This is an ongoing theme on this site, that as an owner of precious metals, you should just forget about the paper price. That might sound strange, but when you look deeper it’s not, because the number assigned to your Oz of Gold or Silver is:
- Different in every currency
- Always fluctuating in the short term
- Destined to head much higher over the long term because of:
- Basically irrelevant unless you have to buy or sell suddenly.
Because of the heavily ingrained way we are indoctrinated to think of things in baseless numerical fashion by society and schools, it is necessary to affect a small paradigm shift and try to get people to think of the price of things in Gold or Silver, ie One Oz of gold for a cheap second hand car, or 1 Oz of silver for a small food shopping basket etc, because once you start to look at things like this it becomes very much easier to see the truth, through the nominal paper illusion.
Peter Schiff‘s video above right is well worth a watch to explain this concept, and also because this is one of the few CNBC interviews where people have actually started listening more, and definitely laughing less nowadays
And this is another good article looking at pricing things in “Real money” – gold and silver, and how in fact whatever the dollar (or Fiat) price in any currency, everything else is deflating (getting cheaper) in terms of Gold and Silver.
Predicting the Future Gold Price Misses the Point
“Gold bugs” routinely solicit my prediction regarding the future gold price, assuming I must be an “educated” gold bug since my hedge fund happens to maintain large gold exposure.
I loathe the question, because a typical gold bug will not “hear” my response, instead waiting for me to validate their speculative fantasies with the prospect of dollar signs and five-figure gold. Will gold rise to $2000/oz? $10,000/oz?
Where is the gold price headed? It depends on the variable.
-In what time period? The next week? Month? Year? Ten years?
-Compared to what? Dollars? Euros? Real estate? Gummi bears?
Of course, nearly everyone wants a prediction in dollars, which is highly humorous and paradoxical because the purported destruction of the dollar is a primary reason to own gold in the first place. What victory is there if the dollar value declines 50% and the gold price doubles?
This is where I think investors need to make a distinction between “nominal” inflation and deflation and “real” inflation and deflation. (Defining terms: Nominal inflation and deflation is an increase or decrease in the money supply, respectively. “Real” inflation or deflation is an increase or decrease in purchasing power in gold terms.)
Nominally, I feel like my predictions are as good as the next guy’s. However, I believe deflation in “real” terms is one of the highest finance probability themes over the next three to five years. In other words, goods will become cheaper compared to gold despite what happens to the dollar.
The Housing Market
In dollars, home prices bottomed in 2009, bounced sideways for a while, and now they are resuming their decline. As a result of monumental government effort, housing has been more or less mired in a disinflationary environment. See the following chart.
In “real” gold terms, the picture is far more gruesome. Below is the median home price as represented in ounces of gold. This figure is now rapidly approaching the 1981 low.
Median Home Price Compared to Gold, 1970 – 2011
Despite all of the government intervention, all of the Fed’s economic central planning, one can buy significantly more house per ounce of gold than one could purchase in March of 2009. And this is the real reason to own gold. Gold is money. Its value is determined by its purchasing power – wholly and exclusively.
If home prices fell another 25-50% in gold terms, it may make sense to sell gold and seek out attractive real estate to buy with it.
The Stock Market
The collapse in the stock market (as valued in gold) has not played out nearly to the extent of housing. In 1933 the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined to 1.9x the value of an ounce gold. The early thirties represented the worst deflationary depression in US history. Conversely, in 1981, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined to 1.1x the value of an ounce of gold during a highly inflationary time period. In both environments, gold fell below a ratio of 2 to 1 compared to the DJIA. Today this ratio stands at 8.3x (down from 40x+ around 2001).
I see this trend continuing. In gold terms, the stock market has much further to decline – regardless which “nominal” direction it moves – and could easily represent an opportunity for 10x returns over the next several years if trading with the trend.
The graph below inverts this ratio, highlighting a decline in real prices as a rise in the ratio.
[I initially found this graph difficult to interpret. The designer of the graph took the current price of gold, divided it by the S&P 500, and then multiplied it by 100. So the latest point on the chart would be $1500 / 1335 * 100 = 112.36.]
The government has done everything possible to inflate the stock market. Fed Chairmen Ben Bernanke has specifically pointed to equity prices as a barometer of success.
Yet in Real terms, deflation continues.
Ultimately, the government has direct control over nominal inflation and deflation. Though I have felt the probabilities have favored nominal deflation for a long time, this has clearly been a bad trade. Those who have invested using this thesis have seen their losses splattered over Wall St.
However, the same deflationary thesis using gold (instead of dollars) as your unit of measure has been a rewarding proposition over the past year, with most likely the bulk of gains still to come.
The government balance sheet is presently highly leveraged (and worsening by the minute). Deflation – in real terms – will likely continue. Maybe gold peaks to $6,000/oz, or maybe plummets nominally to $1,000/oz. I do not know, nor do I really care. I own gold because of its relation to other assets having a high probability of deflating against it. Considering the new bubble that has been created in many assets as a result of the liquidity wave from the Federal Reserve, these opportunities are not hard to find.
Jason Kaspar blogs daily for www.GoldShark.com.