'Peak gold' arguments should trip alarms

Great piece from the WSJ's Liam Denning today: Gold Trades on Luster and Bluster reminding gold bugs and the rest of the world that unlike food, water or oil, gold is not consumed, it is mostly just hoarded. Lately gold has been acting an awful lot like other risky assets riding on zero rates and speculative in-flows. Meanwhile gold parties today are about as popular as Tupperware parties in the 70's. HMMMMM…..What's that rule about investing in unpopular themes and avoiding the madness of crowds?

“Above all, phrases like peak gold should trip alarms. Investors buying into similar arguments at the height of the energy bull markets suffered big losses as recession hit and supplies turned out to be ample. And those commodities really get used up, rather than merely stored in the hope someone else pays more for them later.
Another bull argument, recalling the days of the gold standard, observes that the money supply has expanded far faster than gold reserves. Yet even if proponents could agree on the metrics to be used—narrow or broad money? Official reserves? global stocks?—the argument hasn't held over time. Gold was range-bound after the early 1980s bubble until the middle of this decade, even as U.S. money supply expanded, and has displayed little correlation with movements in broad money-supply measures. Lately, it has even disconnected from measures of observed and anticipated inflation.
The gold price's reaction to recent events like the unexpected drop in the U.S. unemployment rate and worries about Dubai and Greece is more telling. Gold has dropped at even the slightest foreshadowing of monetary-policy tightening or signs the financial system faces another bout of fragility. Its correlation with the S&P 500 has leapt from about zero in May to more than 40%. For all the talk of fundamentals and being a safe haven, gold is behaving more like the risk assets against which it is supposed to offer diversification.”

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3 Responses to 'Peak gold' arguments should trip alarms

  1. Anonymous says:

    Most of us old and shrivelled ones are thirsting for advice on where to invest for any kind of earnings and capital security? You have outlined the pitfalls and pot holes. Where is the well paved path? How can we take advantage of the carry trade as this is what appears to be driving the money machine? Should we look at the coming Carbon shell game? How can we protect against a Canadian $ drop?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Right now the best course is the safest course. You should focus on Cdn high quality fixed income in the 1-5 year range; downsize growth assets for cash. Add income paying equities on the idea that they may do nothing more than pay you the income for the next while. They could also drop in market value 20-30% in the next market contraction so keep that possibility as a central risk of your approach as well. What would your sell rule be? When would you add more? How much exposure should you hold now? More exotic “plays” should be avoided unless you have some expertise in a particular area. Those that are just speculating blindly are doing so a enormous risk. The US dollar did close at a breakout on Friday, so if this is a enduring trend up for the next few months, you may be able to add some US Tbills and make equity like returns on the currency appreciation. But you also have to be tracking it carefully for the next time to sell U$ as well. No time for auto-pilot anything. Doing less is more in these conditions. Caution over bold bets.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Danielle for the extensive reply. It is appreciated. Best wishes of The Season to you and your mother.

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