The Worst Fears of the Gold Bugs

Peter Macfarlane comments on Gold Bullion Investing, the Dollar-Euro rate, and Crisis Investing Opportunity in Hungary for The Q Wealth Report

I’m trying to get ahead of myself at the moment in order to take a little time off in August. The result of this is that I’ve got behind on some other things, like keeping up with the news. Besides, I’m a traditionalist who still likes reading magazines in print, and they sometimes take a while to catch up with me on my travels.

Hence, I’m only commenting now on an interesting article in The Economist dated July 10th. They got my attention with the cover headline “Why Gold Has Probably Peaked.” Huh? How could the Economist be saying that? Here’s a quote from the article:

At some point either the worst fears of the gold bugs must be realised – in which case, heaven help us – or the world will become a less nervous place.

The hypothesis of the article is that demand in India and China for gold jewellery is shrinking, that gold is not a great investment because it doesn’t pay interest. As the world economy returns to business as usual, says the Economist, “the gold market may also return to some semblance of normality” – in other words downwards.

Well I can’t disagree that if the global economy really does get better, gold quoted in dollars might fall. But the idea that the global economy is getting better, or that the world is suddenly about to become more tranquil and relaxed, really is a stretch…

Sometimes I think Americans have a hard time understanding Europe, as I have written recently in my comments on the Euro. I said the Euro would recover and now it’s back above 1.30 to the greenback. But the Economist is very European in some ways and it seems they have a hard time understanding Americans. I mean, if they think the world economy is returning to business as usual, what planet are they referring to???

Most of my days at the moment are taken up with Americans who want to get out of the USA. They are looking for offshore investments, foreign residencies and economic citizenships. Of course if we get bogged down in our daily routines we might be able to block out of our minds what is going on – and that is what the majority do, because they don’t want to leave their comfort zones.

However, just think back to two years ago, even a year ago, and see how things have changed – for the worse. Anyone who thinks business is getting back to normal is living in cloud cuckoo land.

Here’s something else I like. The article quotes Willem Buiter, and Anglo-Dutch economist who blogs at the FT under the moniker maverecon as saying he would not invest:

into something without intrinsic value, something whose positive value is based on nothing more than a set of self-confirming beliefs.

Apparently, Buiter was talking about gold when he said this! However I would say it about fiat currencies like the dollar, euro or pound sterling. Is he seriously trying to tell us that say the US dollar has intrinsic value based on anything other than self-confirming beliefs? (In that case, the dollar is backed by the full faith and credit of the Obama government…) Give me my gold bullion I can touch and feel over paper and electrons any day!

On a slightly different but related topic, my fellow traveller Simon Black who blogs as Sovereign Man has written a couple of interesting pieces on fiat money recently. In what I think is an excellent analysis, he explains why trillions of dollars of institutional money are constantly looking for the least worst currency to hang out in, leading to frequent switching between the dollar, the euro and the yen in a race to the bottom. This keeps the three currencies almost even in the race to the bottom, so people don’t really notice the devaluations going on… but like any landing in a storm, there’s a lot of turbulence.

Then yesterday Simon wrote about Hungary, a country I used to live and invest in some years ago and still a pretty good place to live I think. I’ll be watching Hungary closely and Simon correctly points out that what is going on there could well turn out to be more devastating than the Greek sovereign debt crisis. This would definitely lead to a flow of money out of the euro again, and the balancing increase in the dollar as that turbulence continues. As a reader pointed out on Sovereign Man, “The result of a Hungarian default would be very similar to Argentina in 2001 with some very interesting investment implications.” I rather hope Hungary does default… then I will be one of the first in there to buy some tangible real estate with a briefcase full of Federal Reserve promises…

However, one thing Americans never quite understand about Europe is that nothing happens there in August. Hungary is unlikely to default in August as that would interfere with the annual month-long party at Lake Balaton, where Budapest moves to in August. (Like Paris moves to the countryside, or Buenos Aires moves to Punta del Este in December)

It’s always safe to take some time off in August. Come September, your writer and the Q Wealth team will be gathering in Cork, Ireland for Q Wealth Masterclass – a unique opportunity to meet and rub shoulders with a dream team of people who think like us. This will be your opportunity not just to protect your assets but put them into long term offshore investments with growth potential. Gold and Offshore Real Estate will be right up there at the top of the investing agenda.

It seems that what the Economist sees as the worst fears of the gold bugs is actually just what the gold bugs are hoping for… Heaven help people who are not gold bugs!

1 thought on “The Worst Fears of the Gold Bugs”

  1. Of all the precious metals, gold is the most popular as an investment.[1] Investors generally buy gold as a hedge or safe haven against any economic, political, social, or fiat currency crises (including investment market declines, burgeoning national debt, currency failure, inflation, war and social unrest). The gold market is also subject to speculation like most commodities, especially through the use of futures contracts and derivatives. Gold is also money, although it is treated by some investors as a commodity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_as_an_investment

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