Short and Sweet

Of 17th-century tulips, 21st-century stocks and ageless gold

antique painting of a fool trading his gold for tulip bulbs

During the Dutch Tulipmania, the price of one special, rare type of tulip bulb called Semper Augustus sold for 1000 guilders in 1623, 1200 guilders in 1624, 2000 guilders in 1625, and 5500 guilders in 1637. Shortly thereafter, the bottom fell out of the market and prices plummeted to 1/200 of their peak price – a mere 27 guilders. In the artwork above an individual, portrayed in fool’s garment, is shown trading a hefty pouch of gold for a handful of tulip bulbs. It is no mystery who got the better part of that bargain. History teaches us that no era is immune to financial mania including our own. As a matter of fact, a good many believe that we are fully immersed in a stock market mania (wherein many include bitcoin) right now.

Since the earliest days of the USAGOLD website (the mid-1990s), we have enshrined a quote from Thomas Bailey Aldrich at our home page: “The possession of gold has ruined fewer men than the lack of it.” Aldrich’s axiom has held true down through the ages. It applied in ancient Greece and Rome, in 11th century China, in the time of the Medicis, the Dutch Tulipmania, the South Seas Bubble and French fiat money mania, during the long string of panics in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries (Aldrich’s time), the spate of post World War I and II hyperinflations (Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, et al)  and it still applies today.


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Short and Sweet

Gold in the age of inflation
The star investment of the fifty-year era and the most reliable store of value

There has been considerable, and some would say tedious, discussion on the subject of inflation over the past several weeks. The Fed wants it. The markets await it. Investors and consumers worry about it. If it does come, the Fed thinks it will be transitory. Others believe it will persist. That said, the current discussion ignores an established historical reality: We already live and have lived with it for a very long time. The Age of Inflation began in August of 1971 when the United States disengaged the dollar from gold and ushered in the fiat money era. Thereafter, the inflationary process has progressively eaten away at our wealth and the purchasing power of our money. Now, some of the best minds in the investment business tell us that it is about to accelerate and that if we ignore it, we do so at our own peril.

To mark the occasion of the fiat money system’s golden anniversary, we offer two instructive charts. One is something of a myth-buster in that gold has decisively outperformed stocks during the fiat money era. Many will be surprised to learn that gold is up 4,500% since 1971, while stocks have played second fiddle at 3,375%. The other reveals at a glance the pernicious, ongoing debasement of the dollar and gold’s role as a hedge against it. The dollar lost 85% of its purchasing power since 1971, while gold, as just mentioned, gained nearly 4500%. If that does not serve as vindication of gold’s portfolio role in the era of fiat money, I don’t know what will. At the same time, consensus has it that cyclically, stocks are closer to a top than a bottom, and gold is closer to a bottom than a top.

Gold and stocks price performance
(In percent, 1971-2021)

area charat showing gold and stocks 1971 to June1 2021 in percent

Chart courtesy of TradingView.com • • • Click to enlarge

Gold and the purchasing power of the dollar
(1971 to present)

overlay area chart showing the value of the dollar and gold since 1971

Sources: St. Louis Federal Reserve [FRED], Bureau of Labor Statistics, ICE Benchmark Administration • • • Click to enlarge

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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Short and Sweet

How to spot a bubble
‘Amount of leverage in U.S. equity markets now easily the highest in history.’

Ramirez cartoon of Wall Street blowing speculative trading bubble
Cartoon courtesy of MichaelPRamirez.com

“If you want my opinion,” writes Hussman Fund’s John P. Hussman in a recent analysis, “I suspect that a near-vertical market plunge on the order of 25-35% is coming, probably quite shortly, most likely out of the blue, as in 1987, driven by nothing more than the sudden concerted effort of overextended investors to sell, and the need for a large price adjustment in order to induce scarce buyers to take the other side. As usual, no forecasts are necessary. … This dysfunctional behavior isn’t about any particular video game retailer. I suspect it’s actually about some sort of fragility or segmentation in order-flow mechanisms, possibly coupled with poorly managed derivatives exposure. As I used to teach my students, show me a financial debacle, and I’ll show you someone who had a leveraged, mismatched position that they were suddenly forced to close into an illiquid market. Though my concerns run far beyond the amount of leverage in the system, it isn’t helpful that the amount of leverage in the U.S. equity markets is now easily the highest in history.”

These days spotting the bubble is about as difficult as finding it in the Ramirez cartoon above. Hussman attacks Wall Street’s new rationalization of buying into the bubble, i.e., extreme valuations are justified by low interest rates. Those who are all-in for fear of missing out – blindly walking on air – are obviously the most vulnerable. When investing becomes a matter of faith, that faith will be tested. A solid diversification, we will add, would blunt the downside. Though investor margin debt is small compared to the leverage funds and institutions deploy in the market, it does serve as a bellwether for analysts looking for what might trigger a market crash. SentimenTrader’s Jason Goepfert recently posted a warning to his readers that at $831 billion, we are fast approaching a “year-over-year growth rate in [margin] debt – on both an absolute scale and relative to the change in stock prices – will compare with some of the most egregious extremes in 90 years.”


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Short and Sweet

Gold coins, hoofs found in 2,000 year old Chinese tomb

Image of Confucius, old, black and white“Chinese archaeologists. . . discovered 75 gold coins and hoof-shaped ingots in an aristocrat’s tomb that dates back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD). The gold objects — 25 gold hoofs and 50 very large gold coins — are the largest single batch of gold items ever found in a Han Dynasty tomb. They were unearthed from the tomb of the first ‘Haihunhou’ (Marquis of Haihun) in east China’s Jiangxi Province. The coins weigh about 250 grams each, while the hoofs’ weights vary from 40 to 250 grams, said Yang Jun, who leads the excavation team.” – Xinhuanet/11-17-2015

These gold artifacts were found along with a portrait of Confucius, perhaps the oldest known. Wisdom and gold make easy company. Confucius once said something that has current applicability:  “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”  Or at the very least, well-hedged ………


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Short and Sweet

Blowing up the “Everything Bubble”

graphic image of a harried investor watching the blow-up of the financial bubble

“What the average person fails to understand,” writes Lance Roberts in an analysis posted at the Real Investment Advice website, “is that the next ‘financial crisis’ will not just be a stock market crash, a housing bust, or a collapse in bond prices.  It could be the simultaneous implosion of all three. Whatever causes that change in sentiment is unknown to me or anyone else.  I am not saying with certainty it will happen, as I hope sanity prevails and actions are taken to mitigate the consequences. Unfortunately, history suggests such is unlikely to be the case.”

And, we might add, it is not likely the damage will be restricted to the United States. All the largest and most advanced economies are engaged in rate suppression and quantitative easing schemes. In fact, an implosion in one location could cause corresponding meltdowns in multiple locations. Easy money and heavy leverage have greatly influenced price levels in all markets heightening rollover risks. And then there’s the derivative problem with notional exposure estimated at more than $1 quadrillion, according to Investopedia.


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Short & Sweet
Past gold bull markets have begun with a surge in the money supply

If the Fed is looking for inflation, it will find it in the money supply – something that did not happen with authority in the aftermath of the 2008 credit crisis. From June 2019, the money supply has grown by $4.5 trillion – an eight times factor year over year. Recently, the rapid growth resumed its uptrend after about six months of moving sideways. During the financial crisis that began in 2008, the Fed sterilized its money creation by routing liquidity back to its coffers in the form of commercial bank excess reserves – a strategy that kept the inflation rate from running out of control. As you can see, the money supply growth this time around goes beyond anything that occurred during the prior crisis. Whether or not it will translate to price inflation down the road remains to be seen – though we have begun to see some signs of inflation taking root, most notably in the surge in commodity prices.

“Every gold bull market over the last 50 years has begun with a catalyst that propelled significant growth in the money supply,” writes Manning & Napier, the money management firm, in a report posted at Seeking Alpha titled The Value of Gold in a Portfolio. “Each of those prior bull markets was proceeded by substantial US dollar money supply growth, making monetary expansion a key indicator. It is important to note that this alone does not guarantee a gold bull market, as there are many other variables at play. … We see the status of each of these economic factors, money supply growth, inflation, and real interest rates, as supportive of higher gold prices ahead. Policymakers have been remarkably forceful in responding to Covid-19, resulting in substantial recent money supply growth in the US, and they appear willing to continue to throw money at the crisis in the year ahead.”

overlay line chart showing gold and M1 money supply drawn in log scale 1970 to present
Sources: St. Louis Federal Reserve, ICE Benchmark Administration • • • Click to enlarge

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Short and Sweet

Worry about the return ‘of’ your money, not just the return ‘on’ it

photograph of a bag of gold coins
There is an old saying among veteran investors to worry not just about the return on your money, but the return of your money. In the wealth game, emphasize defense when you need to, offense when it makes sense. At all times, remain diversified. And by that, we mean real diversification in the form of physical gold and silver coins and/or bullion outside the current fiat money system – not just an assortment of stocks and bonds denominated in the domestic currency. Keep in mind – if the currency erodes in value, the underlying value of those assets erodes along with it. A proper, genuine diversification addresses that problem now and in the future.


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Short and Sweet

What does bitcoin have in common with the ancient stone money of Yap?

“That does not render bitcoin invalid or the blockchain useless,” writes Gillian Tett in a recent Financial Times editorial. “After all, the mainstream currencies on which our lives depend rely on sometimes tenuous social norms as well. One way to frame the contest between bitcoin and fiat currency is thus as a battle of norms — and of distributed versus hierarchical trust.” Tett, perhaps inadvertently, makes a point a good many gold enthusiasts will embrace. Bitcoin is more readily comparable to fiat currencies than gold – as its value rests completely in the faith that it will not be printed without restriction.

Therein lies bitcoin’s ultimate weakness as a store of value. Who’s to say that any number of copycat cryptocurrencies won’t invade the space and undermine bitcoin’s value? (In fact, a good many already have with varying degrees of success.) Who’s to say that some enterprising software geek doesn’t find a way into the blockchain and begins producing bitcoin willy-nilly? (Which is what happened, by the way, to yap stone money. [More]) Tett ends her essay with some advice for Elon Musk – a new and ardent supporter of bitcoin: “Perhaps Musk’s next trip should be to Micronesia, where those now-useless stone circles still litter the landscape as a sign of what happens when norms and patterns of trust change.” To get to the heart of what Tett – an anthropologist as well as a first-rate journalist – means by that statement, you will need to read her essay in its entirety at the link above. In Musk’s defense, he also expressed an interest in Tesla building its gold reserves.


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Short & Sweet

Ubiquity, complexity, and sandpiles
Contemplating the impact of that last grain of sand

photograph of a pyramid shaped sandpile illustrating angle of repose and also vulnerability

For a long while, John Mauldin (Mauldin Economics) has been one of the more thoughtful big picture analysts – someone whose work we read regularly. In a recent reflection posted at the GoldSeek website, he begins with a section on a Brookhaven National Laboratories study of sandpiles. Researchers attempted to ascertain at which point, and to what degree, the last grain of sand falling on the pile causes disequilibrium and the collapse of the pile. It found that the impact of the last grain of sand varied. It “might trigger only a few tumblings or it might instead set off a cataclysmic chain reaction involving millions.”

“We cannot accurately predict when the avalanche will happen,” Mauldin concludes. “You can miss out on all sorts of opportunities because you see lots of fingers of instability and ignore the base of stability. And then you can lose it all at once because you ignored the fingers of instability. You need your portfolios to both participate and protect. Don’t blindly buy index funds and assume they will recover as they did in the past. This next avalanche is going to change the nature of recoveries as other market forces and new technologies change what makes an investment succeed. I cannot stress that enough. Don’t get caught in a buy-and-hold, traditional 60/40 portfolio. Don’t walk away from it. Run away.”

So why would the story of the last grain of sand hitting the pile before it begins to dissemble be important? “The peculiar and exceptionally unstable organization of the critical state,” says Mark Buchanan, who wrote a book on catastrophes of all kinds (and referenced by Mauldin), “does indeed seem to be ubiquitous in our world. Researchers in the past few years have found its mathematical fingerprints in the workings of all the upheavals I’ve mentioned so far [earthquakes, eco-disasters, market crashes], as well as in the spreading of epidemics, the flaring of traffic jams, the patterns by which instructions trickle down from managers to workers in the office, and in many other things.” There comes a breaking point a which time the result is uncontrollable.


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Short & Sweet

‘Hello, Mr. Gold Bullion, have you noticed what they’re doing?’
Grant weighs in on the fiftieth anniversary of the fiat money system

image showing the blur of high speed money printing press running at full tilt

The retrospectives on the Nixon shock continue to poured in at the end of this past August – the month fifty years ago when the Nixon administration severed the link between the dollar and gold and ushered in the fiat money era in which we are still immersed. The repertoire, though, would not be complete without a few words from James Grant – one of the great critics and chief chroniclers of the era through his highly recommended newsletter, Interest Rate Observer. The following are excerpts from an interview of Grant published by Sprott, the Canadian gold firm, in mid-August. Grant ends the exchange hosted by the firm’s Ed Coyne with an admission: “I think I spilled my entire bits of wisdom here on the counter!” We want to thank Sprott for permission to quote the interview at length. The full exchange is available at the previously highlighted link.

James Grant –

“It’s immensely frustrating, right? Because where you see heterodoxy posing as the gospel truth, we see heresy wrapped up as sound policy. And you keep on saying, ‘Hello, Mr. Gold Bullion, have you noticed what they’re saying and doing? Have you noticed that the Fed’s balance sheet doubled during the pandemic? Have you noticed that the Fed is talking about nurturing a rate of inflation higher than its target in the midst of evidence accelerating inflation? Have you noticed any of this?’ We address this new thing called gold bullion and gold bullion keeps on slumbering …

“Gold has a way of disappointing its most devoted adherents. In 2008-09 it broke people’s hearts and went down. ‘This is a crisis!’ Gold is an ancient medium that appears in the periodic table. I didn’t invent it. Some people think I invented it! It appears in the periodic table, it’s an old thing and it takes its sweet time, right. It has a kind of a geological time set, that’s its clock: geological. Over the sweep of a reasonable investment horizon, it protects against the depredations of the stewards of our currencies. That’s what its purpose is. And that’s what it mainly does. Over the course of fiscal quarters and even some years, it will disappoint, but over the course of a reasonable investment, long-term horizon, it will spare you the punishment that our central bankers so willfully are meting out.

[Y]ou really have to take these things in with a great grain of salt and just say, all right, what I have here in gold, and very cheap gold equities, by the way, what I have here is an investment in monetary disorder, not a protection against it. We have it (monetary disorder) already. Monetary disorder is in fact the monetary system. It is an inherently disorderly system. In gold, you have an investment in that you do well, the more disorderly it becomes and especially well when the world recognizes the essential chaos of our monetary institutions.”


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Short & Sweet

Palantir buys $50.7 million in gold bars
Firm offering ‘insights’ to the intelligence community hedging black swan events

artistic ink rendering of black swanThe prospect of sleeping better at night played largely in Palantir Technologies’ $50.7 million purchase of gold last month  – 28,000 troy ounces in 100-ounce bars. In a move that surprised Wall Street, the Denver-based firm founded by Peter Thiel and Alex Karp said it purchased the gold as a hedge against “a future with more black swan events.” It is interesting to note in the context of black swan events that among Palantir’s many data-based products, it offers the AI-ready Gotham operating system – a program, according to its website, that surfaces “insights from complex data for global defense agencies, the intelligence community, disaster relief organizations, and beyond.”

“Risk,” says US Global Investors’ Frank Holmes in a piece posted at Seeking Alpha, “is precisely the reason why Palantir Technologies decided to make an investment in gold. … [N]amed for the all-seeing crystal balls in Lord of the Rings – [Palantir] is also allowing customers to pay for its software in gold.” Holmes also cites a National Inflation Association subscriber note that the company’s decision “is only the beginning of what will soon be many major corporations diversifying their U.S. dollar cash into gold.”

In a detailed article posted at ETF Trends on the Palantir acquisition, Jared Dillian recommends a way of viewing gold we have advocated since the publication of the first edition of The ABCs of Gold Investing in 1996. “As gold investors (I hold a bunch),” he suggests, “maybe we should stop thinking about gold as a trade or an investment and start thinking about it as an insurance policy.”


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Short and Sweet
‘Wannabes’ and ‘Gonnabes’  not the real thing

photograph of gold bullion coins and historic gold coins USAGOLD

‘Put differently, as long as humans remain tangible, it is likely that they maintain a desire to hold real and tangible assets. Very few companies on the US stock exchange, for example, are older than 50 years. By comparison, gold has existed for thousands of years and any gold coin or gold bar will most likely outlive any company and their stocks and bonds. Put together, it is unlikely that a company that sells claims on gold, such as a gold ETF, will beat physical gold’s longevity.” – Dick Baur, Professor of Finance, University of Western Australia (Why ‘digital gold’ won’t ever kill off the real thing)

Wannabe and gonnabe paper gold and silver will never pass for history’s time-honored store of value – nor will it be mistaken for actual gold coins or bars stored nearby should the cold wind blow. By the way, adding the word, blockchain, to a paper gold product might enhance its marketing appeal, but it changes nothing in terms of its usefulness to the investor.  The instrument is still paper gold and little more than a price bet.

Full article link


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Short & Sweet

Facing down our investment fears
Courage comes from a strategy you can genuinely believe in

graphci image of sheep standing atop each other to face down wolf

“As markets shake off their summer slumbers,” writes London-based analyst Bill Blain, “what should we be worrying about? Lots..! From real vs transitory inflation arguments, the long-term economic consequences of Covid, the future for Central Banking unable to unravel its Gordian knot of monetary experimentation, and the prospects for rising political instability in the US and Europe.”

Facing down your investment fears can only come from a strategy you can genuinely believe in. One of the great quotes on gold ownership came many years ago from Richard Russell, the now-deceased editor of the Dow Theory Letters. “I still sleep better at night,” he wrote, “knowing that I hold some gold. If or when everything else falls apart, gold will still be unquestioned wealth.” It is not a complicated strategy, but it is an effective one.

Though rarely discussed, gold ownership has as much to do with personal philosophy and how we wish to conduct our lives as it does finance and economics. In many ways, it is a rational portfolio decision that suits the times, but it is also a lifestyle decision that provides some peace of mind no matter what happens with the pandemic, the mania on Wall Street, or the political maneuvering in Washington D.C.


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Short and Sweet

– One for the history buffs  –

730 years of a strong British pound ends in 1931 with gold standard exit

ovelay chart showing price of gold and UK CPI over 730 years

Sources: Bank of England, ICE Benchmark Administration,
St. Louis Federal Reserve [FRED] •  • • Click to enlarge

This telling chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve chronicles the history of consumer prices in the United Kingdom from 1209 to present. We added the price of gold to show the direct relationship between declining purchasing power in the British pound and the sterling price of gold after 1931, the year Britain departed the gold standard. Prior to 1931, there was an occasional minor bump higher in the price of gold, but for the most part, it followed along the same flat line as consumer prices. It was only after Britain separated the pound from gold in 1931 that the price began to move radically higher in terms of the currency. It gained significant momentum after 1971 when the Bretton Woods agreement was abolished. Currencies and gold were then allowed to move freely in international markets. Though interesting from a historical perspective, the real lesson in this chart is that when a nation-state goes from gold-backed to fiat money, gold coins and bullion become a logical and worthwhile alternative for citizen-investors – even after 730 years of relative price stability.


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Short and Sweet

‘Everyone knows they need a safe haven’

photo of stack of gold and silver coins

“Last March and April (2020),” writes the Systemic Risk Council’s Paul Tucker in a piece published recently at Financial Times, “the fabric of our financial system was stretched almost beyond endurance. Only intervention from the north Atlantic central banks seems to have averted some kind of disaster triggered by markets grasping the pandemic was serious.”

The most important lesson from that brush with disaster is that the financial authorities did not even bother to disclose to the public (and the investment community) just how dangerous the situation had become until months after the fact. It was labeled, you might recall, a “liquidity problem” that the Fed was addressing – no need to worry. Such circumstances argue strongly for having a hedge in place at all times just in case the wheels actually do come off.

MoneyWeek’s Merryn Somerset Webb posted a reminder of gold’s baseline portfolio role during times of market uncertainty in a separate Financial Times’ opinion piece in early January. “Think of the reasons to hold gold,” she wrote. “If inflation is coming (and it probably is) you want to hold a real asset that can hedge against it — one that can’t be inflated away by relentless money creation and currency debasement.…[E]veryone knows they need a safe haven, but everyone also knows the traditional ones (government bonds) no longer offer that safe haven. That turns us to gold, the one asset that has a 3,000-year record of protecting purchasing power. No wonder the gold price is up around 40 percent since 2018. I hold a lot of gold for all these reasons.”


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Short and Sweet
Why the U.S. needs to encourage Americans to hold gold

graphic image of gold eagle and the stars and stripes

We have always believed that citizen ownership of physical gold is in the national best interest, not just the best interest of its accumulators. In the event of a worldwide economic breakdown or a realignment of the global monetary system, it would be good for the country to have a storehouse of gold held by the populace. China encourages citizen gold ownership for precisely that reason.

“With a growing number of countries encouraging their central banks and citizens to acquire gold,” writes The Federalists Sean Fieler, “it is increasingly reasonable to assume that gold will be part of the world’s monetary future, not just its past. The U.S. Treasury should embrace policies that will attract more of the world’s gold to America and better position our citizens and our nation for whatever the monetary future may hold.”


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Short and Sweet

For the record……
Gold in the age of inflation
The star investment of the fifty-year era and the most reliable store of value

photograph of Richard Nixon conduction meeting of his cabinet in 2971

“Remember what we’re looking at. Gold is a currency. It is still, by all evidence, a premier currency. No fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it.”
Alan Greenspan, November 2014

On Friday, August 13, 1971, then-president Richard Nixon, after a secret meeting at Camp David, devalued the dollar, suspended gold convertibility, and thereby launched the fiat money system and the age of inflation. Shortly thereafter, the president commented, “we are all Keynesians now.” (Please scroll to “The great Keynesian coup of August 1971” for more detail.) It is a notable coincidence – perhaps even fitting – that we would mark the 50th anniversary of the “Nixon shock” on Friday, August 13, 2021. To mark the occasion, we reprint the following from the July 2021 issue of News & Views, our monthly newsletter:

There has been considerable, and some would say tedious, discussion on the subject of inflation over the past several weeks. The Fed wants it. The markets await it. Investors and consumers worry about it. If it does come, the Fed thinks it will be transitory. Others believe it will persist. That said, the current discussion ignores an established historical reality: We already live and have lived with it for a very long time. The Age of Inflation began in August of 1971 when the United States disengaged the dollar from gold and ushered in the fiat money era. Thereafter, the inflationary process has progressively eaten away at our wealth and the purchasing power of our money. Now, some of the best minds in the investment business tell us that it is about to accelerate and that if we ignore it, we do so at our own peril.

To mark the occasion of the fiat money system’s golden anniversary, we offer two instructive charts. One is something of a myth-buster in that gold has decisively outperformed stocks during the fiat money era. Many will be surprised to learn that gold is up 4,500% since 1971, while stocks have played second fiddle at 3,375%. The other reveals at a glance the pernicious, ongoing debasement of the dollar and gold’s role as a hedge against it. The dollar lost 85% of its purchasing power since 1971, while gold, as just mentioned, gained nearly 4500%. If that does not serve as vindication of gold’s portfolio role in the era of fiat money, I don’t know what will. At the same time, consensus has it that cyclically, stocks are closer to a top than a bottom, and gold is closer to a bottom than a top.

Gold and stocks price performance
(In percent, 1971-2021)

area charat showing gold and stocks 1971 to June1 2021 in percent
Chart courtesy of TradingView.com • • • Click to enlarge

Gold and the purchasing power of the dollar
(1971 to present)

overlay area chart showing the value of the dollar and gold since 1971
Sources: St. Louis Federal Reserve [FRED], Bureau of Labor Statistics, ICE Benchmark Administration • • • Click to enlarge


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Short and Sweet

‘I expect a true crash to take a decade of stock market gains.’

“‘If the pandemic doesn’t pop this bubble then, of course, it will be something else that eventually accomplishes this,’ says [Universa Investments’ Mark Spitznagel in a MarketWatch report], “reiterating his long-held belief that easy-money central banks and the bubble they continue to pump will eventually lead to a major global reversal. How bad could it get when it really goes sideways? ‘I expect a true crash to take back a decade [worth of stock-market gains],’ he told The Wall Street Journal last month.'” Spitznagel is a protege of Nicholas Taleb of The Black Swan fame. Some would consider his prediction going overboard. We should keep in mind, though, that from 1929 to 1933 the stock market lost almost 90% of its value. It did not return to its 1929 highs until 1955 – 26 years later.  In short, what he is suggesting is not without historical precedent.

line chart showing stocks from 1929 to 1955
Chart courtesy of MacroTrends.net


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Short and Sweet

How much gold is enough?

graphic design of gold coins as part of pie to show idea of diversification

Investors often ask about the percentage commitment one should make to precious metals in a well-balanced investment portfolio. Analyst Michael Fitzsimmons offered an interesting take on that subject in a recent Seeking Alpha editorial, “Assuming a well-diversified portfolio (which does include cash for emergencies),” he says, “my belief is that middle-class investors (net worth under $1 million), should own at least 5-10% in gold. I also believe that as an American investor’s net worth climbs, the higher that percentage should be because, in my opinion, he or she simply has more to lose by a falling US$. For instance, an investor with a net worth of $2-5 million might have a 15-20% exposure to gold; $10 million, perhaps a 30-40% exposure.” USAGOLD recommends, as it has for many years, a diversification of between 10% and 30% depending on your view of the risks at large in the economy and financial markets.


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Short and Sweet

Inflation a process not an event
But history shows runaway inflation can come suddenly and without warning

graphic image showing decline of the denarius over 200 y ears

Image courtesy of Visual Capitalist • • • Click to enlarge

We sometimes forget that inflation is a process rather than an event. One of the better-known examples of that axiom is the nearly two centuries-long debasement of Rome’s silver denarius. The Roman citizen who had the wisdom to hedge that process by going to gold at nearly any point along the way ended up preserving some portion, if not all, of his or her wealth. Those who did not suffered its debilitating effects. In the inflationary process, the line between cause and effect is not always a straight one, and its timing difficult to discern. History teaches us, though, that when runaway inflation does arrive, it comes suddenly, without notice, and with a vengeance. That is why it pays to view gold as a permanent and constantly maintained aspect of the investment portfolio. “A change of fortune,” Ben Franklin tells us, “hurts a wise Man no more than a change of the Moon.”
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(Related please see:  News & Views Special Report / March 2020 / Hedging the decline and fall of a currency – The baseline case for gold hasn’t changed much in 1700 years)

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