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News & Views
Forecasts, Commentary & Analysis on the Economy and Precious Metals
Celebrating our 42nd year in the gold business

December, 2011

SPECIAL REPORT
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USAGOLD's NEWS & VIEWS newsletter
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News & Views is the contemporary, web-based version of our client letter which traces its beginnings to the early 1990s as a hard-copy newsletter mailed to our clientele. The "Big Breakout of 1999" headlined in the November, 1999 issue of our newsletter moved the gold price from $250 to $325 per ounce. It was a major event.

The times have changed, but our mission has not. Simply put, it is to deliver value to our readers in the form of cutting-edge Forecasts, Commentary and Analysis on the Economy and Precious Metals. The very same mission that has been displayed in our banner for over twenty-five years.

Editor: Michael J. Kosares, founder of USAGOLD and author of The ABCs of Gold Investing - How to Protect and Build Your Wealth With Gold.


Saving Gold
Old reliable stands tall in crisis atmosphere

The United States has become a nation of savers. Where once the money management mantra was "invest it and retire wealthy," it is now "save it or lose it" -- a healthy reaction to the chaos, greed and notable lack of safety in traditional investments including those sponsored by Wall Street's financial firms. Retirement plans and pensions are in trouble. The fear is that individual savings could disappear overnight in a general financial system meltdown. Overriding all is a sense that things are going to get worse before they get better and that the time has come to take matters into one's own hands.

Gold has been a major beneficiary of the changing money psychology. The World Gold Council reports that bullion investment demand is running at all time highs. Gold ETFs -- a bellwether for physical gold demand -- continue to turn in impressive growth statistics on a global basis. Gold coin demand too, as reported in this newsletter last month, is running at all-time highs. Americans are saving, but increasingly they are adding gold to the savings mix as a hedge against declining returns and overall systemic risks.

Over the past decade as shown by the table immediately below, the returns on gold have been gratifying. In compiling the table, I was careful not to skew it in a way to make the numbers look any better than they need to be to make the point. I did not over-state the returns by going from the low to the high in any given year, or even by basing it on average prices -- both of which would have resulted in much higher returns -- but straightforwardly on calendar year prices. Gold has posted returns of 19% or better in eight of the last ten years -- a "yawner" for those who constantly inveigh against gold's supposed volatility, but "old reliable" for those who bought it intending to hedge the disastrous turn of events in the global economy. Anyone purchasing gold at any time during the past decade and holding it for at least three years has garnered a solid return on his or her holdings. Newsletter signup

If you would like to broaden your view of gold market, we invite you to sign-up for our regular newsletter and receive quality commentary like what you are now reading. It's free of charge and comes by e-mail. You can opt out at any time.

 

What's more, the real rate of return as shown in the final column -- the yield minus inflation -- has been the stuff of portfolio planners' dreams. Even when you take into account the two off-years of 2004 and 2008, the average real rate of return over the nine year period was a stellar 8.5%. If I were to use a single word to define gold's performance over the past decade, it would be "stalwart." The other word that comes to mind is "consistent." These two words are near and dear to the heart of those who wish to hold on to their hard earned wealth.

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The real rate of return numbers in the table were arrived at using the inflation rates generated by Shadow Government Statistics (SGS). SGS methodology, in my view, provides a more reliable -- albeit significantly higher -- measure of the inflation rate than the one used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As a result, SGS statistics lend themselves to a more accurate rendition of the real rate of return. If we would have used BLS numbers, the real rate of return would have been significantly higher. SGS uses the same statistical format for inflation the government used in 1980 before the Bureau of Labor Statistics went to hedonic adjustments. Many economists believe the contemporary version of the Consumer Price Index understates the inflation rate.

One of the problems often overlooked in savings plans is the long-term effects of currency erosion. Instead of looking at the real rate of return on gold in isolation, let's also take into account the real rate of return on dollar based savings, once again using the SGS inflation numbers.

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As you can see by the right hand column, returns on bank savings, and by extension most yield-based investments, are deeply in the red when inflation is taken into account. That said, let me assure you that the purpose of this special report is not to convince you to run to the bank and empty your accounts. Rather, it is to emphasize the importance of diversifying your savings plan to counter the effects of long-term currency debasement.

Over the ten year period things have gone from bad to worse. In 2002, the real rate of return was a negative 4.49%. In 2010, rate of decline was 8.43% -- the highest in the last ten years. 2011 does not look like it is going to end on a much happier note. The swing between what was lost in dollar-based accounts and what could have been gained by a simple diversification into gold should also be taken into account. For 2010, a $10,000 certificate of deposit would have been valued at $9,157.00 after inflation. That same $10,000 in gold would have been valued at $11,638 after inflation. That amounts to a nearly $2,500 swing -- a difference of over 27%!

When one takes into account that inflation is a clear and present reality and that it truly does affect the value of the money we have stored at the bank or in a money market account, it gets the wheels turning. One remedy -- and the one often taken -- is to seek higher returns in investments associated with higher risk, the Jon Corzine approach. We all know how that ended for Corzine and MF Global. The prospect of higher returns always brings with it the risk of potential losses -- the polar opposite of what we expect from our savings. In the end, the best approach is the time-worn one -- the one that comes down to us through the centuries. It is the most direct, the easiest to understand, and for the past ten years it has been the most reliable. The best remedy is to save gold.

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Michael J. Kosares is the founder of USAGOLD and the author of "The ABCs of Gold Investing - How To Protect and Build Your Wealth With Gold." He has over forty years experience in the physical gold business. He is also the editor of News & Views, the firm's newsletter which is offered free of charge and specializes in issues and opinion of importance to owners of gold coins and bullion. If you would like to register for an e-mail alert when the next issue is published, please visit this link.

Disclaimer - Opinions expressed on the USAGOLD.com website do not constitute an offer to buy or sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any precious metals product, nor should they be viewed in any way as investment advice or advice to buy, sell or hold. USAGOLD, Inc. recommends the purchase of physical precious metals for asset preservation purposes, not speculation. Utilization of these opinions for speculative purposes is neither suggested nor advised. Commentary is strictly for educational purposes, and as such USAGOLD does not warrant or guarantee the the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information found here.


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