When it comes to investing in gold, investors often see the world in black and white. Some people have a deep, almost religious conviction that gold is a useless, barbarous relic with no yield and an asset no rational investor would ever want. Others love it, seeing it as the only asset that can offer protection from the coming financial catastrophe, which is always just around the corner. Our views are more nuanced and, we believe, provide a balanced framework for assessing value. Our bottom line: given current valuations and central bank policies, we see gold as a compelling inflation hedge and store of value that is potentially superior to fiat currencies. [Here are the details of our analyses.] Words: 1316
So say Nicholas J. Johnson and Mihir P. Worah (www.PIMCO.com) in edited excerpts from their original article* posted under the title GOLD – The Simple Facts (PIMCO)
[Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.FinancialArticleSummariesToday.com (A site for sore eyes and inquisitive minds) and www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!), has edited the article below for length and clarity – see Editor’s Note at the bottom of the page. This paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.]
The authors go on to say, in part:
We believe investors should consider allocating gold and other precious metals to a diversified investment portfolio. The supply of gold is constrained, and we see demand increasing consistent with global economic growth on a per capita basis. Regarding inflation in particular, we feel that the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin a third round of quantitative easing makes gold even more attractive.
We see the Fed’s actions in the wake of the financial crisis as a paradigm shift whereby the Fed is attempting to ease financial conditions and encourage risk-taking by increasing inflation expectations. Its policies will likely result in continuous negative real interest rates because nominal rates will be fixed at close to 0% for the foreseeable future.
To be sure, gold isn’t the only asset with the potential to hold its value in inflationary times. For U.S. investors, at least, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) offer an explicit inflation hedge. What’s more, TIPS tend to be less volatile than gold and, if held to maturity, are guaranteed to receive their principal back – barring a U.S. government default (which we see as incredibly improbable). Still, history shows that gold is highly correlated to inflation and has unique supply and demand characteristics that potentially lead to attractive valuations.
A unique store of value
For more than a millennium, gold has served as a store of value and a medium of exchange. It has broadly managed to maintain its real value, even as various currency regimes have come and gone. The reason is that the supply of gold is not at the whim of any governmental power; it is fundamentally supply constrained. Total outstanding above-ground gold stocks – the amount that has been extracted over the past few millennia – are roughly 155,000 metric tons. Each year mines supply roughly 2,600 additional metric tons, or 1.7% of the outstanding total. This is why gold can be thought of as the currency without a printing press.
The downside of gold is that it generates no interest. One ounce of gold today will still be only one ounce next year and the year after that. Because of this, gold is sometimes referred to as a non-productive financial asset, but we feel this characterization is misleading. Rather, we believe gold should not be thought of as a substitute for equities or corporate bonds. These have equity or default risk and therefore convey risk premiums.
Instead, gold should be thought of as a currency, one which pays no interest. Dollars, euro, yen and other currencies can be deposited to receive interest, and this rate of interest is meant to compensate for the decline in the value of paper currencies via inflation. Gold, in contrast, maintains its real value over time so no interest is necessary.
Today, the forward-looking return on holding U.S. dollars, and most other major currencies, has been artificially lowered by the Fed’s commitment to keep interest rates pegged at near zero for the next few years; real yields on U.S. government bonds are negative out to 20 years. In such a world, we believe the desire and willingness of investors to hold gold relative to other currencies increases dramatically, creating the potential for continued price appreciation.
The real price of gold
Of course, investors must also consider valuation, especially since some believe gold is overpriced. Figure 1 shows the inflation-adjusted value of gold since 1970. There is no doubt that gold prices, which averaged $1,630 in August, are high. However, in inflation-adjusted terms, gold is 12% below its 1980 peak. Inflation in 1980 hit 15% year-over-year, and inflation today is running much lower so some may question the validity of comparisons to 1980. While we believe that inflation over the next several years is likely to be higher, on average, than it has been over the past 20 years and that the tail risks are for much higher inflation, this speaks more to the outlook for the nominal price of gold.
The price of gold in real or inflation-adjusted terms is less affected by the rate of inflation and more impacted by the level of real interest rates because as discussed previously, it is the real interest rate that drives the relative attractiveness of holding gold relative to other currencies. With real interest rates negative on average for the next 20 years, it is of little surprise that gold is trading near its all-time inflation-adjusted high.
Even the inflation-adjusted value of gold doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Thanks to productivity gains and economic growth, per capita GDP is significantly higher today than 30 years ago. Thus, the average person today has more wealth and, all else being equal, can afford to pay relatively more for gold.
To Chinese, gold has never seemed less expensive Figure 2 shows the ratio of gold prices to per capita GDP in the U.S. and China. In dollar terms, gold is still 34% below its 1980 peak, as U.S. per capita GDP is higher today. Furthermore, this is a relatively U.S. centric view, and considering that China represents the largest source of global gold demand, we believe investors take an overly myopic view at their peril. Chinese per capita GDP has grown at an 18% annualized rate for the past 10 years, compared with just 3% per year in the U.S. Thus, while gold might seem quite expensive to those of us in developed economies, its price seems much less expensive to those in faster-growing emerging economies like China.
Another way to think about the relative value of gold is to consider what a return to the gold standard might look like. In other words, what if the entire world’s gold were used to back the global supply of fiat currency? Globally there are roughly $12.5 trillion in physical and electronic currency reserves. Given that there are 155,000 metric tons of gold above ground, this equals an approximate price of $2,500 per ounce if all of the world’s reserves were to be backed by the entire stock of above-ground physical gold.
Not really so pricey
These points lead us to believe that gold valuations are not as stretched as a naïve look at its nominal price might suggest. Central banks globally are seeking to depreciate their currencies in a beggar-thy-neighbor attempt to stimulate their domestic economies (the Swiss National Bank is a prime example).
For more than a millennium, gold has broadly managed to maintain its real value, even as various currency regimes have come and gone. The supply of gold is constrained, and we see demand increasing consistent with global economic growth on a per capita basis. Given current valuations and central bank policies, we believe investors should consider including gold and other precious metals in a diversified investment portfolio.
Therefore, we believe investors should consider owning gold, precious metals and other assets that store value as long as central banks continue to print and maintain negative real interest rates.
Is gold a commodity or currency? How does it behave as an investment? What are the fundamentals of investing in gold? What are the different ways investors can get exposure to gold in their portfolios? The answers to these questions and many others are answered in this latest infographic from Visual Capitalist.
Some say that the gold price rises and falls, but they are grabbing the wrong end of the stick. It is the purchasing power of national currencies that rise and fall. Here is an analogy to make this point clear. When standing in a boat and looking at the shore, it is the boat (currencies) – and not the land (gold) – that is bobbing up and down. [Let me explain the value of gold further.] Words: 631
Today all currencies are fiat, that is, they are money only by government edict, by the law; they have no inherent value and are not backed by reserves. Because of this central bankers around the world can create/ print new money almost without limit, and as with all markets currency prices are set by the law of supply and demand, and as more dollars, euros, pounds and yen are created, their value falls. [Let me explain the ramifications of such action.] Words: 785
Several years, ago, the very savvy Richard Russell stated that the investment times were changing. He said that with huge debts everywhere, cash flow would be the most important issue for everybody going forward- for business, for investment, and for everyday life. He said that it was no longer a game of “Return on Capital”, but a need for “Return of Capital.” What Richard was saying was that good and consistent investment and income gains would be more difficult for a decade, or so, and that just keeping the same value of one’s savings would be an important goal.
The concept of “value” is extremely important, especially when Dollars are being printed aggressively. This is because the value of your Dollars is falling. Most people look at a Dollar and see a Dollar. They don’t understand that the worth of a Dollar can fall dramatically in times like today.
Gold and Silver are not an investment! Let me repeat that. Gold and silver are not an investment! Gold and silver are (excuse the pun) the most “solid” form of money you can possess. Yes, these two precious metals are money!…Don’t fear owning gold my friends. Fear not owning gold and silver, especially if you are a saver. [Let me explain.] Words: 795
The spectacular rally in the gold price over recent years [has] many observers asking if the precious metal has not moved ahead of its fundamentals…[and if it] has not entered speculative bubble territory. [To address that concern] I have calculated the purchasing-power-protection price of gold for the 43 years from 1970 to 2012 and compared it to the average market price for gold in every year [along with some background of events unfolding over each decade during that time period which should prove] useful as a framework for how to think about the [current] dollar-price of gold. [I think you will find it most enlightening. Take a look.] Words: 3973
It would seem that there is a considerable lack of understanding about what the term “safe haven” actually means when it comes to gold. Let me explain just what it means – and does not mean. Words: 740
Comments I have made that “when this [financial crisis] finally ends the big winners are apt to be the ones who have lost the least purchasing power. Keeping score in nominal dollars is likely to be meaningless. Gold tends to hold its purchasing power regardless of what happens to fiat currency.” have prompted questions about a) how to achieve such purchasing power with physical gold when this stage is reached, b) how to go about buying things with gold coins and c) how gold would be utilized under the assumption that a barter system would develop when dollars become worthless. [Let me explain.] Words: 700
We are in the midst of turbulent times, and it seems inevitable that things can only get worse. Most investors are of the opinion that gold is one of a very few areas of safety…however, when we look at historical charts, it is obvious that gold doesn’t always behave in the way we would expect. [Let me explain.] Words: 541
Do you own enough gold and silver for what lies ahead? If 10% of your total investable assets (i.e., excluding equity in your primary residence) aren’t held in various forms of gold and silver, we…think your portfolio is at risk. Here’s why. Words: 625
We are all focused on the short-term and that’s natural, but let’s step back and look at the longer-term picture…We know the debt levels are too high today…but, because less than 1% of world financial assets are in gold, we have yet to really see the gold market react to the massive global money printing binge of the last 10 years. Once the gold market starts reacting to all of this, that’s when gold is going to go exponential. It doesn’t matter whether investors are buying gold at $1,600 or $1,800, it’s irrelevant in the long-run. What’s important is they are invested in physical gold in order to preserve their wealth. [Let me explain why.]
I was taught years ago that “gold is not about price… gold is about value.” Be measured, be balanced and don’t make more of it than it is. Gold is just a tool, an anchor to sound money; to value. [Let me explain.] Words: 1120
Inflation is the central banks’ method of avoiding the pain of austerity. Inflation is the current economic narcotic that is used by modern nations. It’s the old ‘beggar thy neighbor’ system, and it will ultimately result either in all out hyperinflation and a collapse of the fiat currency system or a corrective deflationary crash. Either way, the last currency standing will be gold.
Considering the fact that you can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time, is it any wonder millions, both through the Tea Party demonstrations and now the Occupy Wall Street Movement across the country and elsewhere around the world, are protesting the abysmal scourge that fiat currency has brought upon us as a result of that fateful day back on July 25th, 1965. To appreciate the significance of that historic day we must fully understand what fiat currency is and why such a concept is about to implode and this article does just that. Words: 1372
‘Gold Bullion Or Cash’ is a well produced, high quality, educational short video that uses music, images, facts and quotations to show how gold has been a proven store of value throughout history and an important diversification today.
To fully understand gold’s role in an investment portfolio, we need to adopt a new mindset, a gold mindset which is, simply put: gold is not a bad investment, and gold is not a good investment. Gold is not an investment at all – gold is money.
In our travels to the Middle East, the Far East and South and Central America [we have found that] most people in those parts of the world see gold as the protector of wealth [as opposed to] in the West where it is viewed as a commodity for speculation… [That shouldn’t be the case. Let me tell you why.] Words: 2159
Have you ever wondered what money really is [and why we need to own some gold as a result]? You’ll notice that everyone you read has a strong opinion , but who’s right? [Let look at the situation and see if we can come to an answer that we both can agree on.] Words: 3086