Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Gold Prices Going Down

Gold looks like it's going down. When Ron Paul was starting to get popular, gold prices went up considerably. Many were saying gold would reach US$1000 per ounce. Some were saying it would go up to $1500 per ounce.

Most of the gold nuts were those with a conspiracy theory background. They believed that governments were corrupt and couldn't control inflation and thus leaving your money in fiat currency was dangerous. The answer would be gold.

Gold is used as a store of value because of its properties. It is malleable, it has consistency of quality, it is scarce, and so on. But otherwise, gold, unlike oil, doesn't really have any useful purposes. Dentists can use gold for fillings, but there are substitutes.

Many people say gold is a disaster hedge. I would imagine if there is a collapse of civilization we would be trading in gold or at least the consensus would be that gold would be the new standard currency. But I'm not sure. In the event of a disaster, e.g. a collapse of the global financial system, wouldn't it be better to have a tonne of potatoes or rice rather than a tonne of gold? You can't eat gold. Of course, potatoes or rice may perish after a few years while gold lasts forever. Plus if gold becomes the new post-apocalyptic currency you can purchase rice from other survivalists with your gold.

One of the major problems with gold is that gold does not do anything. If you invest in a company by buying its stock, you can expect this company to do something useful--e.g. Coca Cola will sell Coke to people--and make profits. These profits are distributed to shareholders like you and me through dividends. However, gold doesn't do anything. It is a useless, pointless piece of metal. As such it has no future stream of income and therefore has no present value. You buy it only for speculative reasons, that is, you buy it because you hope the price will go up.

Some argue that gold is not going up because it is more valuable but because gold is priced in US dollars and the US dollar is suffering from inflation at the moment. The ultimate measure of gold then is not the nominal measure whereby we measure the value of gold in terms of US dollars but measure the value of gold in terms of its purchasing power, that is how much useful goods we can buy with that gold.

I suspect that many of those who try to encourage others to buy gold are those who want to engage in a practice called pump and dump. They hold heaps of gold ETFs and then go on Internet boards saying things like, "It's the end of the world! Buy gold!" Then all the scared people buy gold, prices go up, and then once these gold ETF holders see the value of their gold rise they dump it and make a quick profit. Making a profit off those inclined towards conspiracy theory is nothing new. David Icke has been doing it for years and he makes a lot of money.

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