How Long Will Gold Glitter?

26 Oct

I want to spend a little more time on gold here.

Fundamental demand, including Jewelry, Industrial and Dental, is down significantly year over year (8% and 19%, respectively, on a volume basis) while mining supply is up 18% and recycled gold supply is up 31%. Supply is not constrained and the demand from traditional users is very low.

Amidst this fundamental backdrop, investment demand is up 133% and ETF/investment product demand is up 159% year-over-year. At the same time, central bank sales are down 39% year-over-year and the lowest since 1997, meaning a normal source of sales has slowed dramatically. By not selling a normal amount of gold, central banks have become another source of investment demand because of the supply constraints it puts on the gold market.

The data shows that investment (speculation?) seems to be the only source of demand at this point and that its significant growth (and lack of central bank sales) seems to have moved the price higher. One may make money in gold, but only if there is someone later willing to pay a higher price. (This is also known as the greater fool theory.) Gold has a negative yield (it costs money to store), no intrinsic value (it generates no cash flows), and at the current time appears quite speculative despite the claims that it is a good inflation hedge.

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