SPECIAL HARD ASSET ISSUE
2) How Far will Gold Run? The good news is that you no longer have to be crazy to buy gold. Until recently, certifiable believers chasing the barbaric relic were driven by a host of urban legends and conspiracy theories, such as the imminent bankruptcy of the US Treasury, Fort Knox holding only titanium bars that had been painted gold, Weimar style hyperinflation that is just around the corner, or the gold ETF (GLD) owning only paper, and not physical gold. No more. The long term structural demand for the yellow metal is now so well known, that I can read about it in the tabloids while waiting in line at Safeway. There is an emerging market central bank bidding war going on, with India and China trying to outmaneuver each other to raise their gold holdings to developed world levels. The EC or the IMF may sate that demand by selling off their remaining holdings to bail out Greece. A rising emerging market middle class also brings large, newly enriched consumers from countries that have long cultural preferences for owning gold and silver over paper fiat currencies. Now that we have decisively broken through to a new all time high, how high can we go? Surely peak gold is upon us. Barrick Gold (ABX), the world’s largest gold producer, would not be hacking out new mines under incredibly harsh conditions at 15,000 feet in the Andes if there were easier supplies to develop. My own long term gold forecast has been the old inflation adjusted high of $2,300 (click here for the call). But, higher altitudes beckon. If you want to take gold up to its historic peak in world GDP last seen in 1980, that would see gold at $5,300. Also, keep in mind that the total world gold supply has increased since then from 110,000 tonnes to 170,000 tonnes. For gold to recover the old peak percentage of the world monetary base, M3, it would need to rise to $5,700. Then there is the granddaddy forecast of them all. After the US allowed the price of gold to float from $34/ounce in 1971, it rose 2,500% to $850. An equal move of the 1999 $250 bottom would take us up to $6,250. I think I’d be a seller there. The great thing about gold is that, absent a dividend or a coupon, you can never claim it is too cheap or too expensive. While the current production cost at the big mines is around $400/ounce., the only certainty is that there are now more buyers than sellers. Look at the table below of the performance of gold so far, relative to other bull markets of the last three decades, and it is clear that we are only just getting started.