This article discusses buying gold as an investment.
The following table sets forth the gold price versus various investments and key statistics (Note: the prices on the following table and graphs are expressed in terms of nominal dollars, and thus are not adjusted for inflation):
| Year to|
| Gold Price|
| Silver Price|
|S&P 500|| Dow Jones|
| Average US|
| US Govt Debt |
According to the World Gold Council, annual mine production of gold over the last few years has been close to 2,500 tonnes. About 3,000 tonnes goes into jewelry or industrial/dental production, and around 500 tonnes goes to retail investors and exchange traded gold funds. This translates to an annual demand for gold to be 1000 tonnes in excess over mine production which has come from central bank sales and other disposal.
Central banks and the International Monetary Fund play an important role in the gold price. At the end of 2004 central banks and official organizations held 19 percent of all above-ground gold as official gold reserves . The Washington Agreement on Gold (WAG), which dates from September 1999, limits gold sales by its members (Europe, United States, Japan, Australia, Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund) to less than 400 tonnes a year . European central banks, such as the Bank of England and Swiss National Bank, have been key sellers of gold over this period .
Although central banks do not generally announce gold purchases in advance, some, such as Russia, have expressed interest in growing their gold reserves again as of late 2005 . In early 2006, China, which only holds 1.3% of its reserves in gold , announced that it was looking for ways to improve the returns on its official reserves. Many bulls hope that this signals that China might reposition more of its holdings into gold in line with other Central Banks.
In general, gold becomes more desirable in times of:Bank failures: When dollars were fully convertible into gold, both were regarded as money. However, most people preferred to carry around paper banknotes rather than the somewhat heavier and less divisible gold coins. If people feared their bank would fail, a bank run might have been the result. This is what happened in the USA during the Great Depression of the 1930s, leading President Roosevelt to impose a national emergency and to outlaw the holding of gold by US citizens. known as Executive Order 6102 which has since been ended.Low or negative real interest rates: If the return on bonds, equities and real estate is not adequately compensating for risk and inflation then the demand for gold and other alternative investments such as commodities increases. An example of this is the period of Stagflation that occurred during the 1970s and which led to an economic bubble forming in precious metals.War, invasion, looting, crisis: In times of national crisis, people fear that their assets may be seized and that the currency may become worthless. They see gold as a solid asset which will always buy food or transportation. Thus in times of great uncertainty, particularly when war is feared, the demand for gold rises.
Investors using fundamental analysis analyze the macroeconomic situation, which includes international economic indicators, such as GDP growth rates, inflation, interest rates, productivity and energy prices. They would also analyze the total global gold supply versus demand. Over 2005 the World Gold Council estimated total global gold supply to be 3,859 tonnes and demand to be 3,754 tonnes, giving a surplus of 105 tonnes Others point out that total mine production is only about 2,500 tonnes each year, leaving a 1,300 tonne deficit that must be made up by central bank or private sales. While gold production is unlikely to change in the near future, supply and demand due to private ownership is highly liquid and subject to rapid changes. This makes gold very different from almost every other commodity.
The performance of gold bullion is often compared to stocks. They are fundamentally different asset classes: gold is a store of value whereas stocks are a return on value (i.e. growth plus dividends). Stocks and bonds perform best in a stable political climate with strong property rights and little turmoil. The attached graph shows the value of Dow Jones Industrial Average divided by the price of an ounce of gold. Since 1800, stocks have consistently gained value in comparison to gold due in part to the stability of the American political system. This appreciation has been cyclical with long periods of stock outperformance followed by long periods of gold outperformance. The Dow Industrials bottomed out a ratio of 1:1 with gold during 1980 (the end of the 1970s bear market) and proceeded to post gains throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The ratio peaked on January 14th, 2000 a value of 41.3 and has fallen sharply since. William Anton III wrote in the 2004 issue of Jefferson Coin and Bullion "...downward movement in the Dow/gold ratio is unlikely to stop precisely at the mean trendline. The extreme distension of the the 90s will likely overshoot to the opposite extreme in the current cycle." Source:
In November 2005, Rick Munarriz of Motley Fool.com posed the question of which represented a better investment: a share of Google or an ounce of gold. The specific comparison between these two very different investments seems to have captured the imagination of many in the investment community and is serving to crystalize the broader debate. Source: At the time of writing, a share of Google's stock and an ounce of gold were both near $700. On January 4, 2008 23:58 New York Time, it was reported that an ounce of gold outpaced the share price of Google by 30.77%, with gold closing at $859.19 per ounce and a share of Google closing at $657 on U.S. market exchanges. On January 24th 2008, the gold price broke the $900 mark per ounce for the first time. The price of gold topped $1,000 an ounce for the first time ever on March 13 2008 amid recession fears in the United States.On September 21 2008 gold closed at $862 per ounce while Google closes at $449.15.
In 2008, ETF Securities launched ETFS Leveraged Gold which is designed to change each day by twice the daily percentage change in the DJ-AIG Gold Sub-Index (before fees and adjustments). Therefore if the DJ-AIG Gold Sub-Index rises (or falls) by 1% in one day, then ETFS Leveraged Gold will rise (or fall) by 2%.
Paper money was in many parts of the world used as notional representation of gold, with the ability to demand payment of the gold.
Increases in the supply of fiat currency through increased money supply have caused the fiat currency price of gold to increase. This is because fiat currencies can increase in supply much more quickly than new gold can be brought onto the market.
Since the gold standard was ended on August 15, 1971, an event called the Nixon Shock or Dollar Shock, governments formerly tied to the Bretton Woods Agreement have been free to increase money supply without limitation. The currencies became "fiat" not linked to or representing a claim on gold or anything else. This point can clearly be seen in this chart of the purchasing power of gold vs. major currencies over the last century.