign debt,” Trauner says. When there is so much debt, he contends, governments have three choices: default, restructure, or inflate the currency. “Politicians, when given the chance, will choose the latter.”
Naysayers point to higher interest rates as a negative for gold because it increases the allure of holding cash. But gold had one of its best decades during the inflationary 1970s, when rates soared.
Whereto for precious metals? A big decline has taken gold back to the $1200 level from it’s January peak of $1366 and sentiment is torn between those hungry for bargains and those worried about the trajectory of interest rates and the strength of the Dollar.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top