‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gold and Goldman Sachs

It appears that Goldman Sachs will simultaneously predict a rise in the value of gold, and a fall, depending on how valuable a client you are. Mind you, that could reflect the difference between the advice one gives to active traders as opposed to buy-and-holders, so it's not enough evidence to convict, I think.

I looked at gold's longer-term price history in February of last year, starting in 1971 when President Nixon finally severed the official link between the US dollar and the precious metal on which it used to be based. Since then, and adjusted for the American Consumer Price Index, gold has averaged 2.8 or 2.9 times its September 1971 price. I reproduce the graph below:

In September 1971, gold was trading at $42.02 per ounce, when the CPI index was at 40.8 . As I write, the New York spot price is $1,232.40 and July 2010's CPI figure is 218.011. So "in real terms" gold is now worth 5.49 times as much as in the autumn of 1971, i.e. nearly twice its long-term, inflation-adjusted trend.

As I've said before, we're now not looking at gold as a "good buy" because it's undervalued, which it isn't (it was, 10 years ago). Instead, it's assuming its role as a form of insurance against economic breakdown. I've noted recently, as doubtless you have too, how shops and internet sites have been springing up, offering to buy your gold. There must be a reason - though remember that these purchasers often don't give you the full melt-down value of your jewelry, so there's a profit margin for them already.

It may be a sign of the times, but that also means that it's a temporary phenomenon. Unless you're willing to keep a sharp eye out for price movements and can sell fairly quickly when you have made a gain, perhaps you should keep out of this speculative market.

Unless you believe the future is rather more catastrophic. In that case, as some are now advising, you may wish to build up your personal holding of the imperishable element. But consider the ancient buried hoards that have been discovered over the last few years by people with metal detectors: presumably those ancients thought they'd come back for their goods, but were overtaken by events. If you really have the disaster-movie outlook, maybe there are other, more useful things you should be doing to ensure that you survive and thrive.

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myopia said...

"If you really have the disaster-movie outlook, maybe there are other, more useful things you should be doing to ensure that you survive and thrive."

Excellent point. I'm stocking up on cans of Tuna right now :)

Sackerson said...

Get the ones in spring water, the others'll kill you with thirst.