Epic Gold Battle Coming
Consider gold versus government/Wall Street. This is often portrayed as the feisty little guys against the giants. Is this an accurate portrayal of reality? Prior to 1974,this was certainly the case. Gold bullion ownership was finally legalized after 41 years of being illegal.
Any coin collector who owned gold coins before 1974 qualified as a little guy. The big versus little narrative was most certainly accurate prior to the Reagan Administration's decision to stop regular intervention in the foreign exchange market.
It is now 34 years later, and this scenario has become less and less true. The U.S. government began selling gold bullion coins in 1986 with the advent of gold and silver American Eagles. Platinum Eagles arrived in 1997. Government policy has been to sell as much precious metal to buyers as they want, even if the execution is often less than perfect.
Wall Street took a lot longer to embrace gold. For a long time it had been restricted to gold mining shares, but that all changed with the introduction of Exchange Traded Funds. These have grown rapidly in the midst of the most recent financial crisis, which has put gold and silver investment into the mainstream.
Of course, even before the introduction of EFT's, financial reporting regularly reported precious metals. There were even attempts to mainstream coin investments in the 1980's, which were treated like another hard money option.
Now a days, precious metals respond to conventional market cues. If it looks like the Fed is going to raise interest rates, precious metals tumble. If it looks like the Fed won't raise interest rates, precious metals rise. The market reactions are rational calculations of investment carrying costs and investment alternatives.
When the economy looks like it is getting weaker, as recent news out of China indicates, silver particularly goes down because its price has a large component of industrial demand built into it. When the economy is thriving and inflation is heating up, the ratio between gold and silver prices is much lower.
Precious metals have gone conventional and mainstream. This does not alter the basic reason for owning precious metals. Precious metals do rise with the price levels over time. But they also move in fits and starts just like the stock market.
There are exciting up trends and hair-raising down trends. In the long haul, prices end up higher. But as a conventional asset class, tales of slow-moving, long-term up trends in precious metals are not nearly as exciting as an epic battle that is over too quickly.
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