Some clear thinking on gold at its all-time high


by Simon Black, Sovereign Man:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of Bruce Lee.

I was probably about four years old when I first watched one of his movies. And I was instantly hooked. The guy was legendary.

As a teenager, I learned more about how he lived, and I began to admire his tenacity, discipline, and relentless pursuit of self-improvement… qualities that I endeavored to attain.

I remain a fan to this day. In fact there’s even a Bruce Lee mural on the wall at our office in Chile.

So when I had the opportunity to purchase some of Bruce Lee’s artwork a few years ago– sketches that he drew with his own hand– I jumped at the chance.

It cost me around $8,000… but it was the best money I ever spent. I had it professionally framed and hung in my home, and it’s probably my most prized possession.

I doubt I’ll ever sell it. But it’s the only asset that I allow myself to be sentimental about.

In everything else related to money, I force myself to be unemotional. I don’t fall in love with prospective investments, nor do I have an emotional attachment to businesses that I own.

You hear this a lot with entrepreneurs, who often refer to their companies as ‘their baby’.

I don’t have that view. Bruce Lee aside, I’m willing to sell any asset for the right price… especially if someone is willing to pay far more than what I think it’s worth, or what it could be worth in the future.

And this brings me to gold.

The price of gold is now at an all-time high in nearly every major currency, including US dollars. On Friday, in fact, gold briefly passed $2,000 per ounce, and it’s still hovering near that figure now.

A lot of people have an emotional attachment to gold… a borderline fanaticism.

I don’t. I write about gold quite frequently. But I’m not a ‘gold bug’.

My views on gold are unemotional, grounded in a rational understanding of gold’s advantages, and the disadvantages of the financial system. I’ve written about this extensively.

But one important thing to understand about gold is that it can be very difficult to value.

I can much more easily value a business like Apple, or private company that I own. The analysis is never perfect, but I can project future cash flows and market-based asset prices, and derive an appropriate value for what an asset is worth.

But gold does not intrinsically generate cash flow like a business or rental property, so that analysis doesn’t work.

People often try to predict the price of gold by examining certain financial benchmarks.

For instance, in theory there are some loose relationships between the gold price and the money supply. But these relationships are far from perfect.

The previous peak for gold was in 2011 when it reached around $1900. The gold price then fell for more than four years, reaching a low of around $1,000 in December 2015.

Yet during that 4+ year period, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet increased 70% from $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion, and M2 money supply in the US increased 30% from $9.5 trillion to 12.3 trillion.

Gold should have performed well from 2011 to 2015 given all the money the Fed was printing. Yet instead the gold price fell.

There’s another theory that gold prices increases because the dollar is weak. But this relationship is also far from perfect.

In the summer of 2018, I wrote note to our readers suggesting that it was a good time to buy gold, and that the price could double over the next few years.

At the time, the gold price was around $1200. But the ‘Dollar Index,’ i.e. the standard financial benchmark for the US dollar’s relative strength, was around 94.

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